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  • Believe Randy Frazee

Family Christian

  • Losing This Battle is Not an Option

    Posted on May 2, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon

    "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

    By the time our daughter Heather turned 2, all my prideful pre-parenting thoughts had come back to me. How many times had I unfairly judged another mama and promised myself my kids would never act like that?

    You know that behavior: flailing around in their mother's arms, pitching a fit on the grocery store floor or throwing a tantrum in line at the movies. However, my daughter's strong will was unrelenting. She tried my patience constantly ... and often acted like that.

    I'll never forget one particularly difficult night. It had been a long grueling day of battles, and it was bedtime. (Praise God for bedtime.) Heather had hurt her baby sister, so I told her to apologize. She refused.

    Everything in me wanted to just put Heather to bed, but I knew I couldn't let this go. So in a stern voice, I told her, "Go to your room and I'll meet you there." Thankfully, she obeyed and walked to her bedroom.

    I thought a battle had been avoided ... until she looked back at me with that iron will glaring. She stood there with one foot in the room and one foot in the hall.

    "Get in your room, Heather." My tone meant business, but she wouldn't budge. I thought to myself, I'm just too stinking tired for this.

    At that point, I remembered Proverbs 3:11-12, a verse I memorized before Heather was born: "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in."

    As I weighed my choices, the Lord spoke to me through that verse. And I knew He was saying: Losing this battle is not an option. I took a deep breath and decided no matter how long it took, I would not allow Heather's disobedient will to triumph over my exhaustion. I loved her too much.

    She finally sat down, half in the room, half out. And I joined her in the hall. We stayed there for hours that night. I wasn't mad, just determined. My daughter would know after this night that her mama means what she says. There was no TV. No toys. Not even a scrap of paper to draw on.

    While she sat, I folded laundry, paid a few bills and made my grocery list — in between asking if she wanted to apologize. Her eyes were getting heavy, and I knew she wanted to win the battle, but I remained firm.

    Finally, three hours after her bedtime she apologized to her sister and to me. I kissed her goodnight as I tucked her in bed; she hugged me and smiled like I was the greatest mom in the world. All was good in our home, at least for that night.

    That wasn't our last battle. But over time they became fewer and fewer as I consistently disciplined my children, just like the Lord disciplines those He loves. Why? Because He longs for us to be wise, to avoid making harmful mistakes and to grow in His grace. That's what I want for my five daughters.

    I spent a lot of time in prayer and sitting in doorways as my girls grew up. Each one was different from the other, each requiring a different form of discipline. They're grown up now, and I'm delighted to say that Heather and her sisters love the Lord and walk in His ways.

    I love my children and know they are worth all the time invested in the disciplining. Even the many long, sleepless nights.

    Lord, I need You more than ever. I need Your strength, wisdom and leading to raise my children up in the way they should go. Help me! I feel inadequate most days. I know that through You I can do all things. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Raising children takes a lot of mental, spiritual and physical bandwidth. Are there things in your schedule you could delete that would give you greater ability to parent well?

    Are you consistent in disciplining? Do you follow through with the rules? Do you discipline in love? Write a list of things you need to work on to be the parent God calls you to be.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 29:17, "Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • Temptation and Accountability

    Posted on May 1, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13  The Message

    Temptation loses its teeth in the face of accountability. Just as a home security system alerts us when an intruder invades the premises, so loving accountability warns us of pending danger. Yes, temptation has its greatest influence when operating in isolation, but when exposed to a caring community, its illusions are dismissed. People who love us want what’s best for us. They are more objective and expose our unwise inclinations. Accountability keeps us honest.

    Everyone’s battle is everyone’s battle. Thus, we are wise not to fight alone. There is a very practical reason foxholes are not manned by one individual. We cover each other’s backs when in close proximity to one another; we engage the enemy. Victory comes to a band of brothers or sisters who seeks the best interest of the group. Prayers for purity push back the taunts of lustful thoughts from the tempter. We do better when we know our friends closely observe our lifestyle.

    “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

    Pornography is a rampant problem that grips our culture. It destroys relationships, corrupts the moral infrastructure of society, and steals the respect of its victims. We’re all one mouse click away from unseemly images on the worldwide web. How can we guard our hearts and minds from pornographic pain? An effective plan is to give 24/7 access to our computers and mobile devices to our spouse and accountability partners. Invite them to inspect what’s expected of us.

    Until we get real about our real issues of temptation, we will not experience lasting change. In our independent pride we will fall, but out of our interdependent humility we will stand. We all struggle with similar sins, why not name them and confess to friends our need to come clean. Our heavenly Father shows us favor when we are not ashamed of sharing our struggles. It’s much better to be humbled before a small group that loves us than humiliated before a large group who doesn’t know us. Temptation suffered alone succumbs, but together we overcome!

