Sowing Tears

Sowing Tears

By Jacqi Ballough  

Three days before Hurricane Irma was supposed to hit us, we received an email from our brothers and sisters in Christ on the other side of the world: India.  

They had heard of the magnitude of the storm, which was deemed catastrophic by the media and headed our way, and they immediately took action. Wanting us to be assured of their prayers, they planned to fast and pray the day before the storm and encouraged us with scriptures of courage, strength, and protection: (Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 31:24, Deuteronomy 31:6).

Having been consumed by our hurricane preparations, I was not only encouraged by the email but also humbled.

The Lord had placed these amazing people in our life approximately 13 years ago. A man named George, whose daughter had received our operation Christmas Child box, contacted us via email as a thanks and praise to God for the box of gifts.  We cultivated a relationship between our families through prayer and email correspondence until one day I learned of their ministry with orphans, specifically where young girls were being sold and discarded. I was overcome with tears and a burden to help. I prayed for God to send me if he so chose. Miraculously, a small group of us were on our way to India to meet our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and see if there was anything we could do to help.

Now, 5 years later, here they are praying, fasting, and petitioning God fervently for us to the point of tears. Talk about divine intervention! I am in awe of the body of Christ, His Holy Spirit, and His church working, bearing one another’s burdens.

Once the storm had passed, we sent a praise email to George stating the Lord faithfully protected us and thanked them all for upholding us in prayer. They responded:

“We praise God, who hears our prayers and answers. While fasting and praying for you on Friday, …many were touched and felt the intensity of the Hurricane and rolled tears from their eyes. Not only we, but your tears, and many more knowingly or unknowingly have prayed for you, all the praise be only to our Dear God, Almighty and Powerful, who has control over the storms, who has all authority over His children, has saved you from the devastation of Hurricane Irma…

We all express our Thanks to our Dear Lord, where in the scripture He states, “those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting (Psalms 126:5).”

Father help me bear the burdens of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, near and far, the way our friends in India have demonstrated. Thank you for utilizing them to be an example for us. Thank you for miraculously bringing them into our life. I pray their faith grows ever stronger and shines as a witness to all nations. I pray that we grow in our fellowship, prayer, and petition and that your Holy Spirit continues to faithfully bind us together throughout all of life’s storms no matter the physical distance between us.    

 

 

 

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

By Mavis Tipton

It was a few days before hurricane Irma, and I was in my vehicle going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  I was behind a pickup truck and we all had to stop for the red light.  As the light changed to green we all began moving forward, when a car from the opposite direction decided to make a U-turn in front of the pickup and from the right side a car decides to turn left in front of the traffic in the right lane.

Fortunately everyone stopped and the two vehicles making their turns proceeded without a fender-bender.

I sat in my vehicle amazed at how thoughtless these two drivers had been. It appeared wherever they were going was more important than waiting their turn.  Strangely enough no one honked their horns.

As I drove into the grocery store parking lot there was a frenzy going on there with again people consumed with their own needs and not concerned for anyone else’s needs. (By the way you have to always drive defensively in the grocery store parking lot.)

Inside the store was no different, everyone wanting water and food, etc., and they didn’t care if they ran over you or not.  A few people were helping each other but for the most part it was everyone for themselves.  I was glad to get back home out of the war zone safe and sound.

The day after the storm everyone was out in their yards cleaning up and being helpful to their neighbor, not just next door, but in the community.

It reminded me of how everyone pulled together after both Frances and Jean came through.  This time because it wasn’t as bad for us and because our state and county and city had prepared for such times, our recuperation was shorter, and life went back to ‘normal.’

I know times have changed but God’s Word has not changed.  The kingdom law that is at the heart of all relationships is; Matt. 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

As children of God we have such great opportunities to show God’s love, kindness, and mercy, as we go out among the world.

Putting others before our self, saying a kind word, giving a smile, pointing someone in the right direction, offering a helping hand.

Think what a profound effect the “Golden Rule” would have if it were applied at every level in our world! If we will put it into practice we can have a powerful effect on our society.

We teach it to our children, but do we do it? It is a kingdom foundation for all social relationships.

As we approach the holidays may we be mindful to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  May we be ambassadors for

Spiritual Teenagers

Spiritual Teenagers

by Tammye Hamilton

“It’s 8:00 in the morning! What is it you want me to do??”

In most cases, one might overlook this comment and the snarky attitude with which it was said.  But this attitude came from my teenage son, glaring at me over the side of his bunk bed. 

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I had plans for him.  Unfortunately, he had plans to sleep in.  Also unfortunately for him, his will bumped into my authority.

Teenagers are notorious for challenging authority.  It’s a part of growing up and becoming independent.  It is also rooted in our rebellious human nature.

Sadly, there seems to be an abundance of‘spiritual teenagers’ in Christian culture today.  This phenomenon has nothing to do with age or even how long you’ve known Jesus.  

All humans want their own way.  Each of us wants to follow our own desires and plans. As we mature as Believers, however, we learn that submission to God’s authority is a good thing.

