Sunday, October 27, 2013

Peer Pressure: Not Just for Teens

Isaiah 51:7
Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my laws in your hearts.  Do not be afraid of people’s scorn, nor fear their insults.

Peer Pressure is a term that is mainly associated with teenagers.  Adolescence is a confusing time.  As one grows into adulthood, the knowledge of right and wrong is within, but when faced with certain situations, it can be difficult to live that out when in the minority.  Eventually, most people mature into adults who are able to think for themselves and do not depend on the approval of others as a basis of how to live.  I believe this is what God wants us to do also.  He wants us to be spiritually mature so that we depend on His word to see what is right and what is wrong, not what those around us think.

Sadly, I know many adults who continue to base their decisions on how they will be perceived by others, rather than having the confidence to stick to their beliefs of what is right and what is wrong.  One reason for this is that they don’t like conflict or confrontations.  The truth is that you will most likely be confronted. Unfortunately, the people who are trying to convince you to do something that you don’t believe is right, will be twice as loud as the opposing side.  Maybe that’s because they’ve figured out that bullying works, and in some twisted way, they have decided that it’s acceptable.

As an adult who chooses not to drink any alcoholic beverages, I can tell you that peer pressure and bullying isn’t just for teenagers.  I don’t understand why people get so worked up over it.  As long as the behavior doesn’t become destructive, I don’t care if they drink alcohol, so I never get why they get so upset when I don’t.  Just as a side note, there might be reasons that people choose not to participate in certain behavior that has nothing to do with you, such as medical reasons, family history of dependency, a commitment to stop the behavior, it doesn’t fit into their framework as being the right thing to do, and others.  And News Flash! Those reasons aren’t any of your business.

Choosing to do what is right will cost you.  There may not be any monetary cost, but there is almost always a cost in popularity and acceptance.  It takes a lot of self-confidence to step out in faith, especially when it comes to telling others about Christ and what He did for us.  Being scorned and insulted is never enjoyable.  It’s human nature to want to be liked by people, and God wants us to have relationships while we are here, so I don’t believe we are supposed to curl ourselves up in a world that is totally permeated by Christian culture either.  We are supposed to let our light shine in a dark world, not just reflect off of others who share that light. It’s easy to talk to others about Jesus when we share the same beliefs.   It’s not so easy when they don’t.  Having said that, we have been commissioned to go out there and tell people about the gospel.  God is a necessary part of that equation.  He is the one who prepares a heart to hear the gospel.  He uses us to do His work, but ultimately He is doing the work within the hearts and souls of other people.

How can we know if someone is ready to hear it?   Kathy shares the following, “I have decided to start my day with these words, ‘I will only do and say what you want me to.  I will only walk where you want me to walk.  Just lead me.’”  Those are wise words and a great way to start any day.

How to Stand Firm:
  • ·         Know God’s word and know what He says is right, and what He says is wrong.  That’s where the basis of our framework should come from.  Don’t take anybody else’s word for it.  Spend 10 minutes per day in your Bible while asking God to show you what He wants you to see in His word. 
  • ·         Stand strong in your beliefs, and gather a support system of people who will encourage you and help you see the truth when you’re under pressure. 
  • ·         Plant seeds of faith by living your life reflecting Christ, and pray that God will open hearts to receive Him.  Be patient and don’t give up.
  • ·         When you’re feeling down and outcast, remind yourself of what Christ went through for you.  There is no comparison.

Passages to Ponder:
Galatians 1:10  Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Exodus 23:2  You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong.  When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice.

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda and Kim McClure

Monday, October 21, 2013

Trust, Trials, and God's Truth

Psalms 33:4
For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does.

Trusting others is an issue for lots of people.  Most of us have been hurt by someone we love, and that leaves a mark on our emotions.  We might forgive them for hurting us, but we may never fully trust them again.  God can be trusted.  He doesn’t change.  There are many promises in the Bible that He makes, and He fulfills every one of them.  This week, let’s look at a few of the promises that we can count on.

