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.

 

The Struggle

The Struggle

by Tammye Hamilton

I awakened before dawn to my heart racing. My thoughts immediately went to my actions the day before. I made some bad choices and did not act like the godly person I long to be.

 I felt so condemned. I lay in the bed beating myself up for quite a while. I was paralyzed with feelings of worthlessness and failure.

 The battle raged on but not against the enemy.  It raged against me.

The enemy wants us to look at our own actions and not realize we are under attack.  He wants us to feel guilty and beat ourselves up over our sin.  If we stay there, attacking ourselves, then we miss forgiveness and deliverance. 

We quote the scripture “We battle not against flesh and blood…” when we are under attack from others but we must remember that we are “flesh and blood”.  We should not live in a place of constantly judging ourselves.  

Jesus wants us to remember His forgiveness not our sin.

Of course we want to guard our hearts and live holy lives but we must remember that freedom isn’t found in recognizing our sin or our weaknesses. We definitely need those moments where we say, “Ah, I’m responsible for this.” But if we stay there, nothing is accomplished. 

 Your mind may be filled with torment or fear, your body may be suffering the consequences of your own choices, but blaming yourself and focusing on your failures keeps you from actually getting FREE and walking in FREEDOM.

Trying to solve spiritual problems with natural solutions may feel right and look right for a season.  You may be able to get a handle on it.  You confess your weakness then you get busy trying to fix it. 

If you just do the right things, try harder and stay focused, you might see results.  But we overcome, the Bible says, “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.”

 We may affect change by our efforts but we can’t overcome without total dependence on Him. Without recognizing and believing that He paid the price. It’s about Him.

One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” His power doesn’t kick in when you’ve fixed yourself. He doesn’t show up when you’ve proven your ability to overcome.

No, when you acknowledge that you absolutely don’t have the answer and you cannot overcome without Him, then the miracle happens. His power is made perfect in your weakness!

Yes, I must repent and change my behavior.  I can make better choices. But right at the point of acknowledging my failure I also acknowledge that I am a spiritual being and this issue must have a spiritual answer.

In my own life I have learned, the hard way unfortunately, that much of this self-condemnation comes from a root of spiritual pride. The first step in getting out of this cycle of judging myself and living under a cloud of accusation is to humble myself.

I cannot get caught in the place of focusing on my failure and how I’m going to fix it.  My focus must be on Him and my dependence on His power to make all things new. 

If we mess up, the best response is repentance.  When we acknowledge our sin, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us.  THEN we move on. We refuse to focus on it, blame ourselves, stay guilty or struggle with condemnation. We turn our backs on judgment and focus on His grace.

When the voice in your head points to your failures, point to the cross.

Spiritual problems need spiritual answers.  The answer, the defense, the victory, is found in Him and in His grace.

 

 

 

Crybaby

Crybaby

By Vicki Molinari

The constant whining was so annoying.  What a jerk, I thought.  I know, not kind.  Not the godly woman, kind of thought, but it is honestly how I felt.
In the stride of the day, I dislike unnecessary interruptions.  Yet that day, the disappointed voice of a client unsettled me and I was fixed on solving the problem.  Our staff could make this right with a quick resolve and a sincere apology.  Then, I would move on to the mountain of paperwork on my desk right,  not exactly.
It became a game of "he said-she said" with no resolve.  Can't anyone own their behavior, I wondered?  I was taught to own my actions, at all costs.  Playing the blame game does not solve anything.  Yet on that day, no one was interested in honesty and solutions.  The drama was senseless and non-productive, and the situation got the best of me.  Like fingernails on a chalkboard, the words kept ringing in my head, "It wasn't me".  Sentence after sentence of unreasonable excuses was spewed forth, kind of like vomit and I was annoyed.  
"Crybaby", I said under my breath! 
It did not take long for the still small voice inside to remind me of the verse in the Bible I had read many times.  "Love one another, even as I have loved you." John 13:34.   Really God? 