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

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage to confess my temptations to a small group who care about me.

    Related Readings: Job 31:33; 2 Samuel 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:27; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Timothy 3:7

    Post/Tweet today: Temptation suffered alone succumbs, but together we overcome! #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved

  • The Chasm from Randy Alcorn

    Posted on May 1, 2014 by Family Christian

    Randy

    Chapter One

    For most of a day, I’d been climbing a sharp incline of rocks and shale, for an outcropped ledge that would afford a better view than anywhere else in this strange land. Finally, scrambling up the last twenty feet, I stepped out on that ledge and looked. What I saw took my breath away.

    There it lay, stretched out against the horizon as far as I could see—the thing I’d been warned about, the thing I’d been told was ultimately unavoidable. The sight of it was even more devastating than I’d feared.
    Here I was, hoping to travel to the distant shining city, a world of wonders I absolutely had to reach. For my first thirty years, I’d never dreamed such a place even existed. Then when I started to believe it might, I tried like the devil to avoid thinking about it, for reasons I still don’t understand. And now here I stood, all hopes of reaching that magical place dashed. Before me lay the biggest obstacle imaginable.
    No, it was absolutely unimaginable. That great yawning chasm took my breath away. An abyss of staggering proportions. I had once stood with my family, when I had one, gazing down into the Grand Canyon. I’d been swept away by its grandeur for a few minutes before needing to pack up the kids, grab a hamburger, and get them to the hotel. But this endless rift, this hole in the universe, made the Grand Canyon appear in comparison as the grave I dug when ten years old, to bury my old dog Ranger. It seemed infinitely large, deep and foreboding, containing not a shred of beauty. It stripped my heart of hope. For clearly the Chasm meant that the city calling to me from the great beyond, if it were real at all, lay forever out of reach.
    All that mattered for me was the place I could still glimpse on the horizon, far beyond the impassible barrier spread out below me. I had to get there—I had to reach that stunning capital of a great undiscovered country, that shining city that rested on the great white mountain. The place named Charis.
    My name is Nick Seagrave. My story is true, though what world it happened in is hard for me to say. The memories burn in my brain, more real and weighty than what we call the real world. Before I tell you the incredible events that unfolded next, what happened to me at that chasm, I must first take you back to explain what led up to the moments I have just described. Only then can you understand me and my story, and perhaps unfold its meaning.
    I remember like it was yesterday that moment when I caught my first glimpse of Charis, glimmering in the distance. Initially I thought the remote city seemed cold, even oppressive. Our band of travelers that day had rounded a bend shaded by rock towers, and there it was, off to the west, rising high on a ridge. Silently, we all stared at it.
    From where we stood, all we could see between us and the mountain crowned by Charis were rolling green hills scrawled with various pathways, including a ribbon of red. This was the “red road” I’d first learned of in some ancient inscriptions in a cave I’d entered one evening to escape a pounding rain and crashing thunderstorm—and something far worse. But that’s another story, to tell another time.
    As my traveling companions and I continued absorbing our first glimpse of the faraway city on the summit, it took only a moment for my heightened vision to pierce its walls. How did this happen? I can’t explain it, but I was as certain of my perception as I could be. My intuition told me that the light was but a ruse, that inside the city all was dank and shadowy. And enthroned there sat a dreadful, intolerant tyrant, squashing creativity and initiative, enslaving any subjects foolish enough to have entered the city. I envisioned him granting his slaves freedom enough to make a mistake just so he could condemn them for it and command their execution.
    I’d long ago learned to trust my instincts, which had helped make me such a successful businessman and entrepreneur. And those prized instincts assured me this city was a monument to the pride of some self-proclaimed, glory-hungry sovereign who delighted in robbing men of their dignity. A strangely confident assessment for one who knew so little. But if I lacked something in those days, it was not confidence.
    As this insight percolated within me, our silence was broken by one of my companions—a white-haired, craggy-faced man they called Shadrach, dressed in a tattered toga. “Behold,” he said, air moving through a gap in his teeth, “Charis, the City of Light.”
    Light? What about the shadows I felt certain lie within? How could that old geezer be fool enough to trust that light on the outside meant light within?
    Then suddenly another traveler, a young African woman named Malaiki, her face glowing, gasped, “Do you hear it? Music!
    I heard nothing. Who was she trying to trick, and why?
    With enchanting fervor Malaiki exclaimed, “Songs of life and learning, choruses of pleasure and adventure! In a thousand languages!” She broke into dancing, soon joined by some of the others.
    Were they trying to make fools of themselves? The uncomfortable thought struck me that perhaps I envied them, wishing I had a reason to dance. I quickly pushed the thought away.
    Even as they twirled and high-stepped, they kept looking toward the city. Following their gaze, I found my perception changing, despite my resistance. The coldness of the place was gradually replaced by light and warmth and by what seemed to be the radiant energy of people there celebrating. The city began to shimmer on the horizon, touched by sparkling blues and greens and golds that blended with the sky and sunlight, pulsing in and out of my vision.
    Soon I, too, could hear music from the city and then what sounded like a geyser of laughter exploding from a fountain of joy.
    My traveling comrades went on to speak of Charis as the city of a certain king whom they described in fantastic language. But my ingrained skepticism welled up and overtook me again. How could they make such claims? For reasons I couldn’t grasp, I refused to let myself fall in with these people or be drawn to this city that enchanted them. I could not surrender control of my life’s journey or its destination. I was master of my fate and captain of my soul. Besides, I reminded myself, I knew of someone who could take me elsewhere, to a better place.
