Grandma’s Words

January 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Heather Arbuckle –

“You’ve always been strong-willed.” Grandma’s words stung as my wounded heart wilted for a moment. Searching for understanding, I shared my dismay at her characterization of me, her oldest grandchild, and asked her to explain. “It’s not a bad thing,” she clarified. “Ever since you were a little girl, you knew what you believed. And once your mind is set, it will not be swayed. You are strong. I have never worried that you would lose your way.”

It was one of the last conversations I had with my Grandmother this side of Heaven. Months later, she lost her battle with cancer and God took her home to be in His presence.  For years, when I reflected on our exchange, my heart hurt just a little. At the time, I wasn’t sure she knew me at all.  After all, I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t know which way to go. Life for me, a young woman in her twenties, was filled with uncertainties. In fact, most of the time the world made me want to retreat into hiding. Still, as I have grown, I have come to realize my Grandma saw me with faith filled eyes. She saw the me that was yet to be. And she had faith that God would lead me on my way.

Now, many years later, my heart smiles when I recall our last exchange. Though she is not here to teach my children, my Grandmother is part of the legacy I am growing in them. Today, as I raise up Godly children in a world hostile to absolute truth, I understand what my Grandma saw in me. For regardless of what political arguments may grip our nation, I am determined to raise my children God’s way. After all, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).

For me, the right path was easy to find, for I had my Grandmother to walk it with me. She read me God’s word. Took me to Sunday School. She even paid for me to attend the church camp where I received Christ as my Lord and Savior.  But even more than that, she prayed for me and believed that God would finished what He had started in me even after she was gone.

Truly, my Grandma knew the right path when she saw it. She passed it on to me, and now I am teaching my own children to follow it as well. It’s the path of Christ and it leads to eternal life in God’s holy presence. To be sure, she would recognize the same spunky spirit in my own children that she saw in me. Those apples seem to have fallen right next to the tree! When I gaze upon them and teach them His ways, I recognize the strength looking back at me. It is the same look that lit the eyes of a little girl my Grandma understood quite well. For she knew me better than I knew myself, and she believed that God was faithful to His promises.

On my behalf, she claimed the promise that when we “train up a child in the way he should go, when he is older he shall not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV). It’s a truth that endures for sons. For daughters. For granddaughters. And now, when I reflect on the words of my Grandmother, a knowing smile comes over my heart.

Ability + Obedience = Purpose

January 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Candace McQuain –

I am by no means a novelist, journalist or any other kind of literary “ist.” I have issues with comma usage, dangling modifiers and I still misuse “their” and “there” from time to time. So when God gently tugged at my heart and asked to me write on His behalf, I thought He had dialed the wrong number and I hung up the phone. Although, I do have a passion for words and stringing them together, to do so for real was beyond scary.

I continued to hang up the phone every time God called.

Lucky for me, His gentle tugs turned into jarring yanks and the next thing I knew I was writing for Him and I absolutely love it.

Imagine a world where everyone hung up on God.

There would be no beautiful architecture, no breathtaking paintings and no inspiring songs and words. Even more so, there would be no crops being harvested, no children being taught, no food being served and so on and so on.

God delights in us when He sees us at work for Him. He is beyond pleased when we recognize the gifts He has preprogrammed us with and we use them for His glory.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8 NIV).

Each and every talent, skill or unique ability we possess was put there by our Heavenly Father to not just possess, but to utilize.

What good is our gift if we only keep it to ourselves? What good is our gift if we throw it away or feel we have something different or something bigger to offer?                                                                                                                           

Beloved, there are no abilities larger or more important than any others. We are all equal in the eyes of God. So whether we are at home caring for children or running a multi-billion dollar company we are equal in His eyes. When we perform our tasks with honor, respect and a joyful heart we are bringing God glory, day after day, hour after hour.

He has got big plans for each and every one of us and a very hefty part of that plan depends on us being obedient and respectful of what He has gifted us and focusing on how we can do those things for His glory.

So again, no matter where we are in life, no matter our trade, training or ability, we were created by God to specifically do these things in His name. To bring glory to Him and to display the beautiful work He has done in us.

Let’s shine for Him! We should approach every day, as if we are working for God Himself, after all, we truly are.

When Desperation Takes Over

January 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Jennifer Slattery –

If you’ve ever been to Southern California late-summer, you understand the meaning of hot. We lived on the edge of the Mojave Desert where rain evaded us and temperatures often hovered in the 110’s or higher. Being young and stupid, one day I decided to go for a long run—without water. About halfway through and perhaps six miles in, my body started to get chills and my dehydrated tongue clogged my mouth. Dried sweat caked salt around my lips. I needed water. Nearing a very long hill, my survival instinct kicked in, over-powering fatigue. Suddenly, I pumped my arms and legs—I couldn’t get to water fast enough.

In that moment, I understood Psalm 42 in an entirely new way.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

David doesn’t say these words casually, but instead, cries out in desperation. If you read the rest of the passage, you’ll feel the intensity of his emotions. Discouraged and alone, abandoned and betrayed by those he loves, he calls out to God, “Help me! Hold me! Be near me because I can’t go on without You!”

Have you been there? Maybe you lost someone you love, or perhaps the stress of life weighs heavy on your shoulders, bowing your back and making it difficult to see the road ahead.

In those moments, our survival instinct takes over, driving us to the only One who can save us. And when we, like David, cry out from the deepest recesses of our heart, “I need You, God!” God replies:

But now, this is what the LORD says—
He who created you, Jacob,
He who formed you, Israel:
‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cushand Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made’” (Isaiah 43:1-5a NIV).

