Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Challenging Thankful Challenge

For the past several years, the 30 day Thankful Challenge has been popular on Facebook.  Each day, you post something that you are thankful for.  It’s a great way to remind ourselves that we have a lot of things to be thankful for.  BUT if you want a real challenge in being thankful, don’t think of things, but be thankful in circumstances, in whatever is happening in your life.  Every one of us is struggling with something, and we need to be thankful in it.

In Philippians, Paul tells us there are four thieves that rob us of our joy:
  • circumstances
  • people
  • things
  • worry

He then tells us how to keep these things from making us into bitter, whiny, complainers.
  • Be single-minded:  This means to stay focused on our blessings and our allegiance to God.  James 1:6-8 tells us that a double minded     person is unstable in all his ways.  God wants all of our loyalty, not for it to be divided between Him and this world.
  • Have a submissive mind:  This means to stay focused on others.  Take a look around, and take your eyes off of yourself and your problems for a moment.  Choose to help people in need around you.  This can help in so many ways, plus it can help curb annoyances with other people when we aren’t getting our way.
  • Have a spiritual mind:  Spiritual minded people focus on what God wants.  They are looking for lessons and messages in every circumstance.  If we choose to look at things that way, instead of being obsessed with what we do or do not have , things will start looking up.
  • Secure your mind:  People with secure minds just don’t allow worry to enter them.  Having a secure mind means that you have guarded your heart and mind with the word of God, and you have faith that good will come from whatever is going on.

Following Christ is an action.  We are not to sit around and play a passive role, but instead we should be active; always abounding in the work of the Lord:  praying, rejoicing, and being thankful no matter what.  

We might be weak, we might cry too often and proclaim, “I can’t do this, God”, BUT God is faithful.  He fills in for the weakling.  He gives joy.  He provides mercy that we do not have, patience that we cannot muster and love for people who might not be easy to love.

Happiness is not based on your circumstances, but on a decision that you make.  Paul was literally chained to a prison guard at all times.  However, through it all, he had joy.  He prayed without ceasing, he wrote letters encouraging churches to be faithful, he witnessed to the guards, the other prisoners and to high officials.  By the way, Paul would probably never have come in contact with these people if he hadn’t been imprisoned.

Paul didn’t let his circumstances rob him of his joy because he wasn’t living to enjoy circumstances, he was living to serve Christ. And he was thankful in every situation that he was put in, no matter how difficult it was.

Whether you are facing unemployment, cancer, a rebellious child, caring for aging parents, uncertainty or anything else you’re struggling with, choose to be thankful.  It’s a challenge, but I am taking it.  How about you?

Passages to Ponder:

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

James 1:6-8  But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Do 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.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Philippians 2:3  Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby,  Tammy Holtzapfel, Kim McClure and Shawna Nelson

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Remedy for Revenge

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend and was surprised when she mentioned that she was getting tired of waiting on karma to kick in on a former friend of hers.  She went on to say that it wasn’t fair how this person treats people and just gets away with it.  

Have you ever felt that way?  Most of us can say, yes.

Revenge is an ugly thing.  Wanting to see it happen to someone, or even taking the steps to “pay someone back” can consume you, and not in a good way.  It can turn a good-hearted person into someone unrecognizable in the snap of a finger, and what lies behind it?  Usually, it stems from betrayal.

Betrayal is difficult.  When you trust someone with a part of yourself, and that trust is broken, there is a piece that can never be replaced.  When we are betrayed, it can break your heart, rock your confidence in discernment and make it really difficult to trust people.  It isn’t an easy thing to get over.  

Beyond the pain, revenge can seem like the perfect answer, but it isn’t.  Seeking revenge brings nothing but empty, hollow feelings of vindictiveness and regret.  And in the end, that is just making you feel worse and allowing that person to continue to have control over you.

