FACTS OF PRAYER

FACTS OF PRAYER

F-A-C-T-S OF PRAYER


FAITH: For prayer to be meaningful, it must be founded on biblical faith.

ADORATION: Faith naturally leads to adoration that expresses our love andlonging for God. Adoration in turn leads to praise and worship.

CONFESSION: Is acknowledging that we stand guilty before God. There is no place for self-righteousness. We develop intimacy with the Lord through prayer when we confess our need for His pardon.

THANKSGIVING: Nothing is more basic to prayer than to "enter his gates with thanksgiving" (Ps. 100:4). Giving thanks is a function of faith, not feelings. It flows from the assurance that our heavenly Father knows and provides exactly what we need.

SUPPLICATION: God desires His children to bring their requests with praise and thanksgiving. Despite His provision, the purpose of prayer is not to pressure God into providing us with pleasures, but to conform us to His will.

How To Make A Right Decision

How To Make A Right Decision

Decisions are a fact of life. Some are easy; some are hard. If you want to make a good decision—one that has God’s blessing on it—then put these five steps into practice. Whether your decision is of the small, everyday variety or a bigger life issue, you can make it a good one!

Put God first.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 says, “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.” Regardless of what pressures you face, put God first and trust Him to lead you.

Spend time in the Word.

Proverbs 2:1-4 states, “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.” God will lead you through His Word, showing you His perspective on your life and the decision you make.

Act on that Word.

Deuteronomy 30:14 says, “No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.” Even when it is difficult, determine to obey God’s Word.

Trust the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:14 reads, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Trust the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you to make the right decision every time.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Make prayer an important part of your life. Use your prayer time to thank God for all the things He’s done for you and to ask Him to help you with your needs.

God is on your side. He will help you make the decision you need to make. Put these steps into practice and trust the Lord, His Word and His Holy Spirit to show you the way so that you can make the best possible decision every time!

Source:  Gloria Copeland, Standing in Your Dreams, 0614 BVOV, 2007 GLBC.

 

Embrace Your Donkey

Embrace Your Donkey

Mary and Joseph left Nazareth and began their journey to Bethlehem riding on a donkey.  It would take a week or so to reach the launching place of Jesus Christ life and ministry.

I have pondered all day, “what was Mary thinking?” as she rode mile after mile on the hard and rocky terrain… on the smelly, sweaty donkey.

As the donkeys foot would slip or hit a rock Mary would have to reach down and clinch the neck of the donkey….when she was tired she would put her cheek on the head of the smelly, sweaty donkey.

MARY HAD TO EMBRACE THE DONKEY IN HER LIFE TO REACH THE LAUNCHING PLACE OF JESUS LIFE AND MINISTRY!!

So what or who are the donkeys in your life that God is using to walk you into your destiny?  An unsaved husband, an unfair boss, unemployment, a child with a life-long disability?  Whatever or whoever are the donkey’s in your life, EMBRACE THE DONKEY!!

I am not suggesting you “live with” the situation, not at all!  You embrace Your Donkey by faith.  You keep walking but you do it by faith and here are some suggestions:

1.  Embrace Your Donkey
2.  Rid Yourself of Unforgiveness and Doubt
3.  Confess God’s Word and Trust in God as Mary did, “According to thy Word” Luke 1:38
4.  Keep Walking Towards Your Destiny Until You Reach It!!

  THE DONKEY IN YOUR LIFE IS WALKING YOU INTO YOUR DESTINY!!  EMBRACE IT!!

“In Everything Give Thanks for This is the Will of God”

“In Everything Give Thanks for This is the Will of God”

Got this scripture covered when everything is going great! To be honest until I was 32 years old this was an easy scripture to obey. Then the bottom fell out of my life with the death of my mother, a diagnosis of autism on my first born son, and a pending divorce.

I woke up one morning and thought, “Give Thanks? To who? For what? I’ve gone from the palace to the pit in a matter of a few years. Where is God? What have I done or not done to be where I am today“?

Have you ever had these type thoughts? Of course you have! But remember Jesus Saves! Salvation is not just for our eternal souls but for our peace of mind. Christ took upon himself the chastisement of our peace.

This is the first step to having the ability to give thanks in everything. Realize that Christ paid the price for every area of our lives and we can rest in the peace of God knowing that all things will work together for us if we trust him.

What areas of your life our you struggling with today? Start giving thanks in the midst of every situation.

Forgiven People Forgive People

Forgiven People Forgive People

We do not have to look very long at Matthew 18 in order to see the logic flow that takes place. It starts with the disciples asking a question, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1)? There are other moments in the Gospels when similar arguments from the disciples illicit a strong rebuke from Jesus. However, this time is different. Perhaps the disciples were not completely self-serving in the question this time. After all, in the previous chapter the disciples witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, the healing of a demon-possessed boy, Jesus’ prediction of His resurrection and money miraculously harvested from the belly of a fish. Perhaps the disciples realized it was time to get themselves in order.

Nonetheless, even if the question was not completely self-serving, it was still misguided. That is why the question caused Jesus to think about their need to humble themselves (vv. 2-5). Discussing humility caused Him to think of the ones who fail to humble themselves, and in so doing create stumbling blocks (vv. 6-9). Discussing stumbling blocks reminded Jesus that some of the “little ones” (micros, or opposite of the “greatest” mega) would wander off, and how happy His Father is when one of them is found (vv. 10-14). Discussing wandering sheep reminded Him that He expects His disciples to go and find such sheep. So, He laid out a restoration roadmap for confronting sin and restoring individuals to right relationship (vv. 15-20).

This seems to conclude Jesus’ teaching. He had sufficiently answered the question that the disciples raised. The only problem was that Jesus’ answer had caused a new question in one of the disciples. The logic flow of Jesus had bumped into some logic flow of Peter. He began to think about the implications of what Jesus was saying. Perhaps he began to think of some people who had sinned against him in the past. Maybe he had reluctantly forgiven them, only to watch them turn around and do it again. Knowing Peter, his patience would have been wearing thin. He understood that Jesus expected His disciples to extend mercy and forgiveness to a repentant brother or sister. But surely this had some limits? Even God draws the line somewhere. Right?

So, Peter had to get some clarification. He approached Jesus with a new question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times” (Matthew 18:21)? Jesus responded with this, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (v. 22). My first response to those words is something like this, “That’s 490 times. Wow! Peter doesn’t get it. I mean, 490 times is a lot more than 7 times.” But the response is not meant to make us realize that Jesus expects us to forgive a lot more times. Instead, it is intended to make us realize that there really is no limit. As long as someone continues to recognize their fault and take responsibility for it we are to continue to extend grace and mercy.

In order to illustrate the point Jesus then told a parable. In the parable a king was settling his accounts. One man owed him an amount equivalent to an entire life’s worth of wages. Essentially this man owed his life, and it was more than he could ever pay. The king ordered all that this man had be liquidated in order to pay the debt. The man begged for forgiveness and the king had pity on him and cancelled the entire debt. Despite this incredible act of grace the man turned around and found another man who owed him an amount equivalent to a couple of months wages. Instead of showing the same kind of mercy that he had received from the king the forgiven man choked the other man, demanded repayment, and then had him thrown in prison. When the king heard about it he brought the forgiven man back in, rebuked him, and had him thrown into prison until he could pay back all that he owed, which would essentially be the rest of his life. Then Jesus says, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

There is a saying that goes like this: Hurt people hurt people. It is a truth that plays out repeatedly throughout the Scripture. However, Jesus has a new expectation for those that will follow Him. His new saying goes like this: Forgiven people forgive people. When we hear the parable that Jesus tells Peter something automatically rises up within us at the overwhelming injustice of it. The story is so appalling that it is almost hard to stomach. That is exactly the response that Jesus is trying to invoke in us. Because that is a picture of how grotesque our failure to forgive others looks from the perspective of heaven. We owe a debt to God that is more than we could ever pay back. While God could demand our punishment, He instead has pity on us and declares our debt cancelled. Even the worst offenses on earth that we inflict on one another are pennies compared to the debt we owe God. He is glad to cancel our debts. However, he demands that we spend the rest of our lives extending that same type of forgiveness to others.

Written by:  Jon Stone @ www.stonewritten.com

Now Faith

Now Faith

"Now" is defined as where we are living now, the immediate, the present moment.  So Now means Now!  Hebrews 11:1 says,  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  The first thing we need to understand about faith is that it is NOW!  Not the past nor the future but right NOW we need to have faith.

When I walked into the coffee shop this morning I had NOW faith.  I went to sit down on a chair and trusted that as I sat down, right then, the chair would hold me up.  I didn't stand there looking at the chair wondering if it would keep me up or if it might take a few more minutes to get ready to hold me up, no I knew right then, NOW, that it was built to hold me up.  I had faith in the chair.  Faith simply defined is complete trust in something or someone.  So if we have NOW faith in the chair we sit in today, why don't we have faith in God.

Todays focus on faith is the word NOW so let us answer the NOW question.  Our society has become what I call a "drive through" generation.  In most parts of the world we have instant gratification.  While sitting at this same coffee shop I saw a little girl about 4 years old pitching a fit because she wasn't getting her food NOW!! So what did her grandfather do?  Instead of administering discipline to teach the child that she has to wait a minute, the grandfather tried all kinds of different antics to get her to calm down.  Of course they didn't work!!

We struggle with NOW faith because we can't see or feel the God that we are suppose to have faith in and many times His plan is to make us into His vessel of honor not give us everything we want right NOW.  God knows and sees everything and He has a plan.  But the paradox is that He wants us to have NOW faith.  Believe right NOW for the things we cannot see.  So today just take a minute and tell God, I believe NOW that you have everything under control and continue to follow this teaching on Faith to learn more. 

If you need to accept Jesus Christ in your life today, click Need salvation and get started on your journey in faith!

The Power Of Praise

The Power Of Praise

We've all heard at some point that worship is an important part of the Christian life: that God enjoys it, that its a healthy communal activity of the Church. But I wonder if any of us actually know the power of it. Thats right, praise has a power in and of itself that can win wars and change history. It has awesome power within the life of the church and within the sector of secular society. We see in 2 Chronicles the Lord saying to the Isrealites, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” So the people gathered together on the day of the battle and sent out worshipers before the Israeli army. The men sang out,

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

The Lord, in turn, caused the enemies of Judah to turn upon one another and the battle was won. Israel's enemies had defeated themselves. Today, we see that the same principle applies in matters such as spiritual warfare. When demonic forces attempt to come against the plans and aspirations of God and His Kingdom we praise God. At first this may sound counter-intuitive. But then again, sending musicians out on the front line of an ancient near-eastern battle may seem a bit counter-intuitive. The point is that we come in the opposite spirit. When the devil says that there isn't enough provision we say God will provide. When the devil says the load is to heavy and burdensome to carry we worship the God who says his burden is light. Praise has tremendous power to overcome any obstacle and by it we agree with God and who He says He is. In turn, God always honors his own nature.

Praise has power because it is an active demonstration of faith and we know that God honors faith. The Lord tells us in Matt. 17:20, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Praise has power because it is agreeing with God. It saying to God, “your right!” Praise has power because even after confessing God's righteousness, it then goes on to praise it. In true praise our whole being is crying out in union with our Maker.

But praise is not an instrument. We do not praise God in order to somehow reap benefits and rewards. We praise God because God is God and He is worthy of all admiration. In fact, praising God in order to use Him can have disastrous effects (like the sons of Sceva in Acts 19). God is just so good that when He is honored the energy of his joy overflows onto us.

Truly, miraculous things occur when we put our faith in God. So often, it is through praise that God chooses to break strong holds in our own hearts and lives and the lives of those around us.

Author John Bush, 2/12/13, associate of Jesus Saves Network

31 THINGS YOU CAN DO ABOUT YOUR DEPRESSION TODAY

31 THINGS YOU CAN DO ABOUT YOUR DEPRESSION TODAY

Depression is difficult to describe. It is a myriad of symptoms spanning the emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual. Is it physical? Is it emotional? Is it relational? Is it spiritual? Well…YES. All of the above. Do antidepressants help? Does talking help? Does making lifestyle changes help? Does addressing spiritual needs help? Does changing cognitions, confronting childhood pain, or taking hormone treatments help? Absolutely. All of the above. Or none at all depending on the person and circumstances.

It is like a knot in a person’s hair…comprised of hundreds of strands…hundreds of origins…with many approaches to its relief.

Depression also is not a box that you are “in” or “out”. It is a spectrum of places on a map with many, many possible locations. A person can be mildly depressed, majorly depressed, or circumstantially depressed. Or, all of the above at different points in a lifetime or a day.

All that being said, here are some things you can do to relieve symptoms of depression TODAY. The list is not meant to be exhaustive. This list also is not meant to be used as treatment for a person with major depressive disorder or any other mental health illness. Someone facing major depressive disorder could be overwhelmed by such a list.

Still, when working with clients who are struggling with depression they can almost be desperate for something they can DO…RIGHT NOW…to get some relief. This post is not meant to be a substitute for therapy or other professional help. Part of depression includes feelings of hopelessness and helplessness…an over all sense of powerlessness…of being stuck…trapped…with no way out. Perhaps, if you are struggling with a mild case of the blues today then you will find some information here that will help you regain some power…and with that some much needed hope.

Also, I have provided “hyperlinks” throughout this article so that you can read more about certain topics. Just click on the highlighted links.

1. Sleep

Sleep issues (too much or not enough) and depression are common bedfellow. So much happens when we sleep. Our emotional experiences get filed away through our dreams. It is “clean up time” for our brain. Without sleep it is like walking around life with a cluttered mind and, like living in a cluttered house, THAT can be depressing!

Sleep and serotonin production also have an important relationship. If you are unfamiliar with the role that some professionals believe serotonin plays in depression and many other symptoms read here and here. There is still a lot unknown about the connection.

Many people struggle to fall or stay asleep. If you are getting little sleep or if your sleep is restless you are going to feel worse and possibly struggle with some depression. Talk to your health care provider about strategies for improving your sleep quality. Start with checking on your sleep “hygiene”. How do you put yourself to sleep at night? Kids need bedtime routines and to be tucked in. Adults do, too.

2. Drink water

There seems to be a connection between dehydration and feelings of depression. Drink up!

3. Go outside

I like to tell clients to “get out of their head and out of their house”. When you are depressed and anxious there can be a tendency to stay home and think. “If I think about this long enough then maybe I can figure this out.” It rarely works that way. Thinking, processing, and reflecting are all very good things to do, but not for all of the time. Get outside. Get some fresh air. Just ten minutes will do you a world of good.

4. Get some sunshine

Most people have heard of SAD…Seasonal Affective Disorder. It inflicts people with feelings of depression during the winter months when there is less sunshine. If your part of the country has been dark and gloomy for days on end and you feel depressed then lack of sunshine could be the culprit. If the weather is nice and you feel down be intentional about exposing yourself to sunshine twenty minutes a day. When Your Body Gets the Blues by Marie-Annette Brown is a great book that expounds on this idea. I highly recommend it.

If you live in an area where there is little sunshine available there are other things you can try. You can purchase a light box. Being outside on a cloudy day can still be helpful. Sitting in a room with a lot of sunlight streaming through windows can also be helpful.

5. Take vitamins

Certain vitamins are clinically proven to influence mood, particularly vitamin D3 and B vitamins. Talk to your healthcare provider about supplementing with these vitamins.

6. Turn off noise

Continuous exposure to noise is correlated with feelings of depression and anxiety. Whether that is the noise of the factory in which you work or the noise of your young children with whom you stay all day, the constant sound could be influencing your mood. If you argue that there is little you can do about these conditions you are probably right. However, this information itself can be empowering and explain a lot. Try setting aside and savoring ten minutes of quiet twice a day. These times might be in the morning on the way to work or in the evening after the kids are in bed. You might ask your spouse to stay with the kids while you take a quiet walk around your neighborhood or shut yourself up in the bathroom with earplugs. Whatever the method try cultivating some silence into your daily routine.

7. Turn off fb/twitter…or at least take a break

Constant connection with a large group of people seems to lead to feelings of depression in some people. We tend to compare our situation with the glossy pictures posted. Perhaps we were never meant to stay up on the comings and goings of so many people from our past and community. Each day take extended breaks from social networks. Step away from your computer and put your phone down. Do an activity where it is almost impossible to use any electronic device such as washing dishes or folding laundry. In addition to cultivating silence, take a break from the networking noise that constantly bombards our mental processes.

8. Walk or exercise

Ruminating, also known as over thinking, is connected to depression. Well, there is something about engaging our bodies that dis-engages our minds…in a GOOD way! Also, the physical exercise gets your blood pumping and oxygen delivered to your brain and other parts of your body. Studies show that even short amounts of exercise improves mood. Exercise seems to relieve symptoms of depression. Get moving!

9. Hug someone

The lack of physical touch in adults can lead to feelings of depression. We live in a virtually connected, fast-paced world. Be intentional today and give some extra hugs.

10. Call a friend

Talking to a trusted friend who is a good listener can relieve feelings of depression. Social connection is critical in treating depression. You don’t have to talk about anything “heavy”. Just reach out and make a connection. Friendships must be nurtured. Invest time in nurturing your social relationships today. Call a friend, send a note, write a quick text message. This daily habit will bring great rewards over the years.

11. Go to church

Involvement in a faith community wards off depression. No church or faith community is perfect. Pick one and be determined to show up for the weekly service on a regular basis.

12. Pray or meditate

Praying and meditating on a daily basis offers a consistent, safe routine that brings comfort to the mind. Not sure what to say? Find a book of prayers offered by your faith community. If you are a Christian, the book of Psalms in the bible is a great place to start. Pray the words provided, making them personal for you. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that some find helpful.

13. Try something or go somewhere new

People struggling with feelings of depression sometimes use words like “stuck” or “trapped”. Sometimes a change in scenery or trying a new activity gives us a nudge out of ”stuck”. The new place or new activity sparks creativity, ideas, and dreams. We find that a situation that seemed hopeless is not hopeless at all. There are options we never even considered when we stayed within the four walls of our home. If you feel like you are at a dead end and there is no way out…no other options…take a short or long trip and see if a change in your literal perspective also changes it figuratively.

14. Dream

A person who is depressed feels flat. It is like their mind and emotions are on lock down. Their emotions…positive and negative…are at low decibels. There is not much dreaming about possibilities. Ingenuity is absent. Dreaming awakens the mind and the soul. Take some time to deliberately practice dreaming. Make up a short story. Write a poem. Be creative. If you struggle to dream about your own future or possibilities, do it for a fictitious character for practice. Whatever gets your mind thinking outside the realm of ordinary and the expected…do it!

15. Journal

Sometimes depression is a red flag. If we think about depression as this part of us…this part that isn’t out to get us, but really wants the best for us…it is easier to be curious about what this depressed part is up to. Often depression is trying to get our attention. It is alerting us to a part of our self that needs some attention, some care, some healing. It is like a child tugging at our skirts, pulling us down to whisper something in our ear: “Pssst. Hey. You. Have you noticed that you work really long hours and never have enough time to laugh and hang out with friends or even cry when you need to?” In order to explore the possible message depression is trying to get to you it can be helpful to journal. Journaling helps you be reflective and to get to know yourself better.

Being an adult is like being your own mom and dad. You have to do for yourself all of the things your parents did for you when you were small. A child needs parents to be able to pay attention to their emotional need. It is difficult to parent a child and meet their needs if you do not know them very well. Journaling can help you get to know yourself where you are RIGHT now so that you can better parent yourself as an adult.

16. Do something for someone else

Some of us are overworked and we are already giving too much of ourselves to others. We don’t know when to say no! However, sometimes we are so stuck in our own little bubble that the “fresh air” of a giving experience can be incredibly uplifting especially when the act of service is not asked for or expected. SOMETIMES depression can cause some self-absorption as we wrestle with our own pain. A simple act of service can give you a break from too much focus on your own “stuff”.

Do something small for someone today who doesn’t expect it. Put a person’s shopping cart back in the store for them, pick up a person’s keys when they drop them. Find small ways to care for others that doesn’t run over your time, but speaks volumes to their heart and yours.

17. Write a letter of gratitude

Gratitude is a proven “upper”. Write a letter to someone expressing gratitude for who they are and things they have done for you and others. Arrange a time to deliver the letter and actually read it to the person out loud.

18. Positivity Brain Training

Name three things that have been positive about your day. It could be that the sky was a pretty shade of blue at sunset or that your favorite show came on. The point is that these positive things do not have to be huge life events.

Next, name one thing that has NOT been good about the day. You lost something important. You found out a friend betrayed you. You got sick. Next, name three things that could end up being good about that negative thing. Perhaps there is something to learn? Something good that COULD come of it? Use your imagination to lay claim to some positive end to the situation even if it doesn’t seem likely.

Our minds sometimes fixate on negativity in the day to day. It is survival mechanism. When you remember something negative the hope is you won’t repeat it! That is all fine and good, but sometimes we need to identify and appreciate the positive things in life. This process involves training our minds to see the good.

Try this exercise on a daily basis. It can be a great dinner time or ride-home-from-school conversation with kids, too.

19. Make a list..and then mark some things off!

When you feel overwhelmed to the point of being depressed closure is a real “upper”. Make a list of things you want to get done…at work, around the house, etc. Choose one or two simple tasks and just do them. Then, whether you keep the list on paper or on your phone…actually mark it off. You may feel a surge of hope that propels you to get something else done. If not, no worries. Congratulate yourself on marking one item off the list and pace yourself for more tasks the next day.

20. Watch a funny movie and laugh on purpose

Laughter…even “fake” laughter…lifts mood. There is something to be said for “acting as if” you feel like laughing. Studies seem to indicate that smiling…even when you don’t feel like it…actually lifts your mood. So, try smiling at a few people around town and then rent a funny movie and set aside time to laugh. No other agenda. Just laughter.

21. Clean your room

According to feng shui a person who is depressed will have more items laying around on the floor of their room. Well, it is true that a cluttered space is overwhelming and taxing on the mind as well as the emotions. As a symbol of cleaning out your mind, set aside time today to really clean your room. Throw away trash, pick up things from your floor, dust, vacuum. Then sit back for a few moments and enjoy the sense of uncluttered space.

22. Drink a cup of coffee.

Coffee can worsen anxiety in people who already experience it, but studies indicate that women who drink coffee experience less depression than those who don’t. No need to over do it, but that is another reason to enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning!

23. Call a therapist.

You may not be able to get in to see a therapist today, but just the act of calling a therapist to start the process of setting up an appointment can bring a surge of hope. Be ready to ask questions about their experience, fees, location, etc. Therapy is about investing in your mental, emotional, and relational health. You get a check up once a year (or you are supposed to!) for your physical body and twice a year for your teeth…doesn’t your mental, emotional, and relational health deserve that kind of attention, too?

24. Call your medical doctor.

There are all sorts of conditions that can cause feelings of depression. From hormonal issues in women to chronic illness, depression is a side effect to many common conditions. There are many kinds of antidepressants available to help combat the symptoms. Studies seem to indicate that a combination of medication and therapy for treatment has the best outcomes. Call your doctor and make an appointment.

25. Say no.

Are you a martyr? Do you get a sense of identity for wearing yourself out for others? Or, maybe you are struggle with a addiction to the identity of achievement and workaholism. People in these situations sometimes carry with them low grade depression that many people do not see. Learn to say no. Do some honest self-reflection about why you say “yes” and remember that every time you say “yes” you are saying “no” to something else that could be meaningful for you…like time for family, friends, self-care…rest.

26. Say yes.

Sometimes when struggling with depression a person can get “paralysis of analysis” and never try anything for fear of the “what if’s”. Here’s the thing…most “what if’s” aren’t the end of the world. Sometimes putting yourself out there, trying something new is a great way to get “un-stuck” and feel a renewed sense of hope in life.

27. Learn to speak up for yourself

There is passive, there is aggressive, and there is assertive…simply saying what you need to say. Sometimes if we are overly passive we interpret assertiveness as aggression. There is a correlation between passivity and depressed feelings. In fact, women who are passive are often depressed, resentful, AND angry! Find a good book about communication and consult a therapist to learn more about how to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

28. Consider your circumstances

There is something in therapy called “normalizing”. This approach is used when a person’s symptoms are made worse by thinking that they are far out of the range of normal. If it is true that some of what they are experiencing is normal, then it is very appropriate to point this fact out. The truth is that we can get depressed about being depressed! If you have experienced death, divorce, or any other major life event as well as stressful circumstances like mothering small children…it is probably quite normal for you to experience some depressed feelings. “Normalizing” your experience is not a magic wand that takes away the problem, but it can take the edge off.

29. Confront your irrational beliefs (including mind reading!)

There is a type of therapy called REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy). At risk of oversimplification, the gist is that depression and anxiety are the result of irrational beliefs we tell ourselves and live from. These irrational beliefs are often triggered by an event. Therapy involves identifying the irrational beliefs and triggers, confronting the beliefs, and changing them. While REBT works best with a trained professional, you can start the process by paying attention to your “inner dialogue”…the script running through your mind all day. What sort of beliefs do you hold to? Why do you do things? What do you find you telling yourself often? Write them down. Start observing yourself, your thinking, and your responses. Enlist the help of a trusted friend to evaluate your thoughts. Again, this part is often best done with a trained professional.

30. Find meaning in your experience

Again, accompanying depression is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness…and overall sense of powerlessness. Sometimes life progresses and we struggle to retain meaning in life…in the pain, in the joys, in the day-to-day life of living. Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, believed that people survived even the most horrible of circumstances when they could find meaning in their existence…in the experience. Take some time to consider what God could be up to in your life and in the lives of those around you. This involves an element of trust in your Maker. How could this situation be seen in a different light? How could He be working all things out for good (Romans 8:28)? Or, where is the beauty in this darkness? What glimpses of hope and light do you see around you?

31. Don’t take things too seriously

Sometimes we can take life and ourselves TOO seriously. We can read too many touching, incredibly meaning stories and blog posts. We can watch one too many Hallmark movies. We can have one too many serious conversations. If you tend to lean towards the serious side of life, remember to lighten up. Invest some time into doing nothing of significance for a few hours. A great deal of significance might come out of them!

I hope this information is helpful to someone. May it be a starting point or a resting stop on your journey.

 

Written by Emily Stone @ stonewritten.com

 

 

 

Developing Faith in the Father

Developing Faith in the Father

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge….”  Ephesians 3:16-19

In this day and hour, we as God’s people are taking our rightful position…dedicating ourselves to God, renewing our minds with the Word, setting ourselves apart from the carnal ways of the world, committing ourselves to walk in the love of God.

God has promised us the knowledge of His love. First John 4:16 says, “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us.” Believing that love is acting on it and putting it into operation. When we do, we reach out into areas that pass human knowledge.

Again, Ephesians 3:17 says, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.”

We are to be rooted and grounded in the love of God. In His parable of the sower, Jesus said that those sown on stony ground had no root in themselves (Mark 4:15-17).They heard the Word with gladness, but when persecution and affliction came for the Word’s sake, they were offended. They didn’t respond in the love of God. They responded in the natural realm and Satan stole all the Word that was in them. They were not rooted in love.

God is declaring unto you and me that we can have a comprehensive revelation of His love—its height, its depth, its width and its breadth. To know His love is to know God because He is love. God is telling us: “I’ll teach you all there is to know about Me.” He has been wanting, since the beginning of time, to share Himself with us—not part, but all! Think about that! God is offering you and me understanding of the height, depth, width and breadth of Himself. It’s almost unbelievable, but it is true.

God has a spiritual capsule and this capsule goes into effect when you get into the Word and allow God to minister to you. God will, by His Spirit, build that capsule around you and protect you from all that is happening in the outside world. If you will walk in the Word, you can be protected at all times and the wicked one will not be able to touch you. That capsule is the shield of faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Faith works by love. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:16 that faith quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one—not part of them, all of them. The first time I heard Brother Kenneth Hagin say this, I was thrilled! He spoke to Satan and said, “Satan, my household is off limits to you.” Then he put a sign in the world of the spirit that said, “Off limits, Satan. This means you!” Glory to God! I had always thought Satan held the key to my back door and could come and go as he pleased. Then I found out my authority as a believer.

Developing Faith in God’s Love

You might ask, “How do you know when your faith is developed in a certain area?” The same rules apply to the development of faith in every area of life. Faith is faith in any Bible subject—whether it is the new birth, the infilling of the Holy Ghost, right-standing with God, divine health, divine prosperity or some other area. It is the same spiritual substance. It works the same in every situation.

1. Put the Word first place. Don’t be moved by feelings.To develop your faith in God’s love, or in anything else from God, you have to learn what the Word says about it. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God(Romans 10:17). For instance, Psalm 23:6 says,“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Put that Word first place. Don’t ever go by how you feel about the love of God. Don’t confess anything else. Be confident in the fact that God’s mercy and goodness follow you all the days of your life. You should read the book of 1 John over and over on a regular basis.

2. Meditate on the Scriptures concerning God’s love.Meditation develops the capacity for faith. As you meditate on God’s Word and your capacity begins to grow, you recognize the power God’s love can have in your life. Then the things of Satan will begin to shrink and lose their grip over you, as you realize the fullness of God’s Word.

3. Act on the Word concerning the love of God.First John 4:11-12 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” By practicing this love on one another, the love of God is perfected in us.

The word perfected means “allowed to run its full course.” You can let God’s love run its full course in your life. Love never fails.Here we are reaching for that “zero failure rate.” It is possible, and it will come to pass! How are we going to do it? Not by becoming perfect ourselves, but by acting on the Word of God and allowing the love of God, which is perfect, to run its full course in our lives. Even though we make mistakes, that love force will be there to prevent failure.

4. Decide to live the love life. Make the quality decision to live by love. To develop your faith in divine healing, you have to make the decision to be well, or you never will be healed. A quality decision is a necessity in learning to live the love life.

What is a quality decision? A decision from which there is no retreat.It simply means this: “With God in heaven as my helper, He that is within me is greater than he that is in the world. I refuse to allow anything to hinder me from walking in love. I make the quality decision to walk the love walk, whether anyone else does or not.”

It is a necessity that we renew our minds to the supernatural power of the love of God. We must develop our faith and renew our minds so that we respond in love without having to think about it. We must learn to live in love, walk in love, talk in love and edify one another in love. Then when the pressures come, when the hard times come, when disasters approach us, we won’t have to stop and think. We will immediately react in love.

The secret to successfully combat Satan is to retaliate in the spirit, not in the natural.The love walk is 100 percent in the spiritual realm. This is where God wants the Body of Christ to walk. By developing our faith in the love of God, it will work and bring about that “zero failure rate.”

Now say this: “O God in heaven, I commit myself today to develop my faith in the love of God. I commit myself to Your Word, to be pleasing unto You—to walk in love, even as Jesus walked. I make the quality decision now to walk in love, talk in love, think in love and respond to all things in love. I renounce selfishness in the Name of Jesus. It has no part in me. I am born of love, so I will walk in love!”

The Power of God’s Love

By walking in God’s love, you release a force to work in your behalf—a force that has all the appearance of weakness but is stronger than any force in existence. To walk in love is to step aside and allow the power of the universe to come between you and the situation you are dealing with.

Romans 8:37 says, “Nay….” In other words, “No, you are not a lamb for the slaughter.” It says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors.” You are more than a conqueror! It is one thing to conquer; it is another thing entirely to conquer and occupy! Praise God!

You are one spirit with the Lord. Glory to God! He paid the price, so you wouldn’t have to. You didn’t have to go to the Cross; He went for you.

You are more than a conqueror through Him who loved you—through the power of that love. There is an unseen power that goes into operation when a person is developed in the love of God and knows how to walk in it. When the world starts to run over you because you appear to be weak, they will run into the unseen power. It’s all around you. It’s in you—ever ready for whatever comes. God wants you to be full of the Word and use His Name without fear. It is yours to use, and God will back you with His power just like He said He would.

One of the most outstanding examples of the power of God’s love was manifested during Jesus’ ministry. In John 8, Jesus was confronted by some Jews as He was teaching in the temple. His words were so forceful in the face of their traditional thinking that they were angered. John 8:59 says, “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

Jesus just turned around and walked through the midst of the crowd. They were trying to stone Him and He walked off! They couldn’t even see Him! This verse says He hid Himself. He was protected by an invisible shield—the love of God.

I have known men who walked in that kind of protection, and I have walked in it myself from time to time. It is the protective shield of God’s love that every believer can walk in, but very few know how. Jesus said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). But thank God for the few who do! And I have made up my mind to be one of those!

To walk in love is to walk in the very highest spiritual realm there is. Jesus walked in that realm. We have seen it operate in His earthly ministry. Another example of the power of God’s love is found in Acts 7. It is the story of Stephen as he stands before the high priest, accused of blasphemy. Acts 6:5 describes him as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.”It says in verse 8, “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”

Stephen preached the gospel as his defense and his accusers were outraged:

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:54-60).

Stephen was demonstrating the love of God. He said the one thing Jesus said at Calvary: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Stephen showed he had the same capacity to love as Jesus. The love of God was perfected in his life. He imitated Jesus.

How did Stephen learn? By waiting on tables. By serving people.Through Stephen and his ministry, great miracles were done. Where were they done? Among the people.

First John 5:1, 4-5 says, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” God is love and we are born of love. Every born-again believer on the face of this earth is a world-overcomer. He is not in the process of overcoming the world; he is a world-overcomer. You can be a world-overcomer and never overcome. You can be a rich man and starve to death. You are a creature with a will and a choice. You may never realize it in your own life, but as far as God is concerned, you have already overcome.

