Sunday, August 25, 2013

Be Brave and Simply Believe

Mark 10:15
I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.

Research from Samaritan’s Purse shows that 64% of Christians accept Christ before age 18.  The majority accept Christ as a child.  Jesus points out how important children are to Him repeatedly.  Children aren’t afraid to ask for what they want.  They do so without any pretense, and they believe they’re going to get it because they have confidence that their every need is going to be met.
Jesus is giving us a clue in this verse not to let the world destroy our faith.  We tend to let rules and religion get in the way of having faith like a child.  When we allow, fear and worry to take over, that is an act of pride. It’s like saying, “Hey, God, I got this one.  You sit back.”  In contrast, God wants us to cast our cares on Him as an act of humility, understanding that He is in control.  It is only as we become adults that we lose the ability to believe like a child.  What happens:
·         Do we become too educated to believe the unseen?
·         Do we become too sophisticated to embrace the miraculous?
·         Do we become too hardened to love?
·         Do we become too scared to hope?
·         Do we become too sinful to acknowledge grace?
·         Do we become too worldly to accept free gifts?
Let’s look at Mark 5:25-34. Note the faith of this woman and Jesus' response to her.
A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding.  She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better.  In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind Him through the crowd and touched His robe.  For she thought to herself,” If I can just touch the hem of His robe, I will be healed.”  Immediately, the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.  Jesus realized at one that healing power had gone out of Him, so He turned around in the crowd and asked ,” Who touched my robe?”  His disciples said to Him, ‘Look at this crowd pressing around You.  How can you ask, “Who touched me?”   But He kept on looking to see who had done it.  Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of Him and told Him what she had done.  And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.  Your suffering is over.”
This woman knew that if she could just touch the hem of His robe that she would be healed.  She had to be brave enough to fight through the crowd to get near Him, and she had to be brave enough to speak up when Jesus asked who had touched Him.  She did it!  She simply believed that He would heal her, so she took that risk, and what was His response?  He wasn’t bothered or annoyed.  He was pleased with her and told her that she was healed because of her FAITH.  She simply believed!
I encourage you to:
Trust-  What’s the worst thing that can happen if we just trust that God will do what He says?  Children believe what their fathers tell them.  They don’t argue with him or try to prove him wrong.  We should be the same way with God.  He is our Father.  Believe!
Praise-  Children love their parents and praise them without even thinking about it.  God deserves our praise in every circumstance because He knows the end of the story.  Believe!
Explore-Remember being unafraid when you were a child?  Kids see new experiences as adventures.  Be brave and take a new journey with Him.  Believe!
Forgive-How many children do you know that hold grudges?  Read books, see counselors, join support groups, cry..whatever it takes to loosen the bondage of a grudge.  Ask God to help you let go of the pain.  Believe!
Ask-    Pour out your heart’s desire to God.  Do it over and over and over.  We let the adult in us rationalize ourselves out of coming to our Father because we think that what we want to pray about isn’t as important as so many other prayers going up for other things such as cancer, or job loss or any other number of things.  The truth is if it matters to you, it matters to God.  He cares about every little thing that you care about.  Don’t let someone tell you that what you’re praying about isn’t important and it will just all work out.  He cares!  Believe! 
Passages to Ponder:
Matthew 7:7-8 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Psalm 116:6- The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death and He saved me.
Mark 9:23- “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?”, Jesus asked.  “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Me? Selfish? You Must Be Mistaken

