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  • A.D. The Bible Continues

Author Archives: Family Christian

  • What I Want To Teach My Kids

    Posted on March 12, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst MARCH 12, 2015

    What I Want To Teach My Kids
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

    Early in my motherhood adventure I realized I could solve my kids’ problems for them. Not every problem. But for the most part when they had an issue I could step in and be the solution.

    Or …

    I had another option. I could mentor and equip my kids to solve their issues, which is much more time consuming, brain draining and sometimes quite frustrating.

    But for me, the most important lesson I want to teach my kids is how to think.

    It’s that whole "give a man a fish" thing.

    Give him a fish and he’ll eat for a day … or teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

    I don’t want to train my kids to only turn to me for solutions. I want to help them think in Biblically and emotionally healthy ways, so they can learn the fine art of becoming a solution finder. I want to help them learn to process life choices in grounded, mature ways.

    If I only tell my kids what they can and can’t do, I’m establishing rules for them to follow. This is a part of parenting for sure, but it can’t be the whole part.

    If I teach them how to think, I’m establishing healthy processing patterns that will serve them when they’re no longer under my immediate watch.

    For example, I don’t want my kids to text and drive. I’ve taught them this rule. But to help them learn to process the dangers of driving while distracted, I decided to have a family discussion.

    Recently, I asked each of the kids to come to a scheduled family dinner equipped to present a brief report on the dangers of texting and driving.

    As they presented their reports, I saw the light bulbs coming on in their thought processes. They weren’t just learning a rule; they were discovering how to think about this dangerous habit. They were passionate about it. And the best part? They all owned the solution of committing to not text and drive.

    They owned it. Not because I preached a rule at them. But rather, because I helped them learn how to think through this danger for themselves.

    The Bible instructs us to teach our kids the truths of God by talking and processing with them all throughout the day. Obviously, texting and driving isn’t a Biblical truth, but how powerful it is to apply a Biblical mindset to every issue we face.

    So be it a Scriptural truth, or processing life stuff in general, I think the secret is tucked within the beautiful words of Deuteronomy 11:18-21a:

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many …"

    Yes, may our days together be many. Learning. Thinking. And processing each problem through the filter of God’s Truth.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to teach my children how to think in a way that honors You. Use me as an example of Your love and compassion in their lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 54:13, "All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Equip your child to think in Biblically and emotionally healthy ways this Easter with ABC Scripture Cards or The Jesus Storybook Bible. Click here to get these practical tools and celebrate Scripture as it comes alive in your home!

    Learn more about processing your decisions through a God-honoring, Biblical filter with Lysa’s book, The Best Yes. Purchase your copy here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How can you begin to implement this new way of thinking with your family?

    Start small — direct your child to Scripture, say a prayer with him/her or make it an overall family discussion!

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Unfinished Doesn’t Equal Unworthy

    Posted on March 11, 2015 by Family Christian

    T. Suzanne Eller MARCH 11, 2015

    Unfinished Doesn’t Equal Unworthy
    SUZIE ELLER

    "Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

    The local grocery store in my new town wasn’t just a grocery store. It was where women gathered to talk.

    I wanted to casually saunter over and chat with a potential new friend, but I didn’t. I worried about what I might say or whether I’d be able to talk at all.

    Everyone else could easily talk. Why couldn’t I? I felt unfinished and uncomfortable in this new situation.

    So I became pretty good at outmaneuvering all their efforts. If I saw someone across the way, I’d duck down the soap aisle. If they tried to catch my eye, I’d pretend I didn’t see them. Sometimes my savvy moves didn’t work, and I would end up trapped in the produce section, tongue-tied.

    It wasn’t that I was just shy, though there was that element. Growing up in a home of chaos, I learned early that my words could be misinterpreted. So I retreated, rather than try to speak up.

    Looking back on that season of life, I wish I could pull my younger self close and tell her she was worth talking to, and that one day she’d feel a little less unfinished in this area.

    I wish I could tell her God was 100% tuned in to the beauty of who she was becoming.

    And I’d tell her we are all a little unfinished in some way. Even those who seem to live in easy confidence. Even those who call out your name in the grocery aisle.

    Because here’s what I’ve learned: Unfinished doesn’t equal unworthy.

    Unfinished just means we’re still growing.

    I had no idea that one day I’d become a speaker, or that I’d love nothing more than meeting a new friend. I didn’t know that one day I’d feel complete in God’s hands, like our key verse reminds us: "We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8).

    Do you ever feel unfinished like I did? Do you feel insecure in any area?

