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Monthly Archives: February 2012

  • God Blessed Home

    Posted on February 29, 2012 by Family Christian

    “The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.” Proverbs 3:33

     

    What type of home does the Lord bless? He blesses a home that trusts Him, and does right, as God defines right. A home that prioritizes the implementation of heaven’s agenda on earth, He blesses. A home that builds up, rather than tears down, He blesses. A home that humbly reads Scripture together, and seeks to personally apply its truth, He blesses.

    A home that prays together, plays together, worships together, and serves together, He blesses. “God bless our home” is a wise prayer for a family of faith. Even if your home is more like hell than heaven, you can still make a significant difference. Let your light of love shine in service to undeserving family members, and your Heavenly Father will draw them unto Himself. God blesses a home shingled with unselfish service.

    “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

    You may be the spiritual leader of the home, but you do not have the confidence to lead in religious matters. Yet there is hope. First of all, keep it simple by spending individual time alone with the Lord. Take what He is teaching you in His word, and transfer it to your family. If you are learning humility, read a Bible verse about the humble, and share a recent humbling experience from your life.

    God blesses a leader in the home who is authentic and transparent. Family members can relate to your real struggles, instead of perceived perfection. The home is heaven’s hospital for healing, encouragement, and accountability. Make Christianity work at home, and then you have the creditability of a God blessed model to export it into the church and community. Christ shows contempt for the house of sinners, but blesses the home of wise saints.

    “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” Proverbs 24:3

    How, by God’s grace, can I make our home a haven of rest and righteous behavior?

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 28:2-68; Malachi 2:2; Matthew 12:43-45; Acts 16:29-34

    Post/Tweet this today: God blesses a home shingled with unselfish service. #service #family


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Confess and Renounce

    Posted on February 28, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

     

    Sin that man covers, Christ will uncover. Sin that man uncovers, Christ will cover. He covers it with His love. Shame seeks to hide unseemly behavior from heaven, but a loving Savior brings grace to feelings of disgrace. It is better to quickly reveal to God what He already knows. Admission is healing. Sin that is concealed compounds its cruel consequences, but immediate confession and renouncement lessens its unholy effects.

    Like sodium contributes to rising blood pressure, so sin contributes to a sick and sad heart. However, the remedy of walking in humility brings down the demon of disillusioned living and replaces it with peaceful wisdom. A clear conscience has clarity in the ways of God. Sin ignored is a silent killer of relational intimacy, but sin laid bare finds mercy.

    “Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” Daniel 4:27

    Is there a hidden sin that haunts you? Perhaps flirtation has crept into your mind and emotions for someone other than your spouse. Online forays into places that provide short-term satisfaction have created long-term dissatisfaction. A hidden sin can be failing to disclose all the information in a deal or relationship for fear of rejection. These deceptive delights turn sour to our souls when exposed to the light of the Lord’s love and holiness.

    When we bow before the glowing glory of God, our motives and concealed sins are exposed. Like a freshly fileted fish, the glory of God is able to gut slimy sin from the belly of our bad behavior. The degree of our indiscretions determine the depth of our pain, but far better to come clean with Christ than to live a lie in silent suffering. So, bow in humble confession and genuine repentance—as His glory and mercy make you whole.

    “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

    What unhealthy habit or hidden sin does the Lord want me to confess and renounce?

    Related Readings: Ezekiel 14:6; Daniel 4:27; Acts 14:15; 2 Corinthians 4:2

    Post/Tweet this today: A clear conscience has clarity in the ways of God. #clarity #God


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Demolish Strongholds

    Posted on February 27, 2012 by Family Christian

    “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

     

    Strongholds are Satan’s attempt to strangle spiritual life out of the saints of God. The enemy is not slack in his attacks; indeed he is always on the prowl to pronounce judgment and dispense shame. Some of his strategic strongholds are pride, addiction, and self-absorption. He sucks in a susceptible heart and a wandering mind with alluring sin. The devil builds a faithless fortress and launches missiles of doubt with false ideologies.

