A Dependable Moral Code

by Mark Nickles  

Years ago, during college, I drove a delivery truck for a bookstore. It was an old box-style vehicle, with no power breaks. I had to be very intentional about “mashing” down on the break peddle at stoplights and in traffic jams, for fear of rolling forward. I knew I wasn’t paying enough attention when I would see the cars beside me “moving”. Of course, I realized that it was MY vehicle that had moved, because I had let up on the break. I was using the other cars for reference, to insure I was staying where I was supposed to be.

A consistent moral code does the same thing, helping us to know “where we are” in the area of morality and ethics. A moral code that does not change gives security, a sense of well-being, and confidence in making difficult decisions. However, today, more and more people desire a relative moral code. They hold that right and wrong, good and bad, righteous and sinful, etc., depend upon circumstances, particular sets of beliefs, or even the whims of the individual.

Imagine you are in a situation in which you need to be unmoving, such as a vehicle at a dangerous intersection. What if, for no discernible reason, the cars, light poles, even the buildings, began moving? You would have no point of reference; you would be helpless to know your position, with no way of knowing what dangers lay ahead! That’s what life is, without a clear, unchanging moral code.

In Malachi 3:6, God says, “’I the LORD do not change.’” Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” Later, Jesus would be referred to as the Rock of our Salvation, a title agreeing with His own statements about His eternal, unchanging nature. Finally, 1 Peter 1:25 says, “…the word of the Lord stands forever.”

God’s opinions, ways and word never change. They are always static. Forever faithful. Dependable, from now until the end of time. Thus, there is no better moral code to anchor your life to than the Bible, God’s eternal word.

Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS


Change the Standard

by Abby Kelly  

The second my feet hit the floor, I felt overwhelmed.

“Lord, the house feels like such a mess!”

Now, I’m a confessed compulsive cleaner. But I justify that little character flaw by saying, “I have two cats and a dog! How could I possibly keep up with all the hair?” 

Chalking it up to necessity, you’ll often find me on my hands and knees picking up individual pet hairs. I sweep the house two or three times a day. But more than anything, it’s in my head. It’s something I obsess over, think about and worry about. It’s an idol. 

My eating disorder was the same way. I was a compulsive exerciser and calorie counter. But I justified it saying, “Exercise is a good thing. And I’m only being careful about what I eat.” 

Chalking it up to healthy mindfulness, I checked out of countless conversations while counting calories in my head. I spent hours calculating and then executing the toughest workouts. It developed into full-blown anorexia, but the most agonizing part was the mind game. Never at rest, anxiety ran laps in my head. I obsessed over everything to do with food and weight. It was an idol.

But this morning, at the same second that overwhelming feelings swamped me, Jesus spoke, “Change the standard.” It took me a while to get it, but as I pulled out my journal and Bible for morning devotions, God worked in my heart. 

Abby, you have struggled so hard with perfection when it comes to cleaning the house. You’ve tried lists and routines, professional cleaners, podcasts and new gadgets. Stop devising new ways to pick up every single hair. Learn to see 10 hairs on the floorand leave them there.

He continued:
In the eating disorder, you tried every new way to meet an unrealistic standard: New workout routines, new gyms, new diets. Then, when you began to recover, in order to prove yourself, you created endless rules about “healthy” behaviors. 

I picked up the pen; poised it above an empty page in my journal. This was beginning to make sense.

When it came to the eating disorder, I learned to stop looking for every new tool to create washboard abs. Now, I’m learning to let go of what I imagine a “perfectly recovered” person looks like. Change the standard.

I still exercise. I practice moderation with food. But the standard is no longer physical perfection, thinness or control. Instead, it is a long healthy life and a body able to enjoyyes, even tastethe Lord’s goodness. 

When it comes to a clean house, I need to let go of my ideal standard of hairless floors, but, I will still need to vacuum and scrub the toilets. Change the standard.

As I finished my quiet time with prayer, I realized this concept also applies to salvation. Since Jesus came, we are no longer held to the impossible standard of the Mosaic law in order to be saved. God’s law, the things that please Him, have not changed, but now the standard is to reflect the one who has already saved me.

Learn more about me on my website: http://predatory-lies.com/about-me/

Please find my book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Predatory-Lies-Anorexia-Kelly-ebook/dp/B00HFGMBJA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389645006&sr=8-1&keywords=predatory+lies

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Counselor’s Corner: How Not to Stop When Life Gets Rough

by stephanie reck 

Life can be hard sometimes, and there are those times that life can throw us devastating blows. I know how easy it is to want to quit and pull the covers over my head when life gets rough-I have done this more than I would have liked to. There were times in my life that I got hit so hard by a difficult circumstance that I just stopped-stopped caring, stopped taking care of myself, stopped being productive, stopped enjoying life. I can say from doing this, it does not help but makes any discouragement or depression you may feel worse.

Sulking in self-pity never makes anything better, but we feel that somehow feeling sorry for ourselves makes us feel better. There is a time and a place to deal with painful emotions and circumstances, but then there is a time to move forward.

The following list is some tips for how you can get through when life gets rough and not stop:

Give your body needed time to rest. If you are dealing with painful or stressful situations your body will use more energy. Sleep in an extra 30 minutes or take a longer break during the day.

Cut back on all non-essentials. If you don’t need to do it, then don’t! Take a walk in the morning or the afternoon, or even both as a way to declutter your mind and to destress.

Change your perspective. Not every day will be rough. We all have good days and not-so-good days. Focus on the good days that will come again.

Focus on what you can control. So much of what happens to us is out of our control, but the one thing we do have control over in any given circumstance is our attitude. If you can’t change a situation, why worry about it?

Change your focus to what is good, lovely, praiseworthy, and a good report. It is not helpful to keep focused on what is bothering you continually. Set aside a designated day each day to deal with what is concerning you, and then do your best to stay focused on what is good.

Start a gratitude journal as a way to implement tip #6.

Practice acceptance. Much suffering can be greatly reduced by coming to terms with our lives and accepting what is. If you can do something to change your circumstance, then do so, but if you can’t; then accept what you are not able to change.

Rough times happen to all of us, you are not alone in this. If life gets too overwhelming, take it one day at a time and do what you can do just for that day.

Reflect and respond:

What tip(s) will you use when you have a rough day, week, month? Do you have any tips you can share?

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Counselor’s Corner: Accepting What You Cannot Change

by stephanie reck  

We can prevent a lot of frustration, disappointment, and stress by letting go of what we cannot control. I want certain people in my life to be different, and for many years I tried unsuccessfully to change them. I thought they needed my help to change, so I gave everything to try and change others who did not want to change. In the end, I was worn out and frustrated my efforts to change others were useless.

There are things in life no matter how hard we try to change them, won’t. Being aware of what we can change is important. We can change ourselves but infrequently can change others or our circumstances. We can pray and ask God to intercede with our loved ones and circumstances, but we cannot control the outcome of our prayers. We have no control over how our prayers get answered. Sure having faith does and can help, but just because you have faith for something does not necessarily mean that it will happen the way you thought.