Let’s read Romans 5:3-5, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

We definitely know we have the same capacity to love as Jesus does because it is the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Think about that. The love of God is shed abroad in your heart. God’s love is in you because He is in you. You are born of Him. You have been made one spirit with the Lord. What is that spirit? The Holy Spirit. Who is He? He is compassion and mercy and love.

Rooted and Grounded in Love

First John 2:5 says, “Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.”

There are two ways to perfect the love of God in your life—by keeping the Word of God, and by practicing love on others.

Love takes practice and we can practice on each other. You won’t operate perfectly in love at the very beginning; but as you keep at it, you will get better and better. If you fail, just simply confess it as sin, receive your forgiveness, and go on. Keep loving. Keep overlooking the shortcomings of others and look for Jesus in them!

-KCM.org

Endurance

Endurance

My legs are screaming at me.

My heart pounds, my lungs gasp for air- its been months since I last ran. The winter cold has kept me in and what used to be a wonderful exercise is turned to misery. Endurance, though it may be a virtue, is the least appealing thing to me as my blood pounds through my body. Pain has overshadowed my intentions and whatever goal was set before me is left a mile behind.

Endurance is a virtue which is often over looked. I, myself, find in a culture that promotes immediate self-gratification we see little need in faithfulness, endurance, or long-suffering. This can be exemplified in our love affair with fast-food, our rising divorce rate in and outside the Church, and our constant attention to texting, tweeting, and Facebook. We are a culture that does not see the value of waiting or enduring through hardship and therefore we miss the blessing which can come on the other side or the lessons learned through it.

The Scriptures show us a better way though. We see from beginning to end God calling to Himself a people in faithfulness. God shows us an attentive love which faithfully pursues us even to the point of enduring our shame, mockery and ultimately sin itself. Jesus endured the pain of the cross in order to gain you, His great reward. Ultimately, Christ calls us to the same model of living. He calls us to bear a cross but also insures that His “burden is light.”

We are all called to run this race set before us in faithfulness enduring the pain of this world for the prize of knowing Christ Jesus. Take hope, therefore, not only that a prize waits before you. That is, the glory of God but also take hope and find strength and energy in the Spirit of God who Christ promised us. We do not run this race alone. We run with the power of the Holy Spirit. Endure, therefore for your Helper is sure and your prize is eternal.

"24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

Author, John Bush of JesusSaves.cc - 1/23/13

What is Advent?

What is Advent?

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NKJV).

The Incarnation of the Eternal Word – Jesus Christ – is the great redemptive miracle of the Christian faith.  The union of humanity and divinity in the person of Jesus means that his crucifixion and resurrection have defeated the power of sin and death and brings the promise of eternal life to all who believe. This redemptive event is most often associated with the celebration of Christmas. However, in the last century the celebration of Christmas has lost its Christological focus. So, the challenge before us is to discover, or rediscover, ways by which the church can once again focus its worship on this wonderful event.


Many centuries ago, the church established a sacred calendar to inspire its worship.  The sacred calendar focused on God’s saving acts as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.  The first sacred season is Advent. Advent is a season of expectation. For centuries the Hebrew prophets declared the coming of the Anointed One. The Hebrew people patiently waited for the “consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Each year as the church celebrates Advent, the people of God experience a season of hopeful expectation. Just as the ancient Hebrews anticipated the advent of the messiah, the church presently anticipates the second advent of Jesus Christ. Advent focuses our worship on the fullness of Christ’s redemption – Incarnation and consummation. Thinking of the sacred calendar as a clock is helpful to understanding Advent. Just as twelve o’clock is the ending and beginning of the day (AM and PM), so too Advent is the ending and beginning of the sacred calendar.


Advent began this year on December 2, 2012 (on the fourth Sunday before Christmas ). The four Sundays of Advent are celebrated by emphasizing biblical themes of expectation and hope. The first Sunday of Advent emphasizes the Second Advent of Christ (Matthew 24:37-44; Mark 13:24-37; Luke 21:25-36). The theme for the second and third Sundays of Advent focuses on the ministry of the John the Baptist: Prepare the Way of the Lord (Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-6) and The Coming One (Matthew 11:2-11; John 1:6-8; 19-28; Luke 3:7-18). The fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on the Virgin birth of Christ (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 1:39-55).


Because Advent has not been celebrated in most Pentecostal churches, the various Advent themes may seem somewhat alien. But there are many ways that Advent can be observed that will be helpful in Pentecostal congregations. The celebration of Advent is traditionally centered on the Advent wreath. It is comprised of a wreath of evergreens with four candles placed around the circumference and a fifth candle in the center – the Christ candle. The wreath should be placed at the altar, or on the stage. Each Sunday, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the appropriate candle is lighted with an appropriate song or hymn and reading from the Scripture. This is a good opportunity to involve children, or entire families. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the growing anticipation of the coming of the Light of the world. The Christ candle should be lighted during a Christmas Eve service, or as the final act of worship on the fourth Sunday of Advent. The lighting of candles for Advent is an ancient Christian tradition. According to legend, during the 4th and 5th centuries, the entire Roman Empire was illuminated by the candles of believers during Advent. The Advent wreath could also be used in Christian homes as a teaching device to instruct our children about the “reason for the season.”


Advent worship could also include dramas and dances that depict the theme of the season. Also, choral songs and sermons should be presented during worship that serves to keep the redemptive theme of Advent prominent in the minds of worshipers. For the past several years, I have designated the midweek services during Advent to teach the biblical and traditional foundations for the Advent/Christmas season. This includes lessons on the infancy narratives of the Gospel, and historical background behind other seasonal images, such as: the Virgin Mary, the three wise men, and the star of Bethlehem. Also, this is an excellent time to teach the story and traditions about Nicholas of Myra, the ancient Bishop who has been transformed into Santa Claus.


It may surprise many Christian parents to discover that most of the contemporary themes of Advent and Christmas celebrations – Santa Claus, gift giving, and Rudolf – are less than 150 years old. The present culture has co-opted, redefined, and even paganized an important holy season of the Christian church. If we are to succeed in preserving the significance of the Advent season, it must begin with intentional observances in church, and at home.-- Author, Daniel Toberlin http://www.danieltomberlin.net/

How to Find God’s Will for Your Life

How to Find God’s Will for Your Life

One of the age old questions of the young and the old concerning life has always been, “What is God’s will for my life?”. There have been many books, blogs, and sermons preached yet the question in many of hearts remains unanswered. Why is this?

I believe it is because it is vague and vague makes us uncomfortable. I don’t know about you but I would love a list of ten ways to find God’s will. The bottom line is that God’s will can’t be found by checking off a to-do list.

How can God’s will be found then? There is an obvious answer that comes to mind, pray. While this is absolutely true, it is still vague. I believe that what is at the root of the most ministers instruction to read the bible and to pray is really them telling us to get back to the basics. Before, a builder can build a house the foundation must be laid.

Honestly, I find myself wanting more words from God telling me a specific action to take rather than living out what has already been given to me in his word. Maybe the reason God stays silent for so long is because we fail to obey his initial commands. His word even tells us over and over again in the gospels that a wicked and adulterous generation looks for signs but none will be given except the sign of Jonah. Instead of looking for more words, maybe it is time to live out what has been given and what has been spoken.

I can’t give a list of ten ways to find God’s will for your life but I can list out principles and directives that are already laid out in his word:

Love God
This sounds simple and begs the question of why I would even list this. The reason I put this on the list is because I find myself shamefully forgetting it to often. How in the world can I or anyone else find the will of God for their lives if they are not loving God with everything they have. In fact, ultimately this is the will of God for all of our lives. More than anything he wants us to be in relationship with him. I feel that when we come to him rattling off every question we can think of concerning our lives, he just sits with his hands pressed to his face, shaking his head, saying, “If you only knew I just want to love you right now and I just want you to love me. You’re worried about all the wrong things. If you would come and talk to me my voice would be very clear and you would know me so well that you would know the answer before you could ask it.”  If you are struggling with the will of God for your life, start spending time with him. If you look into your heart and honestly don’t desire to then ask him to give you that desire. One of the most powerful prayers I have ever prayed is, “God I want to want you.”

2. Love People
  1 John 4:7-8 tells us to love one another because everyone who loves has been born of God but whoever does not love does not know God. John 3:16 tells us that it was because God so loved the world that he sent Jesus to come down and die on the cross for us. God’s will, his desire, his heart cry is people. What consumes the heart and actions of God? People. God’s will is for us to be like him, to care about what he cares about. There is no way to find God’s will if one is not walking in love. One could be the greatest preacher, missionary, teacher, evangelist, or writer but if they are not loving on the people that they are around everyday they are missing the will of God.
What I’m trying to say is that there is that it does not matter what you do if you are not loving God and people it is a one-hundred percent guarantee that you are not in the will of God. On the other hand, if you are pursuing God with all you have and you are loving people there is no way that you can miss the will of God for your life.

Stop worrying and Start loving.


Written By: Danielle O’Neil @danielleoneil.com

What Words Have Caused You To Fear

What Words Have Caused You To Fear

You know God has ALWAYS shown up for you yet someone speaks negative words or something negative happens and you totally freak out!  So did ELIJAH!  Elijah has just bested four hundred prophets of Baal on the summit of Mt. Carmel and has one-upped Ahab by outrunning the king's chariots on their return journey to Jezreel (1 Kings 18:20-46). But then Ahab tells Jezebel of Elijah's exploits, and she becomes enraged and declares against Elijah (in the typical words of an ancient Near Eastern oath), "So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow" (1 Kings 19:2). In other words, "May the gods take my life if I have not taken yours by this time tomorrow." 

When Elijah heard Jezebel's words, he "was afraid; he got up and fled for his life" (1 Kings 19:3). While the story of 1 Kings 19 focuses on Elijah, the reader is left to wonder at the imposing power of Jezebel. WHAT HAS POWER OVER YOU? This Elijah, the prophet who confronted Ahab with news of an impending drought (1 Kings 17:1) and who destroyed four hundred prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, fled from the scene the moment Jezebel threatened his life.

Elijah had seen God show up SO MANY TIMES yet ONE persons WORDS sent him into get fear.  What has you bond up today?  Who's Words have sent you into freak out mode?  Call on Jesus and break the power of those words!!

The Lord is Our ONLY Safe Place

The Lord is Our ONLY Safe Place

Wow!  This world is rocking and reeling in so many ways.  As this blog is being written, we are seeing drastic weather changes and major disasters due to crazy weather.  Over a million people are without power, homes are flooded and even the US Stock Exchange was closed for two days!  It reminds me of the Scripture in Luke 21:26 “Men’s hearts will fail them for fear and for looking upon those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Fear is in the hearts of so many people and for good reason.  This world is upside down!

But thank God there is hope!  It is found in Jesus Christ.  He is the “Rock” of our salvation.  And when we call upon the name of the Lord we shall be saved according to Proverbs 18:10.  So today don’t allow fear to overtake your thoughts and your mouth.  Remember, ultimately, there is only one place to turn in times of disaster. There is only one "Rock" that cannot be moved or shaken. Our place of "refuge" and "strength" is God."God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

 

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12).

One of the most personal gifts of the creator is the promise we (His children) can hear his voice. God has called you to an intimate relationship with Him that includes being able to hear Him speak into your life.

We are the height of His creation, and because of that we can and should be able to hear His voice and recognize it as Him. Demons hear God’s voice and they obey. Nature hears His voice and obeys. We too can hear His voice and obey. Hearing His voice is part of the eternal life package.

Let me give you a few thoughts to put in place in your life that will help you to hear the voice of God more consistently.

1. Being familiar with His written word begets being familiar with His voice

The more you read the Word of God, the better you will become at recognizing the voice of God when He speaks to your heart. As you daily read His word, ask God to teach you to hear His voice. I promise it’s a prayer He will answer.

2. Don’t disregard every thought that runs through your head as your own.

God often places a thought that is highlighted more vibrate than a normal passing thought. For me, this seems to happen as I’m driving. I almost never turn on the radio. I use my commute time to listen to my thoughts, and many times, God drops His thoughts into the water of my thoughts. A ripple takes places, and I know it’s Him speaking.

3. During my prayer time I sing worship songs and then stop for silent time.

When I praise Him through worship songs, I can feel my soul being cleansed. I feel God drawing me closer to Him.  Worship opens the ears of my heart to Hear Him more clearly.

God bless you as you listen for Him to speak.

Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 1/29/13 

FLIGHT DELAYED

FLIGHT DELAYED

When I arrived at the airport today I quickly overheard the attendants at the check-in counter saying a flight was delayed. I walked up to the counter to check if they were talking about my flight and in fact they were.  The delay was for an hour and twenty minutes. That was a bummer but not too long of a wait.  I proceeded to security, passed through it, and then sat down in the terminal only to hear that my flight was now delayed three hours and twenty minutes.

I am sitting here waiting. Three hours in a small airport can seem like forever. Sitting here waiting has caused me to reflect not on flight delays but spiritual delays. Maybe God has given you a promise or a glimpse of the future. For me he has. When God gives you a promise for the future it can feel much like waiting for a plane to take off. We start to become ansy rushing to the ticket counter to see if there is any other flight we can get on. Even if there isn't a flight for the specific place we are going to we would be very happy if there was a flight to somewhere close. We would do anything just to shave off a little bit of waiting time.

Does this describe you spritually? Waiting anxiously for the promise God has given. Are you trying to figure out how to shave anytime you can off of your waiting time? Are you begging God for an earlier arrival time on your destiny? Are you trying to negotiate with God saying, "Even if I can't get exactly where I'm supposed to go I'll settle for somewhere close. If I'm close then I can cover it from there and use my own means to arrive at the final destination"?

In the bible we find a woman who fits this description perfectly. Her name was Sarah. The plane that she was anxiously awaiting to take off was the birth of a son. Sarah was the wife of Abraham. In Genesis 15:5 God made Abraham a promise that his children would be as numerous as the stars. This is quite a peculiar promise considering that Abraham is at least 75 years old and Sarah had not given him a child.

Sarah was anxious much like I am right now waiting for my plane to take off. Except for the fact I know how long my delay is going to be, while she did not.  Sarah became so anxious for her promise, for the arrival of her destiny that she was willing to settle for something that was not exactly the destiny God had promised her but close. Sarah gave up on her plane so she tried to board someone elses. Sarah got her Eygpytian slave Hagar to sleep with her husband Abraham so that she could have a son. No wonder they didn't watch soap operas then, they lived them.

Unfortunately using someone else to get her plane instead of trusting God did not turn out favorably for her or any of the people involved. Sarah began to hate Hagar for bearing what Sarah believed was her destiny. She mistreated Hagar and Hagar fled. God was still faithful to Hagar. She bore a son Ishamael who's descendants are numerous to this day. They are Arabs who constantly war with the Israelites who are the descendants of Abraham and Sarah.

Moral of the story: when facing spiritual delays do not get someone else besides God to get your plane for you. Wait for the plane promised to you. Using someone else or boarding another plane causes serious damage to you and others in your path. God will still give you the promise but the promise maybe forever tormented by what you did in your delay time.

If today you are facing a spiritual delay learn from Sarah's mistake and wait. Enjoy what God has given you right now. Even if you are not able to board the plane or take hold of your promise you have something better than any promise right here right now. His name is Jesus. He is the greatest gift of all. Use your delay time to build an even stronger relationship with him. When your promise comes it will be all it was meant to be because of your obedience. Wait for your plane!

Written By: Danielle O'Neil

The Power of Interdependence

The Power of Interdependence

God would have never given us the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel if He never intended for that to really happen. Second Peter 3:9 tells us that, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” God would not say this if it were not possible. But none of us can do this alone. No Pastor can fulfill this calling by himself, no matter how gifted he may be.


At FWC, God has given us a Mission:
“Family Worship Center is a community of Spirit-Filled Believers committed to God’s Purpose of changing lives, by Worshipping God, leading others to Jesus, and building unified teams to reach and care for all in every stage of life”
This is our Mission. God is holding all of us accountable to fulfill the Mission He has given us. But we have to understand that none of us can do it alone. God never intended for us to do it alone. But, we can do it together.


Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, in his book, Doing Church As A Team, says:
“May we learn God’s design for His people and begin to respect and appreciate each other’s giftings. There are few things more beautiful to God than seeing His people serving and working together is a unified rhythm. It’s like a symphony to His ears. That’s how we were created to function. God has designed us to need each other! For us to reach our communities, much less the world, we will need every ministry doing it’s part and every member of the congregation excitedly doing church as a team.”
This is called “Interdependence”. Webster defines “Interdependence” as “a relationship in which each member is mutually dependent on the others”. The Apostle Paul basically says the same thing in Romans 12:4-5: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” And again in First Corinthians 12:14-21: “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”


This is “Interdependence”. Interdependence is not the same as independence. Independence means “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like of others”. While this may sound good at face value, the truth is that one day you will look around and discover that you are all alone–that you do not have any support, any help, or any one around you to lift you up, to encourage you, or to work with you–and it’s then that you realize just how small and inadequate you really are. God never intended any of us to be this way. Having an independent spirit is a weakness, not a strength.


Stephen Covey, in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says:
“Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players. They’re not coming from the paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational reality.”

If you are going to move forward in you personal life and enter into the place of fruitfulness and effectiveness that God has for you, then you are going to have to rid yourself of an independent spirit and embrace the power of Interdependence.
If your Church is going to move forward to a new level, and experience the level of effectiveness that God intends for it to function in, then it will have to rid itself of an independent spirit and embrace the power of Interdependence. There are no limits to what we can accomplish for God if we understand and embrace The Power of  Interdependence.


Four Steps To Embrace Interdependence


1.   See everybody as important:
Everybody has something to offer to the kingdom of God. God has a purpose and a plan for everyone reading this today. You are important to the plan of God! Two Stories in The Word Of God that illustrate this are found in Luke 19:1-10 and Luke 7:36-50. Take a minute and check it out.


2.   Accept the fact that God has gifted everyone to serve:
Everyone has been given specific gifts from God to serve in some capacity. I don’t have every gift. You don’t have every gift. But I do have some God-Given gifts, and so do you! The Apostle Peter says,
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).


3.   Rally around a common Mission:
Interdependence is not about “doing your own thing”. It’s about coming together to accomplish something much bigger than what you could ever do on your own. This is where you must know the Mission of your Church and keep it constantly before your leaders and your congregation. Genesis 11:4-8 is a great story of a group of people that were united around their mission. God said of them, “… nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” Take a minute and read it.


4.   Get busy and go to work:
Lastly, there comes a time when you just have to join a team, get busy, and get it done! I have to do my part; You have to do your part. I have to carry part of the load; You have to carry part of the load. I don’t have to carry it all, and neither do you. But, each of us are expected by God to do our part.


The rewards of the Power of Interdependence is seen in the words of the Apostle Paul, “…As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16).


This is Interdependence. This is what it’s going to take for you personally to experience a SHIFT. This is what it’s going to take for every Church to experience a SHIFT. It’s time to make the change. Don’t continue to stay in the rut you’re in. God has something better for you! Make the SHIFT; Experience The Power Of Interdependence!
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I Can Do But Am I Suppose To?

I Can Do But Am I Suppose To?

I Can Do But Am I Suppose To?

Philippians 4:13_
"I can do all things 'IN' Christ who strengthens me."
I CAN...but am I supposed to?
This is where we sometimes 'miss the mark.'

We get emotional and zealous and bite off more than we can chew.
We hear a passionate appeal and commit to doing something without consulting Yahweh (God) or even thinking it over.
We see a need and assume it's our responsibility to meet that need.
We see or hear of an opportunity to minister and dive right in.
We fail to stop and ask the Lord if this is our assignment...is this something He even wants us to do?
What happens?

Far too often we get out of the Lord's will. We get committed to too many things and then find ourselves 'burnt out,' weak, frustrated and worn out.
Do I have your attention?

God will strengthen us by His Spirit in Christ Jesus to do all things. But He won't strengthen us to do the things that are outside of His will. He won't strengthen us to do dumb stuff. He won't strengthen us to do the things He has not called us to do.
Before you, in a moment of enthusiasm, volunteer to do something, pray. Ask God for direction. Seek His face and His will and then wait on His answer.

Did you get that?
Don't jump into anything until you are given divine direction. Don't tell God or people that you are going to do something and then change your mind when you realize you spoke too soon.

I like what the Living Bible says in Ecclesiastes 5:4-7_
"So when you talk to God and vow to Him that you will do something, don't delay in doing it, for God has no pleasure in fools. Keep your promise to Him. It is far better not to say you'll do something than to say you will and then not do it. In that case, your mouth is making you sin. Don't try to defend yourself by telling the messenger from God that it was a mistake (to make the promise). That would make God very angry; and He might destroy your prosperity.

Dreaming instead of doing is foolishness, and there is ruin in a flood of empty words; Fear God instead."
Shalom!!!

Written by: Dale Croft

Holding Pattern

Holding Pattern

One of my favorite books in the bible is the book of Deuteronomy. A key to understanding the book is understanding the context. Here is the backstory that leads up to the book. God miraculously delivers the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and uses Moses to lead them out. They journey to Mount Sinai where God and the Israelites make a covenant with one another. Then they journey up to Kadesh-barnea where they send spies to scout out the land that was promised to their ancestor Abraham. The prospects look good, but the Israelites utlimately shrink back in fear at the thought of fighting the giants that are in the land. So, the Israelites wander around the wilderness learning all kinds of lessons.

When we come to the book of Deuteronomy forty years have passed sinced Kadesh-barnea. An entire generation of Israelites has passed away, and now a new generation of Israelites is preparing to try once again to enter into the promised land. Moses has assembled all of Israel in order to give his farewell instructions, for he knows that he will die before they cross the Jordan river.

One of the things that I love about the book is the poignant reminders that Moses gives. He wastes no time in giving them, for we see one of his most acute remarks in the very beginning:
It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the Lord had commanded him to give to them. Deuteronomy 1:2-3
The point seems subtle to the uninitiated. In fact, if you do not know the backstory you will most likely miss the point. I am not a big fan of the New Living Translation. However, I think their paraphrase accurately captures the point that Moses is making here:

Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt…
In other words, Moses wants to make sure that none of us forget that they had managed to turn an eleven-day journey into a forty-year struggle.

It happens to all of us. We get stuck in transition, held up in a holding pattern. It even happened to the great patriarchs. Abraham got stuck in Egypt (Genesis 12:10), Isaac got stuck in the land of Abimelech (Genesis 26:8), and Jacob got stuck in Paddam Aram serving Laban (Genesis 29:27).
We are not told exactly how long Abraham stayed in Egypt. In the case of Isaac we are simply told that he had been in the land of Abimilech “a long time.” And with Jacob we find out that he was tricked into fourteen years of service to Laban. How do we get ourselves into these holding patterns? How do we turn an eleven day journey into forty years?

Each situation is unique. In each case there are different factors to take into account. However, there is one obstacle that seems to be a universal threat, something that all of us will face in our faith journey. It is fear.
When Moses recounts his instructions to the Israelites at Kadesh-barnea his exhortation focused on the issue of fear:

See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 1:21
Fear is not something that happens only to the weak. All of us experience fear. In fact, if we are honest most of us know what it is like to go through entire seasons of life driven by fear. On the one hand, we do not want to be overly hard on ourselves for this reality. After all, nearly every hero of the faith in the bible had to be told at some point to fear not, and nearly every book of the bible has at least one fear not verse in it. Obviously this is a very common experience. On the other hand, it should be noted that scripture deals so heavily with the issue of fear because it is one of our greatest enemies, one we must confront diligently. In the book of Revelation we are told that the ones who overcome will inherit God and all of His blessings. However, the first ones mentioned in the list of those headed for the lake of fire are the cowardly (see Rev. 21:7-8).
The story of how the Israelites turned an eleven-day journey into a forty-year struggle is a classic what could have been tale. However, this story is not here to discourage us nor depress us, but to encourage us to find the fortitude that proved so illusive to them. As Paul noted about these stories in Scripture, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Perhaps you find yourself in a holding pattern today. I understand that you do not want to get ahead of God. I know what it is like to get ahead of God. However, while it is possible to get ahead of God, our greatest enemy is actually fear. It just may be that the thing that has you going in circles is not God, but fears that you have yet to identify.
If that is you today perhaps you need to go back and study this issue of fear, or do a self-inventory of your current state of fear. Then again, you may not need a long drawn out study. Perhaps you only need the simple reminder that fear is the thing that is holding you back. Maybe that will be the moment in which you finally turn and jump out of your holding pattern and into your free-falling adventure with God. So, what are you waiting for? Jump!

 

ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST TODAY AND LET HIM TAKE AWAY YOUR FEAR!
http://www.jesussaves.cc/index.php/english/prayer-of-salvation/

 

Written by Jonathan Stone at stonewritten.com

Enduring Faith

Enduring Faith

There is faith and then there is 'enduring faith.'


Have you ever been in the place where there is no way out? An impossible situation? A place of hopelessness? There is absolutely nothing you or anybody else can do about it. Most would think that's a horrible place to be in. But for the Believer, while not pleasant, it can be a blessed place because that's where the God who is able...the God of no limitations...shows up and shows out!


It's a blessed place because it is where we grow in real faith. It's where we learn to hold tightly to the Lord. We recognize that if our God doesn't move on our behalf there is no hope. This is when we are established in an 'enduring faith.' "Having done all to stand, (we) stand."
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (ENDURANCE)."
Yahweh wants to produce in us endurance and enduring faith, not some feeble 'flash in the pan' kind of faith. He wants us to be marathon runners, not sprinters.


There is only one way that 'enduring faith' can be produced...it's through the 'fire of trial.'
The key to finding 'joy' in trials is knowing that Yahweh is giving us opportunities to exercise and increase our faith...to practice 'enduring faith.' This increase of our faith turns us from fear and desperation into great delight and 'joy.'
"Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning."
(Psalm 30:5)
Shalom!!!

Love To The Uttermost

Love To The Uttermost

DEPTH OF LOVE FOR US

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8)

As I have pondered the love of Christ for us, and the different ways that the Bible presents it to us, I have seen four ways that the depth of Christ’s love is revealed. First, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by what it costs him. If he sacrifices his life for us, it assures us of deeper love than if he only sacrifices a few bruises. So we will see the depth of Christ’s love by the greatness of what it cost him. 

Second, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by how little we deserve it. If we have treated him well all our life, and have done all that he expects of us, then when he loves us, it will not prove as much love as it would if he Tuesday Love to the Uttermost 11 loved us when we had offended him, and shunned him, and disdained him. The more undeserving we are, the more amazing and deep is his love for us. So we will see the depth of Christ’s love in relation to how undeserving are the objects of his love (Romans 5:5–8).

Third, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the greatness of the benefits we receive in being loved. If we are helped to pass an exam, we will feel loved in one way. If we are helped to get a job, we will feel loved another way. If we are helped to escape from an oppressive captivity and given freedom for the rest of our life, we will feel loved another way. And if we are rescued from eternal torment and given a place in the presence of God with fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore, we will know a depth of love that surpasses all others (1 John 3:1–3).

So we will see the depth of Christ’s love by the greatness of the benefits we receive in being loved by him. Fourth, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the freedom with which they love us. If a person does good things for us because someone is making him, when he doesn’t really want to, then we don’t think the love is very deep. Love is deep in proportion to its liberty. So if an insurance company pays you $40,000 because you lose your spouse, you don’t usually marvel at how much this company loves you. There were legal constraints. But if your Sunday School class makes all your meals for a month after your spouse dies, and someone calls you every day, and visits you every week, then you call it love, because they don’t have to do this. It is free and willing.

So we will see the depth of Christ’s love for us in his freedom: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). Love to the Uttermost 12 To push this truth to the limit, let me quote for you a psalm that the New Testament applies to Jesus (Hebrews 10:9). It refers to his coming into the world to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin: “I delight to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8).

The ultimate freedom is joy. He rejoiced to do his redeeming work for us. The physical pain of the cross did not become physical pleasure. But Jesus was sustained through it all by joy. He really, really wanted to save us. To gather for himself a happy, holy, praising people. He displayed his love like a husband yearning for a beloved bride (Ephesians 5:25–33).

Taken From “Love To The Uttermost” by John Piper

Identity Check

Identity Check

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

From creation to new creation what will you contribute? I know that is a staggering question but it’s one you need to be thinking about often. We all leave a story behind after we draw our last breath. We leave behind not only a story that others will remember, but we leave behind a story that follows us into eternity.

When my time comes to step over into eternity, I want my children and their children to be able to pick up a breadcrumb trail that speaks of following Jesus. I’m sure they will discover my sinfulness. We are all sinners, but I’m hopeful and sure they will also see my surrender to the only one that can set it all right again. They will find I followed Jesus.

Everyday choices paint your part of the story between creation and new creation. What is your canvas looking like? Are you living up to the identity God has set for you?  Christ has caused you to be a new creation in Him. He has bought you with a price. He has set you apart for His glory and sprinkled you among the world to be salt and light.

Are you surrendered today to the pen of God who wants to write a story through your life? He wants your life to be an echo to the world of how to be set free, of how to truly live, of what He has prepared for those who follow Him. Are you allowing God to have all of you? As one writer has said about the story God is writing, “He is its beginning, end and center. It is the story of the mission of God, of this God and no other.”

Is your life inviting people to hear God, to see God, to want a relationship with the God you follow? If not, you can change all that in a moment. Surrender again to His Lordship. Let Him take over the story of your life again. You were meant to worship God alone with all of your life.

Christopher J. H. Wright once wrote, “What a travesty it is when humans, who themselves are the work of God’s hands and were made to rule the rest of the works of God’s hands, choose instead to worship the work of their own hands (Ps. 115:4).”

You are leaving a legacy! What is that legacy? It can be His story through you if you will simply follow Him fresh again.

Author Steve Wrights, 1/7/13, at http://stevewright.info/2013/01/07/are-you-living-up-to-the-identity-god-has-set-for-you/

AVOIDING THE FAILURE TO LAUNCH

AVOIDING THE FAILURE TO LAUNCH

I tend to work with individuals, couples, and families during seasons of transitions. Change…even good, normal, developmentally appropriate change…brings stress and often triggers interpersonal and intrapersonal relational conflict. The “launching phase” is no different. Whether it is with individuals or couples, young people in their twenties and early thirties find their way to my office every week. I love this age group. So much is going on! It is the best of times and the worst of times. Here are some thoughts for all of you out there who might be traveling this leg of the journey. It isn’t meant to be an exhaustive “to do” or “not to do” list…just some things to think about.

1. Give your parents a break.

Sure, they are excited for you, but even the best of parents, the SANEST of parents, go a little crazy watching their “baby” leave home and strike out on their own. The relationship is changing and they are adjusting to those changes, too. They have a hard time learning that advice from parents is not what young people need anymore…not that they would listen to it anyway! Do your best to be patient with them as they are learning how to be the parent of an adult child. Here is a great book I have had parents recommend to me as being helpful.

2. Big or small…you might go through a faith crisis….and that is ok.

More than just ok…it is completely normal…and can be a good thing. James Fowler, who did a lot of writing and teaching on faith development, talks about stages of faith. There is a certain stage that often takes place at about the time of young adulthood where there is a great deal of questioning. Sometimes this season of questioning is very scary for a person who has been strong in their faith. It can feel like you are losing your faith. It is very, very, very important that you understand that this is not what is happening. Your faith is becoming your own. You are wrestling and in that wrestling you can come out on the other side stronger. The bible is full of people who wrestle with God, who doubt, question, and get angry…and are called some of the most righteous of the bible. What you don’t want to happen is to think you are losing your faith, that you are the only one, and to never talk to anyone about it. Remember, you are not losing your faith, you are not the only one, and there are people with whom you can safely discuss your doubts.

Again, parents can struggle to watch their adult child go through this phase. Hopefully, your parent will give you room to dialogue and discuss these questions. If, for whatever reason, your relationship with your parent is not a safe place to process these questions then I encourage you to do two things: 1. Learn what you can and can’t talk to your parents about during this time. Don’t throw the relationship out altogether. 2. Find a trusted, faithful adult with whom you CAN talk about your questions.

3. Overthinking…and great expectations…can lead to paralysis of analysis and missed opportunities.

Wow…you are making a lot of decisions during these years. Career, marriage, place of residence, when or if to have children…it can be overwhelming. In a world where we can control just about every minute of our life from the temperature of our home to when our coffee maker turns on in the morning, these kinds of options and unknowns can be un-nerving at best and paralyzing at worst.

For my Christian friends another wrench gets thrown into the mix in the form of one terrifying question: “What is God’s will?” This question can be terrifying because young people are so afraid that they will miss it. Let me remind you that in the New Testament when we are taught about God’s will the subject is NEVER something like…who should I marry? What job should I choose? Where should I live? What is the topic each time God’s will is discussed? Things like pursuing peace, becoming more like Christ, etc. It could be that we focus so much on the job, the marriage, and the location because this thing of becoming like Christ is actually a more difficult task! We want to do something GRRREAT! for God. The mundane daily living of God’s will for faithfulness isn’t as exciting or dramatic…but, ultimately what He wants from us.

Take a deep breath. Make the best decision you know to make. Seek counsel, do your best to be wise, but in the end trust that you will learn from any mistakes you make and that there is beauty in a journey with twists and turns. There is RARELY a decision that is completely without the possibility of being changed or done over.