Philippians 4:19 tells us that God will supply all our needs.  Karen shares the following testimony:
                My husband was laid off from work a few years back.  Just as we were about to sell our house, God gave me two full-time job offers at the newspaper where I worked.  When we weren’t sure we could buy groceries that week, we received two anonymous gift cards to grocery stores in the mail.  On one of our most desperate nights, we noticed a basket on our backyard picnic table.  It appeared to be a basket full of foil-wrapped candy.  As we unwrapped the foil packages, we found they contained, not candy, but money- twenties, tens and fives..again anonymous.  We still don’t know who heard the call of God to care for us in these special ways.

Psalms 34:18 tells us that God is close to the broken-hearted and will rescue us when our spirits are crushed.  Marla shares the following testimony:
                My mother was not healed (on Earth) of her leukemia, even after many prayers, begging and pleading with God.  BUT the hearts of myself, my family members and others (hospital workers, etc.) were forever changed through watching her strength and never failing trust in the Lord.  Maybe God had plans to work on a lot of hearts rather than heal my mom on Earth.  She is Heaven..and what a much better choice.  Although I miss her terribly, I know we will be together again.

James 1:5 tells us that God will give us wisdom if we ask for it.  Kristy shares the following testimony:
                It’s important for me to trust in Him and not my own fickle heart.  I’m the world’s worst at not thinking things through before acting on them. Or, I’ll over think them so much that I won’t know how to make a decision.  God perfectly paired my husband and me, as he is the logical person in our marriage.  I’m ready to jump all in, and he’s the one to tell me to wait. I can’t really trust in the Lord if I’m jumping into things, can I?

These testimonies are just three pieces of evidence that show the truth of God’s word in our lives.  He provides for us by using people and circumstances to fulfill His promises.  If everything in life stayed on an even keel all the time, we would not change or grow, and probably forget to praise God for our blessings because we would be used to them and begin to take them for granted.

What’s the catch?
You might be asking yourself that question.  You may read the testimonies above, and be wondering why it isn’t working for you. First of all, God works on His timetable, not ours.  He knows our future and He knows the perfect time to deliver on His promise for us. He will never be too late.  God also makes it clear through His word that He requires something from us in order to receive His promises…complete faith.  Check out the following verses for further proof.

Hebrews 11:6  And it is impossible to please God without faith.  Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.

James 1:6-7  But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God aloneDo not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Romans 4:20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise.  In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.  He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises.

·         Do you believe that God exists?
·         Do you sincerely seek Him?
·         Do you believe that He will reward you?
·         Is your faith in God alone or are you trying to control the situation?
·         Are you wavering between believing and doubting?
·         Are you fully convinced that God is able?
Ask yourself those questions, and allow yourself to believe His promises and trust Him.  That’s all He wants from us.  The humility to believe that He can and will provide His promises.

If you’d like to share further stories from your life of how God has proven His promises to you, we would love to hear from you.  Please comment below or message us at

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald, and Kristy Tolley

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Legacy of Loyalty and Kindness

Proverbs 3:3-4
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you.  Tie them around your neck as a reminder.  Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

When the question is posed, “Why do you hold back in telling others about Jesus?”, it’s common to hear people say that they are afraid that they will be watched too closely, others will see their mistakes, and call them a hypocrite.  It is a huge responsibility to set an example with our lives when we proclaim to follow Christ.  People do watch, and they do notice when we make mistakes, but the beautiful thing is that they also notice when we admit our mistakes, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. 

DC Talk had a very popular song with Jesus Freak.  It says, “What will people say when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak? What will people do when they find out it’s true? I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak, there ain’t no disguising the truth.”  If we live our lives honoring God, people are going to notice that we are different, and there won’t be any way to disguise it.  Proverbs 3:3-4 mentions two traits that God says will help us find favor and help us earn a good reputation not only with people, but with Him.  Those two traits are loyalty and kindness.  It says never let these things leave us.  We should remind ourselves about being this way, and have them carved or written deep in our heart.  That’s where we show love. 

Loyalty is important.  It’s absolutely necessary in a successful marriage, it is an integral piece to the puzzle of friendship, and it’s expected within a family.  Businesses have discovered the importance of it.  My wallet is filled with loyalty cards that reward me with discounts and free products when I spend my money with them.   

Being kind to others is a key component to our witness to the world.  God says that the best thing we can do to show Him to others is to love them.  The dictionary defines kind as sympathetic, helpful, and gentle.  Listening to others, helping them, and treating them gently will exhibit the love of God to people.