We should always have hope for change and that things in our lives will get better, but we should not stay stuck when we can’t change something we don’t like. If we stay too camped out around not accepting our reality it can lead to self-pity, anger, and bitterness. One of the reasons we become stuck in our suffering is that we are trying to control things that are beyond our control. If we focus all our energy on what we have no control over we can feel mentally and physically drained.

Acceptance of what you cannot control has many benefits:

A more positive outlook

Less worry and stress

More energy from not trying to figure things out

You will be able to move on and enjoy life again

Depression will lessen or lift completely

You will feel more peaceful and calmer

A change in perception must also take place for you to be able to let go and accept what you cannot change. If you believe the pain in your life will never end, your suffering will feel unbearable. There are times though we have to live with events that we don’t know when will end, such as with COVID. During those times of uncertainty, you can develop new and better coping skills to help manage unknown times.

Most of us have felt uncertain and distressed when faced with situations we can’t change; however no matter what the situations we face there is one thing that is in our control and that is our attitude and our response. Acceptance means letting go of our expectations for how we believe things should have turned out. Acceptance makes us feel lighter and as if a burden has been lifted.

A helpful exercise is to write out what you can control and what you cannot control, and make a decision to let go of what is not in your control.

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Church Life What’s Under Your Hood?

by J Patrick Bowman  

Ladies, you’ve heard the admonition accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! The advertisers and merchants cry out for your attention to their latest bags, purses, shoes, jewelry, nail wraps, hairpieces, hair colors, fake tattoos, real tattoos, completely redesigned body parts and it’s sad to say in the day we live,  they call out to men for the very same things. OK… putting that last statement aside, men are no less susceptible to their ways of accessorizing.  Belts, hats, beard beads and bling, watches, sunglasses, and more; it seems that everything is now a fashion statement.

We do it with our vehicles, as well. Custom wheels, custom exhaust, chrome and pinstriping, GPS, satellite radio, and sound systems that rival what we have in our homes. And speaking of home, we do it there, too. We go for a theme and search high and low, or in my case, the thrift stores, for just the right accessory to complete just the right look.

And speaking of “the look”, it amazed me in my years as a landscape designer, how over-accessorized some people’s yards could be. A whole flock of concrete deer. Simon, Theodore, and Alvin, the chipmunks, in resin splendor, were lurking under every tree and beside every shrub. Plus every conceivable elf, fairy, gnome, kitten with a yarn ball, and “rover” in every size and type. And then there was my favorite…..the pink flamingos. Oh, it still makes me shudder to think about it. One of the most unique landscape accessories I was asked to include in a landscape plan was for an older Korean couple that wanted an in-ground vault so they could cure their kimchi. Yes, we like to accessorize.

It’s an ancient behavior.  It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sewed together fig leaves to try and cover up their sin. Of course, it didn’t work and God sacrificed lambs and covered them with skins. Hebrews 9:22 makes it plain that without blood there is no forgiveness.

My concern is that we, in this age, have taken on Adam and Eve’s behavior, and have imported our accessorizing into our relationship with God. We pile on all the religious bling in word and deed and rely on those accessories to make ourselves acceptable to God and others.

In Revelation 3, in talking to the church at Laodicea, Jesus called out their accessorizing, telling them in verses 17-18, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Just as Adam and Eve tried with fig leaves, the church at Laodicea tried with their brand of bling. The trouble with relying on accessories is that they never really cover up the true essence of what a person is in their heart.  Jesus counseled them to get rid of the cheap knockoffs they were hiding behind and seek Him for the real thing.

I once heard the story of a recent high school graduate who was driving around town one day and passed a used car lot. On the lot was the shiniest, most beautiful car this young man had ever seen. It had bright red paint, shiny chrome wheels, leather interior, every gage, and gadget imaginable, and best of all had a monthly payment plan that he could afford, although just barely. So he traded in the plain-Jane basic sedan that had gotten him all through high school and still ran fine. Boy, was he excited for his friends to see him in that new ride. He did little more than kick the tires before signing the “as is” contract and driving off the lot. He got a lot of looks from his friends, alright…especially when two weeks later the engine blew up and left him stranded on main street with a tow truck hooking up to that gorgeous looking car that was going nowhere.

If we are relying on the many accessories of “Churchianity” to cover up the inadequacies of our Christianity, we may be able to pull it off for a while. We might even get looks of admiration from our fellow church members because we wear the right style, worship the right way, don’t rock the holy boat, and fit in with flair. But eventually, a crisis will come that will test what our walk with Christ is really about.  Soon enough we, and everyone around us will see what’s really under our hood.

We might be able to hide our wretchedness, our spiritual poverty, our blindness, and our nakedness from others with the external accessories of playing church, but we can’t hide from God. Accessories are harmful when we use them to cover up what needs to be exposed. A beautiful painting of a serene mountain scene on a freshly painted living room wall may look wonderful, but if it’s only covering the hole we punched in the wall during our last angry outburst, it’s only a façade. It’s only hiding what is. Remember Adam and Eve hid from God in the trees of the Garden while they fashioned their fig aprons. I often wonder what would have happened had they faced God naked and ashamed and asked for His forgiveness.

King David gives us instruction about not hiding from God in Psalm 32:

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”

Yes, the shiny red car may look good, and we may, too, for a while. But, the truth is, a genuine plain-Jane sedan walk with God, if we keep up on the maintenance, will get us where we need to go. Add a few accessories, if you will. But remember, it’s what’s under the hood that counts.

Rev. J. Patrick Bowman is an ordained Christian minister, author, and educator. He lives and ministers from The Dalles, OR in the midst of the scenic Columbia River Gorge. He is "Papa Pat" to his grandkids and to whoever the Lord may send his way. Learn more at revjpbowman.com or www.gorgefaith.org

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com

Counselor’s Corner: Be Intentional About Focusing on What is Lovely, Praiseworthy, and a Good Report

by stephanie reck  
5/ 3/21 / Christian Living

Perhaps you’re not like me and don’t have any trouble with negative thoughts, I, however, struggle more often than I would like to with “stinkin’ thinkin.” Many times, I wake up to a battle going on in my mind, a battle of me thinking thoughts of defeat and discouragement. We all know the battlefield is in our minds, and that satan can make suggestions to us that seem ever-so real. We take the bait, and before long we are agreeing with the lies of our adversary.

I have to get up intentionally focused on setting the first hour I awaken with the Lord, if I don’t, I am prone to having thoughts of anxiety, fear, and discouragement. There are those times that no matter how intentional I am my thoughts are dark and I can’t seem to turn those thoughts around. At those times I must step back and evaluate are there any “roots” to my thinking, and have I been spending time in God’s presence.

Negative thoughts can consume our daily lives, and eventually cause harm to us physically, mentally, and spiritually. We must learn to train our minds by disciplining our thoughts. Many of our issues can be stemmed from our thoughts. Thoughts precede behavior. I

If you feel depressed, check your line of thinking first. Of course, not all depression is caused by your thinking, but even if there is an imbalance in the brain you will still need to control your thoughts.

Push past how you feel and be intentional about focusing on what is good, what is lovely, and what is praiseworthy. You very likely won’t feel like thinking good thoughts all the time but do it anyways and you eventually will feel like it.