I Corinthians 13:5
Love is not rude.  It does not demand its own way. 
 It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
 Can you imagine this world without love? This verse is in a passage that is read at many weddings.  This kind of love is not only helpful for marriages, but in every relationship.   The Greek word for this kind of love indicates a selfless concern for the welfare of others, not because they are easy to love, but because we are called to love people out of obedience to God no matter how unlovable and selfish they may be.
 Selfish people are rude, they demand their own way, they are irritable, and they don’t forgive easily, because their world is centered on themselves.
·         Have you ever been busy doing something and someone interrupts you?  I have, and my response has been rude. I have cut that person short or said something hurtful just because I want to get back to what is important to me at that time.
·         Do you have someone in your life that chooses to do things their own way even though it doesn’t match up with the way you would do them?  I do.  Even though, I’m sure my way is best, and I can’t understand why anyone doesn’t want to do it the way I do, I can’t demand things to be done my way all the time in a healthy relationship.
·         Do you have someone in your life that doesn’t live up to your expectations?  I do, and it makes me irritable.  I have also been the person in someone’s life that doesn’t live up to expectations. I know the pain that causes. I need to remember that perfection only exists in God.  I can’t be perfect, nor can anybody else.
·         Have you ever been betrayed or hurt by someone you trusted?  I have, and it’s hard to forget about.  Harsh words are going to be said in any relationship.  God wants us to forgive any words or actions done against us, and move on leaving the past in the past. 
I don’t think of myself as a selfish person, but if I measure myself against this verse, I seem to fit the characteristics at one time or another in my life.  While I might find it hard to love someone who exhibits these traits to me, I am called to love like God does and He loves me unconditionally… even when I am being a selfish brat.
I need to get over myself sometimes, do you? The world wants love to feel good, and if that means sacrificing morals or the feelings of other people, then so be it.  That’s not how God wants us to love.  We have to be selfless.  Love is not only a feeling, but it is a choice.  I need to choose to:
·         Treat others with kindness, even when they’re rude to me.
·         Compromise with people, and refuse to pout during the process.
·         Stop nagging when people don’t do things the way I want them to.
·         Stop bringing up past mistakes 
Today, I am going to praise God that He loves me no matter how unlovable I am, and ask Him to help me love others the way He loves me. That’s a tall order, because I am human, self-centered and weak, but I’m going to try…really I am.  
Passages to Ponder:
I John 4:12 No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.
Philippians 2:3-4 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
James 3:15- For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom.  Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda, and Kim McClure

Monday, August 12, 2013

Watching Our Words

James 1:26- If you claim to be religious, but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
Babies come into this world totally innocent.  Parents get excited when the first milestones are reached, and a big deal is made when a baby says their first word.  Then before you know it we are saying “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” to them.   Where did these innocent babies and kids hear the “not nice” words they are using? It could be the tv, but most likely it’s from us.  Words are powerful.  They can build people up or tear them down, and we can turn people on to God with our words, or completely turn them off.     
Have you ever seen the look on someone’s face when your words hurt their feelings?  Even in the closest relationships where we encourage and pour positivity into people, one statement that is hurtful can tear down the good things that have been built up.  We lose our patience with ones we love due to their behavior and our expectations, then words are said that can’t be taken back. We might find ourselves saying, “Did I just say that out loud? Yikes!”.   It’s important to make sure that we take the time to be humble and apologize when we see that we’ve hurt someone that we love. 
Gossip is worthless.  Gossiping means sharing information with the intent to harm or embarrass someone.  The line between sharing information out of concern, and sharing it out of gossip is a fine one, and sometimes it is easily crossed.   God gave us all free will and the ability to judge what we should or shouldn’t be a part of. This measure of judgment can be nothing but the Word of God.  The tricky part is listening to the Spirit when He is trying to tell us “Ssshhh!!”.  Self-control is a fruit of the spirit.  Our amount of self-control is a way we can measure our growth in Christ.  By exercising self-control, we proclaim who we belong to.
Beth Moore said, “The key to self-control is the refusal to allow our enemies (the flesh, the world, or Satan) to rule or hold us captive in any way.  Christ has given us victory over our flesh, our world, and our accuser.  They cannot presume authority over us.”  Whatever is in your heart flows from your mouth.  Just like a lion pursues its prey, we must pursue godly speech.  It doesn’t just happen.  How can you live this victory?
·         Feed your spirit with the word of God
o   Read your Bible. When Satan tempted Christ in the desert, Christ resisted by using the Scriptures.
o    Participate in a Bible study
o   Discuss your thoughts with people who share your faith. 
·         Pray as we move about in your day
o    Prayer isn’t a formal ritual, it is a conversation between you and God. He is ALWAYS listening, and available.
o    If you’d like to grow in this area, go to the page on the blog titled A Praying Life  book study, click on the eventbrite link and join us as we learn and grow together.
·         Keep  your thoughts captive
o   Think before you speak.
o    Ask God to help you capture any words that may be harmful and keep them in.  This takes practice and self-control.
Guess what? We are still going to fail.  We are human.  The beautiful thing is that Christ experienced every temptation that we have, and He is able to sympathize with us.  God loves me! God loves you!  He knows we won’t be perfect, He knows what I said that was hurtful and worthless..and He still loves me.  Focus on His words of love and His perfect and unending grace for messed up people like me (and you too).  He can lift the weight of our words from our shoulders and let us start over through His forgiveness and grace. 
Passages to Ponder:
Romans 7:18-19 “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.
Psalm 19:14- May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer
Luke 6:45- A good person produces good things from the treasure of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Contributors: Karen Bromby, Jodi Dunbar, Jamie Leary, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald and Kristy Tolley