We can want justice for a ‘wrong” done to us so deeply that we can awaken to realize that we are even dreaming about the situation, meaning that there is no escape..not even in our sleep.  

What is the remedy for this rampant emotion that will ravage us if we don’t reject its power?


Yes, forgiveness is the remedy to revenge.  It isn’t easy to do, as a matter of fact, it’s downright difficult to forgive someone who has intentionally set out to hurt you, but the more you allow yourself to get worked up about wanting “justice”, you are just creating more pain for yourself.  

What are the keys to this magical remedy?
  • Be patient-  The Bible tell us that we reap what we sow, and it is full of examples of that being played out.  When I am hurt, I want that other person to hurt just as badly, or more and I want it NOW, but God tells us that vengeance is His.  It is His, not ours.  Our job is to love and forgive and trust Him to take care of us.

  • Take some steps back- When I watch a tv show, and a police officer draws their weapon, they always say, “Step away from the (whatever)..”  This can be a healthy thing for us to do in life, step away from the trigger that causes us to feel these emotions.

  • Turn away from the situation- Stop focusing on all of the details of what has been done to you, and focus on Jesus.  Look into His word, spend some time with Him in prayer and let it all out.  He can take it.  The peace that He will place in your heart and in your life will fulfill you more than wanting revenge ever could.

Passages to Ponder:

Matthew 7:12- Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.  This is the essence of all that is taught in the Law and the prophets.

Psalm 37:7- Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

I Peter 3:9- Don’t repay evil for evil.  Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God has called you to do, and He will bless you for it.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Catherine Caracio, Susan Haynes and Kim McClure

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Fight For Your Family

What are you afraid of?  Heights, water, clowns, dogs, zombies?  If we are honest, we can all think of at least one thing that we fear.  While some items on that list might sound silly to you, to others those fears are real.  We, as believers in Jesus Christ, have an enemy and while that might sound silly to those who don’t share our faith, he is real and his power can be scary.

Satan is at work to destroy us and our belief in God.  What would be the most efficient way to make this happen?  In order to hurt us and scare us the most, he goes after our families.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  That’s where we hold our hearts and love and trust.  Those are the people who mean the most to us, so if he can get to them…he can get to us.  

His attack on the family is having a ripple effect that is causing problems in schools, elevating the crime rate, causing marital problems, etc., and when you are in the midst of any of those issues, it’s easier to doubt God, and that will eventually weaken our faith if it isn’t stopped.

How can we stop it?  Prayer

Prayer is powerful.  We fight back with prayer:  unceasing, unrelenting prayer.  Don’t underestimate this powerful weapon.  We may not see the results when we want them or how we want them, but God hears our cries and answers them in His own time and in His own way. 

Paul prayed relentlessly.  Here is a guy that prayed without ceasing.  He was chained to a guard every second when he was in prison, but he prayed, preached and wrote letters to several churches encouraging them to be joyful in all circumstances, and not to let their guard down because the enemy is real.  His prayers changed people.  His prayers saved lives.  His letters continue to lead people to Jesus and show them the way to salvation.

You might not be in a literal prison like Paul was, but you might feel like you’re serving some sort of prison sentence.  That can be heavy to carry, and you don’t know where to begin to pray and ask for help.  Even when you feel like that, God knows your heart and He is faithful to His promises.  Just cry out and tell Him that you don’t know how to express yourself, but you want to reach out to Him.  

When you begin to get frustrated with the waiting, ask yourself what your situation would be like if you weren’t praying about it?  Look carefully and find little answers that will encourage you to keep on.  Take an active role in preventing Satan’s influence on your family.  Take a walk through your house.  Ask God to protect each window, doorway, and room.  Ask Him to bless your home and to protect anyone who enters.  Thank Him for fighting for you!  He is a mighty tower!

God expects us to fight against evil, by HIS power, but also through our gifts and abilities.  He has gifted us to be lights in darkness.  Look for opportunities to shine light into the darkness and bring clarity to confusion.  We are told to pray without ceasing, and we can call on His name all day.  He is the victory!  We are never to give up for our God will fight for us.