Negative thinking often stems from hurt, pain, disappointments, unfulfilled dreams, anger, and hope deferred. Get to the issues of what is causing your negative thinking. Write it out, talk it out and pray about what is causing you to see life through a damaged filter. Daily practice gratitude by writing or saying aloud at least (5) things that you are thankful for.

Gratitude will decrease negative thinking. When a thought comes that is negative, ask yourself is this lovely, praiseworthy or good? If not, replace that thought with what God would say. You’re not denying difficulties in life, but choosing not to focus solely on the wrong. An example would be, “It’s raining again, my outdoor plans are ruined but my flowers and grass are being watered.”

âFor additional information on how you can discipline your mind, check out my latest book release, “Disciplining your mind, 30 days to a better you.” Found on Amazon.

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

5 Hidden Benefits of Failure You Should Know

by Ogaga Eruteya  3/18/2020

Whether it is an exam, a business, an interview or just any other venture, failure is not something desirable.

But sometimes it happens.

And when it does, it comes along with valuable lessons.

However, whether we will profit from failure or not, depends on how we respond. If you respond positively every time you fail, by consciously picking yourself up, and sincerely trying to avoid a repeat, then you will notice the advantages failure brings along.

Here are five of the benefits failure offers:

#1. It Helps You to Know What Will Not Work

Before Thomas Edison succeeded with the invention of a light bulb, he had failed at several attempts.

In an 1890 interview in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, Edison said,

“‘I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed three thousand different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory.’”

But Edison knew that failure had its positives.

So, when his friend and associate Walter Mallory, asked him, ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’ Edison turned on him like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results!  Why, man, I have gotten lots of results!  I know several thousand things that won’t work!’”

#2. It Helps You to See What You Are Missing, Neglecting or Ignoring

When you fail and you honestly decide to figure out what made you stumble, you will suddenly begin to see things in a clearer light. You will discover things you never observed to be crucial. You will realize what you neglected or ignored and you will notice what the missing link was.

By the time your next attempt is due, you’ll realize you are better prepared.

Not only that, you now possess information that makes you a valuable resource because you know what must be given attention to for failure to be avoided.

#3It Provides You the Opportunity to Become Better

As you genuinely make efforts to avoid a repeat failure, you inevitably become better.

Assuming you failed a course in school for instance, you find yourself getting better and more knowledgeable at it as you work diligently to prevent another failure.

If you failed at a competition, or didn’t deliver a speech well, as you strive to excel in the subsequent edition, you see yourself improving by the day.

#4. It Gives You Experience that Proves Handy for You and Others Later

Sometimes when we fail, it just happens to be a blessing in disguise for us (and for others) in later situations.

That episode of failure and the lessons it taught you often sticks to your memory; and so, it helps you to confront similar situations in time to come.

Meanwhile, because experiential knowledge is very powerful and convincing, your experience can help the other person know how to scale his or her own hurdle.

Once you tell someone, ‘It once happened to me or I have done it before’, it sends a very striking message.

#5. It Prepares You for the Big Stage

Every path in life has different stages. For everything we fail at, there will always be a bigger stage ahead.

When a student fumbles in a test, it is just to help him avoid failure in the exams – which is a bigger stage.

By giving us a smaller embarrassment early on, failure saves us from shame on the big one. It motivates us to prepare hard to avoid a repeat embarrassment when more eyes will be watching and the stakes are higher.

That’s what happened to me back in high school. A humbling failure at a lower class helped me avoid a repeat 3 years after.

It was the big stage. And it felt good to excel there.

Ogaga Eruteya is a Christian minister, writer, poet and speaker from Nigeria. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. Read more of his writings and learn more about him at www.faithandliving.com

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Counselor’s Corner: Get Unstuck By Making Small Daily Changes

by stephanie reck 4/14/21

Maybe you desire to see a change in your life, but because of fear, anxiety, or trauma, you have remained where you are at. Fear can keep you paralyzed from moving forward. This last year has been challenging to make any additional changes in our lives mainly due to all the unwanted changes that have come with COVID.

For some, this last year has caused difficulties getting unstuck from the previous season. This last year came with many unwanted changes for me, COVID being one, but also my father’s cancer diagnosis, and my transition into menopause. I guess you could say that I got stuck from the additional stressors in my life. I felt unable to make any more changes in my life, even though the changes would be good changes such as getting together with a friend. I was going through the motions of life, and surviving but not thriving. I simply did the best that I could do, but I kept hoping things would change.

One morning while spending time with God, He spoke to me; not audibly but deep within my spirit, and said to me, “Stephanie, it’s time for a new chapter in your life.” God continued to reveal to me that I would need to start making small steps of change and that those small steps would eventually lead to the bigger changes that I wanted. God asked me to trust Him as He would lead me in these changes.

When you live your life in fear and anxiety it can be overwhelming to do anything different than what you are doing. For me, I usually went to the same places and did the same things; but of course, I was stuck. As uncomfortable as at first it was, I slowly started to do small things that I usually don’t do to get unstuck. For instance, one day I walked a different bridge than the one I always walk on. I felt proud of myself for making this small change. I continued to implement small daily changes, and have seen instant results from doing this. I seek God first thing in the morning and I wait for Him to let me know what change to do for that day, otherwise, I would just try and exhaust myself by figuring out what to do.

Practical small changes to get unstuck:

*Tip: Try at least one a day. Make a list of your own daily small changes that you can make. If you are unable to do one a day, start with one a week and build your way up.

Read a book or a least a chapter.

If you exercise, change up your routine. If you don’t exercise start walking.

Clean a closet or organize something in your home. Rearrange some furniture in your home.

Try out a new recipe.

Encourage or bless someone.

Go out to eat somewhere different.

Listen to different music.

Change your mindset. You may not can change your circumstances, but you can change your mindset about it.

Be happy for no reason. Happiness is a state of mind, don’t wait for others to make you happy.

Get up earlier and use that time to connect with God.

Try something new, it can be food, clothes, hairstyle, or something you have never done to get out of a rut.

Usually, it’s not the big things in life that make the most impact on our day-to-day happiness but the little things that we do that allow us to live unstuck and more fulfilling lives. Getting unstuck starts with making small changes that eventually lead to bigger changes.

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Don’t Let Go When a Loved One is in A State of Addiction

by Jennifer Rubino Champion  

For some time now, I have been angry, yes angry at someone I love because they have retreated backwards into their drug addiction. I have watched them as they physically morph back into the thin, unhealthy person they were before. They drop off the radar and never appear at church; they never again enter a door where goodness and mercy reign. They forgo the grace offered by a loving God and instead pour all they have (i.e. money, time, energy, and life) into the thing that drags them down. They live day to day high on all the things Satan provides for them never stopping to think these same things are robbing them from the joy and peace our Lord, Jesus Christ provides. 

 I prayed to the Lord for this person and He sent me to a book in the bible that seems strange for this trouble, Song of Songs and Chapter 3, Verses 1-4. They are beautiful verses of scripture about a dream this young woman had but as I read it over and over, it became clear what the Lord was trying to tell me, “Don’t Let Go.” All night long on my bed, I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him.  I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.  The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. “Have you seen the one my heart loves?” Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.