Ultimately, trust. Trust that “all things do work out for good”…not as an excuse to do whatever you want…but, as freedom to do the best you know to do and to leave the rest up to God.

4. Learn the life giving rhythm of the mundane.

For those of you who went to college, particularly for those who enjoyed the college campus “experience”, life after graduation can come as quite a culture shock. People get up, go to work, come home, eat, maybe read or exercise, go to bed, and get up the next day to do it all again. Social events are not a few steps outside the front of your dorm anymore so friendship and building relationships will take more effort and initiative. You can stay up to all hours, sleep through class, and still manage to pass. You can’t sleep through work and get a paycheck…or keep your job. Self-care becomes a responsibility of adulthood. Good bedtimes, good eating habits, staying connected to those we love…a healthy rhythm of life…becomes part of your “adult” developmental work.

Again, this change can be quite a culture shock. Give yourself some time to adjust. Learn to inject adventure into your life. Learn to explore and love the world around you. Learn to do all of this in your newly acquired position called “adult”.

5. Try not to react.

People will have a lot of opinions about what you should do with your life. Listen. Be respectful. Learn. Be open to new ideas and the wisdom of others. Also be very careful not to react…in either direction…to what others say. For example, in what is a classic tale of humanity…as much as parents know that if they tell you how much they hate your girlfriend you are even MORE likely to date her…parents still struggle to keep their opinions to themselves. Same goes for faith development. If adult children sense that their parents are pushing them to believe in the same way they do, the more the adult child can resist. Be aware of this parent-adult dance. Try not to make decisions in reaction to your parents’ opinions (pro or con!) or anyone else’s. Either way…even if you go AGAINST what others are saying…you still aren’t making YOUR decision. It ends up being a decision made on account of someone else. Young people will say: “I want to make my own decisions!” Well, ok, then learn not to be reactive to those around you. Learn to make YOUR decision…even if…God forbid…it is the same thing your parents want.

Written by:  Emily Stone @ www.stonewritten.com

15 Ways To Become A Better You In2016

15 Ways To Become A Better You In2016

5…4…3…2…1…


And with that brief introduction, a New Year begins. I don’t know about you, but this new year definitely snuck up on me. I wasn’t really prepared for it. I probably say that every year, but in so many ways this year I didn’t feel prepared to end one thing and start something new.


Maybe it’s because the past year has brought so much change in my life. Changes in my job, my ministry, my house, my location, my friends, my church and even something as basic as changes in my schedule. Change can be hard. Change can be uncomfortable. Change can even be painful.


But everything healthy undergoes change. The same goes for us as human beings, too.
As you look ahead at this coming year, my challenge to you is to be open to change. But more than simply being open to change, it’s important to actually do our part to create change. Changes that will benefit our life and impact our health - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

One thing I can guarantee you is that this year is going to go by, and you’re either going to come out the other side better, worse, or the same. Because life happens, but what we do with life is completely up to us.
If you’re looking for some changes to better yourself this coming year, consider taking on one, some or even all of these challenges:


1. Practice Being Present
The past few years have brought huge changes in our lives with the introduction of the latest and greatest technology. We’re all totally “connected” every single moment of the day. But often times, our connection to the inanimate trumps our connection to the intimate. We’ve sort of lost the art of connecting to real people in real life. This year, consider setting your phone aside a little more, in exchange for more of real life. Instead of always catching the moment for Instagram, be deliberate about soaking in and savoring the moment simply for yourself.


2. Learn to Budget (Money and Time!)
Like John Maxwell says, “Tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went!” I would venture to say that this applies to money, as well as time - the most important commodities we have in life. So much of our time and money is frivolously wasted because we didn’t have a plan for it. Instead of spending another 500 hours mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed, or spending another $500 bucks on the next fad, commit to using your time and money for something meaningful this coming year. When we’re faithful with it, God has the ability to multiply even the little that you have. Be deliberate about planning your budget this year for both your money – and your time.


3. Master the Art of Listening
They say the average person listens with about 25% efficiency. That means that 75% of what’s being said to us goes in one ear and right out the other. It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that with numbers like that, we’re missing a whole lot! So much of being a good communicator comes down to how well we master the art of listening. Work on being a better listener this year by blocking out distractions, looking people in the eye, engaging with empathy, and letting your guard down as you seek to understand before being understood.


4. Start a Bucket List
So often in life we wait around for the milestones of life, not realizing that every step of the journey holds value and significance. So stop waiting around for the next big thing, and start living life by creating a bucket list for yourself this year. As you’re planning it out, don’t just think extravagant (though that’s always fun), but think meaningful as well: schedule an interview with a grandparent to glean their wisdom, share Jesus with an unbelieving friend (or 10!), sponsor a Compassion child, invite someone to church, or get creative with random acts of kindness. Whatever it is, stop waiting and start living. Create a meaningful life by doing meaningful things.


5. Carry Less Baggage
I’m not talking about traveling baggage, but rather emotional baggage. As a professional counselor (and the fact that I’m human!) I know that we all carry wounds, pain, and hurts from our past. One of the biggest favors we can do for ourselves is look back just long enough to allow God to shed light and bring healing into the pain of our past. Find a therapist you connect with and take the time to dig deep and see how your past is impacting your present. Take the time to invest in yourself. You won’t regret it.


6. Read One Book a Month
My father-in-law is one of the smartest people I know for simply one reason: he reads everything and anything in sight! Needless to say, with all the scrolling, pinning, posting and skimming our society indulges in, we’ve sort of lost the value and importance of reading. Whether fiction, philosophy, theology, or psychology, pick up some new books this year and expand your knowledge about life!


7. Get Involved in Community
One of the most meaningful things you can invest in this year is people. The concept of community is such an important part in the life of a Christian because it is in the context of our relationships that we have the opportunity to learn how to give-and-receive love. Take initiative, have the courage to be vulnerable, and get involved in community like never before this coming year. We weren’t meant to do this life alone, so let’s not.

 
8. Be Actively Generous
We can all afford to be more generous. And generosity is such an important thing to foster, because it really shapes the condition of our heart. The more we can give to God, the world around us, and those in need, the more we realize that the most valuable things are not our possessions, but the sharing of our possessions. Open your heart and learn to give this year. Because where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well.


9. Expand your Cultural Competency
If we’re not careful, it’s really easy to become ethnocentric isn’t it? In the short 12 months I’ve spent overseas, the experiences I’ve gained from interacting with the world (outside of “my world”) have been transformational! Because interacting with different races and cultures has the ability to expand your view of the world, enrich your daily life, and give you a better glimpse of both God and eternity. Expand your cultural competency this year by visiting a foreign country, investing in new friends, trying new experiences, or inviting someone unique into your life. Take part in God’s great mosaic of life, because it’s his masterpiece.


10. Get a Mentor
No one has been more influential in my life than my mentors. They’re people who have invested in me, taught me, loved me, and poured into my life. They shaped me into the person I am today. But they didn’t stumble into my life by mistake, I had to seek them out. Find someone who you look up to, someone whose life reflects who you want to be in 10 years, and ask them to meet with you for lunch, for coffee, or for dinner. Invite a mentor into your life this year, and watch what happens.


11. Become a Mentor
Sometimes it can be hard to see ourselves as a “mentor.” In fact, I was recently asked to mentor someone and my first reaction was, “Me? What do I have to offer?” But the truth is we all have something to offer. Whether it be support, prayer, a listening ear, or our life experience, find someone that you can pour into, disciple, and encourage this year. Because like the Proverb says, when we refresh others, we’ll also be refreshed.


12. Plug into Ministry
What are the talents and passions God has gifted you with, and how are you using those talents for him? That’s an important question to answer in your pursuit of becoming the person God made you to be. Whether or not you realize it, you have so much to offer the world around you. And as you give you will quickly learn that service is actually sort of “hedonistic” - because it truly feels better to give than to receive.


13. Be More Active
Even in our 20’s and 30’s, we could all use a little more physical health and fitness in our lives (um…especially those of us in our 30s). Whether that means joining a gym (and not just through February), running a marathon (err…maybe start with a 5K), parking at the end of the lot and walking the rest of the way, taking the stairs at work, or eating healthier foods - take inventory of your life and examine the changes that need to be made as you strive to honor God with your body more this year.


14. Start a Prayer Journal
I love keeping a prayer journal. In fact, it blows me away because I get to look back at my life and see all the things that God has done. It reminds me how he came through, and challenges me to believe that he knows best. It builds my faith and teaches me to trust, especially when trust doesn’t always come easy. Start a prayer journal this year, and write down your prayers, your praises, and your petitions. Be diligent in bringing your request to God - because he’s faithful. And it’s in the asking that you receive.


15. Dig Into God’s Word
This one is for me this year. I really want to dig into God’s word in a new way. I asked for “The Message” version of the bible for Christmas, because I’m desiring to see God’s words with new eyes and an open heart. Sometimes, in our familiarity of God’s word, it can seem to grow stale. But the problem isn’t with his word, it’s with our heart. Commit to feasting on God’s words this year, asking for transformation in your life. Because there’s nothing more satisfying than blocking out the noise of this world, and instead being filled with his Truth.
Whether you take on just one or even all of these challenges, may we all strive to make this year the best one we’ve ever lived.
Because life happens, but it’s completely up to us how we choose to live it.

Reposted From Debra Fileta

truelovedates.com

Advent

Advent

What is Advent?

Celebrating Advent involves spending time in spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. In Western Christianity, the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.
 
Advent is a period of spiritual preparation in which many Christians make themselves ready for the coming, or birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Celebrating Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope and joy.

Many Christians celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ's first coming to Earth as a baby, but also for his presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in preparation and anticipation of his final coming at the end of time.


 provided by: About.com

 

God Can Do Anything But Fail

God Can Do Anything But Fail

The difficult He does immediately, the impossible takes a little longer! So never give up, never take no for an answer, where there's a will there's a way, and nothing is too hard for the Lord. The Lord can do anything if you'll just give Him a chance.

"God can do anything, anything, anything,
God can do anything but fail!
He can save, He can heal,
Just believe and He will,
God can do anything but fail!"

We know, Lord, that You can do it, and we know You WILL do it if we'll believe and trust You! You always make a way, if we obey and do it Your way. If we do all we can do, Lord, we know that you'll do the rest, as much as possible. And if it even comes to the impossible, Lord, you're an expert at that. For with Thee nothing shall be impossible and all things are possible to those that believe. (Lk.1:37; Mk.9:23) So help us, Lord, to believe and do all we can, and trust You for the impossible! You can do anything but fail, and we'll never fail as long as we trust You, Jesus!

"Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can't tunnel through?
God specialises in things thought impossible
And He can do what no other friend can do!"

-From Deep Truths_

Forgiven People Forgive People

Forgiven People Forgive People

We do not have to look very long at Matthew 18 in order to see the logic flow that takes place. It starts with the disciples asking a question, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1)? There are other moments in the Gospels when similar arguments from the disciples illicit a strong rebuke from Jesus. However, this time is different. Perhaps the disciples were not completely self-serving in the question this time. After all, in the previous chapter the disciples witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, the healing of a demon-possessed boy, Jesus’ prediction of His resurrection and money miraculously harvested from the belly of a fish. Perhaps the disciples realized it was time to get themselves in order.

Nonetheless, even if the question was not completely self-serving, it was still misguided. That is why the question caused Jesus to think about their need to humble themselves (vv. 2-5). Discussing humility caused Him to think of the ones who fail to humble themselves, and in so doing create stumbling blocks (vv. 6-9). Discussing stumbling blocks reminded Jesus that some of the “little ones” (micros, or opposite of the “greatest” mega) would wander off, and how happy His Father is when one of them is found (vv. 10-14). Discussing wandering sheep reminded Him that He expects His disciples to go and find such sheep. So, He laid out a restoration roadmap for confronting sin and restoring individuals to right relationship (vv. 15-20).

This seems to conclude Jesus’ teaching. He had sufficiently answered the question that the disciples raised. The only problem was that Jesus’ answer had caused a new question in one of the disciples. The logic flow of Jesus had bumped into some logic flow of Peter. He began to think about the implications of what Jesus was saying. Perhaps he began to think of some people who had sinned against him in the past. Maybe he had reluctantly forgiven them, only to watch them turn around and do it again. Knowing Peter, his patience would have been wearing thin. He understood that Jesus expected His disciples to extend mercy and forgiveness to a repentant brother or sister. But surely this had some limits? Even God draws the line somewhere. Right?

So, Peter had to get some clarification. He approached Jesus with a new question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times” (Matthew 18:21)? Jesus responded with this, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (v. 22). My first response to those words is something like this, “That’s 490 times. Wow! Peter doesn’t get it. I mean, 490 times is a lot more than 7 times.” But the response is not meant to make us realize that Jesus expects us to forgive a lot more times. Instead, it is intended to make us realize that there really is no limit. As long as someone continues to recognize their fault and take responsibility for it we are to continue to extend grace and mercy.

In order to illustrate the point Jesus then told a parable. In the parable a king was settling his accounts. One man owed him an amount equivalent to an entire life’s worth of wages. Essentially this man owed his life, and it was more than he could ever pay. The king ordered all that this man had be liquidated in order to pay the debt. The man begged for forgiveness and the king had pity on him and cancelled the entire debt. Despite this incredible act of grace the man turned around and found another man who owed him an amount equivalent to a couple of months wages. Instead of showing the same kind of mercy that he had received from the king the forgiven man choked the other man, demanded repayment, and then had him thrown in prison. When the king heard about it he brought the forgiven man back in, rebuked him, and had him thrown into prison until he could pay back all that he owed, which would essentially be the rest of his life. Then Jesus says, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

There is a saying that goes like this: Hurt people hurt people. It is a truth that plays out repeatedly throughout the Scripture. However, Jesus has a new expectation for those that will follow Him. His new saying goes like this: Forgiven people forgive people. When we hear the parable that Jesus tells Peter something automatically rises up within us at the overwhelming injustice of it. The story is so appalling that it is almost hard to stomach. That is exactly the response that Jesus is trying to invoke in us. Because that is a picture of how grotesque our failure to forgive others looks from the perspective of heaven. We owe a debt to God that is more than we could ever pay back. While God could demand our punishment, He instead has pity on us and declares our debt cancelled. Even the worst offenses on earth that we inflict on one another are pennies compared to the debt we owe God. He is glad to cancel our debts. However, he demands that we spend the rest of our lives extending that same type of forgiveness to others.

Written by Jonathan Stone of www.stonewritten.com

God’s Grace Is Sufficient

God’s Grace Is Sufficient

God’s Grace Is Sufficient……How does that work?

How sufficient can God’s grace be for you personally if you don’t know how to apply it to make it work? Just because your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life doesn’t mean God’s grace is automatically going to start changing everything in your life. You are in position to be able to receive His grace because you are a member of the family of believers. Your old man can become new, and as he is becoming new, the old man will fall away. The old man, the old sinful nature and all the baggage that went with him, can begin to shrink and lose its form because there is now an opportunity for you to transform. Set before you is a whole new way to live, and all you have to do now is to learn how to connect to this grace that is sufficient.

Let me explain this transformation process of the new man by God’s grace which works by faith in a way you can relate. One day, you decide to make a change to your physical, outward body. You go to a place where you can accomplish this transformation process – the gym. You go and enroll into a membership program, and you automatically become a member of that organization. However, it doesn’t mean you automatically get the body you desire. You are only in position to receive that new body because you are now a bona fide member. Your name is in the book.

You want to put off the old body so you can put on a new one you desire. A personal trainer approaches you and says, “You will find this place is sufficient for all of your physical training needs. By being a member here, you are now in position to receive the new body you’ve always wanted and get rid of the old one you now have. But, you have to follow the instructions on how my fitness program works so you can get the results you are after. Otherwise, it isn’t going to work.”

When I make this comparison to getting spiritually fit, people begin to smile and get excited because they know how physical transformation works. When they hear it explained this way, they begin to hope. All they needed to hear was that there is a simple plan to follow for their spiritual body like there is for their physical body that will allow God’s grace to transform them, thereby being sufficient. Today’s blog was written to bring you hope in knowing the best is yet to come for you. Now you know that God’s grace will be sufficient once you know how to connect to it.

by John Powers

Get Your Freedom Back

Get Your Freedom Back

Remember the day you first accpeted Christ. You could not contain your joy. All you wanted to do was tell people about him. Nothing weighed you down. You were free. Maybe you are wondering what happened to that person? I do not feel quite so free anymore. Life has a way of quickly piling up: the stress of bills and responsibility, tragedies happening all around you in your personal life and in the world. Dreams have a way of getting supressed by reality. Compromise sneaks its way in as the only option for survival. Freedom begins to be something only hoped for but thought of as something that will never be seen.

Guess what? Christ has something better in mind for your life. In fact in Galations 5:13 his word says, " You, my brothers and sisters were called to be free." Stop and think about that for a moment. As a follower of Christ freedom is not something to be longed for or something that can only be obtained by a special deliverance service. This is the calling of God on your life! Christ has set you free. No matter what is going on in your life it does not change the fact that Christ died 2,000 years ago for your sin. His blood has wiped all your sins away! Not only did he die he rose from the dead! This same resurrection power lives within you.

Follower of Christ your freedom does not come from your circumstances or feelings it comes by what Christ has done for you. Circumstances, emotions, feelings, money, jobs, and all the things of this world come and go, but one thing remains, Jesus Christ. Knowing and resting in him will give you all the freedom you need.

But, the freedom he gives is not to be used to indulge the flesh. Flesh can only produce flesh. Indulging in the flesh will only lead us back to captivity in sin. Freedom is kept by serving one another humbly in love just as Christ served us. Freedom comes when we stop focusing on ourselves and start focusing on God.

Today is the day! You are called to live in the freedom of loving Christ and others!

Written By: Danielle O'Neil, Fourth year Undergraduate Theology Student at Lee University

Tribute To My Dad

Tribute To My Dad

A Tribute for my Father - a Great Leader a Greater Dad      
By Victoria Knight Eachus


I miss my Dad. June 16, 2007 my father, Cecil B. Knight went home to Heaven. The next day was Father’s Day. To me it was fitting that the Lord allowed Dad to go then. Of course we always celebrated Father’s Day before but now it seems to be set apart as not only a special day but a sacred day. Because it falls on or close to Dad’s birthday into heaven, Father’s Day now has a depth of meaning beyond Hallmark wishes and a gift card to Home Depot.

I miss my Dad. You may have known him. He was a great leader in our church. He was one of the last great Churchmen. Evangelist, Pastor, National Youth Leader, State Overseer, General Overseer, Educator, Seminary President. 23consecutive years serving on the Executive Council, 14 years on the Executive Committee, 13 years as President of  the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Church of God School of  Theology back in the day). Oh my, the long list of accolades I could give. But I am compelled to give tribute to him as Dad…. His favorite title and the highest office he held was that of husband and father and grandfather…Dad and Papa.

I miss my Dad. But I take such delight in hearing people share how he touched their lives. So often I encounter people literally from around the world that have a story about my Dad and how the Lord used him to make a significant difference in their lives. I then love to tell them about what a remarkable Dad and Papa he was too. I would often smile when I would see the Conference Table of the Seminary; reserved for the Board of Directors and very important meetings. To us it was where grandchildren would crawl around hiding, waiting for their Papa to turn the lights out and try to scare them. To many the Executive Council room was an awesome place where global decisions were made…..well to his grandchildren is an awesome place for hide and seek and connecting with a man who instilled in them the confidence to change the globe themselves.

I miss my Dad. One of His favorite scriptures was 3John1:4, especially when communicated in the context of his family….”I have no greater joy that to hear my children walk in the Truth”. In his last weeks of life I was privileged to spend most days with him. During these precious priceless days he shared with me that his most significant achievement was teaching us the Doctrine of the Priesthood of the Family.
Oh you won’t find much about it in a book or a thesis or dissertation or even a video series. I’ve looked. But my Dad lived it out every day with each of us. He lived it out around the dinner table;  he lived it out in the car taking his grand sons and great grandson to school every day. He lived it out during shopping sprees at JC Penney’s and family vacations in Panama City. He lived it out at ball games and birthday parties and graduations and at church and at home. He was the unconditional love of Christ to us every day.

I miss my Dad. I miss my phone ringing and hearing him say, “I’m at Cooke’s. Have the kids had vegetables today? Do need anything from the store?” I miss unlocking my front door before 7am every morning for his visit. Without fail every morning before the sun he would spend time with Dewayne, my brother. Following this he would stop by my house to help our family begin our day aware of and saturated with God’s love.

I miss the crazy laugh he laughed with the grandchildren. I miss the duck sound he could make with his throat. I miss seeing him give the Winston Churchill victory sign (that is a peace sign for you too young to recall the Winston Churchill victory sign). I miss the strength of his hands. I miss having him at Sunday lunch. I miss his wisdom. I miss his prayers. I miss his time. I miss the sound of his voice and the smell of his cologne and the shuffle of his step and the love in his eyes.

I miss seeing how many times he’ll go to Publix in Panama City (each day)

I miss hot foot (it’s a game probably only the Knight family could understand)

I miss hearing the rustling of grocery bags as he came into my house; bags full of grape juice, chicken Vienna sausages, and a plethora of chips.

I miss coming home and discovering he had been there to sneak a Red Bull in my fridge – one of my indulgences with four small children. Can you imagine Cecil Knight even buying a Red Bull at the Conoco?


I miss the excitement he had when he knew we would all be around the dinner table. It was palpable. It was joy and delight and peace all rolled up into one energetic ball. He expressed it by frying more okra than you can imagine!

I miss the pride and joy in his eyes when he would listen and watch us there, eating his okra and sharing our lives.

I miss his stories

I miss watching him with my children.

I miss a thousand other things.


I miss my Dad. He knew my flaws and failures and secret struggles yet he constantly encouraged me in my strengths, always pointing me toward Christ, always loving me unconditionally. He accepted me, yet always challenged me to a higher standard and a deeper walk with God. No matter what wrong choice I made, no matter what the failure or disappointment, he stood beside me. If he wasn’t standing beside me, then he was out in front protecting me or making a way for me. If we wasn’t beside me or in front of me, then he was holding me, comforting me. You know, just like Abba Father does. No matter what I faced, no matter the consequence, or shame, or price to be paid, Dad walked the road with me.

Dad loved the Braves. He watched them faithfully, win or lose. I’d love to hear him get so disgusted with them. He’d moan and groan about their losses. He’d call his baby sister Annie, who loved the Braves too and ask her if she was watching. No matter how bad the loss, he’d be watching the next game. He liked their coach Bobby Cox. Bobby Cox never let a player get questioned or even thrown out of a game ALONE. If one of his players questioned. Mistreated, or given a bad call here comes Bobby….defending the player to the point of getting thrown out. That’s my Dad. If one of his children was going to get thrown out, knocked down, pushed away, or face some other difficult situation, then he is going to go through it with us, never to let us walk it alone. Never defending our wrong or our sin, but ferociously defending the son or the daughter.

May I challenge you fathers to live out the doctrine of the priesthood of the family.  Live it out with time and prayer and integrity and communication and love and laughter and God’s word. And you too will be able to declare “I have no greater joy that to hear my children walk in the Truth”.

Yes I miss my Dad. But thanks to his love and instruction, I can embrace the Love of my Heavenly Father, who is the God of all Comfort. How great is His Love! My prayer this Father’s Day is the same prayer my Dad prayed in the last weeks of his life. “I pray for renewal and revival in my family” Won’t you make it your prayer too.

This article is an adaptation and from a larger body of writings about life as a Pentecostal preacher’s kid.


Victoria Knight Eachus and her husband Michael live in Cleveland, Tennessee with their four children Caleb, Seth, Elizabeth, and Miriam.

The family worships at the North Cleveland Church of God

Victoria currently works at Lee University in the Office of Church Relations

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Yahweh Is Talking To You

Yahweh Is Talking To You

YAHWEH IS TALKING TO YOU!


Every day our Creator speaks to us. The problem is, often we're not listening. He speaks to us in a variety of ways. The main way is through His written Word. But how can we hear if we don't read or listen to that Word? He also speaks through inspired personal prophecy...through preachers...through songs...through the testimonies of other Believers...through Godly counsel...through text messages grin...etc.
Are you listening?  You see, FAITH is absolutely essential for receiving anything from the Lord.  Hebrews 4:2 tells us this about the Israelites in the wilderness..."the word preached to them was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith."  What was true then, is still true today.

Romans 10:17:  " So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of God."  Faith is necessary to receive all of Yahweh's promises.  Hebrews 11:6:  "Without FAITH it is impossible to please God."  If we are going to please God we must walk by faith.  If we are going to hear God we must walk by faith!

Mark 9:23:
"Everything is possible for him who believes."
By faith, hear His voice and receive His Word.
He is talking to you. Are you listening?
Shalom!!! - Dale Croft

- See more at: http://www.jesussaves.cc/index.php/english/post/yahweh_is_talking_to_you#sthash.QE7v3jKr.dpuf

Knock Knock

Knock Knock

Ever wonder why doors have handles?  Basically for two reasons.  One, so that the person on the inside can lock the door to keep others out and two, so that the door won’t just open without someone wanting it to.

Jesus Christ stands at the “door” knocking today.  He wants to come in and spend time with you.  He is a gentleman so He won’t come in without you opening the door…He is knocking… Rev. 3:10 says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Since Christ is knocking why don't we open the door of our heart and let Him in?  Perhaps it is because we feel unworthy, guilty, or are ashamed.  The enemy of our soul, (our will, mind, and emotions) spends most of His time bombarding us with these thoughts of just not being good enough.  However the Word of God, our standard for living, tells us that we can enter the throne room of God by the blood of the lamb.  It's simple.  If you have fallen short in your relationship with God just ask him to forgive you.  He is faithful and just and Jesus already paid the price for your sins.

So today receive His love, forgiveness and mercy.  Open the door of your heart and let Him come in with His peace and joy. He is knocking...

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE TOWEL

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE TOWEL

Footwashing has been observed by the Church for centuries. Some early church fathers understood footwashing as a sacrament and associated it with water baptism. Others used the word “mystery” when speaking of footwashing, and presented it as a sacred rite independent of communion and baptism. Churches representing all Christian traditions, from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal, observe this sacred act. Footwashing has often been adopted by various renewal movements as a protest against abuses of ecclesiastical hierarchy. Because early Pentecostals understood themselves to be a renewal of the “church of the Bible” the practice of footwashing was embraced. Every member was encouraged to observe this sacred act on the basis of fidelity to the Bible and the unity of the Church. Some have questioned the validity of footwashing. However, there are many biblical reasons why we should observe footwashing regularly.


Footwashing witnesses to the descent of the eternal Word. John declared that the eternal Word descended from glory and power to assume human nature (John 1:1, 14). This is a common theme in the New Testament. Peter spoke of the descent of our Lord when he “made proclamation to the spirits now in prison” (1 Peter 3:19). In a beautiful early hymn of the Church, Paul relates to us the heart of this Christology:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself (Greek – kenosis), taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

The apostolic tradition interprets the Incarnation using terms denoting humility and service. The image of Jesus rising from the table, laying aside his garments, taking a towel, pouring water into a basin, bowing before his disciples and washing their feet incorporates into one sacred action the significance of the Incarnation. In Christ’s own self-emptying he has revealed to us the glory of God. Likewise, Christians are called to emptiness and self-denial (Matthew 10:39; 16:24-25; 19:21; Mark 8:34-35; 10:21; Luke 9:23-24; 17:33; 18:22; John 12:26; Acts 2:45; 4:34-37; Philippians 2:3-5; 3:7-8). This is the spirituality of Footwashing – the fellowship of the towel (John 13:14-15). This is a difficult spirituality for Christians who live in a culture of affluence, where spirituality is defined in terms of prosperity and success. One who wishes to enter into the fellowship of the towel must first experience the kenosis, the emptying of one’s self. Footwashing is more than a sacred act of worship; it is a way of life.

Footwashing interprets Christ sacrificial death. Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet interprets the cross as the climax of the Son’s descent. Footwashing is presented in terms of Christ’s redemptive love and sacrificial death (John 13:1). As Jesus washed their feet, the disciples experienced a spiritual transformation. Through footwashing the disciples were cleansed and placed in fellowship with Him (John 13:8-10). Unless the disciples allowed Jesus to wash their feet, they could have “no part” of Him (John 13:8). Footwashing was not a matter of individual consciences, but a matter of salvation.  Further, Jesus commanded his disciples to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). By doing so, they affirmed each other as fellow believers. Footwashing interprets the cross as Jesus having laid down his life for his disciples. Likewise, he commanded his disciples to lay down their lives for one another.

Footwashing offers an opportunity for the sinful to confess their offenses and receive forgiveness.James wrote, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Too often, we have viewed confession of sin as private matter, a matter of concern only between the sinner and the Lord. However, confession and forgiveness of sin takes place within the community of faith. The sinner must seek forgiveness from and reconciliation with the offended person (Matthew 5:23-24). Within the community of Jesus’ disciples there had been a clash of egos and many examples of failure (Matthew 16:22-12; 26:47-49; 69-75; Mark 9:17-19; 10:35-41). But Jesus washed the feet of each one and commanded that they wash one another’s feet: “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (John 13:14-15). Footwashing demonstrates that the Church is a community of grace in which sinners are to be welcomed and restored.

Footwashing exemplifies authentic Christian ministry. The footwashing of the disciples was performed in the context of their apostolic mission.  Jesus is the Divine Servant, the disciples are servants of the Divine One, and as such are servants to the world. The Apostle Paul twice used the metaphor of “feet” to speak of the proclamation of the Gospel (Romans 10:15; Ephesians 6:15). Among our greatest temptations is power and authority.  Power intoxicates and corrupts the human soul.  One would hope that those who serve the Church would not be so easily seduced. But we know that we are not immune.  The first century Corinthian Church suffered from schism and turmoil. Many persons within the church challenged and rejected the apostolic ministry of the Paul. The leaders of this group were known as the “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5, NIV). The conflict between Paul and the super-apostles was due to their different models of ministry. The model of the super-apostles was that of persons of divine power who boasted in their charismatic gifts. Paul’s model was that of the “meekness and gentleness of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 10:1). He seemed “unimpressive” and his preaching style was “contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10; 11:6). His ministry was characterized by “weakness and fear” and he suffered from many bodily ailments, one of which was a “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” (1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 4:3). When the members of the Corinthian Church compared the two models of ministry, they favored the super-apostles. However, with all the apparent strengths of the super-apostles they lacked what is necessary to establish an authentic Christian ministry – a model of ministry that follows after the example of Jesus Christ!  In fact, they were not super-apostles, but false apostles! (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Authentic Christian ministry is not defined in terms of bold, charismatic leadership; but in the willingness to lay all garments aside, to take up the towel and basin in order to wash the feet of God’s people.

Published by Dan Tomberlin @ danieltomberlin.net

Pouring Out

Pouring Out

“Not so, my Lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:13)

Do you find yourself going through life just managing to keep it together, to keep yourself in? Have you ever found yourself scared of what would happen if you simply let it all out? Imagine a lake filled with water but that water never moves. It becomes stagnant, filled with bacteria.  The water is vile and breeds all kinds of diseases.

This is what often times happens to our soul. We keep everything in so long that our souls begin to breed the diseases, of bitterness, distrust, selfishness, and the list goes on. We try to so hard to keep everything together that we soon find that we are not giving anything to anyone. Then we wonder why no one gives to us.

What we do in times when we have been hurt define us. How we react can make a lasting impact on the state of our souls, affecting our whole life and those we love.  A lot of us end up blaming God, or those of us who are more passive aggressive simply choose to ignore his presence. But there are the few who do choose to still remember him and remember that he is good no matter what our circumstances look like.

There was a woman in the bible named Hannah who was one of the few. She was deeply hurt because she remained barren for years while her sister-wife had plenty of children.  At this moment Hannah had a choice, she could have blamed God and turned away from God but she didn’t. Hannah went before the Lord and begin to pour out her soul before him. She did poured herself out to the point Eli, the prophet, thought she was drunk.

God heard her when she poured out and gave her a son named Samuel. This son became a prophet for the nation of Israel and anointed King David who the lineage of Jesus would be traced back to. 

Her decision to pour out allowed God to fulfill the desires of her heart and also to carry forth his plan of salvation for the world. 

Today, I want to challenge you to stop holding everything in before the Lord. Whatever you hold back and don’t allow to flow out of you will begin to breed bacteria in your soul. When you decide to pour it out, God will heal the barrenness of your life and give you the desires of your heart. Your pouring out is the catalyst for God’s will to be done in the earth.

Hold nothing back! Live a life poured out before him!

Contributed by: Danielle O'Neil @ danielleoneil.com 

The Judge. The Son of Man. The Widow. And The World

The Judge. The Son of Man. The Widow. And The World

Luke 18:1-8 ESV

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her CONTINUAL coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The power of this parable is found in its parallelism.

The Judge and the Son of Man are juxtaposed against one another. The Judge is unrighteous with no regard for God and no regard for man. He has no compassion. He is only devoted to himself and his work. He is utterly loveless.

The Son of Man on the contrary has the upmost regard for God and eventually would lay down his life for man. He has the most compassion. He is only devoted to God and to us. He is the epitome of love.

The widow is full of faith and persistence. She knows that the Judge can grant her wish and trusts him to do so at her request. She does not look to someone else to fight against her enemy. Only the Judge would do. She somehow believed and knew that just though The Judge refused at first he could not refuse forever.

The Judge was willing to grant her request out of love and respect for himself. He granted her request only because his life and his work could not be interfered with any longer.

