Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Time for all Things




Eccl reminds us there is a time for all things.  Sometimes we know a bit of what God is doing in our lives, but sometimes we have no idea.  We are in the darkness, the pit, and it seems He is no where around or to be found. We doubt and are afraid.  We forget His promise to never leave us.  Sometimes we are happy, sad, loving, hateful, seeing our sin, seeing His love.  There is a time for all things.  There are times we are angry at Him, confused, restless, obedient and not.  Sometimes we trust Him and sometimes we don't.  We are independent, self reliant and rebellious.  We run away and we run to Him and His awaiting embrace.  Sometimes He takes us to a deeper valley to take us up to a higher mountain top, but He is always with us through it all.  Whatever our sin, our questions, our emotions, our doubts and our fears, He can handle it all.  We are to be in awe yes, but humbly honest.  Even about our pride and self righteousness.  His death covered it all for those who receive it.   It is especially in our honesty can we participate in change.  We simply come to Him and open the door as He pursues us relentlessly.

There are things we can know, no matter what is going on in our relationship with Him and with others and we will even wrestle with this at times.  But God is always good.  He is always up to something good. He loves us, is with us and He is faithful even when we can't see it or don't believe it and even when we are not.  He may ask for the things we hold on to, but it is to always to bring us something bigger, greater and better, Himself.   We go through pain and suffering.  Joy and splendor.  A time to grab hold and a time to let go.  A time to work and a time to play.  A time to strive and a time for rest.  A time to learn and a time to reflect. A time to do and a time to be. A time to speak and a time to listen.  A time to plant, a time to grow and a time to reap.  A time to make noise unto the Lord and a time to meditate and be silent.  A time to live and a time to die.  We are personal, relational beings, created in the image of God for His good pleasure and purpose.  To literally burst within our souls with love, He has opened us up and poured into us.

We turn to  Him and to idols.  Our very being is broken inside as we desire to serve, but our God and worship Him. He brings beauty out of ashes.   But it does not depend on us.  It depends on Him.  He is revealing, changing and delighting in us.  He just gives us the pleasure of the dance.  But we don't always enter in, especially with joy.  We have the opportunity of working with Him, grabbing hold of His furious longing for us.  We have hope and we despair.  We linger and we run the race fast.  We stumble and we fall but He always rescues.  We persevere and we hesitate, but finish well because He is faithful to us.  We are humbled and we are prideful, self-righteous and broken.  We have victory but know failure.

He is always working for our good, for those who are called according to His purpose and for His glory.  He has a purpose in each of our lives, no matter what is going on with us, and that is to make us more like His Son. Our purpose is to bring Him glory through an ever increasing journey of wondering and clinging to our God, in finding Him most satisfying of all.  He will see to it because of His great love and passion for our hearts, His children and for His name sake.  To bring us into a greater knowledge and experience of who He is and who we are. I think the more I know the less I know.  Sometimes I think, I know nothing at all but Christ and Him crucified and I need others and the Spirit to remind me of that.  God is the center of our theology.  Christ is our seeing of Him, His love and justice, His mercy and grace, His patience and kindness, His wisdom and compassion, His character.

God is bringing about a love in us, for each other and Him that cannot be slowed down or speeded up, I am convinced.  It is His perfect timing for it all.  He is in no hurry, as His time is not as our time.  A day is but a thousand years.  He melts away our fears of rejection, our judgmental prejudice opinions, our need to be needed and approved,  our hope for a pain free life, little by little and gives us a life more than we could have hoped for or dreamed of.  It is in light of His glory and grace.  We have the perfection we so crave in His perfect righteousness.  The peace we try to maintain.  The acceptance and love we long for.  We have contentment not stoicism.  We have strength we try to muster up.  Forgiveness as we are forgiven.  Repentance as a gift and a faith that trust Him more.  We have a life we tried to control and make happen.  Relationships that are real and treasured.  We have a joy in serving others.  Our loneliness is enveloped.  Our fears slowly reassured.  We endure with patience.  We embrace our brokenness, our limitations, our failures, our past and our pain as He embraces us.  We are anticipating to be surprised by His grace.  We never outgrow our need for grace.  We only grow in our need of it.  We are renewed, we do have hope for change and are humbled once again.  I am His, in His presence at this very moment.  And somehow that seems to be all that really matters now, is Him.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Valley of Vision


LORD, high and holy, meek and lowly, thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.


Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine; Let me find thy light in my darkness, thy life in my death, thy joy in my sorrow, thy grace in my sin, thy riches in my poverty, thy glory in my valley.

Apologize by listening

Do you listen when you apologize?

Published: May 28, 2014
Apologies require us to say something. It could be something as simple as "I'm sorry" or "I shouldn't have done that to you. Will you forgive me?" All of this is as it should be. But sometimes even wise, appropriate words like these miss a crucial step in the process of reconciliation.
That crucial step is listening. When you apologize, it’s as important to listen as it is to speak.
As a counselor, I have the privilege of witnessing people apologize to one another. It is a sweet mercy when the Holy Spirit burdens a person’s heart with the awareness of personal sin, and the person is moved to ask for forgiveness. The problem is that sometimes the apology comes out sounding like a monologue. There is acknowledgement of wrong, promise of better behavior in the future and lots of detail about what the offender has been learning about God, grace, being forgiven, etc.
In the right context, these are wonderful things to hear. But when you do all the talking while apologizing to someone you've hurt, you run an extremely high chance of actually further wounding the person. You see, godly sorrow is not only aware that it has wronged someone, it also seeks to understand the specific, personal damage it has caused. The only way to do this is to ask how your sin has impacted the other person.
If you are in a situation where you need to seek someone’s forgiveness, allow me to make a few suggestions:
  1. Start by speaking briefly. Explain what you’re sorry for with all the clarity, detail and passion you can muster. Name your sins specifically. Avoid vague generalities.
  2. Then aim to listen for the last 90% of the conversation. Ask, “How has my sin impacted you?” It’s probably best to offer the chance to respond now or later because the person may need time to think. “You don’t have to say anything right now. I understand you might not be ready to share. I can wait until you’re ready.” 
  3. Obviously, don’t force a response, but if the offended party is hesitant to respond, you can start with a couple guesses to get the ball rolling.1​“I would really like to understand what this has been like for you. I can only imagine that when I _______, you felt _______. Living with the experience of ______ must have been really ________. But I know that's probably not the half of it. Maybe that's not even in the ballpark. Would you help me understand how what I’ve done has impacted you so I can be truly sorry for the real effects of how I hurt you and learn to change?”
  4. When the one you’ve offended is ready to answer you honestly, your goal is to put yourself in this person’s shoes as you listen. You want to not only hear, but also be moved and grieved by the hurt the other has experienced. 
  5. Close the loop (for now): apologize again, owning the specific damage as your fault. Express both thanks for the person’s honesty and sorrow for the hurt you’ve caused.“That makes sense. I can see why that would be really hard. I have never thought about it that way. I am so sorry for putting you in that position/putting you through that/doing something that made you feel _____, etc.”
Apologies are hard under the best of circumstances. What I’m suggesting makes them harder still. Yet we must listen and be willing to hear how we have hurt another person. In order to do that without collapsing in despair or flying into a defensive rage, we must cling tenaciously to the forgiveness we have been granted from the One we have grieved most deeply. Only when we taste his mercy, despite how horribly our sin impacted him  on the cross, can we own the impact of our failure on others and drown our defensiveness and despair in the ocean of Jesus’ grace.
1 If it is hard for you to imagine what the person may feel, ask a friend what it would be like to deal with the sins you’ve committed. At the very least, this will help prepare you for the emotional impact of hearing yourself as the bad guy in someone else’s story.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Finding Contentment

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New post on Pastor Douglas Graham

