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Family Christian

  • Did I Hurt God’s Feelings?

    Did I Hurt God’s Feelings? by Leah DiPascal

    “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 (ESV)

    Wouldn’t it be great if God answered you immediately, every time you prayed or asked Him a question?

    Just imagine. You’d always have His clear direction and sure confirmation. You’d know exactly what to do in any situation. No more hesitating or second-guessing.

    Wouldn’t that be fantastic!

    Well, several months ago, I was dealing with a tough situation and kept asking God to bring clarity to what I should do. I searched Scripture and found some great verses that could apply.

    But I longed for more. I wanted specific words from Him pertaining to my specific situation. One solid sentence would do. Just something … anything … to give me a clear, concise direction.

    I brainstormed solutions. Offered God suggestions. Even pouted a little. But no specific words came.

    Then one evening during my quiet time, I asked again, Lord, why haven’t You given me direction with this situation? You know I’m struggling and waiting for a specific word from You, right?

    Within seconds, Ephesians 4:30, today’s key verse, popped into my thoughts: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    Huh … ?

    My heart sank. My shoulders slumped. My eyes gazed down at the floor.

    Lord, how have I grieved Your Holy Spirit? You know I love You more than life itself.

    I quickly picked up my Bible, turned to Ephesians 4, and there it was staring back at me in black and white print: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:30-31).

    God had definitely taken His holy highlighter and illuminated specific words. Except, these words were not the ones I expected.

    It was time for a little personal Bible study, so I read through Ephesians 4, looking up cross-references and commentary notes to better understand. Then I mulled over the tough situation I’d been asking God about — this time with a new perspective. His perspective.

    I prayed some more and began quietly listening instead of doing all the talking. And then it hit me …

    In the prior days of wrestling with my issue, I lost sight of the fact that I was also expressing a lot of frustration, irritation and ugliness. Not just in my thoughts, but with my words … to my family and a close friend.

    Sure, I was still praying daily, reading my Bible and listening to worship music. But I was also planting tiny seeds of bitterness and anger inside my heart every time I thought about the situation or expressed it to others.

    These tiny seeds of sin were taking root and sprouting ugly weeds of negativity in my thought life, attitude and words.

    This sin wasn’t breaking my relationship with God, but it was definitely creating a hindrance in our fellowship and grieving His Spirit.

    I had overlooked the truth that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person with feelings and emotions. And my expressions were definitely in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control.

    You can bet I didn’t waste time before saying I was sorry and confessing my sin. Nothing is more important to me than my relationship with God and the close fellowship I have with Him.

    So how do we maintain close fellowship with the Holy Spirit on a consistent basis? A few examples are given in the same section of Ephesians 4: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV).

    When we live like Christ — forgiving and extending kindness to others, expressing genuine love from a tender heart that’s been shaped by God — we bring joy to Him. And that joy also enriches our friendships and makes our relationship with others so much sweeter!

    Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit as my Guide and Companion for life. Thank You for loving me unconditionally, even when I act in ways I know I shouldn’t. Make me aware of any unconfessed sin I’ve held on to, so I can repent and continue to move forward with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (ESV)

    Galatians 5:22-23a, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: The Holy Spirit works within us to reveal the truth of God’s Word in every aspect of our lives. He always points us to Jesus and brings glory to the Father.

    As a true believer, your relationship with God is secure in Christ. Don’t let sin hinder your vibrant fellowship or quench the Holy Spirit’s workings in your life. Take a few minutes now and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself in an undeniable way.

    © 2016 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Pretending I’m Fine or Proving I’m Right

    Pretending I’m Fine or Proving I’m Right by Lysa TerKeurst

    “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace‑loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 (NIV)

    If someone says something or does something that hurts me, what is the godly response? Is it to pretend like everything is fine so I can keep the peace? Or is it to confront the person to prove how wrong they are?

    Neither.

    If ever I catch myself pretending or proving, I know I’m processing my hurt the wrong way.

    The godly way is approaching this situation with soul integrity — responding in a way that’s honest but also peacemaking. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure (honest); then peace‑loving …” Yes, I want this kind of wisdom — this soul integrity. I want to be honest and peacemaking at the same time. But how?

    I must remember I need real honesty combined with real peacemaking.

