Free

April 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

Sometimes God’s words are a sweet, honey soothing balm. And other times, like tonight, they stick in my throat as I try to swallow them whole. I want a consecrated life but the dying process that leads me there, is truly killing me, my flesh at least.

My children have spent the day loved and are now tucked in blankets and prayer. I sit in the dim stillness of the midnight hour accompanied by a restless mind. I want to lay my head on the table and have a good cry, but the tears and the sleep are long in coming.

I have spent two weeks reading George Muller’s biography with my kids. And during these last two weeks there has been a financial decision my hubby and I have tried to make. Tried being the operative word. There seems to be an invisible fence hemming us in.  George Muller lived a fiscally amazing life, and he cared for thousands of orphans in the process. During his lifetime he had millions of dollars go through his hands. Yet he used the money for others, even when it was hard to buy food. The biography details how he read the Bible from cover to cover 300 times. And how he chose to be in need, giving away all excess, and waiting for God to fill the need. He was constant in prayer: asking, seeking and knocking.

I want to live like George Muller lived. He saw miracles every day. But tonight, with a mixture of frustration and fear I told God how hard it is to let go. The response back was “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” I grabbed my Bible and turned to this verse, not realizing it shows up in both the New and Old Testament.  And part of me, the part that is small and immature, wishes I had stuck with the Old Testament version. But I didn’t. I turned to Hebrews 13:5 also.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (NIV).

Here’s the thing, I really just wanted a pat on the back and some sympathy tonight. Being content with what I have doesn’t sound so good, and what I envision buying sounds great. Yet even as I write this I am reminded that what is seen is temporal.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV).

Somewhere along the way I befriended a lie. I often trust in resources and choose what is seen. If I ever have the courage to live like George Muller I think it will feel like miles of rope being cut off of me: freedom.

See I know God does not withhold good things from me, but I live like He might. I know He loves me as a daughter and is actively pruning my life, yet sometime I live like an orphan.  I know that any no ultimately gives way to a greater yes, yet I long for the yes.

In the midst of all this, He is the God who actively rescues me from trying to be my own salvation. He sets me free.

Thanksgiving—the Antidote to Stress

March 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Julie Morris –

Stress makes us sick. There’s no doubt about it. When we couple stress and negative emotions with poor nutrition and other unhealthy habits, we have a recipe for sickness and disease. Lots of us are stressed out. In the United States we consume five billion tranquilizers, five billion barbiturates, three billion amphetamines and sixteen tons of aspirin every year

Are you suffering from stress? Want to learn the antidote that I discovered years ago?

It’s thanksgiving! Let me tell you how to give thanks even when you’re all stressed out.

In Isaiah 40, God gives us 6 reasons to thank Him. Go through the 6 P’s, thanking God for each one. By the time you get to the last P, you will feel better. This really works so give it a try!

1. Thank God for His PRESENCE.

God the Father is over us–Isaiah 40:22 NIV “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.”

God the Son is next to us–Isaiah 40:11 NIV “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

God the Holy Spirit is inside of us–Isaiah 40:29 NIV “He gives strength to the weary.”

Thank God that He is with you as you face your stressful circumstances.

2. Thank God for His POWER.

Isaiah 40:10 NIV “See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.”

“Sovereign” means that God is King of kings and Lord of lords. Everything that happens to us passes through His fingers first. He has all power so thank Him that He has the power to help you.

3. Thank God for His PLAN.

Isaiah 40:13 NIV “Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor.”

God knows what He is doing even if we don’t understand His plan. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV tells us what His plant is: ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

God has good plans for you so thank Him!

4. Thank God for His PURPOSE.

Isaiah 40:5 NIV “And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.”

No pain is wasted in God’s economy. When we endure trials by relying on the Lord, His glory is revealed in us. That means that our trials can work out to be a good thing. There are advantages of adversity, for example, adversity helps us to…

  • Seek God.
  • Help others.
  • Experience God’s power.
  • Mature in our faith.
  • Be disciplined (not spoiled children).
  • Bring glory to God (when we tell others how He is helping us).

5. Thank God for His PRIZE.

Isaiah 40:10 NIV “See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.”

God will reward us! Sometimes we have to wait until heaven for our reward, but we can be certain that we will receive it!