Finding Contentment

by Pastor Douglas Graham
Contentment1Phil. 4:11-12 says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Contentment is learned through God’s training school of life. The world will tempt us to be dissatisfied and discontent. It will tell us we always need more. But to be content doesn’t mean that we are free from the cares of life; it means we are free from being controlled by the cares of life.
Instead of having thoughts that are filled with desiring more and more, to be content means our thoughts are filled with the Holy Spirit who is enough.
The challenging situations of life and a humble response to the LORD who uses those challenging situations for our good help us to find contentment.
2 Cor. 1:8-9 says, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
The secret to finding contentment is wrapped up in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
My soul can be content because God is always working for my good and for His glory. I can never control the external events of life, but I can submit my heart and my will to God’s will, and trust Him to bring change, peace, wisdom, strength, direction, and blessings.
The heat of life doesn’t have to control me, the craving desire for more doesn’t have to be my idolatrous lust, instead the Holy Spirit can transform my mind and fill my heart, and the LORD can be the Ruler of my life. It’s then I find contentment.
2 Cor. 12:10 says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Contentment is found only in Christ. Psa. 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
When the heat of life comes I can turn to God and learn from Him, instead of chasing after the wind and fighting for my will to be done. Luke 22:42 says, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
LORD, thank You that You are a God who is enough. You alone are the source of peace and joy. You alone satisfy the cravings of my heart. I humble myself before You.
When life gets “hot,” grant me Your sufficient grace that helps me to live with contentment. In Christ name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for the Military

If you are not in this area hopefully a NAMI meeting for the military, will come near you.  If you have a need, or know of someone who does, have them contact the National, NAMI or the one in your area and request one asap.  This is the beginning of a great thing.  I have found in my own struggle with skitzo effective disorder diagnosis, that education is major in fighting this battle and being equipped to live a healthy life style.  It is not beyond most of our reach.

Our newest NAMI program NAMI Homefront for family members of military service members, reserves, National Guard, and veterans living with mental illness is being taught right here in the Upstate. It will be first NAMI Homefront course taught in the nation! The FREE course will be taught in Pendleton, SC on 3 consecutive Saturdays beginning on June 14 from 9:30 am- 3:30 pm. We'll teach about the major mental illnesses, especially PTSD, understanding trauma, crisis preparation, communication and problem-solving skills, self-care, and will provide dozens of resources for the families. Pre-registration is required and class size is limited to 25 people. Lunch will be provided. To register, contact Michelle Ready, 864-882-5131, or michelleready@hotmail.com. Our website iswww.namiaop.org
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NAMI Anderson - Oconee - Pickens South Carolina is a non-profit family support group dedicated to improving conditions for persons with a mental illness.
NAMIAOP.ORG

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Unforced Rhythms of Grace




Living In The Unforced Rhythms of Grace 

"Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the Unforced Rhythms of Grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life and discover true life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen." —Jesus  Matt 11:28-30

Sunday, May 25, 2014

It is for freedom Christ has set us free!

New Jerusalem Bible
Zephaniah

Zion, have no fear,
do not let your hands fall limp,
Yahweh your God is there with you,
the warrior-Saviour
He will rejoice over you with happy song,
He will renew you by His love,
He will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival.


Would you consider meditating on this with me today and tonight.  Can it be that our God sings, dances with shouts of joy for us!  How amazing is He.  Brennan Manning called it the furious longing of God for His own.  What a delight He is.  Almighty God humbled Himself to come and rescue us.  I am in awe of the grace, that I was born in a time in history as this.  In my family. I am so thankful for how well I am doing.  I have my health, I have food to eat and a roof over my head, but there are those who don't have a home and God is using them in more ways to spread the gospel, that we can imagine.  His goodness is seen by His mighty hand.  If you cannot see His hand trust His heart.  I like that one.  Find true contentment and love and purpose your heart longs for in trusting in Him.  Simply tell Him when you don't.  Ask Him to increase your faith, read your bible.  Pray for the Spirit to teach you.  Get with friends who love you and the Lord.  Ask them for encouragement to believe.   As far as you are concerned and those in your life, He created it, He can handle it.  Some days it is praying for grace to make it and putting one foot in front of the other one.  It is not always this great strength and joy.  It is being able to get through my day and trust Him with even that. I remember what my friend Penny says no matter what is going on in her life, every day is a gift.   Then I remind myself, He has brought you thus far, He will carry you home.  Our true home, with perfect rest and peace and joy.  But we can taste this Promise Land here on earth by trusting Him and resting in His finished work for us, His Son.