    Real Honesty. Not all honest expressions of my feelings can be categorized as “real honesty.” You see, my honest feelings may not be truthful assessments of the situation. I can be honest with how I feel and still exaggerate or misinterpret what is factually true. I can feel justified in being blatant about my feelings — not hiding a thing — and yet prideful for being so real, all under the guise of being “honest” enough not to stuff my emotions.

    But in reality, honesty that isn’t real isn’t honesty at all. It could just be emotional spewing. That’s why we need peacemaking honesty — honesty reined in by the Holy Spirit — if we’re going to have authentic soul integrity.

    So, if I want real honesty, I have to ask the Holy Spirit to show me real truth. I need to see things from the other person’s perspective. I need to ask questions with the desire to better understand instead of throwing out statements of accusation. Ultimately, my goal should be to add peacemaking to my honesty.

    Real Peacemaking. It must grieve God to see plastic versions of peacemaking that aren’t reined in by honesty. That’s what we do when we stuff our emotions and pretend everything is okay. The upside to stuffing is that we have the semblance of peacemakers. But when we do this at the expense of honesty, we harbor a corrosive bitterness that will eventually emerge. Either it will erode our health and later present itself in a host of emotional and physical anxiety-induced illnesses, or it will accumulate over time and surprise everyone when the peacemaker eventually erupts. Saying “I’m fine” to keep the peace when we’re really not fine builds walls and shuts down intimacy.

    Sometimes, dishonesty comes in the form of saying things that aren’t true. But it’s also dishonest when we don’t say things that are true.

    It may seem godly in the moment, but it’s false godliness. Truth and godliness always walk hand‑in‑hand. The minute we divorce one from the other, we stray from soul integrity and give a foothold to the instability that inevitably leads to coming unglued.

    Yes, we’re after soul integrity — honesty that is also peacemaking that leads to godliness. This soul integrity brings balance to unglued reactions. It makes us true peacemakers — people who aren’t proving or pretending but rather, honestly demonstrating what they experience in a godly manner.

    And being a true peacemaker reaps a harvest of great qualities in our lives: right things, godly things, healthy things.

    Dear Lord, it is only through You that I’m able to bring all my exploding and stuffing under Your authority and truth. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who gives me the wisdom to move beyond my reactions. Help me lean on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 13:11, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (ESV)

    James 3:18, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is the Lord moving you toward real honesty, real peacemaking or a combination today?

    Thinking about your current relationships, what are some practical applications you can make as you pursue soul integrity?

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When I Don’t Feel Like I Measure Up

    When I Don’t Feel Like I Measure Up by Renee Swope

    “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12b (NIV)

    Do you ever compare yourself to other women and feel like you don’t quite measure up? Maybe you feel like you’re not as smart, pretty, fun, organized or as good at _______ as they are.

    It’s so easy to think that if we had more or knew more, we’d be secure. But the truth is, even people who “have it all” still struggle with feelings of insecurity. The Bible opens with the story of a woman who had everything, but it still wasn’t enough (Genesis 2).

    God had established Eve’s worth as His child and the crown of His creation. He also supplied Eve with every woman’s desire: intimacy, beauty, security, significance and purpose. Yet Satan conjured up feelings of insecurity by luring Eve’s eyes off what she had and on to what she didn’t have.

    Boy, can I relate. Like Eve, I’ve heard Satan’s whispers telling me I’m not all I could be — or should be. One day I was reading her story in Genesis 3, and I noticed that Satan’s questions and suggestions were intended to plant seeds of doubt in Eve’s heart. He wanted her to doubt God and herself.

    The enemy’s whispers tempted Eve to try to “be” more and “have” more by seeking significance apart from God’s provision. He convinced her something was missing in her life and that the forbidden fruit would make her be “like God.”

    It was a foolish comparison. All comparisons are. Yet we do it all the time. If only I were like her … if only I had a house like hers, a husband like hers, a job like hers … if only my children behaved like hers … if only _______, then I’d feel significant, satisfied and secure.

    In today’s key verse, 2 Corinthians 10:12b, Paul warns us that those who “measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, are not wise.”

    Comparison will always leave us feeling like we don’t measure up. We can try to do more and be more, yet it’s never enough.

    If only Eve had focused on who she was and what she had as a child of God. If only we would, too. Yet Satan wants us to focus on our flaws and feelings of inadequacy, then exhaust even more energy figuring out how to hide them.

    We don’t have to go along with his schemes. Instead we can equip ourselves to recognize his lies, refute his temptations with truth and focus on God’s acceptance, security and significance.