Passages to Ponder:

Nehemiah 4:14- Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy!  Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes.

John 17:15- I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.

Psalm 55:17-18— Morning, noon, and night I cry out in distress, and the Lord hears my voice.  He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me, though many still oppose me.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Tammy Holtzapfel, Michele Killion, Maria Kucharczuk, Kim McClure and Shawna Nelson

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Great Expectations

When we choose to walk with God, we make the decision to honor Him in our daily lives.  His love is unconditional for us, and thank goodness it is because if His love was dependent on my behavior, I would be in trouble.  However, the Bible does mention some things that we can “do” that please Him, and if we love Him then we should want to please Him.

In Micah 6, the Israelites had been rebelling against God and had unthankful attitudes.  God wants to reconcile with them, and they choose to try and appease Him with sacrifices, but God tells them that He wants them to live lives full of fairness, justice, mercy and humility.  The evidence of their devotion to Him will be through their changed lives.

So, what can we learn from this?  How do these expectations look for us today?

  • Examine carefully and choose to do the right thing.
Yes, as Christians, we should want to do the “right” things, but as human beings we are frequently being tempted in many ways.  What might be a weak area of temptation for me might be an area of strength for someone else.  God knows our hearts.  He created us.  He knows our strengths and our weaknesses, but we can overcome those weaknesses through Jesus Christ.

We need to know that God is able to help us overcome these weaknesses, and understand that through Jesus, He has made us able.  If you commit to tracing God’s hand during your day (the people we encounter, the situations we face), you will see Him guiding you to the right choices.  More often than not, we know when we are making a wrong choice (and sometimes we do it anyway), but that choice will not resonate in your spirit.  

It’s not always easy, but take a step back, examine the situation and do what is right in the eyes of God.

  • Exalt Kindness and Mercy
God wants us to love mercy.  What is mercy?  It can be seen as the sister to grace.  It is the spirit of pardoning and forgiving and giving to others that are in need.  We were given this gift when our debt was nailed to the Cross and we gained this “undeserved favor” through Jesus’ sacrifice.

This takes effort and focus at times.  Our spirit needs to rule over our feelings, instead of our feelings ruling over our spirit..  Feelings can’t have rest, and if we aren’t careful and actively promoting loving kindness and mercy, spiritual apathy can set in.  

Instead of being calloused toward those who need help or a little extra forgiveness, rejoice in the fact that you have been called to help them and remain thankful that you receive this from our Father.

  • Exercise Humility
We live in a very self-centered world.  It is easy to get caught up in what WE wants for ourselves, rather than what God wants for us.  Remembering that we are able to do things because of the gifts God gave us will help us remain humble and thankful for those gifts.  

Is it possible to live in a loving, caring and selfless way as Jesus did? Of course it is, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds.  Are you willing to set everything aside to help, love, and lead someone in the image of Jesus?  

These three commandants are like a cord.  Yes, we can do each of them separately, but they fit beautifully into one strand.  As if by committing to one requirement, the other two will more easily flow.  For instance, if we do what is right in God’s eyes, we are being merciful and are walking humbly with Him.  We are also walking humbly by putting others’ needs in front of our selfish desires to get revenge or be better than someone else.  If we walk humbly with God, we will be in tune with what it means to do right.

All three of these external behaviors must emanate from internal motivation.  The Holy Spirit lives in each of us that have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, and He can help us be strong in any area of weakness.  It isn’t a permanent condition in most cases, the need to constantly ask for humility, and a love for mercy as well as making the right choices is an ongoing battle as we navigate our way through this world hoping to honor God with our lives.

Don’t give up.  God isn’t going anywhere, and He will help us grow toward Him if we seek His will with our whole hearts.  Our salvation is not based on our behavior, but God desires for us to have changed lives in order to show His love to the world.