May we encourage one another in the faith to press on with His faith and keep our eyes on the One who is faithful.  This holiday may we not only remember those who fought and gave their lives for our freedom in this country, but remember this is a picture of Christ who fought the awful blood, horrible suffering, rejection battle and won the victory over sin and death and evil for us on the cross.  He felt our pain.  He bore our suffering, guilt and shame.  By His stripes we are healed.  He came to set the captives free, us!  May we live more and more in this freedom and victory that is ours in Christ.  It is by His perfect life, His blood, His death but also His resurrection, the Gospel of Christ,  that give us life, hope, love and freedom to live and even to die.  Knowing He has had victory over death for us.  Those who are His, have eternal life with Him forevermore.

Our Warrior-Saviour has come.

Friday, May 23, 2014

He Captures our Heart


His mercies are new every morning.

This is milk in my mothers beautiful chrystal.  My husband loves milk.  We have to buy a gallon every few days.  If he were to try to hold on to it, even though he loves it and it is good for him, it would turn sour.

Sometimes we try to hold on to things that have meant a lot to us or even that God really used in our lives.  I think of my children.  They meant the world to me.  When they grew up I had to let them go. I had to trust God with them.  The truth of the matter is, they were only on loan to me anyway.  They were really His children.  We can even make others to dependent on us.  This is one reason I have given you many resources through the past week.  I want you to have many ways to point you to God.

When the things in our lives become ours and not His, then we have turned even a good thing bad, for us.  It is, what has captured your heart.  The good thing or God?  Is He still first in your life or have you taken things into your own hands.  Have you put your trust in it and not Him.  Have you thought, if I only have this, I will have life.  Only Jesus brings life.  It is painful to let the things we hold on go, but knowing His love for me, eases the pain of it all.  Once again He has captured my heart, so I can let go and trust Him to lead me in a new direction, even better than before.

The Lord ask the Rich Young Ruler to leave his riches and to follow Him.  He left away sad.  Jesus wants to be our greatest treasure.  When He is not, He reminds us, we are His greatest treasure and our hearts melt.  We want nothing in our lives that does not bring Him glory and total love of our hearts.  We can try to hang on, but God is about doing a new thing.  Scripture is full of it.  I wonder if He knew our tendency to hold on to things some where along the line, so it has to be continually  stripped from our grip.  From our heart.

His mercies are new every morning.  I think He knew the things of this world would tempt us and make our days hard, so He gives His mercy to us fresh each day.  He gives His grace, not for yesterday or tomorrow but for right now, in this moment, for today to say Jesus you are my treasure.  The Greatest Treasure of my heart.  I give it, the thing I have tried to hold on to,  back to you now.

God gave me back my children and I love my relationship with them now.  But if I had tried to hold on, I would have sucked the life out of them.  I would have hindered their relationships with each other and their dad.

  My marriage was the same way.  I tried to hold on.   As I have trusted the Lord in my marriage and released it to Him, I have begun to love my husband in ways, for a selfish person, are not possible.  And that is who, left to myself, I am.  God is changing me though and I am resting, that I am His greatest treasure.  So when I fail, and I do, I know the love the Father has for me in sending His Son, His Treasure.  The love the Son has in giving me, His perfect life on the cross and His Spirit.  It brings a rest and a comfort to do what I cannot do.  Jesus brings life again in new measure.  Once again, I cannot fathom the depths of His grace to me.  So even in the dying process of opening my hands and heart and releasing to Him what I cannot keep, I can remember, there will be a new song in my heart and He will give me a place to sing it, I know.  And even if He doesn't...He is more than enough for me.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” 
― Jim Elliot

You have loved me and prayed for me and I want you to know I am doing well and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  It is an abundant joy for me to share Jesus with you.  You are such great friends and it humbles me the love and faithfulness of the Father to me, in putting you in my life at this time.  May it all be for His glory.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Then and Now Series, see note at the end of the article, thanks

