Wednesday, March 26, 2014

That Girl

That Girl..
The young one.  She’s surrounded by a sexual culture and she’s confused.
It’s in her music, on her tv, and any other form of media that she’s used.
She’s heard about the harm that drugs and alcohol can bring
But has she heard us speak about promiscuity and its harsh, cold sting?

That Girl..
She sees the up side of it in comedies on the screen.
She needs to know the down side too, the side not often seen.
When that boy tells her he loves her, but to stay together sex is a must
She needs someone to talk to her about the difference between love and lust.

That Girl…
She posts photos of herself online that wouldn’t be allowed in your average magazine.
She’s addicted to the “likes”, and the “favorites” she gets when they’re seen.
She craves love, so she keeps on playing this game
But she deserves to know that sex is not love, they’re not one and the same.

That Girl…
She needs to hear these things even though it might be hard
We need to get our heads out of the sand and stop playing the “I can’t talk about that” card
Just because you might have been That Girl some years ago
Doesn’t mean that you can’t help her by sharing what you know.

That Girl…
She needs to be inspired and encouraged about her worth
To know that through Christ, she can experience a rebirth.
He forgives.  He forgets.  He does it endlessly.
His love, grace, and mercy were proven at Calvary.

That Girl…
She needs to know that God sees what lies ahead,
That He talks to her daily as that little voice inside her head.
He has the power to help her stand strong
Will you be vulnerable and honest enough to help her along?

Our young women need us to step up and speak out. 

According to Covenant Eyes, 68% of young men and 18% of young women view pornography at least once per week.  The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that 56% of divorce cases involve one party having an “obsessive interest” in pornographic websites.  Their research shows that prolonged exposure to pornography leads to:
  • ·         A diminished trust between intimate couples
  • ·         Cynicism that love is needed between sexual partners
  • ·         A belief that marriage is sexually confining
  • ·         Lack of attraction to taking care of family

Those bullet points sound eerily like the typical view of our society toward sex and marriage.  Even when not actively involved in viewing pornography, sex is permeating our media and influencing our values.

I pray that we all have the courage to help That Girl see beyond it.

Passages to Ponder:
I Corinthians 6:18- Run from sexual sin!  No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.  For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

Isaiah 61:3-4- To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, a festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.  They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago.  They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.

I Thessalonians 4:3- God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Susan Haynes, Michele Killion, Kim McClure and Brooke Radnor

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Putting The Brakes On Our Anger

Do you have someone in your life that makes your blood boil?  You know, the kind of person that when you see their name in your inbox, you just immediately get angry. 

In speaking to a group of moms recently, there was an overwhelming agreement that anger pops up most for them when someone wrongs their children. Moms react like a mother bear protecting her cubs totally fixated on the issue and not able to see anything else.  Sometimes, the issue is raised in an email, and sometimes the issue is raised in person.  Either way, we have to choose how to respond with our keyboard or with our mouths.  

It’s a common battle to speak before thinking, because for most of us when a situation goes awry, the thinking instinct goes out the window.Any time we let our emotions control a situation, we step out of God’s will, and those children that we are trying to protect, are watching us to see how we handle the situation. 

Anger, in itself, is not bad.  It’s just an emotion like any other.  The key is how we control it.  Perhaps our speed is the key.  James 1:19 tells us that we need to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Be Quick to Listen
When conflict arises, there is usually a certain point where it’s like you have cotton in your ears.  You’re done.  You have heard all there is to hear, and you don’t want or need to hear any more. Stop it!

We have to continue to listen.

Just like a recipe, we need all of the ingredients in order for it to work.  In conflict, we need to know what is making this happen.  What has been put into it that’s creating this result?

  • Listen. 
  • Ask questions.
  • Listen some more. 
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and ears, and to shut your mouth (or stop your fingers from typing). 

Be Slow to Speak
  • Sometimes, it helps to go ahead and type up the response that you want to say….just don’t hit Send, choose to Save it.
  • Let some time go by, 24 hours is usually a good period of time for emotions to cool and to think.
  • Pray about the situation.  Ask God to either resolve it, or to take away your feelings of anger.  Ask Him to give you compassion and clarity.
  • Seek godly counsel from a neutral friend.  Note the “neutral” part.  It’s easy to talk about it with people who you know will agree with you.  Choose someone who has no insight to the situation.
  • Chant out loud, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord.” This can be found in Psalm 19:14 and there is great power in calling on the Word of God verbally, (it scares the enemy).

Be Slow to Get Angry
Okay!  You’ve successfully held your words, what then?
  • Go back to that saved email response, and revise it in love before you send it.
  • Meet with that person, and express your feelings calmly and rationally.  Keep that chant in the back of your mind “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord..May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord.."

Words spoken in anger can’t be taken back.  They can be forgiven, but they are rarely forgotten by the people who you speak them to or by the people witnessing the situation.  Keep in mind that the ones we are trying to protect are watching us. How would we want them to respond?

Passages to Ponder:

James 1:19-20  Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:  You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against these things!
Ecclesiastes 7:9- Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.

Psalm 19:14- May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Jodi Dunbar, Michele Killion, Kim McClure, Brooke Radnor and Kristy Tolley

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Fresh, Firm, and Fuzz-Free Faith

The bayous in Louisiana have water that is referred to as “brackish”.  Brackish is a mixture of salt water and freshwater.  If you put fresh water into salt water, it will not make the water fresh, it remains salty.  Likewise, if you put salt water into fresh water, you no longer have fresh water, but instead it is now salty.  There is a process to remove salt from saltwater, but it isn’t an easy one.