Passages to Ponder:

Micah 6:8- No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you; to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

I Peter 5:6- So humble yourselves under the mighty power of  God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.

Matthew 9: 13- Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda, Susan Haynes, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley

Sunday, September 14, 2014

God Doesn't Play Favorites

Success is something that we all strive for.  It is something that we hope that our children and those that we love will achieve.  Of course, because we are all individuals we probably define being successful differently.

To much of the world, success is defined by the amount in your bank account and how it got there.  If God defined it that way, why would He have His son born into poverty?

Paul warns us in Colossians to be wary of empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking rather than from Christ.  It is common to hear people talk about a particular philosophy that teaches that God blesses those that He favors the most with material wealth.  

God doesn’t play favorites.  I have sat in church and listened to a family praise God and testify that He healed their child of cancer, while a family sat near me weeping because their family member wasn’t healed.  A friend who knew that family told me that they felt that God didn’t love them enough and that they must not have been good enough for their prayer to be answered.  We don’t know why God chooses to physically heal some and not others, but it has nothing to do with being good enough.  His love for you doesn’t stop because you aren’t behaving well enough.

That same logic applies to our material wealth.  Just because someone has more money than you, does not mean that God loves them more than He loves you.  A focus on being rich on Earth as a primary goal of faithful living just doesn’t connect with what Scripture tells us.  Jesus was born poor, and he died poor. While He was here, He  spoke time and again about the importance of spiritual wealth and health, but when he talked about material wealth, it was usually peppered with warning us to be cautious.

Some of the people that are teaching this philosophy are just good, charismatic public speakers.  Some also have good back stories that appeal to our emotions and draw us in.  We, as followers of Christ, need to have discernment and throw out anything that doesn’t line up with what the word of God tells us.  It is important that you read the Word for yourself instead of depending on someone else to interpret if for you.

I pray for the strength and courage to love rather than judge. And I can only fully call into account my own thinking as it is translated into behavior. No one else is held accountable for my behavior..just me. I don’t know the hearts of the folks that teach this philosophy, and it is not my place to judge them, but please don’t believe that God loves others more than He loves you and has blessed them more materially because of this.  

His love is unconditional for anyone who will accept it.  He loves us even though He knows the truth about each and every one of us.  It isn’t a sin to be successful or wealthy.  We can honor God with our success and with our material wealth along with the gifts He has given each of us by serving others and reflecting the light of Christ to those who need Him.

Focus on the word of God and find your answers there.  Spiritual leaders are only human, and all humans will fall short of the glory of God in some way or another every. single. day.  Build the foundation of your faith upon God, what He says, and His unending, unconditional love for YOU!

Passages to Ponder:

Colossians 2:8 Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

Ephesians 3: 18 And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.  

Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  For He gives sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

Karen Bromby, Michele Killion and Kim McClure

Friday, August 15, 2014

COD: Choices. Options. Decisions

Choices.  Options.  Decisions.  

Do they make you feel free or do they stifle you?

Most situations in life come along so that progress can be made, but when we feel overwhelmed, the opposite can happen.  It can throw you into turmoil and give you a spirit of unrest. 

Life will give you opportunities where you need God to show up big!  Through these times, we build our faith because we seek the Lord for wisdom that only He can give.  When we ask, He promises to give it generously.

What do you do when faced with a choice that will effect your future?  

The first place you should go is to God.  The folks in the Old Testament had the privilege of hearing the actual voice of God.  We, on the other hand, have to figure out the best way for us to “hear” His will for us.  

Seeking wisdom outside of God is dangerous.  By doing so, we step out of the Lord's covering of protection. We saw this through the life of Saul when he sought wisdom from a medium and lost his kingdom. As God’s children, we must hold tight to the Lord alone.