    Then we can thank God for His provision and His promises that remind us of who we are in Him:

    I am accepted … Ephesians 1:3-8, I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. Colossians 1:13-14, I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. Colossians 2:9-10, I am complete in Christ.

    I am secure … Romans 8:28, I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. Romans 8:31-39, I am free from condemnation. I can’t be separated from God’s love. Philippians1:6, I am confident God will complete the good work He started in me.

    I am significant … Ephesians 2:10, I am God’s workmanship. Ephesians 3:12, I may approach God with freedom and confidence. Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    Author and psychologist Dr. Neil T. Anderson says, “The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior (and beliefs) will begin to reflect your true identity!”

    So, the next time we’re tempted to use the measuring stick of comparison — let’s commit to measure UP by focusing upward on Christ and who we are in HIM!

    Lord, thank You that in Christ I’m chosen, holy and dearly loved. When I’m tempted to measure myself according to the world’s standards or my foolish comparisons, help me recognize Satan’s lies, refuse his temptations and rely on Your truth about me instead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 5:9, “Stand firm against him [the devil], and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” (NLT)

    2 Corinthians 3:4-5, “Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In what ways do you compare yourself with others?

    When you’re tempted to use the measuring stick of comparison — measure UP by re-focusing upward on who you are in Christ.

    © 2016 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Life without a Bucket List

    Life without a Bucket List by Kara Tippetts

    “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.” John 15:5 (NIV)

    {Editor's Note: On March 22nd, 2015, Kara Tippetts went home to be with Jesus after a long and difficult battle with cancer. While she was here, she touched so many lives, and helped people understand how you can find God, even in the midst of suffering, even in the midst of the mundane. Kara’s response to her terminal brain cancer was filled with grace, hope and peace. This devotional comes from her final book, And It Was Beautiful. We hope these words will speak to you in a special way today.}

    I can confidently say I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms.

    But beyond that, I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.

    Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street, this place sometimes feels so vulgar, so wanting my money without care for my heart.

    Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.

    Suffering has a way of exposing our theology, certainly our practical theology, where what we believe about God collides with where we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God’s goodness.

    I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. Our ideas of God are not necessarily made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next.

    Last week, in that unknown, I was smooching on [my son] Lake and the thought hit me that I won’t be around to help him navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing because of the fear that gripped me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and was almost suffocated by the thought of who will help them during the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Can’t I stay and be here for them when they need me?

    The truth is none of us know the length of our lives. So we pray for daily bread and say thank you when it comes. For today I have a little boy who will cross the room to give me a hug. I have a baby girl who gives me 10 kisses when I ask for five. I have a preteen who still holds my hand in public, in front of her friends even. I have a second born who loves to tell me every tiny detail of her day. I have a guy who makes coffee just like I like it.

    A bucket list? No, I don’t need one. I’m so rich. It’s relationships that matter. And for me, paying attention to the precious gift of today is the only thing on my list.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the blessings that I have, the friends, family, relationships, even the material possessions I own. But Lord, please let my heart not rest in these. Let my heart not grow hard, or grow weary when You decide that something should be taken from me. May You forever be my ultimate rock and resting place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

    Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What one hope, dream, blessing, are you holding onto so tightly that you won’t entrust it fully to God? Give it up to Him today.

    © 2016 by Kara Tippetts. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks David C Cook for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • The Treasures God Longs to Give a Mom

    The Treasures God Longs to Give a Mom by Alicia Bruxvoort

    “And I will give you a new heart — I will give you new and right desires — and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love.” Ezekiel 36:26 (TLB)

    “I don’t even know who I am anymore,” my friend moaned as we sat side-by-side on a park bench at the end of a long summer’s day. “It’s like these kids are stripping away the old me, and I just feel hollow inside.”

    She jostled the baby on her lap and dabbed the tears streaking toward her chin. Then she turned her head to gaze at our crew in the sandbox.

    “We’re gonna make the biggest hole ever!” exclaimed one of our preschoolers, as he plunged his chubby fist into the gritty grains. The other kids echoed his enthusiasm and dropped to their knees to dig.

    My friend stared at the cavern in the sand, and my stomach churned with empathy. I pulled my friend into a one-armed hug and tried to formulate a comforting response. But my thoughts were quickly interrupted by a squeamish squeal.

    “Eowww! There’s garbage in here!” My daughter waved a dirty drinking straw in the air and flung it over her shoulder.

