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Family Christian

  • The Desire to Belong

    “so in Christ we who are many form one body…” Romans 12:5 (NIV)

     

    We are all familiar with it… the desire to belong. Even as adults, there is an urging within that says we would like to find that special group of friends.

    Several years ago, before we joined our current church, we visited several churches. We were looking for the right fit for our family.  We had two young children at the time, so we answered a variety of questions from church members: Homeschool vs. public school. Breast feeding vs. formula. Working mother or Stay at home. It was as if we were being interviewed and unfortunately found lacking in a few areas. We are now settled at our current church and loving it. We don’t feel the pressures to cave to one social group and attribute that to the preaching. When you have a strong pastor leading the flock, it helps to keep such issues in perspective.

    While praying about what to write for this blog, those memories came flooding back.  Now, I can laugh over some of the comments that originally left painful scars on my soul.  I wondered, who else has endured similar moments? How did they handle it? So, I asked a group of people who have become my friends online. I met most of them before my 9-year-old daughter was born.  I was thankful that they were willing to open up to me, because religion isn’t a topic easily discussed.

    The overwhelming response to my message board post told me that this is a bigger issue than I realized.  These friends shared from their hearts and I was moved to pray for many.

    I heard from a divorcee, who struggles with taking her children to church functions and not feeling like she has a place any longer. She will often drop them off and leave to avoid the awkward feeling. This is a woman who has a church home, she is involved, but no longer feels like she has a place among her friends.

    How about a person who is married without children? They would love to have friendships with the other couples, but doesn’t know how to relate or start those friendships when the first question asked is, “Do you have kids?” When they answer, the families lose interest. It isn’t easy to form a friendship with someone in different life circumstances, but it also isn’t impossible. God can teach us so much through other people. We only have to look at the New Testament church for an example of how diversity can serve the church body as a whole.  Jesus used a variety of men and women from various backgrounds to start his ministry.

    We are all children of God. We are members of one body. We only need to look down the pew on a Sunday morning to see a few of our own church members feeling they don’t belong.  How long will people continue to come, if they feel they don’t fit in?

    We are not perfect people, we are sinners saved by grace. Let’s leave the plastic smiles at the door. Let’s be real and take a moment to reach out to those who need a friend. A divorcee who needs someone to sit with, a man looking for a friend to talk with, the list goes on. I heard from twenty different people, each with a story, a hurt, and a heart that needs healing. Some of them no longer attend church. Each of them needs to know that God hasn’t forgotten them, that the church body works better as a whole. We are individuals who God created for a greater purpose. One of those purposes is to serve Him. When we leave the church fellowship because of hurts, it not only hurts you, but also the church as a whole.

    You can read this blog post, then move on to the next interesting thing to read online. Or we can pray for healing in our church body. Let’s take it one step farther, next time you are at church ask someone, “How can I pray for you this week?” Then, commit to praying for that person.

    Pray for hearts to be opened and healed. That people within the church would see the need to repent and ask for the forgiveness for the wrongs they have done, and that those who have been offended would seek to return to the church. May His healing touch be felt in each of your lives today.

    “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

     

    Bio:

    Stacey Zink lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, two children, and the goldfish that will never die. She enjoys reviewing books and sharing about life at: http://suburbanthoughts.wordpress.com/

  • Interview with We Are Leo

     

    By: Kristen Jeffery, Social Media Coordinator at Family Christian

    This week I had the opportunity to speak with David from We Are Leo.  Read the full interview below.

    FC: Hello! Thank you for your time today.  I hear you all are gearing up for a new tour.  Can you tell us about it?

     

    David from We Are Leo: Absolutely.  We are on for part of the Acquire the Fire tour that is starting in Spring.  We’ve done Acquire the Fire in the past, and it came to Lansing and I think there was about 7,000 people there.  I think the greatest thing about it to me is that I get to talk to all the fans after the show and just pray with them and talk to them and share our stories with them.

    FC: I have actually been enjoying your new single “You’re the Best Thing”, here in my office.  What does this song mean to you?

    David from We Are Leo: This is for my testimony.  I came out my teenage years sort of feeling really lost and  just fighting a lot of depression and loneliness.   And with my story of reaching out to Christ and Him coming and rescuing my life, that was such an epic change for me to be like God  loved me and to feel loved instead of rejected and at that point I realized this is what I have been looking for my whole life and for me singing this song “You’re the Best Thing” is coming back to that point and being thankful and remembering that God changed my life and despite the busyness or whatever else comes along in my day to day life I want to remember that He is always the best thing.