In Judges, we see Gideon “lay out the fleece”.  He was unsure of what the Lord wanted for Him, so He laid a piece of fleece outside and asked the Lord to assure Him that he was hearing God correctly by making the fleece wet, but the ground dry in the morning.  That request was fulfilled.  Not only did he do it once, but he actually asked God to do it again by sending a sign that was the opposite to build His faith during this very frightening time for him.  The Lord provided the answer again.  Then, Gideon took action with full confidence.

Some people believe that asking for signs is wrong and exhibits a weak faith.  Some personally avoid asking for signs, because even though they  trust God and any sign He might send, they do not trust their own ability to read the sign properly. Luckily, we have a Father that is flexible in the ways He communicates with us.

I  (Kim) recently laid out the fleece when it was time to purchase our new home.  When the house hunting began, I prayed that God would show me where He wanted us to be through seeing sunflowers.  I had some prayer warrior friends join me in that prayer.  We narrowed our houses down to two.  One of them had sunflowers in the decor, and the other did not.  We kept going back and forth between the two houses, not able to make a clear decision.  When the morning came to make an offer on a house, I called the realtor and asked her to see the “non-sunflower” house one last time to make sure. 

We hung up.  I prayed.  

I told God that I needed to hear Him clearly, that I didn’t know why I couldn’t get that house out of my head, but I couldn’t, and I needed a clear sign to cut through the gray.  Less than five minutes later, the realtor called me back to tell me that the owners had taken the “non-sunflower” house off the market.  Gotcha!

If you choose to lay out the fleece, be specific.  Then, listen and look for answers.  Whether you do it or not, He will speak to you.  It will take some work and silence and effort to discover the way God communicates with you, but it’s worth it.

Passages to Ponder:

James 1:5-8 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Do 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.

I Chronicles 10:13-14 “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord.  He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium instead of asking the Lord for guidance.  So the Lord killed him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Judges 6:36-40 “Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way.  I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight,  If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that You are going to help me rescue Israel as You promised.  And that is just what happened.  When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.  Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request.  Let me use the fleece for one more test.  This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.”  So that night God did as Gideon asked.  The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Jodi Dunbar, and Kim McClure

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lessons In Loyalty

Have you ever felt alone?

 We are all going to go through situations where we are challenged, and that’s usually when you find out who has your back.  Knowing that you have people that love and support you unconditionally is a beautiful thing…something that is earned, almost synonymous with trust.  

If you have someone who is loyal to you in your life, don’t take it for granted.  Loyal friends stick with you through the highs and through the lows.  They don’t desert you when things get tough, but instead help you navigate your way through the mess covering you in prayer and assuming the best in you instead of the worst. This demonstrates love and kindness.

God loves his children no matter what and he gave us Jesus to help us.  This should be the model we follow within our own earthly families, but that can be hard to do.  When we are wounded by friends and family members it can take a long time to get over it, but it’s important to stand firm with people even when they have ticked you off.  

Humility is essential in bringing about reconciliation.  It is easy, very easy, to assume the worst: that the person MEANT to hurt your feelings, was looking to start an argument or purposely set out to stir things up.  It is much harder to swallow your pride and see the best possibility, to see the loyalty that a friend or family member has shown over the years.

Much of society is looking to get ahead and further their own agenda, and they will step on whoever is in their way in order to climb further up the ladder to the heights they are seeking.  Stay alert for people who might use you in terms of spreading your secrets, turn on you or just flat out make stuff up about you to tarnish your reputation.  One of the hardest things about being a parent is watching as your kids develop friendships with people who aren’t good for them, and then watching them hurt in the aftermath when that realization sets in.

If you read this, and feel that you are alone, know that you aren’t.  

There are people who love you.  

One person who loves you unconditionally is Jesus Christ.  You can trust Him implicitly.  When you feel like friends and family have betrayed you, He will be there.  He has been betrayed, knows the depth of the pain it can bring and He wants to heal you because He understands.  Don’t allow the enemy to mess with your mind.  Believe the truth.  Our thinking determines decisions, our decisions determines our habits, our habits determine our character, character determines our destiny. 