Testimony of what faith in God can do for you and others

Unless you grew up in a home or a church that taught the stories of the great missionaries you may not have heard of George Muller.
This was the case for me, until I came upon a series of books in my church bookstore by Janet and Geoff Benge called Christian Heroes: Then and Now.
My bedtime tradition is to read to my children and I wanted to find a series of books that would be enjoyable for them to listen to, as well as edifying. This series by Janet and Geoff Benge is both.
The story of George Muller was one of the first books I read to my children from the series and we quickly realized we had much to learn about faith.

Converted by God

There is a difference between believing things about God and putting one’s faith in God. We can know a lot about God, His character, His Word, and His promises, but it is empty knowledge until what we know translates into how we live.
Faith is living out in real action what we believe about God. George Muller had faith in God and he saw God do the impossible.
George Muller was born in Kroppenstaedt, Prussia in 1805. He spent the first years of his life as a thief and a liar, not out of necessity but simply because he enjoyed the thrill. At the request of his father, George enrolled in Germany’s Halle University as a divinity student on track to become a Lutheran pastor.
Lutheran pastor’s were well paid and respected and George Muller saw a church congregation as easy prey for his manipulative tactics.
One night George attended a small Bible meeting with a friend and the Holy Spirit began to work on his heart. After returning to the Bible meeting several times, he knelt by his bed and asked God to forgive him of his sins through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This transformation was immediately evident in George’s life. He gave up his old ways of partying, drinking, gambling, and cheating people out of money.
The man who lived his whole life in selfish pursuits now loved God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loved others more than himself (Luke 10:27).

On mission for God

Shortly after George became a Christian he decided to be a missionary. He married a woman named Mary Groves, and the couple eventually found themselves in Bristol, England.
One day as George was walking through the city he came upon a young beggar girl, who was about five years old. She was carrying her younger brother on her back.
She asked George for a shilling. As he spoke with her he discovered her mother had died of cholera and her father had never returned from the mines. She and her brother were living on the streets.[1]
George gave her a shilling, but as she walked away, she took more than George’s money with her–she took his heart. From that moment George belonged to the orphans living on the streets of Bristol and there were many of them.
Due to the close quarters of the city and the poor sanitation, diseases spread quickly and epidemics were common. This left many children without either parent or anyone else to care for them.

The practical Gospel

George and his wife, Mary, began a “Breakfast Club” out of their home where orphaned children could get a hot meal and hear of the love of Jesus.
This “Breakfast Club” grew to be five large houses which, over the years, were called “home” by over ten thousand orphans. The “Muller Houses” were the first orphanages in Bristol.
The Church has always been full of people who believe God can do all He says in His Word, but only a few who believe God will do all He says in His Word. How often do we come before the throne of God in doubt?
Our doubt makes a horrible accusation against the character of God. It says He is unconcerned about our desires. Even while we are entreating upon His help, we are already contriving our own solutions in our own strength.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5 (ESV)
George Muller believed God. He and his wife ran an orphanage that provided for the needs of thousands of children without ever asking a man or woman for a shilling. They never held a fundraiser, a capital campaign, or took out a loan.
The only one they asked anything of was God. They believed God would provide and God did. Time and time again, money or physical items were donated to the orphanage as a direct answer to prayer. Often it was the exact amount of money or the exact item specifically prayed for.