It is so hard on the people that love an addict. Part of us want to let go of them and let them just live their life as they please, making poor decisions and endangering themselves and possibly others because we have tried so hard to get them to change or we have seen them fail time after time. We feel hopeless.  Then, there is that other part of us that wants to do everything in our power to ensure they survive. This message today was clear; we should not let go because when we love someone, we will do all we can to ensure their safety even at a cost to our own personal comfort. This is exactly what Jesus did for us. He put himself aside and died for us, this pitiful sinful lot that we are and then came back again to say, “It’s not over.” I’m not saying we should be a doormat, an enabler or become so codependent that we offer no help to the person struggling in their addiction. We just can’t let go of the fact that God is there and he is at work. We have to trust him that he knows the outcome.

Don’t let go of HOPE. We have to love the ones we love to Jesus. He is our only source of hope.  

Jennifer Rubino Champion is actively involved in prison and jail ministry in Central and West Alabama. She and her husband Patrick have five children and a fur baby, Maggie. She is an author and artist and you can visit her website at www.jenniferchampion.com

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Counselor’s Corner: When People Violate Your Boundaries

by stephanie reck  

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.

We have all had people in our lives that have violated our boundaries, whether it’s a family member who expects you do whatever they want, a neighbor who believes they are the only one’s living on your street, or a friend who just drops in without giving you notice. 

Reflect: Has anyone crossed your personal boundaries with you? How did it make you feel? Violated, angry, or powerless.

Personal boundaries are important and here are 4 major reason why:

  1. Protects you from being manipulated.
  2. Protects you from being used.
  3. Protects you from being violated.
  4. Separates who you are and what you think and feel from the thoughts and feelings of others.

Emotional boundaries protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems or taking comments personally.

Having healthy emotional boundaries you are able to do the following:

  1. Say no to tasks you don’t want to do or have time to do.
  2. Protect your time-don’t overcommit.
  3. Ask for space because we all need time.

Traits that people have who do not respect your boundaries:

  1. Lie regularly.
  2. Take advantage of your kindness.
  3. Manipulate to get what they want.
  4. Don’t consider your feelings, are inconsiderate and selfish.
  5. Feel entitled to do and behave as they please.
  6. Can be narcissistic.
  7. Socially immature or awkward. 

Traits of people who respect your boundaries:

  1. There is a mutual respect. Both parties are considerate and thoughtful.
  2. Physical and emotional boundaries are respected.
  3. Open and honest communication without defensiveness, withdrawal, or pouting.

Unfortunately, you can’t force people to respect your personal boundaries, unless something they are doing is against the law. You do however more control than you think. 

Boundaries need to be clear and consistent with those that don’t respect you. Such people look for holes in your boundaries, and will try and try to cause a breach in your boundaries-STAY CLEAR AND CONSISTENT, what you will and will not tolerate. Follow through with consequences when the violator breaks a boundary with you. If you don’t force consequences, rest assured the violator will continue their behavior. 

Narcissistic people intentionally will violate boundaries to hurt you, get a reaction out of you, and to exert control. If you confront a narcissistic violator, they will come across prideful, unaware of your feelings, and may even laugh at your request for them to stop a certain action or behavior. Narcissistic people are looking to argue with you, and enjoy when you become upset by one of their tactics. 

If you have gotten frustrated or even angry at the repeated violators in your life, cut yourself some slack; it is difficult to deal with those who clearly don’t respect you or care about your feelings. 

What can you do when others violate your boundaries:

  1. Know your limits (physical, emotional and social). Set firm and clear consequences when those boundaries are violated. 
  2. If you are getting angry, frustrated and/or exhausted dealing with someone, step back from the relationship/situation until you can regain your peace and composure. 
  3. Recognize you do have needs, and that you should voice those needs to If they don’t listen or care, that is not your problem (if you are dealing with a narcissistic person, they will not care to change their behaviors and very likely will continue).
  4. Contact authorities if the violation against you is illegal.
  5. Have a 3rd party meditate if you are not getting through to your violator. 
  6. Maintain a healthy distance from those who repeatedly violate you with no course correction for their actions, or who are indifferent to your needs (if the person you need to distance yourself from lives in close proximity to you or is a family member, you will need to distance yourself emotionally until there is mutual respect). Emotional distance means keeping your heart guarded, choosing to respond verses react when they violate you in some way, and maintaining your inner peace by the strength of the Holy Spirit. 
  7. Ask God for His assistance in dealing with those who repeatedly harm you in some manner. Our God is just and He is our help in time of need. 
  8. Keep your cool, when your boundary is violated. Walk away, breath, and pray. When you respond in anger your judgment gets clouded. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the authority to bind the enemy. Use your authority and bind the spirits that are causing you trouble. 

Setting boundaries is healthy, and having good boundaries means clearly what is OK and not OK and letting others know it. If you don’t set boundaries, you allow people to get away with behaviors that are not OK, and you in the end will end-up stressed, anxious, frustrated and angry. 

Let’s Discuss:

What about you, have others violated your boundaries? How did you respond and how would you like to respond now after reading this article? 

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Take No Offence

by Chris Gambrell  

In today’s world, we seem to offend people rather easily. We’ve possibly offended or hurt someone’s feelings, whether it was intentional or not; sadly, people sometimes say and do things that are careless, blunt, insensitive or even mean-spirited. While we can’t control the intentions or behavior of others, we can determine how we will act. We can choose not be offended.

One familiar example from Scripture of an offense is the eating of food that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul says, “But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.

However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do. But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:69)

Some Christians believe certain things should never be said while others believe they can say them. For example, what would happen if I was with a person who believed we should never say the word retarded, and I used it? I would have defiled that person’s conscience. In other words, I would have offended that person by being an obstruction. Based on Scripture, we need to be wary of becoming an obstruction to others (Luke 17:14). Still, some go further on to say we should never offend our weaker brother.

Another way to offend is by getting non-believers mad, not only at us, but at Christianity. For example, imagine driving and accidentally cutting a non-believer off in traffic. The person cut off would probably get mad. Additionally, if the car had an Ichthys emblem (Jesus fish), or a Christian bumper sticker, the person might also get mad at Christianity. As Christians, we need to strive to have the utmost integrity in all areas, including driving (Titus 2:7).

In both cases, the offense was not deliberate, but unfortunately, someone was still offended. Some people use these or similar examples to support the idea that we should be careful never to offend anyone; we should keep these biblical examples in mind to avoid offending people.

How do we as Christians not become offended at the numerous things that bombard us from a non-believing world as well as our fellow Christians? Chances are you have been offended by something someone said, or perhaps did. You aren’t invited to a party you know that everyone else is going; your friends, or other church members, become quiet when you come around; people just oddly stare at you when you are talking to them; you work hard within the church only for all the credit going to the pastor’s children. It can be difficult to overlook some of these annoyances, however, we must.

The Bible warns us not to be oversensitive: “Do not take to heart everything people sayyou may hear your servant curse you. For you know how often you yourself have cursed others.” (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22).