    FC: Your new album is called “Fightback Soundtrack” and it releases tomorrow (10/14).  What do you hope that people take away from your new album?

    David from We Are Leo: Yes. I think the overarching theme of this is bravery and not being afraid.  In the Bible it talks so much about not being anxious and Paul talks about not being anxious and I love that relationship and the idea of being strong and courageous.  Fightback Soundtrack,  the whole idea of it is ‘Yeah,  you need to be strong in the Lord and when things come against you and things happen you’re not defeated and you can overcome those things and keep your head up. ‘  And to be brave because God’s love can make us brave.  That’s what I hope people will take away.

    FC: What changes can your fans expect from “Hello” to “Fightback Soundtrack”?

    David from We Are Leo: That’s an awesome question!  Way to go!   This record we made it on our own.  In November we decided it was decision time.  We felt like God was telling us to keep being persistent and that we have things to share and talents that He was calling us to use.  We put it up on Kickstarter and it came through on the last hour of the last day. 

    FC: Awesome! Making it even more of a God story right?

    David from We Are Leo: It is totally a God story!  Totally.  I really can’t even believe it really happened. I think on this album you will hear a more mature sound and get a feel for what we truly sound like.

    FC: We have a prayer team here at Family Christian and we meet daily to pray for others.  How can we specifically be praying for you?

    David from We Are Leo: Thank you.  Be praying for wisdom.  And be praying that these songs will be heard by those who need it the most.    

  • Do you know what you believe?

    Do you know what you believe? Do you believe that God’s Word is true? Every word of it? This is something on my heart as a mom. I want to make sure our family is certain of what we believe in and I want to make sure we are leading our children to understand that every ounce of God’s Word is true, without a doubt. What can we do to ensure our children are being taught this truth? Here are a few things that we do in our family:

     

    • We read God’s Word with them and give them time to ask questions and we like to have them tell us in their words what we have read. Narration is a great way to ensure they understand what we have read.
    • We read devotionals with them nightly that helps to expand on this knowledge.
    • We memorize scriptures together daily as a family.
    • We pray multiple time together each day, especially before meals and bedtime.
    • We help them to recognize when God has answered a prayer, even the small ones, so that we can give thanks to Him.
    • We sing praises to Him, especially when we are scared or worried or anxious about something.
    • We also want to make sure that they realize that we can’t believe in only parts of the bible. We either believe it all or we believe none of it. We can’t believe in Creation and yet not believe in the Flood. We can’t believe in Jesus’ death upon The Cross and yet not believe in His resurrection.

    The most important part of making sure our children know what they believe, is to make sure we know what we believe! As parents, we need to spend time in God’s word, praying and building our relationship with Him. We must have assurance in what we believe in so that we can better lead our children. We need to be that example to them so that they can see us living out our beliefs as well.

    Will you join me in a challenge? Let’s spend time with Our Lord. Let us be certain of we believe in so that we can be the example that our spouse needs, that our children need, that our loved ones need…..that this world needs!

    I leave you with a scripture and ask that you meditate on it, memorize, pray over it:

    Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

    GodlyGlimpsesBioPic

    Jennifer is a wife and homeschooling mother to three (plus one more on the way!) She is also a blogger at Godly Glimpses where she shares about marriage, parenting, homeschooling and faith. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

  • Value Is in the Eye of the Beholder

    Tracie

    "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7 (NIV)

    All they saw was a piece of useless junk. But I saw a precious treasure.

    Years ago on a cold winter morning, my young children and I were sitting around the kitchen table chatting about the gifts they wanted for Christmas. When my daughter expressed a desire for a new baby doll, memories from long ago came to mind.

    I remembered running excitedly down the stairs on Christmas morning to see my new doll sitting in front of the tree. She had big chocolate brown eyes, silky hair and a long ponytail that cascaded down her little pink ruffled dress. But her greatest feature was the cord in her back. When pulled, it wound all the strands of hair back into her head, transforming her long locks into a short bob.

    As I shared how beautiful and special this doll was to me, Kaitlyn said, "Awww. I wish we could have seen her." My eyes lit up with excitement as I shared with them that I still had her! I scurried to the closet, dug out the box and held up the doll with pride, thrilled to share a piece of my childhood with my children.

    After a few seconds of awkward silence, Morgan spoke up with child-like honesty: "Mom, she is ugly!"

