Ignite Your Faith With These Names Of God

By FaithNo Comments

By Debbie W. Wilson | August 16, 2018


Knowing the different biblical names of God provides confidence when we face various challenges. Knowing Jesus called Himself “the Resurrection and the Life” reassured me when I faced a scary medical situation. I realized the Lord is bigger than any prognosis. He has conquered even death.

Below are six names of God and what they mean for us today.

  1. My Shepherd

“My shepherd; I have all that I need” (Ps. 23:1 NLT).

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who sacrificed his life for His sheep (Jn. 10:11). When we trust Jesus for salvation we become part of God’s flock. Knowing Jesus is my shepherd reminds me I am safe and secure because the Lord Himself is watching over me, defending me, and providing for my needs.

  1. Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7 NIV).

I discovered these Scriptures early in my Christian walk. They have rescued me countless times from anxious thoughts and feelings. When I tell God my worries and thank Him for His care, He gives me peace. I’ve found that praying with thanksgiving is very different from worrying on my knees. (I wrote a whole chapter on this in Give Yourself a Break.)

  1. The God of Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 NIV).

Author Hal Lindsey said, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.” Hope makes the difference in how we live. It’s also determined whether some people survived ordeals like concentration camps.

If God is the source of our hope then we have an endless supply—no matter how grim our circumstances appear. Notice, hope is released “as we trust in Him.” Faith in Christ, not in our idea of how things should turn out, activates hope.

  1. Wonderful Counselor (Is. 9:6)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:5-8 NLT).

Our Lord already knows our needs, the future, and how to handle every situation. But He tells us to ask for wisdom. God wants a relationship with us. He uses our needs to draw us to Himself. We see again the role faith plays in activating God’s promises. Faith doesn’t mean feeling sure we know the right thing to do but being sure God will keep His promise and direct our steps. As always, God is the object of our faith.

  1. The Vine (Jn. 15:1, 5)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5 NIV).

Jesus calls us to abide in Him. When we do, His life flows through us and we bear fruit. Often, we reverse this order. We feel driven to achieve in order to prove our worth and find meaning in life. Abiding in Him and having His Word is in us makes us fruitful. Otherwise, we produce thorns! When we question our calling or value, remembering Jesus is the vine gets us back on track. My life has purpose and meaning because His life flows through me.

  1. I AM

Perhaps the name He gave Moses says it all (Ex. 3:14). “I AM” is God’s way of saying, “I am whatever you need.” Jesus is the great I AM who is able to meet every need (Jn. 8:58).

Question:  Which of His names is special to you? I’d love to hear a personal favorite.

Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog www.debbieWwilson.com

 

Evaluating What You’re Pouring Into

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By Emily P Meyer | July 28, 2018


Do you have a focus word for the year? For the past few years, I’ve asked the Lord to show me one word to hone in on, and He has. It’s been such a blessing to keep that mostly between Him and me until the year’s end. A new thing I’ve done this year is to also ask for a word to focus on each month. One of my monthly focus words God has had me concentrating on is: Pouring.

 

One aspect of pouring that I’m dwelling on is being intentional with whom or what I’m pouring into. As a millenial, there are so many different things that I could choose to pour myself into. My generation is one that is inspired to join initiatives to make the world a better place. There are many good things with which to join forces. In fact, there are so many good things to jump on board with that if I’m not careful, I could quickly get burnt out. In truth, I have had to scale back a time or two and ask myself the game-changing question, “Is this my best yes right now?”

IMPACT

As I gain wisdom and maturity, I am finding that to make the most impact, I need to be choosier with my commitments. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize that I’ve had an impact a mile wide and an inch deep. No, I want the bulk of my impact to run much deeper. Sometimes having the greatest impact means moving slower and being more selective. It also means focusing on what God has called us to tend to, not what He has called others to tend to.

 

God calls us to steward the treasures He has given us to produce a harvest for His Kingdom; He hasn’t called us to steward the treasures He has given someone else. My harvest will look different than your harvest. Your harvest will look different than Beth Moore’s harvest. Beth Moore’s harvest will look different than the harvest of a school teacher who has 25 new students each year. The point is that He has trusted us to pour into the people and movements that He has set before us and not to compare to what or whom He has given those beside us to pour into.

