No. I Don’t Want To

April 12, 2021 by  
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By Kathi Woodall –

One night I hurried to throw dinner together. I added spices and other ingredients to ground beef before shaping it into hamburger patties. My oldest daughter mixed up coleslaw. My youngest daughter sat on the stool beside me. At four years old, her eagerness to help and her frequent position right next to me already made her into quite the little chef. She could measure, pour, mix, and even chop a little—with a table knife, not a sharp knife.

This particular night, she pleaded to help me. However, even with her diverse skills, she could do nothing to help with the hamburger patties. Her older sister asked her to help by retrieving ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator but she wanted to help mommy, not sister. Besides, I believe she felt those tasks didn’t fit with her particularly advanced skill set. I could tell she only wanted to do the “bigger” jobs such as mixing and measuring.

So often I have seen myself in her position. Just as she sat beside me and watched me work, I have been in the presence of the work of God. I watch what He is doing and, like my helpful daughter, I eagerly want to join in and help. So He gives me a job to do.

Perhaps He says, “Make a phone call.” But I say, “No, I don’t want to do that. I want to teach a lesson about this issue.”

He says, “Donate some money.” But I say, “Hey, I could write a really great blog article about this.”
I might hear Him say, “Tell her about Jesus.” So I respond with, “No, not now. I’ll just be a good listener.”

Like my daughter, my heart is in the right place. I truly do want to be helpful. The things I want to do are all good things. However, if they aren’t what God is asking me to do, then am I really being helpful? We each have a unique way to fit into the work of God’s kingdom; however, God is the One who determines what that way should be.

“So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:13-22 HCSB).

The Power of Prayer—Never Underestimate It

April 8, 2021 by  
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By Lori Freeland –

My son came home yesterday and greeted me with a few of the most terrifying words a mom never wants to hear. “I almost got killed at the El Dorado intersection in McKinney this morning.” Then he gave me a hug and walked on past.

“What?” I followed him down the hall, my heart racing ahead of me, already up the stairway and in the next room. Didn’t matter the incident was hours old and my tardy visceral response did nothing but hike my blood pressure.

Kyle turned and proceeded to tell me he’d been waiting to turn left, completely missed the guy going straight—you know the guy with the Right of Way?—and he had to swerve, hit the curb, and almost popped his tire.

After I leashed my heart and stuck in back inside my chest for optimal performance, I sagged against the stairs. My first thought? The prayer I’d murmured over him this morning before he’d walked out the door.

The same prayer I played on repeat day after day since he’d slid into that car alone and I whimpered as his tail lights disappeared down the street.

Thank you, Lord for hearing me when I pray!

Don’t ever underestimate, devalue, or ignore the power of prayer. God is listening to you—sometimes you just can’t feel it.

“Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2 NIV).

“But I cry to you for help, LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you” (Psalm 88:13).

The Judas in All of Us

April 2, 2021 by  
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By Janet Morris Grimes –

Judas. We all know his story. His name is synonymous with traitor. The eternal back-stabber.

For this reason, there have been few children that carry the name Judas. His life serves as the perfect example of what not to do, especially if you are a Christian.

Jesus knew early on that Judas would become the betrayer. Still, He invited him into his inner circle. Judas managed the money for the twelve Apostles; but was a shady businessman, stealing from that same moneybox. His decisions were based on profit margins, never matters of the heart. If it were up to Judas, there would have been a massive public relations campaign, spotlighting all that Jesus had done, asking for funding so that His ministry could continue.

Judas had a front-row seat to the ways of Jesus. He saw the miracles for himself. But more than this, he knew the grace. The love in His eyes. The way He spoke of eternity. And hope.

Still, Judas didn’t buy into it. He never allowed his heart to become a part of the equation; never sensed the fact that even he might one day need a Savior.

Judas was destined to be a part of Jesus’ story. Before what became known as the Last Supper, Judas sought out the Chief Priests, determining the cost for the life of Jesus. From that moment on, the book of Matthew tells us that Judas waited for an opportunity to hand him over (Matthew 26:14 – 15 NIV).

Judas still had to play the part of the adoring apostle. During the Last Supper, Jesus predicted his betrayal, acknowledging that it would be Judas, even saying that it would be better for him not to have been born. Jesus instructs him, “What you are about to do, do quickly” (John 13:27).

Judas leaves to make his mark in history.

A few hours later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas leads the angry mob to Jesus. He greets him with a kiss, and mocks him even further by calling him Rabbi (Matthew 26:49).

Jesus responds by calling him ‘Friend.’ “Friend, do what you are here to do” (Matthew 26:50).

That’s some kind of friend. The ultimate betrayal.

If the truth were known, Judas could have reconsidered. They still would have gotten Jesus. Judas didn’t have to become the enemy of the story.

After watching the gruesome crucifixion, Judas felt remorse. He even returned the thirty shekels of silver, realizing, finally, that wealth did not bring the happiness nor acceptance that he craved.

His story ends with Judas hanging himself.

If Judas were thinking clearly, he might have remembered how Jesus had predicted his own death. And even more, that He promised to return. He had seen him heal the multitudes. There had been no unforgivable sins.

He could have sought the other apostles, confessed what he had done, begged to be baptized, or prayed to God to seek forgiveness. He could have been the hero to this story, the first one waiting at the tomb to apologize. Like the thief on the cross, he could have been the King of Second Chances.