    I’d met Joshua on the morning I stumbled out of that cave, when I’d wandered in a daze, not knowing where I really was. I started running, and as I came into an oak grove, a man bounded in my direction. He was tall, muscular, and handsome, with a neatly trimmed copper beard. He wore sandals and an emerald toga, cinched at his slender waist with a braided red cord. Though his dress was like a statesman’s from another era, he somehow appeared modern and fashionable.
    “Welcome, Nick,” he called in a rich, clear voice, smiling broadly.
    I wanted to grill him with a dozen questions, starting with, “How do you know my name?” and “Where are we?” and “How did I get here?” But I didn’t want to reveal too much about myself and my ignorance.
    “Call me Joshua,” he said, extending his arm. I was struck by the strength of his grip. I couldn’t help staring into his eyes—morning-glory eyes, radiant blue windows of experience and knowledge and promise, deep-set eyes I could get lost in.
    He invited me to join a group of travelers he was with, but at the time I preferred to go farther on my own. Joshua put his arm around me. “Go if you must,” he said, then gave me a solemn look. “But be careful whom you trust.” This country, he explained, was beautiful but not always safe.
    Here was a man with inside information, and I wanted to know what he knew. Still, for some reason, I held back from asking him. As I turned to go on my way, Joshua smiled broadly and waved his great right arm, bronzed and powerful.
    Soon I met him again, after I’d joined another group—the travelers on the red road who’d shared with me that first faraway glimpse of Charis. The old man Shadrach—who seemed overly confident about what was true and what wasn’t—had warned me against nearly everything I found interesting, including spending time with Joshua. But by now I wasn’t sure about the red road and where it led, and I certainly wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in the company of those travelers, Shadrach in particular. I told Joshua, “I’d like to check out some other options.”
    “I’d be happy to serve as your guide,” he answered. He led me off the red road and down a series of roads that were gray—roads that promised me all the things I’d ever wanted.
    When we first set out, Joshua pointed ahead and told me, “Lead the way, my friend.” Though he was my guide, he showed me respect by walking to my side, a step behind me, giving me a sense of control. I liked that.
    I was in conquer mode, so we marched down the terrain at a fast clip. It was a plunging path at first, filled with sharp turns and lined with thornbushes that kept nipping at my pant legs. After an hour, we hadn’t reached a single rise in the trail.
    “Does this path only go down?” I asked.
    Joshua laughed and answered, “To the very heart of things!”
    The path kept descending, and our pace kept accelerating.
    Finally, after dropping into a treacherous bog, we came to an intersecting path that rose upward toward firmer ground. Reaching the top of a slope and emerging from some trees, I came to a halt. Before me, positioned amid a half-dozen towering spires of rock, stood a glass and granite high-rise building. The sight of it was dreamlike yet so vivid, down to every detail. As I walked toward the structure, heart pounding, I stopped abruptly. This was the office building where I worked! I’d never seen it like this, isolated from the surrounding cityscape, as if it had been uprooted by some alien power and transported here.
    I entered the familiar ground-level front door with Joshua a step behind. We took the elevator to the twenty-fifth floor, and I instinctively walked through the maze of work stations toward my corner office. Joshua gazed approvingly at the view through the windows towering beside us. “You belong here, don’t you?” he asked me.
    I nodded. This was my world, and I had sailed its waters as expertly as any sea captain had ever commanded his ship and his men.
    Inside my office, Joshua said with a gesture of his hand, “This is what you were made for, isn’t it?”
    Before I could answer, my attention was drawn to a photograph on the desk, a picture of my wife and two children. It had been taken three years earlier, when we still lived together. I hadn’t been able to get away from the office that day to make the appointment at the studio, but my wife told the photographer to take the picture anyway. “It’s more realistic with just the three of us,” she said to me later, twisting the knife.
    Joshua and I left the office. But after stepping off the elevator and out the front door, everything went out of focus—until I suddenly found myself with Joshua in my condo, listening to classical music. The absence of transition made me think I must be dreaming, yet I was completely lucid, and my blue recliner was as tangible as could be, right down to the little coffee stain on the right arm.
    For a few hours, I was immersed in a whirlpool of melancholy and reflection, going wherever the melodies led, over the mountains and valleys and through the deserts of my life. Especially the deserts.
    “The music’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Joshua said.
    “Yes. Beautiful.”
    I followed him as he walked down a hallway lined on one side with oak shelves filled with books. “Commendable,” Joshua commented as he pulled out volumes here and there. “You have a genuine thirst for truth.”
    He fixed those radiant blue eyes on me. “I know you can find what you seek on one of the roads traveled by the great minds. Choose any of them. I’ll take you there in an instant. And if you don’t like one of them, I’ll take you to the next and then the next.”
    For some reason I shook my head, believing there was something more I wanted, something no great thinker could lead me to.
    No sooner had I turned down this offer than we materialized back on a gray road. Before us stood more buildings rising up from the rocks and sagebrush. We entered a maze of mall interiors, where my eyes were drawn to displays of home theaters, power tools, antique guns, shiny knives, snow skis, camping gear, sports clothing. We looked over a balcony to see spotlights zooming over showroom floors filled with the latest-model cars and pickup trucks, boats and RVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles.
    Then the spotlights melted into marquee lights. Joshua and I walked into a fine restaurant filled with people in fine clothes drinking fine wines. My heart suddenly buoyed when I saw a woman alone at one of the tables, a woman who’d been part of the group of travelers I was with earlier. She looked so beautiful tonight, so slight and delicate, dressed so elegantly. I studied every inch of her. The longer I looked, the more she filled my heart.
    “Go sit with her,” Joshua suggested. He led me by the arm and took me to her table, then excused himself. “I have other things to take care of.”
    The woman seemed pleased to see me. We dined alone and toasted with champagne. When the music began, we danced. I felt intoxicated.
    She kissed me, then smiled and said she had to go.
    “Can I…go with you?”
    “Not tonight,” she whispered, but she smiled as she walked away, and her eyes said yes.