God’s provision illustrated

One story in particular stood out to me. One morning George was in his office meeting with his assistant when he was interrupted by a matron of one of the orphan houses.
She informed him the children were at the table ready for breakfast but there wasn’t anything to eat. George got up to head to the dining hall.
But first he grabbed the eight year old daughter of a friend who was visiting the orphanage and told her they were “going to see what God would do.”
When they arrived at the dining hall, the little girl was shocked to see the children standing at tables set with empty plates and cups. George prayed a simple prayer with the children,
Dear God, we thank you for what you are going to give us to eat. Amen.
The children took their seats. Moments later, there was a knock at the door. A baker had arrived with trays of beautiful bread claiming he hadn’t been able to sleep the night before and was compelled to bake bread for the orphanage.
God had been working the night before to answer the prayer George would pray that morning. After the bread had been given to the children there was another knock at the door.
A milkman had a broken wheel on his cart, which was parked right outside the orphanage. In order to fix the cart he needed to lighten the heavy load of milk it was carrying.
He asked if the orphanage could use the milk free of charge. There was enough milk for every child and then some. Later, the friends of George Muller’s, whose eight year old daughter had witnessed God’s direct answer to prayer told him their little girl never finished a prayer without adding, “Like you do for George Muller.”[2]

Can God provide?

When we read a story like the one above we are tempted to see it as an exception or out of the ordinary. George Muller’s entire life was marked by stories like this one (Matthew 6:25-33).
George knew what God had told him to do–seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness first. George knew what God had promised He would do, provide for all of George’s needs.
George simply believed God wouldn’t fail on a promise. To us, it may appear George Muller had been given a special privilege, being allowed to live every day in the miraculous provision of God, but that is not how George Muller saw it.
He didn’t see God’s faithfulness as out of the ordinary, but as more reliable than the rising and setting of the sun. George Muller loved God and loved the Word of God.
The extraordinary life of faith he lived overflowed from His relationship with God. Spending time with God wasn’t a duty George checked off his list. It was his very life and the time He spent with God had great effect on him.
But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in Him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer–this happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ. – George Muller.
Like Paul, George counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord (Philippians 3:8). God promises to meet our needs.
He understands we need food, shelter, and clothing, but most of us are tempted to get caught up in building our earthly kingdoms.

Trusting God

George and his wife never kept more money than they needed, neither did they waste one minute acquiring earthly treasures. When George Muller died he had only one hundred sixty pounds in his estate, yet, it is estimated he was the steward of almost one and a half million pounds during his lifetime.[3]
George wasn’t concerned with building his own kingdom. All his efforts, time, money, and talent went to building God’s kingdom and God kept His promise to provide for his needs.
God receives the honor and glory when we live for His kingdom and trust Him for our earthly needs. George Muller’s life wasn’t perfect or easy.
He buried an infant son, two wives, and his daughter, but George’s life was extraordinary because He had faith in an extraordinary God.
I have to ask myself, do I live every day in the reality of God’s promises? Whose kingdom am I building? I am asking God to take me deeper in my faith and to expose those areas I am trusting in my own strength or wisdom.
I pray my life will be a reflection of God’s faithfulness as George Muller’s was and continues to be today.
Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. – George Muller
This post was made available through Counseling Solutions with Rick Thomas.  Rick writes counseling articles so you can learn to counsel your own heart and others.  He brings the Gospel of Christ into everyday life.  Check it out.  He also has a website you can join for $5 a month and get numerous articles and webinars as well as a forum.

Click to learn more about the Christian Heroes – Then and Now Series
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    Wednesday, May 21, 2014

    Where will you walk? Who will you touch today?


    A while back, as I plan my day with the Lord, I began asking Him, "Lord who do I love today".  I am an encourager.  I think it is because of how much I need encouragement and know how much it means to me, so I think maybe others need encouragement also.  This world, our circumstances and people beat us down.  We have to deal with our own flesh and the devil and it can take a tole on a body.  We become discouraged, hopeless, and desperate.  But the Lord rescues and delivers.  He sends encouragement and truth our way.  Will He love someone through you today?  Will He build up His body through you?  If we encourage one person a day, and it will grow, in a year that is 365 times we have encouraged others.  It is the small steps forward in faith, that count.  Giving someone the love of Jesus.

    He will give you the people, the creative ideas, the strength and the time.  It maybe a smile at the person at the checkout counter who has been there since 4 in the morning. I happened to have a coat hanger in my car I could give to a man in the parking lot, who had locked his keys in the car.  A woman the other day was attempting to push two carts of groceries and her child.  Such a joy to help.  It is the same ways of saying you matter and I care, Jesus cares.  The person at the drive through.  Or someone in your family or friends.  Someone you haven't thought of in a long time.