    How do strongholds take hold and grow in our life? Ironically, a strength can become a stronghold. Healthy confidence drifts into arrogance. The gift of discernment grows into a judgmental attitude. The discipline to work out regularly and eat right becomes an obsession that consumes every minute of our discretionary time. The goal to get ahead financially grows into greed and a sense of superiority. A strength can be a stronghold.

    “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

    The Lord is good—Satan is bad. The Lord clarifies—Satan confuses. The Lord offers freedom—Satan enlists bondage. The Lord gives grace—Satan pours on guilt. The Lord forgives—Satan shames. The Lord creates contentment—Satan drives for more. The Lord loves people—Satan hates people. The Lord wants what’s best for you—Satan wants what’s worse for you. The Lord gives—Satan takes.

    It takes divine power to pull down and demolish strongholds. Your savior Jesus has overcome and destroyed Satan’s strongholds. Start by faith to replace any destructive strongholds with the Lord as your stronghold. Replace the stronghold of alcohol abuse with the stronghold of the Lord’s sobriety. Substitute the stronghold of anger with Almighty God’s stronghold of patient forgiveness. Divine strongholds defeat Satan’s. Trust in the Lord tears down demonic strongholds and erects His faithful fortress.

    “The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7, NKJV

    What single stronghold do I need to demolish by faith and replace with the Lord’s?

    Related Readings: Psalm 9:9; 27:1; 37:39; Lamentations 2:2-5

    Post/Tweet this today: Replace strongholds with the Lord as your stronghold. #strongholds #trust


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Patient Endurance

    Posted on February 26, 2012 by Family Christian

    “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”  Revelation 13:10b

     

    Patient endurance is not easy, but many times it is necessary. If you change jobs every two years, ten times in a row, you do not have twenty years of work experience. You have two years of work experience in ten different places. So, make sure that you learn what God intends for you to learn where you are, before you move on. This is one of Satan’s ploys. His desire is to keep you reactive to life, accompanied by a shallow faith.

    Your faith has the opportunity to go deep when you stay somewhere for a while, but your faith remains shallow when you run from resistance. Resistance is a faith builder. When you are pressed against by life (what sometimes seems from all sides), you have the opportunity for growth. This is where patient endurance can serve you well. Patient endurance says that I will stay in this marriage, because it is for better or for worse. I will allow God to change me for the better, and I will trust Him to do the same for my spouse over time.
     
    Indeed, patient endurance is able to outwait and sometimes outlive its accusers. Accusers come and go. If they do not get the reaction or desired response from you, they will move on to some other unprotected prey. So, by faith, “out-endure” your enemies. There will always be someone who does not like you. Don’t think you can appease everyone; this is not possible or healthy. Appeasement may grant concessions that come back to haunt you. It is one thing to negotiate with those who represent a spirit of good will but it is a whole other deal to compromise with someone who is totally at odds with your values and principles. Be willing to walk away. It is not worth it to do business with an enraged enemy.

    Patient endurance is illustrated throughout the Bible. Jesus patiently endured the cross. He patiently endured His critics and, ultimately, He more than restored His reputation when He proved His claims by His resurrected life. David patiently endured the fallout from his adultery and murder. He had pushed himself to the point of totally turning his back on God, but, instead, he turned back to God and became a broken and humbled leader.

    Joseph, also, patiently endured the ridicule and jealousy of his family members.
    Their injustice drove his faith in God deeper and broader. His patient endurance during the horrific injustice of his imprisonment led to his godly influence over a kingdom. Hannah patiently endured her inability to bear children. Her faithfulness to God during barrenness was a testimony of encouragement to friends, family and a nation. Her womb was empty, but her faith was pregnant with God possibilities.

    Therefore, do not be tempted to take the easy way out. The easy way, many times, is not the best way. Yes, there is a time to cut your losses, but only after you have patiently endured and exhausted your options People are watching how you “do life.” So, use your influence to help others patiently endure their situations. Faithfulness, when you don’t feel like it, is evidence of a maturing faith. You may be on the verge of experiencing God’s very best.

    However, do not confuse procrastination with patient endurance. Patient endurance is active and productive. It is not misguided, apathetic or irresponsible waiting. It is daily depending on and seeking God for His best. Therefore, patiently endure for God’s sake and for the sake of others. Heavenly rewards await those who patiently endure. Moreover, your faith will never be the same!