The Son of Man is ready and willing to fight against our enemy out of the upmost love for us. He wants to grant our request because his life and his work’s purpose is to make sure we are no longer interfered with. His life and his work is to draw us near to himself without us having any hinderances blocking the way.

Yet, Jesus the narrator of the story poses a question of doubt. Though, he is the Son of Man who cannot even be compared in character to the judge he still doubts that anyone will believe in him enough to come to him.

Do you believe in him enough to come to him in search of justice? Are you pursuing something else to get it for you or have you just given up COMPLETELY?

The Judge. The Son of Man. The Widow. And The World

The Judge. The Son of Man. The Widow. And The World

Luke 18:1-8 ESV

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her CONTINUAL coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The power of this parable is found in its parallelism.

The Judge and the Son of Man are juxtaposed against one another. The Judge is unrighteous with no regard for God and no regard for man. He has no compassion. He is only devoted to himself and his work. He is utterly loveless.

The Son of Man on the contrary has the upmost regard for God and eventually would lay down his life for man. He has the most compassion. He is only devoted to God and to us. He is the epitome of love.

The widow is full of faith and persistence. She knows that the Judge can grant her wish and trusts him to do so at her request. She does not look to someone else to fight against her enemy. Only the Judge would do. She somehow believed and knew that just though The Judge refused at first he could not refuse forever.

The Judge was willing to grant her request out of love and respect for himself. He granted her request only because his life and his work could not be interfered with any longer.

The Son of Man is ready and willing to fight against our enemy out of the upmost love for us. He wants to grant our request because his life and his work’s purpose is to make sure we are no longer interfered with. His life and his work is to draw us near to himself without us having any hinderances blocking the way.

Yet, Jesus the narrator of the story poses a question of doubt. Though, he is the Son of Man who cannot even be compared in character to the judge he still doubts that anyone will believe in him enough to come to him.

Do you believe in him enough to come to him in search of justice? Are you pursuing something else to get it for you or have you just given up COMPLETELY?

Love Your Singleness

Love Your Singleness

When You're Single: Love Your Singleness

Do you think it’s strange to be  celebrating singleness? Here’s the point: You will probably not be able to build a happy marriage until you have learned to like and accept yourself as a single person. St. Paul wrote, “it is good for a man not to marry” (1 Corinthians 7:1). “I wish that all men were as I am [i.e., single]” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

Huh?? What on earth could he mean? For one, God created you as a single person. He adopted you as a single person, drew you into his family, and developed a relationship with you all by yourself. For another, it is a dangerous fantasy to think that if you are miserable as a single person, marriage in and of itself will make you happy.

Misery is portable. If you are insecure and needy as a single person, you could become a permanent energy drain on your poor spouse. But joy is portable too. So is contentment. Enjoy who you are--a masterpiece of God’s design, dearly loved, redeemed by Christ, and immortal. It’s much more fun to be married to someone who’s secure and at peace.

Embrace who you are RIGHT NOW!  Enjoy your place and Enter into a place of peace.  Before you know it YOU will be Excited by the RIGHT person coming into your life!

Excerpts from Happily Ever After Devotion and Teri Winters of teriwinters.com

What Is God’s Will For My Life?

What Is God’s Will For My Life?

I have spent several years working with middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students. A lot of changes happen from twelve to twenty, and many of the questions that are important to a middle school student are completely irrelevant to a college student. However, there is one question that pops up in lives of sixth graders and seniors alike. It also seems to be a question that can drive a young person (and many adults too) crazier than almost any other (read more about that here). That question is: What is God’s will for my life?

The will of God is an interesting theme in scripture. Compared to other scriptural ideas it is not a particularly prevalent theme. And when it is discussed, it rarely applies to the question what is God’s will for my life, at least not in the way that we tend to use it today. The bible talks about the decrees of God (they will certainly come to pass), and the commands of God (those things are up to you and me). Both of those speak of God’s will. The bible also talks about individual callings. But you cannot find a scriptural example of one of God’s people asking, “What is God’s will for my life?”

So, when you are haunted by that question you might want to first understand that no matter how much you want that questioned to be answered, it does not seem to be a very important question on God’s list. Before you get overwhelmed by the sting of that realization consider the following. You are both precious and unique to God. He values you more than any of us can really understand. At the same time, whatever it is that he calls you to do could be done by anyone else that he so chooses. That is because God’s will for your life has very little to do with what he is calling you to do, and almost everything to do with who he is calling you to be.

Go and read some of the handful of scriptures that deal with the phrase will of God (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 7:9-10; Eph 6:6; Heb 10:36; 1 Pet 2:15, 4:2, 4:6, 4:19). Take the time to read the surrounding verses and see if you notice what I notice. There is nothing there about vocational callings. Instead, they all talk to essence of the Christian life and the fruit that it bears. These are the things that are described as the will of God in those verses: having your mind renewed, having godly sorrow and repentance, striving to please God instead of men, endurance, submitting to human institutions (even ungodly ones), not living for the lusts of your flesh, to live in the Spirit, and to suffer.

So, if you really want to know what the biblical answer is to the question, What is God’s will for my life? Look no further. He wants you to live a holy life. He wants you to treat others well. He wants you to be submissive. He wants you to suffer. And he wants you to endure. Encouraging, huh?

Perhaps we wrestle so hard over the question because we don’t want to know what the biblical answer really is. We have replaced the scriptural idea of God’s will for our life with questions that center around our individual comfort and importance, and that’s what really makes us struggle so hard over the question in the first place. Here is the irony. Our struggle with that question is a sign of just how far out of God’s will we are in the first place.

Author, Jonathan Stone, at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=1136

JOY IS GOD’S REMEDY FOR ANXIETY

JOY IS GOD’S REMEDY FOR ANXIETY

Paul described the Philippian believers as being filled with an abundance of joy in spite of suffering from a “great ordeal of affliction” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). Christian joy transcends the sorrows of this present age.

Anxiety provoking events are challenges to joy. As Paul was writing to the Philippian church he was imprisoned. This certainly provoked anxiety among his brothers and sisters at Philippi (1:7). The Philippian congregation suffered from the selfish ambition and self interest of toxic leaders within the church (1:17; 2:21) and from opposition, suffering, conflict without the church (1:28-30; 3:2). A beloved church leader was “sick to the point of death” (2:26-30).

Anxiety is an alarm mechanism that alerts us to potential danger. Anxiety provokes positive change if we have the ability to manage or tolerate differences. However, anxiety prevents positive change if we are too reactive. There are two types of anxiety. First, there is acute anxiety which is generated by a crisis and is temporary. This is normal.

Second, there is chronic anxiety which is habitual and structured into life. Chronically anxious persons are governed by instinct rather than insight. They react emotionally and violently. They can be very willful, that is, everything must be according to their way. Chronically anxious persons suffer from a low pain threshold and must have immediate relief. They are self adsorbed and suffer from a sense of victimization. Their chronic anxiety often alienates them from family and friends. We must recognize that “habitual chronic anxiety” may be due to genetics, bio-chemical issues, and life experiences. In many of these cases chronic anxiety becomes compounded. Chronic anxiety is a disorder and the remedy must be spiritual, medical, and psychological. The problem is that chronically anxious persons usually can’t recognize their toxic behaviors; and because they have a low threshold for pain they instinctively react with anger if a friend or family member tries to point out their toxic behavior.

Joy is God’s remedy for anxiety. “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22) and joy is a source of great strength during times of great anxiety (Nehemiah 8:10). Paul exhorted,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

We should not live in denial. Our sorrows are real. Often, even as we smile we suffer from anxiety (Proverbs 14:13). However, even as we live in a age of sorrow, God has given to us the Holy Spirit who fills us with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22-23). The Christian walk is not defined by our sorrows, but by the abundance of joy. G K Chesterton said,

“Man is more himself… when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial… joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.”

As we suffer from anxiety and sorrow we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As we pray the peace of God will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). We must learn to “dwell” on the good things (Philippians 4:8). The mind is healed and sanctified through prayer and thanksgiving; through meditation; and through spiritual discipline. Paul said, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Many who suffer from habituated chronic anxiety can learn and practice spiritual disciplines that allow the fruit of the Holy Spirit to flourish in their lives. In Paul, the Philippian believers could see an example of one in whom sorrow was superficial and the joy of the Lord was abundant. Sometimes, if we are to be healed of our chronic anxiety we must have a non-anxious person to guide us, someone stronger and wiser, someone we can trust and respect.

Contributed by: Dr. Daniel Tomberlin @ dantomberlin.net

 

What was Joseph Thinking?

What was Joseph Thinking?

As Mary and Joseph continued traveling with the donkey on their way to Bethlehem, I wonder what Joseph was thinking… was he worried about the  rules the government imposed upon his family; did he realize the impact Jesus birth would make on the entire world and that it would continue to affect people 2,000 years later …. 

As Christmas day approaches…. do you realize what God given events could be waiting to unfold in your life? What is your mission this Christmas season... what opportunities will yo This same Christ child is traveling with me today. Jesus is with me. Iu have to reveal the Spirit of Christ? Did Mary and Joseph know how much power she had in her womb?….

I ask myself today … do I know … wonder what favors of God might unfold! Do you know what power lives within you? If you have prayed the prayer of salvation and accepted Him… the spirit of the Lord lives within your heart… Jesus now lives within you… As you live your busy life this week; acknowledge His Holy Spirit alive in you. The same Jesus that was with Mary and Joseph as they traveled (to pay their taxes) is with you and wants to live through you as you prepare for Christmas day…

Recognize His Spirit, rejoice, worship Him and share the joy of the Lord during this busy Christmas Season.  Take time today to SHOUT  - Share Him On Ur Technology  

The Virgin Mary: A Pentecostal Reflection

The Virgin Mary: A Pentecostal Reflection

…the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin… and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you... Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High..and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:26-35).

Several years ago (1999), during my first trip to Bulgaria, I visited the Rila Monastery. The monastery is settled in the midst of the beautiful forests near Rila Mountain. I was overwhelmed by the iconic art that covered the buildings. I quickly noticed that the great majority of the art represented the Virgin and Child.


Coming from the context of Western/Protestant Christianity, I found it strange that there were few depictions of the crucified Christ, or the resurrected Christ. In the gift shop of the monastery I wanted to buy two souvenir icons, one of the Virgin and Child and one of Christ resurrected. Although there were dozens depicting the Virgin, I could find none that depicted Christ on the cross or resurrected. Later, the next day I toured the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. Again, there were many iconic depictions of the Virgin and Child. In Cathedral gift shop I again searched for a souvenir icon of the Resurrected Christ and after some time, I found one in the midst of scores of the Virgin. Happy with my find, I continued my journey. About a week later I was back in my office placing my two souvenir icons on the wall.

Over the next few weeks, I reflected about the two iconic representations. I often wondered, “Why is the Virgin so important to Orthodox (and Catholic) believers?”  Then one day I had an epiphany. Whereas, for Western Christians the faith focused on the passion and resurrection of Jesus; Eastern Christians have focused on the Incarnation. It isn’t Mary that is the focus of Orthodox worship, it is the child – the incarnate Christ. In the past few years I have devoted much time to reading and reflecting about Orthodox Christology and I have found it to be compelling. In the Western tradition we tend to focus on the events in the life of Jesus – birth, ministry, passion, resurrection, ascension, and return. In the Eastern tradition, the focus is on the Christ event – the whole incarnational narrative. The veneration of Mary in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions is an expression of Nicene Christology.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became truly human.

During the first centuries of the church the greatest theological controversy sought to answer the question, “How is Jesus of Nazareth God?” A full discussion of the Christological developments can fill a library with books. I want to briefly address only one issue – the significance of Theotokos, which says that Mary is “God-bearer.” I remember this discussion in my theology class in seminary. Our professor insisted that Theotokos was improper and it is better to think of Mary as “mother of our Lord.” I must challenge that statement and affirm Mary as Theotokos. Why?

During the Christological debates of the 3rd and 4th centuries the many controversies can be expressed in two words – Theotokos or Christotokos. Is Mary the mother of the Christ, or is Mary the mother of God? If Mary is Christotokos, the mother of the Christ, then when did Jesus become Christ? Maybe, Jesus was not God incarnate, but was later adopted or anointed as the son of God. If so, then Jesus is not of the same divine essence of the Father. To suggest that Mary is “mother of our Lord” falls into the same theological trap – that Jesus may not be the eternal Son. Christotokos cannot fully express the meaning of Jesus Christ. Mary is Theotokos – the mother of God. Theotokos affirms the fully divinity of Christ, that Jesus, the son of Mary, is of the same essence with the Father and Holy Spirit; that Jesus Christ is the union of eternal divinity and humanity. The union of God and human took place in the womb of the Virgin.

So, allow me to offer a few reflections on the significance of Mary, the mother of God, from the context of Protestant and Pentecostal faith. From the Protestant tradition, I have many reservations about how the veneration of Mary is expressed in Catholic and Orthodox spirituality. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary explains how Jesus could be born of a fallen human mother and still be unaffected by human sin. This doctrine teaches that Mary was conceived without sin; therefore the divine Child was never touch by human corruption. And, although there is a theological distinction between worship offered to God and veneration offered to Mary, I’m afraid that distinction is often lost in practice. Once, as I was watching EWTN, I listened to some Charismatic Catholics testify to being Spirit-baptized. One of the sisters said, “It was like I stepped into Mary.” It seems that some Catholics have confused Mary with the Holy Spirit.

I once had a discussion with a Pentecostal theologian who was lamenting the limited role imposed upon women in the church. He said, “The restricted role of women in the church is embarrassing.” I replied, “That’s only true as it relates to Protestant Christianity.”* I then reminded him of the prominent role of Mary and the many female saints in Catholic spirituality. As Pentecostals continue to struggle with role of women in the church, I suggest that the discussion should begin with Mary as Theotokos. That Jesus is fully human, and that his divine humanity is derived from conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary, suggests that male and female are of the same human essence, are baptized in the same Holy Spirit, and are therefore consubstantial. To suggest that females are ontologically subordinate to males in any way is inconsistent with the role of Mary as Theotokos and suggests that female believers’ Spirit baptism is in some manner less than that of male believers. All believers, male and female, are in Christ. In Christ there is no distinction between male and female (Galatians 3:27-28). Male and female believers are equally and substantially Spirit-filled. That means both male and female believers are equally gifted for ministry and service to Christ and His Church.

As a Pentecostal, I suggest that the descent of the Spirit upon the Virgin Mary should be understood as the first fruit of Joel’s prophecy: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28). Just as male and female participated in the fall, so too does male and female participate in the redemption of humanity. Mary’s unqualified obedience to God is presented as an answer to Eve’s disobedience. As the Spirit of God came upon Mary and effected the conception of Jesus, the Spirit also effected Mary’s sanctification. God the Son was united to humanity through the flesh of Mary. The Christ Child was unaffected by human corruption because Mary was sanctified, or perfected, by the Holy Spirit. Here I will allow that Mary was sanctified in a manner that is unique to humanity (This speaks more to my understanding of sanctification than Marian devotion). Although I confess that salvation is through Christ alone, I must affirm the unique role of Mary in human redemption. The divine-human child of Mary is the one who baptizes in the Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16).

While I cannot venerate Mary, I will honor her. As I honor Mary, I will also honor my sisters in the church by recognizing their Spirit given gifts.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*I am fully aware of the Catholic limitations of women in the priesthood. But the Catholic veneration of Mary, the canonization of female saints, and the inclusion of females as doctors implies a sensitivity that is not shared in many Protestant churches.

Written by: Dr. Dan Tomberlin @ www.dantomberlin.net

The Glass Isn’t Just Half Full, It’s Overflowing!

The Glass Isn’t Just Half Full, It’s Overflowing!

Philippians 2:5-7
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
   taking the very nature of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.

It is important to recognize that Christ knew who He was while walking this Earth. He knew his divine purpose; He knew God’s will had to be done. When you know who are you, you know what you have to do.  As Christians, we are ambassadors of God called to fulfill His will. God longs to bring heaven down to Earth. He wants to connect with the hurting, the hopeless, and the lonely.

As Christ walked this Earth, He knew the heart of the Father in heaven. The only way we can have the attitude of Christ is to remember that as believers, we are in the potter’s hand. We no longer are called to a life of selfishness, but rather to a life of serving. The best part however, is that God knows what is best for us!

When we trust Him with everything, our life turns into a masterpiece…a life better than anything we could create on our own.

Having an attitude like Christ is to recognize that we are called to a purpose greater than ourselves. Once you recognize God handpicked and appointed you, nothing can stop you from fulfilling your God given purpose!

God is a Faithful God!

God is a Faithful God!

God seeks out opportunities to show us His faithfulness in our lives. He longs to be our Comforter, Provider, Healer, and Prince of Peace. Each of us goes through hardships and struggles in life, but God does not want us to go through these hard times alone. He loves carrying us through our pains, hurts, insecurities, and faults.

"Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31

We can lay our burdens at the cross, and know Christ will lift them. That is the power of the cross!

Romans 15:13 tells us, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the experience of your faith that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.”

God is good all the time! He always hears our cries for help, and though it may not be on our timing, He will always come through for us!

"I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." John 10:10
"I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God anywhere on earth other than the God of Israel."

We were not elected by people, but by God and for God. When you recognize His faithfulness, you can trust He will mold you, like clay in the potter's hand, and create a masterpiece out of your life!

Written by:  Teri Winters @ teriwinters.com

Building Trust: God’s Word

Building Trust: God’s Word

So my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty it will accomplish what I please. Isaiah 55:11

Yesterday, I wrote the devotion on trust. At the end I encouraged you, the reader, to remember that who you trust determines your destiny. It was David's trust in God when Saul was trying to kill him that preserved his life and allowed him to fulfill what God had for him. In the same way, it is your trust in God that will preserve your life and allow you to fulfill all God has for you.

I continued to think about what I wrote. It was inspiring to write and I hope it inspired you if you read it but honestly a command without a teaching of how is one of my greatest personal annoyances. I cannot stand it. I detest it and there is no other way to explain it except wrong. That is why today I wanted to talk about a way to build that trust, God's word.

Before a person can even make a decision to trust, they have to first know what they are trusting. When crisis hits and God is the only answer the reason why many people have a hard time hearing and trusting God is the simple fact that they don't really know him. Can you imagine having to go to a person you have hardly talked to for help if a life-altering event was happening? Reality is this is what we try to do with God many times.

How is it possible to get to know God for real? I mean really know him like a best friend.

First of all, God is God, there are things that even the most experienced Christians do not know. He is infinite and I believe we will spend eternity getting to know him. Don't let this discourage you let this encourage you. Who would want to serve a God they could figure out? Boring.

Second, though there are things we do not know, there he has revealed plenty to keep us occupied for a lifetime. He has given us 66 books bound together in one (a.k.a. The Bible)  that declare who he is. Studying these books are a great concrete way of beginning to get to know him. Even those of us as Christians, including myself (even as a theology major! how wrong? inexcusable!), tend to neglect this resource.  If we as christians (or as persons interested in being christians) are serious about knowing God we need to get serious about using what God has already given us.

In his word, he declares that if a word comes from his mouth that it will not return to him empty and it will accomplish what he pleases. This truth is a great beginning point of trust and knowledge of God. If you desire to trust God, or to trust him more take hold of this promise. Declare it over your life. Declare it until you believe it because it is true.

One of the foundational principles of God's character is his faithfulness. His love does not fail. In order to grab a hold of him, you must believe this about him.

If you are struggling to trust him or need to trust him more, here is what I know to tell you.

1. Believe his word

This sounds easy but many times is challenging. We have this thing called our flesh that hinders us and rebels from the knowledge of God. It is by constant repetition of God's word that the flesh dies and the spirit rises. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds to God's word. If you are struggling to believe him, look up some of the promises of scripture and take some time to say them until you believe. This is not some magical process that by saying the promises you automatically believe them. The reason I'm encouraging this is because by taking some time to look up the promises and saying them you are making a decision to believe that they are true and you are learning them. It is not incantation but praying these promises that causes you to believe them and allows God to make them manifest in your life.

2. Pray

I hit on this in the last sentence of believing his word. In order to know God, you have to begin communicating with him. Ask him questions. Tell him how you feel. Ask him how he feels and what he thinks. Do not be afraid he longs to hear from you.

Trusting God and believing in him is a life-long pursuit more than a blog can cover. These are a few ways to begin and these are things that have to be continually worked on no matter how mature you are as a christian. In sports,  a huge part of continuing in excellence is continuing to practice the fundamentals. If the fundamentals begin to weaken, the whole game falls apart. It is the same in the Christian life. My theology degree is worthless absolutely worthless if I do not continue to build my faith in God's word and if I do not pray.  In the same way, it is worthless for mature christians to know this or that and not believe in his word and pray.

All of this is easy in the sense that it does not require a high degree or intellect but it is difficult in the sense that it requires continual discipline. It is not a one time and its finished kind of thing. It is a continual life long effort that requires sacrifice over and over again.

I have said all of this to encourage you to get to know God. It is possible. Just take the time to get to know his word and pray!

Written By: Danielle O'Neil @danielleoneil.com

Be Happy!

Be Happy!

  Be Happy!

Easier said than done!  We live in a stressful time in history.  Families are falling apart, nations are in havoc and the financial world is crumbling.  Yet we all want to “Be Happy!”  Is this Really even possible?

According to Psalm 1:1 it is!  The verse begins with the word “Happy” in the original text.  Most Bibles say “Blessed” but this comes from the Hebrew root word which means “Happy.”  The verse goes on to describe the man who is happy!

1. It is one who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.  Stop listening or seeking the advice of those who do not know God.  This means you might have to turn off the media!  It doesn’t matter what man says about the world or you.  It matters what God says about the world and you. 
2. It is one who doesn’t stand in the way of sinners.  The word stand here means to take the position with and the way means the journey or manner.  This means that we are not to take the stance/position in life or in our manner with the sinner.  You can fellowship with an unbeliever but be careful not to take their position or manner.  
3.  It is one who doesn’t sit in seat of the scornful.  Don’t hang out with people who mock the ways of God.   This not only means making fun of God but mocking His ways.  Are you listening to others who ridicule God?  If so, you are going to find yourself in an unhappy place!  

We have looked at what not to do to be Happy so what does the Word tell us to do to be Happy?

1. Delight in the Law of the Lord.  Take pleasure/long for the direction and instruction of the Lord God.  How?  Spend time in His Word and in prayer.
2.  Meditate in the Law of the Lord.  Meditate means to mutter, to speak.  We are to be speaking what the Word of God says and NOTHING else.  Remember we said that it matters what God says?  Well it matters what YOU say God says.  We must train our mouths to only speak what God says!  His Word says We are healed, prosperous, saved, delivered, we have peace!

SO BE HAPPY TODAY!   Decline the invitation of those who do not believe and trust in God.  Devote yourself to a daily walk and talk with God.  Deliver in word and deed ONLY what God says!!!

PARENTING, EMPATHY, AND REDIRECTING

PARENTING, EMPATHY, AND REDIRECTING

Therapy is way more than a toolbox of intervention. Information alone cannot replace professional help. However, information can be very powerful. So, for what it’s worth to you, here is a post offering a therapeutic idea, concept, or intervention that you can try out in your own life or relationships.

Something happens and your child gets upset. Maybe they are angry or they cry. What do you do? How do handle intense emotions from a child or teenager? There are two very important steps to responding to intense emotions. Sometimes these steps take place quickly…they happen in a flash. Sometimes the steps takes longer. It just depends on the situation and the child’s personality.

Step One: Empathize.

Sit with them in their anger or sadness…even or ESPECIALLY when their anger or sadness has to do with something you have done. Let them cry. Let them vent. Don’t change the subject. Be quiet. Don’t run away. Don’t lecture. Don’t teach. Put your phone down. Stay right there with them…in the moment. “You seem really upset. I am so sorry. I am sure this is hard.”

You CAN put boundaries on this step. You can ask for respect: “I know you are upset, but it isn’t ok to talk hatefully to me. I want to hear about it, but if you keep talking like that we will need to take a break.” “I know she made you angry, but you can’t throw your toy at her. It is ok to be angry. It isn’t ok to hurt someone. If you do that I will take it away.”

Just be careful that you aren’t confusing a teenager ‘s anger with disrespect. Being angry and expressing it is NOT the same thing as being disrespectful. Let them be upset. That is ok. Be a safe place for them to express their feelings…or they will find someplace else to do it.

Step Two: Redirect.

They’ve cried, vented, stomped, maybe even punched a pillow. At some point it is ok to move on. “Hey, why don’t we go on a walk?” “Do you want to watch that new show with me?” “I need to go to work now. I love you. I’m so glad we had this time. If you still want to talk later let me know. Hey how is that school project going? It looked like you were doing a great job! Are going to work on it now?”

Here is what I have seen in parents (AHEM…including myself). Some parents are super good at empathizing. Some parents are wonderful at redirecting.

We often struggle to put these together.

Some of us struggle to tolerate negative emotions and that sitting with our child or teenager is TOUGH. We take everything they say so personally or as a sign that we have failed as a parent and we want to get away from that as fast as possible. Or, we their experience is triggering a memory of a negative experience of our own and we want to rescue ourselves, ahem…I mean THEM…from our, ahem…I mean THEIR pain…so we turn on the positivity or redirect them as fast as possible.

Some of us struggle with redirecting. We are so good at empathizing and GOING THERE with someone emotionally that we find ourselves right there in the pit with them and unable to climb out. When we stay in the pit with them we are unable to give them perspective and help them move forward.

As parents it is important for us to learn to give both of these steps to our children because as adults WE need both of these steps to be healthy. When we sit with our teenager in the midst of their pain we are teaching them to tolerate negative emotions so they can sit with their own pain…and later the pain of others…without turning to unhealthy coping sources.

If we DON’T sit with the pain of our children…if we don’t model for them the tolerating of pain…they WILL find things to help them tolerate the pain that they stuff.

On the flipside, if we don’t help our children redirect they will not learn how to move forward, how to live life…how to get up and go to work, parent their children, and pay their bills…even while facing difficult things. More importantly they won’t learn how to pursue joy and appreciate the beauty of life even while the ugliness persists.

Both of these steps are vital. You can’t skip either one.

Certainly, personality plays a role here. Some individuals do not need as much time on either step. Also, if discipline (which is a whole other conversation) is part of the conversation it must also be worked in….usually after step 1. It would go something like: Step 1 (empathize), discipline, Step 1 again (empathize), redirect.

Usually if we are struggling to give either one of these steps to our children (and it IS a gift) it is because we are struggling to give them to ourselves.

Do you give yourself room to cry and to be angry…to be upset? Do you give yourself space to “sit” with these emotions?

How are you at redirecting yourself? Do you have things in life that you enjoy? Do you have outlets for your interests and abilities?

Think about it. Your child or teenager needs these steps. You do, too.

 Provided by:  Emily Stone of www.stonewritten.com

Are you free?

Are you free?

 

If you are an American like I am  the question are you free sounds quite absurd. The natural response is of course I am free. I’m an American. Americans have been free since the revolutionary war. We decide who our president is. We have the freedom to go as far as we would like in our education. We can have the job we want and as much money as we want as long as we work hard enough. This is the freedom of being American.

When Jesus was on earth there was a group much like Americans in this respect. They believed they were free because they were the descendants of Abraham. They thought that they had never been slaves of anyone. They were puzzled when Jesus told them that they would be set free because they thought they already were.

Jesus responded to them and let them know they had it all wrong. Everyone whether they are descendants of Abraham, Americans, or another group of people who sins are slaves to sin. Freedom in the kingdom of God is not about what nationality you are, or how much opportunity you have. Jesus could scoffed at and scolded people who tried to define their freedom in such a way.

The only way to be free in God’s kingdom is by having Jesus set you free. Jesus sets us free by revealing the truth. When we choose to follow the truth he has revealed to us then we are truly set free.

Today is a great day to celebrate the freedom of America but it is important not to think that our earthly freedom is eternal or that it because we have an earthly freedom that we by default have spiritual freedom.

It is important today to ask the question: Am I free?


By: Danielle O’Neil
Story of Jesus taken from John 8: 31-38

Are you free?

Are you free?

Are you free?

If you are an American like I am  the question are you free sounds quite absurd. The natural response is of course I am free. I’m an American. Americans have been free since the revolutionary war. We decide who our president is. We have the freedom to go as far as we would like in our education. We can have the job we want and as much money as we want as long as we work hard enough. This is the freedom of being American.

When Jesus was on earth there was a group much like Americans in this respect. They believed they were free because they were the descendants of Abraham. They thought that they had never been slaves of anyone. They were puzzled when Jesus told them that they would be set free because they thought they already were.

Jesus responded to them and let them know they had it all wrong. Everyone whether they are descendants of Abraham, Americans, or another group of people who sins are slaves to sin. Freedom in the kingdom of God is not about what nationality you are, or how much opportunity you have. Jesus could scoffed at and scolded people who tried to define their freedom in such a way.

The only way to be free in God’s kingdom is by having Jesus set you free. Jesus sets us free by revealing the truth. When we choose to follow the truth he has revealed to us then we are truly set free.

Today is a great day to celebrate the freedom of America but it is important not to think that our earthly freedom is eternal or that it because we have an earthly freedom that we by default have spiritual freedom.

It is important today to ask the question: Am I free?


By: Danielle O’Neil
Story of Jesus taken from John 8: 31-38

Power of God in the Church

Power of God in the Church

When is the last time you experienced the power of God in Church? I pray you did the last time you went but I know for many that is not the case. Many who love God and even many pastors are crying out where has the power gone in Church? Why are we not experiencing it? Many feel  that the Church is being run over daily by culture. Where can we get the power to compel people to come to church on Sunday rather than sitting at home on the couch?

Let us do an exposition on 1 Corinthians 1 starting with verse 17. Paul tells us in this verse  that he was sent for no other purpose than to preach the gospel. He was not to speak it with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross be emptied of its power. If you are a pastor/minister this is the call of God for your life and ministry. You are to speak and minister with no other agenda than making the gospel clear. How do you know if you have clearly communicated the Gospel? You know when you finish speaking. If they respond by praising you, you have failed. If they respond by praising God, you have succeeded.

Paul does warn us however in the next verse (18) that to the perishing the cross will make no sense. We find in verse 22 the world demands signs and wonders. In our attempt to reach the world we have tried to give them our talents because we cannot produce a sign. We have been so caught up in gaining the interest of the disinterested by performing talent shows every week that we have missed the hungry and broken. The key is that to those who are being saved (the ones being saved are the ones hungering and thirsting after righteousness) the cross is the power of God. Let us feed the hungry rather than the gluttons who are happy consuming the things of this world.

Where is the power that will compel people to come to church on Sunday rather than sitting on the couch? It’s in the cross.* When will you see the power of God in Church? When you start preaching and living it.


*The power of God is in the cross not because some guy named Jesus was beaten and died but because that guy named Jesus is God. The cross gives a complete picture of who God is and was. This does not nullify the importance of preaching the Old Testament, in fact it promotes it. The Old Testament taught with the New shows how merciful the God of the Old Testament was especially in strategically planning how to give redemption to us through his son.  The Gospel is not just contained in four books of the bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John but the entire bible for the entire bible expresses the nature of God.

 

By: Danielle O'Neil

Why Should Christians Celebrate Passover

Why Should Christians Celebrate Passover

Why Christians should celebrate the Passover Pastor Jayon George
Exodus 12:11 “And thus shall you eat it; from your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover.”


Recently I received a phone call from a friend of mine who asked the question, “Why are you spending so much time talking about Israel?” My response to him was, I have discovered my true Christian roots and I’m excited about it. Secondly I explained to him that Judaism is not only the root of Christianity, but that Israel is at the vortex of God’s prophetic time clock. More importantly, Israel’s appointed feasts or holy days, all points to Christ and His return in one way or another. Having said that, Passover is one of Israel’s appointed feasts that have much spiritual significance to our lives as believers today. However, it is unfortunate that the church have rejected the Passover and instead embraced pagan practices such as Easter egg hunts, Easter Bunnies, Valentine’s Day, and even Halloween to some degree. For more on the Easter Bunny and his colored eggs, watch for my article titled, “Since when Bunnies lay eggs,” set to be released in a few days. The Passover feast has so much to teach us in that it reminds us of our covenantal relationship with our God and with each other. Last night my family and I attended our very first Passover celebration with a wonderful Messianic congregation (Beit Yisrael), here in Orlando Florida. I must admit that it was one of the most enriching Christian experiences I’ve been a part of. It is my belief that all of Christianity ought to be a part of this great feast the Lord has ordained forever. If you are a believer and you are somewhat doubtful or critical about the Passover, please read to the end with an open mind and let the Lord speak to your heart.


HISTORICAL CONTEXT:
Since the time of Israel’s departure out of Egypt about 1445 B.C., the Hebrew people (later called Jews) have been celebrating the Passover Heb. (Pesach), each year in the spring (usually around the time of Good Friday and Easter). After more than four hundred years of bondage in Egypt, God determined to deliver the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from slavery. He rose up Moses and commissioned him to be the leader of the exodus (Ex. 3-4). In obedience to the call of God, Moses confronted Pharaoh with God’s mandate: “Let my people go.” To impress upon him the seriousness of this message from the Lord, Moses by the power of God, called down plagues as judgments on the Egyptian nation. At the same time, the people of Israel were learning about God’s power and His mercy to them from these disasters. During several of the plagues, Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go but then reneged on his decision once the plague was lifted. The time came for the tenth and final plague, the one that would give the Egyptians no choice than to drive the Israelites out. God sent an angel of death throughout Egypt to destroy “all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast” (Ex. 12:12).