    Sure enough, the deeper the kids dug, the more debris they discovered. Their gritty fingers unearthed soggy brown leaves and grimy grey rocks, twisted twigs and long-forgotten gum wrappers.

    And that’s when I realized that my experience of motherhood has been a bit like a dirty sandbox dig. Simply put, motherhood is an unspoken invitation for God to excavate our souls.

    I never knew what lurked in the depths of me until I became a mother.

    I didn't realize the expanse of my own impatience; I wasn’t aware of the parameters of my pride. I didn’t recognize the breadth of my selfish ambition or the width of my weakness, until God asked me to lay down my life for the children He’d entrusted into my care.

    Let’s face it … kids expose our hearts on a whole new level. And in His infinite wisdom, God our Maker uses the daily demands of motherhood to excavate the garbage in our souls.

    Selfishness? It’s uprooted piece by painful piece each time we rise in the dark of night to feed a baby or comfort an anxious child. It’s unearthed every time we hold a bucket in front of a sick child, mop a muddy floor or tackle a tower of dirty laundry.

    Perfectionism? It’s shaved sliver by sliver as we trade firm abs for stretch marks and spotless windows for smudgy handprints; as we stumble through grocery aisles with spit-up on our collars and wailing ones on our hips. It’s steadily shredded as we embrace our tweens’ goofy mannerisms and our toddlers’ peculiar fashion sense.

    Pride? It’s uprooted every time we admit that we don’t have all the answers and we can’t do it all. It’s eradicated when we choose to listen rather than lecture, to compromise rather than control.

    It’s humbling — this heart dig — and harrowing at times. It can leave a mama feeling insecure and confused, conflicted and strange.

    But what if this soul excavation is more than just an identity crisis? What if it’s a holy hollowing?

    Our key verse, Ezekiel 36:26, reminds us God is in the business of making things new — including our hearts. He’s committed to scooping out the impurities within us so we have room to house more of His Spirit, a greater portion of His love.

    The process may be painful, but here’s the good news: When God empties us, He doesn’t leave us that way. He offers to fill our purged places with something new. God’s excavation is always intended for transformation.

    The chasm in the sandbox resembled a moon crater, and the kids stood back to admire their work. Suddenly, eyes brightened. “Hey, that hole’s big enough to hold treasure now!” a little digger declared.

    And in an instant, our scoopers turned into scavengers. They scattered across the park in a flurry of excitement and began to search for hidden treasure.

    My friend shuffled the sleeping baby in her arms and flashed me a subtle smile. And as our kids filled that huge hole with playground pearls, I wondered if a mama’s soul excavation is just God’s merciful way of carving out more room in her heart for the treasures He longs to give her.

    Dear God, do whatever it takes to make room in my heart for more of You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (NIV)

    John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Invite God to reveal an “impurity” He’d like to extract from your life so He can grow more of His Spirit in you. Commit to cooperating with His holy hollowing today.

    Ask God to show you someone who’s “empty” and needs encouragement and prayer this week.

    © 2016 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • An Interview With Karen Stubbs of Birds on a Wire

    Karen Stubbs is the founder and leader of Birds on a Wire, a ministry designed to equip moms through truth, encouragement and community. Recently, we were able to have a conversation to learn more about her, her ministry and her passion for helping mothers. Find the interview below.

    Karen StubbsPictured from Left to Right: Curt Andrews (Family Christian CMO), Karen Stubbs, and Ted Weyn (Family Christian SVP of Strategy & Development)

    Family Christian: Who is Karen Stubbs? Did you always want to become an author?

    Karen Stubbs: I am a wife to Greg Stubbs and a mother of four children, Kelsey, Emily, Taylor and Abby. I am also a grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren, Evie and Chapman. I live in Cumming, Ga. Being an author was never on my radar. I wrote a lot in college, and I love writing, but after I had my children, I stopped writing for a long time because I didn’t have time.

    FC: What is Birds on a Wire? And where does the name come from?

    KS: Birds on a Wire (BOAW) is a nonprofit ministry that focuses on equipping and encouraging moms. Being a mom is a hard job, and as I looked around, I didn’t see anyone truly pouring into moms to help them in their journey, so I thought I would start a ministry and do just that: to walk alongside a mom and encourage them.