    Taken from Dose 86 in the 90-day devotional book, “Infusion”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet this today: Patient endurance embraces resistance as a faith builder. #endure patience #faith


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Praying Husband

    Posted on February 25, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” Genesis 25:21

     

    A praying husband appeals to the Lord for the sake of his wife. He bombards heaven on behalf of his bride with big things, like having babies, and he is consistent in praying for his wife everyday for important matters such as peace and security. Prayer is one of God’s select weapons that a husband can wield in defense of his woman. God has called you to be the spiritual warrior of your home, and prayer is your first line of defense. If prayer is compromised, then you have no air support from your heavenly Father. Without prayer covering your home and wife, you and your family are open to blistering assaults from the devil and his demons.

    So pray for God’s hedge of protection (Job 1:10). The strategy of the stealth enemy is to keep you busy with only a token of prayer on your breath. An overly active man is probably a prayerless man; a man consumed with his own deal is probably a prayerless man; a man absorbed by pride is probably a prayerless man; a man who serves a small God is probably a prayerless man; a man angry at his wife is probably a prayerless man. A husband whose prayers are hindered is a man who knows he needs to pray for his wife, but doesn’t. He is a man powerless as a spiritual leader (1 Peter 3:7).
       
    Prayer for your wife leads you to forgive your wife; prayer for your wife leads you to love your wife; and prayer for your wife leads to the abundant life. You cannot pray for your wife and stay mad at her. You cannot pray for your wife and not want to hang out with her, for prayer facilitates intimacy. Prayer changes your heart and hers. Therefore, agree together to schedule a time just to pray (1 Corinthians 7:5), for prayer unleashes the resources and the blessings of God. Satan shudders at the thought of a praying husband. A husband will win the battle for his family if he fights the enemy on his knees. It is a posture of desperation for God that brings victory and reconciliation. Husbands, prayer is your most potent marriage resource.
       
    Therefore, get on your knees and do not get up until you have persevered in prayer for your helpmate. Courageously cry out to God on her behalf. Pray for her inner beauty to be reflected in her gorgeous countenance. Pray for her to feel God’s love and security. Pray for her to feel your love, support, and respect. Pray for her to be at peace with God, herself, and you. Pray for her to forgive herself and to love herself. Pray for her to have wisdom and discernment as a wife and a mom. Pray for her to love God and hate sin.

    As you pray, see her as God sees her. She is a child of God, and, in Christ, she is holy and acceptable. Thank God for your wife and thank Him for her love for you. Thank Him for her unselfish service. Thank Him that she puts up with your idiosyncrasies. Pray for your wife that she will receive spiritual nourishment from God’s Word and spiritual leadership from you. Pray for her daily and deliberately. Pray for her when you are happy, and pray for her when you are sad. However, hang on, because as you pray, neither of you will ever be the same. Prayer for your wife is profitable; it solicits heaven on her behalf.

    Taken from the February 25th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet this today: A praying husband has his wife’s best interest in mind. #prayer #husband


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • All Systems Go

    Posted on February 24, 2012 by John van der Veen

    Sure he stirs up some controversy, but Mark Driscoll’s sermons are consistently #1 on iTunes in Religion & Spirituality, with millions of downloads each year. The guy has one speed and it’s full tilt – pioneering ministries, new churches, the list goes on. In his newest book, NY Times’ bestseller Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship & Life Together, Mark shifts his approach to providing actionable answers for modern-day relationship questions. We recently caught up with Pastor Mark for his take on team-writing this book with his wife, how he fixed his neurotransmitters and more…

    Family Christian: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.

    Mark Driscoll: Sure! You know, I worked in one of your stores long ago…

    FC: So we’ve heard! In fact we’ve done a little research and apparently there are some outstanding issues that need to be addressed…

    Mark: I’m not surprised.

    FC: (laughs) No, we’re kidding. So you worked in a Seattle location we used to have, right?