In Genesis we read that Abraham’s descendants are blessed because Abraham “obeyed God and did everything God required of him.”  Abraham obeyed even when God commanded him to sacrifice his own son. Of course it was the last thing he wanted to do.  He yielded to God’s authority because he knew he could trust God. 

The trend in our culture today is to “follow your passion”.  We are encouraged to only do what we feel passionate about. If we don’t“feel called” or passionate about something, we are off the hook.  Obedience and submission are dismissed as “Law” or Old Covenant”.  Like teenagers, we think we get to make our own plans.

What we see all through the New Testament tells us otherwise. In 1 Peter 1:22 we read “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply from the heart.” 

Interesting. IF we obey then we will love deeply. Passion follows obedience.

There are times when God gives us passion for something He has for us and we pursue it. Other times we do things we feel no passion for and may not even want to do but we obey out of our passion for Jesus.

1 John 2:5 says “But if anyone obeys His Word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him. Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.”   And of course we know Jesus said He only did what the Father told Him to do.  His life was completely submitted.

As we mature into obeying God, even when we don’t feel like it, we remember that like Abraham, we can trust Him. His plans for us, while not always easy, are always good.

 

 

 

 

Glorious Triumph

Glorious Triumph

By Jacqi Ballough

The text came through fairly early one morning, “I’m having a pretty bad day so far. My child is really pushing my buttons. He’s having a hard time honoring me and the rules. It’s not looking like we will make it over. I am incredibly sorry. I’m really struggling with this.”

We had been looking forward to spending time with our friends for weeks, but I totally felt for my friend. In fact, I was struggling with the same circumstance. How is it one person can bring us to our knees and seemingly wreck our day because of their attitude?

I responded, “It’s okay. My son is acting the same. Give reasonable consequences and be consistent. They need to learn that it is their choice to receive a reward, which comes from honoring others, or consequences. It’s free will. Keep smiling. Put on God’s armor and praise music. Remember his misery doesn’t have to be yours. Pray for wisdom. The right answer will come from the Lord.”

As I read my response, I realized it came from the Lord, not me. I had not attacked my issues at hand with such truth, yet the Lord used my friend’s need to bring truth to my situation as well.

In those moments of conflict, I find I have taken my eyes off the Lord and placed them on man. I am being dependent on a person to meet my needs and be my source of joy instead of God. Therefore, I have created an idol.

Adam and Eve did this in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-19) Eve took her eyes off the entire garden the Lord had given her and began focusing on the one fruit God specifically told her not to eat.

She openly listened to lies, was deceived, and then approached her husband asking him to also eat of the one forbidden fruit. It was free will. She could have walked away from the serpent singing praises to God for his wonderful creation, but she chose otherwise. Adam could have stood firm and said “no,” leaving Eve to face the consequences of her actions alone, yet he placed all of his faith in Eve as he ate the fruit.

They had the choice to obey or not, face life walking with God in the Garden or separation. We have the same choice now. We can keep our eyes on the Lord or selfishly place them on others.

“We have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” (Thomas Paine, “The American Crisis,” Common Sense. 1776)

Lord, thank you for being my source of joy. Forgive me for the times I willingly give it up to those around me. With you, I know I can set healthy boundaries and respond to conflict with the Fruit of the Spirit you gave me. Help me stay grounded in your Word. Give me your eyes to discern daily circumstances clearly and keep me focused on you.

 

 

Warriors For Christ

Warriors for Christ

By Audrey Botts

In April of 1998, I joined the United States Air Force.  I was so excited and nervous about my new path in life.  I really did not know what to expect.  Was I going to jump right in and instantly be transformed into a military soldier?  Not at all, I had to start from the beginning.   That started with basic training for 6 weeks at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.   

This was one of the most intense training programs I have ever experienced in my entire life.   Basic training is a program that is meant to help strengthen you and make you adept in handling the physical, mental, and emotional elements you would have to face during your tour of service.

They take the everyday civilian person out of you and prepare you to be a combat warrior. Ready to do battle for a greater cause than yourself.  It is certainly not something you learn overnight and it definitely wasn’t easy. 

I can relate basic training to becoming a new believer in Christ.  When I first became a believer in Christ, I believed that if I gave my heart to Jesus, my life would be holy and free from all the difficulties of life.  I learned very quickly that my thinking was flawed. 

The Lord never promised that being a Christian would be easy in fact in Hebrews 12:7 it says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”  

 We have to strip off our old-self and become the person God intended us to be… “A soldier for Christ.”   The transformation takes time as God begins His good work in you.  He enables others to teach you His Word. The Bible instructs us how we are to live and serve with our new purpose in life.

He gives you one of His greatest weapons…prayer.   He also blesses you with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 1:3.  As we continue to grow in Christ, our minds become renewed into warriors who stand for Jesus. 

As believers we face difficulties in life just like every other person in this world.  The only difference is that we have Jesus who stands with us in the battle.  We will face difficulties. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I am now an  U.S.A.F veteran, but the Lord is not done with me yet.  He has commissioned me to be a soldier to fight for a greater cause than myself…the Kingdom of God.

“Endure hardness, as good soldier of Jesus Christ, “knowing that “no man that wars, entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who has chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4)

So ladies put on your armor and fight!