    Then Kaitlyn said sheepishly, "Yeah Mommy. She kind of looks scary." Little Michael was too stunned for words.

    We all shared a laugh, but as I gently tucked my doll back into her box, I caught a glimpse of what they really saw.

    They saw an outdated toy covered in scuffmarks with missing eyelashes and oversized bulging eyes. They saw tangled, fuzzy red hair that had been pressed against the side of a box for 30 years and a faded dress that was stained and ripped.

    Yet because she was valuable to me, I saw beyond her imperfections. My love alone gave her value, and no one else's opinions would change that.

    As I stood in the aftermath of my kids shunning my doll, my thoughts wandered back to the years I spent questioning my own value — years wondering if the sins of my past or the failures of my present had stolen my value in God's eyes. Years not realizing how precious I was to Jesus.

    Apparently the disciples wondered about these things, too.

    In Luke Chapter 12, Jesus knew He and His disciples would soon be judged and persecuted. To calm their fears, He offered encouragement of their worth with the story about sparrows.

    In biblical times, sparrows had little value, other than being cheap food for the poor.

    Jesus shared with His disciples how God loved the little sparrows, even though they were worthless in the eyes of the world. He assured them God's love for them was immeasurably more.

    Jesus wanted them to understand He saw beyond their imperfections, sins and fears, and beheld them as valuable, no matter what anyone else thought. He loved them simply because they were His. He alone gave them great value.

    Like the disciples, Jesus values each of us, no matter what. Nothing we have ever done or endured has lessened our value in Christ.

    You see, real value is in the eye of the beholder, and Christ is the Beholder of us all. Our value not only makes us precious to God, but it also makes us usable for amazing purposes in His kingdom that we would have never imagined.

    Might you see yourself through His eyes today and embrace who you are because of Whose you are?

    Lord, I struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness due to the hardships I have endured and the mistakes I've made. Help me see myself through Your eyes and accept how valuable I am in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How have you allowed the opinions of others to convince you that you are not valuable to God?

    In what ways have your past experiences equipped you to serve God in a special way?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Family Secrets

    Nancy

    "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

    Growing up, I was drawn to TV shows where the perfect family lived in the perfect home and their problems were always solved in 30 minutes. I especially loved the shows where the mom was always kind and gracious to her children. Oh, how I wanted a mom like that.

    But when the TV was off, my family life was anything but perfect.

    As much as we loved her, my father, sister and I lived in fear of provoking a reaction from my mom. Something was wrong, but I didn't know what. It became our family secret.

    Night after night, I lay in bed crying, God, why are my parents arguing? Why does my mom talk that way to my dad? I thought she loved him.

    I kept asking, God, can you help us? Can you make it stop? I would go to school each day carrying that burden, and no matter what I did or how many friends I had around me, I always felt alone. I thought I was the only one with a dark family secret.

    This family crisis caused my dad to seek God in prayer and Bible study. He often told my sister and me, "Your mom is not well; she doesn't mean what she says or does." His amazing example of dependence on God during those years showed me about how someone receives true healing when life is full of pain.

    As the years went by, I discovered my mother was a victim of an illness, not a villain on a mission. Though her pain was my pain, I began to separate what she did from who she was. I learned to extend her unconditional love.

    I also realized that our family wasn't the only one with a secret. Depression and mental illness affect multitudes of people.

    Through treatments, and by the grace of God, my mother's condition improved. She even gave her life to Christ. But sometimes I wonder if my dad would have grown as spiritually mature if my mother had not struggled. Would my sister and I have been exposed to as much prayer, patience and service at a young age if my father hadn't been such a godly servant to our family?

    My father followed Jesus by remaining faithful as he picked up his cross each day. Like our Savior, he learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). And the power of a life dependent on Christ became the greatest witness to my sister and me.

    My family secret changed over time — from having a mother who was ill to discovering that God is my true source of healing. Today's key verse became truth in my life: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Through my mom's struggles, God's works were displayed in our home in a way that they might not have been otherwise.

    Maybe you have family secrets. Maybe you are struggling to keep the faith and find it hard to be obedient. Trust me: He will remain faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). God may seem silent or absent today, but His purpose will become loud and clear in the future. Letting go of having life our way is always worth living in Christ and trusting in His way.

    Heavenly Father, help me remember that no matter what the crisis, no matter how much pain, and no matter how hopeless, Your goal is to always bring me closer to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Luke 9:23, "Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" (NIV)

    Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Identify any painful secrets you are keeping to yourself. How are they affecting you?