6. Thank God for His PROMISES.

Isaiah 40:8 NIV “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

God’s Word is true. Memorize the promises that encourage you most. Put them on your mirror, refrigerator and the dashboard of your car. Thank God for His promises to you, but be sure not to ignore the commands that come with them! 

I would love to help you to give thanks this Thanksgiving. Comment below if you want personal help.

When the Internet Fails

March 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Marty Norman –

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). 

We’ve all experienced the confusion. Last night your email was working, this morning – no go.

What’s going on? Usually no one can say.

Personally I think it’s a sign of the times. More than likely it’s a sign of my age. And if the truth be known, I don’t like computers, never have and don’t think I ever will.

Sure, I use them. Sure, sometimes they make my life easy, especially when you compare Word Perfect to the old fashioned hit and peck type-writer that we used in my day.  In retrospect I can hardly believe we had to type everything perfectly. There was no cut and paste. How did we do it? Now you can change every word from top to bottom in a heartbeat. That part I like.

But with each blessing also comes a test.

And computers have tested me sometimes beyond my ability to endure. I’m talking about my patience and kindness quotient. They seem to fly out the window whenever I talk to someone regarding technology, especially the guys from India.

Bless their hearts, it’s not their fault. I don’t know what happens to me. Something just comes over me. I like to think it’s a computer demon that jumps on me and says, “You don’t have to take this. Let her rip.”

But the truth is – it’s me. It’s that old flesh thing rising up inside, making itself known, keeping me humble and needing God.

As a result I spend more time feeling bad about my behavior and in repentance to God than I do in fixing the computer.

So God and I are working on this issue. He’s developed a new training program for me: Plan B – being kind in all circumstances.

Clearly Plan B does not come naturally to me. I thought it did, but since the invention of the computer, all bets are off.

My current problem is buffering. Surely, you’ve experienced it. It’s when you are trying to live stream or watch a download or U-tube video. The tape stops incessantly and is crazy making.

I know this is not a computer problem.  My computer is only three months old and everything is up to snuff. I’m finally even comfortable downloading updates.

But regardless the problem, I’ve spent hours with my server on the phone. We’ve checked my download service, my download speed and my router connection. A technician has come out and replaced some gadget on the side of my house.

Recently I was told it was my modem.  That might be true as this one was probably purchased in the year 2000. But why didn’t they tell me that the first time I called?

But praise God I was nice this time. And that is only by the grace of God. Everything in me wanted to use the age card and shout, “Do you not know I am an old person. Technology is not my thing!”

After a brief conversation, which in itself was pretty miraculous, I was told it was indeed my modem and was promised a new one within five days.

“It is easy to install,” the heavily accented voice on the other end of the line told me.

I’m skeptical. But sure, I’ll play.  Maybe, just maybe this time things will turn around. But if this is part of the test, my training has been ratcheted up a notch.

When I receive the new modem, I plan to follow the instructions to the letter. If that doesn’t work, then I’m going back to the tried and true “age card.”

What else is a grandmother to do if she wants her computer to work?

Faith & Fitness for the COURAGEOUS Man

By Laurette Willis –

“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6, NKJV).

Have you seen the movie Courageous yet? Our family really enjoyed it. There’s lots of action, a compelling story, humor, top-notch acting, and it is built on a solid foundation (the Word of God and the Father’s great love for us). The movie’s subtitle is Honor begins at home.

As the promotions for this movie state, “Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. When tragedy strikes home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Protecting the streets is second nature. Raising their children in a God-honoring way. That’s courageous.”

How does the Courageous Man Combine Faith, Family & Fitness?

When we come home from a hard day at work, the last thing many of us want to do is think about anything more physical than elbow-bending (as in fork-to-mouth, repeat, and 40 reps).

In the movie Courageous, police officer Adam Mitchell (played by director and co-writer Alex Kendrick, father of six) and his teenage son Dylan start building a new relationship with one another, and fitness becomes an important part of it. All Dylan seems to want to do is “play video games and run a 5K,” says Adam.

Parents realize that in order to build (or rebuild) a relationship with their child, it takes becoming interested in what interests them. Adam decides to lay aside his personal comfort zone for the greater good of blessing his son. He and Dylan begin running together, and their relationship deepens as Dylan sees his Dad’s love in action, not just in words.