In 1 Corinthians 13:5, we’re told that a very important aspect of love is to not be easily provoked, or stirred to anger. Those who are Christian and understand His Word will not allow small annoyances to drive a wedge between others and themselves. They know how easy it is to cause others offense. Proverbs 11:12 says, “It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.”

These verses are not telling us we should never confront another person about a serious problem. There are times when we do need to go to our brother, as commanded in Matthew 18:15-17. Facing others should not be something we are doing on a regular basis. You don’t want to be infamous as one who is always offended, always ready to tell others off and put them in their place. No one wants to spend time around someone like that.

Some people aren’t confrontational, but may get just as offended. Rather than fight with the offender, they bottle up what the person said or did, suppressing negative emotions. That’s no good; these kinds of feelings can grow and aggravate, and turn someone into an angry, bitter, unhappy person. It can also lead to animosity. The fact of the matter is offenses are going to come our way. When they do, it’s okay to admit that it hurts. We don’t have to get upset about it. We can choose not to be offended. Colossians 3:13 says that we should “Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

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When to Let Someone Back in Your Life that Has Hurt You

by stephanie reck  

Relationships can be complicated, especially when there have been times of hurt and pain. How do you know when it may be time to reengage in a relationship that has caused you pain? In this article I will explore when you will know when it’s time to let someone back into your life, and how to do this.

I have several relationships in my family that have caused me a lot of pain, stress and heartache over the years. I have struggled deeply with what the right thing to do in these relationships, reengage, keep a healthy distance, or remove them from my life. I go back and forth many days with what I believe I should do. First let me say that the relationships in my life that have caused me deep pain has been ongoing for many years, and I have suffered physically, spiritually and emotionally because of the damage these relationships have been to me. It is much easier to distance yourself from a friend that has caused you pain, but a family member is much more complicated. There are at times I just want to “keep the peace,” and forget what they did, but I can’t! 

Ways to release the pain that others have inflicted upon you:

  1. Work out your forgiveness with those that hurt you. Tell God how you feel and repent for holding onto any unforgiveness, anger, or bitterness towards them. Forgiving someone that hurt you can be a process and it is something that you may have to do daily and when “triggers” occur, such as when they do a similar thing to hurt you again. Forgiveness is never a one-time deal, but a choice every time that person that has hurt you does something again to upset you or a painful memory comes up. 
  2. Never let anyone pressure you back into a relationship. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Forgiveness does not mean letting the offense reoccur again and again, you do not have to tolerate a lack of respect or abuse. 
  3. Choose to speak blessings over the person or people that hurt you instead of all the negative they did to you. 
  4. Don’t keep replaying in your mind what they did, give them grace and say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Every time what they have done to you is played in your head, choose to say, “I forgive you.” 
  5. Take control of your thoughts, behavior and actions. Don’t let anyone control your joy, peace and happiness. 
  6. You can’t make people change, but you can change how you respond to them. You can choose if a relationship is healthy for you. It’s okay to create space between you and the person that hurt you to heal. Healing will be much more difficult if you are continually engaging with people who are doing the same things that hurt you before.

How To know when you should reengage with someone who has hurt you:

  1. Accept the person where they are at, but don’t allow yourself to be put in a position to be hurt again. Set boundaries upfront. Boundaries may look like limiting the time you spend with them. 
  2. You have to decide if reengaging would be beneficial to you both, or would it be a one-sided relationship? 
  3. Have they changed? Is there tangible proof, not their words but actions that they are different? Do they continue to dismiss or downplay their hurtful behavior? 
  4. Keep your heart guarded until you know there is a true repentance and a turning away form their hurtful actions and behaviors. Keeping your heart guarded means not allowing them into your most intimate, personal parts of your life.
  5. Are you able to be around that person without feeling stressed, anxious, or angry? If not, you need time to heal. 
  6. Be willing to admit ways that you may have contributed to the problem. 
  7. Be realistic about the process. Change often requires time and hard work. Periodic failure by the offender does not always indicate an unrepented heart. 

The reconciliation process of healing from damaged relationships can be circumvented by well-meaning “forget and move on” people, the hurt person can become resentful over time, and the relationship is not healed; it is more deeply damaged.  Never just “patch’ things up and pretend nothing happened in those relationships that have hurt you in some way, both parties involved should be willing to work though their hurt and  the relationship should never be forced. If you have deep pain from these relationships you will need time and space to heal. Creating healthy distance can help you love the person that has hurt you instead of becoming resentful against them for not changing into the person that you needed them to be. 

You can forgive people who have hurt you deeply but sometimes it is always possible to reconcile with abusive, hurtful or unrepentive people. God does desire full forgiveness and reconciliation. If there is a middle ground that both parties can offer full forgiveness and do their best to reconcile, that would be better than both parties being bitter and resentful of each other. 

Words alone are not enough to restore trust. When you have been significantly hurt and feel hesitant about restoration, it is wise to look for changes in the offender before allowing reconciliation again. Only God knows people’s hearts, but you can evaluate people’s actions. 

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Achieving Political Unity

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 

To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 1Corinthians 9:20 -22

Do you think the above texts are applicable to todays Christian lifestyle? Do you think it’s possible to be one with all men regardless of political beliefs?

Is it possible to be a Democrat to a Democrat and a Conservative to a Conservative? Or is that being Fake?

Is it possible both parties have good ideas?

I met a lady whose health insurance payments increased over $500.00 under Obama Care. To my surprise, she was not angry or upset about it.

She strongly believed healthcare should be provided for all, even if she had to pay extra.

OMG! I was astounded, I had never heard of such thinking.

What about people on welfare? Do you like providing for those who don’t work and refuse to take of themselves?

Well, she said, I don’t know how they were raised. They may have experienced traumatic events in childhood, that may keep them from working. Many people appear to be fine on the outside but have mental health issues. Many are addicted to drugs and alcohol, they can’t work.

Again, my thoughts were OMG, I’ve never heard of such thinking!

What about free education, I asked? Do you think College education should be free for All?

 Yes, I think education should be free for All. Education will deliver people from poverty. With education, they will learn how to make better decisions.

OMG! I’ve never heard of such thinking!

Isn’t this Socialist thinking?  Are you a Socialist?

No, This is “Independent” thinking.

Independent thinkers are not party affiliated, they vote for the right candidate, regardless of party.

I came away from the conversation, enlightened. Imagine being willing to pay more for health care to help someone else.

I wondered what God thought of her line of thinking. I felt as if He smiled and said, “In politics,  everything’s not black and white. Some would freely pay more to help others some would not.” So what’s the solution, I thought?

Perhaps, instead of mandating certain laws make it optional? If some want to pay more for healthcare, or education assistance, they can pay more.

If others don’t want to pay more, perhaps they should not be required to pay more.

Payers shouldn’t judge and condemn non-payers and non-payers shouldn’t judge and condemn those wanting to pay more.

The goal is unity. We should strive to live at peace with all men. A house divided cannot stand and Satan knows it.

I remember watching the movie Ghost Rider years ago. The star of the movie made a deal with the devil and got played.