    Mark: Yes, it was a long time ago now. Gosh, maybe 14, 15 years ago. We were just in core-group phase of starting the church – there was an independent bookstore that got bought out and picked up [by Family Christian]. So yeah, I was planting the church and working there part time. It’s kinda how I built my theology library, to be honest with you. There was a really good used book section that I kind of managed and oversaw, so I used the discount to start my library.

    FC: Oh, that’s fantastic. Okay, let’s jump right in. So up until your most recent book, they tended to cover topics from the deeper end of the theological pool (so to speak), but your new book is about marriage. What influenced that transition?

    Mark: Yeah, I started the church when I was 25, so I’ve been pastoring Mars Hill for 15 years now. I was still a new Christian, still figuring out where I was at on a whole lot of issues. I didn’t become a Christian until I was 19 and I didn’t actually go to seminary and get a formal theological education until our church was quite large. So for those early years it was a lot of work, preaching, teaching, trying to study on my own and figure out just what I thought about things; to come to my own conclusions. So yeah, my writing reflected that. Also early-on, I was part of a young leaders movement that then morphed into the emerging church and such and I didn’t agree theologically with some things that were happening there, so I felt I needed to clarify: I love these people, but I disagree on these issues. Where I’m at right now is I’m still a pastor and I love being a pastor. I intend to spend my whole ministry career preaching and teaching in the local church. Most of my time is not spent untying theological knots [though], it’s spent helping hurting people. And so with [Real Marriage] I kinda said what I believe and then I wanted to talk about how those beliefs apply to life, making that theology really practical. So the marriage book was the first venture in that direction. I’m actually working on my next book which is going to be on identity in Christ. [It will address] who we are in Christ, how that impacts our relationships with God and people, and how we view ourselves and our sin. So my writing for the foreseeable future is still going to be rooted in deep theological convictions, but super, super practical, more like counseling sessions that I’d have with people.

    FC: The books that you’ve written in the past have been welcomed with open arms by many, but have also brought some criticism to you as a pastor and author. How have you dealt with that?

    Mark: I think for me the point of the book is to help people, so that’s why Grace and I wrote it. We’re really encouraged by the feedback that we’re getting: that it is practical and helpful. Like I said, there’s still a lot of Jesus, Bible and theology in there. I’m willing to endure some criticism from those who wish it was a theology of marriage. But I think there already are some really good books on a theology of marriage, so I didn’t feel that there was a need for another one of those. Quite frankly, there are also some good books on practical issues regarding marriage, and so we felt there was a need to contribute on some more modern issues, things that younger people are asking, also helping singles to think through their future. Ya know, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to win arguments with my critics, I’m an evangelist at heart. I want to see people meet Jesus. I want to see lives get changed. I want to see families be helped, marriages be saved. That’s why I’m still a local church pastor. I kind of expected [the criticism] to be honest with you. I think anytime you’re talking about gender and sex you’re really putting the hose on the bees’ nest to some degree. No matter what you say, there’s going to be some real controversy around that. But I think overall it’s been healthy and good. It’s forced discussion around certain things. [I’m] just trying to focus on reaching people, serving people, helping people – that’s really where the bulk of the energy’s gone. So I’m not reading a bunch of my critics or trying to respond to them. Trying not to get obsessed with that.

    FC: Because this topic is different than what you’ve explored in the past, did you feel different while writing it? Obviously this was the first book you’ve written with Grace…

    Mark: Yeah, it felt a little more… vulnerable. I think it’s easier for me to make a point and tell you what I believe, then not have to talk about who I am, sins I’ve committed, things I’m working through, ways I need to be sanctified by God’s grace. It’s a little more honest, humbling, risk-taking. I definitely felt that writing with Grace. She’s really brave in the book – sharing parts of her story that were difficult. Particularly when it’s your wife and you’re working with her – exposing her to criticism and the nit-picking of some – there’s some stress with that for sure.

    FC: Were either of you surprised by the other one during this process – how you tackled certain topics? Or was it more like ‘we’ve encountered this in our marriage and practically written this book as we went along’ and now this was just the actual physical product?