    If so, here are three ways that have helped me feel more secure and might help you, too:

    1. Acknowledge there’s work to be done and that’s okay. I didn’t realize back then that some of the very women calling out my name struggled with their own insecurities. We all battle this to some degree.

    2. Trust God knows what’s inside of us. We are all waiting to be shaped with His tender touch. And most importantly? The more we trust God’s abilities, the less power our insecurities hold.

    3. Our last step is to start the growth process. I know this is the hard part, but every step we take helps us discover who we really are and what God knows we are capable of accomplishing.

    Over time, that once oh-so-unfinished girl started taking baby steps.

    I held a conversation with a potential friend and chose not to beat myself up over what I said (or didn’t say) on the way home.

    I started offering myself the same grace I gave to others.

    I embraced the truth that spiritual and emotional growth isn’t a one-time deal, but rather a lifetime of discovery. God’s hands are on my life in every area.

    And that’s where the Potter’s wheel keeps on turning. I’m still unfinished in many ways, but now it’s an adventure rather than an obstacle.

    Dear Lord, many things shape the way I see myself, but today I choose to see myself in Your hands. Shape me. Work through me. Shine through the cracks to show others who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Corinthians 4:7, "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’d like to get to know the "Potter" of your life, and the God of the Universe who made you, please click here.

    Would you like to bring Suzie Eller to your event? Click here to find out more about considering Suzie as your next retreat / keynote speaker.

    Visit Suzie Eller’s blog for a free printable to celebrate the Potter’s work in your life. If you can relate to feeling unworthy, you might also appreciate her book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Consider the beauty of a candle shining through the cracks of a small, ordinary clay pot in the dark of night. How does that change your perception of those cracks?

    With Jesus as the Light inside of you, how does it change the way you see your own imperfections?

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • What Will You Risk to Be Free?

    Posted on March 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Jessica Turner MARCH 10, 2015

    What Will You Risk to Be Free?
    Pat Layton

    "… Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:34b (NIV)

    I’d been awake long before the morning sun peered through the shutters of my bedroom window. Now it was time to get up and face the day … and the appointment I made to meet a new friend for lunch.

    I was petrified and ashamed, but I knew if I put it off another day I would sink deeper into the depression that was slowly destroying my life and my family.

    Tears puddled in my eyes and rolled down my face as I got dressed. This is the end, Pat. This is the day when the truth about who you really are and what you’ve done will be revealed.

    Months before, I surrendered my messed up life to Jesus at a local women’s retreat. I heard a message on forgiveness and found myself face down at the altar. I sought and received forgiveness from God that day, but struggled to forgive myself.

    Immediately after the retreat I started to attend Bible study classes, which in some ways only led to more distress. Those women all looked so pretty. Their lives seemed flawless and pure. I felt like an outsider and a fraud who was about to be found out.

    I had done a fairly good job of hiding my brokenness in my old life, but now women who seemed to know and understand something I did not surrounded me. Even after hearing about Jesus, I felt stuck in a life of hopeless shame.

    I was convinced that a face-to-face encounter with someone who knew more about Jesus was my last hope for healing. Something deep inside me recognized something deep inside my friend that I needed. I was willing to risk everything to get it — even potential embarrassment and being shunned by someone I really admired.

    I sat at lunch that day and let the tears fall. I told my story. I told her about my immorality, my abortion, my broken family and my broken heart. In my mind’s eye, I saw her get up and walk away without so much as a backward glance.

    Instead, my friend listened intently as I laid down my long-held mask. She gave me her undivided attention, she gave me her touch, and then she laid down her own mask and shared some things God had done in her life.

    When I confessed how much I feared taking the risk to meet with her, she told me about a woman in the Bible who took a risk to receive healing from an "issue" of her own.

    Those words held my attention. A woman with an issue? Yep — that was me!

    This woman had a physical issue. The laws of her day left her living with a condition that appalled and disgusted "normal" people. She lived as an outcast — shunned, avoided and alone in her suffering.

    The Bible says this woman heard the reports about how Jesus went from town to town, "healing every kind of disease and sickness" (Matthew 9:35, NIV). In fact, she surely had heard the news that Jesus was on His way to heal the daughter of one of the synagogue leaders.

    Despite the crowds, the woman with the "issue" went. She didn’t know if people would recognize her and recoil, or if they would warn Jesus about her before she could get close enough to see Him. But she risked all of that to go to Him. She stood among the crowd and told Jesus her issue. And on that day she heard the words that freed her, "Daughter, … Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" (Mark 5:34b).

    I thank God for my friend pointing me to Jesus. I honestly didn’t know the Bible held stories of women who felt filthy or rejected. I didn’t know there were women who were stuck in shame, fear or feelings of unworthiness.