    How do you think knowing Christ and depending on Him could help you through this difficult time?

    © 2014 by Nancy McGuirk. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks AMG Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • The Stranger on the Bench

    Chrystal

    "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

    A few years ago, my family took a road trip to Baltimore to visit my grandparents.

    We never visit the city without making a trip to the Inner Harbor. It's something my parents did with me and I have great memories of it, so it's something I love to do with my kids.

    This area is a very popular tourist attraction. It's also an area where lots of local folks from many different walks of life hang out.

    On this particular day, we were walking along the main thoroughfare. I stopped for a bit to glance in the window at one of the stores. I turned my eye every few seconds or so to make sure my son was still chasing birds along the sidewalk in an attempt to scare them away.

    After just a few moments, I turned to check and noticed that he was no longer chasing the birds. Rather, he was standing next to a park bench, seemingly just looking at the birds — or so I thought.

    As I walked a little closer to him, I realized that he was talking ... to the homeless man lying on the park bench.

    For a moment, my heart skipped a beat. My son was talking to a stranger. And based on the way this stranger was reclining on the bench, I wasn't sure if he was well.

    I heard my son say, "Hi! Are you okay, sir?

    "Do you need some water? Are you hungry?"

    And then my heart lurched forward outside my body when I heard my son say, "Can I pray for you?"

    I watched from a short distance.

    The man mumbled something unintelligible to me and then my son walked away.

    I stood convicted.

    When was the last time I had taken the time to notice someone, right in front of me, and ask what needs they had that I could meet?

    When was the last time I had offered the most basic human needs, water and food, to someone who wasn't a part of my church, neighborhood or social sphere of connection?

    When was the last time I had offered a stranger my prayers?

    Just because.

    Our key verse today makes it clear we are to show hospitality to people — even the ones we don't know.

    It's so easy to get caught up in our jobs, churches, community affairs and being nice to people we know or those who are easy to be nice to that we forget the most basic kindness — showing hospitality to a stranger.

    The world is full of hurting people. People you and I can touch with a kind word, a warm smile, a hot meal or a gentle touch.

    The world is full of people who would be eternally grateful if someone just stopped and prayed for them.

    When was the last time you offered a stranger a smile, a prayer, a cool drink or a helping hand?

    I'm sad to say I hadn't even noticed that man laying on the bench ... and even if I had, I can't say I would have stopped to inquire how I might show him a bit of hospitality, grace or understanding.

    I can't say I would have stopped to pray for him.

    I can't say I would have stopped to show him love.

    My son helped me remember that the most simple, basic actions can sometimes mean the most.

    He helped me remember that showing love to others doesn't need to be complex.

    He helped me remember I should not let fear, busyness or lack of understanding stop me from giving the most important gift of all to another ...

    Love.

    And isn't that the point? That the world would know we are Christians by our love?

    Father God, forgive me for how I sometimes forget to love others, especially strangers, in simple ways that honor You. Help me recognize opportunities to share the love You have given me with someone else who needs to feel Your love. Allow me to be Your hands and Your feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 4:21, "And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (ESV)

    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Has God given you the opportunity to show His love to a stranger? What happened? We'd love to hear your story. Share your experience in the comments.

    Why do you think so many of us struggle with reaching out to people we don't know? What practical ideas do you have for being more intentional about showing love to others — especially those that we would consider "strangers"?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Dear God, Where Are You?

    Lysa

    "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

    "Mom, I didn't make it. Please pray for me. I just feel confused about God."

    My heart sank. I felt my daughter's deep hurt. I felt it as clearly as if it were my own.

    I know what it feels like to want something so badly and have that dream shut down. That door close. That opportunity slip away.

    She'd been talking about going for this special achievement at summer camp for three years. Every time we talked about camp, she talked about going for this achievement. But she wasn't old enough to try until her fourth year at camp.

    Finally, this was going to be her year.

    She met every challenge and could see the goal in sight ... until the fire. She was supposed to light a campfire with nothing but three matches, one small square of newspaper and a few sticks of wood.

    She struck the first match and held it up to the newspaper. It didn't ignite. She struck the second match and held it up to the newspaper. It still didn't ignite.

    She stared at the third and final match. Knowing that a big part of the challenge was teaching the kids how to communicate with God and fully rely on Him, she'd been praying through every stage of the challenge. But now, she didn't just pray — she cried out to God.