Since the Israelites were also living in Egypt, how could they escape the slaying angel? The lord gave specific command to His people; to obey it would bring His protection to each Hebrew family and firstborn son. Every family that sheltered in a house marked by the blood was safe from the destructive power of death. The night of judgment for the Egyptians was to be a night of salvation for the Israelites. Each family was to take a year-old male lamb without defect and kill it at twilight on the 14th day of the month of Abib; smaller households could share a single lamb (Ex.12:4). Some of the blood of the slain lamb was to be sprinkled on the two sides and on the top of the doorframe of their homes. When the angel of death went through the land, he would pass over those homes that had the blood sprinkled on them (hence the term Passover, from Heb. Pesach, meaning “to jump past,” “to pass by,” or “to spare”).

Thus by the blood of the slain lamb, the Israelites were spared the judgment of death that came to all the Egyptian firstborn. God commanded the sign of the blood not because He could not otherwise distinguish the Israelites from the Egyptians, but because He wanted to teach His people the importance of obedience and of blood redemption, thus preparing for the “Lamb of God,” who centuries later would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). On that particular night the Israelites were supposed to be dressed and ready to leave (Ex. 12:11). They were commanded to roast, not boil, the lamb, and to prepare unleavened bread (i.e., bread made without yeast) and bitter herbs. The bitter herbs served as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.

Some see Unleavened Bread as an agricultural festival because it was linked with the barley harvest, when a first-ripe sheaf of barley was offered to God. The Bible links the eating of unleavened bread with the first Passover, when the people were in such a hurry to leave Egypt that there was no time to wait for the dough they took with them to rise.  As the night approached, they would then be ready to eat the food and depart in haste when the Egyptians came and begged them to leave their country. Waling and lamentation filled the land as death came to each Egyptian dwelling. Pharaoh told Moses to take the people and be gone. As soon as that night came, all the Egyptians were eager to speed the Israelites on their way. The Israelites were free at last to leave the land of their slavery and to set out for the land God had promised their forefather Abraham. Everything happened as the Lord had spoken (Ex. 12:29-36).


THE PASSOVER IN ISRAELITE/JEWISH HISTORY:
From that moment in history, God’s people celebrated the Passover every spring, in response to His command that the Passover be “an ordinance forever” (Ex. 12:14). It was, however, a memorial sacrifice. Only the initial sacrifice in Egypt was an effective sacrifice. Before the temple was built, each Passover the Israelites gathered together in households, killed a lamb, removed all leaven from their homes, and ate bitter herbs. More importantly, they retold the story of the miraculous exodus of their ancestors from the land of Egypt and from slavery to Pharaoh. Thus from generation to generation, the Hebrew people remembered God’s redemption and their deliverance from Egypt. Parents were expected to use the Passover to teach children the truth of how God had redeemed them from slavery and sin and made them a special people under His care and rule. Once the temple was built, God commanded that the Passover celebration and the killing of the lamb take place in Jerusalem. The O.T. records several times in which an especially significant Passover was celebrated in the holy city (e.g., 2 ki. 23:21-23; 2 Chr. 30:1-20; Ezra 6:19-22).


WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD CELEBRATE THE PASSOVER
The Passover was likewise observed by the Jews in N.T. times. The only incident from Jesus’ boyhood recorded in the Scriptures occurred when His parents took Him to Jerusalem at twelve years old to celebrate the Passover (Luke 2:41-50). Later in life, Jesus regularly went to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:13). The Last Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples in Jerusalem, shortly before going to the cross, was a Passover meal (Matt. 26:1-2, 17-29). As believers we must understand that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper during a Passover meal. It was during the meal He took the bread and the wine and blessed it and distributed it to His disciples. Christ did not replace Passover with a different festival. In fact, the only thing that He replaced was the spring lamb with His own sacrifice—and the institution of the bread and wine to symbolize it.  Jesus Himself was crucified on the Passover, as the Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7) who delivers those who believe from sin and death. Though the nature has somewhat changed, the Jews today still celebrate the Passover. Since there is no temple in Jerusalem where a lamb can be slain in obedience to Deut. 16:1-6, the contemporary Jewish feast (called the Seder) is no longer celebrated with a sacrificed lamb. But families still gather together, all yeast is ceremonially removed from Jewish homes, and the story of exodus from Egypt is retold by the father of the household.


The Passover account is found in Exodus 12:12-14. Verse 14 states that the Passover ceremony was commanded by God to be an annual memorial feast to be kept by Israel “forever.” (This command is repeated in Leviticus 23:5.) Exodus 12:15 introduces the seven-day festival called the Days of Unleavened Bread (also repeated in Leviticus 23:6-8), which was to immediately follow the Passover feast each year. This is why Acts 12:3 states, “Then were the days of unleavened bread,” before mentioning the Passover in the next verse. These days were always kept in conjunction with one another. If the Passover was instituted forever, then New Testament instruction for its observance should be clear. This instruction is found in I Corinthians 5:7-8: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast (of unleavened bread, which always followed Passover, as explained above)…”


Christ, as the Lamb of God (John 1:29; Acts 8:32; I Peter 1:19; Rev. 5:6), replaced the Old Testament lamb eaten on Passover evening each year. The New Testament symbols of the bread and wine were instituted so that Christians could eat the body and drink the blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God. Jesus’ sacrifice replaced the need to kill a spring lamb. Luke 22:19 shows that Jesus substituted the bread and wine to be taken annually in commemoration of His sacrifice for the remission of our sins—both spiritual and physical. Early Christians kept the Passover, not Easter. Notice this from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edit., Vol. 8, p. 828: “There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers…The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals [God’s festivals of Leviticus 23], though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed. Thus the Passover, with a new conception added to it, of Christ as the true Paschal Lamb…continued to be observed.”


The original apostles and early New Testament Church did not observe Easter. Notice: “In the second century A.D., Easter Day was, among Christians in Asia Minor [these would be the Gentile churches that Paul raised up in places such as Philippi, Colossae, Galatia, etc.—and he warned the Galatians (4:9-10) about taking days such as Easter] the 14th of Nisan [or Abib] the seventh month of the [civil] Jewish calendar” (World Almanac, 1968 edit., p. 187). The date described here is not Easter Day, but rather the Passover—which was kept on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) of the sacred calendar. The apostles and early Church did not observe Easter. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 Paul says, “Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you……“Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.”


It is imperative that we understand that in this passage Paul is not talking about the Lord’s Supper, but rather the Passover. If it was not a meal, then why would he say “For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk?” He then goes on to say “when you come together to eat, wait for another.”  In the same way Jesus initiated the Lord’s Supper over a Passover meal, in the same manner, Paul and the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper during the Passover meal. Despite the overwhelming proof that God’s Holy Days, as listed in Leviticus 23, are still to be kept by Christians today (Acts 2:1; 12:3; 18:21; 20:6, 16; I Cor. 5:7-8; 16:8), not many Christians who claim to believe in the God of the Bible keeps them. Almost no one in the Christian church, who professes to worship Jesus Christ, observes the Passover as He commanded.

YESHUA (JESUS) & THE PASSOVER:
For Christians, the Passover contains rich prophetic symbolism that points forward to Jesus Christ. The N.T. explicitly teaches that the Jewish feasts are a “shadow of things to come” (Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 10:1), i.e., redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. Note the following in Exodus 12 that remind us of our Savior and His will for us.
1. The heart and soul of the Passover event was God’s saving grace. God brought the Israelites out of Egypt not because they were such a worthy people but because He loved them and because He was faithful to His covenant (Deut. 7:7-10). Similarly, the salvation we receive from Yeshua comes to us through the amazing grace of God (Eph. 2:8-10; Tit. 3:4-5).
2. The purpose of the blood applied on the door was to save the firstborn son of each family from death. This blood points to Christ’s shedding of Hid blood on the cross in order to save us from death and from God’s wrath against sin (Ex. 12:13,23; Heb. 9:22).
3. The Passover lamb was a “sacrifice” (Ex.12:27) that functioned as a substitute for the firstborn. This sacrifice points to Christ’s death as a substitution for the believer’s death (Rom. 3:25). Paul explicitly calls Christ our Passover lamb who was sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7).
4. The male lamb that was marked for death had to be “without blemish” (Ex. 12:5); the lamb prefigures the sinlessness of Yeshua, the perfect Son of God (John 8:46; Heb. 4:15).
5. The eating of the Lamb represented the identification of the Israelite community with the lamb’s death, a death that saved them from physical death. Similarly, taking the Lord’s Supper represents our participation in the death of Yeshua, a death that saves us from spiritual death (1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:24-26). As in the case of the Passover, only the initial sacrifice, i.e., His death on the cross, was an effective sacrifice.
6. The sprinkling of the blood on the door posts was done in obedient faith (Ex. 12:28; Heb. 11:28); this response of faith brought about redemption through the blood (Ex. 12:7, 13). Salvation through Yeshua’s blood is obtained only through “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26).
7. The Passover lamb was to be eaten along with unleavened bread (Ex. 12:8). Since yeast in the Bible usually represents sin and corruption (Ex. 13:7; Matt. 16:6), this unleavened bread represented the separation of the redeemed Israelites from Egypt, i.e., from the world and from sin. Likewise, God’s redeemed people are called to separate themselves from the sinful world and dedicate themselves to God alone.

Why Christians Should Not Go See the Movie Noah

Why Christians Should Not Go See the Movie Noah

I must admit that I was very excited about going to see the movie Noah with my wife. But then I came across some information that turned my stomach and caused me to change my mind. However, as you read this article, please note that it’s not my intention to dissuade anyone from doing so. This article is written in defense of God and the Holy Scripture.

As always I am simply going to state the facts and leave it up to you to decide. Part of my ministerial calling as a preacher of the gospel is to be a watchman on the wall, and to keep the body of Christ informed and aware about the devices of the enemy. Some may say that I am too radical; others think I am too spiritual. Nonetheless, I am neither of the two, but rather I am a servant of the King of Kings, and I will not support anything that opposes my God. There is no doubt; we are living in a time of the greatest prophetic fulfillment this world has ever witnessed. Even as I type these words, things are happening all around the world both in the physical and spiritual realms that is pointing us toward the end. Let me quickly remind you that as we draw closer and closer to the end of the ages, the enemy is using and will use every possible medium to promote his agenda in the earth. Therefore it is imperative that Christians do as the Apostle Peter encourages us to do; “Be sober, and be vigilant for your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, is walking around seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). I know some of you may not be convinced and you may say to yourself, “it’s just a movie”, or “what’s the big deal”. Please read this entire article before you decide to support this movie. Having said that, let’s talk about the movie “Noah”. After I’ve looked into this, it is very clear that it is not true to the essence, values, and integrity of the scripture that is the cornerstone of the faith of millions Christians and Jews worldwide.

The new sensational Hollywood movie will hit the big screens everywhere today March 28th. Hence I intentionally decided to post this article today. You have to understand that there is a postmodern agenda in America today that is seeking to delete everything that is of God or even resembles God. Everything that we believe and hold sacred to us is under severe attack, even the very existence of God, more belligerent than ever before. I am going to share some facts to help you determine if you should go see the film claiming to be “inspired by the Biblical story”. While it is true that the movie was in fact inspired by the Biblical account of Noah and the Ark, the movie itself is heavily Anti-God and Anti-Scripture. There is a completely unbiblical approach and a secret Atheistic agenda behind the production of this movie. The movie was funded by the big screen tycoon Paramount Pictures and produced by Darren Aronofsky who happens to be a known Atheist and he is very open about it. Paramount also produced the Wolf of Wall Street which used the ‘F’ word more than 500 times at an average of one every 21 seconds and blasphemed the name of God almost two dozen times. In addition, Darren Aronofsky went on record saying, “I am Godless. And so I’ve had to make my God, and my God is narrative filmmaking, which is — ultimately what my God becomes.”Most of you who follow my writings would have probably read my article titled “The Sunday Assembly”. If you are reading this and you haven’t yet, click here to read ithttp://www.jayongeorge.com/2013/11/22/the-godless-church/, or go to the November archives on my homepage and you can read it there. The Sunday Assembly is essentially an Atheistic church that is pushing a godless agenda in our society today, and they are growing exponentially. In fact, the Sunday Assembly defines itself as “a godless congregation that celebrates life.” Darren Aronofsky is an avid supporter of the Sunday Assembly and together they are pushing an Anti-God, Anti-Christ agenda. It is quite ironic to me that an Atheist wants to produce a Biblical movie? Why would a man who aggressively and openly does not believe in the existence of God, want to promote a Biblical account that gives credit to the very God he rejects. The answer is simple; he is not giving any credit to God. Here are the reasons.

First and foremost, Darren Aronofsky’s objective for the movie “Noah” is to discredit the Genesis account and the God of the sacred text. The movie does not accurately represent the biblical text, and entirely removes the word “God”, and replaces it with the word “Creator”. In fact at the opening of the Noah Movie in Mexico, Darren Aronofsky said “It’s a very, very different movie. Anything you’re expecting, you’re “f—ing” wrong.” Aronofsky is not interested in the Biblical record, fossil record, or hundreds of cultural records that testify to the Flood being a true event. He does not in any way, shape, or form believe in anything the Bible says, much less the Genesis account of Noah and the flood. He summed up his view of the Biblical account by saying “I don’t think it’s a very religious story, I think it’s a great fable that’s part of so many different religions and spiritual practices. I just think it’s a great story that’s never been on film.” He does not believe the biblical account of the flood is in fact a historical event. This movie project is a plot to dishonor the word of God, to ridicule God, and subliminally introduce Atheism to the masses.

Secondly, it’s always about money. Along with all of Hollywood, Darren Aronofsky has realized that there is money to be made in the realm of Christianity. This idea really took off with Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”, which lit up the big screens a decade ago. They have figured out that if they can take the biblical accounts and make movies out of it, Christians would flood the cinemas and theaters and as a result make them millions. Hollywood knows that any movie they make from the Bible, Christians would pay to see it. Another movie recently released on the big screen was “Son of God” that made millions and millions of dollars, most of which is going into someone’s bank account and not to expand the cause of Christ. This is not an indictment against all biblical movies, but it is a plea for us all to open our eyes and ears to the truth. The number one reason in an article titled, “Five Reasons Why Atheists Should Look Forward to Noah,” is “Darren Aronofsky is God.” The article concludes, “So get out there, enjoy the film and lap it up like the deity that you’ve always wanted to be!” The movie is not biblically sound yet it targets Christian from whom they will make millions starting tonight.

Here is what the mega star actor Russell Crowe said, “A lot of people think they know the story but what they recall are children’s stories from Sunday school and not what the Bible says.” He continues, “This story is contained in every religious text. Noah is in the Qu’ran. People from all over the world outside of religion have flood mythology. In my eyes, Noah is just a normal man….” Trust me, Darren Aronofsky and his cohorts are laughing all the way to the bank. But more importantly, they are laughing at the gullibility of Christians in America. The movie Noah is a mockery of the God that we serve and I choose not to support it. I am quite aware that my decision to not go see the movie would not change the outcome. I have made this decision because I refuse to support anything or any entity that is unashamedly attempting to bring disrepute to the name of God. I refuse to use my God-given resources to pay to see a movie that is exalting itself against the knowledge of God. I refuse to join Darren Aronofsky and support a cause that is seeking to scoff at the very word that I preach and hold as sacred. I am like David when he came before Goliath and the Philistines, he said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17:26). I will not take pleasure in anything that is a denunciation of God and the Bible. This movie is nothing but a twisted version of the Old Testament account of Noah and the Ark. The truth is I prefer pay to see any other decent secular movie that does not have a secret agenda to shame the name of God.I much prefer Ray Comfort’s version of Noah. Evangelist and Apologist Ray Comfort released “Noah – And the Last Days” days before the upcoming Hollywood epic starring Russell Crowe hits theaters today. The 30-minute “documovie” by Living Waters Publications features street interviews with many saying they don’t believe the biblical account of Noah and the ark is real. Comfort makes the case for the ark and compares the days of Noah and the flood to the 21st century. I really hope Christians will watch ‘Noah – And the Last Days’ to learn the real biblical reason God sent a worldwide Flood and be able to share these truths with those who see the Hollywood version. Ray Comfort said “Rather than providing mere entertainment, we want viewers to consider whether the biblical warning of Noah applies to them today.”

Darren Aronofsky and Hollywood’s version of Noah may be more exciting and entertaining, but it is an unbiblical ridicule at the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. On the other hand, Ray Comfort’s version of Noah is a simple 30 minute documovie, but it is loaded with the truth, and properly represents, and gives credence to our God. Noah- And the last days is available for download for $4.99 here, http://www.store.creation.org/index/page/product/product_id/1715. The website for the movie itself is www.NoahTheMovie.com. I encourage Christians to help make some noise for Ray Comfort’s movie and promote it in your churches. Let me give you a quick reminder of Adam and Eve in the garden. The serpent was able to convince Eve to eat the fruit by simply giving her 70% truth mixed with 30% untruth. He basically added the word “not” to the word of God and that’s all it took. I say that to show you that his strategy has not changed. He is not original in anything that he does, so he takes God’s truth and mixes it with his lies before he serves it to you. In the same way Aronofsky’s Noah movie appears to be truthful, but in reality it is an atheistic plot to make fun of God and the Bible and get Christians to pay for it.

I have one message for Darren Aronofsky and then I rest my case. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Make no mistake about it; God will always have the last laugh. Now I call on Christians everywhere to be contenders for the faith that was delivered to us. We cannot continue to be at ease in our churches, while the world does whatever pleases them with the truth, and much less support it. Let us not succumb to the devices of the enemy, but rather let us fight back and declare to Hollywood and to the world that we serve the one true and living God. However the sad truth is, many of you reading this article will choose to reject the truth and still support this movie. But he that has an ear let him hear. I end with this verse; “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Written By:  Jayon George @ jayongeorge.com
 

I Know How You Feel

I Know How You Feel

 
I Know How You Feel

Why you should never say “I Know How You Feel!”- taken from http://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/

The reason we never say “I Know How You Feel” in response to someone else’s reaction to a death, a divorce, or any other loss, is because you can never actually know how someone else feels. Even if you have had a similar experience, you still bring your unique self and your individual personal knowledge, opinions, and emotions to the event or the  relationship that has caused the feelings.

Where it becomes obvious that we don’t really know how others feel is when people are grouped under the heading of a particular loss. For example, if you take a group of widows or widowers and have them interact, the false assumption is that they would know how each other feels because they’ve had the parallel experience of having a spouse die.

But what if one widow had a warm and fuzzy, loving relationship with her spouse who died, and another had a stormy, tempestuous alcoholic relationship with her spouse who died? Now what do they have in common? Only the fact that they each had a spouse die. Clearly the feelings that the warm and fuzzy widow carries forward after the death of her spouse will be different than the widow who had the stormy relationship.

Every Relationship Is Unique—There Are No Exceptions!

Here’s where it gets tricky. Even if you take two widows, both of whom had warm and fuzzy relationships with their spouses, do either of them know how the other feels? Still NO! Why? Because every relationship that has ever existed between people is unique. And even though there may be some similarities and parallels, emotionally and in other aspects, each relationship remains unique.

Saying “I Know How You Feel” Negates Uniqueness and Robs Dignity

Throughout our 35 years helping grieving people, we have had a tremendous amount of feedback from thousands of people whose lives were affected by the death of someone important to them. A huge percentage of those people have told us that of all the unhelpful comments they heard following the death, the most hurtful one was, “I know how you feel.” And even though they knew that the person saying it meant no harm, they still felt hurt.

Without any prompting from us, many of them said that the comment caused them to feel robbed of the dignity of their particular and unique relationship with the person who died. Some of them were referring to a spouse who had died, some to a parent, some to a child, and others to a variety of different relationships.

Another complaint we’ve heard from grievers is that when someone says “I Know You You Feel,” it’s as if the conversation has shifted and is now about the other person and again they feel robbed of their unique response to their loss.

The Confusion and Difference Between Feeling Misunderstood and Knowing How Others Feel

Part of the confusion about parallel events and feelings comes from what happens to us after someone important to us dies. Many of the people around grievers avoid them thinking they “need their space.” The griever however, interprets that avoidance to mean that people don’t want to be around them if they’re sad. Others, even though they know that someone important to you has died, will talk to you but never mention the person who died, thinking they are protecting you from feeling bad. Sadly, that tends to make you feel worse because what you most want to talk about is what happened and your relationship to the person who died.

When you put people who’ve had parallel experiences together and they start comparing notes, they accidently form the idea that the others know how they feel. The bond of being a griever in a society which doesn’t deal well with grief and grievers is an understandable connection but really doesn’t correlate to the uniqueness of individual relationships.

What Can You Say When You Identify With Someone Else?

The best thing to say when you identify with some of the thoughts and feelings someone is saying relative to their grief, is almost exactly that, with a minor addition. Sounds like this: I hear you loud and clear, and although I don’t know how you feel, I can certainly relate to what you’re saying. That will be much better received and make more meaningful connection than “I Know How You Feel.”

Who Does Know How You Feel?

Jesus Christ the son of God DOES know how you feel!  He took our grief and sorrow on the cross.  Please visit www.jesussaves.cc and learn more!

 

Advice on Dealing With Grief

Advice on Dealing With Grief

Realize that emotions are often stronger than knowledge. It may not be the right thing to say, “He’s in a better place.” Of course he is in a “better place” but a parent wants her child with her.

Realize that in the grieving process, laughter and tears coexist. They are each a gift from God.

Follow the lead of the grieving parent regarding talking about her child. She does not want him forgotten. He still lives…just not with her anymore. (It was very difficult to hear my son talked about in the past tense so I often used present tense and often still do four years later.)

Realize that the grieving parent will do things in her time and in God’s time. Friends and family so want the parent to “feel better fast” but that feeling of being “rushed” is another burden placed upon the parent.

Please DO NOT compare the loss of an elderly parent to the loss of a child. It IS NOT the same at all. (I lost my mother in April 2013. My mother was 74 and we often referred to one another as “best friend.” The level of grief, however, was not the same as when I lost my beloved son.)

Please DO NOT compare the “grief” experienced when a child goes off to college to the excruciating loss of a child.

If you are unsure what to say, just say you are sorry and you are praying. Often an embrace and sharing tears is better than offering a trite or pat phrase.

Don’t feel you need to offer suggestions for the grieving parent to get back to “normal” or to find a “new normal.”  Grieving is a process and it takes a lot of time. A THOUSAND things every day and night are bitter realizations that you no longer have your child with you.

Realize that every relationship is changed when a parent loses a child because the grieving parent IS changed forever. I, personally, felt “marked” and different. The first few times I went to the grocery store, I cringed when an employee casually asked, “How are you today?” I would usually mumble, “Ok” when I really wanted to scream, “My son just died!!!”

Regarding #6, My heart goes out to those young women I personally know who both lost their mothers. I think, other than losing a child, that the loss of a parent at such a young age is so tragic and a deep loss.

Taken from melaniedorsey.com

 

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People

Scripture: “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” Romans 11:33

Thousands of people throughout history have asked this question. It is hard to understand how a good and loving God can allow bad things to happen to his children.

We Need a Right Perspective

As finite creatures living within the bounds of space and time, we have a limited view of our circumstances. On the other hand, God is infinite and all-knowing, and can see things that we can not. He can see into the future and knows the ripple effects of a present-day event. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

God’s priorities are eternal, not temporary like the things of this world. What is “bad” and who is “good”? The “bad” thing you experience may be the one thing that brings you, or someone else, to eternal salvation through Christ. In God’s view, that is the ultimate “good.”

Can we Trust God?

Often we are like a small child getting a vaccination. All the child knows is that his parents are allowing someone to inflict pain on him. He doesn’t understand that this painful event is preventing him from getting a horrible disease that may cause his death. What seems bad can actually be good. “God is good and His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1 The Bible tells us that God is good, righteous, holy, loving and completely in control. Will you believe this to be true no matter what happens?

God Wants The Best For You

Joseph suffered for years as a result of being betrayed and sold into slavery by his own brothers. But in the end he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good...so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20 In the same way, God knows your name and your troubles. He has not fallen asleep or grown weary. When you trust in Him, He will give you the strength to make it through. (Isaiah 40:26-31)

“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 When your life seems to be falling apart, you need to hang on to the unshakable truth of who God is. Trusting and resting in his perfect love will help you overcome your fear with faith. Then we all can say with the apostle John: “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.” 1 John 4:16

Taken from Godlife.com

 

Do You Have Something to Give Up for Lent?

Do You Have Something to Give Up for Lent?

But, in the past fifteen years or so, I’ve sometimes decided to join my Catholic sisters and brothers in giving up something during Lent. This means, depending on how you count the days of Lent, fasting from something for about six weeks. (Officially in the Western world, Lent comprises the days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. But many traditions do not count the Sundays during this period as belonging to Lent. Thus Lent covers 46 days, but only 40 days belong to the Lenten fast.)

People in my theological tradition (the Reformed tradition, pioneered by John Calvin) tend not to emphasize Lenten fasting. Partly this had to do with the conscious rejection of Roman Catholic practices that were not clearly based on Scripture. Lent is not prohibited in Scripture. But it isn’t taught there either. One can be a faithful, biblical Christian and never recognize Lent. So, in days gone by, many Reformed folk and other Protestants who wanted to make the season before Easter special in some way, chose instead to add a spiritual discipline to their lives as a way of preparing for Easter. It’s quite common today for churches that don’t have midweek Bible studies, for example, to offer a Lenten Wednesday Evening Study or something like this. Special Lenten spiritual retreats are also increasingly common in Protestant in addition to Roman Catholic circles.

But fasting still plays a prominent role in Lenten practices of many Christians across the denominational and theological spectrum. Throughout church history there have been different kinds of Lenten fasts. Nobody, to my knowledge, expected anyone to give up all food for the whole season. In the Middle Ages it was common for Christians to give up certain sorts of food, like meat and/or dairy products, for example. This explains why, in my youth, Catholics abstained from meat on the Fridays of Lent. Many Catholics still observe this discipline. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lenten fast is taken even more seriously than in the Roman Catholic church, with many Orthodox folk eating vegetarian meals during the season.

In recent years I have sometimes given up something in Lent, perhaps chocolate or watching television. The latter was particularly hard because I enjoy college basketball, and March Madness (the NCAA bastketball tournament) always falls in the middle of Lent. This year I have decided to give up something I enjoy. I’ve also adopted an additional daily spiritual discipline. It don’t think it would be appropriate for me to speak in detail about what I’m doing at this time. But I would like to share some reflections on what I’ve been learning through my version of a Lenten fast.

What I’ve Learned by Fasting During Lent

First, giving up something allows me to make a tangible sacrifice to the Lord. Although certain sacrifices are already present in my life, they’re sort of “built in” at this point. I don’t often experience giving up something for God on a daily basis. The act of sacrifice reminds me of my commitment to God and my desire to make him first in my life.

Second, by giving up something I usually enjoy on a daily basis, I have sometimes found myself yearning for that thing. Frankly, I’ve been tempted to give up my Lenten fast at times. I could easily argue that it’s unnecessary (it is optional, after all) and certainly not taught in Scripture. But, though I don’t think my effort at fasting makes God love or bless me more, I do think it raises my awareness of how much I depend on other things in life rather than the Lord. I see how easy it is for me to set up all sorts of little idols in my life. Fasting, in some way, helps me surrender my idols to God.

Third, when I give up something I like and then feel an unquenched desire for it, I’m reminded of my neediness as a person. And neediness, I believe, is at the heart of true spirituality. Jesus said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . .
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”   Matthew 5:3, 6                                                                                 

Of course feeling hungry for one of life’s pleasures isn’t quite the same as hungering and thirsting for righteousness. But when I feel my hunger, when I sense my neediness for some other thing, I can use this to get in touch with my hunger and need for God.

Fourth, as I continue with my Lenten fast, I find myself less eager for the thing I’ve given up. Ironically, this makes my fast easier. It’s almost something I can take for granted, thus dulling the spiritual impact of the fast. But I’m also gratified to know that one of my little “idols” is being set aside in my heart, as I learn to depend more upon God. I’m experiencing a bit of freedom that makes me gladly thankful for God’s grace at work in me.

Written by:  by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts 

 

If It Be Your Will

If It Be Your Will

When we come before God, we must remember two simple facts—who He is and who we are. We must remember that we’re talking to the King, the Sovereign One, the Creator, but we are only creatures. If we will keep those facts in mind, we will pray politely. We will say, “By Your leave,” “As You wish,” “If You please,” and so on. That’s the way we go before God. To say that it is a manifestation of unbelief or a weakness of faith to say to God “if it be Your will” is to slander the very Lord of the Lord’s Prayer.

It was Jesus, after all, who, in His moment of greatest passion, prayed regarding the will of God. In his Gospel, Luke tells us that immediately following the Last Supper:

Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:39–44)

It is important to see what Jesus prays here. He says, “Not My will, but Yours, be done.” Jesus was not saying, “I don’t want to be obedient” or “I refuse to submit.” Jesus was saying: “Father, if there’s any other way, all things being equal, I would rather not have to do it this way. What You have set before Me is more ghastly than I can contemplate. I’m entering into My grand passion and I’m terrified, but if this is what You want, this is what I’ll do. Not My will, but Your will, be done, because My will is to do Your will.”

I also want you to notice what happened after Jesus prayed. Luke tells us that an angel came to Him and strengthened Him. The angel was the messenger of God. He came from heaven with the Father’s answer to Jesus’ prayer. That answer was this: “You must drink the cup.”

This is what it means to pray that the will of God would be done. It is the highest expression of faith to submit to the sovereignty of God. The real prayer of faith is the prayer that trusts God no matter whether the answer is yes or no. It takes no faith to “claim,” like a robber, something that is not ours to claim. We are to come to God and tell Him what we want, but we must trust Him to give the answer that is best for us. That is what Jesus did.

Because Luke tells us that the Father sent an angel to strengthen His Son, I would expect Jesus’ agony of soul to have been alleviated. It appears, however, that with the coming of the strength from the angel came an increase in the agony of Christ, an increase so profound that He began to sweat so profusely that it was “like great drops of blood.” In a sermon on Luke 22:44, Jonathan Edwards said that this increase in Jesus’ agony was due to a full realization of the will of God for Him in His passion. He had come to the garden with the fear that He would have to drink the cup. Once He knew it was indeed God’s will that He drink it, He had a new fear—that He would not be able to do it. In other words, Jesus now was in agony that He not come short of complete and perfect obedience to the will of God.

But He did it. He drank the cup to the last drop. And in that moment, Jesus didn’t give us words to show us how to pray; He gave us His life as an example of praying that the will of God would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This excerpt is taken from R.C. Sproul’s The Prayer of the Lord.

 

Think Small

Think Small

 

Our culture has led us to believe that thinking big, dreaming big, or living large is the way to be successful and fulfill our life’s purpose. I’m not negating those things; I do think they have their place. I just want to offer a fresh perspective so we can begin to see our lives in a whole new light. What if doing a small deed with a pure heart had a larger ripple effect than we could possibly imagine? What if the small, seemingly insignificant, mundane things were what mattered most to God?

How often do we believe that our lives are insignificant or unimportant because we don’t have an impressive title, an important position, or a badge of honor of some kind? We wonder if anything we have done even matters. Sometimes we feel invisible or even like an outcast. It matters! It matters to God and He is taking note of everything, no matter how small.

I want to tell you a story about a small thing that has greatly impacted my life. I have a little, inexpensive figurine on my bathroom counter that I have treasured for 35 years. It is one of my most prized possessions. Its value is not measured by its rare physical qualities or beauty, but by the precious, loving way it was bestowed to me.

Many years ago, there was a maid at my college dormitory who thanklessly cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen, and hallways every day. She was a widowed grandmother, well past a reasonable working age. Nevertheless, her arthritic fingers curled around the dust mop that she pushed through the halls unnoticed, praying for each and every girl in that dorm. Her face was tired but kind as she faithfully did her duty everyday. Most days, the girls rushed past her without acknowledging her. She had become part of the woodwork there.

I’ll never forget the day she put an unwrapped Christmas gift into my hand and apologized for its lack of proper presentation. As she wrapped her worn, soft hands around mine, I thought of the sacrifice she must have made to give me this unassuming gift. My eyes filled with tears as I thanked her, but my heart broke as I realized how much I, too, had overlooked this dear woman.  

After all these years, I don’t remember her name or even much about her face, but I will never forget her heart! I imagine her homecoming in heaven included a rich reward for her thoughtfulness and obedience in the small things, including her gift of my precious little figurine. The real gift she gave me was a heart filled with love and kindness. To me, there is no greater gift on earth!

When a person is feeling unnoticed, insignificant, or unimportant and we go out of our way to show love and kindness in the smallest of ways, it gives that person dignity. It gives that person a sense of importance and significance. At that moment we are being the hands of God to them. At that moment, we are doing the greatest thing we could ever do on earth.

In reality, it’s not us who puts the power in small things, but it’s us who willingly steps into them or notices them, acknowledging the still, small voice of God in them. So the next time you are wondering what you can do to have a big impact on the world around you and do something that will fill your heart with joy...

think small!

Written by:  Karen Benefield

 

Faith Verses Fear

Faith Verses Fear

Question: "Faith vs. fear - what does the Bible say?"

