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Family Christian

  • The Slavery of Striving

    Posted on October 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Angela Parlin

    "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

    "Why are you doing all these things?" she asked me over iced tea.

    Her boldness startled me. Sure, I had just filled my friend's ears with my true feelings about the craziness of my life. But I figured I was only doing what everyone else was doing. All the things I had to do.

    She could see I was drowning in all sorts of good activities that were taking the joy out of motherhood. I woke up daily with knots in my stomach and struggled through days as a homeschooling mom, shadowed by four little people. I was a hurried, overwhelmed mom who wished life could somehow be different.

    To my friend, it was simple. What if you just did less?

    I objected immediately. I was already convinced I should have been doing so much more — and performing so much better. But as I considered her question, my yoke became obvious. I realized that in my striving, I was living under a yoke of slavery. I was missing the freedom Jesus came to earth to give me.

    In Galatians 5, Paul reminds the believers that Christ came to set us free from the yoke of the Law. Or in other words, freedom from having to follow all the rules perfectly.

    Obeying the Law without error was impossible. But before Jesus came, this was how followers of God had to live. Then Jesus removed this heavy burden and provided freedom through His sacrifice on the cross.

    Yet, just as freed slaves sometimes ran back to their old masters, the first followers of Jesus were easily deceived into living under the Law again. Slavery was all they knew.

    The Apostle Paul knew it would take effort to walk the new way of freedom, to walk in the truth. In our key verse, Paul challenged the church: Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by this yoke.

    In many ways, my striving resembled theirs. Sure, I wasn't technically a slave and I didn't have to worry about keeping the Law. And in my head, I knew I didn't need to prove my worth to God. But I found myself trying to prove my significance in some way. I lived under imaginary laws and unwritten expectations.

    I didn't even know what those laws were, just that I was bent on keeping or exceeding them. Because I needed to. Or so I thought.

    My friend's direct question that day helped reveal to me I was indeed living under a yoke. I desperately felt the need to prove myself as a mom. I reflected long on that realization and continued to ask why.

    Because of Jesus, I don't need to prove myself anymore. Jesus is enough. His grace alone is sufficient. When God looks at me, He sees His Son. He sees that I am His and He is mine. The more I grasp this truth, the more I'm changed.

    Do you know that weight of expectation too? Today the Word of God has good news. Instead of striving, we can rest confidently, standing firm in our freedom, our gift from Jesus.

    Stand firm, friends.

    Lord, help me live my days centered in this freedom You've given me. You did not die for me to remain a slave to perceived expectations or anything else. Thank You for breaking the bars of this yoke. Help me walk as a free woman. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Leviticus 26:13, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high." (NIV)

    Romans 6:19, "Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think about the whys behind all you do in a typical week. Are you striving to meet unrealistic expectations and then stressed because of them? How are you burdened by a heavy yoke of slavery?

    Ask God to help you discern where you need to do less and to enable you to walk in freedom.

    © 2014 by Angela Parlin. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Galatians

  • Nutrition Group Means Life for Orphaned Boy

    Posted on October 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Nutrition Group Means Life for Orphaned Boy

    By Laura Reinhardt

    Derre ADP, Mozambique

    Maternal Child Health, Food

    Thank you World Vision for providing us with this post and the photos.

     

    Summary: Madalena took in her orphaned nephew, but he suffered from severe malnutrition. Then a group of parents from a nutrition group provided her with training and he began to grow. Now he’s a healthy & hearty 3-year-old.

     

    A mother feeds a healthy porridge, which she’s just learned to make at a community training, to her young infant. Then she tries in vain to feed her younger child suckling at her breast. The child refuses to be comforted. The mother herself is malnourished and has no milk with which to feed the child.

     

    In 2011, Madalena Mulimba found herself in a similar situation. Only the malnourished infant was her sister’s boy, Betinho. Her sister died from complications during childbirth.

     

    Madalena took Betinho home to care for him, despite having children of her own.  “I felt compassion for the child,” says Madalena. “If God allows it, the child will grow up with us.”

     

    Madalena took cassava root, squeezed the juice from it, and added sugar to feed Betinho. But he failed to thrive. “The baby was so thin,” Madalena says. She puts her hand around her wrist to show how tiny he was. “The other children didn’t want to hold him, because he was so small.”