Help me stay true to what I believe in, not to be judgmental of others but loving them through issues, and relying onYou for all direction. Thank You for placing people in my life that have my back no matter what.  Open my eyes and allow me to see them and trust them.  Thank You for the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  His betrayal and punishment took away my sins, and I am totally unworthy of that.   Forgive me when I allow my mind to assume the worst in people and choose to turn my back on people instead of love them.


Passages to Ponder:
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.

James 3:17- But the wisdom from above is first of all pure.  It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds.  It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

Proverbs 19:22- Loyalty makes a person attractive.  It is better to be poor than dishonest.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Kathy Derda, Maria Kucharczuk, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Impact Of Your Influence

We are exposed to various situations in life, and no two of us have ones that are exactly the same.  Even if you follow the same schedule or have the same job or tend to hang out with the same people, the experiences and feelings that you have about them are going to be different, because each of us is unique. 

Every person that we develop a relationship with influences us, and in turn, we are influencing everyone that we have a relationship with.  You might think that’s incorrect, but I believe that it is true.  You are being influenced by people and you don’t even realize it, just like you don’t recognize the influence you are having on those around you.

I believe that God wants us to share our experiences with others who are going through something similar to roads we have already travelled.  It might be to let them know that they aren’t alone, or maybe it’s to let them see that someone they know has made that journey and survived it, or maybe it’s to give advice and criticism when it’s solicited.

The question is can you accept the criticism and advice, or is your wall of pride so high that you can’t see anything over it?  

When we are willing to accept correction and soak up suggestions, it is an opportunity for growth.The more we let Jesus fill us with Him, the less room there is for pride, and more room is made for grace and wisdom.

Taking advice is hard for some people, because it shows weakness. Perhaps because of the fall, we are simply loaded with pride, and many of us don’t like to show that kind of need. 

I was looking for synonyms for know-it-all a little earlier today, and I found that some adjectives associated with it are “arrogant, egotistical, vain, and braggart.”  Those are some nightly ugly words.  The picture that my mind puts together when I read them isn’t one of beauty, and it certainly isn’t a reflection of Jesus.  As Christ grows in us, our ability to recognize godliness and wisdom in those around us grows as well.  He opens us up to the fact that we need to accept help and advice from others with the same beliefs and moral compass.

Look around for people you know that could offer help and Godly advice when you need it, and don’t be too proud to ask.  There is freedom in admitting weakness.

Passages to Ponder:

Psalm 141:5- Let the godly strike me!  It will be a kindness!  If they correct me, it is soothing medicine.  Don’t let me refuse it.  But I pray constantly against the wicked and their deeds.

Proverbs 13:10- Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.

Proverbs 29:23- Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.

Contrbutors:  Karen Bromby, Michele Killion, Kim McClure and Shawna Nelson

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grace Truly Is Amazing. It Saved A Wretch Like Me.


The word alone is beautiful.  If you look it up in the thesaurus, you see synonyms such as “ compassion, mercy, kindness, and love”.  Likewise, if you look at the antonyms, you see words such as “cruelty, harshness, hatred, and meanness.”

We, as Christ followers, are called to show grace to the world.  That’s right.  We are called to show compassion to those who are hurting, mercy to those who need help, kindness to everyone (including those who aren’t kind to us), and love should exude out of our pores! 

We all sin.  Every day. 

We all have days where others might consider us to be cruel, harsh, hateful, and mean.  You are not alone.  You’re not perfect.  Neither am I.  Neither is anybody else.    We are all so very broken.  Jesus Christ was the one who ever lived on planet Earth and remained sinless.  As far as we may think we have come…we still sin.