 

 

 

 

Warriors for Christ

By Audrey Botts

In April of 1998, I joined the United States Air Force.  I was so excited and nervous about my new path in life.  I really did not know what to expect.  Was I going to jump right in and instantly be transformed into a military soldier?  Not at all, I had to start from the beginning.   That started with basic training for 6 weeks at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.   

This was one of the most intense training programs I have ever experienced in my entire life.   Basic training is a program that is meant to help strengthen you and make you adept in handling the physical, mental, and emotional elements you would have to face during your tour of service.

They take the everyday civilian person out of you and prepare you to be a combat warrior. Ready to do battle for a greater cause than yourself.  It is certainly not something you learn overnight and it definitely wasn’t easy. 

I can relate basic training to becoming a new believer in Christ.  When I first became a believer in Christ, I believed that if I gave my heart to Jesus, my life would be holy and free from all the difficulties of life.  I learned very quickly that my thinking was flawed. 

The Lord never promised that being a Christian would be easy in fact in Hebrews 12:7 it says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”  

 We have to strip off our old-self and become the person God intended us to be… “A soldier for Christ.”   The transformation takes time as God begins His good work in you.  He enables others to teach you His Word. The Bible instructs us how we are to live and serve with our new purpose in life.

He gives you one of His greatest weapons…prayer.   He also blesses you with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 1:3.  As we continue to grow in Christ, our minds become renewed into warriors who stand for Jesus. 

As believers we face difficulties in life just like every other person in this world.  The only difference is that we have Jesus who stands with us in the battle.  We will face difficulties. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I am now an  U.S.A.F veteran, but the Lord is not done with me yet.  He has commissioned me to be a soldier to fight for a greater cause than myself…the Kingdom of God.

“Endure hardness, as good soldier of Jesus Christ, “knowing that “no man that wars, entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who has chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4)

So ladies put on your armor and fight!

 

 

 

 

 

Warriors For Christ

Warriors for Christ

By Audrey Botts

In April of 1998, I joined the United States Air Force.  I was so excited and nervous about my new path in life.  I really did not know what to expect.  Was I going to jump right in and instantly be transformed into a military soldier?  Not at all, I had to start from the beginning.   That started with basic training for 6 weeks at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.   

This was one of the most intense training programs I have ever experienced in my entire life.   Basic training is a program that is meant to help strengthen you and make you adept in handling the physical, mental, and emotional elements you would have to face during your tour of service.

They take the everyday civilian person out of you and prepare you to be a combat warrior. Ready to do battle for a greater cause than yourself.  It is certainly not something you learn overnight and it definitely wasn’t easy. 

I can relate basic training to becoming a new believer in Christ.  When I first became a believer in Christ, I believed that if I gave my heart to Jesus, my life would be holy and free from all the difficulties of life.  I learned very quickly that my thinking was flawed. 

The Lord never promised that being a Christian would be easy in fact in Hebrews 12:7 it says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”  

 We have to strip off our old-self and become the person God intended us to be… “A soldier for Christ.”   The transformation takes time as God begins His good work in you.  He enables others to teach you His Word. The Bible instructs us how we are to live and serve with our new purpose in life.

He gives you one of His greatest weapons…prayer.   He also blesses you with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 1:3.  As we continue to grow in Christ, our minds become renewed into warriors who stand for Jesus. 

As believers we face difficulties in life just like every other person in this world.  The only difference is that we have Jesus who stands with us in the battle.  We will face difficulties. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I am now an  U.S.A.F veteran, but the Lord is not done with me yet.  He has commissioned me to be a soldier to fight for a greater cause than myself…the Kingdom of God.

“Endure hardness, as good soldier of Jesus Christ, “knowing that “no man that wars, entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who has chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4)

So ladies put on your armor and fight!

 

 

 

 

God of the Impossible

God of the Impossible

by Tammye Hamilton

What if you lived in a country where there was a famine and you knew you and your child were about to die of starvation? We can’t even begin to understand what that would feel like. Add to that the fact that God has just spoken to your heart and told you to feed the prophet you were about to meet.

What? I am preparing to watch my son die and you want me to give our food to a stranger? This very thing happened to a single mom in the Bible in 1 Kings 17.

God sent Elijah to her town and told him he had instructed a widow to feed him.  When Elijah sees her and asks for bread, she quickly informs him she is gathering sticks to prepare their last meal and die.  She had already written the end of her story. But God had a different plan.

When Elijah tells her that her flour and oil jars would never be empty until the famine was over, she did what he said.  And it happened. There was food every day.

The jar was not suddenly full of flour. The jug was not overflowing with oil. She could not SEE abundance but every day when she made their bread, the little bit that was there was still there.  It was a huge miracle, but in the moment, in the middle of famine and hardship and loneliness, it was just a bit of flour and a few drops of oil.  It seemed so insignificant that she wasn’t even convinced Elijah was a prophet from God. 

She was a single mom just trying to survive and this stranger came to visit and “prophesied” over her and now they had enough to eat but life was still hard. And then things got a lot harder.  Her little boy got sick and grew worse until he STOPPED BREATHING. It was over. Her life was hard and now it was literally gone.