    Excerpted from The Chasm by Randy Alcorn Copyright © 2011 by Randy Alcorn. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • See how you're giving!

    Posted on May 1, 2014 by Family Christian

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  • The 5 Best Things to Say to a Friend Today

    Posted on May 1, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)

    I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.

    I'd survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls' locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher's sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.

    They weren't laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.

    No, they were laughing at me.

    I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.

    And it hurt.

    I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives.

    • When your co-workers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren't invited.
    • When that other preschool mom says, "Several of us moms are concerned with how aggressive your child seems on the playground."
    • When everyone else's social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you're crying yourself to sleep.

    Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly you're not alone.

    I want to be that friend for you today.

    In the midst of whatever it is that's made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And then might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?

    This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled "Love."

    1. "You're wonderful."

    (Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope ...")

    What a loving thing to infuse joyful hope into your friend's life by reminding her why you think she is wonderful.

    The world is quick to tell us girls all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.

    So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she's a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful co-worker, a wonderful person.

    2. "Me too."

    (Romans 12:12, "... patient in affliction ...")

    What a gift to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.

    The patient friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. "Me too" acknowledges that I'm no better than you, but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we're all in this together.

    3. "I'll pray."

    (Romans 12:12, "... faithful in prayer.")

    Wouldn't it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in your prayers for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts me Scriptures she's praying.

    But here's what I really love about her. She doesn't just pray about my situations. She prays me through them. I honestly don't know how she hasn't gotten tired of praying for some of my same issues for so long. I get so tired of me ... but she never does. What a gift. A gift I know I must pass on by being faithful in my prayers for others.

    4. "I'll share."

    (Romans 12:13, "Share with the Lord's people who are in need ...")

    When we notice a need in a friend's life, might we be willing to step in and be part of the solution?

    I have a friend who lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a "Job (like the man in the Bible) Party." Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.

    We didn't come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance that God was working on their behalf.

    5. "Come over."

    (Romans 12:13, "Practice hospitality.")

    Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There's just something about relationships that are less pixilated when we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.

    Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.

    Yes, these are 5 great things, maybe even the best things, to say to a friend. So, today, I pause and say them to you.

    Now, I haven't quite figured out how to do that last one. It would be such a hoot trying to fit you all in my kitchen, but I sure am dreaming about it!

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can encourage today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you put into practice with her today?