I cannot love him.  For so many selfish reasons, I continued, He does not deserve my love.  I pleaded my case but felt no relief.   
Must a person be worthy for me to love him?  No.  God's word speaks of a different love.  His love is extravagant.  He loves radically. So must I.  
How did Jesus love? He taught us to love those who misbehave and mistreat us.  In John 15:13 He told His disciples "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," yet He exceeded man's best by dying for His enemies. (Romans 5:8). Jesus doesn't love on the basis of our worthiness.
Jesus also practiced what He preached.  If He hadn't, I would have had no chance.  Without his extravagant love and forgiveness, I would be toast!  
My times of acting like a crybaby are far too often I am reminded. So, I bow my head and speak to the One who loves me regardless.  And once again, though undeserving He settles my heart with His unfailing love and forgiveness.  Thank you, Lord, for loving me, though undeserving and unworthy.





 

 

 

Let Go

Let Go

By Audrey Botts

 As humans, we like to be in control of our life and the circumstances around us, and Christians often all into this trap as well. 

We make decisions before we pray to the Lord for His wisdom and direction.  We find it hard to let go and let God take care of it for us.  

Even when we do pray, do we really take the time to listen to hear what the Lord has to say?  Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. 

Sometimes we’ve already made up our minds about a situation and do what we want.  We make mistakes and find ourselves trying to dig our way out of the pit we put ourselves into.   

When I was a young believer, I was a single, divorced mom.  I made a bad decision in my life that almost left me homeless with 2 children to raise.   

I tried to sell my home during the U.S. housing bubble in 2006 that affected over half of the United States.  It was the worst time ever.  I had to sell my home but I couldn’t get the price that I owed on it.  My mortgage payment was way over my budget. 

The money I was receiving from my former spouse had ceased.  I couldn’t afford the home without his financial support.  I was delinquent in my payments.  No matter how much I put toward the mortgage, it was not enough.   

I had to let the house go under foreclosure.  I was devastated!  How could I do this?  How will I be able to shelter my children!  

I cried to the Lord for help and He said to let go. When He gave me that word, He gave me peace beyond my understanding.  He provided the path that would help me crawl out of the mess I was in. 

It wasn’t the path I would ever think of taking but I knew the Lord was with me.  The Lord provided in miraculous ways.  I was able to save up enough money to move out and I found a suitable home that I could affordably rent.  The Lord was with me every step of the way.

I thank the Lord every day for letting me see that when I let go and let Him control my life, it will always be good and for my benefit.  He even helps fix our mistakes.

Since that time in my life, the Lord has blessed me abundantly.  More than I can ever imagine or deserve!  

Thank you Lord that you love me that much!   

Just remember He loves you too!  Let go and let God be in control of your life and circumstances.  He will never steer you in the wrong direction.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Dirty Dishes

Dirty Dishes

By Tammye Hamilton

There were dirty dishes in the sink along with sticky spots on the kitchen counter and floor. The glass coffee table needed a good cleaning. Clutter was scattered around the living room. 

Everything was perfect.

“Welcome! Come on it! I’m so glad you’re here!”

I greeted each friend warmly as they arrived at my home for our discipleship group, making sure to give each one a meaningful hug.

That day’s discussion was about the things that keep us from reaching out to others. As we talked I asked a question, “What did you notice when you arrived at my house today?”

One by one they answered, “How warmly you greeted me at the door.” “The wonderful hug you gave me. I so needed that this morning.”  Another said, “You really made me feel like you are happy I’m here.”

If they noticed my messy house, it obviously didn’t matter. What mattered was the way I made them feel.

As my friends learned that day, many of the fears we have when we talk about welcoming people into our lives have to do with things that don’t really matter.

There are so many hurting people in our city, people who are just looking for someone to care.

A hurting person probably won’t notice that your sofa is worn or that you aren’t dressed in the latest style. You will make a lasting impression if you are interested in her and what is going on in her life.

What if we focus on showing compassion and being real rather than being so concerned about appearances?

What if we choose the adventure of reaching those outside the security of the church walls?