    Just like me.

    I had no idea taking the risk to share my story would lead to my healing, and my future life in ministry — walking other women, hand-in-hand, to Jesus.

    What about you?

    Every one of us has an "issue" that needs Jesus’ healing touch. Will you go to Jesus and risk it all to be free?

    Lord, thank You for Your promise that we can be freed from our suffering. Help me take a risk toward all You have for me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 139:1b, "… O LORD you have searched me and known me!" (ESV)

    John 10:10b, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    In her new book, Life Unstuck, Pat Layton walks with you along the path to finding peace with your past, purpose in your present and passion for your future.

    Get your FREE copy of Pat’s UnStuck Manifesto today!

    Enter to WIN a copy of Life Unstuck by Pat Layton. In celebration of this book, Pat’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, March 16.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What "issue" or issues do you need to take to Jesus today?

    If God has freed you from suffering in a particular area, pray and ask Him if there is someone with whom you should risk sharing your story so she, too, might come to know His freeing power.

    © 2015 by Pat Layton. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Revell Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • When You Wish You Were a Different Mommy

    Posted on March 9, 2015 by Family Christian

    Alicia Bruxvoort MARCH 9, 2015

    When You Wish You Were a Different Mommy
    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "… and finally He said to me, ‘My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’ So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on — I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Voice)

    When my firstborn was 3 years old, he told me he wished he had a different mommy.

    He spat the words from the seat of his faded red time-out chair where he’d landed after digging holes in the neighbor’s yard. He was certain that another mommy would understand that the best dinosaur bones were buried in the flowerbed across the street.

    I’d remained silent, the angry words hanging between us like the strand of hair dangling over my son’s icy blue eyes. But every piece of my wounded spirit had agreed with my fiery boy. I wish you had a different mommy, too, my heart cried.

    Truth be told, I didn’t want my son to exchange me for a new mommy; I just wished that I could be a different mommy. One who laughed more, forgave quicker and floundered less. One who never yelled in frustration or cried in exhaustion, and could turn scraps of paper into a Pinterest-worthy craft and bake a birthday cake from scratch. I wished I were a mom who innately knew how to parent children with temperaments unlike my own.

    At first, I assumed my insecurities would disappear in time … that once I figured out how to be a fabulous mom, my parenting flaws would fade. I read dozens of parenting books and studied the habits of moms who seemed to have it all together. But ironically, the more children I had, the more apparent my shortcomings became.

    Ten years later as I sat exhausted, rocking our fitful fifth-born, I eyeballed the mess around me — laundry and Lego piles, homework folders and smelly gym bags — and exhaled a discouraged sigh. Then, in a moment of vulnerable honesty, I confessed my angst to my husband.

    "I feel like I’m not enough. I can’t ever do enough. Love enough. Work enough. Pray enough …" Jostling the fussy infant in my arms, I felt that familiar churn of self-doubt rising in my stomach.

    My husband stared at me, his tender gaze reflecting my pain. "You don’t have to be enough," he murmured quietly. "That’s Jesus’ job."

    I let his reassuring words seep deep into my splintered soul. In my striving to be enough, I’d forgotten that Christ’s perfect plan for my children depends on His faithfulness, not my flawlessness.

    Late that night, I opened my Bible to 2 Corinthians 12:9 and underlined this sacred pledge: "My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness." Then I wrote a simple declaration in the margin of my Bible: "I am not enough, but Jesus is."

    From that moment on, I began to replace my fears with faith.

    Instead of spending all of my energy on futile attempts to be a perfect mom, I chose to spend time getting to know my perfect Savior. I committed to reading God’s Word daily and investing in prayer, memorizing Scripture and practicing the habit of gratitude. I "staked my claim" in the promises of Christ, and slowly, my qualms were quelled.

    Today, I can humbly say that my firstborn’s wish has come true. I am a different mommy. I’m still not enough for my children, but Jesus is. As I trust in His sufficiency and rest in His grace, I’m learning to live in His strength rather than obsess over my weaknesses. Because this far-from perfect mommy has discovered a liberating truth — we have a Savior who is an expert at filling holes (even dinosaur-sized ones).

    Dear Jesus, I’ll never be perfect, but You are. I want to live in the light of Your strength and let Your love shine through all of my holes. Show me how to trade my fears for faith and give me an unquenchable desire for Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 1:25, "You can count on this: God’s foolishness will always be wiser than mere human wisdom, and God’s weakness will always be stronger than mere human strength." (The Voice)

    Psalm 18:30, "Everything God does is perfect; the promise of the Eternal rings true; He stands as a shield for all who hide in Him." (The Voice, emphasis added)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Want to help put Truth into a special child’s heart this Easter? Both the Jesus Storybook Bible and ABC Scripture Cards can help the Scriptures come to life. Vividly illustrated, this children’s Bible tells the story beneath all the Bible stories, about Jesus. Similarly, each decorative ABC Scripture Card contains a verse to memorize, as you help instill God’s Word into their hearts and minds.