Many people try to live a brackish spiritual life.  They want to mix the life that God requires with the life of this world.  Instead, we should strive to be persons whose desire is to have a freshwater faith, not allowing our lives to be polluted by things that make our choices fuzzy.

Moral choices become fuzzy when God’s word is not used as the standard. The only way to know the truth of what is good and what is evil is through the Bible.  God reveals truth constantly through His Word.  We can read the same passages repeatedly, and learn something new and relevant depending upon the season of life we are in.  His word is living and it has power.  Read it aloud, read it silently, study it in groups, and be amazed at what it will reveal to you.

We have all tried to justify unholy behavior, and God cannot stand for this.  He troubles the waters so that we don’t mistake our own justifications for what is good.  When we choose to believe that everything is right depending on our point of view, we are looking at things in a very immature way.  Thankfully, when we ask, the Holy Spirit will guide us to the right choices, because without a moral standard we are headed for a lot of pain.

It’s scary to think that there are people who are waiting until they are “good enough” to come to church and seek a relationship with Christ.  This thought process is the devil working his way into your life. Don’t allow him to put those thoughts into your head. None of us are good enough.  We are all sinners that are unworthy of the amazing love that Christ shows us.

He wants you just like you are.  In His eyes, you are perfectly ready to come to know Him. 

 It takes a fresh, firm, and fuzz-free faith to be bold enough to live a life for Christ.  It’s a struggle to walk a different walk and stand firm in what God has called us to do, but when we do it, our spirit feels free and we can enjoy life.

Passages to Ponder:
Isaiah 5:20- What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
James 3:11-12 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?  Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw freshwater from a salty spring.
I John 1:6- So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Susan Haynes, Michele Killion, Maria Kucharczuk, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald and Brooke Radnor

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Winning The War With Pearls

Have you ever gotten to the end of a day and felt like you’ve been in a war?

Most of us are not in a physical war, but if you’re a Christian you are fighting a spiritual battle every day. When Christ returns, He will destroy Satan and all of his weapons.  Until then, we need to stick together and stand strong, helping each other resist attacks from the enemy.

You might be imagining an explosive kind of attack and sometimes that’s how they come, but usually our enemy is much more subtle.  The more subtle he is, the more division among Christians he can cause, even among people who have been loyal to Christ for many years.

How can we fight? Be a PEARL.  

Each pearl is different from another, like a fingerprint, and they are hard to break when they are genuine.  

Just like us..
PEARL: Pray, Employ, Analyze, Release and Love

Prayer is not just talking to God, it is also listening.  By drawing near to God, He will draw near to you.  Stay in His word and in prayer every day, because apart from God we will fail.  You might frequently find yourself brought to your knees by life circumstances.  However, that’s a great position to start waging warfare in prayer.  The process of pouring your heart out to the Lord in prayer will draw you closer to Him and strengthen your resistance to things not of Him.

Use the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in you.  He lives in you, and His services have been paid for.  Jesus took care of that bill and paid it in advance.  As a Christian, your actions and words are usually good reflections of one who loves and follows Christ, but your thoughts are more fertile ground for Satan if we aren’t careful.  Resisting the enemy is not done alone. 

The enemy only has the control that we allow him to have.  When you feel overwhelmed, verbally say “Get away from me, Satan, in the power of Jesus’ name, you have no authority over me.”  It works.  He has no power over the name of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will get rid of him.

One of the most subtle and tricky ways we are attacked is through our thoughts. Our enemy is a master at taking our actions and words and twisting them to make us feel inferior.  Our hearts and thoughts are ever so close together.  When your heart is hurting about a situation, your thoughts tend to marinate on that topic far too long. Really think about what is hurting you and capture each thought before you say things you will regret or let that thought invade your heart.  This requires humility by admitting the negative thought first, praying for the power to overcome it, and then allowing God to work.  That is when your thoughts can be straightened.

This might be the hardest of them all.  In order to be humble and receive help from God, we have to release the issue into His hands, giving Him control of the situation which means that we have to stop trying to manipulate the outcome.  Humble people don’t manipulate.  Prideful people do.

Do we trust that He hears us and that He has the perfect answer and the perfect plan? We say “YES”, but still struggle because we want it our way.  When it comes to praying for our loved ones, we can be divided between what we want and what God has planned.  Our goal should be to pray, listen for the answers, release control of the situation, and ask for the strength to handle God’s plan.

We need to walk in love.  Love never fails.  NEVER.  When conflict arises, choose love.  Choose to speak to people from a place of love, not of hurt and anger, and when you do speak out of hurt and anger, be humble and apologize.  When people look at you, do they see a person who is loving and loyal to Christ or someone who allows themselves to be divided between Christ and our world?  Our witness and our love can be the difference in someone coming to the Lord or not.  By the way, we will all fail at this from time to time.  Because of Christ’s love, we can ask for forgiveness and start over with a clean slate.

I encourage you to be like a PEARL, a genuine individual that is hard to break and can stand strong by Praying, Employing, Analyzing, Releasing and Loving.

Passages to Ponder:
James 4:7-8  “So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.  We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
Ephesians 4:22-24 “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.  Put on your new nature, created to be like God- truly righteous and holy.”

Contributors: Karen Bromby, Catherine Caracio, Kathy Derda, Jodi Dunbar, Susan Haynes, Michele Killion, Kim McClure, and Brooke Radnor