Answer:Faith and fear cannot exist together. Faith is described inHebrews 11:1as being "certain of what we do not see." It is an absolute belief that God is constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact. On the other hand, fear, simply stated, is unbelief or weak belief. As unbelief gains the upper hand in our thoughts, fear takes hold of our emotions. Our deliverance from fear and worry is based on faith, which is the very opposite of unbelief. We need to understand that faith is not something that we can produce in ourselves. Faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9) and is described as a fruit (or characteristic) which is produced in our lives by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Christian's faith is a confident assurance in a God who loves us, who knows our thoughts and cares about our deepest needs. That faith continues to grow as we study the Bible and learn the attributes of His amazing character. The more we learn about God, the more we can see Him working in our lives and the stronger our faith grows.

A growing faith is what we desire to have and what God desires to produce in us. But how, in day-to-day life, can we develop a faith that conquers our fears? The Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). The careful study of God's Word is of primary importance in developing a strong faith. God wants us to know Him and completely rely on His direction in our lives. It's through the hearing, reading and meditation in the Scriptures that we begin to experience a strong, confident faith that excludes worry and fear. Spending time in prayer and quiet worship develops a relationship with our heavenly Father that sees us through even the darkest of nights. In the Psalms we see a picture of David, who, like us, experienced times of fear.Psalm 56:3reveals his faith with these words: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 119 is filled with verses expressing the way in which David treasured God's Word: "I seek you with all my heart" (v. 10); "I meditate on your precepts" (v. 15); "I have hidden your word in my heart" (v. 11). These are revealing words which speak wisdom to us today.

God is kind and understanding toward our weaknesses, but He requires us to go forward in faith, and the Bible is clear that faith does not mature and strengthen without trials. Adversity is God's most effective tool to develop a strong faith. That pattern is evident in Scripture. God takes each one of us through fearful situations, and as we learn to obey God's Word and allow it to saturate our thoughts, we find each trial becomes a stepping stone to a stronger and deeper faith. It gives us that ability to say, "He sustained me in the past, He'll carry me through today and He'll uphold me in the future!" God worked this way in David's life. When David volunteered to fight against Goliath, he said, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:37). David knew the God who had sustained him through dangerous situations in the past. He had seen and experienced God's power and protection in his life, and this developed within him a fearless faith.

The Word of God is rich with promises for us to take hold of and claim for ourselves. When we face financial trouble,Philippians 4:19tells us, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." If we are anxious about a future decision,Psalm 32:8reminds us that God will "instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." In sickness we can remember thatRomans 5:3says, "Tribulation works patience." If someone turns against us, we can be comforted by the words inRomans 8:31, "If God is for us who can be against us!" Throughout life we will continue to face various trials that would cause us fear, but God assures us that we can know a calm peace through every situation, "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” which He has promised will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

Written by Got Questions  

God’s New Agenda

God’s New Agenda

God has an agenda this year to bring healing and reconciliation to people who have been wounded or rejected by Christians. There is such a large number of people who have been wounded by Christianity. This should not be. God's love is for everyone and we must show it to those who need it the most. Quite often these are the ones who might be offended by this or have different viewpoints. God is drawing in the spiritual outcasts right now and dragging a net along the bottom that will pull up people from all walks of life.

In order to be part of God's agenda we must love unconditionally and be willing to walk with people who have been rejected and wounded. Love and lots of grace is required to be part of this new move coming to the spiritually outcast. Yes, God is on the move among the tattooed and pierced, those who are into zombies and vampires, gay and lesbians, new age people, and those of various political parties that are currently not accepted by many Christians.

[Note by Steve Shultz: Jesus said in John 12:32 "...And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto Me." It is the Lord's desire and intention to reach into the darkest corners in the earth to draw, by the Holy Spirit, as many people who will say "Yes" to Him. There are no people groups from whom the Spirit will not seek to "woo" many to Jesus.]

God is also moving powerfully among women and promoting many into positions of new authority.

Prophetic word by: Doug Addison
- See more at: http://www.jesussaves.cc/index.php/english/post/gods_new_agenda/#sthash.lMFQUCmM.dpuf

A CHRISTMAS STORY: APPRECIATE THE TELLING

A CHRISTMAS STORY: APPRECIATE THE TELLING

Here is an almost daily scene in our house.

“Mama, she….”

“I did NOT! I was just…”

“You did, too! I saw you!”

“I did not! And, anyway, you….”

“Now you KNOW that isn’t true!

Things sometimes escalate. There are tears. Consequences. Conversations. And, in the end, I am in a room with each of my children, one at a time, listening to their heart broken, angry, scared story of what they think happened. Do they ever get caught in a lie? Sure. Did they usually do SOMETHING wrong? Yep. But, in the end it becomes strikingly clear that everyone’s version of the story…is somewhat…true.

Their version of the story.

What they saw.

What they read into the experience, the dialogue, the events.

Their interpretation.

I see it through their eyes and as an outside observer I get a pretty clear picture that none of my children are villains. They have faults. They don’t always have the best judgment. Their vision is sometimes skewed. They need appropriate consequences. But, hateful, vile villains? Absolutely not.

My oldest daughter recently decided to follow one of those schedules to read the bible through within a year. She found it in her new bible she got for her birthday. She checks off what she reads each night. Her daddy has encouraged her to skip around when she gets bored with one part. There’s nothing wrong with that, he told her.

Almost every day I will ask her what she is reading and her thoughts on it. She read through to Exodus, got bored, and, like her daddy suggested, moved to the New Testament for a while.

One morning at breakfast her reading becomes part of the discussion and she starts to tell us about how Matthew describes the birth of Christ. “It seems like he kind of rushes through the story. Did you know that each of the gospels tells about the birth of Jesus a little differently?” We talk about how different each person…Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John…were…and how each person probably noticed different things and how each person may have thought different parts were important to tell. We talk about how Luke, the physician, was probably more aware of the miraculous healings because they probably rocked his world as a person of science and how her Uncle Tim, a physician, also likes to read books that look at faith and science.

We talk about how incredibly cool this is and how it gives a full picture of what happened.

We talk about how wonderful it is that God allowed for not one, not two, not three…but FOUR different voices to tell about the life of Christ.

It is almost like God knew that just one human take on the birth and life of His Son would not do it justice.

We needed four different versions.

I stop talking, listen, and my mind drifts off.

 

A week or so ago someone, a remote friend, posted an article on Facebook and I had my own little rant with God. Short lived, but rant none-the-less.

I imagine me, like one of my children, sitting in a room with God… listening to my heart broken, angry, scared story of what I think happened.

“God, did you see what they said? How COULD they? How could they read the scriptures like that?! Now God, You KNOW that isn’t true! That version of things is crazy!”

If I am honest I have very little room for other voices. I want them to read scripture like I do. I have very little tolerance for…

Their version of the story.

What they saw.

What they read into the experience, the dialogue, the events.

Their interpretation.

All while I want them to listen to me, I struggle to slow down and allow them to tell their version of the story….which I so desperately want them to allow ME to do.

Sometimes I think a person’s version of the story is based on irrational and false premises, that it has disasterous, abusive, generational consequences. I want them to…HURRY UP! And, get to where I am so I they can be enlightened and GET. IT.

Wow.

And, in that moment of conversation with my oldest daughter I remembered that God made room for different versions. He has made room for them for a long, long, long time. Someone might like to argue that the gospels never contradict one another. Some could argue that they do. But, as a parent listening to the different voices of my children, I understand that contradiction doesn’t necessarily make one story more true than the other. It is about perspective…beautiful, rich, contextual perspective. It just tells us something about the teller…the contradictions, among the gospels and among our own lives, tell us as much about these humans that are desperate for a Savior as much as it tells us about the Savior Himself.

Making room for other voices, for other versions, does not mean not pushing those other voices to think, does not mean avoiding asking good questions…but, I have to be open to the questions, too.

It does not mean I quiet my own voice, my own version.

It does mean I make room for them. It does mean I seek to understand.

Are we all telling some lies, some falsehoods about the story along the way? Probably. Do we usually get SOMETHING wrong? Yep. But, in the end it becomes strikingly clear that everyone’s version of the story…is somewhat…true.

I wonder if God sees it as an outside observer and gets a pretty clear picture that none of His children are villains. They have faults. They don’t always have the best judgment. Their vision is sometimes skewed. They need appropriate consequences. Sinners? Yes. But, hateful, vile villains? Absolutely not.

This Christmas season I invite you to make room for the orchestra, the choir of voices that make up our faith communities.

Let’s listen. Let’s appreciate the telling.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY

Emily recently wrote about Mary the mother of Jesus as a type of Christ carrier for all of us to model ourselves after. There are several Mary’s mentioned in the New Testament. Perhaps I am the only one that finds this peculiar. But there is Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:27); Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2); Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42); Mary the mother of James and John (Matthew 27:55-61);  Mary the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12); and Mary of Rome (Romans 16:6). That makes six altogether. The last three are only mentioned in passing, but the first three played very significant roles in the life and ministry of Jesus. Consider those three Mary’s and what they might teach us about our relationship with Christ.

Mary the Mother of Jesus
Depending on your faith tradition Mary may be anything from nearly divine to almost despised. Unfortunatley, I hail from a tradition (Pentecostalism) that has leaned, at least slightly, to the latter. At best we have avoided much talk of Mary out of fear of Maryolatry, someething of  which we have accused our Roman Cathollic brothers and sisters from time to time. Yet, it is clear that she models much for us.

First, we learn from Mary that God chooses us. Mary was shocked at the annunciation, clearly not part of her plans for her life. This is hard on two counts. On the one hand, we can have a tendency to believe that we sought out God more than He sought us. Jesus would make this clear to His discipes when he stated, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit” (John 15:16). On the other hand,  our theological categories seem to fail us in adequately explainning  the significance of being chosen by God until we have reduced it to concepts of predestination, which cause other, more troubling questions to arise. Whichever route one takes to explain these two problems it is impossible to dismiss the reality that God has chosen us.

Second, we learn that God’s work in us is mysterious and supernatural. We respond, as did Mary, with, “How can this be?” But God intends to not just bring Christ into the world, but to form Him in us. As Paul said it, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). Just as Mary carried the incarnated Christ into the world two thousand years ago, so do we carry the embodied Christ into the world today. How can this be? The messenger still proclaims, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:35-37).

Mary Magdalene
Mary was called Magdalene presumably because she hailed from the town of Magdala, a name which means “tower, elevated, magnificent.” Whether the title came from her geographical origins or her spiritual status there is little doubt that she was distinguished among the disciples. Despite the fact that there is only a relatively small amount of mention of her in the New Testament much has been speculated about her throughout Christian history.

First, we learn from Mary Magdalene that Jesus intends to heal us completely from the sin that ails us. Both Luke and Mark mention that Jesus cast out seven demons from Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9). Whether you understand the deliverance to speak of literal demons, bodily ailments, or sin issues the fact that there were seven of them speaks of the pervasive totality of the work of Christ in her life. Likewise, Jesus works to completely heal us from our bonds as well.

Second, Mary Magdalene shows us our apostolic calling as ones who are sent out to proclaim the good news of what we have witnessed. As one of the first ones to see the resurrected Christ she was sent by Him to proclaim His resurrection to the rest of the disciples (Matt. 28:7, Mark 16:9-11, Luke 24:10, John 20:2). Her role as as the first witness to the resurrection and the first sent one (apostle) after the resurrection has earned her the moniker Apostle to the Apostles. While she alone holds the distinct historical honor of being the first witness, she shows us the apostolic calling that all of us carry once we have encountered the resurrection power of Christ, which is foundational for our faith. As it is written, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14).

Mary of Bethany
We first encounter Mary of Bethany in the Gospel of Luke. She and her sister Martha had opened their home for Jesus and others, and while Martha busied herself with the preparations of hosting their guests Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to His teaching (Luke 10:38-40). As we know, Martha tried to get Jesus to force Mary to help her with the duties of hospitality, but Jesus informs Martha that she is in fact distracted by unimportant details, while Mary has chose the truly important matter at hand (Luke 10:41-42). And so Mary teaches us her first lesson, that sitting intimately at the feet of Jesus is our first priority.

Second, Mary teaches us that Jesus is moved with compassion by those who are intimately acquainted with Him. When Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus has died Jesus shows up a few days too late. It is interesting to see that Mary and Martha had the same reaction. Both of them said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). However, they got two different responses from Jesus. Martha, the dutiful one ever worried about proper hospitality was first to come out and greet Jesus, and she got a beautiful lesson on the resurrection (John 11:23-27). Perhaps Mary had learned the lesson of the resurrection while sitting at the Master’s feet, because when Jesus saw her tears He skipped the lesson and went straight into action. Then came one of the most astonishing scenes in the New Testament in the form of the shortest verse in the bible. We are simply told, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Mary’s intimate relationship with Jesus did not illicit action from Him that would not have taken place. He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead either way. However, her intimate relationship with Jesus did evoke the care and compassion of the Creator of the Universe.

Third, we learn from Mary that we are called to glorify God. Immediately after the story of Lazarus we are told of a meal where Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive oil, one of at least three similar encounters Jesus had with His female disciples. In her worship she prepared Jesus for the act through which He would be glorified, His death on a cross. Judas was critical of the act as wasteful, but Jesus defended Mary once again, and the fragrance of her worship filled the room (John 12:3).

So, we learn from these three Mary’s seven lessons about out our relationship with God.

God chooses us.
God forms Christ in us.
God heals us completely.
God sends us out to proclaim good news.
God calls us to sit intimately at His feet.
God is moved with compassion by our pain.
God is glorified by our worship.
Go and be a Mary today.

By: Jonathan Stone

A CHRISTMAS STORY: APPRECIATE THE TELLING

A CHRISTMAS STORY: APPRECIATE THE TELLING

Here is an almost daily scene in our house.

“Mama, she….”

“I did NOT! I was just…”

“You did, too! I saw you!”

“I did not! And, anyway, you….”

“Now you KNOW that isn’t true!

Things sometimes escalate. There are tears. Consequences. Conversations. And, in the end, I am in a room with each of my children, one at a time, listening to their heart broken, angry, scared story of what they think happened. Do they ever get caught in a lie? Sure. Did they usually do SOMETHING wrong? Yep. But, in the end it becomes strikingly clear that everyone’s version of the story…is somewhat…true.

Their version of the story.

What they saw.

What they read into the experience, the dialogue, the events.

Their interpretation.

I see it through their eyes and as an outside observer I get a pretty clear picture that none of my children are villains. They have faults. They don’t always have the best judgment. Their vision is sometimes skewed. They need appropriate consequences. But, hateful, vile villains? Absolutely not.

My oldest daughter recently decided to follow one of those schedules to read the bible through within a year. She found it in her new bible she got for her birthday. She checks off what she reads each night. Her daddy has encouraged her to skip around when she gets bored with one part. There’s nothing wrong with that, he told her.

Almost every day I will ask her what she is reading and her thoughts on it. She read through to Exodus, got bored, and, like her daddy suggested, moved to the New Testament for a while.

One morning at breakfast her reading becomes part of the discussion and she starts to tell us about how Matthew describes the birth of Christ. “It seems like he kind of rushes through the story. Did you know that each of the gospels tells about the birth of Jesus a little differently?” We talk about how different each person…Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John…were…and how each person probably noticed different things and how each person may have thought different parts were important to tell. We talk about how Luke, the physician, was probably more aware of the miraculous healings because they probably rocked his world as a person of science and how her Uncle Tim, a physician, also likes to read books that look at faith and science.

We talk about how incredibly cool this is and how it gives a full picture of what happened.

We talk about how wonderful it is that God allowed for not one, not two, not three…but FOUR different voices to tell about the life of Christ.

It is almost like God knew that just one human take on the birth and life of His Son would not do it justice.

We needed four different versions.

I stop talking, listen, and my mind drifts off.

 

A week or so ago someone, a remote friend, posted an article on Facebook and I had my own little rant with God. Short lived, but rant none-the-less.

I imagine me, like one of my children, sitting in a room with God… listening to my heart broken, angry, scared story of what I think happened.

“God, did you see what they said? How COULD they? How could they read the scriptures like that?! Now God, You KNOW that isn’t true! That version of things is crazy!”

If I am honest I have very little room for other voices. I want them to read scripture like I do. I have very little tolerance for…

Their version of the story.

What they saw.

What they read into the experience, the dialogue, the events.

Their interpretation.

All while I want them to listen to me, I struggle to slow down and allow them to tell their version of the story….which I so desperately want them to allow ME to do.

Sometimes I think a person’s version of the story is based on irrational and false premises, that it has disasterous, abusive, generational consequences. I want them to…HURRY UP! And, get to where I am so I they can be enlightened and GET. IT.

Wow.

And, in that moment of conversation with my oldest daughter I remembered that God made room for different versions. He has made room for them for a long, long, long time. Someone might like to argue that the gospels never contradict one another. Some could argue that they do. But, as a parent listening to the different voices of my children, I understand that contradiction doesn’t necessarily make one story more true than the other. It is about perspective…beautiful, rich, contextual perspective. It just tells us something about the teller…the contradictions, among the gospels and among our own lives, tell us as much about these humans that are desperate for a Savior as much as it tells us about the Savior Himself.

Making room for other voices, for other versions, does not mean not pushing those other voices to think, does not mean avoiding asking good questions…but, I have to be open to the questions, too.

It does not mean I quiet my own voice, my own version.

It does mean I make room for them. It does mean I seek to understand.

Are we all telling some lies, some falsehoods about the story along the way? Probably. Do we usually get SOMETHING wrong? Yep. But, in the end it becomes strikingly clear that everyone’s version of the story…is somewhat…true.

I wonder if God sees it as an outside observer and gets a pretty clear picture that none of His children are villains. They have faults. They don’t always have the best judgment. Their vision is sometimes skewed. They need appropriate consequences. Sinners? Yes. But, hateful, vile villains? Absolutely not.

This Christmas season I invite you to make room for the orchestra, the choir of voices that make up our faith communities.

Let’s listen. Let’s appreciate the telling.

The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.  ISAIAH 9:6-7

 
Peace, the English translation of the Hebrew word Shalom.

Shalom - completeness, soundness, well-being.  Shalom implies a lack of conflict due to an absence of those things that cause conflict. 

My mind recalls the time in Israel's history
when the people asked for a "king" because
they thought this would be the solution to their problems. 

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”  1 SAMUEL 8:4-5

The Lord knew this was a rejection of Him as their king, so through Samuel, the Lord warned the people what an earthly king would be like:

“This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.  Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”  1 SAMUEL 8:11-18

The people refused to listen and insisted on a king like all the other nations who would lead them, and go before them to fight their battles.

So began Israel's history with kings, most bad, only some good. 

What began as a united kingdom, soon became divided.  It is during this era that Isaiah prophesied.  The HOPE for the nations comes only from the PEACE, the SHALOM of the Lord, the one who is able to restore the nations from the mess.  Imaging the hope they felt knowing that the Lord had not abandoned them; He was still at work in their behalf.

During this Advent season, we can recognize that
the Lord is still in the midst of the restoration process. 

Although there is brokenness and all that comes with it, we can be assured that the Lord is making all things new!  He is bringing SHALOM to individuals, families, neighborhoods, cities, countries, and the world through His people, the Church, as they live out mission, Jesus style!

Contributor:  Mission, Jesus Style

Getting to Know God

Getting to Know God

When first meeting someone what do you do? Hopefully, you do not immediately start talking about yourself. The natural thing to do is to start asking them questions. These questions range from occupation to favorite color depending on the social context.

Asking people a million random questions about themselves is often times how we get to know people. We see question asking at its peak when first trying to spark a romantic relationship with someone. Whether its in person staying up all night talking or texting someone all day we have all played the question asking game. The more questions we ask the more we really want to know about the person.

As Christians, many times we say we want to know God. We come to him asking what his will is for our lives and then dumping all of our problems on him saying, “Fix it.” Once he fixes the problems we barely even thank him and then go on with our lives till the next crisis comes.

Think about it for a second. What would happen if you did that to a human being, especially someone you just met? Things would not go very well. We would never really get to know anyone if all we wanted to do was talk about ourselves. It is impossible to get to know someone when we only ask questions pertaining to us. Think about how annoying it would be if someone said they wanted to know you yet all they did was ask what do you think about me and my life, and they constantly came nagging you to fix their problems. It would be extremely annoying, yet this is what we do to God often times. Fortunately he is gracious, and even in these times he answers prayers. He is an extremely loving God, if it were a human being they would probably start avoiding us at all costs.

Just as the questions you ask a human being when first meeting them and through out your relationship reveal the level of which you want to know them at, so it is with God. As with any relationship, asking God questions is a crucial part of getting to know him. Don’t just ask him questions about your life. We are created in the image of God. He has thoughts and feelings like we do. Ask him about them. You will be amazed at the heart of God.

The greatest relationship of your life is waiting for you. All you have to do is ask!

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks recieves; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8

God Can Restore Your Marriage

God Can Restore Your Marriage

Listen to this amazing story of how God put a marriage back together!.  GOD CAN

DO IT FOR YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW TODAY! PASS THE ALONG TO

THOSE WHO NEED IT!! http://comeonletsgo.com/posts/15496/

Anything Is Possible!

Anything Is Possible!

Today, take the limits off your thinking.

Lift up your eyes to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your Faith.
Trust that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf, and Jesus will make a way out of no way.
What you are facing may seem impossible with man, but when God puts His
" SUPER " on your natural," ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!

Bob Armstrong

God Is Love

God Is Love

The glaring reality of perfect love perfectly revealed – that’s Easter.  So much of what passes as prayer in a world increasingly absorbed with sentiment, self, and satisfaction is rendered with a blinding disregard for God’s very nature.  Long lists of supplications dutifully mourned in painstaking detail by passionately compulsive spiritual beggars may help to clear hearts of intramural duty, but they do little to reveal or respond to the heartbeat of God.  The simple truth is that God is not just a God that loves – He IS love.  His very nature precludes being surprised by the panic of limited man’s panicked revelations.  Before we have the chance to have the wind knocked out of us by some unexpected turn of events, the omnipresent God has already been to the other end of that chain of events and conspired to see us through.  Much of what drew the throngs to Jesus was the fact that He stood ramrod straight and unwaveringly sure in the maelstrom.  He was different, and that difference sparked natural curiosity and opened doors.  Now glance with me at the stark difference between quivering, simpering, desperate supplicants and the heroically enabled, situation altering, bondage breaking Savior.  If we are the Body of Christ – HIS body – should we not resemble Him instead of slandering His promise with our uncertainty?  Easter is the opportunity for the Church to show a living diorama of Christ’s life, purpose, and promise for the world to see as we reflect what He did on our behalf.  His choice of obedience over primal dread in Gethsemane, His compassionate correction of Peter’s assault on Malchus’ ear, His refusal to break free of what to Him must have seemed like gossamer threads holding him to that cruel cross, and the willing surrender of His spirit into the hands of the Father to finish His earthly course all reflect unswerving commitment to fulfill His purpose on our behalf.  Perhaps His example is almost as important as His sacrifice?  Obviously His manner of death paid the unfathomable price our sin demanded, but His manner of living should also shape the victorious ethos our deliverance demands.  Imagine the power of the church’s voice in today’s society if we could be seen standing in the storm rather and cowering in fear of it.  Easter provides the template of history’s most rugged individual, and begs that we His followers mimic His intrepidity.  An old chorus pines ‘to be like Jesus, that’s all I ask, to be like Him’ – of course we can only see through a glass darkly on this side of our consummation, but the silhouette on the other side of that foggy pane is of a strong, determined, unwavering servant pressing toward the mark of His own ‘calling’.  An authentic Christian witness looks a lot more like that, and a lot less like the shaky, tear-streaked mosh pits of desperate uncertainty that disguise lack of obedience and unrequited faith.  No other narrative in history displays the possibilities that are ours if we only believe – only obey the command to ‘be bold and be strong, for the Lord our God is with us.’  Because He lives, we can indeed take a new grip when our hands are tired, and we can stand firm when our legs are shaky, and we can still mark out that straight, smooth path for our feet (Hebrews 12:12).  That’s exactly what Jesus did as he hoisted that rough-hewn patibulum onto His blood-spattered shoulders and muscled His way through the most intense personal humiliation imaginable at the hands of the very ones He had a hand in creating.  Jesus had His eyes on His purpose, and nothing – NOTHING – would deter Him.  As we remember the ultimate end of His obedience – the complete dismantling of the last enemy to be destroyed – let us also remember that our obedience also has some remarkable repercussions for those that see us hoisting our own ‘crosses’ onto our shoulders and soldiering through by faith.

Wriiten by: Pastor Ed Brewer of www.bountyland.org

Feel Disqualified For Your Calling?

Feel Disqualified For Your Calling?

For the first forty years of his life, Moses lived in a place of strength. As a member of Pharaoh’s household he had social prestige, wealth (Hebrews 11:26), and youthful strength. When he became aware of and troubled by his peoples’ oppression he used this strength to exact vigilante justice on an oppressive Egyptian. That wasn’t God’s plan for deliverance. He had to flee for his life and ended up tending livestock in the quiet fields of Midian for his second forty years.

So he passed his youth in a palace of power and his middle age in pastures of peaceful obscurity. Then one day he stumbled on a burning bush, which turned out to be God’s surprising call for his third forty years:

Behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:9-10)

This call scared Moses out of his wits. So much so that he argued his case face-to-face with God.

Objection 1: I’m a nobody, God.

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). Any fame or social credibility I may have once had is gone. In fact, I’m a shepherd and “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians” (Genesis 46:34).

Objection Overruled: “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). This calling is not based on your credibility but on Mine. I don’t want Egypt or Israel impressed with you. I want them impressed with Me.

Objection 2: They aren’t going to believe me, God.

“But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘TheLord did not appear to you’” (Exodus 4:1). They’re going to think I’m loony! I can believe in you myself because you’re revealing yourself to me. But we’re up here on a mountain where no one sees. I’m still a nobody and nobody’s going to listen to a nobody’s words, especially if he’s claiming to be speaking for God!

Objection Overruled: I will be with you. The same power that I demonstrate to you in secret I will demonstrate to them “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:5). My point is to impress them with Me, not you. Trust me, I will show up!

Objection 3: I am not gifted to do this, God.

“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). I know the rhetorical expectations of Pharaoh’s court. I mean, I wouldn’t even qualify for Midian’s Got Talent! Haven’t you read the strengths books, God? I can’t do this!

Objection Overruled: Moses, “who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:11-12). You’re still missing the point. I want Egypt and Israel to be impressed with me, not you. Don’t be afraid. I will be with you and your unimpressive mouth.

 

Objection 4: Don’t make me do this, God.

“Oh, my Lord, please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13). God, seriously, there’s got to be a better candidate for this job! I might still be wanted in Egypt for capital murder. If not, I’m just a nobody. Worse, I’m a shepherd! And if it’s not bad enough that I’m an obscure murdering abomination, I stumble all over myself when I speak publicly! I don’t want this calling.

Objection Overruled: Enough! I have purposes in choosing you for this call. You don’t know all those purposes yet so stop leaning on your own understanding and trust Me (Proverbs 3:5–6)! But since you have such little faith for this, I’ll send your more eloquent brother, Aaron, with you and “I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do” (Exodus 4:15). Now get moving!

Do you feel unqualified for what God is calling you to do? Join the club. Kingdom work is supernatural work, no matter what your calling is. If it doesn’t require real faith, a desperate dependence on God to be with you in order to succeed, then either it’s not God’s calling or you don’t get it yet.

Have you been arguing with God over your calling qualifications? If so, remember Moses. And remember that God’s call on you is not about you. It’s about him. And the question is, are you willing for God to use your weakness to show how impressive he is?

Don’t use your weaknesses as an excuse for unbelief. Move forward in faith. God will be with you, will guide you, and will give you the help you need. For God’s M. O. is to choose…

…what is foolish in the world to shame the wise… what is weak in the world to shame the strong… what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Adapted from author Jon Bloom, 2/22/13, at http://bit.ly/ZlFE2K

Making Dreams A Reality

Making Dreams A Reality

That day in the future, you know the one I’m talking about. That dream of becoming a (Insert dream) will only be accomplished when you do the work today that needs to be done in order to get there. Dreams rarely just fall into your lap. Therefore, hard consistent effort must be you daily exercise.

When you apply faith to daily hard work, your dream will take one step closer to you. If you believe in your dream, and have the passion to see it come to pass, your dream will happen in God’s timing. Dreams are not accomplished through haste. Dreams require time to develop and grow. All great dreams take time to be accomplished. Don’t let impatience steal your dream by causing you to give up before you cross the finish line.  You have the dedication it takes! There is no mountain you can’t climb with God help.

Nature often teaches us about patience if we will only notice. I spend a lot of time in the woods hunting and observing nature up close. For instance, I’ve seen birds building a nests as I’ve set for hours in a tree stand. I’ve watched them over hours and hours fly back, and fourth finding sticks and straw to build their nest.

At times, while the bird was away finding more material, the wind would blow away the previous work, but it didn’t deter the bird once it returned. The bird would simply replace what the wind blew away and continue building. The dream of a nest must move forward.

Pursuing your dream will not always be easy. You will have times that you feel like giving up and walking away. Hang in there! Don’t throw in the towel! God is with you and will give you the grace to take daily steps if you will just trust Him and keep moving and working. Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you from dreaming your dream and pursuing it. Don’t allow stumbling blocks and bad days to be the strongest voice in your life telling you to stop. Don’t settle for average, but instead, set your sights high and land among the stars.

John Maxwell describes a dream as “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”

Allow me to give you a few tips on achieving the dream God has put inside of you.

1. Know what the dream is. (Write a book, Become a painter, Become…)

2. Plan the path and pray the path. (You need action steps empowered by prayer)

3. Bring others into your dream. (Find people who will keep you accountable)

4. Overcome fear. (Never allow fear to master you) 5. Stop waiting. (Today is the day you start and not tomorrow)

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will you dream. Now get going.

Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 1/20/13, at http://bit.ly/YHFfXh

You’re Not All That

You’re Not All That

I’ll never forget the day that I realized just how real my blind spots were. If you would have asked me before that day whether or not I thought that I had blind spots I would have quickly answered, “Of course! Everyone has blind spots.” But on this day I realized that there were things about me of which I was completely unaware, while others saw them quite clearly. Encountering that reality freaked me out. I rushed home that day and begged my wife to tell me any blind spots that she could see in my life. My paranoia, in turn, kind of freaked her out (we had been married less than a year), and she was unable to think of anything to tell me in such a moment. So, we both had to simply sit in the midst of the fact that we have blind spots, and we have no idea what they are. Ever since that day I have been intrigued with all forms of blind spots, deceptions, and lies we tell ourselves.

One of the biblical examples of deception that I find interesting is in the little letter to the church at Laodicea in Asia Minor. The church in Laodicea received the seventh and final letter in the book of Revelation. The nature of the message is a strong critique. Unlike most of the other letters Jesus offers them no commendation. However, hope is given, because God is still offering them an opportunity to be restored to a proper relationship with Him.

The first thing that the Lord shares with the church is, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). In our modern vernacular the idea of being “lukewarm” carries connotations of indifference, lacking enthusiasm, or even lacking conviction. Within such a framework we understand that being “hot” is to be fully committed, and being “cold” is to fully reject. Thus, we tend to believe that the Lord is saying something along these lines, “I want you to be fully committed, but I would rather you go ahead and reject me than to remain undecided.” However, it is unlikely that the Laodiceans would have interpreted this message in that same way. Therefore, it is unlikely that this interpretation accurately reflects what is being said. Instead, the Laodiceans most likely interpreted this message in light of two different types of water springs that surrounded the city.

Laodicea was surrounded by both hot and cold springs. In the nearby city of Colossae the cold spring water was known for its purity. Similarly, the nearby city of Hierapolis was famous for hot springs with known medicinal properties. In contrast to the waters of these two cities, Laodicea had an aqueduct that brought in water from hot mineral springs that were five miles south of the city. By the time the water reached the city the temperature was neither hot nor cold, but tepid or lukewarm. Heating and cooling water was a luxury in the first century that we take for granted today, but the Laodiceans were well aware of how inferior their water supply was in comparison to their neighbors. Yet, the message was not about inferiority. Instead, the message was about the realities of drifting away from the source. Cold water stays cold as long as it is close to the spring, and the same is true of hot water. But if you put either water in an aqueduct and send it five miles down the road it becomes distasteful, perhaps even useless.

It was a strong message to begin with, but the Lord soon grows even stronger in His message to the Laodiceans. Evidently it was not just that the Laodiceans were in bad shape. It was not even that they were in bad shape but did not know it. The situation was that they were in bad shape, but they believed that they were in great shape. They were not merely blind to the negative aspects of their spiritual state, they were deceived to believe that things were completely opposite of reality. This becomes painfully clear in the next two verses.

The Lord notes that the Laodiceans have developed a mentality of independence. He says that they are saying to themselves, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing” (v. 17). Again, the irony is not just that they are wrong about their misplaced sense of independence and strength. It is that they are in fact one of the weakest of all the churches, the very opposite of what they believe about themselves. The Lord uses five words to describe their actual spiritual state: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

The first word, wretched, is a very strong one. It describes a person with sever side-effects from a continual onslaught. It is a person who has been so beaten-down that they will never be the same again. Laodicea was home to a leading medical school, and this picture of a devastating medical condition would have been a vivid one for the Laodiceans.