    Stop by Alicia’s blog today for more encouragement and a special giveaway for imperfect moms.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write out this simple truth and post it where you will see it daily: "I am not enough, but Jesus is."

    Because of Jesus, we can become "different" women. Read Numbers 14:24 and ask yourself, "Is there an area of my life where I’m failing to follow God wholeheartedly?" Write a prayer committing that part of your life to the Lord and invite Him to make a difference in you and through you this week.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • I Wanted to Give Up Before I Began

    Posted on March 6, 2015 by Family Christian

    Micca Campbell MARCH 6, 2015

    I Wanted to Give Up Before I Began
    MICCA CAMPBELL

    "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

    I was sitting in my bedroom working on my weekly Bible study when God spoke to me. While I can’t say I heard His voice audibly, it was the loudest thought I’d ever had. His message was clear: "Speak."

    After a few minutes of panic, I calmed myself by deciding the whole episode was just something crazy I’d imagined. C’mon, Micca, God spoke to you? No way.

    And with that, I put the thought of speaking out of my head.

    As time went on, mysterious things happened that brought to mind God’s word to me … I received unsolicited invitations to speak at ladies’ luncheons, churches and schools.

    Fear filled my entire being, and I thought about graciously declining, but then I remembered Moses.

    Moses had doubts and fears just like me. When God spoke to Moses through a burning bush and gave him the task of freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, he was terrified too. Moses told God he wasn’t capable of taking on such a huge assignment.

    How did God respond? He assured Moses he wasn’t alone. That He would be with him.

    As I revisited this story found in Exodus chapters 3 and 4, God showed me it wasn’t about any commitment on my part, as much as it was about submitting to His plan. With that I decided to obey. "Okay, God. As long as you’re with me I᾿ll give speaking a try."

    Each time I spoke I felt the same — like tossing my cookies. It wasn’t easy! There were so many faces staring at me. I knew they had expectations. And beyond the people in the audience, I felt Satan taunting me with negative thoughts and lies while I was speaking: "Nobody is listening to you. You’re just a simple southern girl. What have you got to offer? Do us all a favor and give up."

    I wanted to give up. So did Moses, but God gave him confidence. The Lord promised Moses He would be with him and help him. God would perform miracles through him. These signs would not only reassure Moses that God was with him, but they would force the king of Egypt to free God’s people from slavery.

    I love that Moses wasn’t afraid to admit his weaknesses to God. How else would Moses have known the Lord would be his help and his strength?

    Trusting in these truths provided strength each time I spoke. That’s not all. Repeatedly, God showed me what He was accomplishing through my weakness and obedience. The most confirming response came when I spoke to a group of college students.

    After the room cleared, a young man approached me. "Excuse me," he began. "When I was in high school, I felt God calling me into ministry. But when it came time for college I ignored that call and chose to study law. After hearing you speak today, God stirred my heart, and I’ve decided to surrender to the ministry. I want to thank you for coming. God used you to point me back in the right direction for my life."

    Wow! I was amazed God invited me to participate in such a beautiful miracle. In spite of my insecurities, doubts and feeble weakness, the Lord used me.

    It was then that today’s key verse, Psalm 28:7, became a reality in my heart: "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

    The more I trusted God in my weakness, the stronger I became, and the more I realized this truth: God never commands us to do something that He doesn’t provide the power and help to accomplish.

    Whether you’re called to speak to 10 or 10,000, lead a Bible study group or give a presentation at work, public speaking can be challenging. And you do have a choice. You can say "no" to your burning bush and be miserable, or you can say "yes" and watch the power of God work through your weakness to accomplish His will and bring glory to His Name.

    The Lord wants to reveal Himself to others through you. The key is admitting your weaknesses to God and submitting to His ability to work wonders through you.

    Father, I confess my fears to You. Help me overcome them by trusting in Your presence and power that You make available in every task. Help me worry less about committing on my end, and focus more on admitting my weaknesses and submitting to Your plans. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Corinthians 9:8, "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Has God put it on your heart to use words to influence others? Proverbs 31 Ministries is hosting She Speaks, an annual conference for writers and speakers. Join us in Charlotte July 23-25, for a unique combination of spiritual inspiration and practical application.