Love is spelled T-I-M-E.

Why compartmentalize faith (Sunday only), family (around the dinner table…when we’re not watching TV) and fitness (does watching football on TV count?)?

The Courageous man (and woman) puts God first–so why not ask the Lord how to make fitness a part of your family time together? No matter what the age of your children, you can begin making fun physical activity a part of “what we do as a family.”

Here are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning—and your bodies moving!

  • Walk Together. The Family that walks together, talks together! Take a leisurely stroll 30 minutes after dinner. Make it a new family tradition. Enjoy each other’s company and walk at a gentle pace for 15-20 minutes to help digest your food. This will also keep you from snacking after dinner. Take a portion of scripture and talk about it. How can you apply it to your lives?
  • Go to the Gym or Church Fitness Center. Take your son or daughter with you. Work out with light weights (not on the machines). Show your kids how it’s done.
  • Play Indoor Fitness Games. Remember Twister? You can still play that as a family! Add an element of scripture memorization by writing verses on cards. Call out all or part of a verse with each move. See how many verses you can remember (if you don’t wind up collapsing into a giggling pile before too long!).
  • Train for a Charity Race—a walk, run, or bike race! Train as a family team or with one of your children. Use the time to encourage your child.

In the movie Courageous, Adam says, “I think the Lord is requiring me to call out the man in my son.”  That’s something Dads get to do for their family members—emulating our heavenly Father by “calling out” and encouraging the best in their sons, daughters and wife.

Take the lead, Dad. Be Courageous. Be a Fit Witness for Christ in spirit, soul and body. Your family will follow–and will honor you for it.

Milk-n-Honey

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

By Nina Medrano –

I recently had a conversation with an individual who just got out of prison. Like many inmates, this individual accepted Christ while incarcerated. This person went to prison for doing a lot of the same things I used to be involved in. We share a common understanding of life in a dark, dark world. Now that our lives are with Christ, we live differently. So much change has taken place that we spent hours just catching up.

I shared how I remember never sleeping at night. Always doing, selling, and sharing drugs with other drug dealers and users. I remember the constant phone calls from users waiting on the product to arrive.  I remember crashing hard when the product was delayed. I remember rarely leaving the house during the day. I don’t know why other than we called ourselves “people of the night,” and only the “people of the day” ventured their lives during the daylight hours.

There were always people, strangers, coming and going at all hours of the day and especially at night.  There was always pornography in the background, playing along with the music as people partied. I remember the constant feeling of paranoia, the looking over my shoulder, peering out windows, sitting huddled in the darkest corner of a room—hiding from something I thought I saw or heard. I used to hear police sirens in my head until one day I couldn’t distinguish if it was from the realm of fear or from reality. I remember getting beat up by my boyfriend. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to die in this house this way.” I remember the lies—there were many, many lies—on this side of darkness you trust no one—including yourself.

As I openly shared my personal experiences with this individual, I noticed the frequent nodding of the head, saying to me, “Yep, I know exactly what you mean!”

This is true for all people of the night. They know exactly what I mean when I describe life in that dark, dark world. They understand the constant drama that comes with that life. They learn to live with mistrust and misuse. There is no friendship, no grace, no mercy, nor family for those who live in darkness. They harden their hearts, discard their feelings, and always carry a sharp eye and a loaded gun.

More nodding of the head but this time the nod is more pronounced, saying to me, “Man, you nailed it!”

Back in those days, I used to long for a simple life with no drama, no drugs, no darkness, and no paranoia. More nods, but these nods were gentle ones, saying to me, “Yeah, I want that too.”

I shared how God has taken me out of the land of darkness and brought me into a land of milk-n-honey. Today, I have a home that is safe and peaceful. I lead a simple life filled with grace and mercy. These days the only drama in my life is sitting in my back yard watching the brilliant colors of the sunrise and sunset. And the only things I do at night are watch for shooting stars across the sky.

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7 NIV).

Abba (Father), thank you for bringing me out of darkness and for keeping me in the Light of your Presence. Thank you for setting me free and for bringing me into a place of grace and mercy. I will forever praise your name.

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