When I choose to be loyal to someone, it means I am not wavering in my devotion to that relationship.  That level of devotion is built over time in friendships, while it is immediate in some relationships.  When you see the face of your child for the first time, there is a deep level of loyalty that is instinctive.   My first thought when someone hurts me or someone I love, is not one of kindness.

I have recently had a situation where someone I am loyal to has had a difficult time with another individual treating them unfairly.  My actions, responses, and words were not always kind.  When I was around other people that began speaking about the same situation, I joined in on the bashing.  I know that I tarnished my good reputation as a Christ follower to those people.  That could be enough to make me just quit talking about Jesus because people might see me as a hypocrite.

Eventually, I did the mature thing about the situation, and after a lot of prayer and some advice from some of my most loyal friends, a discussion took place, and we all feel better about it now.  All I can do is renew my effort to show kindness in every situation and really pray about the importance of being loyal and kind to people, ask for forgiveness and start anew.

I am grateful for the mercy and patience that God shows me in my relationship with Him, and I want to show more grace and mercy to the people He has placed in my life.  God is still working on me, but there ain’t no disguising the truth, I am a Jesus freak.  I hope I can grow and leave a legacy of loyalty and kindness.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Passages to Ponder:

Proverbs 11:17- Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.

Romans 2:4- Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?  Does this mean nothing to you?  Can't you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

Proverbs 22:1- Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than gold or silver.

Kim McClure

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Roller Coasters and Restraining Our Inner Veruca Salt

Psalms 138:8
The Lord will work out His plans for my life- for your faithful love,  O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me.

Life happens.  It has ups and downs, twists and turns, and sometimes flips us upside down.  It sounds like a roller coaster ride doesn’t it?  Just like on a roller coaster, no matter how nervous you are before you start, and how you might think “Why am I doing this?” during the ride, it always comes to a stop and most of the time, you’re glad you did it.  Sure, you might throw up, but most of the time people are all smiles when it’s over and that experience makes it easier to do it again when the opportunity arises.

When life starts to feel like a roller coaster ride that we don’t want to be on, how do we respond?  Are we humble enough to ask God to show us what the purpose of this is, asking Him for guidance and totally trusting Him, or do we channel Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory demanding that we get exactly what we want, pointing out anything that varies from what we want, and expecting the results we want to be done NOW? Veruca’s father spoiled her and met her every demand, which was what turned her into such a brat.  Our Heavenly Father doesn’t play that game.  He doesn’t make deals.  Doesn’t it sound ridiculous to say, “But, Heavenly Father, I want this now!”?  And what happens when He doesn’t respond immediately?
  • ·         We might react by running to anyone who will listen to us express our situation, and asking for advice.
  • ·         We might retreat like a rabbit to its hole feeling overwhelmed and out of control.
  • ·         We might give in to feeling depressed and begin taking frustrations out on others with outbursts.
  • ·         We might exemplify Veruca Salt herself and just plain pout.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.  Did you catch the end of that verse? “His purpose for them”? His purpose for our life might not line up with our plans.  Do you live knowing that no matter what comes up, God will never abandon you and that He will continue to love you?  It’s difficult to see the top of a mountain when we are in the valley, but our eyes need to continue looking up, because that is where the answer is.  A storm might have put you in that valley, but you can’t fear the storm because our Father walks on water.  He may not be instigating whatever is happening in or around us, but He will always constant.  If we trust in Him, and not ourselves, we will be stronger for it in the end. 

Remember, God knows the past, present and future.  He always knows something that you don’t. He knows how and where and why the ride ends.   If He has said “no” to your plans, He isn’t being a mean Father, He must have something better in mind.  Believe that to be truth.  He might be trying to derail you or protect you from further suffering. We always get through the roller coaster rides of life, and when we look back we can see God’s hand and how He was in it all along.

If you know the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then you know that Veruca won a contest and she wasn’t very happy to see that she wasn’t the only winner.  She wanted to be the star of the situation.   

Who has the starring role in your story, you or Jesus?  Let Jesus have the lead role, jump in and hold on!

Passages to Ponder:
James 1:5- If you need wisdom, ask our generous God,  and He will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.

Proverbs 3:5- Trust in the Lord will all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Philippians 4:6- Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.

Contributors:  Kathy Derda, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald and Kristy Tolley