Don’t be deceived, don’t get played, the devil is a cruel jokester and master. Don’t believe your way is the only way and everyone else is wrong, worthy of your wrath. Listen to the other side, your family members, friends and neighbors are not your enemies. Satan is the invisible enemy, he’s against both parties. If we bite and devour each other he wins.

Galatians 5:15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Albert Barnes says of the above verse, “As wild beasts contend sometimes until both are slain. The idea is, in their contentions they would destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other.”

Dwell in the light of unity and respect each other. This will bring peace and prosperity for all. Trust, me, says, the Lord. I can turn hard hearts into hearts of flesh. Humble yourselves, find things in common with so-called political opponents, and watch me pour out righteousness upon the land.

I will deal with principalities and powers who are usurping authority in the land. Over 2000 years ago, my Son declared Satan has been judged and cast out. Yet, he seeks to reign in your land by crowning himself as King.

I sit in heaven and laugh as he sits on a throne made of toothpicks. A small gust of wind blowing from the mouths of my people as they speak gently and work together, will cause Him to flee. Yes, it will happen as you live in Unity!

Inspirational Verses: When Brothers Dwell in Unity
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. Psalm 133:1-3

Gratitude, What a Way to Live!

By Anjte Hill

In a day when the pressure is on to buy the latest new gadgets or products, it is tempting to look and want more. Dr. Robert Emmons, in his new book on gratitude, says by the age of twenty-one the average adult will have seen one million TV commercials. By playing on our desires, our sense of gratitude diminishes and the want for more fills our mind. The wisdom of the bible tells us that Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1Timothy 6:6) Contentment can become a lifestyle we pass on to our children. It is done by living it before them. It is important for us to learn to focus on our blessings, rather than our minuses. In the 1800s, Charles Dickens said, “Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

Life hurts, we gain, and we lose. Some days are better than others, and some heartaches take longer to heal. Once the initial trauma is over, if we look around, we can see others that are hurting as well. It is then that thankfulness can shine through, simply from having come ‘through’ our problems. And it all begins with a thought.

The bible says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) We get to choose where our mind goes, but it is not easy and we cannot do this by our self. Our Heavenly Father is so willing to come along side us, as we make a focused decision to change who we are by changing how we think.

I read an interesting article a few months ago of a country that passed a law in July of this year, requiring people to visit or keep in touch with elderly parents or risk being sued and possible penalties. The article stated that this law is basically to bring awareness to their problem of the aging population and their needs. Could gratitude for parents alleviate this problem?

When children are taught to be thankful for the good things that come their way, it changes their outlook on life. In addition, they can learn to be thankful for hard times as well, because they make us stronger. Children taught to be givers learn to see need. They develop compassion for those less fortunate. They grow to be thankful adults.

There are many websites to help parents with young children to focus on thankfulness. Check out http://www.happydoll.org. In addition, a trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army, to take gently used toys that no longer fascinate your children, is a teaching moment. They learn needy children don’t get new toys. Of course, thankfulness can start with a simple prayer at the table for food to eat. For those needing more than biblical wisdom on this subject, it has been proven scientifically, (check out Dr. Emmons’ research), thankful people are happier people.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thess. 5:18 (NKJV)

Antje and her husband, Richard, live in MS. She is a columnist for Parents and Kids Magazine. She loves sharing her parenting experiences and helping other see how the years fly and how important it is to make each moment count.

Article Source: Faithwriters.com

Why You Can Trust God Now More Than Ever

A large poplar tree gives shade to my family on hot sunny days. The tree’s shade is a result of the tree’s shadow. This gives us an idea of what David meant when he said “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most  High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:1  

A tree’s shadow/shade protects us from damaging sun rays and God’s shadow protects us from damaging rays that come from Satan and the sons of perdition; those who seek to burn us mentally and physically.

Like the tree’s shadow, the shadow of God’s presence protects us and comforts us at the same time.  

An old stone building

Description generated with very high confidence

God’s shadow is also, a refuge and fortress. (Psalm 91:2)

A fortress is a place protected against attacks. In this fortified place, your enemies will have a hard time reaching you.

We are promised deliverance from the fowler’s snare (Satanic traps and strategies) and from deadly pestilence. It’s interesting that Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary says, Pestilence comes from a word meaning to declare, pronounce, teach, destroy…..

Perhaps some are declaring, pronouncing, and teaching destruction in our midst. Yet, God says, If we trust in Him, He will protect us from deadly pestilence (Psalm 91:3

The Treasury of David says, “He who dwells in an impregnable fortress, naturally trusts in it, and shall not he who dwells in God feel himself well at ease and repose his soul in safety.” 

We can say the Lord is our refuge and fortress during this time of Covid-19 and Civil unrest. As noted in The Treasury of David, “We have trusted in God, let us trust him still. He has never failed us, why then should we suspect him? Pray for the grace to say, “In him will I trust.”  

5 Reasons Christ Died for Us

There are at least five reasons Jesus voluntarily endured unbelievable suffering on a wooden cross for us. They are all based on His unbelievable love for people, and His desire to share His abundant life with us for eternity.

Take a look at five of the benefits we freely receive .

His Death Grants Admission into Paradise (again):

Because Jesus died on the cross we have re-inherited Paradise!

And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).”

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).

His Death Grants Immortality to All Believers:

Because Christ shed His blood for us we are delivered from death (mortality) and have received eternal life (immortality)! “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

His Death Grants Reconciliation to God:

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (Colossians 1:21).

His Death Grants Deliverance from Satan’s Power:

According to Acts 26:18, Paul was sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son “Colossians 1:13”. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness “(1 Thessalonians 5:5).

His Death Grants Deliverance from the Power of Death

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

How to Express Appreciation for Christ’s Sacrifice:

Taking Communion Commemorates Christ’s Sacrifice. It is also a special time of fellowship with God. Matthew Henry says, when we take communion “that is to eat of the feast is to partake of the sacrifice, and so to be his guests to whom the sacrifice was offered, and this in token of friendship with him. Thus to partake of the Lord’s table is to profess ourselves his guests and covenant people. This is the very purpose and intention of this symbolical eating and drinking; it is holding communion with God, and partaking of those privileges, and professing ourselves under those obligations, which result from the death and sacrifice of Christ.”

In 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, Paul referencing Christ, says, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Notice he said “as oft as ye drink,” meaning we have permission to take communion/proclaim the Lords death (1 Corinthians 11:26) as often as we want or need to. When we proclaim the Lord’s death we proclaim victory over every sin and evil work of the enemy. Remember Jesus said,” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18).

The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that, Jesus was “Wounded for our transgressions, that He was bruised for our iniquities and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

It is time for you to begin experiencing the benefits of Christ’s suffering and death by taking communion on a regular basis. It is time to walk in victory because the prince (Satan) of the world has been cast out (John 12:31).

Join me as I Proclaim the Lord’s death by taking communion on a regular basis.

Three Ways God Will Guide You

 God Guides Through Dreams and Visions:

Psalms 32:8  I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

I can look at my children at times to give them direction and they know exactly what I want them to do. With a simple look I can grant or deny a request.

There is a certain look I can give that says, no way!