 

In the parable of the talents from Matthew 25, to the two servants who actually invested the Master’s treasure, he said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

 

He said this same thing twice: once to the servant who yielded five more bags of gold and once to the servant who yielded two more bags of gold. Their yield was different, but their faithfulness to the Master was the same. There were different opportunities before each of them to invest, but their reward was the same: the blessing of the Master.

INVEST

You and I have different people and places before us to invest in as well, but our reward for our faithful stewardship of pouring into the people and places God has set before us can be the same: the blessing of the Master.

 

What I want to encourage you with today is this: when you pour out what God has given you to pour into others, don’t be discouraged if your reach looks different than someone else’s reach. Be faithful where you are with who has been set before you to pour deep amounts of Jesus into. God will use what you’re pouring out if He Himself is the One who poured it into you. When you question your impact or get overwhelmed by all the things that you could spread yourself thin by saying, “Yes, yes, yes, and more yeses” to, ask yourself whose strength in which you’re serving.

Also, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the people and areas that you can best serve right now and to release you from any guilt in not being able to join all the opportunities available.

 

When you have to say “no” to something good, it’s not only so you can say your greatest “yes,” it’s also so someone else can say “yes” to that thing you had to say “no” to.

 

One of the greatest realizations of being a faithful steward is to come to the realization that you are not God… you can’t do it all. That’s why rejoicing in the Kingdom yields of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is just as sweet as rejoicing in the impact you have for Christ. None of us are capable of doing all the things, we’re capable of doing the select things for our chunk of history that God has called us to not just do, but to do well. We’re capable because God is more than capable to give us the strength and resources needed to do the things He has called us to do.

 

Be choosy with your yeses. Celebrate with the victories that come from others’ yeses. Pour into the people and movements God has set before you well. And serve only with the blessing of the Master, Jesus, as your hoped-for reward.

For more wonderful articles visit Emily’s website  http://www.emilypmeyer.com

The Ultimate Planner In Me

By FaithNo Comments

By Nicole Newson | July 24, 2018


Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a serious planner! I love to-do lists and checklists. Seriously highlighting and checking things off my lists as complete brings about a sense of accomplishment in me. I’ve never been the most spontaneous person. It stresses me out to not have some idea about what is to happen next…

 

For example, The other day Wesley, my husband, says as he is getting ready, we are going to go to the movies in a little bit. HUH? Wait a minute! All the questions swirling in my mind- what are we going to see, what time does the movie start, are we eating before or after the movie, which theatre are we going to? My husband is much less of a planner and much more of a “we’ll figure it out when we get there type of person.”

Details

I’m not ridiculous in my expectations, I just would like to know some details prior to so I’m not wasting time. In the end, my need for prior planning saved us from standing in a super long line for tickets and we got two great seats that I picked out in advance.

 

The funny thing that I joke about in God creating me as a planner is that He rarely allows things to work out exactly the way I have them planned. I think sometimes God looks down at me and chuckles. He may even throw in a “bless her heart she really thinks she’s controlling everything.”

 

The other day I met with a friend to just catch up and little did I know that this meeting would leave me more inspired than ever. My friend shared that her husband had lost his job about a month or so prior and it put them in a tight place financially. She said she really had to take on the “Israelites, quail, and mana” thought process. She had to look at each day and say ok mortgage is paid, we have food in the fridge, and all bills that are due by today have been paid- thank you God and leave it at that. The way God sent down enough quail and mana, just enough for each day speaks volumes. My friend had to say I have what I need for today. She mentioned if she even thought any further than just what that day needed it would stress her completely out. This was a good reminder for the planner in me.

 

Interestingly enough earlier that same day I met with my mentor for breakfast, and she told me about a skiing trip she and her husband took many years ago. She said it was an incredibly foggy day out on the slopes making it impossible to see all the way down. Her husband said, ok see that spot a little way down let’s just ski to that spot, and then once they made it there they would pick another spot not too far down and ski there until they made it successfully down the whole slope. She said the next day the sky was clear and randomly enough she fell more times trying to go down the clear slope than the one where they could barely see the way.

 

 

Two relevant messages in one day for the planner in me- interesting God! Maybe there are times God only gives us just what we need little by little? Could maybe seeing the entire picture cause us to fall or maybe even become cocky and think we don’t need his guidance because “we’ve got this?”