     

    Then she took Betinho to the hospital to get his vaccinations. Madalena remembers the doctor’s question to her: “Where will I vaccinate him because he’s so thin?”

     

    Hope Through Nutritional and Health Training

    Madalena’s first cousin, Anastacia Pais Barroso, came to visit with a group of parents. Thanks to child sponsorship in their area, World Vision’s Derre Area Development Program (ADP), community members had funds to form the Galave Health Committee in 2000. Part of the committee was a parents’ group who received training from World Vision.

     

    This group of mothers and fathers then scouted their community to find malnourished children. They taught the struggling parents or guardians new ways to increase the nutrition of the food they were feeding their children.

     

    The key to the success of the program was that the healthy meals used local foods that were readily available. Parents didn’t have to buy expensive ingredients since these items could be found right in their own community.

     

    Joao Siquissone, World Vision’s Health Assistant, says it’s important that parents learn from other parents within the community. “When it’s moms and dads teaching the interaction, the community is more receptive.” It can be difficult for one World Vision worker to reach as many people as the committee would.

     

    Those committee meets once a month for planning, once a week for training, and each person visits between 10 to 15 families each week to look for signs of child malnutrition and answer questions parents might have.

     

    Joao says that the local health clinic used to see between 15 and 20 malnourished children per month. Now they might not even see one case.

     

    The training also focuses on diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, and HIV. They learn how to prevent diseases but also about the special nutritional needs of patients with HIV.

     

    As a result of this group, the community now understands the nutritional value and importance of each locally grown food group.  They’ve even started to change the crops they’re growing. Where they used to grow lots of cotton, now they grow foods like sesame.

     

    Another component of the Galave Health Committee is a group of community volunteers who go into the community to teach about sanitation and hygiene. They encourage people to build latrines to eliminate disease. They teach people the importance of a drying rack for the dishes instead of just washing and drying on the ground. And they instruct people in the proper way to dispose of their garbage.

     

    The final group of the committee is composed of community leaders who support the other two groups. When those nutrition group or the sanitation and hygiene group face problems they can’t solve, they can escalate them to the community leader group.

     

    World Vision helped set up this type of committee format to encourage the community to take charge of their own health, spreading their knowledge about nutrition, disease prevention, and sanitation and hygiene. This method allows the news to travel faster and reach more people.

     

    Betinho’s Turnaround

     

    The nutrition group taught Madalena to take cornflour, sugar, and egg together and make it thin enough so that Betinho could take it. He began to grow.

     

    They also demonstrated to Madalena how to take sweet potato or cassava leaves to serve over chima, a dish somewhat similar to soft polenta, but with finer cornmeal to make a healthier curry for her whole family.

     

    The new nutrition affected more than Betinho. “All the children have good health,” she says. Madalena, her husband Francisco, and her children all learned new sanitary practices.

     

    They built a drying rack on which to put their wet pots, pans, and dishes. They began to sweep the area around the house so as to make it less appealing to mosquitos and other bugs. They also learned to dig holes for trash to keep away bugs and rodents.

     

    The training has made a world of difference to Madalena, Betinho, and the entire family.

     

    “I was desperate,” says Madalena about when Betinho was malnourished. “But after [the training] I felt a kind of hope.” Now the family jokes that Betinho is so big that he’ll soon be the man of the house.

     


    This post was posted in Missions, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Missions, World Vision, Orphans

  • The Crushing Times

    Posted on October 23, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

    No one wants to have their heart crushed. But being wounded in deep places happens. Sometimes it just seems to be a part of the rhythm of life.

    And when these hard times come, we feel it all so very deeply. And we wonder if others have these hard, hard moments. After all, we don't snap pictures of the crushing times and post them on Instagram.

    We just wonder if we have what it takes to survive ...

    ... when the doctor calls and says he needs to talk to me in person about the test results.

    ... when the teacher sends one of "those" emails about my child.

    ... when someone I love closes their heart and turns their back on me.

    ... when I feel so utterly incapable and unable and afraid.

    I suspect you know the tear-filled place from which I speak.