    Mark: [The two of us] had talked and worked through issues for a number of years, and then through counseling other people and helping (especially) ministry leaders, families, marriages… It felt like we’ve said this enough privately, it’s probably time to write it down publicly. But as we were working on the book the one thing that kinda snuck up on us – that we weren’t expecting – was the whole big idea of friendship. Once we hit that it was a really big concept for us – it’s been super helpful and really transforming in our marriage. That was the one thing we didn’t necessarily have nailed down as we sat down to write, it just kinda happened as we were hanging out, talking, praying and working on the project together. That big idea just kind of exploded: the idea of friendship in marriage.

    FC: What is the main thing that you’re hoping people will walk away with from this book?

    Mark: Well, for those who are single, we want them to take their singleness seriously and not settle for somebody who is not appropriate to be married to; not to settle for sin. Also, to look at their parents’ marriage – family of origin stuff – see if there’s anything that they need to learn from or reconsider, that has negatively affected them before they get into marriage. For those who are married, Grace and I really wanted couples to have deep, ongoing, grace-centered, loving conversations, and not to just settle for a functional marriage – ya know – good enough but not great. Our real goal was just to get couples to talk. Bloggers and critics and book reviewers can talk to one another, [but] really the goal is that husbands and wives would be the ones having the conversations.

    FC: That’s awesome. Alright, we’re going to ask you some really personal questions now… What movie have you seen recently purely for entertainment, or because it had a really great message?

    Mark: Oh boy, I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t seen a lot of films!

    FC: …But you are the pastor that always talks about movies! Have you been watching less?

    Mark: Oh no, I have two DVRs, so I watch a ton of TV. (Probably more TV than I should.) Ya know, Grace and I went to see (this is going to sound a little cheesy maybe, but) Courageous because she wanted to go see it. I liked the big idea of the movie, man, guys loving their families and standing up for justice. Even though it was a little predictable [of a] plotline I liked it, I thought it was cool. So there ya go, there’s the big shout out for Courageous. We went and saw the recent Mission Impossible movie too… It’s really time to put that series to rest (laughs) – they’ve cut everything they can out of it. I saw Moneyball on a flight recently and I really liked that because I’m a huge baseball fan. I thought it was one of the best baseball movies I’ve ever seen. [SPOILER] I liked the fact that he turned down the money to go to Boston so that he could stay near his daughter. I thought that was awesome.

    FC: Music, what are you listening to?

    Mark: Um, what am I listening to lately…? Hmmm… The Decemberists, old Social Distortion, let me pull up my iTunes player right here and I’ll tell you what’s recent. Interpol, Jimmy Eat World, some old Smiths (I guess I’m getting old), The Killers – but that’s my kids more. It’s always hard, ya know, my kids play all of this music too so I end up listening to theirs… I like The Forecast – this little band out of Chicago, I’ve been listening to them a lot.

    FC: How old are your kids?

    Mark: Five kids: 3 boys, 2 girls: ages kindergarten to freshman in high school… (pauses, still thinking about music). Ya know I’m also listening to a lot of the bands in Mars Hill. A lot of the stuff’s indy rock around here man, it’s all Death Cab for Cutie, Decemberists, Dustin Kensrue goes to the church so I end up listening to a lot of Thrice – I love Dustin a lot.

    FC: We have reason to remember quite a few mentions in past sermons that you were “jacked up on Red Bull.” Is that still part of your repertoire?

    Mark: I am aging in dog years – I mean, it’s brutal. At certain times in the church’s history I would preach 7 times a Sunday, across three locations. You know, I’d go for an hour and ten minutes a pop, really high velocity, and then we cut it down to 4 or 5 [services]. So I would leave the house Sunday morning at 7 AM and not get home until about 10 or 11 PM and then stay up until about 2 AM – and I did that for 15 years. To be honest with you, physically, that is not a good idea (laughs). So you start using caffeine and energy drinks to push you through. But then you start breaking your adrenal glands and your neurotransmitters, at least that’s what I found so, man, I have made some pretty serious dietary changes and [started] watching those energy levels. I’m 41; I don’t want to be one of those guys that burns himself out too early. So yeah, I’ve pulled back quite a bit. I preach twice usually on the Sundays I preach, and I’ve not touched an energy drink in a couple of years now.

