Love’s Ultimate Day

November 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

In the month of February, the focus always swings to love. Sure, it’s not the only month of the year where love rules, but still, you get my point. Valentine’s Day, wedding anniversaries, the “day we first met” anniversaries, our “two weeks of dating” anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day and a plethora of other “days” all remind us to show some love to those who are most important to us.

But to me, Good Friday is the ultimate day of love.

1 John 4:16-17 (NKJV) introduces us to what and Who Love is–“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God Is Love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.”

Next, John 3:16 (NKJV) quickly explains just how much God loves us. “For God so loved this world, that he gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

We, who were sinners. We the world. Loved by Him, yet dead to Him. The world had rejected Him. The world hated Him. Adulterers. Murderers. Cheaters. Liars. Gossipers. Blasphemers. And still, He loved us enough—selflessly—to give His own Son to die. He sent Jesus to live as a man, not just to do cool miracles and say really deep things—but to die. And to die the most horrible death that man could conceive.

It was the only way God could circumvent the destruction and judgment that was waiting for all of us—thanks to man’s fall in the garden. Circumvented, that is, if we chose to accept and acknowledge what Jesus did for us.

So that’s what makes Good Friday the ultimate day of love in my book. Jesus did this because of love. If I had been the only soul that ever lived, He would have died for me in order to give me the chance to accept that gift.

When I take the time to just remember that one thing—the sacrifice my Savior made for me that day—I am broken. After being unjustly accused, He was beaten beyond recognition. He was whipped until his skin was in tatters. He was stripped and hung from a crude killing machine—the cross. Lastly, all the sin of the world—not just past sin, but all sin that would ever be perpetrated—was placed upon Him.

Think about it. If my sins were/are heavy enough to condemn me to death, what can be the weight of billions upon billions of people amount to? Agony is too small of a word to describe it.

Yet Love carried it all! Love knew that this must be done. Love came down to earth and became man. Love suffered through childhood, puberty, adulthood, injustice, numerous opportunities to quit, temptation upon temptation, and—

Love stayed true to His mission of love.

Salvation.

1 John 4:10 (NKJV) “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Take a moment to just toss around in your head the enormity of a sinless human life of 33 years, culminating with dying for your sins—done as a gift—just because you are worthy of His love.

All of this was a gift to you. Personally.

If you’ve never accepted that gift, why not now?

You can let me or any writer on this site know just by commenting and we’ll respond.

Let today be Love’s Ultimate Day for you!

If I Have Not Love

November 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

I hugged an endearing little orphan girl tightly and told her, “Good-bye, Benji. I love you.”

She startled and looked up at me, saying with her adorable accent, “Aww, I do not want you to go.”

I spent a week of the early part of January serving at the Haiti Home of Hope orphanage in Pignon, Haiti. I will confess that I do not usually work in children’s ministries. I am more comfortable teaching a class full of women. However, I would have to be lacking a heartbeat if the orphans of Haiti did not pull at my heartstrings. Benji became a favorite for many on my team. Her quick wit, warm smile, and inquisitive nature made her a delight to all who met her.

Mission teams serve at the orphanage on a regular basis and I am sure many people come in and out of Benji’s life, as well as the lives of the other 36 children who call the orphanage home. I am sure many team members have given gifts, played games, and offered snuggles to each of the children. I would think some team members have even expressed love for different children they have built a relationship with during their brief stay. However, Benji’s startled reaction made me wonder if anyone, other than the couple who runs the orphanage, has ever told her that she was loved. Love is not a common emotion in the poverty-stricken country where women offer to marry a man who can provide the best standard of living—a standard often defined as a man who is able to provide enough to keep them alive.

Millions of dollars in aid and support have poured into Haiti in the two years since a catastrophic earthquake claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. As my flight descended into the capitol city of Port-au-Prince, I looked out over the city still scarred by the horrific damage. Thoughts that had been floating around in my brain for weeks came together into a single clear message. Humanitarian aid and relief does little if we do not also offer spiritual hope and love. The hope of another meal is welcomed, but the hope of eternity in heaven makes a true impact. The love of generous people who give their lives to run an orphanage is a blessing, but the love of a Savior who gave His life to redeem ours makes a lasting change.

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV).

Tripping Over Cracks

October 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Jennifer Slattery –

Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm” (Proverbs 4:26, NIV).

We live in the Midwest. Normally, we get nasty blizzards, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and have hot, humid summers. I’ve even seen a few Toto’s running around our neighborhood. To me, a native North Westerner, all signs of the Midwest. We also have beautiful deciduous trees with thick trunks and branches. This means, we have roots–the ones that wiggle beneath sidewalks, uplifting big chunks of cement. When I run, these ruts and raises turn an easy jog into quite an obstacle course.

Most times, I navigated over the bumps and crevices without a problem, but every occasionally, when I’m tired or lost in thought, the raised cement catches me off guard and sends me flying.

Not a pretty sight.

In fact, I’ve been known to stop traffic, and not in a good way. Nothing like seeing a thirty-something howl like a toddler before falling prostrate on the cement. Yep. Attractive.