The second word is normally translated as miserable. Again, the Greek word here is probably stronger than our English translation. We will often describe minor inconveniences such as colds and sinus infections with the words, “I feel miserable.” This word more literally means “most pitied.” That is, if you lined everyone up, you would pity these people above everyone else, because the state of their existence is so disturbing.

Having made a strong point with the first two words, the last three words are joined together in a more specific description of how the Lord sees the Laodiceans. They are poor, blind and naked. By this point it should be obvious to anyone who reads or hears the letter that the Laodiceans were deceived. They believed that they were completely self-dependent, when in fact as people who were poor, blind and naked they were the most dependent of all. Despite this news, which would have undoubtedly been shocking to the Laodiceans, the Lord amazingly offers complete mercy and grace. In so doing he addresses all three realities of their spiritual state.

First, since they are poor He shows them that in Him they can have true riches. He says, “I counsel you to buy gold from me that has been refined in the fire, so you can become rich” (v. 18a). Second, since they are naked He shows them that in Him their shame can be completely covered, “…and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness” (v. 18b). Third, since they are blind in seeing the truth about their condition, He shows them that in Him they have their sight restored. He says, “…and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (v. 18c). This last reference probably stung a little bit more, for Laodicea’s medical school was known for a famous ophthalmologist who practiced there and successfully treated many eye problems with his famous eye ointments.

Finally, the Lord ends His harsh critique of the Laodiceans with a picture that is at the same time shocking, and full of hope. That is, the Lord is standing at the door of His own church knocking and waiting until they let Him in, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20-21). It is a heartbreaking picture, Jesus standing on the outside and knocking on the door of His own church, the people who claim to love Him so. At the same time it is a picture of hope, for in it is an open invitation to anyone who will respond to Him. He has done everything that is needed for the relationship to be repaired, and despite how bad the situation has become He has everything that any of us need in order to be restored. Only one question remains: How will you respond?

Adapted from author Jonathan Stone, 12/14/12, at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=4665

How Much Is Left to Do In The Great Commission?

How Much Is Left to Do In The Great Commission?

We should be dumbfounded at how doable the remaining task of world missions is. Before I show this, let’s clarify some definitions. Missions is not the same as evangelism. Evangelism is sharing the gospel with any unbelievers, and that work will never be done till Jesus comes. Missions, on the other hand, relates to people groups, not just people, and the number is finite and relatively stable — like the “every people, tongue, tribe, and nation” of Revelation 5:9. So missions is crossing a culture, learning a language, and planting the church through preaching the gospel among people groups that have no churches strong enough to evangelize their group.

According to the Joshua Project (as of February 16) there are 16,598 people groups in the world. 7,165 of these are “unreached” (fewer than 2% evangelical). Defining things somewhat differently the Research arm of the Southern Baptist International Missions Board estimates 11,310 people groups, of which 6,405 are unreached and 3,100 are “unengaged” (no evangelical mission effort to reach them is underway).Does that number sound large to you? 3,100? These are the people groups yet to be pursued and penetrated with a missions effort. The number is, in fact, amazingly small compared to the resources available to us.

Consider these numbers from January 2013 issue of The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (vol. 37, no. 1):

-     There are 44,000 Christian denominations in the world — 14 for every unengaged people group.

-     There are 700 million evangelical Christians in the world — 225,000 for every unengaged people group.

-     There are 4.5 million Christian congregations in the world — 1,451 congregations for every unengaged people group.

-     There are 4,900 Christian foreign mission sending agencies in the world — 1.5 agencies for every unengaged people group.

This is simply mindboggling. I am not unaware that most of these 3,100 unengaged peoples are in places and under regimes that are hostile to Christian presence. So I am not saying it will be easy to reach them. It will be very costly.

But if God would grant the passion and courage and wisdom, the remaining task is neither vague, nor enormous, nor unattainable. Would you join me in obeying Matthew 9:38, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”? And then be a radical, sacrificial goer, or a radical, sacrificial sender. Jesus has all authority to accomplish this. He promises to be with us to the end of the age as we mobilize for this. What a thrilling prospect! What a cause to live for! What a holy ambition.

Adapted from author John Piper, 2/20/13, http://bit.ly/WOapwQ

True Love In Action

True Love In Action

“Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.”-C.S. Lewis

Love is an action. God is always in action toward us; therefore, we constantly experience the love of God. God is love. God is unselfish in nature and thus pours His love out upon all. It is the love of God that is the most powerful action and force known to humanity.

God sent His best to this world. Emanuel, God with us. He sent love, (action) wrapped in flesh. God made Himself vulnerable among His creation to demonstrate the depth of His love for us. John 3:17 say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Condemnation was already upon us. We were outside of Christ. However, the love of God (action) drew us to him in repentance, and it was His love that won us to Him. That unconditional love in action is the same love we owe the world around us. We owe the world love to win them. (Romans 13:8)

The love of God demonstrated toward us must be passed along through us. It is after all, the overflow that will win the most hardened sinner. So, get out there today and walk in the good works God has created for you in advance and win them with love.

I end with a quote from N.T. Wright. “Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…”

Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 2/14/13, http://bit.ly/12OD0XQ

Its The Small Things

Its The Small Things

Our lives are made up of moments. Its the mundane, the small things of our lives that day by day and year by year build up to be our lives. When I was young I remember that I used to imagine life would be made up of one grand adventure after another, and it is, well sort of. See I've found that even in adventurous seasons of life, the mundane is present. I've been on grand adventurers traveling to exotic places in search of God and had, well, some pretty boring days along the way. The older I become the more I realize that its the small things built up brick by brick that shape our lives and who we are.

So often in the Christian life we imagine that God is somehow more present in the dramatic, in the adventure; but, God is not ever distant. Our Father is close by in every moment of our lives. This realization important and can change how we live our lives; because, if God is somehow more present in the dramatic, in the public displays, in the conferences, then we will live our lives in response to that belief. We will live our lives more attentive to the Lord in public when dramatic things occur and subtly will adopt a performance mentality. We will put on a show, live ways in public that we don't in private and slowly perversion of many sorts can enter into our lives and ministry.

Now I'm not saying that God isn't somehow present in the big events of our lives. But what I am saying is that He's always present and to treat some moments as somehow holier can be a detriment to the church. Because of the indwelling power of the Spirit in our lives every moment is holy even if we can see God more evident in particular times and places. An Old Testament passage makes the point like this:

The Lord said, “'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before theLord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lordwas not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (2 Chron. 19).

Elijah set out to hear God but what he found wasn't what he expected. Even then, the natural expectation was that God would appear in the loud dramatic occurrences of life but God showed himself to Elijah in a whisper. In our lives today it is so tempting to do the same. God is looking for those who will give him everything – including the small moments of our day. Church services and conferences are a vital part of the church's ministry but God wants to whisper to us in our hearts. In the secret place where no one can see except Him, He wants to take your burdens, to meet with you.

No one may see what we do in our cars, our bedrooms, our offices but the Lord knows us intimately. He is waiting to meet with us in the secret place. So come to Him today, when no one else is looking, and hear him whisper.

Author John Bush, 2/15/13, http://on.fb.me/XOBDSR

Spoken Word

Spoken Word

First, I have a confession to make. On the one hand, I know that I am loved by God. I know that He values me, has a plan and purpose for me. On the other hand, I still run into doubts in my heart. Places where I suddenly suspect, no matter how many times I have sung Jesus Loves Me, that I am more of an afterthought to God than precious in His sight. I stumbled into one of those darkened chambers in my heart as I wondered if I was a word from God.

So, I began to think about the fact that God formed me in the womb (Isaiah 44:2), and that I was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I love the phrase David used, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). This was helpful. It reminded me that I did not end up here randomly. I am not an accident. I am part of God’s purpose. However, I still wondered if God formed me as a mere piece to His beautiful puzzle. Don’t get me wrong. Being a piece in God’s puzzle is an incredible honor, more than I deserve. But is that all that I am? Or am I something more? Not just something God will plug into the picture, but someone God speaks about?

This got me thinking about God speaking. We see how He spoke things into existence at creation. Does He still speak things into existence? Or did He only need to get the ball rolling? Did He actually speak me into existence? You into existence? Or does He just like to quietly knit things together?

I started looking for references to God speaking individual people into existence. I was reminded that He “brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). I thought about how we are called “epistles of Christ” (2 Cor 3:3). And of course Jesus Himself is called the Word of God (John 1:1). Thinking about the first chapter of John reminded me of the third chapter of John, where we learn that we are not just born once, but twice (John 3:3). Our second birth is birthed by the Spirit, which blows like the wind (John 3:5-8). So, God breathed me into my new birth, and breathing is a whole lot like speaking. Yet, in all of this I still felt unsettled.

So, I began to wonder, IF God spoke me into existence what word did He use? I began to think about my name. And I remembered that God actually has my name written on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). I also remembered that to the one who overcomes God will give a white stone with a new name written on it that no one understands except the one who receives it (Revelation 2:17). And that the new name that I will receive will not only be written on the white stone, but on me as well (Revelation 3:12).

My faith was growing throughout this process. But I was still unsure about God actually speaking my name, saying it out loud. Then I was reminded that God not only speaks over me, but actually sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17). I began to get a little scared thinking about God actually speaking out loud, calling my name. But then I was reminded of this: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

That last verse sort of settled the matter in my mind. I began to wonder what it sounds like to hear God say my name. And just the thought of it sent the love of the Father down to the bottom of that hole in my heart. I accepted that my name is a word, which means that I am a word. I am a word spoken from Heaven, spoken by God. Once I had accepted that I was a word from God, that He had spoken me into existence, that I had left His lips, I was filled with such an awesome sense of the presence of God that I thought I might audibly hear Him speak my name. I did not hear my name, but what I heard in my heart was a promise about what God does with words like me, words like you. And it wrecked me. I was undone. This is what I heard:

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

You are a word from God, spoken from heaven. All of your days were written in His book before your body was ever formed (Psalm 139:16). Your name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). When you left the lips of God your purpose was guaranteed. You will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent you. Receive yourself with thanksgiving today. “For everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it, but receive it with thanks” (1 Timothy 4:4). You are more than body, soul and spirit. You have been named in Heaven. And you are more than a name. You are a word spoken by God.

Adapted form author Jonathan Stone, 3/19/12, at http://bit.ly/NjFFOI

Eating With Sinners

Eating With Sinners

In the time of Jesus, they had a hope that God would deliver His new age, and it would never have to be updated again. In other words, His new age would never be outdated. Everything that was old would fade away, the newness of God would arrive, and that would be that! There would be no repeating of the process.

Jesus is sitting with tax collectors. They were hated, and considered by many, the worst of sinners. The religious kept their distance from people like them. However, Jesus enjoyed their company and brought newness and hope into the middle of their lives. I’ve said before, “You can’t be a doctor and not hang with the sick. Likewise, you can’t be a Christ follower and not hang with sinners.”

Just like Christ, we also must wait among the sinners and share the story that the world truly changed with the coming of Christ and the achievement of His calling. He died for the sins of the world, and He resurrected, thus opening the door of the new creation for us to live new forever.

Jesus broke into the world of sinners, bypassing the strict old ways that keep the sacred away form the unholy and He touched them with His grace, love and compassion. This new way of life was the calling of Jesus for all of us. The old had to be abandoned forever, and the followers of Christ must never return to the old.

In Luke 5: 36-39 we read, “36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.”

The new covenant brought forgiveness walking. His name is Jesus! We must walk the same way among the broken of the world. When we do, we will upset the religious and the old system. That’s okay, the old has passed. Go and walk anew!

Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 2/12/13, at http://bit.ly/VSqMeF

Others First?

Others First?

Roman 1:9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you

I can always tell when I’m slipping away from God with my whole heart because the tale-tale sign is I start to think of others less.

Thinking of others is a fruit of serving God with your whole heart. It’s the nature of God to think of others. Jesus showed this kind of life witness consistently.

At the Last Supper,  He washed the feet of the disciples after they had stepped over the water basin of service. God served His creation.

You can hear the cry of His whole heart when Jesus, in the garden, cried out, “”My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He saw there would be no future without His sacrifice for others.

On the cross,  His whole heart for others is once again shown. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. His whole heart cast a shadow over the selfish act of soldiers wanting His clothes.

We are called to think of others. We are called to remember others. We are called to serve others. It’s a God thing. It’s a whole heart thing.

Don’t forget others. God didn’t forget you when you were THE OTHER.

 

Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 1/6/13, http://bit.ly/WEynMr

 

Expressing Love To God

Expressing Love To God

Someone coined the phrase “God is my girlfriend songs” to describe contemporary lyrics that express love to God with words that are romantic in nature.

They include phrases like “embrace me,” “let me feel your touch,” etc. While this isn’t the first time in history congregational songs have been labeled as sensual (John Wesley had some problems with Charles Wesley’s lyrics at times), it’s an issue that still needs clarification.

Why does someone write songs that can be sung either to God or a human lover? The reasons vary. Perhaps the writer is simply a poor lyricist and doesn’t know any better. It might be an attempt to stretch the boundaries of poetic lyricism. It could also be an attempt to write “cross-over” songs that are applicable in Christian or secular contexts. The problem is that our relationship with God is a bit different (can you say infinitely?) from our relationships with each other. Another group bases their use of romantic imagery on the Song of Solomon – “Let me know the kisses of your mouth, let me feel your embrace.” However, there’s no indication outside of the Song of Songs that God intends us individually to sing words like these to our God and Savior. (For a more literal interpretation of the Song of Solomon as a celebration of marital romance, I encourage you to check out Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God, by C.J. Mahaney).

I was happy to find pick up the latest copy of Worship Leader magazine (Nov/Dec 2005) today and find Matt Redman addressing this very topic in his article entitled “Kiss Me?” He seeks to answer the question: “Is romantic imagery appropriate in congregational expressions of worship?”

As I expected, Matt’s thoughts are humble, clear, helpful, and most importantly, biblical. He shares an experience of listening to a CD of worship songs within earshot of a non-Christian. The potential for evangelism encouraged him until a song came on with a string of romantic-sounding lyrics. As he hit the pause button he realized, “I wasn’t ashamed of Jesus, but I wasn’t one hundred percent convinced of the way we sometimes draw near to Him.” Later on, he adds, “Sometimes within the walls of the church we fall into the habit of saying or doing things we would never do if we were really in touch with the world. And yet that is really only the secondary point. The primary one is whether or not we are writing and choosing songs that are a true echo of the pattern of Scripture.”
As with most things, discernment is wiser than simply banning the use of certain words such as “beautiful” or “embrace.” However, singing or writing words to God because they “express my feelings” turns out to be a misleading standard. God cares about the words we use when we approach Him, and our words must be a “true echo of the pattern of Scripture.” Do we relate to God for who He has revealed Himself to be, or in a way that our culture finds comfortable?

Do our songs describe God as He is or seek to make him more like us?

We find the balance of transcendence and immanence in Is. 54:5: “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.” This verse shows us that in our desire to celebrate how God has brought us near through the cross, we can never forget that He remains exalted above all creation. He is not our girlfriend; He is our God. Our songs should never be vague about the difference. As Matt reminds us, we need to be “constantly giving thought to the ways we address our amazing God.” For He truly is amazing.

Adapted from author Bob Kauflin, 11/22/05, at http://bit.ly/KGe7js

The Key To Locked Doors

The Key To Locked Doors

It is so easy to get stuck, to feel trapped, to feel hemmed in on all sides in this world of ours…this world of plenty.  In the midst of opulence and busy we can feel most needy and alone. In this world of overwhelming OPTIONS it is easy to feel hopeless and helpless…powerless to change our circumstances. In fact, it can be the overwhelming options that paralyze us and cause us to sit down perplexed…scared to death of our own volition.

What am I supposed to do?

What is the best choice?

So we stand behind doors that seem locked.  And on the doors are names. Indecision. Exhaustion. Confusion. Hurt.

We stand there and what we do in response to the locked doors is kind of humorous. We start to think.  A lot. Thinking isn’t a bad thing.  Good grief no, but when you are tired and confused and full of shame…you can’t always think your way through to the other side. So, we think and think and think and think and think…and all of this thinking turns us into an engine on a turntable and we keep a thinkin and a thinkin and all we are doing is going round and round and round in circles in front of that locked door…blowing steam. For all of the energy we exert we sure don’t get very far.

There really is only one key to that locked door.

As a little girl playing tennis I had a tshirt that took a bible verse from the Psalms and gave it a double meaning.  Let’s see if you can catch it:

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving and his COURTS with praise. Psalm 100:4.

Of course the context of this verse is one of a journey to the temple where a sacrifice will be made.  But, first…the thanksgiving.and praise. The key to this locked door is taking our energy out of the overthinking…taking a deep breath…and with all of our BEING (not DOING…not THINKING) turning our hearts and minds towards our Maker with a spirit of thanksgiving and praise. Thanksgiving for where we are RIGHT NOW. Thanksgiving for the breath we feel entering into our noses. Thanksgiving for the sounds we hear coming in on waves to our eardrums. Thanksgiving for the friend who sent a simple message just a moment ago. Thanksgiving for the ingredients in your supper tonight. Thanksgiving for the television show you love to watch every Tuesday night. Thanksgiving for the way your old t-shirt feels on you after all of these years. Thanksgiving for the coolness on your skin when you go check the mail. Thanksgiving for a glass of water with crushed ice. Thanksgiving for the rhythm of the day’s order and routine. Thanksgiving for the bed to make and the clothes to fold.

And the next thing you know there are countless things right HERE, right NOW to be thankful for and the real magic, if I am ok to call it that, is that rather than a key to the locked door you all of a sudden realize that there is no door there at all.  Your spinning and thinking and steaming created a door where there wasn’t one.

It is a leap of faith…this thanksgiving.  It is a real act of abandon.  It doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t feel right.

Don’t wait for THINKING that giving thanks makes sense to do it because in that moment it won’t…until you start. And then you can enter His courts, His presence with praise…which is where the real comfort is. You can enter the temple to make your sacrifice. You can enter His presence and sacrifice what you have needed to lay down all along.

Your worry and fretting and overthinking….and watch it burn up into a beautiful line of smoke.

Adapted from author Emily Stone, 11/13/12, at http://bit.ly/XS8s1p

Center Stage

Center Stage

You can only think about one thing at a time. Don’t believe me?

Try spelling aloud, “I love Jesus with all my heart” at the same time as you write down your address on paper. (Go ahead and try it; I’ll wait.)

I’m convinced this is a blessing and a gift of God.  There are times in our lives we need to fully immerse ourselves in Him and nothing else. We need to get our minds and hearts refocused on life giving thoughts and directions.

For instance, let’s say someone has broken your heart or wronged you in a particularly profound way. All you seem to be able to do is fixate on them and it’s driving you crazy. It steals your joy, your smile, your happiness, your forward motion and a host of other good emotions that belong to you.

When you have been wronged it brings pain. Pain is a part of life and often the hammer that drives the nail of suffering into your heart. When suffering takes over my emotions I have a choice to make. I can continue to think about it or think about the things Jesus told me to think about.

1 Peter 5:7, instructs us, “7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

You can take your pain and emotional distress and cast them on Him. You can cast them into the sea of His mercy and love and watch them sink away.

Often, we turn to God for help, but we don’t take Him the problem. We manage the problem under lock and key. We open it over and over again and complain about it. Instead, you must take it to Him and cast it upon Him. After all, that’s what He said to do. You want to be obedient, correct? I thought so.

It’s been said, “The human mind is like a stage. Only one performance can play at a time.” Now, let Jesus have the stage by thinking on the things He said to think on. He has given you the power to choose who will play on your stage. It can be the thought of a person that hurt you, or  Jesus who can heal you. It’s your move. God bless you.

Philippians 4:8-9
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Adapted from author Steve Wright, 1/31/13, at http://bit.ly/YahO7n

Are You Content With Weaknesses?

Are You Content With Weaknesses?

Every day, as we seek to follow Jesus, we deal with incessant weaknesses in our bodies, emotions, relationships, families, vocations, and churches. We are “beset with weakness” (Hebrews 5:2). And they tempt us to discouragement, sometimes exasperation.
But one of the precious gifts of Second Corinthians, especially chapters 11–12 is that, through Paul, God teaches us a great gospel paradox of the life of faith: God’s grace is more clearly seen and more deeply savored in our weaknesses than our strengths.

Paul was deeply concerned for the Corinthian church. “Super-apostles” had found their way to Corinth. They were parasitic charlatans who had followed in Paul’s wake and were now maligning him.

So Paul wrote this letter. But his primary concern was not his reputation. He wrote because these men were siphoning glory from God and imperiling the Corinthians by distorting the gospel. And they were discrediting Paul in order to inflate their self-importance. This forced Paul to call out these imposters and contrast their doctrine, character, and labors with his own.

But it was tortuous for him. In defending himself it felt like he was “talking like a madman” (2 Corinthians 11:23). Reluctantly, Paul listed revelations he had received, ways he had suffered for the sake of the gospel and the churches, and how he had never personally benefitted financially from the Corinthians.

Why was Paul so reluctant to talk about these things? It was far more than self-conscious awkwardness. Paul was very concerned that in drawing attention to his giftings, experiences, and endurance he might obscure the grace of God—he might do just what the “super-apostles” were doing. “Boasting” about himself was dangerous.

How dangerous? Test yourself. When you read in Second Corinthians of Paul’s lashings, beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, danger, hunger, exposure, and mind-blowing revelations, what are you tempted to think? Do you compare yourself to him? Do you look at his faith, brains, courage, tenacity, work ethic and think, “Next to Paul I’m one sorry Christian”?

That is a danger Paul feared. Because when that happens we usually look away from Christ, stop trusting in the sufficiency of his grace, and look to our own experiences and achievements compared with others as the basis for our acceptance with God.

Our fallen natures crave self-glory. We seek the admiration of others. We love the myth of the superhero because we want to be one. So we want our successes and strengths to be known and our failures and weaknesses hidden. And since strong, competent high achievers earn human admiration, we are tempted to believe that they impress God in a similar way.

That’s the last thing Paul wants us to believe. Paul knew better than most that it is not human achievements that showcase the grace of God. It is human helplessness.

For all his attainments, Paul viewed himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Apart from God’s grace in giving him the free gift of Christ’s righteousness, all of Paul’s achievements were “rubbish” (Philippians 3:8-9). Paul knew the impotence of self-righteousness (Philippians 3:6-9). He knew who had brought him to faith (Acts 9:5), called him to be an apostle (Romans 1:1), sent him to make Gentile disciples (Romans 1:5), and called him to suffer for his sake (Acts 9:16). Yes, Paul knew that he worked harder than just about everybody. But he knew that it was not him, but the grace of God that was with him (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Here’s the secret: the more aware you are of God’s grace, the more humble, prayerful, thankful, patient, gracious, content and joyful you will be. And you are more aware of God’s grace when you are weak than when you are strong.

God will use the strengths he has given you. He certainly used Paul’s strengths. But if it’s contentment in God that you long for, then thank God for your weaknesses. Because it is through them that you and others will really know that God’s grace is sufficient for you.

Adapted from author Jon Bloom, 2/1/13, at http://bit.ly/VzlggZ

Check Your Horizontal Mission Field

Check Your Horizontal Mission Field

That so many Christians are satisfied with only a vertical relationship with God and feel no pull to the horizontal mission field they live in daily astonishes me. Ministry happens only in their lives by accident instead of on purpose. The problem is, God is not satisfied with that kind of life because He has created good works for them to be part of every day, if they would only look on the harvest field Jesus spoke of. We must remember God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. He is watchful and waiting on you to enter the field.

When I was a young man, my father bought some land and had a vision to farm it. We cleared several acres over several summers, and we had it stocked with many animals. The highlight of the acreage was our field of sweet potatoes – three acres of sweet potatoes! For those of you who love math, that is 14,520 sq yards of blood, sweat and tears. My father had a rightful expectation that the field would produce. After all, that is what a field that has been planted should do when it is looked after with care. I can remember working hard in the field alongside my father. I can still see his face now and the joy he got from the expected future.

When he would leave to run into town or some other errand, he would always say to my brother and me, “Work hard boys, I’ll be back.” We knew exactly what my father meant. He would be returning, and we were expected to continue working the field as though he was right beside of us. My brother and I would always try to work harder while he was gone so that when our father returned he would be well pleased. What brought him joy brought us joy. Why did my father work so hard? Why did my brother and I work so hard?

There was a purpose; there was a future harvest. We simply wanted to see the greatest harvest possible. I know God the Father wants the same from us. He wants to seek the lost through us. That is what God desires to do through every believer. All He needs from you is the promise that He can interrupt you anytime and anywhere. When He gets you to that place, you will become a page being written under His mighty hand, and when the chapter is completed, all of Heaven will celebrate. What are you waiting on? The fields are white for harvest … get going. He is waiting on you.

Adapted from author Steve Wright, 3/18/12, from The Descent To Compassion (pp. 68-69) at http://stevewright.info/2012/12/19/check-your-horizontal-mission-field/

Scream

Scream

When I hear people discuss the book of Job I sometimes walk away wondering if they have actually ever read the book. For example, I often hear people slamming Job’s friends. You know, stuff like, “I sure wouldn’t want to have friends like that.” To which I always want to respond with something like, “You mean friends who would sit with me in silence for seven days and seven nights? Who would recognize that my grief was very great? Surround me with unconditional love and support? Engage my deepest questions once I was ready to talk? Yeah, who wants friends like that?”

More misconceptions often show up when people talk about what the problem was in the book. You know, who was right and who was wrong (because that’s the most important question to answer). I hear about all the bad theology that Job’s friends were espousing, and all of the great things that Job said about God. To which I always want to respond with something like, “All the great things Job said? Really? You mean like how the first words out of his mouth after his seven days of silence was to curse the day he was born? Or how he accused God of being unjust and tyrannical? Or perhaps how he boasted of his innocence and challenged God to show him otherwise? Or when he asked God if he was having fun torturing him? Or maybe when Job begged God to leave him alone so he could at least have a few moments of joy before he died?”

It’s like the spirit of Job hits me when I hear these misconceptions. I want to scream like Job did. Of course, I never really say those things. I keep myself calm, cool and collected. Unlike Job, I care what my friends think. I care what God thinks. You know why? Because I haven’t suffered enough.

There is a clever insight into the book of Job that was revealed to me by a spiritual father of mine, Rickie Moore. It is a point published in an essay entitled Raw Prayer and Refined Theology, which can be found in this festschrift. It is an explanation of a little word in Job 42:7, which reads:

"After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

The key is found in the preposition about. God tells Eliphaz that he is angry with him and his friends because they have not spoken the truth about God, as did Job. If you take the time to actually read the book you will know that something seems wrong here. Job said a lot of things. A lot of what he said was specifically about God, but very little of it sounds like the truth about God. In contrast, read the speeches of Job’s friends. They exalt God. They speak of his justice. They talk about his infinite power. They proclaim his endless wisdom. They say a whole lot about God. And it all sounds like the truth. What is going on here?

As it turns out the Hebrew preposition translated about is a common one, ‘el. It is used hundreds of times in the Hebrew bible, and it can be translated about. However, you will only find a couple of examples where it is translated that way. Every other time it is translated to. In other words, the better translation is this:

"After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken to me what is right, as my servant Job has."

Interesting. One little pronoun. Yet, it changes our understanding of the entire book of Job. We do not think of the power of prepositions as English speakers. But there is a world of difference between speaking the truth about God and speaking the truthto God. The point was not for Job to speak about God, but for him to speak to God. And Job did exactly that for the entirety of the story. It is bewildering that it is almost impossible to find an English translation that gets this right. But one humble, Hebrew scholar saw it easily. How did he see it? I think he saw it because he has suffered.

If you have suffered you might not need this insight. Perhaps you are not waiting for permission to speak the truth to God concerning your pain, your suffering. Then again, maybe you are waiting. Maybe you do need that permission. Here is the truth. Whether your pain is great or small, God wants you to bring it to him. Scream it to him. In the end he will show up and he will answer. And at that point you will know that he is big enough to handle your biggest accusations…your strongest complaints…your loudest screams. But more importantly, for the first time in a long time you will know this: you are not alone. Even when you’re screaming in the dark.

Adapted from author Jonathan Stone, 2/7/12, at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=1421

Betrayed By A Friend? Now What?

Betrayed By A Friend? Now What?

Psalm 55:12-15 (ESV)
12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. 15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart

Betrayal hurts no matter what you call it.

Many things in life hurt and can be difficult to handle, but when a friend throws you under the bus, it’s a pain of a special category. Betrayal brings many negative emotions to the surface of your heart, and it hurts tremendously.

In our text, the psalmist uses some strong language in verse 15 that I’m not sure how to fully process, nor interrupt in a way that makes perfect senses to me. However, it’s real language and shows the depth of the pain he was feeling.

Getting rid of negative emotions can be a battle all by it’s self, and the last thing you need to do is add another battle to the battle that is already raging in your heart. I suggest you take a cue from Jesus himself and walk in the power of extreme forgiveness. I once heard it said that forgiveness means to “let go.” Letting go can be done in spite of your emotions.

Forgiveness is the only way to move beyond betrayal. When a friend betrays you, you can seek revenge and feed your negative emotions if you choose, but it’s only a prison you are building for yourself.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let me say it again. Forgiveness is the only way to move beyond betrayal.

Matthew 18:21-22(ESV)
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 1/30/13, at http://stevewright.info/2013/01/30/betrayed-by-a-friend-now-what/

Relax

Relax

 

The human mind will go crazy without sleep.

After a few days without falling asleep most people begin to hallucinate. First, exhaustion is accompanied by signs of apathy, impaired speech, flattened emotional responses but eventually it can lead to “insomnia, cardiovascular risks, emotional disorders (depression, bipolar disorder), and obesity”  http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx?item=1. The risks of sleep deprivation are greater than what they may first appear.

We need rest.

The scriptures teach us throughout their pages the human need for rest or sabbath. The term “sabbath” first appears in Exodus 16 as the Lord commands the Jewish people to rest one day a week. The Jews had just escaped from Egypt - the land of toil and slavery. Many reasons exist as to why people think God put this command forth; but, it certainly is no accident that it occurred right after the Jews were rescued from slavery. God was commanding a lifestyle to be implemented which would prevent a mindset of slavery from once more being adopted by his chosen people.

Though likely no one reading this today faces the physical toil and hardship of an ancient near-eastern slave many today have adopted a slavery like mind-set. We live in a free country where our minds are constantly consumed and bound with work. In extreme cases, we see our friends and neighbors working their whole lives for a wealth they never enjoy. We bind ourselves to our work.

We adopt a slavery like mindset.

But Christ has come to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Lk 4:18). He calls us out of pointless toil and work into his peace where our souls can rest.  He says, “Come unto me, all [you] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Our role, though, is to let go.

Our responsibility is to trust that when we do that God will catch us. So much of our striving and lack of rest is bred from a lack of faith. We must trust that God is good and that when we rest he will stand close by and keep us safe. Today,  “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil.4:6-7).

Author John Bush, 1/29/13, JesusSaves.cc staff

 

Now Apply It

Now Apply It

Jesus was the finest teacher to ever walk the earth. He was profound. He was paradoxical. He spoke with authority. But one thing that often gets overlooked is that He was extremely practical. Jesus did not merely cover information with his teaching, He taught us what to do. Jesus taught to application, not just to knowledge. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught what to do, not simply what to believe. Jesus knew what we too often forget, that knowing something is not what makes the difference, but what you do is what makes the difference. Of course, that is not true of salvation, you cannotdo your way to eternal life. Rather, it is true in answering the question of what your faith looks like. You cannot assess the state of your faith from your beliefs, but only from your actions. So, Jesus teaches what to do in regards to forgiveness, responding to your enemies, lusting with your heart, dealing with anger, etc. And He ends His message with the words, “…anyone who hears these words and puts theme into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock” (Matt. 7:24).

Second, we not only have the finest teacher that ever walked the earth, we also have the finest guide book to ever be compiled. Scripture is the divinely inspired word of God. Just like our Teacher, the guidebook is profound and mysterious. However, it is also extremely practical. This is what Scripture says about itself, “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training” (2 Tim. 3:16).

We are use to talking about Scripture as inspired, but often forget that it is a very usefulbook. It is useful in that God uses it to reveal to us where we are and where we need to go. We can see this in the four words teaching, reproof, correction, and training used in2 Timothy 3:16. (1) The Scripture teaches us where the path of life can be found. It shows us that the way is narrow, and that broad ditches of destruction lie on either side. (2) Scripture also offers us reproof when we find ourself straying off the path. It reveals our point of departure. (3) Scripture shows us how to get back on the path when we have left the path through correction. This brings about restoration in our life. (4) Finally, Scripture trains us to stay on the path. It shows us how to be disciplined and faithful in our walk.

But how do we apply THIS post? After all, how hypocritical would I be to write onapplication and not give any practical applications in the process? Lets make the application to our children.

We may have ideas about what we are teaching our children, but if we look at our children and how they are living we will see what we are really teaching them. Of course, this is mostly true of young children. Children grow up and become adults and are responsible for their own choices. But when our children are young we can see what we are teaching them.

If your children do not do something it is because it is not in their heart to do it. If it is not in their heart to do it then it is probably because you have not taught them to apply their faith in that way. Is it in the heart of your children to volunteer to help at church or humanitarian organizations or other opportunities to assist people? If not, it is probably because you have not taught them to apply their faith in that way. Is it in the heart of your children to honor their elders? If not, it is probably because you have not taught them to apply their faith in that way. Is it in the heart of your children to be friendly to peers even when it is unpopular? If not, it is probably because you have not taught them to apply their faith in that way.