    Power Verse:
    Hebrews 13:16, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Tempter’s Tricks

    Posted on April 30, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The tempter [the devil] came to him [Jesus] and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:3

    The devil tempted Adam and Eve to doubt God. He tempted Job to give up on God and he tempted Jesus to disobey God. Satan’s tactics have not changed. He still subtly and not so subtly seeks to steal, kill and destroy our faith. He sows seeds of doubt into our  taking seriously Christ’s commands. He plays mind games to get us to go against what we know is clearly right or wrong. The evil one masks a sinful choice by causing us to doubt God’s clear expectations. What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do.

    The devil also tempts us to give up on God when our world is shaken. Like Job we may lose our children and see our finances slip away. Our health may fail and we may be tempted to think the Lord has failed us. However, it’s our faith in Jesus that offers stability during unstable situations. Almighty God is unmovable. He is a rock, refuge, and strong fortress against the deceptive tricks of the tempter. Yes, we lean into the Holy Spirit when unholy forces seek to force unfaithfulness.

    “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).

    Moreover, Satan appeals to our pride by tempting us to use power powered by the flesh. Our pride can easily run ahead of the Lord. Though a good outcome may come about, God does not get the glory when we are out in front of Him. Humility waits to be led and empowered by the Spirit. The devil also misapplies Scripture in an attempt to spiritualize his suggestions. He will twist the truth to sound inviting: “everything if done in moderation is ok.” Really? One click to a pornographic site is not ok, one car ride with a drunken driver is not ok, and one lie is not ok.

    Therefore, we come against the enemy’s tricks, lies, and deceit with the Word of God. We are naive and defenseless if we try to defeat the devil with our own clever devices. We will win however, if we keep our prayer guard up and if we spend time meditating on and applying  biblical principles to our behavior. This is why we are engaged, not nonchalant in our spiritual disciplines. We stay aware of devilish schemes that try to convince us we are the exception to the Lord’s expectations. By God’s grace we win the battle of the mind by renewing our mind with truth.

    “‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’” (Luke 22:46).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, expose the enemy’s errors by the Holy Spirit’s illumination of truth.

    Related Readings: Genesis 3:1; 1 Thessaloinains 3:5; Philippians 2:16; James 5:11

    Post/Tweet today: What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Burning Sky from Lori Benton

    Posted on April 30, 2014 by Family Christian

    Lori

    New York Frontier, 1784

    The woman who had been Burning Sky had kept off the warrior path that came down from the north through mountains, along the courses of rivers and creeks. Doing so meant traveling slow, over steep ground unfriendly to trudging feet, but she had not wanted to be seen by men on the path. Red men or white men.

    She’d slept on the cold ground thirteen times before she saw the stone that marked the end of her journey—and the boundary of her papa’s land, the place she once called home. Time had not dimmed it in her memory. The stone, tall as a man and pointed as a blade, thrust from the crest of a ridge. But with her step quickened and her gaze fixed on it as she neared, she failed to notice the dog slithering out of the laurel thicket below the stone, until the muddy animal stood in her path and showed its teeth. The woman who had been Burning Sky halted, shaken less by the dog than by her own inattention. If Tames-His-Horse had been there, he would have scolded her for it.

    He was not there, but another was.

    The sun had slipped from behind clouds and sent a shaft of light lancing down the ridge into the laurels, full across the man lying in the thicket, showing her a booted foot, a length of knee breeches, a hand cradled on the breast of a brown coat. A white hand.

    She caught her breath, while the blood thundered in her ears. When neither the man nor the dog moved, fear began to sift from her like chaff through a winnowing basket. The dog was only standing guard. But over the living or the dead?

    It was tempting to assume the latter, but for this: the man lay on her papa’s side of the boundary stone. The significance of that settled on her, a heavier burden than the long-trail basket she’d carried on her back these
    many days. Maybe the man was dead and it would not matter what she did, but she could not turn her back and walk on as though she had not seen him.

    There was still the problem of the dog in her way. It was one of those bred for bullying sheep, black and white, rough coated. The English word for it surfaced in her mind: collie.

    The woman who had been Burning Sky slipped the tumpline from her forehead and the cord loops from her arms, lowering the basket to the ground. She gripped the musket slung at her side, even as she spoke kindly in the language of the People. “You are a good dog, guarding your man. Tohske’ wahi. It is so?”

    The collie did not alter its rigid stance.

    It occurred to her the dog might not know the speech of the Kanien’kehá:ka, called Mohawks by the whites. She tried English, which felt to her like speaking with pebbles in the mouth.

    “You will let me near him, yes?” She took a step toward the laurels. The collie moved its matted tail side to side. “Good dog.”