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Life is full of obstacles.  We can be happily strolling down the road of normalcy, when all of a sudden a hurdle appears.  What are you going to do? Gather strength and jump over it, or just sit there and hope it will disappear? We don’t know what the future holds for any of us, and what we consider normal can change in the blink of an eye.  God wants us to come to Him instead of being scared and discouraged.  We can only see that hurdle from our viewpoint.  God sees the whole thing from every angle, and from beginning to end.  Understanding the heart of who God is will make relinquishing control to Him much easier.  Giving it up to Him will require faith.
God will allow those hurdles to be put in our paths because just as our bodies need exercise to remain strong, so does our faith.  We have to use it to make it grow stronger.  It’s only in the most difficult times that we are challenged to put our faith into action.  He is able! He is good! He will hold you up! Read these testimonies about dealing with a chronic illness, unexpected changes, and trusting as a parent to help build your faith.
Dealing with a Chronic Illness
Chronic and unpredictable illness, since 2008, has truly tested my faith and continues to do so.  There are days (and weeks) that I could drop into the abyss of discouragement and never again rise up.  Things like:
·         Sending my family on our annual beach trip without me
·         Staying home instead of attending a 50th birthday celebration
·         Watching our small group Bible study disintegrate partially due to my unreliability
·         Cancelling, yet again, on friends for dinner
·         Missing church for the 7th week in a row
·         Turning down incredible jobs one after the other
·         Having yet another procedure/test prove nothing
·         Hearing the 8th doctor say, “I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do for you.”
Discouraging doesn’t even begin to cover it.  I could easily slip into the fear that I will be like this for the rest of my life…BUT God hold me up with His victorious right hand! He strengthens me and helps me every single day.  Through His presence, His word, and His people, He lifts me up and gives me faith that this isn’t the end of my story.  He is my portion and He sustains me.  I fear not!- Karen
I have pleaded with the Lord to take me home or take away the relentless pain.  I have felt like a drain and a burden on my family even though they have done nothing but love me unconditionally.  It is limiting in so many ways.  It requires using a pencil, not a pen, when writing in your planner. It changes your perspective.  He is never surprised- He goes before me! Even though I am limited, I have a Father who is limitless.- Jodi
Unexpected Changes
Rich and I had been married for five years when he felt he should go to Law School.  He already had a Masters Degree and was working full time.  In order for us to do this, we would have to pick up our life and move to Morgantown, WV.  We had two small boys (aged 4 and 1), and I was about to finish my teaching degree.  I was not happy about it.  When the notice came that he hadn’t gotten accepted within the first round of applications, I was thrilled on the inside.  I kept thinking, “God, why would you move us into the unknown when we are finally getting settled into our lives.”  Weeks passed, and a letter came in the mail.  I can still remember where I was standing, and where he was sitting when he stared at the letter from the Law School.  Before he opened it, I looked at him and said, “We are moving to Morgantown.”  He opened it and asked how I knew.  I told him that God had given me peace and the faith to know that everything would be okay.  He will provide the food, shelter, jobs, and anything we need.  Rich moved within two weeks, the boys and I followed within the month.  Doors opened there for great ministry opportunities for both of us and I never looked back- Tammy
Trusting as a Parent
I have always been gently reminded by my mother that I was the least likely one of her five children to be a parent due to my “self-interest”, but I pleasantly and surprisingly got over myself and have raised three children and helped with two nephews.  The struggles of parenthood are real.  God gave me an extra challenge when he blessed me with my second son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome.  His future has always been unknown, but it has been placed in God’s hands.  I am ecstatic to say that he will be returning to WVU this month for his senior year.  Hooray!  That accomplishment is monumental in my eyes.- Monica
Whether you are struggling with chronic illness, unexpected changes, problems in your family, infertility, job loss, or another hurdle in your life, know that He is victorious!  The same power that is in Christ is in us.  We just don’t always use it or believe it.  The Bible doesn’t say to live by writing out pros and cons, it says to live by faith.  Think how different life would be if you had the faith of a mustard seed. Jesus said that’s enough to move a mountain if we believe it!  That tiny mustard seed is the smallest of herbs, but it can grow up to 20 feet tall however, we won’t see the fruit of that mustard seed and see how far it can grow unless we sow it.  I would really like to move mountains, wouldn’t you?   The first step might be trusting Him to help get you over that hurdle in your life. Jump! He will hold you up. Believe it!
Passages to Ponder:
Lamentations 3:22-24 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him.”
Matthew 6:34- So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew 17:20 You don’t have enough faith, Jesus told them.  I tell you the truth, if you had faith as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain. ‘Move from here to there’, and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible.”
Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Kathy Derda, Jodi Dunbar, Tammy Holtzapfel, Jamie Leary, Kim McClure, Sherri Payne and Kristy Tolley