 

I don’t fully know His reasons but I’m glad to know God is THE ultimate planner and His word says,

For I know the plans I have for you- this is the Lord’s declaration- plans for your welfare, not for your disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Visit Nicole at www.Idowediditsdone.com and Twitter @Idowediditsdone

Did He Really Say That?

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By Kolleen Lucariello | July 19, 2018


Not too long ago I bit into a milk chocolate-caramel made by Dove Chocolates for the very first time. I don’t know how these delicious little smooth-as-butter candies and I hadn’t met before, but we hadn’t had the opportunity to meet. That is, until I was on a writer’s retreat and I popped one into my mouth. Oh my goodness—I couldn’t get enough. My taste buds danced and then asked for another, which I willingly gave into. The problem was, they continued to ask and I was happy to oblige the request. Struggling to walk away from the temptation, I overindulged.

 

I also forgot about the warning I’d been given by the doctor in the emergency room I’d been to just a few months earlier. I’d found myself in the ER after a night of chest pains and a trip to my doctor’s office caused him to shove a few nitroglycerin pills under my tongue and call 911. Thankfully, tests confirmed my heart was fine, but acid reflux was causing a severe GERD attack. It was severe all right. Once the doctors in the ER were able to get the pain under control they released me with a prescription, as well as a lengthy list of foods I should avoid. I was faithful to the list for many weeks following the attack.

 

I hadn’t had any chocolate for months – until Dove chocolate came into my life. Just one bite and I completely forgot about the doctor’s orders. I began to doubt chocolate was even on the list. Did the doctor really say, ‘no chocolate?’ None? Ever? One bite isn’t going to hurt, is it? How much is too much? And when one bite didn’t seem to bother anything, I had one more. And one more. And one more. Until several nights after my first indulgence, I began to notice a slight discomfort in my chest.

The warning had been true. Just as the warning God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden had been true.

 

He told them they could have anything they wanted – except the apple. And then the crafty serpent came to the woman and, speaking these words, cast doubt, “Can it be that God really said” (Genesis 3:1, AMP)? In the same way, he crept into Eve’s mind, causing doubt and mistrust, he’s still creeping today. Satan convinced Eve God was holding out on her and she took what He told her she couldn’t have. He knew the outcome would bring death. “You can have anything… except this” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine).

 

He hasn’t changed one bit; he’s still casting the same shadow of doubt in our minds today as he whispers, “did God really say?” The last thing our adversary wants is for God’s children to walk in obedience. When I allow my mind to wander into a field of doubt that God knows best, I lose sight of what I have and instead, focus on what I feel is missing. Every single time that happens I reach out and take that which He hasn’t planned for me because He knows it isn’t best for me.

 

Doubt is defined as: to be uncertain about (something): to believe that (something) may not be true or is unlikely: to have no confidence in (someone or something) (Merriam-webster.com). We must be extremely cautious when listening to the whispers of the subtle snake. He wants us to have no confidence in God, or in our ability to obey Him. The doubt that he brings to our minds is an enemy to our true identity in Christ.

Thankfully, I was able to set aside the Dove chocolates before the pain became too severe. As we allow God to change our identity—one letter at a time—let’s be sure to set aside doubt before we accept Satan’s lie as God’s truth.

 

When you begin to travel down the “Did God really say?” path, it’s time to get out His Instruction Manual and discover for yourself.

 

#BeYou  Self-controlled

Visit Kolleen’s website for more inspiration and encouragement:  http://www.speakkolleen.com/

Kolleen is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. available on Amazon.com

How To Begin Your New Mentoring Relationship

By MentoringNo Comments

When did the members of the church in America start drifting so far apart? How will the mature believer reconnect relationships with the younger believer? No matter what the size or denomination of the church, today’s Christ follower across the generations can see this problem, but no one knows what to do to change it.

What’s the solution?

After thirty-five years of meeting with people one on one to talk about loneliness and feeling disconnected, I believe I have the answer.

We need to develop a church body and community that is willing to be active in a face-to-face mentoring relationship with each other.  This is the missing link for the church and our entire society.

 

In a world that is increasingly impersonal and systematized, the younger millennials are hungry for the opportunity to connect with others. They desire to build a gut-honest relationship with a mature Christ follower who can speak life into their hearts and souls.

At the same time, the older generation is wondering if God has forgotten them and how they can make a difference.