    She set her musket within reach and turned her attention to the man. He was too tangled in the laurels to have crawled in. Likely he’d fallen from the ridge above. Not a long drop, but steep. Closer now, she could see his face. Even for a white man, it was pale, the hollows of his closed eyes bruised, sickly. Hair almost black stuck to his brow in stiffened curls. While the dog nosed her heels, she wrenched away twigs, keeping one eye on the man’s still face. With the small hatchet from her sash, she hacked away larger branches, sending down a shower of leaves and insects, until she knelt beside the man. He had not stirred, but the warmth of his breath against her palm told her he lived. From the way he cradled his right arm across his chest, she knew it to be injured. His legs lay straight and seemed undamaged, save for scrapes where his leg coverings had torn in the fall. Not leg coverings, she thought. Stockings.

    She did not know about his ribs, or what hurts might lurk beneath them. Moving him might cause further injury, but he could not remain as he was, unless she stayed and cared for him. She tipped back her head, lifting her eyes to the boundary stone, then to the sky at which it pointed. Why the man? Why now, so near her journey’s end?

    Neither the stone nor its Maker gave answer. For whatever inscrutable reason, the Great Good God—the Almighty—had placed this man in her path, as He’d removed so many others from it.

    It did not seem a fair exchange. But sitting there, wishing it was not so, would change nothing. This she well knew.

    Returning to the basket, she found a length of sturdy basswood cord. With the hatchet, she cut cedar saplings to serve for poles and crosspieces, then retrieved the elk hide from her bedding. Through all this and the building of the travois, the dog milled about, whining. She met its fretful gaze but had no promises to make it. She would do what she could. Though she was strong for a woman, and tall, the man’s deadweight proved no easy burden. While she maneuvered him out of the laurels, she expected him to rouse. But not until she knelt to secure him to the travois, sweating from the exertion, did she look up to find his eyes open. He had blue eyes—the drenching blue of trade beads—and they were fixed on her in glittering bewilderment and pain.

    Responding to his pain, she touched his face to reassure him. His beard was coming in. The rasp of it against her palm stirred memories. Papa’s face had sometimes rasped with stubble, against the touch of her childish hand. Not black stubble—reddish brown like her own hair. Was it red still, or had the years made it white?

    Then she thought she should stop touching the face of this man who was not Papa, whatever memories he stirred, but her fingers stayed pressed to the cold, bristly cheek.

    While she hesitated, bewilderment fled the man’s blue-bead eyes, replaced by something like awe, then a look she had not seen in another face since the day she watched the longhouse burn. He was gazing at her with the trust of a child, innocent and complete.

    “Oh, aye, that’s all right, then,” he said. The warmth of his breath brushed her face as he exhaled, closing his startling eyes.

    The woman who had been Burning Sky sat back on her heels, stabbed beneath her ribs by a blade so sharp she wanted to beat her breasts to drive it out. Never again had she wanted to see that look of trust on the face of the sick, the dying. She’d fled far, thinking she could outdistance that sorrowful pairing. Had she not seen suffering enough to fill a lifetime?

    A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. The words settled in her mind like a hand on the shoulder, large and steadying. She drew a breath through lungs that fought with grief for space inside her, and looked at the man on the travois. A bruised reed. There would be many such scattered over the land, broken and uprooted by the war just past. She was not the only one.

    Though she was no longer adept at judging the ages of white men, this one seemed young. Not as young as she, though she doubted he was past thirty winters. No white threaded his hair, and the lines at the corners of his eyes were faintly drawn. The quality of his woolen coat marked him a man of consequence. Not a farmer, she thought.

    She could not begin to guess why he was there, fallen on the edge of what the whites called the Great Northern Wilderness, a sea of forest rolling away in mounting crests to Canada, where the redcoat soldiers of the defeated English king had retreated since the war to lick their wounds.

    Was he someone Papa knew, here by his leave? If so, Papa would be glad she helped him.

    She wanted Papa to be glad when he saw her again. If he saw her again.

    Though the long winter had finally ended, the day was chill for the moon of budding leaves. She unrolled her rabbit-skin cloak and spread it over the man. She gathered the few belongings she found scattered around him and secured them on the travois. One of those was a small glass bottle, dark with the liquid it contained. She uncorked the glass, put it to her nose, and grimaced at the bittersweetness of opium dissolved in spirits. Was this the reason he’d fallen, or had he found it afterward and dosed himself to bear his injuries? It explained why he had remained unconscious, save for that brief moment.

    Perhaps, even then, he had been in a dream’s grip and had not really seen her. Perhaps that look of trust had been for someone else. She greatly hoped so.