Temptation is a daily struggle.  It’s a tug of war challenge to do the right thing, take the right path, say the right words, and it’s human nature to look for the hidden path, the get-even moment or that chance to be devious and take a risk.  Stop beating yourself up when you stumble.  God always knew that you would be tempted to make the wrong decision every once in a while, but He has not turned His back on you.

What if we were really honest with God about our sin?  What if we were humble enough to be open with each other about our brokenness?  Brennan Manning describes this beautifully in his book, All Is Grace.  He writes, “My highest hope is for all of us to stop trying to fool others by appearing to have our act together.”  Are you humble enough to do that?

It is because of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross that we get to experience grace that truly is amazing!  When we repent with a humble heart and ask Him to forgive us, He does.  How awesome is that?  People that we love are going to sin and hurt us, and we are to forgive it.  If you’ve ever had to do that, you know how hard that can be.  It’s easy to get our defenses up and start judging people who have hurt us, but we can’t.  That is God’s job alone.

Thank you for your sanctifying grace that saves me every day.  Thank you for allowing me to wake up each day and see Your wonder.  Keep my efforts focused on helping people around me and myself to be better every day and to reflect You in my actions.  Thank you for the powerful shield of grace that protects me from the enemy’s snare.  I am so grateful and unworthy.

Passages to Ponder:
Ecclesiastes 7:20- Not a single person on Earth is always good and never sins.

Psalm 37:24- Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Ephesians 1:7- He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Michele Killion and Kim McClure

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Any worriers out there?

Come on…admit it.  Chances are that you’ve found yourself worrying about something today, and it might even be bothering you now, and could even interrupt your sleep tonight. 

What’s the point?  In Luke 12:25-26, Jesus is explaining to the disciples their value to God and He says, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?”. 

Guess what?  Those words are still true today for you and for me.  Knowing that God provides for even the ravens and lilies, why would He not take care of us? 

Worry and anxiety can give some people a lingering “spirit of fear” to the point that it controls their lives.  The Lord wants us to be free from anything that controls us and keeps us captive.  Not only does worry not add a single moment to our lives, but in some cases it can shorten our lives by leading to anxiety or depression, and more physical ailments due to stress and exhaustion.

Maybe you come from a long line of worriers.  It was what you observed while growing up and it is how you have proceeded to live.  Many times, chronic worriers worry over situations that might not even exist- they just worry about the prospect of something happening and play out every scenario in their heads making things far worse than they really are.  This can lead to being overly emotional and sensitive which can destroy trust and relationships.

The definition of a worrier is  one who feels or shows fear and concern because they think that something bad has happened or could happen.
 On the flip side, the definition of a warrior is a person who fights in battles and is known for having courage and skill.

How do you want the ones you love to remember you?  As one who shows fear, or as one who is known for having courage?

How do you leave the worrier behind and become a warrior?
·         Release control to God-
o   God loves us so much that he takes ALL of our burdens.  He gave us authority to walk on anything under our feet.  Tell yourself that worry is like a gun being pointed at you by the devil, but that you have a nuclear weapon inside you that can destroy it.  That nuclear weapon is God’s word and the Holy Spirit.  Be intentional in your effort to replace your worries with Scripture.
·         Use positive self-talk- 
o   You might need to literally talk yourself out of worrying. 
o   Say things like, “This upcoming family visit will be fine, so I am not going to play out potential conflicts in my head.”   
o   Or “ I have no control over what she thinks of me.  As much as I would like to defend myself, I know that it will exasperate the situation, so I will let it go.”
·         Use the POUR method by Beth Moore-
o   Pour out your fears to God.
o   Ask God to pour into you the fruits of the Spirit (faith being one of them).
o   Ask Him to allow His Spirit to pour forth His fruit into others through you.

Our contributor, Kathy, admits to being a chronic worrier in the past and shares how she is overcoming that obstacle in her life.
                “I still have my moments of worry but they don’t last long anymore.  I think it was when I realized just how much my Heavenly Father loves me that I began to say, ‘I really believe what He says’. When I magnify The Lord, everything else seems small, and when I worry it only pleases the devil.”