God says:

I made you.

I see you.

I love you.

You are precious in My sight.

I will help you, so take courage and be not afraid. My arm is mighty to save and I will carry you through the most tumultuous of storms, because you are Mine and I will never, ever let you go.

A Mentor’s Worth

January 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

In the state of Indiana, automated toll machines stand in place of live operators. Makes sense. More profit. No need for on-site restrooms.

During a recent road trip with my mom, I experienced this marvel of technology. Entering the toll way worked out fine—even though the wind tried to call dibs on my ticket as it spit out of the machine.

Exiting proved more difficult. Desperate for a restroom break, I took the off-ramp and waited behind a red pick-up. Never having used an automated machine, I rolled down my window and read the instructions.

Insert ticket according to picture.

Not too hard. I leaned out the window and popped in my ticket according to the diagram. The slot spit the ticket out. I studied the picture and tried again. This time the breeze caught it before I did.

I threw the shifter in park and rushed out to grab the ticket from underneath my front tire. By now, twelve cars waited behind me. Reinserting the ticket ten additional times did nothing for my emotional distress, the disposition of the other drivers, or my chances for finding a restroom anytime soon.

Decoding diagrams and maps isn’t my thing. What happened to throwing change into a basket? My hands shook and a trickle of sweat ran down my back as I slid in the car and looked at my mom. Even though I am a mom, letting someone else be the mom for a moment can sometimes take the pressure off. “Any ideas?” I asked her.

“Let’s just go through it and pay later.”

I nodded and put the car in drive. Her mom wisdom would have been great, had a long wooden arm not blocked our way. I took a deep breath and begged my bladder to hang on.

My wise mom pointed to the machine. “There’s a help button.”

Help. That’s exactly what I needed.

After I pushed the button, a scratchy voice prompted, “What’s your problem?”

I yelled over the honking behind me. “You mean besides the fifteen cars of aggravated people behind me?”

“Where did you get on the toll road, Ma’am?”

I gave my entrance point and seconds later, the correct exit fee popped up on the Pay This Amount screen. Ever helpful, my mom passed me a cupful of change. The woman in the Hummer inches from my bumper got out of her car. “It’s good,” I held up the change. “Be out of here in just a sec.”

She raised her eyebrows, punctuated her irritation with a sigh, and slid back into her car.

With shaky hands, I force fed the machine. It spit out every other coin. $3.25 and many coin feeds later, the arm raised. I escaped before it fell back down.

Whose idea was it to get rid of the live operators—the people who knew what to do and acted before one stuck traveler multiplied into many?

Not too long after my harrowing ticket booth debacle my oldest son, Kyle, returned from youth camp pumped-up on a vital message—Get a mentor. Be a mentor. People need people.

The message stuck. My tollbooth fiasco would have been a non-event had an attendant been there to help me. I need a mentor to steer me in the right direction when I’m stuck. I need to be a mentor and share the wisdom I’ve learned from others who have taken time to guide me.

“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (I Thessalonians 5:12-14 NIV).

This Little Light is None of Your Business!

December 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

As a child, I remember singing the words,

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! (Verse 3X)
(Chorus)…Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine.

The next verse started,

Hide it under a bushel, No! I’m gonna let it shine…

We sang this in Sunday School. We sang it in Vacation Bible School. We sang it at summer camp. We sang it on the road to…. everywhere.

So what happened?

We don’t sing this song anymore. We, as a people in this country, claim that our faith is a – ahem (holy clearing of the throat) – private matter. Shhhhhhhh. Let’s all whisper in the glory of our private, personal holiness. From politicians, fellow employees, friends, family, we’ve all heard the phrase, “My faith is a private matter.”

Puleeeze! This is a deception from the pit of hell!

As people who worship the Most High God, the King of kings, our Creator, and our Father, Who loves us and Whose thoughts of each of us number greater than the sands on the shore… isn’t a bit strange that we feel the need to hide behind an excuse as weak as privacy?

Isn’t this the same God Who sent His Son to live as man, sinless, and without fault? A Son who then took a beating for our bodies’ healing, while bearing all our sins and paying the ultimate price for those sins – DEATH? Isn’t this the same Saviour who, prior to ascending into heaven, told His disciples – and ultimately, all professing Christians as well – to go forth and preach the gospel to all nations?

In The Message, the Great Commission (remember that?) goes like this:

‘“Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”’ Matthew 28:16-20 (The Message)

Where did we get the idea that faith is a private matter? And, if you profess to be a Christian and claim that, shame on you! Why profess to be a follower of Christ Jesus at all? Don’t you find it odd today, that the “private Christians” are applauded by the world, while those who stand by their beliefs and refuse to hide behind a “Privacy Please” sign hanging from their spiritual doorknobs are vilified?

Revelation 3:16 (NKJV) states, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

That’s a pretty hard statement. It describes an involuntary reaction to the taste of something that is unpleasing to God. How does your life, your fruit, taste to your Father God?
I look at myself. I’m guilty in this as well. There are times I have hid behind the privacy excuse as well. Not by saying “It’s a private matter,” but, rather, by not saying anything at all…
…when I should have spoken up.

Lord, forgive me for hiding behind this lie of privacy. I repent. Help me to stand boldly and steadfast, honoring Your Name. Thank You for Your grace. Amen.

« Previous PageNext Page »