What if we let them see our imperfections and the amazing grace we walk in?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  2 Corinthians 4:7

 

 

 

 

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

By AudreyBotts

Last week, I was asked to go on stage to welcome our church members and first time guest.  As I was on stage, I reflected back upon a time when I was first welcomed by my church family many years ago.

It was about 17 years ago and I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life, my first divorce.  

I was not a committed believer at the time, so I was not attending church on a regular basis.  

I had just been separated a few months from my first husband when this incident happened. 

Both of my children were still young at the time and they were attending Indian River Christian School.  My youngest child was graduating from kindergarten and her school was having a graduation for them. 

All families of the children were invited to come celebrate this special time with them.  So I went.

When I entered the sanctuary I saw my soon to be ex-husband, sitting with my children, his father, and his new girlfriend.   I was confused and did not know where to sit.   

I was shocked and I had a realization that I no longer belonged to that family anymore.  I still had my children when they were home with me, but not when they were with their father.  This was so confusing to me.   

I felt so humiliated and lost.  I sat a few rows in back of them.   I did everything I could to hold back my tears. 

Then out of nowhere I remember a gentle touch on my shoulder.  It was the pastor’s wife.  She told me to come and sit with her and her husband during the ceremony.  She could see what was going on and took compassion on me.  She took my hand and led me to her family, God’s family.   

I didn’t realize at the time what took place physically was also happening spiritually.   The Lord was using his servant to welcome me into his family and kingdom.   

I can look back and see that Jesus was not happy with this and used His servant to help me.    

When your world around you crumbles the Lord is there waiting for you to take His hand to welcome you into His kingdom.

God used my pastor’s wife to welcome me into God’s family that day.  She might not remember this, but I do and I am forever grateful for her.    Thank you!

 

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”  Matthew 25:35-36

There are so many hurting people in this world that need to see the love of Jesus.  I challenge you today to be Jesus’ hands and feet.  Welcome them into His kingdom as He did for me.   God bless

 

 

"God, This is Mommy, Do You Hear Me?"

"God, This is Mommy, Do You Hear Me?"

Vicki Molinari

Over coffee, one rainy day, I recall a conversation with a young mother.  She was asking, "God, what is your purpose for my life?"

 You see, as a single young lady she felt His will for her life was clear. She was involved in outreach ministries, choir and much more. The season was full of opportunities in which she could serve Him!!   

Actually, it was while serving the Lord that she met her husband. As two single people, they were busy about their Father's business.  They fell in love, got married and soon after had a child. Needless to say, her life changed dramatically.

In this new season, she often felt alone and ineffective for Jesus. What was her purpose? How could she possibly serve the Lord trapped inside the four walls of her home, day in and day out?

How could folding umpteen loads of laundry or changing dozens of dirty diapers be significant for Jesus? Her once hour- long daily devotion was traded for brief prayers while nursing the baby. Journaling was rare.

I reminded her that God was at the center of this new season and was watching her "serve" her husband and her child.  He sees it all and it brings Him such joy. 

I encouraged her that as she would continue in her devotion to the Lord, no matter what that looked like, she would begin to understand that her family was her priority. He would faithfully guide her, giving her wisdom for each day.    

Without a fancy stage, a mission to ten thousand or success in a ministry, God is waiting for a humble, thankful, and obedient daughter to be the loving wife and mommy that only she can be.

The bible says,” For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Being a mommy is His plan, a very high calling.  "So why is it so hard? Why am I challenged at every turn? Why, God? Do you hear me?" was her prayer.

I reminded her, as a mommy your day is centered on bike rides, building blocks and bubble baths. Saying yes to playing outside seems difficult sometimes after all, how many lizards can we catch in one week?

Yet, you are the perfect person to serve milk and cookies, clean their boo-boos and read a bedtime story.  You are the queen homework helper and taxi driver.  For the dance recitals, soccer games or choir performances, your voice is the one they hear first, cheering them on!