    She corked the bottle and dropped it into her carrying basket. The snow thaw had passed on the lower slopes, leaving only the marshy places impassable with mud. There on the ridge, the ground was moist but not saturated. Gripping the travois poles, she hoisted her burden and picked herself a path through the wide-spaced trees, while the dog followed.

    Though the going now was even slower, the land beneath her feet grew more familiar with each step. In her mind she rushed ahead, seeing it in memory—its fertile dips and rocky ridges, the broad noisy creek called Black Kettle, the lake with its tiny islet, the broad flats where Papa grew his corn and wheat. The clearing where the barn and cabin stood. So close now. Relief and dread warred in her belly.

    She found the little stream where she remembered it to be, and the footpath that followed its winding course south, then east, then south again. She saw no tracks of men, but the deer had kept it clear. Though the travois passed with little hindrance, the man’s weight dragged at her shoulders, causing a burn across the muscles of her back and arms. The basket’s tumpline, tight across her brow, strained the bones of her neck. She turned her mind from the pain, continuing as she had done through each day of her journey. One foot, then the other. A step, and another. As she went, she spoke aloud a name, one she had not heard for many years, and so she said it with care, her enunciation precise.

    “Wil-helm-ina O-ben-chain.”

    The collie trotted up beside her, ears perked, already accustomed to her voice. The woman who had been Burning Sky nodded to the dog, whose name she did not know.

    “Wilhelmina Obenchain,” she said, more assuredly this time. “But you may call me Willa.”


    Excerpted from Burning Sky by Lori Benton Copyright © 2013 by Lori Benton. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Why My Savior Complex Had to Die

    Posted on April 30, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

    For years, something in me longed to be a savior. It was the space within my heart that lit with imagination when I watched heroes on TV save a falling baby with a mattress, rescue survivors from a mudslide or wrestle a hijacker to the floor of a plane. I aspired to be a woman with such daring, admired by thousands.

    That desire carried me on a trip to Kolkata, India, where I was determined to make a difference with my positive attitude and can-do spirit!

    I prepared with confidence and traveled with bravado, but when I arrived in the city, my assurance began to wilt. Walking out of the airport into the dead of the night, our team was surrounded at once with impoverished women and children begging. Shouldn't they be sleeping?

    Decrepit buildings lined potholed streets, patrolled by feral dogs and rifle-armed policemen. Rancid smells and unfamiliar sights assailed our senses.

    On the way to our hotel, we drove by a billboard proclaiming, "Kolkata: City of Joy." The very idea whiplashed my brain, and my deepest motives were exposed. What was I thinking? This isn't a job for me ... making Kolkata the City of Joy is truly a God-sized job!

    In that moment, my desire to be a hero was both exposed and crushed. My smile and positive attitude alone would not feed the hungry, free women from oppression or liberate captives from spiritual darkness with. No, only Jesus the Savior could meet such overwhelming need and make a difference! I was simply there to serve Him.

    Why did I want to be a savior? The truth was a mix of good and bad. I desired to help people, ease their suffering and introduce them to a loving God. But all that good was spoiled when mixed with my desire to feel virtuous, to gain recognition from others for the "noble" things I was doing and to feel I had met God's requirements.

    The works inspired by my savior complex might have looked good on the outside, but they were achieving self-gratification rather than pleasing God.

    Jesus is our true hero, the only real Savior. Jesus brings good news to the poor. He can bind up the brokenhearted. He provides freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from the darkness. Jesus brings God's favor, comforts those who mourn and cares for those in need. He gives us beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning and praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus is beautiful and powerful and worthy of being the Savior.

    In Matthew 20:28, Jesus reveals His superhero, Savior secret to His followers, and it's a huge surprise: "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

    The secret is service. As we serve our Savior and those around us, we can become behind-the-scenes heroes in God's eyes. Humble service may not make the news, but it can definitely change the world.

    Years after my lesson in Kolkata, I walked into a new volunteer position with my same bright smile and positive attitude. The difference was I wasn't there to be a savior, but instead to serve my Savior.

    Jesus is the hero to admire; I'm just there to roll up my sleeves and stand beside Him as He saves the world.

    Jesus, I praise You as the only worthy Savior. Will You change my motives from a desire for admiration to a desire to humbly serve You? Please change my savior complex to a servant's mindset? I long to follow Your example in serving Your people. In Your Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have your motives to serve the Lord ever gotten mixed with a desire for recognition or to feel virtuous?

    What is one way you can serve someone anonymously this week?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 43:11, "I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (NIV)

    Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." (NIV)

    Ephesians 6:7, "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people ..." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Blog Summary for April 2014

    Posted on April 29, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are the most popular blog posts as read by you. Thank you for following us!