    So, let's journey to the olive tree and learn.

    To get to the place I want to take you, we must cross the Kidron Valley in Israel.

    Kidron Valley Map

    John 18:1-2 tells us, "When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples" (NIV).

    Jesus often met in the shadow and shade of the olive tree.

    The olive grove mentioned above is the Garden of Gethsemane. In this garden is where Jesus, just before his arrest said to Peter, James and John, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," (Mark 14:34, NIV).

    Jesus knew the crushing-heart feeling. He felt it. He wrestled with it. He carried it.

    And I don't think it was a coincidence the olive tree was there in this moment of deep sorrow for Jesus.

    Garden of Gethsemane

    The olive tree is such a picture of why our hearts must go through the crushing times.

    The crushing times are necessary times.

    First, in order to be fruitful the olive tree has to have both the east wind and the west wind. The east wind is the dry hot wind from the desert. This is a harsh wind. So harsh that it can blow over green grass and make it completely wither in one day.

    The west wind, on the other hand, comes from the Mediterranean. It brings rain and life.

    The olive tree needs both of these winds to produce fruit ... and so do we. We need both the winds of hardship and winds of relief to sweep across our lives if we are to be truly fruitful.

    The crushing times are processing times.

    Another thing to consider about the olive tree is how naturally bitter the olive is and what it must go through to be useful. If you were to pick an olive from the tree and try to eat it this month, its bitterness would make you sick.

    For the olive to be edible, it has to go through a lengthy process that includes:
    washing,
    breaking,
    soaking,
    sometimes salting,
    and waiting some more.

    It is a lengthy process to be cured of bitterness.

    If we are to escape the natural bitterness of the human heart, we have to go through a long process as well ... the process of being cured.

    The crushing times are preservation times.

    The final thing I want to consider about the olive is not just how bitter it is, but also how strong and hard it is when picked straight from the tree. If you are harvesting olives for oil, you must pray for a soaking rain to come if you hope to get oil from the olives. It needs a hard rain of at least two to three hours so the water can make it all the way up the roots, through the tree and to the olives.

    Then the olives can be picked and preserved.

    And the best way to preserve an olive for the long run? Crush it and extract the oil from it.

    The same is true for us. The biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

    But what about our key verse, 2 Corinthians 4:8, where it says we are "pressed ... but not crushed"? Let's read verses 8 and 9 in the King James Version: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; ..."

    This was one of the biggest "aha" moments for me standing in the shadow of the olive tree: crushing isn't the olive's end.

    Crushing is the way of preservation for the olive. It's also the way to get what's most valuable, the oil, out of the olive. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed ... pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

    But here's the thing I must remember as I think back about my time with the olive tree:

    When the sorrowful winds of the east blow, I forget they are necessary.

    When I'm being processed, I forget it's for the sake of ridding me of bitterness.

    And when I'm being crushed, I forget it's for the sake of my preservation.

    I forget all these things so easily. I wrestle and cry and honestly want to resist every bit of this. Oh, how I forget.

    Maybe God knew we all would forget.

    And so, He created the olive tree.

    Dear Lord, speak to me in whatever way You need to. Whatever part of this is for me personally, may I see, receive and be revived. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 1:2-4, "You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (MSG)

    Are you going through a crushing time? Look back on the points Lysa made: crushing times are necessary, and allow for processing and preservation. Write out how your situation may fall into one or all of these categories.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Why I Quit Depending on My Own Plans

    Posted on October 22, 2014 by Julie Gilles

    Julie K. Gillies

    "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

    Everything in me wanted to plow headlong into my next project. I yearned to get started. People were excited about my participation. And with only one older child living at home, my time was freer than ever.

    There was no reason for me not to move forward. Or so I thought.

    And so I planned. Created to-do lists. And tried to get busy.

    But strangely, nothing happened. Inspiration refused to bubble up. Over and over I tried. Over and over I accomplished nothing. I began to wonder what on earth the issue could be.

    So I prayed. Over the following weeks as my plans stubbornly refused to progress, I began to sense the Lord's gentle hand of restraint on my shoulder, holding back my ever-forward movement.

    And then my heart heard one word. Wait.