    The story behind the name is sweet to me. BOAW started off with eight moms in my basement as a small group. In the early years, it was not an organized ministry—we didn’t even have a name. There was an artist, Jenifer Tanskley, that attended and at Christmas the group gave me a painting by Jenifer. The painting was the picture of birds sitting on a wire. I instantly fell in love with the painting and hung it in my bedroom. I kept looking at the painting and one day I called Jenifer and I asked her, “What was your inspiration for this painting?” She said it was Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?”

    Oh my! It hit me like a ton of bricks. We as moms worry and are anxious with our children. We worry if we are going to mess up our child or not be a good mom. But, God has our children, and God has us. We don’t need to worry about anything—it is all in His very capable hands. So, I gathered a bunch of creative moms together, brought the painting in and read Matthew 6:26.

    I said, “Ladies, we need to name this ministry today, and I want it based off this picture and Matthew 6:26, what do you think?” They all started talking it through and one sweet mom, Carla Grogan, said, “We are like those birds, and Jesus is our wire. When the wind blows we just have to hang on for dear life and trust in Him. We really are like a bunch of birds on a wire.” I thought to myself, that’s it! Birds on a Wire.

    FC: How did God work in your life while writing and/or since the completion of writing Moments with God for Moms?

    KS: God started working on my heart before I even wrote the devotional. My eyes were open to how it was a real struggle for most women to carve out time for a quiet time after they became a mom. Once I decided to write the book, I started “listening” to what moms were talking about in the grocery store, Starbucks line, at my children’s ballgames or wherever I was and started finding Scripture that specifically addressed the struggles of a mom. Every devotion in the book is taken from a mom’s point of view. I tried to make it as practical and “real” as I could because I believe God is in the details, even in our role of a mom.

    FC: What do you hope mothers will take away from reading the devotional?

    KS: I pray that every mom will be drawn closer to God in reading this book. My desire is that moms across the world will realize God is in this journey with them and He is a loving Heavenly Father.

    FC: Do you plan/desire to publish more books in the future?

    KS: I am always thinking about “next” topics to explore that would help a mom in her journey. Books are a way to connect with moms, so yes I am planning on writing more books.

    FC: How does Birds on a Wire come alongside moms to give them practical advice (in addition to the devotional)?

    KS: BOAW has an entire library of resources that help moms. I have six DVD curriculums and workbooks that moms can go through either in a group setting or by themselves. The DVDs are a video of me teaching on a topic such as Discipline, Time Management, Boundaries, Contentment, Comparison, Fear, Control and many other topics, and each of these will help a mom and give them practical advice on raising children. I also wrote a book called Letters to Moms, and this book was birthed out of that basement group in the early years; after certain nights, I would write the moms an email on certain topics, hence the name of the book.

    FC: Family Christian and Birds on a Wire have recently partnered to provide a Mother’s Day gift bundle, including your devotional, encouragement cards, a gift bag, a bookmark with a 60-day free trial to iDisciple and a free line of personalization. Why is the gift set so valuable to give to mothers on Mother’s Day?

    KS: I believe this bundle is the complete package for any and every mom. The devotional is a daily encouragement and a way to connect to God, the encouragement cards are easy to use and so handy because you can place them wherever you are, at the sink doing dishes, your desk at work, in the car or by your bed, these cards are like a mini shot in the arm for moms, and remind them they are not in this job alone and the 60-day free trial with iDisciple gives moms a whole library of great authors, music and books that they may not have exposure to. Whether a mom is just getting started with a newborn or she is a grandmother of 10 grandchildren, I think this Mother’s Day gift is for everyone and will be a huge blessing for any mom.

  • The Blessing of Brokenness

    The Blessing of Brokenness by Micca Campbell

    “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 (NASB)

    I clenched my teeth and closed my eyes as I waited for the explosion. My favorite lamp had fallen to the floor and smashed to smithereens. Somehow, in the scattered fragments I saw a picture of my own broken life.

    As I carefully collected the shattered bits, tears stung my eyes and the pain of brokenness surfaced again. It’s a deep hurt. The kind not easily healed. My heart was crushed as if it had been stomped on, broken and discarded. Unable to progress in my work or relationships, I became a hostage to my own sadness. I felt weak and desperate for hope.

    No one enjoys the pain of brokenness. Normally it calls for a letting go of something near and dear to us. At the time, it doesn’t make any sense. Yet, since the broken lamp, I have learned that brokenness leads to an unexpected good.

    It’s for this reason that God breaks us. Not to cause us undue pain. Not because He doesn’t love us. Instead …

    God breaks us to bless us.