And then she spills her heart. She asks Elijah, “What do you have against me? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”

At times we can’t see miracles happening for us because life is still hard. Sometimes we can’t see the loving hand of God because we are constantly aware of our sin. It kept her from accepting that God cared enough about her to send a prophet to save her life and the life of her son. 

It was just too good to be true, and yet, every day, there was enough.  She could have stayed in that place of good enough. A place of maybe it’s a miracle, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s God, maybe it’s not.

But our loving God had so much more. He miraculously provided food for her family but that wasn’t the BIG story. He wasn’t done writing her story. He didn’t have her heart. 

Elijah cried out to the Lord and the boy’s life returned to him.  Elijah took the child to his mother and she said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”

Whatever you feel God thinks about you, whatever hardship or loneliness or impossibility you are facing, He has not forgotten you. He has been in the process of caring for you all along. He is doing miracles for you that you can’t even see.

Take a risk and open your heart to Him.  Choose to see how much He loves you and how He has cared for you.  SEE the miracles He gives you every day. And ask and believe for MORE.

“But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before Him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5:8-9

 

 

Got Passion?

Got Passion?

By Mavis Tipton

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘passion’? Often peopleuse the word passion when they are referring to a strong emotion, or intense desire or boundless enthusiasm.

You hear people ask, “what are you passionate about?” Others may hear or see someone doing something with a strong or intense enthusiasm and they will say, “you must be passionate about that?” 

Sometimes you will hear that a person is very passionate about something, because it is very evident they are giving their all to it, even to the point of sacrifice. Don’t we do that with our children and loved ones?

The Passion of Christ Jesus is the greatest example we have.  Christ’s passion for the world required that He suffer and die, so that we could live and be forgiven, with the promise of eternal life.  We were bought and paid for with a price.

How many of us are willing to suffer for the things we are passionate about?

Passion isn’t something that is unattainable, quite the opposite.  Passion is something we receive when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He desires for us to use the passion He gives us to make the world a better place, and to do whatever He calls us to do.

I like how Christine Caine puts it:

(Passion is an intense enthusiasm for something. When you lead from a place of passion and with passion, you take your work and life from a “have to” perspective to a “get to” perspective. 

Passion is the fuel in the engine room of our everyday life. It is a stance, an attitude and a disposition that we carry with us. 

We may not always be passionate about everything that we do, but we can do everything from a place of passion for Jesus and His call upon our lives.) 

Colossians 3:23 says to “work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” 

I extend a warm welcome to you to join the Women’s Ministry of Central Assembly on September 15th at 7 pm, as we kick off our Fall Propel Women’s Passion Conversation Series.  You don’t want to miss it.  The doors open at 6:30 pm.  There will be refreshments and beverages served, along with a great evening of interaction among other women of faith.

Got Passion, if not or you don’t know what your passion is, we will seek the Lord together.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Melting

Melting

By Jacqi Ballough

It’s become a tradition this last year that I choose a book of the Bible to read and discuss for our morning devotion. Once we have finished that book, it is my son’s turn to pick one. 

Today, Joshua was his choice, again.  I don’t know how many times we have read, listened to, and re-read Joshua but it’s one of my son’s favorites. There is something about the Old Testament with its spies and battles that seems to intrigue boys. 

Although the repetition causes some lack of enthusiasm on my part, the Lord never fails to reveal a new treasure hidden in “old stories.” 

I read Rahab’s words in Joshua 2:9 “I know the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.” Then, I paused.

“Melting? Does it really say melting mom?”

I admit I paused because the word “melting” threw me off too.  Maybe I had read a different translation in the past, but “melting” in fear did not ring a bell.

Trying to be funny I responded, “Yes. Why do you think they chose the word melting? Have you seen a person melt?”

I did get a smile before the “I don’t know,” and began thinking it is hot enough to melt with the recent 90 degree temperatures but that is definitely not the scenario we were discussing here.  Then the revelation hit.

“Have you seen a toddler melt down?”

“Yes.”

“That’s basically what was happening to the people of Jericho. They heard of God’s miraculous works with the Israelites escaping Egypt under the protection of their God, yet they didn’t understand it. They allowed that lack of understanding to lead to a fear of losing what they had (the City) which in turn robbed them of the blessings and protection of faith in God. Rahab chose not to allow fear to disable her even though everyone around her was afraid. She bravely sought truth and protection for her family. She chose to respond to that which she didn’t understand in faith, not selfish fear. She became active, not reactive.”

In life, when we become confused about what’s happening around us, or afraid, we can melt down and throw a tantrum because things aren’t going our way, just like a toddler, or we can respond by actively seeking truth and faith in God, not man, like Rahab.

Lord help me be brave and respond actively. Keep me from allowing others’ fears to disable my faith. Like you protected Rahab’s family with the scarlet cord, protect our family with the blood of your son, Jesus.

Be Like The Cool Kids

Be Like the Cool Kids

By Audrey Botts

Being a kid can be challenging especially when you don’t fit in the crowd.  When I was in middle school I remember two brothers who were misfits.   They were the kids you did not want to be seen with.  They didn’t fit the “cool kid” category.  