    If you suffer with doubt and fear, Micca Campbell’s book, An Untroubled Heart, offers a remedy for turning fear into faith.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What’s holding you back from being all God intends you to be? Make a list, then surrender each item to God. Ask God to help you trust Him in every opportunity to minister in His Name.

    © 2015 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • The Scribbled Truth that Changed My Life

    Posted on March 5, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst MARCH 5, 2015

    The Scribbled Truth that Changed My Life
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.’" Acts 3:6a (NIV)

    There was a season of my life that was very dark. When my baby sister died tragically and unexpectedly, my entire world flipped upside down.

    What I once knew to be true suddenly became questionable.

    Is God good? If so, why this? And if I never know why, how can I ever trust God again?

    Hard questions. Honest questions. Questions that haunted me.

    Until one day I got a note from a friend. A girl I not-so-affectionately called my "Bible friend." She honestly got on my nerves with all her Bible verse quoting. I wasn’t on good terms with God at that point in my life. I didn’t want to believe God even existed. And I certainly wasn’t reading the Bible.

    I made all of this very known to my Bible friend. But in her gentle, sweet, kind way … she kept slipping me notes of truth with gently woven verses tucked within.

    And one day, one verse cracked the dam of my soul. Truth slipped in and split my hardhearted views of life open just enough for God to make Himself known to me.

    I held that simple note with one Bible verse scribbled on the front as the tears of honest need streamed down my cheeks. My stiff knees bent. And a whispered "Yes, God" changed the course of my life.

    My Bible friend had reached me. And because of her, I’m determined to use my words as a gift to others who may be in hard places … like a friend of mine who recently told me she is struggling with feeling she has no real purpose.

    Life rushes at her each day with overwhelming demands. Everything feels hard, with very little reprieve.

    If ever there were a drowning with no water involved, this is where my friend is.

    Maybe you have a hurting friend, too.

    So I sat down to write my friend a card and send her a little gift. I desperately wanted to love her through my words. My heart was full of care, compassion and a strong desire to encourage but I struggled to translate all I felt on paper.

    As I prayed about it, the word "loved" kept coming to mind.

    Remind her she is loved. Remind her how much you respect her. Remind her she is a woman who has so much to offer. Remind her she is valuable and she is enough.

    In Acts 3, Peter and John encountered a crippled man at the temple gate called Beautiful. They stopped. They noticed. They decided to touch. Riches weren’t available to them but the ability to value was.

    As our key verse of Acts 3:6-7a says, "‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up …"

    Peter and John didn’t have silver, but they had a hand to offer and value to give. The man in need was worth touching. The hurting one in need was a man who needed someone to see him as a man. The man in need had so much to offer. After he got up, he went into the temple courts praising God and stirring up wonder and amazement about God.

    I want my friend to remember she, too, has praise left inside her for our God. She too can get up. She too can stir up amazement and wonder about our God.

    Yes, she is loved and God has a good plan for her. It’s my job to help her see that, just like my Bible friend did for me all those years ago.

    I will never doubt the power of one woman reaching into the life of another woman with some written whisper of love.

    Dear Lord, I’m so thankful for the relationships You’ve placed in my life. Would You help me discern what encouraging words my friend needs to hear today? I want to show her Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 5:11, "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind." (MSG)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Remind a friend she is valued, loved and beautiful with the Proverbs 31 Ministries "Live a Life of Love" Gift Set. Each set contains a piece of stationary, a frameable print and two Scripture cards so she can take God’s Truth with her wherever she goes. Get one for a friend here.

    Learn more about intentionally investing in your relationships with Lysa’s book, The Best Yes. Purchase your copy here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which friend comes to mind when you think of someone who needs encouragement? Ask the Lord to give you the words that are specific to her needs in this season as you write a note to her this week.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • The Day I Wanted to Punch Somebody

    Posted on March 4, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll MARCH 4, 2015

    The Day I Wanted to Punch Somebody
    AMY CARROLL

    "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Romans 8:5 (NIV)

    At first it seemed like a wonderful idea to take my boys to the mall on the craziest shopping day of the whole year. We piled into the car and left home excited about all the deals we’d find. My optimism soon faded as we reached the line of cars twisting out of the parking lot onto the road.

    I dropped my sons off in front of their favorite store and promised to join them as soon as I found a parking space.

    However, each space I saw was immediately filled by the nearest car, and the weight of frustration began to press on my chest. My blood pressure rose with each passing minute.

    I inched my car around the corner of the next row, hoping to be released from the snarl, only to be blocked by an enormous SUV driven by a man chauffeuring his family. One of us had to back up, and it seemed like he had more room behind him than I did.

