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