    I sensed God inviting me into a holy pause. And though I didn't understand why waiting was necessary, the Lord graciously brought my heart into alignment with His.

    Wait is one of my least favorite words because it's one of my least favorite things to do. Over the years I have waited for eternally important things, like the salvation of loved ones. I've also waited for medical test results, some hard teen years to be over, a sickness to pass and houses to sell.

    And while waiting is unavoidable, it can feel like a waste of time, primarily because waiting feels unproductive to my task-oriented nature. The truth is I enjoy the feelings of accomplishment and the satisfaction of a job well done. And that's okay.

    But is our productivity or desire for an easy, wait-free life more important than our obedience to God? Productivity, the desire for an answer or our longing for the wait to be over cannot hold more weight in our hearts than God's timing, His will and His perfect plans for that particular time in our lives.

    Sometimes a holy pause doesn't make sense to us.

    Yet our key verse reminds us not to depend on our own understanding, and instead to seek God's plans for our lives: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    Had I failed to heed God's promptings, I probably would have been facing a project deadline in the midst of what turned out to be intense family-wide health issues, including many which were quite serious.

    What I learned during this holy pause is that down time does not equal wasted time. In God's economy and wisdom, down time — when prompted by Him — can spare us, equip us, refresh us or prepare us.

    If we are wise, we will use our down time, that holy pause, to allow our hearts to connect with His on a more frequent and deeper level. At some point the wait will be over and we will be free to move forward, with Him, into all He has for us at that particular time.

    When we seek God's will in all we do and learn to trust more in the Holy Spirit's promptings than our own desire for productive accomplishments, our hearts will come into alignment with His. And He will show us the right path, in His perfect timing.

    Lord, I long to obey You in every respect, even when I don't understand. Help me not to rush forward when You are inviting me into a holy pause. Bring my heart into alignment with Yours, and cause my thoughts to become agreeable to Your will. Thank You for accomplishing Your will in my life during every wait. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 40:31, "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (NLT)

    Psalm 31:15, "My times are in Your hands; deliver me from the hands of my foes and those who pursue me and persecute me." (AMP)

    Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." (NASB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write down the things you are currently waiting for on an index card. Then write Isaiah 40:31 directly beneath your list. Allow this verse to settle in your heart when you feel frustrated or weary, knowing that God is strengthening you while you wait.

    © 2014 by Julie K. Gillies. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • How God Turns Your Past Into Purpose

    Posted on October 21, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:39 (NIV)

    As I sat in the church pew with my head bowed in prayer, I heard a voice reverberate so thunderously in my heart that it startled me.

    The voice was blaringly loud, as if it had been announced over the loudspeakers. I opened my eyes surprised to see that no one else was taken aback. All was calm.

    And so began my encounter with God.

    I felt God speak loud and clear a short message that held life-altering repercussions. Three powerful, commanding words: "Go and share!"

    I became overwhelmed with emotion. I was awestruck that God had spoken to me at all, but even more so at the three words I heard. Go and share? Go and share what?

    Then it hit me. Fear immediately overwhelmed me and I sank into the pew, trembling at what I thought God might be asking. I began to question God, "Surely You can't mean share my past, Lord. Surely You don't mean go and share what I prefer to keep secret." Yet, that is exactly what He meant. And I didn't like it.

    I didn't want to go, much less share. I didn't want to be transparent or vulnerable. I gratefully accepted His forgiveness and healing, but I wasn't ready to accept His call to give me a purpose. The man who was healed from demon possession in today's key verse experienced similar feelings.

    This tormented man lived as an outcast for many years, naked and alone in the tombs of Gadara, near Galilee. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees and shouted at the top of his voice, begging for mercy from God. Jesus commanded the demons to leave him and then cast them into a herd of pigs that rushed down the steep bank into a lake and drowned. The man was healed physically, but more importantly, spiritually.

    He was so overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus had done, he begged to travel with Jesus and stay by His side. But Jesus had other plans. Instead, Jesus told him to go and share his story. And he did.

    What had once been a burden to bear became a powerful story of holy transformation. This man's past, and the healing he experienced, became the foundation of a purpose in life that he would have never imagined — living his life as proof of the life-changing power of Jesus.