    So, I smiled and motioned a request for him to back up to let me pass. Shockingly, the man motioned back at me with an obvious lack of the pleasantness I had hoped to convey. He refused to budge.

    Suddenly, the girl many have referred to as "sweet" … the girl who usually doesn’t struggle with anger or take quick offense … the girl who knows violence is the wrong solution to conflict … suddenly that girl’s imagination began to swirl. I pictured myself getting out of the car, screaming insults and jabbing my finger in the man’s chest until he humbly backed his car out of my way. In the heat of my rage, I seriously contemplated creating a scene.

    However, the still-functioning part of my brain realized this man wasn’t going to give way, so roiling with anger, I carefully backed up into traffic for him to pass, glaring at him and his posse as he drove by.

    About an hour later, after I finally found a parking space, I nearly walked right into the man and his family coming out of a store. My heart sank, and I was filled with shame.

    Suddenly, I had a new picture in my mind: Me in the parking lot with a sign on my forehead that said, "I love Jesus and follow Him."

    Until our close-encounter outside the safe buffer zone of my car, my still simmering fury seemed justified. Now deflated, I faced my own fault.

    Today’s key verse calls my initial reaction "the flesh." In studying this verse alongside another translation, I found an exact description of my response. "If you live your life animated by the flesh — namely, your fallen, corrupt nature — then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit — namely, God’s indwelling presence — then your focus is on the work of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5, The Voice).

    Although it’s my heart’s desire to live by the Spirit, reflecting God’s indwelling presence to those around me, that day I allowed my flesh to rise up. Instead of being fixated on the things of the Spirit, I focused on what my flesh wanted … a bargain on material things, a parking space and my own way.

    Where our mind is set determines where our actions go.

    Thankfully, the man and his family didn’t seem to recognize me, but I was instantly humbled and repentant when I saw them. Whispering a prayer to God, I asked for His forgiveness and for restoration in my heart and mind to the work of the Spirit. When our flesh rises up, asking God to reset our focus returns us to right relationship with Him and others.

    Lord, my mind’s focus can stray so easily, leading me to live in the flesh instead of in the presence of Your Spirit. Help me start each day by gazing at You so I can live each moment setting my heart, soul and mind on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Galatians 5:22-23, "The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this." (The Voice)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst is a practical guide for dealing with raw emotions.

    Visit Amy Carroll’s blog today to read more about the beautiful work of God’s Spirit in our lives.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are indicators in your own life that you’ve moved out of the Spirit and into the flesh?

    Write a plan for how to set your mind on the Spirit the next time you recognize these indicators.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • How Do I Choose?

    Posted on March 3, 2015 by Family Christian

    Sally Clarkson MARCH 3, 2015

    How Do I Choose?
    John Ortberg

    "…See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut…" Revelation 3:8a (NIV)

    Life is full of tough decisions.

    How do I know if he/she is "the one"? Which college should I go to? What should I major in? Which job should I take? Which church should we attend? Should I change careers? Now that the kids are grown, should we downsize? Is now the right time to retire?

    People hate making decisions. Mostly because we’re terrified of making the wrong one.

    Choosing thrills us. Choosing scares us. Choosing comes from the core of who we are. When we truly choose, we have no one to blame and nowhere to hide. And that can be downright terrifying.

    My wife, Nancy, and I were at a restaurant once, and the waiter responded to every choice we made by saying, "Brilliant," "Perfect" or "Excellent decision." This happened so steadily throughout the meal that I finally asked him if he ever told anyone they made a lousy choice. He told us that the restaurant managers had discovered diners are so afraid of choosing the wrong thing, they actually print a list of "affirmation words" that the wait staff is required to say in response to everyone’s order.

    Think about that. Even a question as simple as, "Soup or salad?" renders us so vulnerable that restaurants have to turn their wait staff into therapists!

    In a way, we do the same thing with God. Terrified of making a bad decision, we lay all of our choices at God’s feet and ask Him, "What is Your will for my life?"

    But, what if God’s will for us is that we develop the wisdom and discernment to make our own decisions in light of His Word, and the faith and confidence to know He will be there guiding us regardless of which path we choose?

    Doesn’t that sound freeing?

    God wants us to learn how to choose well. That may be why, when we look at the Bible, there is no chapter devoted to ’How to know God’s will for your life." Paul doesn’t write about "6 Steps to Determine If He’s the One" or "5 Ways to Discern God’s Best Career Path for You."

    What we do see are statements like this: "If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you" (James 1:5, NRSV).

    Or "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best" (Philippians 1:9-10a, NIV, 1984).