To be one of the “cool kids” meant you had money, stylish cloths, and you had it all together….  so we thought. 

These two brothers came from poverty and were lucky to have hand- me -downs from other family members.  The mean kids would laugh at their misfortunes and call them names.  

Sadly, I too was guilty of just standing by and watching.   I didn’t understand why I was so callous toward them.  I guess I didn’t really care to understand at that age, I was just following the crowd.   

The younger brother had a mild learning disability so he was slow in his speech.  The kids would mock him and aggravate him.  

The older brother would try to protect him and he would get into confrontations.   He knew his brother could not defend himself.   

I look back now and I admire the older brother for what he did.  While everyone was against them, he still stood his ground.  I thought to myself, “why was I so uncaring toward these kids?  They never did anything to me.” 

I came to the conclusion that I was more worried about what the  “cool kids” were thinking.  I wanted to fit in with the crowd.  I did not have enough confidence in myself to be who I wanted to be.   I knew if I went against the grain, I too would be ostracized. 

We as Christians still do that today, we are challenged by our peers and lack the confidence to stand up for what we believe in and who we are.  When we measure ourselves up to other humans or society we will always fall short.  

In Romans 12:2 it reads “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

We as Christians, will be rejected by others, as Jesus was rejected by the Jews.   We were never meant to fit in this world, we were meant to stand out. 

I’m not sure what became of the two brothers, but they left a lasting impression on my life today.   There will be times that we will have to suffer the mocks and hatred from society but we can stand up for what we have faith in and be assured in who we are in Jesus.

John 15:19  “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

There are so many people that are struggling to feel accepted in this world.  It’s a losing battle.   Introduce them to Jesus.  He will never let you down.

 

 

 

Wanting To Be Noticed

Wanting To Be Noticed

by Vicki Molinari

In my home, the sports channels are a staple.  Often, I walk into the room to see the screen revealing a heated competition of boxing, tennis, golf, baseball, football and even racing.  My husband really enjoys being an armchair spectator, with an occasional "Did you see that?", as he looks over his shoulder to me.  

The other day, he was watching the Open, a golf tournament.  I followed along with him for a brief moment.  I recognized some familiar faces of famous golfers, however, my eye was drawn to a golfer with bright orange slacks and hat to match. I did not recognize his name, he was new to the circuit.  My initial thought?  Apparently, he wants to be noticed.  Seems to be a trend, longing to be noticed and receiving approval from our peers.. for the win!


Brought me back to a time as a child, I was feeling excluded and was desperate for approval.  I was in elementary school.  The popular girls decided I could not join them on their kickball team.  Their words of rejection hurt and stung long after that day.  

Recently, I saw a Facebook post describing a young girl being bullied in school.  She was apparently "fat" and struggling to be included in the popular circle.  She already felt excluded, at the young age of 8. 

People can be cruel.  It was evident when I was young and still the same some 40+ years later.  Exclusion hurts.  
How can we be people who do things differently, loving everyone? 


The best examples are found in the Bible.  Jesus loved the well known/popular and those who had been excluded, going out of his way to extend love where it wasn’t expected. 

 
Oh, how the world would be different if we followed His example.  
Jesus cared for children.  


Jesus’ disciples were annoyed by the children. "Noisy" kids were not as important as adults whom Jesus was teaching. But Jesus told his disciples that the children could stay. He said “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matt 19:13-15
Jesus talked to a "sinful woman".  
When Jesus came to eat with the Pharisee, this woman began washing Jesus’s feet with a jar of costly perfume. The Pharisee was appalled that Jesus would let her touch his feet. But Jesus told the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:36-50.


Jesus ate with a tax collector.  
Jesus went to Levi’s house to eat. He ate with tax collectors, the unpopular.  It caused quite a stir, though it was natural to Jesus.  Mark 2:13-17
Jesus drank water from the woman at the well. 
In Jesus time, Jews did not hang with Samaritans, to such an extreme they would not use the same utensils. However, Jesus did not ignore the Samaritan woman at the well and that caused problems. He engaged her in conversation, used her cup to drink water and offered himself as living water. John 4:1-41


With Jesus, you no longer need to strive for approval.
No matter where you are in life, Jesus loves you.  You have His approval and that is the best news I can give you.  You will never be excluded by Him.  May you find comfort in that and May you do all you can to get to know Him. 

Perspective

Perspective

by Kellie Tipton

It was during a visit with a friend from out of town that I realized how relaxed I was around her and just enjoying the visit so much!  Some of it I knew had to do with the fact that she is a forever friend, you know those that no matter how much time passes you just pick up where you left off, but another was how she talked.  It dawned on me that it was her perspective on things!

Perspective is an individual thing such as a point of view, a way of looking at things and her way was very balanced.   I could talk with her about anything and we would look at it from every angle and discuss those details.  I enjoyed every moment and left our visit so refreshed.

It reminded me of how much I need to be careful of what I allow my mind and heart to take in cause it can affect my perspective on things and I may not even recognize it.  This friend’s visit directed me to the Lord and He was able to continue to speak to my heart. 