So I pick myself off the ground, tell the gawkers I’m okay, and glance back at the mammoth boulder I tripped over. Heat tears sear my cheeks as I realize I stumbled over not a boulder, but the tiniest of cracks. After one particularly embarrassing fall, I decided to choose my route a bit more carefully. I forewent the raised slabs of cement, opting for a smooth roadway instead.

I think our spiritual walk is like this sometimes. Often we can traipse through life without a bump or a stumble. During those times, it’s easy to get over-confident. Sin will never happen to us. We’re strong. But then, when we least expect it, we trip over a bump in the road. It might not even be a big bump. But it’s big enough to send us flying.

God knows this about us and has provided warnings in His Word—like the one I quoted at the beginning of this post. He wants us to choose level paths—to live with intentionality. Our level path might look different than our neighbor’s path.

If we struggle with drinking, it means no hanging out in bars. If we struggle with impure thoughts, we probably need to avoid many of today’s secular novels, movies, and television shows. If we struggle with discontentment, we might need to toss out those clothing catalogs. If we struggle with gossip, we might need to be selective about whom we spend our time with. Sounds restrictive, I know. Perhaps even unnecessary, but take it from a fellow pavement-eater, choosing level paths is much more pleasant than loosing skin.

What about you? Any rerouting God might want to do in your life? Maybe you’ve already made a hard right, veering onto a new, smooth course. Tell us about it.

Idea Starters

October 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathy Carlton Willis –

Have you ever wondered where ideas originate? I love cooking up ideas, so it’s a natural fit for me to celebrate International Ideas Month in March.

I recently joined Pinterest—a social networking site for members to share virtual bulletin boards. You can pin images and ideas on your board to share a variety of interests. How brilliant! And it all started with an idea to save, share, and swap more ideas.

Have you ever asked God to give you an idea? As a writer, I designate time for brainstorming. During some of these think tanks, my thoughts surge so fast and furious, I call them brain tsunamis. Other times an idea hits when we least expect it—and we have to be ready to jot it down. I’ve had ideas strike at red lights, bank drive-thru, waiting rooms, and during church. I’ve learned to capture the gist of the idea in my idea notebook because just as quickly as ideas appear in my mind, they can disappear. I hate it when that happens!

The best evidence of ideas is when I’m speaking to a group and I see faces light up. I can be fairly certain they’ve just experienced an “aha moment.” See why I celebrate ideas?

We can miss two important steps with ideas though. First, we have to make sure it’s a God idea if we want to be operating in His purpose and for His glory. How can you be certain it’s a God idea, not merely a good idea? I ask Him to show me a green light in the form of peace if my brainstorm is from Him and give me a red light in the form of doubt if it doesn’t fit with His direction for my life.

The final step to ideas that often gets overlooked is fulfillment. Some people have fun conceiving ideas, but have a harder time working the idea through—taking action steps to bring to completion what started as a brilliant concept. Ideas are only wishes until we act on them and see them accomplished. Can you think of those uncompleted projects that seem to hang out forever on your To Do List?

Ask God to lead the way. May He:
• Inspire the idea.
• Endorse it so you know it’s from Him.
• Give you the resources to complete the idea.
• Give you the discipline to stick to it when you’re tempted to quit.

Then praise God when you experience the reward of checking off the idea from your list and you can say, “It is finished!”

Never forget, God will complete us as one of His good ideas, too. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV).

Down for the Count

October 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Candace McQuain –

As a writer, and a human being with goals and aspirations, rejection is not an uncommon occurrence. As a matter of fact, it’s become a way of life.

For a while, I allowed every rejection to hit me in the gut.

We appreciate your submission. We are sorry to say that we don’t have a place for it in our publication at this time.

Left jab!

Thank you for your interest in the position, but after reviewing the applications received, yours was not selected for further consideration.

Right jab!

For various reasons you are not what we are looking for at this time. Really? There are various, as in more than one, reasons?

Knock Out!

The constant rejection became debilitating and forced me to lose sight of my goals and God’s calling on my life. Beat up and exhausted, I eventually kissed the canvas. No need for the ten-second count.

In this darkness, God showed me something very special through His word that forever changed me.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the LORD has done this, And it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-23 NIV).

Understanding that the person delivering the successes in my life was the same one sending the rejections changed my whole way of processing the good and the bad. Every Yes was His yes and every No His no. No longer did I feel personally attacked at the sight of rejection and gone were days of giving myself kudos for what God orchestrated for me.

My perspective on the way my life unfolds has grown substantially at the realization that it’s not about me. Each success, rejection, and everything in between are but tiny pieces of a gigantic puzzle that I will never see completed until I meet Jesus. Agonizing over the no’s of yesterday when the yes’s of today requires my full attention is selfish and will only keep me face down on the canvas.

Jesus was rejected, not only by strangers but also by those in His own hometown. Through all of the pain and loneliness, He never once stopped and said, “This just isn’t worth it. I’m giving up!” He persevered, remaining focused on His goal—to spread the Gospel.

I pray Lord, that we never lose focus on our goals when we get into the ring with rejection. Fill us with the strength to instinctively lift our head upwards and seek you and the assurance of Your perfect love and direction. In Your glorious name, Amen.

« Previous PageNext Page »