You are MOMMY.   You may not get any applause or standing ovations from a grand audience, however you are the mommy to a precious family, doing what is right in God's eyes, one day at a time, some days one minute at a time.

You DO have purpose. He hears your laughter and catches each tear.  Even when you don't see it, God moves in the everyday, mundane moments.  Mommies are extra special.

Don't compare your life to others who seem to have rewarding careers or thriving ministries. Instead, believe that in the midst of the daily duties, God is faithful.   We honor Him in how we serve and love our families.  

For the mommy, who has long days full of snotty noses, messy diapers and floors scattered with toys, God is faithful. For the mommy who seems to always be late getting your kids to school, God is faithful.

You are stretched far beyond reality, but your greatest life accomplishments happen as you train and shape your child's heart and mind. One day, you will look back and be grateful for the time you devoted. I know, I am.

Happy Mother’s Day

 

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Neighbors

Neighbors

By Jacqi Ballough

A knock came from the front door. Our dog began barking hysterically, and my son jumped up from his work to run and be the first to answer.

It was almost lunchtime, and there he was smiling. Our elderly neighbor, “Papa” as my son affectionately calls him, was standing with a dog treat held behind his back and in his extended hand, a jar of jelly. “Can you use this? It’s currant jelly, and the seeds don’t agree with our stomach.” 

Papa lives across the street with his wife of 61 years and adores our son, our dog, and is always ready to share a funny story of his youth or lend a hand when something breaks around the house.

He often drops by to bring cookies or cakes his wife bakes, but every now and then, something they can't use finds its way to our door.

 

Early that morning, I had run out of jelly while fixing my husband’s lunch. Jelly was a major food source at this time in our life as I was a stay-at-home homeschooling mom and my husband was a full-time student.

All of our lunches consisted of wheat bread, peanut butter, jelly, and an apple. In fact, I sent my husband to pharmacy school every morning for four years with four PB&J sandwiches and a container of homemade pasta salad. This day, he had taken the last of our jelly.

My neighbor’s gift was so incredibly simple, but meant so incredibly much. My gratitude probably seemed excessive, but I was delighted. It was a gift from God. A reminder: I’ll take care of you.

When my husband knew he was supposed to return to school full time and I knew I was to teach our son full-time, we didn’t know how it would work. The numbers didn’t add up. It was irrational, but we knew it was what God wanted for our family.

We had to trust Him. In that moment, I felt extremely loved. It was divine provision and throughout the four years of my husband’s schooling God used numerous people and countless random acts of kindness to provide

I’m so glad we decided to trust.  God not only provided materially and financially, but more importantly he provided spiritual protection for our family and brought the relationships needed for encouragement and wisdom. For that, I am extremely grateful.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19                 

Lord, thank you for being our provider. Thank you for keeping us on your path and helping us to remain there. Father, I pray that we will be used by You as You used so many to encourage and help us. 

Overthinking

Overthinking

By Kellie Tipton

While shopping with a friend we came across a t-shirt that said "Overthinking will ruin you" and we had a good laugh and agreed it was perfect for one of my daughters.  

You see my daughter is a detail person and can sometimes overthink on things so it was a perfect way to make light of something I was seeing as a possible stress point in her life.


As a mom I feel it is important to help my children see the positive and negative aspects in their personality.  This is how we can help them laugh at themselves and make any possible adjustments.  In most cases we have been there and done that and bought the t-shirt!

There are times that I find myself laying out scenarios of what can happen and how I will handle it or I get overwhelmed and shut down. It can literally take me captive for a time. Sometimes I can brush it off but on other occasions it can take much longer.

What always gets me is that I know there is a spiritual battle going on all the time and yet I can fall into it without notice.  Once I recognize what is going on and pray I can feel all the confusion and doubt melt away.

It is in those moments that I am so aware of the difference between my voice, the enemies and God's. His is always gentle but firm with no strings attached. The enemy is filled with confusion and conflict. Immediately I have hope and a knowing that it will all work out

In looking at Ephesians 6:10-17, as it begins with the process of putting on our armor, it starts with the belt of truth. 