So,  in the words of that overplayed, but fabulous song from Frozen just “let it go”, and believe what He says, show courage, and be a warrior!

Passages to Ponder:
I Peter 5:6- So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time, He will lift you up in honor.

2 Timothy 1:7- For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Psalm 91:9-11- If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.  For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda, Michele Killion, Kim McClure, Shawna Nelson and Kristy Tolley

Friday, July 4, 2014

4 Approaches to Dealing With Angry and Negative People

Anger is a strong emotion.  It can elicit tears, yelling, or even physical aggression, resulting  in resentment and regret over words and actions that can’t be taken back.  How can we, as followers of Christ, deal with this passionate emotion when it is directed at us or when we feel the fires of it burning inside us?

You might be one to get frustrated and say, “ I hate people!” .  Chances are you don’t really hate people, but you dislike their behavior.  It can be frustrating when you follow the rules, expecting others to do the same, and they don’t.  There’s a whole lot of the ME above anybody else mentality going on in the world, and that can be challenging to deal with.

 Driving in traffic is one of the most telling scenes about human behavior.  How do we react when other drivers tailgate too closely, or aren’t driving the speed limit, or cut you off?  Driving is supposed to be a convenient luxury that brings us joy, but a lot of the time it seems to bring about irritation and downright anger.  How do you respond when another driver honks and flips you off?  Do you return the favor?  Would Jesus do that?

Our response to people’s behavior is greatly influenced by what we have been taught and who we are spending our time with.  When you have children, you teach them right from wrong, and you are discerning when it comes to the friends they hang out with.  The reason for that discernment is because of the influence those friends will have on our kids, and because who they hang out with affects how other people view them.  Like it or not, that’s the truth.

Even as adults, the behavior of the people we spend time with rubs off on us.  Do you remember when you had little ones and you would be in a bad mood or stressed?  Babies and little ones pick up on that and feed off of our emotions.  That doesn’t go away in adulthood.  Maybe the whole “feed off each other” thing is something born into us.  When you hang around people who tend to be negative, it can be hard to stay positive. 

Most negative and angry people are broken and have inner turmoil in their lives.  They might just need to be heard, loved, not quickly judged, but helped.  So, how can we befriend these folks but not become like them?

  • ·         Set Boundaries

o   As Christians, we may feel compelled to befriend and show God’s light to those who are broken.  The trouble is, only Jesus can fix broken people.  We should show kindness to them, but keep a distance emotionally.  When you start to feel their negative influence taking over, choose to spend time in God’s Word instead.
  • ·         Pray For Them

o   When a driver honks at you and flips you off, look at the expression on their face.  It won’t be a pretty one.  Most of the time, there is pain behind that expression.  Choose to pray for that person.  Just a brief prayer saying, “Father, I don’t know what is hurting that person today, but would you ease his/her pain?”.  That will also take the focus off of your frustration in the situation.
  • ·         Love Them

o   Our challenge is to love.  It isn’t to judge or conform or covet, but to love.  This is better managed when we remember that this world is not really home.  There are a lot of good things here, and there is a lot of trouble here, but there’s a better home waiting for us.

  • ·         Practice Self-Control

o   In order to be in the world, but not of it, we must develop self-control.  Jesus honors this because He practiced it.  He stayed calm while being mocked, beaten and hung to die.  We can look to His example, and not allow our emotions to control us.

We walk by example and teeter on a tight rope of emotions during various times in our lives.  We must choose to love, and hope our example of light rubs off on somebody else’s darkness.

 We leave you with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  ““Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 

Passages to Ponder:

Proverbs 22:24-25 – Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

I John 2:15-16- Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

Romans 8:9- But you are not controlled by your sinful nature.  You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.  (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all).

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Michele Killion, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald and Kristy Tolley