Although, we cannot make eye contact with God, He may guide us with a dream or vision, he may give us a wink or nod of approval or deny a request.  

Many years ago, I filled out an application to live in a certain apartment complex. There was a long waiting list, but I needed to move within 30 days or renew my lease.

I prayed constantly about the matter and one morning I had a vision. It was not a dream because I was awake, a scene appeared before me, and I saw myself in an apartment at the desired location.

It was then I believed I did not have to worry about looking for another apartment or resign my lease.  

It was as if God smiled at me, gave me a wink and a nod that He was working everything out. A couple weeks later, I received a call to bring the first month’s rent, sign the lease and get the keys!

God Guides by Speaking Through People:

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. 

I remember getting ready to sign a contract to do freelance work for someone. I had reservations about the potential client but really needed the money, so I was going to take a chance. The day before, I was supposed to sign the contract. I met a lady who began telling me about trouble she had with a certain client. You guessed it; it was the same person I was supposed to meet the next day!

While listening to her, I felt as if God was saying, don’t do it, don’t sign the contract or you will experience unnecessary trouble. I mulled it over during the night and politely declined the work, the next day.

I later discovered that my potential client was known throughout the community for taking people to court. She refused to pay for the work by claiming negligence or damages.

I could have ignored God’s gentle guidance, but I chose to listen and was spared needless trouble.

God Guides Through the Counsel of His Word (Scripture):

Psalm 106:13  They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: 

Do you look back over your life and remember how God has guided you in the past? Remembering past experiences will help you trust God in the present. It will give you the courage to wait for proper timing instead of making hasty decisions that lead to loss.

We can consult the word of God before making important decisions, like choosing a business or marriage partner, or relocating.

King Jehoshaphat decided to go into business (build a fleet of ships for trading) with King Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 20:35-37); God was not pleased with the partnership, so He allowed the ships to be destroyed, before they set sail. (2 Chronicles 20:37).

In another alliance, Jehoshaphat decided to join King Ahab (his Father-in-Law) in a battle against the king of Aram. After the battle God sent Jehu to Jehoshaphat with the following message:

“Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you.”  (2 Chronicles 19:2)

This principle is also repeated in Isaiah 31:2 “And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. “

Jehoshaphat a man of God formed alliances with men who were powerful and wealthy but ungodly.

What if Jehoshaphat had consulted the word of God before making those decisions. He would have discovered God said, “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.”( Exodus 34:12 )

The same line of thought is repeated in the New Testament, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

When making decisions we should follow the advice given in John 7:24, which says, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” 

To make a righteous judgment requires thorough research and investigation. It requires weighing the pros and cons of a situation without bias.

Hollywood Romance or Real Relationship?

by Leah Nichols 

You know you’ve done it.

You’ve dreamed about a dashing romantic hero who will sweep you off your feet and take you away from the dullness of everyday life. Far away from the boredom of the mundane, you will delight in the continuous excitement of true love!

‘Course, there are many, many ways this scene can play out. It’s as unique as your own life, colored by the different experiences you’ve had and the people you’ve met.

For instance, you just might find yourself on a cruise ship in the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean, and a handsome young man discovers how beautiful you are. Amidst chaos and confusion, as the ship begins to sink, the two of you run away from the crowds to steal a desperate kiss.

Or, you may be listening to a radio program and hear the sorrowful voice of a young widower, struggling to survive the loss of his beloved wife. Strangely compelled to write to this man, you send off a letter inviting him to meet you on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day for a second chance at love.

Even better, you risk your own life rescuing a young man who was thrown in front of a subway train. Sitting by his side, as he remains in a coma at the hospital, you gradually fall in love with his rugged older brother, who’s more suited for you than you ever imagined.

Take your pick – there’s even the slim, but plausible, chance that a young European prince would choose your college for some undergraduate work in an attempt to discover the ins and outs of American lifestyle. Instead, he falls hard for the “girl next door” who’s not even expecting love.

Um, yeah. If these plots sound vaguely familiar, it’s because they are. All of these situations have been presented as a wonderful ideal of romance and true love, made to sell us on the idea of love being all you need. Hollywood does a great job of that, ignoring the fact, of course, that fifty percent (or more) of marriages based on love continue to end tragically in divorce.

Maybe you have observed or even suffered as a casualty of divorce, shaken to your core, trying to reconcile the romantic dreams you desire with the harsh reality of a broken world. Every guy you meet is held to an impossible standard – the perfect romantic hero who will never desert his lover. Well, if he doesn’t meet the standard, you can’t possibly be hurt by him, right?

Right. You also might find it difficult to get married, though. Guys are like that – they want to be the hero, so if they aren’t, they probably won’t stick around!

What does a real relationship consist of? Let’s pick a more authoritative source this time. How about the Bible?

Matthew 19:4-6:

And He [Jesus] answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He Who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (NKJV)

Wait a minute….where’s the part about the dashing romantic hero? What about flowers, and chocolate, and candlelit dinners? I don’t even see anything about true love!

Maybe that’s because marriage is more than love – it’s about two becoming one. It’s about serving your guts out to make life easier for the other. It’s about faithfulness in the midst of trials. It’s about better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health.

What’s going to happen after the honeymoon? Working, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, changing diapers, disciplining children, serving on committees, corralling teenagers, saving for retirement….etc. etc. etc. There will be vacations and romance, sure, but a whole lot of work in between. Plus, you will have a 24/7 accountability partner to observe every single sin and weakness in your own life.

If you can find a man who’s willing to go through this with you, then you have found a treasure, and true love, even without the swelling orchestral strains and softened camera angles! A committed, real friendship will long outlast the short-lived emotions of romance.

What does it mean to go through life together? To become one flesh? Paul said it best:

“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32 NKJV

What did Christ do for us? He laid down his life so we might be saved. If there’s ever a romantic hero, this is it! What does (or should) the church do for Christ? We give our lives for His glory.

You can hold out for a dashingly romantic story, to be swept off your feet and drawn into the rapturous songs of love. Or, maybe you can ground yourself down to earth, and keep your eye out for a friend who wants to walk this journey of life together with you. If you are willing to give your life for another, to serve, rather than to be served, then love will find you.

Even if it’s just a little bit different than your dreams!

Leah writes in her spare time….whenever it’s available. She and her husband Ryan live in the greater Los Angeles area, where she works as a labor/delivery nurse, writing and playing the violin on the side. She also enjoys cooking, baking, walking, and reading blogs on the internet.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Confessions of a Dead Workaholic

by Matthew Eldridge  

I hesitantly knocked on Frankie’s door. After all, he was pretty much a stranger. We lived next door to each other in an apartment building and casually exchanged head nods and “hellos” with each passing. He seemed to be a nice man, always commenting on how precious he thought my baby daughter was.

Fifty-something year old Frankie answered the door with his strong Puerto-Rican accent. “Yes?”

“Um, I have a favor to ask. My car broke down and I was wondering if you could please give me a ride to the mechanic’s?” I asked timidly.

“Sure. Let me grab a few things,” he responded, before quickly shutting the door.