Truth defeats any confusion, doubt or fear.  This is always the starting point in taking captive our thoughts!  Then we are equipped with righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the word of God. 

Remembering to put on our spiritual armor is so important in how effective we will be in our time here on earth.

Are there times when you are an over-thinker? 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17



See What I Did!

See What I Did?

By Cheryl McCloud

Easter and the arrival of spring bring to my mind new beginnings. There's a freshness that comes when I reflect on what Christ did for me with His death on the cross.

I'm new in Him; I cast off those shrouds of what I used to be and stand proud as a daughter of the King ... until I remember that yesterday's dirty dishes are still in the sink, I forgot to pray this morning, I meant to call a friend going through a hard time, and I can't recall today's devotion because I read it as I was going over in my mind everything I had to get done today.

And what about getting a little appreciation for all those things?

I know I’m not alone in this. Women especially spend hours every day -- at work and at home -- doing for others.

Whether it's a special project at work we spent hours on, or even the "regular" daily duties that we pour ourselves into … we often strive to give more than what's expected, caring to give the customer, our boss or the company we work for our very best.

At home, we work hard to provide nutritious meals, clean clothes, and a tidy home for our families. We balance schedules. Make appointments. Handle sickness. And when the unexpected happens – which can arrive daily or weekly! –  we’re masters on coming up with a new game plan within minutes (or even seconds)!

Then we wait.

I don't expect effusive praise for what I do, but a heartfelt thank you, an email saying the effort I made was appreciated goes a long way.

Even a hug would feel good, an acknowledgement that what I did was noticed. Sometimes you just want people to see what you’ve done and recognize it.

But ... (you knew there was a but coming, didn't you?!) God knew our hearts and minds are likely to go in that direction.

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”  -- Galatians 1:10

“Their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.”  --

1 Corinthians 3:13-14

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” --  Matthew 6:1

When we look toward people for approval, that's a dangerous path we're heading down.

God wants us to look toward him for approval. Problem is, the more I look for people to notice and say something, the more my focus gets pulled away from Him.

Sometimes I need that reminder – which comes only when I spend daily time with Him – that He always notices and His approval is all I need. 

Safe In Her Daddy's Arms

Safe In Her Daddy’s Arms

By Mavis Tipton

As we prepared for our Easter Production, there were several scenes of Jesus healing different people.  One is of a little girl who has died.  As the father carries her to Jesus, the little girl’s limp body lies in her daddy’s arms, trusting that he will hold her safely and not drop her.

Even as the daddy places her in the arms of Jesus she remains limp and not afraid.  Totally trusting her daddy to place her in Jesus’ arms.

The Lord spoke to me through this scene of how we need to have the faith of a child and trust Jesus to hold us safely in His arms through the storms of life, as well as through the good times.

But so often we try to do things in our own strength, which only leads to disappointment, failure, spiritual poverty and ultimate loss.

Those who trust completely in the Lord will be blessed and rewarded in the end with eternal benefits. 

The faithful do not have to worry or be afraid in any situation because the “roots” of their life go deep into God.

Trusting in the good times is easy, but when the circumstances of life come our way we have to be intentional and choose to trust Him in all circumstances.

We need to have child like faith as we come to the Father and repent and receive His Son as our Savior.

Letting go of all the baggage, hurts and disappointments that life has brought our way.

Believing that God the Father through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ can ‘fix it and make it all better,’ just as a child believes their daddy can ‘make it all better.’    

As we celebrate Easter, we are made more aware of the price Jesus Christ paid, to redeem us from our sins.  Let us not loose sight of the love of a Father who gave His only Son for our redemption, and share our story.

Through child-like faith we can share what Jesus has done for us, and what He will do for all who will call upon His name.

Trust in your heavenly Father to hold you and guide you as you share your faith in Him.

Jer. 17:7

“Blessed is the man who trust in the Lord,

whose trust is the LORD.”

May Easter live in your hearts all year.