    The man's story became a testimony when he was willing to share it with others. How many people believed in Jesus and are now spending eternity with Him simply because this former demon-possessed man willingly allowed his terrible past to become a story of redemption and purpose?

    People can deny Christ, dispute Scripture and ignore prophecy, but they cannot deny, dispute or ignore God's transformational power in someone's life. Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God's faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.

    I've since learned it is always God's desire for us to go and share our stories, whether we want to or not.

    God never wastes our pain. Only we do that. God has a plan for great purpose and a beautiful future for all who believe in Him. Not despite our past, but because of it.

    Lord, help me find the courage and the desire to share what You have done in my life. Turn my past into my purpose and refuse to let my pain be for nothing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)

    Isaiah 61:3, "... to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Have you been thankful for God's spiritual healing, but hesitant to share what He has done in your life?

    In what ways have you become an overcomer and found victory in Christ? How could you share that with others to impact their lives?

    How might God be able to use your past for a specific and unique purpose for ministry?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke

  • My Morning Prayer

    Posted on October 20, 2014 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35 (NIV)

    I've always been indescribably drawn to the private life of Jesus.

    The Jesus who was led into the wilderness.

    The Jesus who agonized over His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    But the moments that interest me most are when Jesus withdrew to quiet places to pray — each prayer time a compelling picture of the Son's intimate connection with His Father.

    Mark tells us in our key verse that while it was still dark, Jesus slipped out of the house and went to a secluded place to meet with His Father. Mark doesn't tell us what morning this was. But we do know this prayer time followed a full day of healing the sick and casting out demons.

    After that kind of day, you would think Jesus might have slept in ... just for an hour or two. I would have. But not Jesus. He awakened before the sun peeked over the horizon to be refreshed and renewed for the ministry awaiting Him that day.

    Oh, how I long to know what Jesus said. How long did He pray? What did He pray? Could He audibly hear His Father's response? Were the angels with Him?

    And more practically, did His mind wander? Mine does. Sometimes I find myself praying and my mind travels to my "to do" list. Or I begin praising God but then the concerns weighing on my heart push through and usher out my praise.

    I imagine Jesus' mind didn't wander because He knew in those solitary places He was sitting in very presence of His Father. And what I forget — perhaps many of us do — is that when we pray, we too sit in the very presence of God, our Father.

    Although our eyes cannot visibly see Him, I picture Him drawing near, bending close to hear our every word. His Spirit surrounding us. His hands lifting our faces heavenward. His ears fixed on every cry of our hearts ... the praises, the confessions, the anxieties, the fears, the doubts ... He hears them all.

    Sometimes it's hard to awaken early. Hard to focus. And most of all, it's hard to fathom that the God of the universe, who holds the entire world in His hands, has time to hear our little prayers. But not only does He have the time, He calls us to come to Him. Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (NIV).

    So, let's band together this week for morning prayer. Each morning, find a solitary place to pray ... your own secret spot. Below, I've written a special prayer for us to open our time with God.

    Our Morning Prayer:

    Dear Lord, I don't know who or what will cross my path today. But I do know that You are my Rock and my Fortress. You are my Shield and my Strong Tower. Help me to anchor myself to You today. Teach me how to stand strong in You and choose only Your way today. Help me walk by Your truth and not my feelings.

    Help me to embrace anything that comes my way as an opportunity to see You at work and as an opportunity to point others to You.

    Thank You that You love me and nothing can ever take that away from me! Even if I fail today and fall short, You whisper Your unconditional love deep into my soul and remind me that Your mercies are new every morning.

    That truly amazes me, Lord.

    Thank You for meeting with me today. Would You wake me again tomorrow with the same sweet whisper of Your love? I can't wait to meet with You again. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Imagine the marvelous sight before God's eyes! Each morning this week, as Elohim, the God who created us, peeks over the edge of heaven, gazes across the continents, and spans the time zones, He will find His girls gathering to pray with one voice: Our morning prayer.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write our Morning Prayer on a notecard or in a journal and pray it out loud each morning. At the end of the week, record how God has used this time to transform your heart for prayer.