On the short, 10-minute drive, Frankie proceeded to tell me the story of his life. “I worked hard my entire life, 80 hours a week, so that I could retire early and spend the rest of my life with my wife just enjoying everything around me I sacrificed time with family and vacation, but it was worth it. I’m only 55, I’ve been retired for two years, and I have the next 20 or so years to enjoy traveling and doing other things. If you work hard too, you can retire early,” he bragged while escorting me in his convertible BMW.

I had no idea why Frankie offered this unsolicited testimony. For the next few days I thought and prayed about it. Maybe God was telling me something? Maybe I should do the same? I wasn’t a natural born workaholic, but perhaps God wanted me to put more effort into it. I was struggling financially to support my family, and perhaps this push is what I needed. I didn’t want to end up like the 70-year-old bag boys down at the local grocery store.

A couple days had passed and I could hear screaming and wailing coming through Frankie’s wall. Seconds later a small hand pounded fast with desperation on my door. I opened it to find Frankie’s wife standing in front of me. Her face was covered in mascara as tears saturated her skin. She couldn’t get the words out, “Help me! My husband I think he’s dead!”

I quickly ran over to their apartment to find Frankie partially dressed lying halfway in the bathtub. His face was purple and covered with water. “Please, get him out of there,” his wife pleaded.

He was cold to touch. I pulled on his arms but his lifeless body made the 250-pound mass feel like 500. I struggled and pulled again, trying not to focus my attention on his purple face, or the stiffness of his flesh.

It took several paramedics to get Frankie out of that tub. I returned next door to my own apartment and welcomed the comfort of my wife’s arms. I replayed Frankie’s last words in my head over and over again. And then I reminded myself of my own last thoughts of our conversation: “Is God speaking to me?”

Yes, God was speaking to me. But he wasn’t saying what I thought he was saying. Frankie slaved his entire life to enjoy his future. Little did he know that his future freedom would only last two years.
In Luke 12:16b-21, we read: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.” (NIV version)

This was a big wake up call. Our life is but a vapor here on earth. We don’t know what day or time we’ll take our last breath. Nobody dies and goes to Heaven saying, “Man, I wish I would’ve spent more time at work!” God isn’t standing up there tallying how much money we made on earth, or rewarding us for how many days we worked overtime.

If we could interview those who have crossed over to another life, I’m sure they would tell us, “I wish I would’ve spent more time with family. I wish I would’ve focused more on my relationship with Jesus, and doing things that had eternal value, telling people how wonderful he is and about his love for us.” I don’t think anyone will be saying, “I wish I had more toys on earth!”

I was a new dad. I had bills. My future wasn’t secure. But as one of my college professors once said when I told him I was planning on going for my master’s degree while working full time, “You have a new baby – don’t miss out on her early years because you are going to school every night and working every day. You have the rest of your life to get your master’s. Focus on what’s important. You need to be there for your family.”

This was good advice. In my heart, this was God’s advice to me. I may never get ahead financially. I may never take extravagant vacations or freely blow my money on fancy dinners, or even drive a nice, new car. It doesn’t matter. I’ve decided to trade my road to financial success for a road more casually traveled. A road that included spending more time with my beautiful wife and adorable children. I want to savor every moment with them. If I have all the money in the world, but sacrifice precious time with my children at its expense, what have I gained?

Our children, spouses, and families don’t want our “things.” They want “us.” They want quality time with us. Our father God wants quality time with us too. Of course we will continue to pay our tithes, go to church and do ministry for His kingdom. However, none of that can substitute for the intimacy He wants with us.

Matthew Eldridge is a husband, father, pastor, musician, and writer.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Why Everyone Suffers Rejection

by Nellie Shani  

I was not surprised when he walked into my office. “Typical case”, I thought to myself. At five feet, we were almost the same height as I sat on my high chair. Bad case of acne, ears that stand out, buck-toothed. I smiled and extended my hand.

An hour later he was gone as I pondered over the cruelty of high school students towards those that did not fit the profile of “Prince charming”. I had just finished writing the summary of our counseling session when there was another knock on the door. I looked up into one of the most angelic faces I have ever seen. She slowly pushed the door shut with the back part of her foot as her milky eyes nervously scanned the room. It was the first time she was coming to see me. “Not a typical case” I mused. I smiled and extended my hand. She ignored my hand and I motioned to her to sit down.

She was clearly one of the most attractive girls in the school. After she left, I pulled out another box of tissue paper from my drawer and put it on the table, throwing away the empty one. I did not think it was possible for so much liquid to be stored up in the tear ducts of any human being. I had seen five students that morning, and this was the fifth time I was summarizing the session as “Suffering rejection.”

Frank D Hammond, in his widely read book “Overcoming Rejection,” suggests that rejection results from the denial of love. When one is loved, he is approved and accepted; when one is rejected he is disapproved and refused. The hurts of rejection are synonymous with refusal, denial, turn-down, rebuff, repellence, cold shoulder, slighting, shunning, spurning, ignoring, neglecting, avoiding and disapproving.”

Human beings suffer rejection the most during childhood and adolescence. We have all grown up as part of a community, and the most loving and protective parents could never have shielded us from suffering rejection from our various communities. This community may be immediate relatives, play school, kindergarten, grade school, high school, university, working environment and ultimately in a marriage relationship. It seems like most insecure people have a need to “beat down” somebody else in order for them to rise up in their own estimation.

The two cases cited above, go to prove that “Cinderella” will suffer rejection right in the same dining hall as “the hunch back of Notre Dame”. So long as spite, envy, jealousy, hatred and sheer self-centeredness continue to be human traits, then rejection is here to stay. Show me one person who has never had any of these undesirable human traits portrayed against them at any one time, and I will show you one person who is out of touch with what is going on around them. Those among the human race who have received the most love and acceptance in infancy and early childhood, are the ones most able to withstand the ugly onslaught of this unsympathetic world.

Rejection almost always comes with pain and a loss of self worth, and a natural response to pain is to recoil. This is a mechanism for self-preservation. As a result, people who have suffered severe rejection build emotional walls to protect themselves. Who can they trust? Will they be hurt again by those who have causes them to suffer? Often in order to protect themselves, they begin to suspect the intentions of others, and a distrust of their motives. As this paranoia grows, they eventually convince themselves that everybody is plotting against them and anything you tell them gets a sharp retort.

Because we will be rejected at one time or other, we need to build positive “shock-absorbers”. We need to accept and love ourselves first before seeking the acceptance and love of others. Each one of us needs a healthy portion of self-worth. We need to develop our talents and our hobbies. Seek to do what we enjoy doing. Then we need to take a good look in the mirror and determine to love the person we see. Accept the things that cannot be changed like height and facial features. People notice when we do not like ourselves – and join that club! Be your best cheerleader!

God has created us all as unique individuals. Let us celebrate our individuality. However the greatest acceptance that any human being can ever experience is the acceptance that we receive from God. In the Book of Psalms 139, God tells us that we are beautifully and wonderfully made. The new Testament further tells us that God loved us so much that he gave His Son to die for us! What a wondeful message!

Nellie Odhuno Shani is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. Her first books are available on amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and on her author’s websites.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

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