The Ministry of the Midwife

February 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Nina Medrano – 

Exodus 1:15-21 (NIV)
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.  Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”   The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”   So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Chances are, if you are a faithful member of a church you have been a midwife in a ministry.

Whether you serve in the nursery, or on a worship team, or pastor the sheep– you assist in birthing God’s plan and purpose for His Bride.

The ministry of the midwife is a position that gets to observe some of the most hidden, private, intimate parts of human nature.  It’s a position that often rewards and encourages.  And, at other times, will raise the question of whether to remain or get out!  Because of the sensitive role of the midwife, Satan and his demons, will try to entrap and threaten the midwife into aborting the purpose and plan of God.

What is the enemy’s greatest scheme?   It is offenses.

If he can get us to be offended at the one giving birth then we have given him power to stop God’s plan for the Church as well as for our lives.

What is our greatest protection?  The fear of the Lord.

Psalm 34:7 (NLT) reads, “For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”

Psalm 61:5 (NLT) reads, “…You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.”

The Hebrew midwives feared God more than the King and they did not succumb to the king’s threat.  God saw this and rewarded the midwives by giving them families of their own.

When we choose to stay in the fear of the Lord, God will defend us and will reward us with His intended purpose and ministry of our own.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us in his writings to the Galatian Church: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”  (Galatians 6:9).

Lord, protect me against the voices of offense that surround me and frequently point out the shortcomings of those in ministry.  Help me to stay in the presence of the fear of the Lord.  Season my heart with much grace and mercy towards myself and with others—as we continue to be transformed into the image of Christ.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Setting and Revising Your Goals

February 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

Warren and Julie are in their 60s, runners and professionals. It was not until after they climbed a peak with me in Colorado that I learned more about them. Both are attorneys. Julie is a judge. She would blast any stereotype you have of what a judge ought to be like. They are unassuming, dedicated, and focused on an interesting goal.

It was on a preliminary hike that Warren told me they plan to run a marathon in all 50 States. They will knock off two more this year in Kentucky and Maine. They have already done 35 states. While running in every state may not sound affordable or logical to you, I want to encourage you to think about what you can do. What kind of goals can you set for yourself? For Warren and Julie, their goal is big. It encompasses years of training and health. They aren’t racing to win, they are running to see new places, keep in shape, and eventually finish their goal.

In Colorado, one of the healthiest states in the nation, one out of every two people is overweight or obese. This should be a national emergency. The costs for medical care are exponentially higher for those who are sedentary. With so many distractions to keep us from healthy activity, it’s no wonder many of us gravitate to the couch after work. We compound our inactivity with poor eating or sleeping habits. When you choose a goal for yourself, there is a built-in self-accountability that helps keep you on track. As one of my clients said, “When I see how hard it has been to lose weight, I don’t want to eat anything that will counteract the work I’ve done.”

The biggest battle is in the mind. This is true for fitness as much as it is for spiritual and moral issues. Your mind is the battleground that leads to success or failure. And in any battle, there is an ebb and flow of winning and losing. We have setbacks. We make unwise decisions. Still, staying focused through establishing goals is one of the keys to success. A goal is established by making a decision. This is true for our spiritual life as well. We know, however, that simply making a decision to follow Christ is no more binding than making a decision to go on a diet or get in shape. It takes commitment, perseverance, and certainly a willingness to sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term gains.

It is no secret that many of us put on pounds during the winter months where cold and inactivity dominate. Where do you want to be in three months or next year? Any goal, large or small, takes dedication, a plan and some form of accountability. For Warren and Julie, they do their long runs together on the weekends and share the same goal. They have a built-in commitment to the goal, an accountability partner and the means to accomplish their goals.

There are setbacks in life–an injury, the loss or a job, or any number of other interruptions to reaching your goals. Rather than letting failure or inactivity define your life, find ways to creatively overcome these. This means maintaining your workouts in spite of losing your job or cross training (i.e., swimming instead of running) in the face of injury. We naturally find excuses when things don’t go exactly as planned in life. Yet when you come to expect the unexpected, it is easier to navigate toward your goals rather than to let circumstances prevail.

Speed

February 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Jane Thornton –

Sun glinted off my handlebars, the wind whispered around my goggles, and the leather seat jounced under my rear as my ATV slewed to a stop on the side of the sandy road. Grinning around my gritted teeth, I jerked the kerchief away from my face. “Wes! We’ve found our new retirement activity!”

I was ready to sell his ’67 Mustang, buy a pair of four-wheelers, and hit the road. For three hours, my family zipped and bounced along the mountain trails, relishing the speed, admiring God’s magnificence, and laughing at each other’s antics.

Toward the end of our jaunt, we had tracked down the wandering youngsters and were aiming for our rendezvous with the tour company. Our group had strung out along the trail to avoid dirt in our eyes. I careened into the parking lot with five minutes to spare. My niece was two minutes behind me. Wes should be pulling up the rear in a moment.

The owner of the company checked in our vehicles and nodded his understanding when we explained, “The dust was really getting to him, so he was hanging back. He’ll be right here.”

Minutes ticked by. Conversation grew awkward. Jokes about turning down the guided tour fell flat—maybe as flat as a tire? My brother Mark took off to find my husband. More time dragged by. Cell phones don’t work in the mountains. The boss sent an employee with a flat repair kit.