    So the next time you face a difficult decision, instead of asking God what His will is for your life, begin by asking for wisdom. And don’t live in fear of making the wrong decision. Even if you walk through the wrong door, as long as you walk through it with the right heart, God’s will will be done.

    Remember, God’s will for your life is not about whom, or if, you should marry, which job you should accept, or which neighborhood you should live in. God’s will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in His image, somebody with the character of Jesus. And nothing can stand in the way of that.

    Dear God, we know that You are the God of the open door. Every moment of every day is an opportunity for us to grow and serve and make a positive impact on others. Because of Your love, we don’t have to be afraid of failure, nor do we have to live under the tyranny of always making the perfect choice. We pray You will give us the courage and wisdom to walk through whatever doors You open before us. And we pray that through our actions, Your will will be done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (ESV)

    Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    How do we determine God’s plans? If you’re searching for more on discovering God’s will for your life, you’ll enjoy John Ortberg’s new book, All the Places to Go … How Will You Know? To dig even deeper with a small group or Sunday School class, explore the 6-session DVD Curriculum.

    Enter to WIN a copy of All the Places to Go … How Will You Know? by John Ortberg. In celebration of this book, John's publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, March 9.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Some decisions seem much harder to make than others. Think back to the last genuinely difficult decision you made and compare that to a relatively simple decision you’ve made recently. What made one so much harder/easier than the other?

    Think back to the last "bad" decision you made. What did you learn from the experience that made you a better person?

    © 2015 by John Ortberg. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale House Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • What can churches realistically do to make families of special needs children feel welcome?

    Posted on March 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    When you have a child with autism or other special needs, even the simple everyday tasks most take for granted can present their own set of unique challenges and issues. Trips to the grocery store, outings to the zoo...and yes, even church! Between the noises, the lights and the crowds, churches can be a lot for kids with sensory issues to handle.

    For parents, this can be very isolating. We find ourselves feeling looked down upon in social situations when sensory issues lead to meltdowns and 'inappropriate' behaviors. Even in church, it's easy to feel a little unwelcome at times.

     

    In an ideal world, every church would offer a sensory friendly service... a special service where families of those with sensory issues could come and worship without fear. Music would be turned down, there'd be no crazy lights, no booming speeches and moving around would be not only acceptable but even welcome. Or perhaps they'd offer a special room (like a cry room, seen in many larger churches) or even a special needs classroom available during the church services. All options would be ideal...but let's be honest, most churches simply do not have the resources available.

    Which leads to the question: what can churches realistically do to make families of special needs children feel welcome?

    One very simple way is by offering a sensory box to use during services to those that need them. This box would contain both sensory products aimed to help deal with sensory overload, as well as fun activities that can help children stay occupied. Here's a look at some ideas to include:

     

    • Weighted Products. Weighted/compression vests, lap pads, etc can be a great for calming and helping kids to stay still.
    • Noise Reducing Headphones. One of the big issues for kids in a church setting is the noise- be it the music, the blare of speakers or just the crowd in general. For my son, we have found noise reducing headphones to be essential in public places when it becomes too much. These are similar to what one would wear at a shooting range and does not block out all noise but rather filters out some of the background noise.
    • Oral Sensory Toys. These would of course be specific to each child (to be stored with a plastic baggie with their name), but can also be a great addition to your sensory box. For my son, I've found that having something to chew on such as this can help him to focus...as well as keeping his mouth off of everything around him!
    • Books. For the child that can read, books can be a great distraction! Fill with bright, vibrant books for various age levels. Consider Veggie Tales comics or fun Bible storybooks. I loved featuring a book called 'God Made Me Special' to remind those differently-abled children that God made them perfect just as they are.
    • Art Supplies. Crayons, coloring books, pencils, etc can all again provide great busy work to make the wait a little easier. Color Wonder papers and markers can be ideal for younger kids or those with fine motor issues to prevent messes. Clay and/or playdoh when possible can also serve as a great sensory experience.
    • Small Quiet Toys. Of course there is no better way to occupy a child's attention than with toys! For this box, the key thing you want to look for is toys that can be played with quietly! Plush toys, soft balls, etc are great options. For the sensory seeking kid, offer a variety of textures. Find toys that have colorful lights. Spinning parts are also popular among kids with sensory issues (gears, wheels, tops, etc).  Inexpensive novelty toys are fantastic for this type of box...they can be replaced easily and inexpensively and because they are not played with every day still keep their appeal. (We used this types of toys often as reinforcements in therapy).
    Of course, every child will be different and what helps one child might not for the next, but this list will give you a great starting point to build upon. The sensory therapy products can all be found at stores specializing in therapy or education, but many great sensory friendly toys and books can be found right where you shop for your other church supplies- Family Christian.Just by letting families know that you have thought of them and want to make their church experience as easy as possible can go a long way in letting them know that they are in fact welcome. But don't let the welcoming end there. Offer support where possible, ask questions about how you can make church a better experience for each individual family and above all be understanding. Even creating the perfect sensory-friendly church experience may still prove too much for some children- reach out to these families where they are. A little bit of compassion can go a long way in making this journey with a differently-abled child a little less lonely.