We are at a crossroads. Will the older generation stand in the gap and mentor the next generation for Christ? Will the younger generation trust the older generation again?

Mentoring is a win-win situation: Younger believers are encouraged and grow, and mature Christians find a new purpose.

You may be asking, “Why bother? What’s in it for me?”

God gives us the answer in His Word. Let’s look at Proverbs 11:25

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

Who doesn’t need to be refreshed and encouraged?

You may not have even heard of the word or concept of “mentoring” before reading this article. Therefore, you may be asking, “What is a mentor and what does a mentoring relationship look like?”

A mentor is someone further along in their walk with God and continually growing in their faith. This is a person who is willing to listen and help another believer identify and maximize their strengths and giftedness, discover God’s purpose for their life and “flesh out” the day-to-day reality of the Christian walk. Not parenting. Not preaching. Not coaching. But walking alongside.

A mentoring relationship is intentional and life-giving.

The best results happen when the two meet together for one hour a week to discuss life issues, be vulnerable, be encouraged and pray in a safe place with a safe person.

 

I believe mentoring isn’t just a nice idea. It’s critical for your growth—professionally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Mentoring can make the difference between success and significance. Between doing and becoming.

Maybe God is prompting you to start a mentoring relationship. Now is the time to reach out to the next generation and share your God stories.

Just like anything we do for the Lord, it will take intentionality, planning, and prayer.

Above all, spiritual growth always happens best in relationships.

 God created us to learn from and support one another. To stick together in life’s darkest moments. To celebrate and cheer each other on. Whatever season you’re in, now is the time to step out and begin seeking a mentoring relationship.

Here are 5 Steps to beginning your Mentoring Relationship:

1. Prayer

Begin praying for the Holy Spirit to move in a mighty way as you begin an

awareness for your mentoring relationship.

Pray without ceasing for God to go ahead of you with this mentoring journey.

2.Pass it On

Start planting the seed and having intentional mentoring conversations with your

friends, small church group, Bible studies and at get-togethers.

Ask if there is anyone who has already experienced a mentoring relationship and

encourage them to share their God stories with you and others.

3.Plan ahead

Mentoring face-to-face is a life changer. Invest in the Millennials and see the

incredible results. We serve a Big God. Plan Big but start small.

4.Pause

Take your time. Don’t rush into things. Pause. Slow down. Seek God with every

conversation and He will guide you on the mentoring path.

5. Pour into others

Certainly, be intentional and authentic. Share your God story.

Be an encourager and motivator.

 

“Instead of waiting for someone to take you under their wing, go out and find a good wing to climb under.” –Dave Thomas

Mentoring isn’t a formula or a checklist; it’s a relationship. May you be brave enough to be vulnerable, strong enough to reach out, and may you meet God in new ways as you connect with others on your mentoring relationship journey.  

  For more information on mentoring relationships click https://www.jaymeleehull.com/2017/07/18/seven-ways-to-have-a-successful-mentoring-relationship/

Extravagant Gratitude

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By Denise Loock | July 17, 2018


The risk was great, the ridicule inevitable. But she went to the Pharisee’s feast anyway because the love in her heart couldn’t be contained. She had to see Jesus, had to express her gratitude.

In her arms she carried an alabaster jar filled with perfume. She pushed her way through the crowd that had gathered outside the Pharisee’s home to watch the spectacle.

 

As she moved toward the guests seated at the tables, she heard the whispers: “What is she doing here? She’s unclean. A sinner. How dare she contaminate a Pharisee’s home this way?”

 

She spotted Jesus and hurried toward him. Before the other guests could stop her, she knelt at Jesus’s feet. The fragrance of the perfume spread through the room as soon as she removed the stopper. More whispers. “What’s she doing? Whaa—?”

 

Tears flowed down the woman’s cheeks and onto Jesus’s feet. She loosened her hair and bent low, drying his feet with her hair, then pouring perfume on them, kissing them, and wiping them again.

 

Simon, the host of the dinner party, was incensed. The woman was a sinner. How he despised her!

 

Jesus was moved with compassion. The woman was a sinner. How he loved her!

 

Jesus then offered Simon a chance to repent by telling the story of the two debtors. But Simon’s heart was too hard to recognize his debt and receive the forgiveness Jesus offered. The woman, on the other hand, knew all too well the enormity of her sin and her need for forgiveness. Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven … Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:48, 50).