    He chips away anything that keeps us from finding our true life in Him.

    God targets an area of our life that we’re unwilling to submit to Him. Perhaps it’s an unhealthy relationship we won’t release. It could be laziness that’s stunting our spiritual growth. Or even a bad habit that’s standing in the way of experiencing the fullness of God.

    Whatever the cause, our tendency is to hold tightly to these things because we believe it’s what we want. We’re convinced they please us by providing the joy, pleasure and fulfillment we seek. But God knows the truth. Only He can truly satisfy our deepest longings. All else is counterfeit to His provision.

    Therefore, God selects the tools it takes to break our self-sufficiency and cause us turn to Him. When we give up our independence, we gain a new perspective of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

    A great picture of this process is found in our key verse. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

    Unless the kernel is buried and dies, it will produce nothing. It will remain a lone, solitary stalk of corn. Imagine passing a field that only hosted one blade of corn. You might ask, “Where’s the rest of this farmer’s harvest?” However, if the kernel dies, it will produce a great harvest. Consider the life of Jesus. On earth, He was like a single stalk of corn. Yet, through His death, burial and resurrection, His life continually produces a harvest of souls.

    In a similar way, as long as I live a selfish life fixed on my own wants and desires, I will produce little. On the other hand, if I die to myself and live according to God’s plan, I will yield a productive life that’s beneficial to God and others.

    It sounds difficult, I know, but the unexpected good of brokenness is that it revives the life of Christ in me. I become less and He becomes more. That’s a good thing!

    The more we become like Him, the more we become like the true selves God intended. The more love and patience I have in my heart, the more joyful and content I am with others.

    Think of it this way. For the wheat to reproduce itself, it had to die. For Christ to reproduce Himself in others, He had to die. If I desire Christ’s life to be reproduced in me, I, too, must die to the lure of the world and my own selfishness. Then, I will experience the fullness of God I desire and reproduce disciples of the same kind. Jesus put it this way:

    “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25, NIV).

    Sometimes God has to break me to bless me. As challenging as that can be, I’m thankful. Because honestly, I want the life God wants to give me instead of settling for the counterfeit.

    God, help me die to the desires of this world and my selfishness that I might find the life You created for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 12:25, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What counterfeit junk are you holding onto instead of Jesus?

    How is this object keeping you from becoming who God created you to be?

    © 2016 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Devastated but Not Destroyed

    Devastated but Not Destroyed by Lysa TerKeurst

    “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

    I took my seat in the middle of the food court and was thankful I could hide my tears by staring down at my food. I quietly brushed my napkin across my cheek. I blinked. I tried desperately to swallow.

    I’m not normally a mall-goer, but that day I needed a place to hide. A place to process. A place to remember that the whole world wasn’t falling apart.

    The news I’d received from just an hour earlier crushed me. And devastated me.

    A friend I love made a decision that I couldn’t for the life of me understand. It wasn’t in keeping with her character. It wasn’t something I ever dreamed this person could do. The affects of this decision would careen across her life and mine with really hard consequences.

    Glancing at the table across from me I saw two women a little younger than me. They were laughing and cutting up food into bite-size pieces for their young kids. I could hear them talking about costumes that needed to be made for their upcoming preschool performance. One of them was having a hard time finding purple tights and she desperately needed purple tights to make the costume complete.

    I whispered under my breath, “I wish my biggest issue was purple tights.” Although my whispered statement was lost in the chaotic chorus of food court voices and noises, the scream inside my heart hovered over me in deafening tones.

    What. In. The. World!

    My mind raced. My throat tightened. My eyes leaked uncontrollably.

    I tried to pray but honestly I felt like God was pretty distant at that moment.

    It’s hard to stand on the goodness of God when you feel like life has just been stripped of so much good.

    I forced my legs to support my body. I walked mindlessly to my car. And I drove home.

    It’s in these moments where we know if the Word of God has seeped deep into our hearts or not. Though the world seemed to swirl and spin without anything for me to hold onto, one simple statement rose to the top of my mind and cut through with crystal clarity, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

    I heard it over and over.

    And I knew it wasn’t my mind conjuring up this Bible verse. It was the Holy Spirit inside of me speaking. Reassuring. And quite honestly, holding me together when circumstances were literally tearing me apart.

    I don’t know what hard reality is crushing your heart right now. But I sense I’m not alone. The enemy is on a full-out attack against everything good, sacred, pure and honest. He is the father of lies who wants us to believe that if our circumstances fall apart, then so will we.