    Shane Harper on Living Out the Gospel

    Shane Harper established himself as an artist with a quadruple threat—singer, actor, dancer, and songwriter. He began working as a professional dancer in the entertainment industry when he was just 13, appearing as a principal dancer in High School Musical 2, and in Nickelodeon's show, "Dance on Sunset".

    Shane transitioned easily into acting, and is recurring on the hit Disney Channel show, "Good Luck Charlie", for all 4 seasons. He guest starred on "Wizards of Waverly Place", and "So Random". He also guest starred in a 4 episode arc for the scripted MTV series, "Awkward."

    As an actor in film, Shane worked with Rob Reiner, in a supporting role for the movie, FLIPPED. He also had a small featured role in the Bollywood film, MY NAME IS KHAN.

    Shane has a principal role in the feature film, GOD'S NOT DEAD and recently, I sat down with him to talk about faith, Hollywood, books music and coffee.

    Read the full interview here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Read the full interview here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    As a high-school athlete, Phil was All-State in football, baseball, and track which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There he played first string quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw. Phil's been quoted as saying "Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks." After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education, he spent several years teaching. While his students claim he was an excellent teacher, spending time in a classroom brought Phil to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.

    Read the full interview here.

    BookBites - Vol. 1

    Craving a new read? You’ve come to the right place. We love books. And we love sharing our thoughts on them. Welcome to Bookbites, where we give the latest books a grade, brief review and include an excerpt—a “bookbite”—that grabbed our attention.

    Read the full reviews here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Nick took some time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q&A with us. Read them here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    Read the full interview here.

    Kari Jobe - Pioneering New Roads in Worship

    Dictionary.com gives the definition of pioneer in the following ways
    1. a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.
    2. one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.
    3. one of a group of foot soldiers detailed to make roads.

    For more than 15 years, well-respected worship leader Kari Jobe has been using her gifts to lead people into the presence of God. When she began leading worship at age 13, she never imagined she would be nominated for a GRAMMY®, win a Dove Award or be praised by the New York Times. She only knew she had a heart for broken people and a deep desire to lead them to the cross.

    Pioneer? This may be the word that describes who Kari is and what she hopes to do as an artist.

    I sat down with Kari and asked about her background. Where she came from, how she found Jesus and where is she going. Read the full interview here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper (lead singer) to talk through what was behind Rise. As you will see, while reading this, John is a passionate man. He is passionate about his music. His wife. His family. About Christ.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says. “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read the full q&a here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter - fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, "There is joy unspeakable!"

    Read the full interview here.

    So which blog post was your favorite? Is there an author or an artist that you would like us to interview? Leave a comment below and let us know.

  • Trials and Temptations

    Posted on April 29, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

    What is temptation? It is a desire enticing you to make an unwise decision. To be tempted is not to sin, but it does mean a sinful desire is close to conception, awaiting birth. So, we are wise to see temptation coming and prepare not to fall for its power of deceit. Trials are an outward test that can lead to an inward temptation. When weakened by adversity we become a prime target of our adversary--the devil. So how can we be prepared to overcome trials and temptations?

    For example, a job promotion can be a good thing, but what if it requires the test of travel? Time away from home cannot be properly replaced by any amount of money. And what are the agreed upon guidelines (with ourselves and if married, with our spouse) to keep us from falling for temptation? The moral temptation is to not remain faithful. The ethical temptation is to compromise our honesty. Peer temptation is to give into juvenile behavior. Intentional preplanning deals best with temptation. Avoid compromising situations: alone with the opposite sex, nightclubs or inaccurate expense reports.

    “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their ownevil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15).

    Moreover, there are those who desire to get rich. It is tempting because of the allure of affluence: freedom, nice homes, new cars, power and prestige. This test of prosperity requires a generous spirit to truly prosper, otherwise money creates idols of its own making. Those blessed materially learn how to leverage their possessions for God’s kingdom and not their own. They recognize the Lord as the owner and themselves as stewards. Generosity trumps the temptation of greediness.

    Lastly, use trials to draw closer to Christ and not be tempted to pull away from Him. Don’t allow hard times to harden your heart, instead invite the Spirit to soften your heart. In His desert aloneness Jesus was tempted by the devil, but He answered his lies with the truth of Scripture. So, seek the Lord when He seems distant and He will draw you unto Himself. Furthermore, be transparent with mentors and friends who can support you in remaining faithful. Confessing your vulnerabilities weakens temptations grip. Christ provides a way of escape for patient endurance.

    “Because he himself [Jesus] suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me away from temptations into the joy of doing Your will.

    Related Readings: Job 1:12; Matthew 4:1, 6:13; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 4:15; James 1:13

    Post/Tweet today: The test of prosperity requires a generous spirit to truly prosper, otherwise money creates idols of its own making. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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