    Randi Sampson is a Christian wife and autism mom. She blogs at A Modern Day Fairy Tale- sharing stories of motherhood, life, product reviews and everything in between.

  • There’s no Such Thing as a Perfect Mom

    Posted on March 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles MARCH 2, 2015

    There’s no Such Thing as a Perfect Mom
    TRACIE MILES

    "Her children arise and call her blessed;" Proverbs 31:28a (NIV)

    A teenage pregnancy landed me in an abortion clinic. And for years afterward, I was tormented by regret and shame, worsened by the secret fear that God would never bless me with another child. Yet 14 years later, as I held my first baby in my arms, I began thinking hope-filled thoughts for the very first time.

    I peered into Morgan’s little blue eyes and wondered … Maybe God doesn’t despise me after all. Maybe He does see some good in me. Maybe He does love me, despite me. After all, if God would allow me to be a mom to something so tiny and precious, could He really hate me?

    Those questions were the start of my healing, as Jesus began to mend my shattered heart through the cries of a newborn.

    Over time, I embraced God’s love for me. Yet I still believed I had a lot to make up for. I was convinced I had to be the best mommy in the history of all mommies. I intended to prove to God, this baby and myself that I deserved her. I devoted every waking moment to meeting every need of this treasured child.

    Irrational? Obsessed? Overachieving? Yes, I was all of those things. I desperately wanted to be a good mom, the best mom. In fact, I hoped I could make up for my past mistakes if I were the perfect mom. So I set standards for myself that I couldn’t meet — no one could — and constantly felt like a failure.

    I imagine many moms feel that way at times. We set our minds to being the most patient, loving, thoughtful, caring, kind, generous and selfless mothers ever, but life and reality get in the way. Colicky babies, tantrum-throwing toddlers, defiant third graders, disrespectful middle schoolers, and hormonal teenagers shake our quest for perfection.

    No matter how hard we try, we can’t live up to the standard of being perfect moms with perfect kids who rise up every day and call us blessed.

    When we read today’s key verse, it might make us wonder if we’re enough as a mom — especially on those days when we don’t feel like enough. But the truth is, this woman’s husband and children, who knew her better than anyone else, were recipients of her love, care and unselfish habits. They believed she was a good mother and wife and respected her faith and who she was overall, and they were proud.

    It doesn’t say she was perfect, just that she was perfectly loved and respected.

    All of us have made mistakes or endured hardships in life, but we don’t have to let our past become a stumbling block for our future or impact the futures of our children. God has called us all to a divine purpose in this life, and sometimes the highest, most divine calling of all, is being a mom.

    Not a perfect mom, but a mom who loves the Lord, and seeks grace when she stumbles and strength when she’s weary. A mom who pushes past her lack of confidence and regrets from the past, and allows God to use those experiences to shape her into a faith role model for her kids.

    A mom who simply tries her best, while remembering she has a God who will guide her through each season of parenting, one imperfect day after another. A mom who loves her children enough to teach them to love Him too, even in the midst of her own short-comings.

    And one day, those sweet babies just might rise up and call us blessed, simply because we built a legacy of faith and love. Then every prayer for grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience and perseverance will be well worth the wait.

    Jesus, sometimes I feel like a failure at mothering, and often wonder if my past choices affect my ability to be a good parent. Help me to remember I am flawed, but dearly loved, and that in Your strength and wisdom I can succeed in this calling of motherhood. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 22:6, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    For more encouragement on being the woman and mom God called you to be despite the mistakes of your past, consider purchasing Tracie Miles’ book Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future.

    Visit Tracie’s blog for 5 Tips of Encouragement for the Less-Than-Perfect Mom and learn about her upcoming book study.

    Want to help put Truth into your children’s hearts? ABC Scripture Cards were designed to bring Scripture memory to life in the heart of your home. Each decorative card contains a verse to memorize with your child as you help instill God’s word into their heart and mind.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How have you held yourself to unreasonable standards as a mom?

    How might this journey of motherhood be different if you stopped trying to be perfect?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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