 

Wholehearted Devotion

This story convicts me. How often am I more like the Pharisee than the unnamed woman? How often do I stand in judgment, thinking only of someone’s past or unconventional worship style? How often do I honor Jesus with a public display of affection like Simon’s dinner party but not with wholehearted devotion like the woman’s humble act?

 

Jesus told Simon, “He who has been forgiven little loves little.” Do you see yourself as one who has been forgiven much or forgiven little?

“Oh, Lord, help us be more fully aware of our need for your mercy and grace. And may that awareness make us more devoted to you and more compassionate to others. Amen.”

 

Next Step: Read Luke 7:36–50. Ask the Lord to reveal to you ways that you can be less like Simon and more like the unnamed woman.

 

For more inspiration and encouragement visit Denise Loock at http://www.digdeeperdevotions.com

Does It Need To Be Perfect?

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By Kolleen Lucariello | June 28, 2018


My four-year-old granddaughter loves to draw. Personally, I think she is very talented! I could never draw like she can at the age of four. (Whom am I kidding? I can’t draw like she can at 54!) She’s decided when she spends the day with her “Meemster”—as she so lovingly has nicknamed me—she’d like paper, crayons, and colored pencils handy – she has some creating to do.

 

On a recent visit, after asking her to pick out a letter of the alphabet to work on, she chose the letter S as our letter of the day; while I found coloring sheets and a few crafts for her.

 

 

Handing her the schoolhouse picture to color, cut and paste she asked, “Does it have to be perfect?” Stunned by her question I replied, “Oh my goodness! No. Absolutely not, sweet girl, just do your best; that’s all you need to do – your best!” I was crushed for her as these thoughts ran through my mind, Really? At the age of four, she is already worried about being perfect? How does this happen? So to relieve some pressure off of her, I began to explain some of the realities of perfectionism. I gave her a rundown on perfection and explained that God was the only perfect One. As I continued my pep talk, she hummed happily to herself and continued to create her masterpiece. Within a short time I heard, “There. It’s perfect.” Oh great. She didn’t hear a word I said I thought to myself. I failed to help her understand she didn’t need it to be perfect until I walked over and took a look at her perfect schoolhouse.

 

That’s when I saw…

 

The reds on each section were different colors of red.

The sides had uneven cuts.

There was a torn piece from one edge.

She hadn’t colored the windows, at all.

 

But it was perfect. As I looked at her picture the Lord began to reveal my faulty view of perfect. Honestly, I liked Emery’s view better. There was no stress involved with her idea of perfect. She wasn’t worried about pleasing others, nor did she care about the opinion of others. Yes, I liked her idea of perfect, and I hoped she would hold onto it forever.

 

But, I know that won’t happen. Someone will come along and reveal to her what the human standard of perfect really is. Then it will become much more difficult for her to color with different shades and call it perfect. She will work to make sure the cuts are even and the edges are “just right.” She may even feel pressured to color what she’d like to leave alone simply because she will one day discover a different standard of perfection than what she has now. The struggle will be as real for her as it is for me to fight against the pull of perfectionism.

 

Well—perfectionism according to the world’s standards that is. I’ve tried and found it’s impossible to live up to the perfection others expect. There’s just too much pressure in that, don’t you think? As we seek to change our identity—one letter at a time—let’s choose the mindset of Paul and continue to “…press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12, NLT) for our own self, but refuse to evaluate others from a human point of view (2 Corinthians 5:16, NLT). Instead, when we’re tempted to strive for perfection in others, let’s pray for eyes to see them perfectly through the eyes of Christ.

 

#BeYou

C-Christ-sighted.

Visit Kolleen’s website for more inspiration and encouragement:  http://www.speakkolleen.com/

Kolleen is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. available on Amazon.com

Finding Value In Having A Heart To Heart Again

By FaithNo Comments

By Emily P Meyer | June 27, 2018


Phone calls used to be easier to fit in the schedule. In fact, you didn’t really have to schedule phone calls like you do now unless you were some high rise corporate executive. This was all before Smartphones, of course. Before texting, emailing, facebooking, instagramming, and all the other “ings” that have made it easier to communicate with many, yet taken away from some of the value that is to be found in the one on one heart to heart conversations with good friends by voice and presence. There is value to be found in the face to face or ear to ear conversation.