    The other day I thought of two people I wanted to give a gift to.  I knew what I wanted to get and where to find it.  There was circumstances where I could not go.  I went home and waited on the Lord.  Two gifts I had bought earlier in the year, on sale, came to mind.  They fit perfectly.  Then yesterday I went to check on a friend.  Her phone line had been out for days.  I took her two packs of beef that my husband had killed a calf on our farm.  She was delighted.  Many times it is something I have on hand.  Maybe a text or a phone call. I buy flowers at the grocery store I love.  I keep note cards on hand.  I go to the dollar store and search the isles for cards. I buy candy after holidays and give to special people.  I look for things I really like on sale. I found some verses on wood the other day half price.  I bought me one and a friend.  It maybe doing the dishes for your wife or putting the kids to bed. Or a hug and a smile when you come in through the door after a long day at work.  Writing your husband a sticky note of how much you appreciate him or making his favorite meal.   It is fun and I enjoy being with the Lord in doing it.  I listen to people for ideas in what might be a blessing to them.

    We give out of an abundance not a need.  We love because He first loved us.  It is more blessed to give than receive.  When we have been in the presence of the Almighty and have received His extravagant love for us we can't help but send encouragement and love to someone in our path.  It is an overflow.  It is not that we need them to think we are great but that He has great love for them.  Life is short.  Love someone today.  You can make a difference.  We are His hands and His feet.  Where will you walk and who will you touch today?

    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    For those who love to encourage and those who need it.





    It will take just 60 seconds to read this and change your thinking..
    Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
    One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.
    His bed was next to the room's only window.
    The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
    The men talked for hours on end.
    They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on
    vacation..
    Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
    The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
    The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color
    and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
    As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
    One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
    Although the other man could not hear the band -he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with
    descriptive words.
    Days, weeks and months passed.One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body
    of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
    She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
    As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left
    him alone.
    Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.
    It faced a blank wall.
    The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this
    window.
    The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
    She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'
    Epilogue:
    There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.
    'Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .'

    Monday, May 19, 2014

    Testing the Spirits

    This is a devotional from my friend and co writer Martha Langley. We write on the website but she does the Whispers of God on fb. Check it out. Great writings.
    Are you testing the spirits?

    We are constantly bombarded with messages and information and advice and even counsel. Ideas come into our heads which seem so right and maybe even, to us, brilliant. The world around us is pushing towards every new technology, every new fad and fashion. What's hot. What's cool. What's passe. We feel pressed to keep up. To perform or respond or change. Then there are the news reports of things tragic and alarming. But also things that elicit ire, or perhaps even inspire. Literally our minds and emotions are like buoys in the ocean being tossed by the waves.

    The Bible says that our faith can be like this also. If we are not anchored down in truth, we can be tossed about by every wind of doctrine. The new book which promises that author has found the key to success. The speaker whose life was such a mess and now s/he can tell us how to live our lives without pain or loss. The singer whose talent is so admirable.

    Don't get me wrong. God calls and uses people in many ways to share the good news of salvation and new life in Christ. But He also knew that we would be assailed with how-tos and this-is-the-ways and what-ifs which would pull us away from His gospel: The simplicity of Christ. Trusting Jesus alone: Jesus alone to save. Jesus alone to lead. Jesus alone to deliver and transform. Jesus alone to keep our faith ...

    So what do we do? When we have that startling idea or hear that "new" message, or see someone whose ministry is off the charts and we wonder if we should be following her/him? We test the spirits. We take everything to God FIRST. "Father, is this You? Would you please give me confirmation? Make my heart lean hard in the direction You want me to go. Take away any voices or vices which are lies or would in the slightest way steal me from following purely Jesus."

    Many, many times I can feel so excited--certain that I've hit on something great. Then when I pray and ask, "God, is this You? If it is, then press me harder, and if not, then let me not even remember it," He does exactly that. He either keeps bringing it to mind, or later, I can't even remember what it was I was asking Him about.

    "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God...." (1 John 4:1)