We all have our own way of looking at things and it can come from our life experiences, our emotions, what we read or watch and our friendships.  Ultimately spending time in God’s presence and reading His Word is what helps guide our perspective best, but I am so thankful for all the friendships God has placed in my life to help keep me anchored!

Who has God placed in your life that helps keep you anchored?  You know that friend that no matter how much time passes you can pick up where you left off?  A friend that when you leave them you are refreshed and have no regrets of your conversation.  They are truly a gift from God.

 

Proverbs 27:9 "The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense."  

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."  

 

Seeds Taking Root

Seeds Taking Root

By Audrey Botts

Well summer time is here and the kids are out of school.  That means we have VBS (vacation bible school) at our church.  It usually last about a week for a few hours a day. 

The children enjoy crafting, singing and all kinds of fun things.   I have to admit the volunteers who put their time in this did an awesome job this year.  I really admire people who have a calling on their life to reach out to our children for Jesus.

Mark 9:36-37 reads “He took a little child whom he placed among them.  Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

When I was a little girl one of my fondest memories, (back in the 70’s), was riding on the JOY bus.  JOY stood for Jesus first, others second and yourself last.  The JOY bus was a Christian outreach ministry geared toward recruiting the youth in our community.  

Their outreach extended to lower income class families, whether the parents occasionally attended church or not at all. 

The team members would go house to house throughout the community signing up families interested in sending their kids to church on Wednesday night and Sunday morning.  

The church would provide bus transportation for the kids to and from church.   We always had a blast on the bus ride.

I remember listening to bible stories, eating yummy treats, singing worship songs like “Yes Jesus loves me!” and the fellowship with the other kids.

The bus counselors were so friendly and were always happy to see us get on the bus.  When we got to church we would have service and then head out to the youth group where the fun usually began. 

I might not have known who Jesus was when I was a child, but I do know that something was growing inside of me like a seed.  It was the love of Jesus!  

Now that I am an adult, the seeds planted long ago have taken root and here I am today as a follower of Christ.   

I am so thankful for the people who reached out to me when I was a child and introduced me to my Savior Jesus Christ.  I am now a part of a body of believers that believes in Christ’s message of reaching out and spreading the Gospel to all nations and that includes little children.

 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”  Matthew 28: 19-20

I encourage you to step out if you are called to minister to children.  It is a blessing from God.

 

Seeds Taking Root

Seeds Taking Root

By Audrey Botts

Well summer time is here and the kids are out of school.  That means we have VBS (vacation bible school) at our church.  It usually last about a week for a few hours a day. 

The children enjoy crafting, singing and all kinds of fun things.   I have to admit the volunteers who put their time in this did an awesome job this year.  I really admire people who have a calling on their life to reach out to our children for Jesus.

Mark 9:36-37 reads “He took a little child whom he placed among them.  Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

When I was a little girl one of my fondest memories, (back in the 70’s), was riding on the JOY bus.  JOY stood for Jesus first, others second and yourself last.  The JOY bus was a Christian outreach ministry geared toward recruiting the youth in our community.  

Their outreach extended to lower income class families, whether the parents occasionally attended church or not at all. 

The team members would go house to house throughout the community signing up families interested in sending their kids to church on Wednesday night and Sunday morning.  

The church would provide bus transportation for the kids to and from church.   We always had a blast on the bus ride.

I remember listening to bible stories, eating yummy treats, singing worship songs like “Yes Jesus loves me!” and the fellowship with the other kids.

The bus counselors were so friendly and were always happy to see us get on the bus.  When we got to church we would have service and then head out to the youth group where the fun usually began. 

I might not have known who Jesus was when I was a child, but I do know that something was growing inside of me like a seed.  It was the love of Jesus!  

Now that I am an adult, the seeds planted long ago have taken root and here I am today as a follower of Christ.   

I am so thankful for the people who reached out to me when I was a child and introduced me to my Savior Jesus Christ.  I am now a part of a body of believers that believes in Christ’s message of reaching out and spreading the Gospel to all nations and that includes little children.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”  Matthew 28: 19-20

I encourage you to step out if you are called to minister to children.  It is a blessing from God.

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

By Mavis Tipton

I’ve noticed over the past year or so, that a lot of articles, blogs, devotions, the Word preached from pulpits, is often in connection with “Forgiveness.”

As born-again Christians we are taught from the beginning of our walk with the Lord to forgive, so that we may be forgiven.

I was reading Christine Caine’s book “Undaunted.”  In it she shares her testimony.

She makes this statement: “If I were to stop hurting and instead find wholeness and healing, then I needed to forgive and trust.

That statement literally jumped out of the book at me, and I said to the Lord,

“why do I have a problem trusting?”

He said. “because you have un-forgiveness in your heart.”  I was shocked, as I usually forgive quickly, because I don’t like how I feel when I carry around un-forgiveness.

Immediately the Lord reminded me of a situation when I was very young,  that I had totally forgotten.  At the moment He revealed this to me I instantly felt like I did at that time.  It was a feeling of distrust.  The door to mistrust had been opened, and would accumulate other acts of distrust over the years.  Unfortunately those hurts were pushed down further and further.