 

Words are less calculated in the face to face and ear to ear conversations. With these kinds of conversations, what’s on the heart flows more organically into another heart that knowingly or unknowingly needs it’s own life pumping vessel to be given little bouts of CPR when heart to hearts happen.

 

Short or long written messages can be carefully crafted to speak life over others to be sure. But having an actual conversation with another human being that knows you, wants to know you more, and even wants you to know them more is something that cannot quite be captured on the keys.

 

As a busy mama of a toddler, I am always thwarting phone calls (especially business ones that can be put into an email) and protecting our family schedule. I cannot easily pick up the phone in the middle of my day, nor can many of my friends. Meeting up with a friend takes lots of effort and planning in reality. Phone calls and lunch outings take intentionality and scheduling to make room for a heart to heart.

 

Lately, I’ve found that as ludicrous as it sounds, sometimes it also takes courage to accept where I am in my day and to accept that the conversation may not have the loosey-goosey time allowances the once did, and to pick up the phone or grab a quick coffee with a friend anyway.

 

I still can’t take as many phone calls or jump in the car to meet someone for a latte like I used to, but more and more, I’m realizing that I need to add these sorts of opportunities for good heart to hearts back into my life. I bet you could benefit from these things, too.

 

Recently, I took two phone calls from friends that live hundreds of miles away that I’ve found difficulty in touching base with over the last few years. I knew the calls would be lengthy and would be interrupters to my day. But I also knew that they were good interrupters and that enough was enough– we just needed to catch up! I can’t tell you how refreshed, remembered, loved, valued, and poured into I felt after those calls. (I *think* they felt the same.)

 

The same thing happened when I dropped a meal by for another friend who had recently had her third child the other day. I didn’t have a week or two to plan that… I just had an extra pan of chicken alfredo that would go to waste in my home if I didn’t reach out to bring it to her home. In the mix, we had a wonderful 30-minute conversation as our children played and dealt with potty training. Both of us got a little heart resuscitation that day because of the courage of one to ask if she could stop by and the courage of the other to say “yes.”

 

Fellowship is a beautiful, life-giving thing. Often, through a good conversation, you can find encouragement in hearing that someone else has been where you have, truth by the ounce or by the pound spoken over you from another sojourner, a laugh that you didn’t know you needed, a new opportunity to meet someone else’s need, or even just an opportunity to catch your breath in the middle of your mundane and/or madness.

 

This month, I encourage you to pick up your phone or plan an outing with a friend just for the sake of catching up. You’ll be surprised by the value you find in having a heart to heart once again.

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

For more wonderful articles visit Emily’s website  http://www.emilypmeyer.com

Crossing The Racial Pew Lines

By FaithNo Comments

I think we’ve all heard that “Sunday morning is the most segregated day of the week.” I think if we all looked around our church pews on any given Sunday this can be seen vividly.

 

I’ve been asked in the past how or rather why my husband and I transitioned from all we’ve ever known in the predominately black church to worship in a mostly white church. At this point, it’s been about eight+ years since we’ve made the switch. This is a great question that can partially be answered with a question. If NO ONE crosses those “pew lines” when will this ever change? How will there ever be churches that truly represent what heaven looks like if no one is willing to get outside of their comfort zones?

Most of my life I’ve gone to churches filled with black people and although there were challenges, as found in any church, I was pretty comfortable. I knew the flow of church, I knew and loved the music, and we talked about and understood the things that affected us as African Americans. Why would anyone give up all of that for the unknown? Maybe the exact way the Israelites did on their journey into the promise land. Perhaps by faith, coupled unfortunately with complaints along the way (especially during the uncomfortable times); prayerfully holding onto the belief that God knows exactly what He was doing.

 

So my answer, simply put, Wesley and I got to a place where we just needed a change. We didn’t go out seeking a white church it just happens to be where God placed us and it’s a decision to this day we don’t regret. To be transparent, however, I did feel this emotional pull that maybe we were walking away from our roots or that perhaps no one would understand or approve of our switch.

 

To make things crystal clear, I absolutely LOVE being African American! We have such a rich and empowering history to be proud of even in the midst of oppression and hate we’ve endured to this present day. I graduated from a Historically Black University-Tennessee State University and pledged into an elite Black Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to which I am blessed and honored to be a part of. I am purposeful in teaching my girls that their skin color is gorgeous and their naturally kinky curly hair is EVERYTHING! I want them to love their very blackness that the world around them may try to devalue because of a lack of understanding.