    "Please help me, God. Please," she mouthed as she struck the third match. She held the flame up to the paper once again and watched in complete disbelief. The matchstick burned but the paper did not.

    As soon as the final match burned out, she lowered her head in defeat, and gave all her wood to the girls still in the challenge.

    When I arrived at camp to pick her up a week later, she asked if we could go sit by ourselves and process this situation.

    The fact that she didn't get the camp honor was not what was bothering her the most. What was bothering her the most was not experiencing God's power like the other girls. They all had stories of God answering their cries for help in amazing ways that carried them all the way through the challenge.

    "Mom, I didn't get that with God. Why?"

    This was a tough question. One of those questions as a mom that you don't want to mess up in answering.

    I asked her to help me recall every step of her challenge so we could intentionally look for God's hand. As she recalled every part, I listened intently for anything unusual and unexplainable.

    And when she got to the fire, I found it. There was no reason her newspaper shouldn't light. None at all. Everyone else's paper lit. Hers should have. But it didn't.

    "Honey, that can only be explained by God intervening. He was there. He was listening. And we just have to trust that there was some reason you shouldn't have continued that challenge. We may not know that reason, but we can certainly trust God was right there ... protecting you ... loving you ... revealing His power to you."

    She put her head on my shoulder, "You really think so, Mom?"

    I whispered, "I know so."

    I know so because I trust the truth God has given me. Truths like these are anchors that hold me to the reality of who God is:

    He is the One in whom I find comfort and reassurance: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV).

    He is right here with me in the midst of my trouble, I am not alone: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

    Yes, I know deep hurt. But I also know deep hope. So, I whispered it again, "Yes, sweetheart, I know so."

    Sometimes God's power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen. We may never know why. But we can always know and trust the Who.

    Dear Lord, thank You for knowing what I need and what I don't — even when I don't agree. Help me see Your "yes" and "no" as protection and guidance. Today, I choose to trust You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 126:5, "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Look back at a situation where you felt God didn't answer your prayers. Can you see His power in not allowing your prayer to be answered?

    Write out your prayers today. Focus on trusting who God is and not why He is choosing not to answer or delaying His response. Remind yourself, "God's power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen."

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Waiting Game

    Leah

    "The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him." Lamentations 3:25a (AMP)

    Sometimes I see God answer my prayers right away. I'm excited, thankful and ready to tell everyone about His goodness. Then, there are those other times when my prayers linger and miracles seem far away. As time creeps on, my doubts creep in.

    I used to think waiting on God to answer my prayers was like playing a game. Who would last the longest? Would I continue to ask, plead and persevere? Or would I give up first because I was tired of waiting? Or maybe God would give me what I wanted because He was tired of hearing all my whining and complaining.

    If my prayers were answered quickly, I'd give Jesus a quick spiritual high-five, shout Hallelujah! and then move on to my next request. But, if time went on and my miracle didn't show up, I'd get discouraged and frustrated. My waiting turned to worry. My perseverance shifted to pouting.

    Lord, why haven't You answered my prayers? What are You waiting for? Can't You see me struggling? You're taking too long and I just don't understand why.

    I began to think God might be holding out on me. Maybe He really didn't care about me. Or, maybe my circumstances weren't important enough to Him.

    But as I grew in my relationship with the Lord and learned to understand His character, my attitude changed. I realized how much God loves me and knows the desires tucked deep inside my heart. He promises to meet my needs (Philippians 4:19), and His miracles are not a thing of the past.

    Today's key verse tells us that after we pray and ask God for a need, want or desire, we should wait with expectancy and hope.

    You might be thinking, Leah, you just don't understand. I've been waiting for God to answer my prayers for so long.

    Maybe you've resigned to believing there's no hope. Sure, you started out confident and faith-filled, but as time goes by you've started to wonder if any good can come from your circumstances.

    Maybe you've wrapped an invisible wall around your heart so you won't be disappointed if God doesn't come through for you.

    Friend, I understand. I've been there. I've felt that way, too, and it's a lonely place to live each day.

    So what does it look like to have an attitude of hope and expectancy as we wait on the Lord to answer our prayers?

    I've learned to intentionally shift my focus to three things:

    God's Promises: I read Bible verses and speak them aloud daily. As the power of God's Word weaves hope into my prayers, encouragement fills the empty places in my heart. I'm reminded once again of God's unfailing love and faithfulness.