    FC: Good for you. Alright, one more question, what do you and Grace do to relax?

    Mark: Ya know, this is going to sound simple, but I like to hold my wife’s hand, go for a walk and just visit with her. We do date night, we go out to dinner and we get our time together. Last week we were doing an event down in Orange County, so we went over to LA and spent a full day there – I took her shopping and we stayed overnight. So we do that kinda stuff, but I like just hanging out with Grace. Man, if I can just hold her hand and go for a walk for an hour, see how she’s doing… I’m enjoying that for sure.

    FC: Mark, thanks so much for your time – it’s honestly so great talking with you.

    Mark: No problem, thanks.

    Click here to learn more or purchase Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Mark Driscoll, Marriage

  • Unexpected Good News

    Posted on February 24, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Then He said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43

     

    Unexpected good news can take a sincere soul off guard, as much as bad news can. But it is in the pleasantness of the Lord’s comforting words that gratitude and joy are released. Emotion erupts in praise and thanksgiving when a “no” was expected, but a “yes” was lovingly communicated. Humility asks the Lord for His forgiving presence and love. Grateful and wise disciples request the Lord to remember them now and forever.

    Sometimes we strive in uncertainty, ever wondering what’s next. We are tentative to get our hopes up, because we have seen hopeful expectations dashed into discouragement in the past. So, in some situations we find ourselves somewhat skeptical of positive outcomes. Guilt and disappointment jar the foundations of faith with profound persistence. But the Lord does not want to leave His children in suspense—He clarifies.

    “Show me Your ways, LORD, teach me Your paths.” Psalm 25:4

    Today by faith you can walk with Jesus. Your paradise lost on earth is gained back in Christ. During this brief finite time—as a committed follower of Jesus—you have the solid expectation of an abundant life. Health scares, a fractured family or economic turmoil can only test your faith, not destroy your trust in God. Whatever you face—turn face-to-face to Jesus and in humility request Him to remember you—He will and He does.
     
    Your heavenly Father remembers your hard work and He praises you for your diligence. He remembers you in your pregnancy and like Mary, He has bestowed on you His favor. Christ remembers your need for companionship, thus He is orchestrating relationships within His body to bring you His helpmate. He remembers your milestones of love and grief, and He joins you to rejoice and mourn. He remembers you, so you can remember Him and remember others with unexpected good news. Faith expects the unexpected.

    “You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” Isaiah 40:9

    With what unexpected good news can I give God glory and humbly share it to encourage others?

    Related Readings: 2 Kings 7:9; Proverbs 15:30; Mark 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:6

    Post/Tweet this today: Faith expects the unexpected. #faith #trust


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Change of Plans

    Posted on February 23, 2012 by Family Christian

    “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.” Acts 16:7-8

     

    Sudden change can shake the faith foundation of the most ardent saints. The unexpected can cause trust to feel threatened. One day the Spirit seems to say one thing and the next day that door shuts and another one opens. Temperaments who like to be in control do not like the feeling of being out of control. But sudden change is a test of trust in Jesus.

    We do our best at work and then we learn that our position will soon be eliminated. We invest in a romantic relationship over a year and then surprisingly—over coffee—learn, that we just need to be friends. We research and wait for the right cure for our disease, only to realize at the last moment that we do not qualify for the treatment. Change happens, and how we respond to change resides in our heart. Thus, experience Christ in change.

    “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” Daniel 2:20-22

    Christ uses change to change His children. Does your need for security trump your trust in Jesus? Does financial certainty have more influence in your life than intimacy with your heavenly Father? Perhaps abrupt change is an opportunity for your character to grow in God’s ways and learn to adapt with a grateful attitude. Fight change and you may flail about like a fatigued swimmer going up stream, or embrace change and excel ahead.

    It is when we draft behind change that our understanding of His will accelerates. Sudden change may be your Savior’s way of protecting you from an unseen incident. By grace, do not grow suspect of a change in plans; instead see Christ in the change. Adjustments need to be made—transitions need to happen, so the ways of God can have their way. Christ doesn’t change, but our understanding of Him does—thus a change of plans.