 

In our church, Wes and I have been loved on and supported in so many positive ways beyond what we can explain and we have taken advantage of the amazing opportunities it has provided. Have there been moments of loneliness- of course! I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I’d say some of the most lonely times was during the past (extremely divisive) Presidential election and whenever major acts of racism would occur against African Americans in the news. These were times many of our white friends and church members would become either quiet and/or sometimes dismissive indirectly of the issues. Social media, of course, didn’t make things any easier! On one hand I had people who knew, understood, and cared about what affects African Americans and on the other hand, I had people who I felt I had to tiptoe around racial conversations as to not make them feel uncomfortable- the exact feeling I know all too well.

 

Lately, I’ve found a boldness in Christ to speak up and essentially call sin out for what it is…SIN! Racial injustice and discriminative viewpoints are not of God! I am most shocked at how much “church folks” who claim Jesus as Lord of their lives could have the biggest problem with race and equality? It makes no sense to me, but at this point to not talk about race and unity in the church would be a disservice, even if it makes some uncomfortable.

 

My decision to finally speak up and not tiptoe around race has actually allowed deeper relationships and conversations with my white brothers and sisters who actually want to go deeper in their understanding of race relations but just didn’t know exactly how to start those conversations. I feel a sort of freedom in knowing that God has placed amazing people of all races and nationalities in my life that truly care. This helps combat the feeling I get when I’m around people who just don’t get it and would rather continue in foolishness than ever open their minds to anything outside of themselves.

 

Will things ever be perfect when it comes to race relations this side of heaven- Nope, but Wes and I are exactly in the church where God has placed us especially if He wants to use us to serve and help in any way bridge the gap.

Visit Nicole at www.Idowediditsdone.com and Twitter @Idowediditsdone

Why Should I Yield?

By FaithNo Comments

By Debbie W Wilson | June 19, 2018


 

What makes it hard to yield to others? I’d been sick the week before. By evening I felt like a vampire had sucked the life out of me. Yet, I struggled to submit to my husband when he asked me to stay home from an event I’d helped to plan.

 

Larry’s request wasn’t arbitrary. He wanted to protect me. Despite his good intentions, I wrestled before yielding.

 

I had recently listened to John Milton describe Eve’s naïveté in Paradise Lost. Milton presented Eve as a captivating beauty who needed safeguarding. He described Adam warning Eve as she set out to explore. Eve dismissed her husband’s warnings. Milton’s Eve seemed more like a young child than an adult woman—a bit insulting to modern-day women—but then she fell for the serpent’s lies.

 

I thought about Larry’s request. “Please stay home. You’re going out of town next week. I saw two people today who got sick with something worse soon after their original illness.”

 

Perhaps he could see something I couldn’t. I consented.

 

The Bible says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” (Ephes. 5:21 NIV). So why do we resist submitting to each other? When Larry first asked me, I had two opposite reactions. One side of me felt insulted. The other side felt protected.

 

I resisted because—

 

My flesh said:

  • I’ll look weak
  • I’ll disappoint others
  • I’m not a child
  • I can make my own decisions.

 

But my spirit said:

  • Larry isn’t trying to control you.
  • Let him protect you.
  • His thoughts are wise.

Submit means: to yield to one’s admonition or advice. So how do we know who yields to whom?

 

A young friend was living overseas when his premature baby was born. Far away from family he assured everyone they were fine and it would be better for everyone to come after the baby left the hospital. His mother-in-law said, “You are far from fine. I’m coming!”

 

Afterwards, he admitted, “We hadn’t realized how much we were struggling until she eased the load. We’re so glad she came.”

 

Some questions to consider: 


 

  • Is this person in a position of authority and sees a bigger picture?
  • Are their intentions in line with God’s interests? (Are they seeking the higher good and not trying to manipulate or control for their own purposes?)
  • Could they see and know things I’m missing?

 

Proper yielding demonstrates wisdom (James 3:17). Sometimes others can read our needs better than we can. Like a yield sign, their input warns and protects. Other times they may need our counsel—hence the need to “submit to one another.”

 

 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others” (James 3:17 NLT).

Bio: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog. www.debbieWwilson.com

 

 

Time To Shift Priorities?