    Praise & Worship: I listen to praise music throughout the day in my house, car and at work in my office. The lyrics and melodies splash over me with joy as I sing along. I sense God's peace and pleasure and in those sweet moments, my worries fade, turning my doubts into confident expectancy.

    Thanksgiving: I thank God for the answered prayers and miracles in my past. I remember how God always came through in those tough times of great need, and I thank Him in advance for His answers yet to come.

    If you've asked God for answers but find yourself waiting longer than you planned, take a moment now to thank Him in advance for His answer. Trust that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Don't give up. Look forward in hope and expectancy for Him to respond and remember that the Lord is good to those who seek Him.

    Lord, thank You for remaining faithful to me. Help me have hope and expectancy as I wait for Your answers to my prayers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 30:15a, "This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength ...'" (NIV)

    Isaiah 30:18, "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When was the last time you thanked God in advance for an answer to your prayers?

    Write Isaiah 30:18 on a 3x5 card and replace the word "you" with your name. Speak this verse aloud throughout today and wait expectantly as you seek the Lord in prayer.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Love Encounter

    By Emily Rose Massey

     

    I seriously enjoy Saturdays.

    It’s the time where I get to spend a few hours of my morning with the Lord and just relax before the weekend picks up speed.

    I’m able to slow down and really just enjoy the simple pleasures of life like coffee, PJs, and messy hair.

    This morning, as I ended the last couple pages of my journal, I was reflecting on this past year and couldn’t help but praise God for His overwhelming love and faithfulness.

    Around this time last year, my husband, Paul, and I just found out that we were expecting our first child, a promise that God had spoken to us about through our pastor during a Wednesday night service just a couple months before.

    At six weeks along in my pregnancy, we went in for our first doctor's appointment and we were able to hear our baby's tiny heartbeat- this was becoming so real! After the appointment, the doctor asked me to come in again two weeks later. A part of me found it a little odd that I needed to already come back again so early on in the pregnancy, but I didn't let it bother me and scheduled the follow-up appointment.

    Those two weeks passed by pretty quickly, and I was on my way to the doctor's office again. My spirit was troubled the whole way there. Paul wasn't able to go with me this time, so I just kept declaring God's peace over my heart and kept whispering the name of Jesus, even when I was in the exam room. While the doctor was looking at the ultrasound, I heard her sigh and say, "I hate when that happens."

    "What?" I asked.

    "The baby no longer has a heart-beat. I'm so sorry."

    Right then, I immediately felt God's presence fill the room. I sat up and the doctor just looked at me, not really knowing how I was going to react. My eyes began to well up with tears, as I said these words to her:

    "You know, I have been through a lot in my short 27 years on this earth. From depression, to the murder of my dad, to watching my family be torn apart by adultery and divorce and God has never left my side. My faith has always carried me through it all and this is no different. God has a plan. He will work this all out for good."

    She said, "I believe He will too," put her hand on my shoulder and left the room so that I could have a moment to myself.

    I got my things together, scheduled my follow-up appointment to discuss the next steps/options, and called Paul to tell him the news, even declaring and believing that God could resurrect that tiny life inside me if it was His will, fighting back tears with each word. When I got home, we went to my favorite restaurant and continued to speak of God's faithfulness, even through all of our questions and deep pain.

    After dinner, Paul reminded me of the gift card someone from church had given us for the baby and suggested we go and pick up some items for our precious promise from the Lord.

    Talk about faith!

    It was hard for me to walk through those aisles, staring at all of things for babies when I had just received the sad news about our little one, but deep down, I knew God had declared that we WILL have a child. Walking out the pain, we continued to trust in God’s timing and kept believing He would make it happen again for us.

    In the car, a song came on the radio that stirred my emotions for what I had just experienced. I tried to hold back the tears, but couldn’t do it any longer. Paul just held me as I cried. Although it was difficult, I didn't allow my emotions to overtake me.

    We pulled the car in the drive-way and I walked upstairs to our bedroom and just cried out to the Lord. Again, in that moment, the presence of the Lord filled the room. His loving arms wrapped around me as I laid on my bed, with a broken heart. As I cried out, a short song came forth from my mouth that I knew came straight from the abundance of my heart:

    "Jesus, take my life, display it for the world to see, so that You My King, can receive Your glory...."