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Mark

  • Fatherhood

    Posted on October 17, 2014 by Family Christian

    Throughout my life as I considered or even dreamt about fatherhood, my thoughts always focused on me nurturing, supporting, and loving on children that were 100% healthy. The thought never crossed my mind that I may be called upon to serve a child that was disabled.

     

    By God’s grace, my wife and I were given three children who are in every way healthy. We have invested our energy, time and resource into each of three children over the past 27 years. Each of them thrives, loves the Lord and is independent of our parenting for the most part.

     

    What I marveled at as the kids grew was their drive for independence:

    ·         In the early years they wanted to do things under their own power – crawl, feed themselves, walk, tinkle, etc. As they made progress, they became less dependent on us and we in essence gained a bit of “freedom”.

    ·         As adolescents they tested their own power and independence as they did sleep overs, traveled with friends, honed their own skills, and could find their way back home. Their independence and confidence grew, and we accomplished another level of freedom.

    ·         As teens they wanted to do things with power – take the car, travel abroad, shave, mow my grass and certainly state their own point of view. For us we enjoyed greatly expanded freedom and far less parenting input as we watched them grow and thrive.

    ·         Into early adulthood now, each serves and functions with total independence. We enjoy vast amounts of freedom and our own independence.

     

    As I looked into the eyes of Joel, my Bolivian friend who is served at the Children’s Rehab Center of Colomi in partnership with World Vision, I was hit hard by the fact that God gave me three healthy children and they were very easy for us to raise. Hard in the sense that I was deeply grateful for our children, but in the depth of my spirit challenged as I wondered what kind of Dad would I have been to a child like Joel?

    It hit me hard knowing that Joel was not going to do many things under his own power – not crawl, not walk, not feed himself. He would not do sleep overs, travel with friends, nor could he get himself back home. He won’t likely drive a car, travel abroad, shave or mow anybody’s grass. It struck me that Joel will not know the independence many of us enjoy, or our children achieve as they progressively take on skills and abilities.  As I visited with Joel it hit me that he will require support and assistance all his life from his parents. That this assignment in vast in scope, long in duration, it requires constant sacrifice, it requires endurance, and it is nearly impossible to do alone. What kind of Dad would I have been when faced with this challenge and a boy like Joel?

    BOLIVIA and Joel

    BOLIVIA and Joel

     

    While I cannot give an answer to that question, I knew with absolute certainly that a child like Joel would require more of me than I had given to three healthy kids. I knew that for Joel’s parents it must be simply hard and that they would face weariness often. As precious as Joel is, it was apparent that his parents would need to be constantly active in every aspect of Joel’s life for as long as Joel lives.

     

    In that moment I was able to give praise and thanksgiving for the World Vision work in Colomi at the Children’s’ Rehab Center. Most third world or emerging nations do not have resources like this to aid in child development for special needs children. By God’s grace, there is one in Colomi, and it serves Joel and so many others. It is a respite for fatigued parents. It provides support to parents who otherwise would have no support at all in a community that often casts out the disabled or at best hides them. It is a place where caring professionals can develop skills in children and pass teaching techniques to parents who are starving for help in developing their precious child.

     

    While I wrestled with what kind of Dad I would be to a boy such as Joel, I knew with certainly that I would depend on place like this, The Children’s Rehab Center. Because of it, Joel is making progress and learning new skills. His parents are being given what I call “rescuing support” without which they might simply give up. Joel knows love. His parents have hope. Together they are making progress to lead fuller lives under the compassionate care of World Vision in Colomi.

     

    Written by:

    Steve Biondo

    SVP, HR & Organizational Development at Family Christian

     

     


    This post was posted in Missions, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Missions, World Vision, steve biondo, Bolivia

  • The Desire to Belong

    Posted on October 17, 2014 by Family Christian

    “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/

     


    This post was posted in Guest Bloggers and was tagged with guest bloggers

  • Interview with We Are Leo

    Posted on October 13, 2014 by Family Christian

     

    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.    

     


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Music, interviews, We Are Leo

  • Do you know what you believe?

    Posted on October 13, 2014 by Family Christian

    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.


    This post was posted in Kids, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Parenting, believe, guest bloggers

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