    But take it from a woman in the middle of my own hard reality: Satan is a liar. God is a Redeemer. A Healer. The Author of hope. The Pathway of restoration. The great I AM.

    Right this very minute there are some things you and I must cling and hold to as if our lives depended on it:

    1. God loves us and He will not leave us.
    2. This battle isn’t ours. The battle belongs to the Lord. Let Him fight for you. Save your emotional energy and use it to dig into His Word like never before. Our job is to be obedient to God. God’s job is winning this battle.
    3. The battle might not be easy or short-lived, but victory will be there for those who trust God.
    4. God is good even when the circumstances are darker than you ever imagined. God is good even when people are not. God is good even when things seem stinking hopeless. God is good and can be trusted when you feel suspicious of everyone and everything around you.
    5. Lastly, God is good at being God. Don’t try to fix what He hasn’t assigned you to fix. Don’t try to manipulate or control or spend all your emotions trying to figure it out. Let Him be God. Free yourself from this impossible assignment.

    Sweet friend, be still. And know. He is God.

    I’m praying for you. And I treasure the fact I know you are praying for me.

    We will … be still … and know … HE IS GOD!

    Dear Lord, I choose to hand my situation over to You today. I will be still and know that You, and only You, are God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 13:5-6, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What’s one area of your life you can prayerfully hand over to the Lord today?

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Supporting One Widow Through the Adoption Process

    “I made up my mind I was going to take the kids,” Jean said. “And I was going to do my best, whatever I could for them.”

    Jean and her three children.Jean, a Navajo widow, is trying to adopt her three grandchildren, Ilias, Daniella and Ivas.

    Jean’s heart was heavy. After a car accident left her injured and recovering at home, she became aware that her grandchildren were being abused. After much prayer, she knew she had to get the kids out of the house—even though it would tear apart her relationship with her daughter. Jean began to file papers for custody, with an end goal of adoption.

    New Life Christian Assembly stepped in to help their sister in Christ. They gave clothes to the kids, purchased groceries, provided a home close to the church and are counseling Jean through the adoption process.

    “The church is walking me through it,” Jean said. “And Jesus is helping me every step of the way.”

    We love Jean’s sacrificial spirit. One of the ways Family Christian cares for orphans and vulnerable children is by helping them find forever families through adoption, and we desire to lift up Jean through this long journey.

    If you’d like to support widows like Jean, donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • A Pastor’s Call to the Navajo Nation

    In September 2000, God called Nathan Lynch to pastor to the people of Pine Dale, New Mexico. The community is 97% Navajo Native American, and 48% of the families live below the nation’s poverty level. The church, New Life Christian Assembly, ministers to more than 60 widows on a regular basis.

    Nathan Lynch looking on.Nathan has pastored to the Pine Dale community for 15 years and New Life Christian Assembly since 2009.

    “They’re very needy, but they’re beautiful, loving and caring,” Nathan said. “My family fell in love with this community.”

    The district initially asked Nathan to stay for six months until a permanent pastor was hired. But 15 years later, Nathan’s still in Pine Dale—and he stayed because God told him.

    Hear Nathan's story in his own words, as well as how Family Christian has been able to partner with New Life Christian Assembly to help the widows in their community:

    Firewood: A Means of Survival

    77% of homes in Pine Dale use firewood to stay warm in the winter. Pine Dale is tucked away in the mountains—so without firewood, Navajo widows will freeze to death.

    In late 2011, God led us to New Life Christian Assembly in Pine Dale, New Mexico. We were inspired as we watched them be the hands and feet of Jesus through their ministry work with widows.

    Staying warm by the stove.You helped us purchase a heating stove and firewood for Emma so she could stay warm through the bitterly cold winters.

    Through our commitment to James 1:27, we’re passionate about serving widows in distress—both abroad and in the U.S. When we learned having enough firewood was a matter of life or death, we were devoted to helping. And for the past three winters, YOU have helped us keep widows warm and alive.

    Since 2012, we’ve been blessed to send mission teams to Pine Dale to help with light construction work on widows’ homes, including building porches and installing stoves. We also purchased a van for Pastor Nathan so he could deliver firewood, as well as helped fund a new bunk house for future mission teams’ stay.

    All of our work with New Life Christian Assembly would not be possible without you, our loyal customer. Thank you! Help us continue giving hope to Navajo widows, and donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

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