    A few days later, the Lord gave me the rest of the song:

    In You Verse 1: You’re my desire Lord, You are my everything It’s in You I find My purpose, my meaning Verse 2: So take my life Display it for the world to see So that You, my King Can receive Your glory Chorus: I’ll hide my life In You, Jesus Christ It’s You who gives me strength To rise above the storm Oh yes, My life Is a living sacrifice So that You can shine And draw all men to Your heart I live and move and have my being In You Bridge: Jesus When I stand in Your name Your blood cleanses me of all my shame The Father sees what You’ve done How You died on the cross to save us

    I encountered God's amazing love during that trial last year and I know I will never be the same because of it. He is faithful to me in loss and faithful to me in gain. His promises are true. I can't wait to tell our son, Isaiah, who I will be able to hold in my arms in just a few short weeks, about them.

    All glory to God!

  • What Your Pastor's Wife Needs Most in a Friend

    AMY

    {Editor's Note: October is Pastor Appreciation Month. We recognize there are women serving in churches in a variety of roles, and encourage you to show your appreciation for all those serving in ministry this month.}

    "One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend." Proverbs 22:11 (NIV)

    I sat in mute sadness, as I listened to the woman sitting in the driver's seat beside me.

    Tears streamed down this pastor's wife's face as she described her family's financial struggles. No one had asked her about her return to the workforce. She felt nobody cared about her as she transitioned from home to full-time work. Years before, a "friend" in the church gossiped about a confidence she shared, so this woman felt she could no longer trust anyone with her pain.

    Another pastor's wife stoically described the 20 years she spent alone in a pew Sunday after Sunday until one woman finally reached out in friendship. Her face lit up, as she told me about her new friend who now sits with her and banishes the painful loneliness she felt amongst the crowd at her own church.

    Isn't it strange? Pastors' wives are often some of the most admired women in the church, and yet they are often the most lonely. When listing my life-long friends, I realized two of the five are pastors' wives.

    That's a pretty big percentage, so what binds me to these women? Their loyalty, love and acceptance. They're a treasure to me, so I've been thinking: What does a pastor's wife most need in a friend? How can I be that kind of friend?

    When talking to my besties and searching Scripture, two main needs emerged. Pastors' wives need their friends to be: 1) free from expectations and 2) free from self. Here's what I mean ...

    Free from Expectations

    Both of my friends defy the stereotypes attached to a pastor's wife. They need friends who will let them be themselves, women with their own identity separate from a spouse or the church.

    Releasing our pastors' wives from our expectations is the greatest gift we can give.

    Pastors' wives are real women just like us with flaws, varying gifts, dust on their dressers, arguments with their husbands and a wide range of personalities. If we want to be true, pure-hearted friends without ulterior motives, we need to affirm all their facets, cover their imperfections with love and encourage them to follow their passions rather than just expect them to conform to a mold.

    Free from Self

    Some days, it's all about me ... or at least that's how I act at times. In my selfishness, I've had thoughts like: She hasn't answered my email. I wonder what I've done wrong. Or, I can't believe she just blew by me in the store. She must be mad at me.

    I'm learning to let go of selfish thoughts and give my friends space.

    Pastors' wives minister to the many people, carve out time for their husbands during their odd hours off, work, run their households, reach out to neighbors, care for their children and more. The list is unending. They need friends who are selfless, patient friends who give them grace instead of demand perfect performances.

    We also have to refrain from gossip. I hate to admit it, but there's a part of me that longs to repeat confidences when I want to feel more important or in the know ... like I'm part of the inner circle. As their friends, we have to overcome the desire to build up ourselves and to put our friend first by never, ever, gossiping.

    Both my friends expressed how important confidentiality is to them. It's a deal-breaker for your pastor's wife. As today's key verse points out, good leaders delight in friendships with those who are in pure in heart and speak graciously. Indeed ... sincere, caring, kind and genuine relationships give life to those who lead.

    In the midst of church life, we walk through all of life's joys and pain together with love and loyalty. It's what pastors' wives want in a friend ... and it's what I want, too. That's true friendship and a desire at the heart of everywoman, pastor's wife or not.

    Lord, help me to be a truly loyal friend to my pastor's wife, putting her needs above my own. Purify my heart and my words to be a joy and encouragement to all my friends. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." (NIV)

    Job 16:20, "My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God ..." (NIV)

    Ecclesiastes 4:10, "If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is an action step God is calling you to do this month to encourage your pastor's wife?

    What is something you can do if you find yourself in a setting where there is gossip or criticism about your pastor's wife?

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

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