Early in our ministry, I was hurt by the words of a “well meaning” person, and I ran straight to the Lord crying and complaining.  Because I had been trying so hard to please everyone and now it wasn’t working.

I felt the Lord gently put His hands on my shoulders and gently lifted my chin to look Him in the eyes, and He said to me, “keep your eyes on Me.  Do what I ask you to do, and for the most part things will go well.  You can’t please all the people all the time.”

I did just that, however I had never forgiven that person, which the Lord reminded me.

I immediately poured my heart out to the Lord and began the process of forgiving people who had hurt me throughout my life. 

The Lord was merciful and brought to remembrance those I needed to forgive. And I received forgiveness for releasing to Him the hurts of the past.

Col 3:13“bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Bearing means there will be pain to endure.

If we want to be healed, we must choose to trust what God our Great Physician asks.  By forgiving those who have wounded us there will be a change, a good result, strength and wholeness.  (By Christine Caine).

I am here to testify that God’s forgiveness and the power to forgive others, is freeing and healing.

Maybe you are struggling with mistrust, and hurts from the past or present, if so I invite you to go before the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you those hurts and mistrust you have residing within you.  He is waiting for you to reach out to Him.  He will hear you and answer your cry for healing and freedom.

Reach out to Him now.  He desires the best for His children. 

Father, I ask that you reach out and by Your Holy Spirit speak to Your Sons and Daughters.  Wrap Your loving arms around them, and guide them through the forgiving and healing process.  May Your love, grace and peace fill their souls.  Thank you Father.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen

 

Perfect Laughter

Perfect Laughter

By Jacqi Ballough

“Can’t you take a joke? Don't be so sensitive. You are too serious.” The words stung but were true and have been repeated throughout my life by different people. I guess somewhere along the way I stopped thinking jokes were funny because I often became the "brunt” of them and didn't know how to respond with forgiveness and love.

Thankfully, the Lord gave me a son who has been full of laughter and joy since birth. I still remember his first witty joke at the age of four. Having just finished his nightly bath, I wrapped him up snuggly in a towel with both arms tucked in. He began waddling around, and then giggled, “Look mom! I'm a walking stick.”  I died laughing. 

The joy of a child can bring an adult to humility and negate the seriousness of mundane life. I understand why Jesus wanted the little children to come to him verses the “serious disciples” who tried shooing them away. Their happy chatter must have brought Him some perfect laughs.

Have you ever thought about it: Jesus laughing? It was not a characteristic, which I had normally associated with Jesus until recently. In fact, it was a revelation to me shown through the children’s historical fiction novel Crispin. In an effort to bring truth to a young boy, one character wisely spoke:

“I’ll give you a piece of advice.  You are full of sadness. Those who bring remorse are shunned. Do you know why? … Because sorrow is the common fate of man. Who then would want more? But whit and laughter, no one ever has enough.  When I think on the perfections of our Savior, I choose to think most upon His most perfect laughter.  It must have been the kind that made us laugh too.”

During difficult days of broken promises and unmet expectations, my “serious side”  (aka offended side) still flares up and laughter becomes void.  An air of disappointment and frustration surround me, and are then projected onto whomever is closest, which most frequently happens to be my son. I am aware when it begins to stir but often have conflicting ideas with how to respond. The serious side of me often wants justice and the other mercy. "Justice” begins to win my soul with self-righteousness anger egging it on.

Then the voice of reason: “I think we need a tickle break mom.”

A few years ago, the Lord gave me the idea to make five minute tickle break passes for my son. He can cash them in anytime, especially when the seriousness becomes a little too thick, or he knows laughter is missing from the family.  During the five minutes, we tickle, pillow fight, or battle with pool noodles until the timer buzzes.  The result: a righted mind and perfect laughter.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Lord, thank you for giving me your joy. Keep me from the spirit of offense and keep my heart filled with laughter. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Building Your House?

Are You Building Your House?   

By Tammye Hamilton

When we got married I didn't know much but I sure knew my young husband didn't have any idea how to be a good husband. He loved me but he did not know how to treat me. I believed it was my job as his wife to instruct this cute but clueless man on the fine art of being a good husband. 

Now that may have worked with some men, but I married Jon.  Any outright attempts to tell him how to behave not only fell on deaf ears, they all but assured he would do the exact opposite. 

For several years we lived in an old farmhouse in the country and had no trash service. Jon left for work at 3:30 am so I was always asleep and unable to remind him to take the trash with him in the mornings. One day I got the bright idea to pile the garbage bags in front of the door before I went to bed. Wasn't I a thoughtful wife? 

The next morning I found the pile of bags laying in the kitchen floor, shoved aside so he could get out the door. How was I to be a good wife when this strong willed guy went out of his way to be uncooperative? 

Proverbs 14:1 says “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

A wise woman realizes that building her house is at the center of God’s plan for her life.  Whatever He has for you, if your life belongs to Him you are called to BUILD.

We have a big bag of colorful blocks at our house for the grandchildren. They love to play with them but tears will inevitably flow when one builds a tower and moments later another little darling delights in knocking it down.

It is impossible to build anything worthwhile if you are tearing it down at the same time.