Instead, he becomes the poster child for what happens after sin. Guilt. Remorse. Darkness. Even death.

I suspect there is a little Judas in all of us. We make bad choices, but instead of grabbing the one hand that can save us, we wrestle with our past, wallow in our remorse, and keep reminding Jesus what we did to Him.

He already knows. And He died anyway. So that we could join Him.

Signs of the End Times? Traveling Here and There and the Increase of Knowledge

April 1, 2021 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

Did you ever think people traveling everywhere would be a sign of the End Times? It was about 2,500 years ago when God’s prophet, Daniel, received and wrote down the vision from God of the End Times. Toward the end of the vision, Daniel was told:

“But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge” (Daniel 12:4).

Now, frankly I have to admit that my gut tells me that phrase, “Many will go here and there” might not actually mean traveling around. To me, that doesn’t make sense in the context. But since I have yet to figure out what it does mean, let’s take it at face value for now.

Think about this: In Daniel’s time the only modes of transportation were by foot, by animal—including horses and camels—or by boat. Not long ago, it was rare for people to travel much beyond their own communities.

Today think of all the modes of transportation we have. Cars, motorcycles, and other motorized contraptions. Airplanes. Trains. Subway. Large ships and small boats. Even the space shuttle. Unless someone is about to invent the Star Trek “Transporter,” and I really don’t think that one’s possible, except for variations on what already exists such as car motors that run on different types of fuels, I can’t imagine many more modes of transportation humans might invent. But then, I’m sure Daniel couldn’t have imagined some of the modes of transportation we have now. So maybe there are some more coming down the pike before the End Times.

Also, the end of that sentence to Daniel states people would be going here and there “to increase knowledge.” Since computers and the internet have come on the scene and become used among the general population—which was, what, just since the 1980s?—knowledge has increased exponentially. We are said to be in the “information age.” We can jump on the “information super highway” just about any time we want, even through the phones we now carry in our pockets everywhere we go…as we’re going here and there.

According to the booklet 101 Last Days Prophecies by Eternal Productions, “Today we are witnessing an explosion of available knowledge. With the advent of the internet, it is estimated that our cumulative knowledge is doubling every five years” (p. 6).

And yet, “knowledge” is not going to help mankind at all. It is the knowledge of God that mankind needs to possess. In the Bible, Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Our ability to travel, the information available, and the increase in knowledge are incredible developments unlike anything we’ve seen in our human history books.

What do you think? Are these fulfillments of the prophecy in Daniel? And are they, therefore, signs we are in the End Times?

Fan into Flames

March 27, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Jennifer Slattery –

When we lived in Southern California, a massive fire ravished the San Gabriel Mountains, destroying 1,000 homes and forcing many to evacuate. Rumor had it the fire was started by a cigarette casually flicked. Others said the fire was started by an arsonist. Regardless the source, the initial spark turned exponential until it devoured 90,000 acres, becoming the largest fire San Bernardino County had ever seen.

Fire is a powerful thing. When fed, it grows to unquenchable proportions, its heat radiating for miles. We’ve all heard stories of raging forest fires started by a single match. I’m sure we’ve also all experienced the frustration of trying to set kindling ablaze.

I’ve been on a handful camping trips, and try as I might, I can barely ignite a few measly twigs. I’ll use matches, gasoline and crumpled paper. I’ll blow and fan the air. I’ve tried leaves and straw, which initially catches only to smolder into a puff of black smoke. What’s the difference between my efforts and the 2004 forest fire that raged through Southern California?

Both started with a spark, yet one grew while the other dwindled. The difference, I believe, is the forest was ripe, ready to combust. We’d had little water and intense heat, so it didn’t take much to set the trees ablaze. Then came the wind, fueling the flames with a steady supply of oxygen until the entire forest blazed.

This image came to mind when I read 2 Timothy 1:6. “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (NIV).

Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flames” the spiritual gift God gave him.

In essence, Paul was saying, “Lay it all on the line, Timothy. Don’t let anything hold you back from full surrender. When others pull away, step up. Burn like a wildfire!”

Note, he wrote this letter to Timothy, a man Paul loved like a son, from a prison cell. During a time of extreme persecution, when many might’ve been tempted to slip into hiding, Paul told Timothy to step it up.

I believe God is calling us to do the same. If we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we’ve got the spark of the Holy Spirit burning within us. But our heart is much like the trees in a forest. We share the same flame, but some trees are more combustible than others. Some are doused in flame-retardants—sin, distractions, and all those temporary fillers that steal our time and dull our hearts—others are ready to ignite.

What’s your heart like? Is it prepared to be set on fire or have you allowed it to smolder? If the latter is true, will you fan your heart and your gifts into flames?

Each time we draw near to God, each time we dig into His Word and spend time in heart-felt prayer, each time we use the gifts He gives to serve others, our flame grows. Every time we squelch our flame with sin, selfishness, and those temporary fillers that distract us from our true need, our tiny flame smolders.

The match is lit. Let it burn, my friend!

Let’s talk about this.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think it means to fan our spiritual gifts into flames? What are some practical steps we can take to ignite our passion for Christ? What can threaten to “douse” our passion?

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