Take the time to evaluate the actions of your children. Prayerfully consider what things you may have unintentionally forgotten to teach them. Come up with an action plan for correcting those things. Remember to think practically and take it all the way to application.

Adapted from author Jonathan Stone, 2/15/12, at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=1647

Purity Of Heart

Purity Of Heart

Sometimes everything you know, love, and remember about a poerson can be summed up in one picture. A moment frozen in time that speaks continually throughout eternity. I have such a memory, a picture imprinted on my mind. It is so clear in my soul that if I were an artist I would paint it for all to see. But since I am not that sort of artist I must attempt to paint this picture with words.

The picture is of my grandpa. I was nine years old. I was sitting inside of a cozy classroom. Listening to my teacher. Protected from the cold weather outside. Feeling rather peaceful, for a third grader, in the presence of my friends. And I can remember looking out the window, across the dead grass of the schoolyard and seeing my grandpa. He was walking along the road. I do not know how many times this happened. I know it was many. But I remember it in one picture. His coat pulled tight around him to stay the autumn chill. His hat, that famous fedora, pulled down on his head. And his cane, the cane I use to love to play with on his living room floor, gripped in one hand.

It seems a simple picture at first glance. Not much to it. Not in today’s world where so many pictures are almost sensory overload. But to me it is a wonderful picture. It always was so. For it always filled me with wonder. It always left me with more questions than answers. What was he doing? Where was he going? What was he thinking about? Was he really talking to God? Was God really listening, or even talking back? And if so did they ever talk about me? And if so did God tell him that I lied to my teacher yesterday?

As Kierkegaard once noted, Scripture teaches us that purity of heart is to will one thing. It is the opposite of double mindedness. The single minded soul is one. It is whole. Holy. There is no extra agenda for such a person. No games. No masks. No hypocrisy. No facades. When we see a whole number we call it an integer. Likewise, when we see a whole person we call it integrity. A holy person is a whole person. One person. So simple it confounds the wise.

Scripture also teaches us that persistence, whether faithfulness or just plain stubbornness, will grant you your heart’s desire. The persistent widow got what she wanted, even from a proud judge full of corruption (Luke 18:1-8). Whether your heart is pure or impure you will eventually get what your heart desires.

Jacob (yes, even Jacob the deceiver) was pure in his persistence. Jacob saw God (Genesis 32:30). Moses was pure in his meekness. Moses saw God (Exodus 33:11). Simeon was pure in his faithfulness. Simeon saw God (Luke 2:25-32). “Blessed are the pure in heart,” said Jesus, “For they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

David who was famous for the purity of his heart said this, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).

Yes. Purity of heart is to will one thing and one thing only, the presence of the Lord.

Relationship. Presence. Surely this type of purity is rare in today’s world. A world of broken relationships. A world of agendas and double mindedness. A world of hypocrisy and selfish ambition. A world where no one is whole. Where everyone is continually fighting identity crisis. In such a world the simplicity of my painting would go unnoticed. It leaves most of us perplexed. But I assure you that my painting is pure. It is pure because it is one. One man. In one scene. Seeking one thing. My grandpa’s life was one. His heart was pure. His life was gospel.

I miss Grandpa today. But I think that it is more than a familial longing. I believe that I miss being able to see a purity of heart that willed one thing. It is almost impossible to find that purity in this world of polluted hearts that are running after all kinds of things. I long to have such a heart. Or perhaps it is more honest to say that I long to long to have such a heart.

I suspect that one day my grandpa and all who were pure in heart when they walked the earth will dance before the Lord. A coal mining accident left my grandpa crippled for the majority of his adult life. So I look forward to seeing him dance unfettered by his earthly wounds. More importantly, I would like to be in that mosh pit with him, dancing unfettered by his side.

I do not feel like I could call myself one of the pure in heart. At least not yet.

Eventually we will see whatever our heart desires. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Adapted from author Jonathan Stone, 5/15/12 at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=4061

Behind The Glass

Behind The Glass

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King Jr.

I love to watch children play together before they manifest selfishness, racism, and a host of other fallen world personality reflections. It’s seems to be a little taste of the God’s future Kingdom manifesting in the now. It’s a short window, but it seems to exist. Behind the glass is a little taste of heaven. All you have to do is go to a hospital and observe the babies behind the glass of the nursery. Grown adults from every culture and race can be seen looking through the glass at a community of babies that have yet to learn the voice of a fallen world.

In other words, we learn the language of this fallen world once when come out from behind the glass. I’m not here to debate if we are born this way or learn our fallenness.  I’m sure it’s a combination of both. We are born sinners, and we learn to sin pretty well. But what if there is another language to learn? What if there is another community to be part of?

The answer to both questions is, there is! It’s called the Kingdom of God. It is God’s rule and reign in the here and now. The resurrection has brought the future forward. Christ Followers have another language and community that we are part of. We know there is another Identity that was stamped on us when we gave our life to Christ. When we were born again into God’s Kingdom, we were called to a Kingdom way of loving and living among the outside others. We were given a new language of love to learn It’s a community that seeks to live how it will one day fully be when God sets all things right at His coming. Part of that the future is leaking into the present through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Kingdom of God is about unlearning our old stamped identity and learning a new way of being human. The bible ends with a multitude of people and a calm sea of humanity living and worshiping God in their glorified bodies in a world that has finally been put to right forever. As Christ Followers, We have been called to reflect God’s future Community among the lost of the world. We are God’s love language to the world. We are God’s community that is setting things right. We are God’s temple. Now go live like it.

“Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”
― N.T. Wright,

Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 1/21/13, at http://stevewright.info/2013/01/21/behind-the-glass/

The Word

The Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. John 5:39-40

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31


Most of the time that you hear a Christian refer to the word of God they are referring to Scripture. However, the point that John makes in the very beginning of his gospel is that the clearest statement God has ever made in revealing Himself to His creation is through the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1,14). Someone could memorize the entire Scripture, but if they missed Jesus Christ they would have missed the whole point (5:39-40). And the whole point is to have the life that He came to give, which happens when we believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God (20:30-31).

Understanding this does not take away from the function, importance, inspiration, truth and authority of Scripture. However, it does set up a fundamental ordering that can revolutionize the way we approach the Scripture. That is, we have a completely different experience when we approach the Scripture looking for principles, information, guidelines, rules, etc., and when we approach the Scripture looking for Him. Of course, the Scripture gives us many principles, guidelines and revelations, but He is the one we are seeking.

Some Personal Experience

I came to know Jesus near the end of my time at college. As a person who had been raised in church I had all of the information that I needed, but I did not know Him. The Scripture was dead to me and He was dead to me. I lived my life driven by my own selfish desires and had no guilt about that. I was totally lost, and inside I was dying. One day I walked into a class to hear a guest lecturer speak on the authorship of the book of Deuteronomy (what I was doing in that type of class is another story for another time). I sat down on the back row of the classroom, pulled my hat down low, stared at the table in front of me, and thought I might not make it any further. It was probably the closest thing to an authentic suicidal thought that I have ever had before or since.

What happened next is hard to describe, as words do not do it justice. It was as if Jesus Himself walked up behind me and grabbed me by the nap of my neck. I was arrested. I could not move. I could not look up. I could not really hear the discussion going on in the classroom because of the fear of the Lord that gripped my heart. It was overwhelming, but it was also the most meaningful awareness of the presence of God that I had ever experienced in my life. I did not want Him to let me go. But I also was uncertain how long I could handle His presence. There is a Hungarian proverb that goes like this: God has feet of wool and hands of lead. We cannot hear Him coming, but there is no doubt when He takes hold. I was living that proverb.

Near the end of the lecture it was as if He took a step back. I still felt like He was standing right behind me. But it felt like He let go of my neck in order to allow me to hear what was happening in the class. Some timely words were spoken that I won’t go into, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Then I heard Him speak in my heart as well, and I melted like wax. For the first time in my life I knew that I felt the presence of God. And for the first time in my life I knew that I heard Him speak to me. I was useless for about ten minutes. I put my head down on the table and bawled like a baby.

A funny thing happened that day. That type of experience is where most people give themselves to the Lord. They pray a prayer of repentance and confess Jesus as their Savior. I did not do that. Instead I told Him that I would do whatever it took to find Him. At that moment I think that both He and I were pleased. He awakened me. And now the chase was on.

It actually took a few months before I fully gave my life to Him. But during that time I probably read more Scripture than I had in my entire life combined. I could not put it down. Not because I was looking for information. But because I was looking for Him.

The Road to Emmaus

One of the final stories in the Gospel of Luke tells us about two disciples who were walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, about seven miles altogether. They were dejected over the death of Jesus, and confused over reports that His body was now missing from His tomb. While they were walking Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them, “but they were kept from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16). Jesus asked them what they were talking about, and they told Him all that had happened in the last few days. Then Jesus explained to them from Moses and all the prophets all the Scriptures that concerned Him (24:27).

As they approached their village Jesus continued as if He was going further, but the pair of disciples urged Him to come stay with them. So, He went in with them and when they were at the table He took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. At that moment their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He immediately disappeared. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us” (24:32)?

All of us have experienced seasons where we felt dry. When we were downcast, unsure of the events that were taking place around us. Times when we could not make sense of what God was doing. Times when we opened the Scripture, yet could not understand the words–and more importantly, could not find the Word. If that is you today consider your Emmaus road, that moment when your heart burned within you just before He opened your eyes to see that it was Him. And then dig into the word of God until you find Him. You might be surprised how quickly the living water springs up in the desert, and how good it feels to have your heart burn within you once again. Most importantly, you might find more than refreshing ideas. You might find Him.

Adapted from author Jonathan Stone, 3/5/12, at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=1883

How To Glorify God At Work

How To Glorify God At Work

So I've been asked, "how can Christians glorify God at work?"

Dependence. Go to work utterly dependent on God (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 15:5). Without him you can’t breathe, move, think, feel, or talk. Not to mention be spiritually influential. Get up in the morning and let God know your desperation for him. Pray for help.

Integrity. Be absolutely and meticulously honest and trustworthy on the job. Be on time. Give a full day’s work. “Thou shalt not steal.” More people rob their employers by being slackers than by filching the petty cash.

Skill. Get good at what you do. God has given you not only the grace of integrity but the gift of skills. Treasure that gift and be a good steward of those skills. This growth in skill is built on dependence and integrity.

Corporate shaping. As you have influence and opportunity, shape the ethos of the workplace so that the structures and policies and expectations and aims move toward accordance with Christ.

Impact. Aim to help your company have an impact that is life-enhancing without being soul-destroying. Some industries have an impact that is destructive (e.g., porn, gambling, abortion, marketing scams, etc). But many can be helped to turn toward impact that is life-giving without being soul-ruining. As you have opportunity, work toward that.

Communication. Work places are webs of relationships. Relationships are possible through communication. Weave your Christian worldview into the normal communications of life. Don’t hide your light under a basket. Put it on the stand. Winsomely. Naturally. Joyfully. Let those who love their salvation say continually, Great is the Lord! (Psalm 40:16)

Love. Serve others. Be the one who volunteers first to go get the pizza. To drive the van. To organize the picnic. Take an interest in others at work. Be known as the one who cares not just about the light-hearted weekend tales, but the burdens of heavy and painful Monday mornings. Love your workmates, and point them to the great Burden Bearer.

Money. Work is where you make (and spend) money. It is all God’s, not yours. You are a trustee. Turn your earning into the overflow of generosity in how you steward God’s money. Don’t work to earn to have. Work to earn to have to give and to invest in Christ-exalting ventures. Make your money speak of Christ as your supreme Treasure.

Thanks. Always give thanks to God for life and health and work and Jesus. Be a thankful person at work. Don’t be among the complainers. Let your thankfulness to God overflow in a humble spirit of gratitude to others. Be known as the hope-filled, humble, thankful one at work.

There are more things to say about glorifying God in the workplace. But this is a start. Add to the list as God gives you light. The point is: Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or work, do all to make God look as great as he really is.

Adapted from author John Piper, 9/6/2011, at http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-to-glorify-god-at-work

Holding Pattern

Holding Pattern

One of my favorite books in the bible is the book of Deuteronomy. A key to understanding the book is understanding the context. Here is the backstory that leads up to the book. God miraculously delivers the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and uses Moses to lead them out. They journey to Mount Sinai where God and the Israelites make a covenant with one another. Then they journey up to Kadesh-barnea where they send spies to scout out the land that was promised to their ancestor Abraham. The prospects look good, but the Israelites ultimately shrink back in fear at the thought of fighting the giants that are in the land. So, the Israelites wander around the wilderness learning all kinds of lessons.

When we come to the book of Deuteronomy forty years have passed since Kadesh-barnea. An entire generation of Israelites has passed away, and now a new generation of Israelites is preparing to try once again to enter into the promised land. Moses has assembled all of Israel in order to give his farewell instructions, for he knows that he will die before they cross the Jordan river.

One of the things that I love about the book is the poignant reminders that Moses gives. He wastes no time in giving them, for we see one of his most acute remarks in the very beginning:
"It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the Lord had commanded him to give to them."- Deuteronomy 1:2-3

The point seems subtle to the uninitiated. In fact, if you do not know the backstory you will most likely miss the point. I am not a big fan of the New Living Translation. However, I think their paraphrase accurately captures the point that Moses is making here:
"Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt…"

In other words, Moses wants to make sure that none of us forget that they had managed to turn an eleven-day journey into a forty-year struggle.
It happens to all of us. We get stuck in transition, held up in a holding pattern. It even happened to the great patriarchs. Abraham got stuck in Egypt (Genesis 12:10), Isaac got stuck in the land of Abimelech (Genesis 26:8), and Jacob got stuck in Paddam Aram serving Laban (Genesis 29:27). We are not told exactly how long Abraham stayed in Egypt. In the case of Isaac we are simply told that he had been in the land of Abimilech “a long time.” And with Jacob we find out that he was tricked into fourteen years of service to Laban. How do we get ourselves into these holding patterns? How do we turn an eleven day journey into forty years?

Each situation is unique. In each case there are different factors to take into account. However, there is one obstacle that seems to be a universal threat, something that all of us will face in our faith journey. It is fear.
When Moses recounts his instructions to the Israelites at Kadesh-barnea his exhortation focused on the issue of fear:
See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 1:21

Fear is not something that happens only to the weak. All of us experience fear. In fact, if we are honest most of us know what it is like to go through entire seasons of life driven by fear. On the one hand, we do not want to be overly hard on ourselves for this reality. After all, nearly every hero of the faith in the bible had to be told at some point to fear not, and nearly every book of the bible has at least one fear not verse in it. Obviously this is a very common experience. On the other hand, it should be noted that scripture deals so heavily with the issue of fear because it is one of our greatest enemies, one we must confront diligently. In the book of Revelation we are told that the ones who overcome will inherit God and all of His blessings. However, the first ones mentioned in the list of those headed for the lake of fire are the cowardly (see Rev. 21:7-8).

The story of how the Israelites turned an eleven-day journey into a forty-year struggle is a classic what could have been tale. However, this story is not here to discourage us nor depress us, but to encourage us to find the fortitude that proved so illusive to them. As Paul noted about these stories in Scripture, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Perhaps you find yourself in a holding pattern today. I understand that you do not want to get ahead of God. I know what it is like to get ahead of God. However, while it is possible to get ahead of God, our greatest enemy is actually fear. It just may be that the thing that has you going in circles is not God, but fears that you have yet to identify.

If that is you today perhaps you need to go back and study this issue of fear, or do a self-inventory of your current state of fear. Then again, you may not need a long drawn out study. Perhaps you only need the simple reminder that fear is the thing that is holding you back. Maybe that will be the moment in which you finally turn and jump out of your holding pattern and into your free-falling adventure with God. So, what are you waiting for? Jump!

Adapted from Jonathan Stone, May 21, 2012, at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=4148

One Constant

One Constant

Change is all around us. Everywhere you look things are constantly changing. Circumstances are always changing. We even have four seasons of change. There are days we wake up, and we feel alive and free. Then, there are days we wake up and feel down and dead. Change seems to be part of the human condition.

In a world of change, God knew we needed something sure to count on. God knew we need something unmovable, something constants in our lives that we could place our full faith in. Therefore, He offers Himself. He is that constant. His love, compassion and leading in our lives are unceasing and perfect. He is the only perfect reassuring source.

The Bible declares in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

The God that created all things is available and constant in your life. When everything around you is changing, He changes not. God is consistently loving us and guarding over us.

Many things in life are temporary. God is not temporary. God is faithful. He never changes.

In fact, 2 Timothy 2:13 tell us, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

His faithfulness is not temporary; His love doesn’t have an expiration date on it. When it comes to God’s love, you and I need to be thinking it is never-changing and never-ending.

Adapted from The One Constant of 2013, by author Steve Wrights at http://stevewright.info/

There Is A Coming Day

There Is A Coming Day

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

There is coming a day that the entirety of the universe will be at rest under the reign of God. Our beloved world will be covered wholly with the perfect knowledge of our God like the waters are the cover for the sea.

Heaven and earth will be married forever and bathed in the renewal power of God and of his Christ. God will walk with us and talk with us. He will once again dwell among us with love unsearchable.

God’s city, the New Jerusalem, will be a reality of the redeemed, and evil will have no more place. I long for that day. I live for that day. I witness of that day that will arrive fully and soon.

The resurrection of Christ kicked open the door of the new creation and the future trickles into the now. One day the flood will be released, and the world will be changed forever. We are guaranteed this reality. My prayer is that we live like it now.

What say you?

Author, Steve Wrights at http://stevewright.info/

Not As Orphans

Not As Orphans

“An adult is his or her own mother or father.”
You can find this thought from a few different sources, but here is the gist of the idea.
Hopefully, when you are little child you have a “good enough parent” who does things like:
Ensures that you eat your vegetables.
Tells you that it is bedtime…and firmly, lovingly enforces it.
Says to you…go outside…get some sunshine!
Schedules and takes you to your doctor and dentist appointments.
Makes sure you are part of some faith community.
Helps you make decisions about getting involved in extracurricular activities…and helps you follow through appropriately.
Schedules “play dates” when you are young or some other way to learn social skills.
Help you learn to make priorities with your time by making sure you get your homework done and assigning some chores.
Sits down with you when you are sad, angry, or happy…and listen.

These are pretty much basic aspects of parenting.  I am sure you could come up with other items for the list.
So, the idea of being “your own mom or dad” is that as an adult we do these things for ourselves.
No longer do mom and dad tell you to eat your vegetables.
You do.
No longer do mom and dad tell you it is bedtime.
You do.
No longer do mom and dad say to you…go outside…get some sunshine!
You do.
No longer do mom and dad schedule and take you to your appointments.
You do.
No longer do mom and dad make sure are part of some faith community.
You do.
No longer do mom and dad help you make decisions about getting involved in        extracurricular activities…and help you follow through appropriately.
You do.
No longer do mom and dad help you develop friendships and build relationships.
You do.
No longer do mom and dad help you learn to make priorities with your time by making sure you got your work done and paying attention to housework.
You do.
No longer do mom and dad sit down and make room for when you when you are sad, angry, or happy.
You do.

You get the idea.
At least, that is the hope for every healthy adult.
I am guessing you can look down that list and whether it is putting yourself to bed, getting sunshine, or giving yourself room to be sad or angry, you can find some area in which you don’t exactly “parent” yourself incredibly well…perhaps not even “good enough”.
We learn to parent ourselves from our own parents and other influential adults in our lives.  However, NONE of us had perfect parents.  NONE of us.  Neither did we grow up in perfect communities.
So, whether they are habits we picked up through life or behaviors we picked up from adults in our lives, we all have areas in which we need to grow…areas in which we need to better parents ourselves
Too often we forget this role of being an adult.  We are still waiting for someone else to put us to bed, to schedule and take us to appointments, to tell us it is ok to cry.
We live more as a survivor rather than a thriver…letting life live us rather than us living life.  We run around just making it and fail to realize that the only person who can make any of the changes to make our life more manageable…
Is us.
We complain about how much we HAVE to do.
We forget that like a loving and firm mom or dad we need to tell ourselves: “stop”.   You don’t HAVE to do anything.  Go outside and get some sunshine.
Of course, we all need help and none of us can make it on our own, but when it gets really dangerous is when we find someone who WILL keep doing it…when we find a friend or spouse who is only too happy to have the identity as our caretaker…our savior…tell us it is time to go to bed…time to schedule our dental appointments…or does it for us!
And, guess what.  Your kids are watching you.  They are learning how to be an “adult” from you and not just by what you tell them.  They are learning how to say “no”, how to say “yes”, how to slow down, how to work hard, how to put a hold on things to go outside and take a deep breath.
Or, they are learning how to live in constant chaos, how to go, go, go without ever stopping…how to wait and let someone else do it for them….for someone else to say “stop”.
Some people come from homes where the parenting did not even come close to “good enough”.  There was abuse and all kinds of neglect.
Whether our parents were “good enough”, absent, or abusive…it can seem overwhelming to think of adulthood in this way.
It can also be empowering.
We CAN parent ourselves.
None of us had perfect parents on earth, but we all have a perfect heavenly Parent.  He CAN help us pick up where our earthly parents left off.
Jesus said in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
In our frailties and faults, the Holy Spirit gathers (Matthew 23:37) and guides.  He works on us as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
He does not leave us as orphans.
The Holy Spirit picks up where our parents left off and helps us learn to parent ourselves as empowered, responsible adults who are now parents to our own children…even as He parents us.
I have my areas I need to grow in…areas I need to parent myself better…areas I still probably wait for someone else to step in.  I am working on this.  In fact, I am telling myself right now: “It is bedtime, Emily.” 

We all have areas in which we need to better parents ourselves. What are yours?

 

Author, Emily Stone at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=2111

Are You All Grown Up?

Are You All Grown Up?

Here is one of my favorite definitions of an “adult”:

“An adult is his or her own mother or father.”

You can find this thought from a few different sources, but here is the gist of the idea.

Hopefully, when you are little child you have a “good enough parent” who does things like:

Ensures that you eat your vegetables.

Tells you that it is bedtime…and firmly, lovingly enforces it.

Says to you…go outside…get some sunshine!

Schedules and takes you to your doctor and dentist appointments.

Makes sure you are part of some faith community.

Helps you make decisions about getting involved in extracurricular activities…and helps you follow through appropriately.

Schedules “play dates” when you are young or some other way to learn social skills.

Help you learn to make priorities with your time by making sure you get your homework done and assigning some chores.

Sits down with you when you are sad, angry, or happy…and listen.

 

These are pretty much basic aspects of parenting.  I am sure you could come up with other items for the list.

So, the idea of being “your own mom or dad” is that as an adult we do these things for ourselves.

No longer do mom and dad tell you to eat your vegetables.

You do.

No longer do mom and dad tell you it is bedtime.

You do.

No longer do mom and dad say to you…go outside…get some sunshine!

You do.

No longer do mom and dad schedule and take you to your appointments.

You do.

No longer do mom and dad make sure are part of some faith community.

You do.

No longer do mom and dad help you make decisions about getting involved in        extracurricular activities…and help you follow through appropriately.

You do.

No longer do mom and dad help you develop friendships and build relationships.

You do.

No longer do mom and dad help you learn to make priorities with your time by making sure you got your work done and paying attention to housework.

You do.

No longer do mom and dad sit down and make room for when you when you are sad, angry, or happy.

You do.

You get the idea.

At least, that is the hope for every healthy adult.

I am guessing you can look down that list and whether it is putting yourself to bed, getting sunshine, or giving yourself room to be sad or angry, you can find some area in which you don’t exactly “parent” yourself incredibly well…perhaps not even “good enough”.

We learn to parent ourselves from our own parents and other influential adults in our lives.  However, NONE of us had perfect parents.  NONE of us.  Neither did we grow up in perfect communities.

So, whether they are habits we picked up through life or behaviors we picked up from adults in our lives, we all have areas in which we need to grow…areas in which we need to better parents ourselves

Too often we forget this role of being an adult.  We are still waiting for someone else to put us to bed, to schedule and take us to appointments, to tell us it is ok to cry.

We live more as a survivor rather than a thriver…letting life live us rather than us living life.  We run around just making it and fail to realize that the only person who can make any of the changes to make our life more manageable…

Is us.

We complain about how much we HAVE to do.

We forget that like a loving and firm mom or dad we need to tell ourselves: “stop”.   You don’t HAVE to do anything.  Go outside and get some sunshine.

Of course, we all need help and none of us can make it on our own, but when it gets really dangerous is when we find someone who WILL keep doing it…when we find a friend or spouse who is only too happy to have the identity as our caretaker…our savior…tell us it is time to go to bed…time to schedule our dental appointments…or does it for us!

And, guess what.  Your kids are watching you.  They are learning how to be an “adult” from you and not just by what you tell them.  They are learning how to say “no”, how to say “yes”, how to slow down, how to work hard, how to put a hold on things to go outside and take a deep breath.

Or, they are learning how to live in constant chaos, how to go, go, go without ever stopping…how to wait and let someone else do it for them….for someone else to say “stop”.

Some people come from homes where the parenting did not even come close to “good enough”.  There was abuse and all kinds of neglect.

Whether our parents were “good enough”, absent, or abusive…it can seem overwhelming to think of adulthood in this way.

It can also be empowering.

We CAN parent ourselves.

None of us had perfect parents on earth, but we all have a perfect heavenly Parent.  He CAN help us pick up where our earthly parents left off.

Jesus said in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

In our frailties and faults, the Holy Spirit gathers (Matthew 23:37) and guides.  He works on us as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He does not leave us as orphans.

The Holy Spirit picks up where our parents left off and helps us learn to parent ourselves as empowered, responsible adults who are now parents to our own children…even as He parents us.

I have my areas I need to grow in…areas I need to parent myself better…areas I still probably wait for someone else to step in.  I am working on this.  In fact, I am telling myself right now: “It is bedtime, Emily.” 

We all have areas in which we need to better parents ourselves. What are yours?

 

Author, Emily Stone at http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=2111

 

The Glory

The Glory

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
Luke 2:14

To ascribe glory to God is to acknowledge his splendor, his majesty and his unlimited greatness. There is no one and no thing higher than God. Christmas is a great time to consider your personal view of God. It is more common to focus on Jesus, who is God in human form. But that isn't who Jesus is anymore.

Consider the resurrected Christ, on his throne in heaven, seated at the right hand of God. Now consider the power of God, given to you through his Holy Spirit. The same power that parted the Red Sea, walked on water, and healed the sick, is the power every Christian has been given. Is your view of God high enough? Is your praise and adoration of God adequate? Now, pause and take a moment from reading this devotional and give "glory to God in the highest."

Why is it important to give God glory? Because when you truly acknowledge the splendor, majesty and greatness of God, you are able to know his great love and compassion for you. Then you can be filled with his presence and his power—his Holy Spirit—and you are able to experience his peace. God's peace transcends circumstance, because God's peace is a gift to you from the highest.

But God's peace isn't promised unconditionally. God's peace is given to those on whom his favor rests. How do you find God's favor? Proverbs says, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man" (3:3-4). If you took the time to give God glory "in the highest," then you found the path to his peace.

If you walk through this busy day anointed with his peace, someone might ask you about your sense of joy and calm. Be faithful and show God's love outwardly today, walking with a good name in the sight of God and man. And at the end of this day, you will likely have other reasons to give "glory to God in the highest."

Written by:  Dr. Denison of http://www.denisonforum.org/

Take Time To Say Thanks

Take Time To Say Thanks

"Take Time To Say Thanks!” He was just a nobody. An outcast of society. For how long? No one really knows. But we do know that he had been separated from his family, his friends, his job and all that resembled “life.” For him, life was over! He had been sentenced to live out the rest of his days, for reasons beyond his control, in a secluded place, with nine other “nobodies” just like him. You see, he was a leper. No hope for him, you say. Well, that’s what everyone else thought too. But then, one day, down a dusty road, came the man called “Jesus.” When he saw Jesus, he, along with the other nine, began to cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus said to them, “Go show yourselves to the priest.” As they departed, the miracle took place. They were cleansed! When he realized what had taken place, he immediately turned around, ran back to Jesus, fell down on his face, and with a loud voice, began to give Him thanks for restoring his life. Jesus replied, “Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” The other nine were so caught up in where they were going, that they forgot where they had come from. They didn’t take time to say “thanks.” As we enjoy this Thanksgiving season, let us not forget that at one time in our lives, we were like this leper. We were plagued with the incurable disease called sin, for which we had no cure. But one day, Jesus came by where we were, on the scrap-pile of life, and offered to us everlasting life. The joy, the peace, the comfort, the help and the hope, that we now experience is all because of Him. That, my friend, is what Thanksgiving is all about. Yes, it is important to know where we are going, but let’s not forget where we came from. During this Thanksgiving season, join me and my family, and let us... “Take time to say thanks!” Pastor Johnny H. Moore www.ruralpastor.com [email protected]

The Power of Thanksgiving

The Power of Thanksgiving

The Power in Thanksgiving

The giving of thanks implies one has received something. When it comes to giving thanks to God it is often a pre-thanks before we have possessed the thing for which we are grateful. At such times our thanksgiving demonstrates we have possessed the unpossessed. Through communion with God and His word, we see things not yet seen. God’s faith gift enables us to suddenly know what we have not previously known, and thus, thanksgiving is our uncalculated response; becoming our highest expression of faith. What power this wields over all the methods and devices of Satan. The giving of thanks also carries us through the often difficult season between receiving, and physically seeing. It keeps us in the place of initial enlightenment from God’s heart to ours.

Some of God’s benefits, for which we are thankful, are promised; some are accomplished. There is a difference. For example, God has already accomplished our salvation in Christ Jesus. We receive His accomplished work.

Promised

        Romans 8:32 NLT

Since he [God] did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give   us everything else?

Accomplished

         Colossians 1:13 NLT

...he [God] has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into             the Kingdom             of his dear Son,

Thanksgiving is far more than a mere uttering of an obligatory “Thank you.”, but rather, an actual offering from the heart of the recipient. By the giving of thanks our faith collides with every circumstance, every doubt, every point of resistance, every fear. Our greatest expression of faith is our giving of thanks to our Father.

I close with these reminders.

Philippians 4:6 AMP

6 Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

Author:  John Gann

Authority of The Believer

Authority of The Believer

The Authority of The Believer

John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  Many people debate and argue about the soverignty of God versus the free will or authority of man.  Understanding mans free will or authority begins with the foundational understanding that the Word of God is the only truth and it is the authority for our lives.  When we reject the Word of God which is not only the "Bible" but Jesus Christ himself, we are rejecting truth and excerising our free will.

As believers when we base our lives upon the Word of God, both the Bible and Jesus Christ, is when we have authority as believers.  So what is the authority we are given?  Luke 10:19 says "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."  We have been given ALL authority over the enemy.  The enemy is person, place or thing that is against God.  When we are living lives in obedience to the Word of God we have authority in the name of Jesus Christ to speak to any enemy and command the situation to change!

The power of life and death is in our mouth.  We must exercise our authority as believers and when we do God will back up His Word and come into every situtation.  Take time right now and speak to the enemies in the Name of Jesus Christ!  Watch how God comes into your situation!

To learn more about Jesus Christ go to www.jesussaves.cc

Exercising Your Freedom To Vote

Exercising Your Freedom To Vote

Is participating in something as mean-spirited and demeaning as the American political process worth the time of those called to be "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9)?  Absolutely.

Jesus called us his salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)—both must contact that which they are to change.  Paul told us to be submitted to "the governing authorities" (Romans 13:1) as law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes and participate in their society (v. 7).  Our Lord stated that we are to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21), a dictum that requires participants in a democracy to vote.

You are the most important person in America today: a voter.  Franklin Roosevelt was right: "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."  Remember that every election is decided by the people who show up.  So pray, seeking God's wisdom, and vote.

If You are not in the US today, we ask for you to pray for the election because we all know that what happens in America effects the entire world.

The Will of God

The Will of God

When we do not follow the will of God for our lives, we pay a heavy price and face negative consequences.  Often these consequences are life altering.  But how do we know the will of God?

The Law of God + The Will of God = Peace With God

Psalm 40:8 – “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

The law of God is the Word of God.  We must spend time reading the Word, the Holy Bible.  I suggest beginning with the Psalms and Proverbs.  Read Psalm 1 and Proverbs 1 the first day and then go in order for the next 30.  Do this for three months.  Each day this will take you about 15 minutes.  Then take about another 5 minutes and mediate on what you have read.

The Word of God is also the Rhema, spoken Word, of the Lord which comes to us by the Holy Spirit.  It is important to pause and allow the Spirit of God to speak to us.  Just remember that the Rhema Word will ALWAYS be confirmed by the written Word.

Another words, if you are mediating and the thought for another woman’s husband comes to your mind, you know that is not the Spirit of God because the Word of God says you can’t have someone else’s husband!  You get the point!! So reading the Word of God and meditating on it is very important to knowing the Will of God.

The general will of God is clearly specified in the Word of God for us. But how to know the specific will of God?The Bible doesn’t tell us what career to choose, who we are to marry or how many children to have. These things can be revealed to us only when we are following what is already revealed in the written Word of God– i.e. the general will of God.

So, how do we find the specific will of God?

By seeking God through prayer, the Word, the counsel of Godly people and then be lead by PEACE!! Allow the peace of God in our hearts to be the umpire so that we can know the will of God for our lives.