A woman who criticizes her husband or expects him to make her happy is tearing down her own house. Unfortunately, our tongues often get us in trouble in this area. Pointing out faults or replaying hurts can become a bad habit.

A wise woman will give grace as much as she wants to receive it. I am so aware of my shortcomings, aren’t you? I do not deserve grace. And yet, the King of Glory extends it to me! If He, in His perfection and holiness, can give grace to me, someone who messes up on a daily basis, how can I not extend grace to others? 

If we criticize, complain or attempt to control, we are not building, we are tearing down our own house and those we love. When I decide to ignore the things that bug me and choose to be an encourager, I experience the joy of being encouraged myself. 

A woman who is focused on building her house, encouraging and edifying others, not keeping track of violations or pointing out faults, that wise woman’s house will fill up with the fruit of her life.

Proverbs 24:21 says: By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

 

 

The World Is A Better Place Because She Was Here

The World is a Better Place Because She was Here

By Vicki Molinari

Ahhhh!  I slept in until 9 a.m., the coffee was hot and I was scanning social media one Saturday morning. 

It had been a while since I took the time.  My plan, I thought?  Take five minutes before tackling my long list of Saturday chores. 

The many posts, pictures, and statements were what I expected to see, however, when I read this phrase I was instantly nudged by the Holy Spirit.  "The world is a better place because she was here." It was beneath a picture of a woman who had passed away.  Her epitaph you may say or the statement about her life.

Wow!  It pierced my heart like an arrow hitting the bull's eye on a target. "What would be said about me, Lord?  Will my life have an impact on people and if so, how?"  These were my thoughts.

This was not a coincidence.  My heart was already stirred.  I had just returned from a conference with some powerful speakers, my favorite Christine Caine.  Her message was titled "Press On"

She discussed James 4:14.   "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." 

The analytical side of me began to ponder the word mist.  So I looked it up when I got home.  "Mist: a thin fog produced by very small drops of water collecting in the air just above an area". An area is affected by this mist, no doubt.  How will my life "mist" affect others while I am here on this earth, after all, mists are only here for a short time.

Christine continued with Philippians 3:13-14, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  

She made bold statements like:

"Keep pressing or you will start regressing and there is no blessing in the regressing".

"Take risks and don't quit."

"Life gets on you.  We are not exempt from hurt, pain or betrayal but despite it all, love people and be salt and light!"

This was tough stuff, but I knew it was truth.  

I was encouraged.  I was reminded that though short, life matters; "my" life matters.  I too will have an epitaph. My life must stand for something. 

Someone and His name is Jesus!  He made a difference in my life the day I surrendered my heart to Him and if I press on, loving people until the day He calls me home, I can make a difference. The world can be a better place because I was here, making a difference for eternity. 

How about you?  What will be your epitaph? Life is like a mist, but if you press on, you can make a difference.  What will that be?

Heavenly Father, we seek you today with a thankful heart.  Though our lives are but a mist on this earth, help us to press on, never stopping until we reach the goal You have set before us.  May our lives be impactful in ways that make this world a better place, but also effect eternity.  In Jesus Name, Amen. 

Maintaining The American Dream

Maintaining the American Dream

By Jacqi Ballough

What is the American Dream?

Is it success at your job? Equal opportunity? Having a house, car, and family?

Having a well-stocked savings account, or an excellent education? Liberty to do what you want when you want?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the American Dream as “an American social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and especially material prosperity.”

In 1931, James Truslow Adams coined the term “American Dream” in his book The Epic of America.  He proclaimed the American Dream to be “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

According to these declarations, “I” have achieved the ultimate American Dream. Now the challenge is to maintain it. Right?

Over the last 12 months I have spent much of my time, finances, and energy maintaining the house, appliances, pool, cars, yard, and boat; not to mention keeping up with continuing education and countless business and relationship opportunities. 

Then I think of our Heavenly Father’s Dream. Do these definitions and proclamations match His? Is He even mentioned or credited for our prosperity or ability? Can we truly achieve anything apart from Him?  No.

I hear His voice saying, “Maintain our relationship, My truths, My values, and My love for others.  Do not allow My gifts to you to be perverted into selfish ambition and pride. I gave everything to you to use in service for My kingdom and glory. Be humble and thankful.  I placed you in the land of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness to proclaim Eternal Life through the sacrifice of My son Jesus Christ, Liberty from the bondage of sin, and the happiness which comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Seek Me for wisdom on how to use the provisions and abilities I have given you.  It’s simple. All that which is apart from Me is worthless but My Spirit lives in you and will guide you. Listen and set your eyes on that which is eternal. Then the fruit of the spirit will abound.”

Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.  Philippians 3:8 

Thank you Lord for your voice and truth.  Thank you for the life, liberty, and joy you have blessed me with.  Forgive me for acting with selfish ambition and pride and keep me from the temptation of it.  Give me wisdom and clarity on how and when to use the resources and abilities You have provided.  I pray I can be effective in speaking your truth and demonstrating your unconditional love. Make me be still and delete distractions that could interfere with your voice.  Open the doors You want me to walk through and shut the ones which diverge from your path. Help me maintain Your Dream for my life.