By FaithNo Comments

By Denise Loock | June 12, 2018


 

Lydia was a savvy businesswoman who’d established a relationship with many, if not most, of the wealthiest citizens in Philippi. Her specialty was purple cloth, a high-end fabric that symbolized status in first-century Europe because the dye was expensive to obtain and process.

 

And yet there was a hunger in her soul that success, respect, and financial security couldn’t fill. Associates and friends considered her a “worshiper of God,” which probably meant she’d converted to Judaism (Acts 16:14). Still, she longed for a deeper understanding of God and relationship with him.

 

Her desire prompted her to join a group of women who gathered by the river each Sabbath to pray. One day, several men came to the river, including the apostle Paul, who told the women about Jesus. When Lydia heard the good news about Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, God opened her heart to receive his truth. She became the first Christian in Europe, was baptized, and opened her home as the meeting place for all who received Christ as savior in Philippi.

 

What a remarkable role model Lydia is. She was wise enough to know that financial success and social standing couldn’t satisfy the deepest needs of her soul. She sought truth until she found it. She then shifted her priorities to make her devotion to God the hub of her life, business, and worship.

 

We don’t know what sacrifices she made or what hardships she endured after she accepted Christ as savior. But the apostle Paul’s experiences in Philippi suggest that many people resented the Christians who, as some citizens claimed, were “throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice” (Acts 16:20–21).

Lydia may have lost clients, business associates, and friends. Her business may have floundered. But I don’t think she would’ve considered that too great of a sacrifice, do you?

 

God also calls us to shift our priorities so our devotion to Him becomes the hub of our lives. We may have to rearrange our schedules, discard habits, or reevaluate leisure activities to give God the place of honor He deserves. But that will be worth it, won’t it?

 

Take time this week to evaluate your priorities. See if any shifting is necessary. Ask God to give you a heart like Lydia’s—a successful woman who gave God first place in her life.

 

 

Take the Next Step: Read Lydia’s story in Acts 16:11–15. What impacts you most about her? Also read Titus 2:3–5. How do you think Lydia and other first-century women implemented this counsel? How can you implement it?

 

Our Present Hope When The Past Paralyzes

By FaithNo Comments

By Amy Bryant | June 5, 2018


“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11


This is one of the more well-known passages in the bible. People love to quote it in all kinds of situations, but what makes this scripture even more powerful to me is the context. This promise of the Lord was given to the Israelites from Jerusalem, while in the midst of captivity in Babylon, with no immediate plan of relief from their present exile. As a matter of fact, He also says in that chapter that His children should go ahead and plant themselves there…”build houses and live in them…take wives and have sons and daughters…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you.”

I would not have liked that response. My flesh would have wanted God to reveal His sovereignty and power another way as I bitterly longed for the days back in Jerusalem. This seems to happen to me a lot. When I look back over my life and even today…it’s hard not to take over or try and rewrite the stories the way I think they should end. I sometimes figuratively cross my arms and want to hold my hope hostage until God does it my way.

A Redo

To quote Paul David Tripp, “Quit being paralyzed by your past. Grace offers you life in the present and a guarantee of a future.” If I’m honest though, there is much I would like to redo in my life. One reason is so that I could do things differently and not EVER repeat them again. On the flip side, I’d love to go back and relive special moments over and over because somewhere along the way I started to believe it will never be that good again. Isn’t it amazing how hugely perfect or imperfect people and events seem once they are in the past? Our memories are tricky like that.

A New Thing

While we need to learn from the past, it’s not where the Lord calls us. PRAISE HIM, He is doing a new thing with new mercies every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Every morning we wake is a new day with possibilities filled with His grace and mercy. If I only long for or focus on echoes of the past I might miss what the Lord is doing today. Our past and present are not the only things filled with grace and mercy, but so is our future. Because of Jesus, your days ahead are also covered by His sacrifice on the cross. This side of heaven is not the end of our story, and only when we are in Christ can we have hope…because He, in fact, is our hope!

Oh Father, don’t let us keep sleeping through our days. Wake us up to see all that You are doing and let us long to be a part of it! In big or small ways, may we find where You are at work and join You! Let us live fully with whoever and wherever You have planted us this day. Whether in “Babylon” or “Jerusalem”…You alone are God and Your everlasting ways can be trusted!