    “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot change it.” Number 23:19-20

    What change am I facing that I need to embrace, trusting God in the process?

    Related Readings: Genesis 31:7; 1 Samuel 10:9; Psalm 107:33-35; Hebrews 13:1

    Post/Tweet this today: Sudden change is a test of trust in your savior Jesus. #change #trust


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Book Review: The Touch

    Posted on February 22, 2012 by Family Christian

    The TouchRandall Wallace, the screen writer for the movies Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, Secretariat, and We Were Soldiers, is a master story-teller.  And he puts his skill to work beautifully in The TouchThe Touch is a novella about a young surgeon, Andrew Jones, who has the rare, one-in-a-million surgical ability known in the medical world as “the touch” – hands that can work magic on the operating table.  But Andrew gives it all up when his fiancée dies in his arms following a tragic automobile accident.  As Andrew attempts to perform an emergency tracheotomy on his fiancée at the accident scene he later relates that he could “feel her life leave her body.”   Devastated and lacking confidence, he now works as a professor in a small medical school in the south.

    The other main character in this book is Lara Blair, the high-powered, wealth and driven owner of a biomedical engineering company that is developing a surgical tool that will duplicate exactly the movement of a surgeon’s hands in complicated brain surgery procedures, eliminating or reducing the risk of failed surgical procedures.  Lara is on a quest to perfect her machine, and she needs Andrew to help her in the project.  Otherwise the project will be a failure.  But this would mean that Andrew must leave the comfortable confines of his self-imposed exile and step back into a world he is trying so hard to escape. 

    The plot elements are intense enough to make the story move along quickly, and there are hidden surprises all along the way, but Randall Wallace’s primary artistic tool is great character development.  He masterfully involves the reader in the lives of the two main characters, and is careful not to clutter the landscape with too many sub-characters.  While they are there and play an important part in moving the story along in their supporting roles, they do not get in the way. 

    The Touch is very much a love story, and, as such, will appeal primarily to women.  However, there are enough manly elements in the book that would make it appeal to the male reader as well.  And while Randall Wallace’s faith comes through strongly in his writing, it is not applied heavy-handedly.   As such, The Touch will be acceptable to the faith community, but also welcomed in the secular.  I highly recommend The Touch.

    For more information about this book, click here.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured

  • Gratitude and Contentment

    Posted on February 22, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus”. 1 Thessalonians 5:18… “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”. Philippians 4:12

     

    Gratitude and contentment go together like turkey and dressing. They feed each other, and are both fostered by faith. When I remember how God has so richly blessed me, I am overwhelmed by His generosity. For example, for His salvation in His son Jesus, I am eternally grateful. His gift of grace, I am grateful for its freedom. His forgiveness, I am grateful for guilt-free living. His love, I am grateful for the ability to love and be loved.

    His holiness, I am grateful His character can be trusted and is transformational. Stuff is secondary, while the blessings of faith, family, friends and fitness grow our contentment. We may not have what we want, or even deserve, but in Christ we have all that is necessary. So, be humbly grateful to God, and contentment will increase its influence.

    “The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble”. Proverbs 19:23

    Contentment is to rest in Christ, and trust He is in control. Circumstances, good or bad, are an opportunity for Him to show Himself faithful. So, once you go to God in gratitude, you can live life in contentment knowing Christ is in control. Contentment is not passive and uninformed, but rather it is engaged and educated. It is not anxious. It replaces worry with work, pity with prayer, pride with humility, and grumbling with gratitude.

    Your peace and stability is the fruit of contentment, which grows out of the ground of gratitude. Seed this soil in prayer, and you will see abundance abound. You are able to accommodate in adversity, because the Almighty has gone before you. You are able to bridle wants in prosperity, because gratitude to God and contentment in Christ governs your generosity. Thank God often, and trust Him to cultivate your contentment.

    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

    What are some reasons for my gratitude to God, and how can I express my contentment in Christ?

    Related Readings: Job 1:21; Colossians 2:6-7; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; Ephesians 4:20-24

    Post/Tweet this today: Contentment grows out of the ground of gratitude. #contentment #gratitude


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

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