Rationalizations ricocheted through my brain and out of my mouth. The whole family endorsed all my possible reasons for the delay. The owner and his family waived away our apologies for holding up their excursion.

A rumbling motor announced the return of the company rescuer. With a serious face, he went straight to his boss. We heard the words “off the cliff.”

My heart went numb.

Robin, my sister-in-law echoed the pronouncement. “He said off the cliff.” Sound jabbered around my ears with no meaning. Off the cliff.

My thoughts flew to hospitals, lonely years, and funerals. I prayed, no, no, no. Reason told me God never promised life. No, no, no.

My gaze desperately followed the muted conversation. Finally, the owner approached. “He’s all right. He was walking.” Two short, amazing, powerful sentences.

When Mark putted back with Wes perched and clinging behind, we found him bloody and bruised, perhaps with cracked ribs. He told his tale:  he hit a boulder in the road, rebounded off an unbending tree, rolled down an eight-foot embankment, splashed into a creek, and lay dazed as the heavy machine landed across his shoulders. By nightfall the bank was twelve feet and the creek was a river. Two months later, I think he says he fell fifty feet into roaring rapids.

That evening as he tried to break the chill from shock and snowmelt, I hovered. He shuddered in the cramped bathtub, and I laid warm handcloths over him. I mopped up blood and ruined several butterfly bandages. I flitted out to the kitchen for boiling water. Reminded myself of every frantic birthing scene in movies through the years.

Depending on how you measure, five to fifteen minutes of terror can bring presumption to a shrieking halt and slap you in the face with perspective. Life is good. It goes fast. Every minute is a blessing.

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:4-5 NIV).

Comment Prompt:  Share a time when you were struck by the fleeting quality of life?

Control of Bodily Appetites

February 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Cami Checketts –

Summer is coming to an end and I’m depressed.

It’s hard to let the good times go. I love my boys being home with me, hiking, biking, swimming, just enjoying every minute with them. My only regret this summer is I’ve allowed my self-control to slip. It hasn’t just been an occasional ice cream cone on the front porch swing. Some days it’s been two ice cream cones and, to be quite honest, most of the time I’m the one instigating the treat.

I really have no problem with eating treats and I adore ice cream. My problem comes in feeling I am out of control. As a Christian, I am trying to emulate the Savior. To me that includes controlling my temper, being a moral, righteous person, and controlling all of my bodily appetites. I believe that we should enjoy delicious foods, but ice cream twice a day? Probably too much.

So how do I stay in control of my bodily appetites?

Jesus gives us the answer in John 15:5 (KJV), “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” He is telling us to stay close to him and we’ll experience His spiritual fruit—love, joy, peace…and self-control. And he warns us that without Him, we can do nothing! We can’t eat in a healthy way, exercise or do other important things to take care of our “temples” and stay in control of our appetites.

Another important thing that we need to do into order to control our bodily appetites is to take it a day at a time. Each day is a new day, another chance to be healthy. If I focus on one day at a time I don’t get so overwhelmed.

I also think it’s wise not to be too strict. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Healthy eating is important but we’re never going to be perfect. I love the 90/10 approach (or sometimes 80/20 when life is crazy). If I eat in a healthy way 90% of the time, I can enjoy a treat for the other 10%.

The best advice is to turn to the Lord. He really does care about every aspect of our lives. He’s there for us. Turn to Him when you’re struggling.

I pray we can all try to take a little better care of ourselves, when we feel good physically it makes it easier to get out and serve others and helps us stay strong spiritually.

Home

January 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen-

When I reminisce about my childhood home I can practically smell the fresh baked, chocolate chip cookies. Running home from the bus, I could not wait to be at the kitchen table, even though an hour of piano practice followed. I am the quintessential homebody. I even opted out of Prom for a night relaxing with my favorite people, most of who were family members.

A few weeks ago, as I was prepping dinner, my son leaned over the discarded sweatshirt I had tossed on a kitchen chair. He sniffed unaware that I was watching him, a bemused smile on my face.  He met my smile. “This smells like you mom.” My grin widened “What do I smell like?”  “Home” he said, meeting my instantly teary eyes with a bright smile.

For over a year I have worked at wrapping my brain around Psalm 91 (NIV). Verse one says: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

My son could not have guessed the mystery he helped unravel in his casual comment. I pulled paper and pen and began listing adjectives that describe my ideal shelter. Security, protection from the elements, peace, warmth and unconditional acceptance topped my list.

My suitcase has seen more travel & dust than I could have imagined. If I had realized my belongings would stay in boxes these many years, perhaps I would have decided to travel lighter. Like the Israelites, I too have journeyed through a wilderness and seen God move on my behalf. The places where He rescued me have become altars of praise.

My security and peace came from what was familiar; physical objects attached to warm memories. That has slowly begun to change. The Lord is becoming my shelter. And when I think that the world is His & all its fullness, I am reminded that our ownership is nothing more than an illusion.

Making the Lord my dwelling place is walking in His presence. And that is where I am safest. Nearness to Him is protection and peace. This is an appealing thought for a homebody nomad. A home away from any home, one that never requires moving. I am accepted, loved, and chosen. I will hold on to Him tightly and let my grip on the rest, go.

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