Saturday, March 31, 2007

Looking For Love

Chip Ingram
Walk Thru the Bible
source: Crosswalk

Wouldn't it be great if, starting today, you could take some positive steps toward that deep relationship you've always wanted? Let's take a look at two opposing models for achieving a loving, lasting bond with another person.
First, there's the model we're all familiar with, the one that's as old as Lawrence Olivier, as recent as Ally McBeal. It's Hollywood's model.
Hollywood Says
Find the right person
Fall in love
Fix your hopes and dreams on this person for your future fulfillment
If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2, 3.
The premise of this formula is clear: if you fail, you must not have found the right person. Much like a bottle cap sweepstakes game, if you don't win... sorry! Try again.
How well does it work? You and I both know the answer to that. The divorced population is the fastest growing marital category in the US, and the fallout is huge. The impact of fractured relationships on children, the anguish, the hurt, the emotional wounds, not to mention the economic impact on both parties, is painfully obvious. Now let's move to another perspective, and take a look at the model created by the One who thought up relationships in the first place.

God Says
"Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." Eph. 5:1-2

First, there's a command.

Be imitators of God. What does this look like? For a more detailed picture, let's start a few verses back, at chapter 4:31-32. Here we have instructions for putting on a new life in Christ as we relate to others. Get rid of attitudes that tear down and hurt, Paul says. Treat each other as God treated you when He extended His endless supply of grace and forgiveness to you, even at great cost to himself.
Is the focus here on finding the right person? Is it about molding someone else into the person you want them to be? No.
The Key to a Right Relationship is Not Finding the Right Person, But Becoming the Right Person

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, in their book, Relationships, outline what they call "The Compulsion for Completion."
"If you attempt to build intimacy with another person before you've done the hard work of becoming a whole and healthy person, every relationship will be an attempt to complete the wholeness that you lack and end in disaster." (Relationships, p. 20)
In other words, if our identity is not secure in Christ, if we are still looking to others to make us feel secure, complete or "okay," our relationships will never be healthy and strong. This is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to understand. Contrary to the pop philosophy of Jerry McGuire, the most romantic thing you can say to someone is not "you complete me." If you must be completed by another person, you will find that whatever they have to give you will never be enough. Only God, through His Son and through the Holy Spirit, can provide what each of us need to be complete. When we are whole and secure in Him, then we can approach a relationship in a healthy way.
Next comes the command for how we are to relate to one another.
Walk in love. Notice Paul doesn't say, "fall in love." He's talking about an intentional, sacrificial love that wills and acts what is best for its object.

God's way is very hard, but it's very effective. He tells us to:

Become the right person (mimic God)
Walk in love
Fix your hope on God and seek to please Him through this relationship
If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3.
Failure will occur. When it does, the question must be: "Am I being who I should be? Am I walking in love?" It's not time to give up; it's time to go back to square one.
Here is a crucial point. The goal of relationships is not fulfillment and self-actualization. It's not about discovering yourself, filling your need, meeting your desire. The goal of relationships is to please God. Right relationship with Him is food for our soul, and wherever else we will search, we will ultimately find that nothing else satisfies. The beautiful byproduct, when we are pleasing him in our horizontal relationships, will be deeper intimacy than you ever imagined.
You don't have to be a statistic. You don't have to be afraid to make a commitment. There is a supernatural way to do relationships that will leave a legacy of faith. The price tag is too high, the risk too great, to do it Hollywood's way.

Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry.
Walk Thru the Bible partners with the local church worldwide to teach God's Word in relevant ways for lasting life change. To fulfill this mission, Walk Thru the Bible creates and distributes high quality, award-winning resources in a variety of formats, helping individuals "walk thru" the Bible with greater clarity and understanding. Walk Thru the Bible seminars are taught in over 45 languages by more than 50,000 men and women in over 90 countries; Living on the Edge radio ministry broadcasts on more than 800 radio outlets reaching nearly one million listeners a week; and more than 100 million devotionals have been packaged into daily magazines, books and other publications that reach over five million people each year. Walk Thru the Bible was founded in 1976 and is based in Atlanta, GA.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Marriage: 3 Realities about Life

by Barry R. Leventhal, Ph.D.
Two Becoming One

source: Crosswalk
If you're married, you probably know the feeling that comes when the
honeymoon ends and reality hits. Many husbands and wives then ask,
"What have we gotten ourselves into?" When we first "fall in love,"
raging hormones and emotional highs transform reality into romanticism
and even idealism. Added to all of this, is the romantic spin that
media puts on everything that is even remotely related to love, sex,
and marriage.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a little romance and idealism —
as long as they don't blind us to the reality of everyday married
life. So for our marital reality check we must turn to the book of
Ecclesiastes. This inspired wisdom book weaves together three major
themes that directly connect us with reality from the divine
perspective. It is like three strands to a powerful cord. All three
strands must be tightly woven together or the whole book will unravel.

"A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart" (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

So what are these three strands of reality that will help a married
couple face factual reality and not some kind of virtual reality?

Reality Strand 1: Life can be very difficult and perplexing.

"Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice
there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is
wickedness" (Ecclesiastes 3:16).

When we first fall in love, romantic love has a way of blinding us to
life as it really is in a fallen world. Yes, it is true that Jesus
said to His disciples, "I have come that they may have life, and have
it abundantly" (John 10:10). But He also said to them, "I have told
you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you
will have trouble" (John 16:33).

Life can be hard at times, even destructive. Disappointments descend.
Frustrations abound. Only when a married couple embraces this first
reality, will they be able to trust God for all the good things that
He has for them.

Reality Strand 2: Ultimately God will right all wrongs.

"God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for
there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed"
(Ecclesiastes 3:17).

"God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden
thing, whether is it good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

In our marital journey, with all of its difficulties and perplexities,
many of us have been wronged by others and experienced injustice.
This can be very taxing on the husband or wife who desires justice for
their spouse.

But we can rest assured, knowing that in the long run, if our just
cause is not dealt with fairly in this life, it certainly will be in
the next. Good will ultimately prevail. The Enemy may have the
latest word, but God will have the last word!

Reality Strand 3: While we wait for God's judgment, we are to obey Him
and enjoy the pleasures He has provided.

"I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing
to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so
worked that men should fear [obey] Him" (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

"There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell
himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from
the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without
Him?" (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25).

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a
cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works…. Enjoy life
with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which
He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and
in your toil in which you have labored under the sun (Ecclesiastes
9:7, 9).

As we trust and obey God, while moving through life's marital journey
in the wilderness of this world, He will supply an oasis from time to
time – like a day off, an evening together, a secluded weekend, a
vacation, etc. Take advantage of them. They are God's loving
reminders that while life can at times be hard and even cruel, He
still cares for His own and will ultimately right all wrongs and bring
in His everlasting kingdom for all who have come to know Him in a
personal way.

In light of this biblical reality check, prayerfully consider the
following suggestions:

Do your own reality check: Is your marriage characterized more by
romanticism, pessimism, skepticism, cynicism, or realism?

If you are in the midst of one of life's storms, come together as a
couple and pray. It may not be a matter of sin on your part. You may
be under attack. If it is a matter of sin, confess it to God and to
each other. Get others to pray with and for you.

When is the last time, as a couple, that you really enjoyed one of
God's good oases? When can you take advantage of the next one He
brings your way? Pray about it and thank God for all of His good
gifts — especially in the midst of your wilderness journey.

Two Becoming One publications and small group resources help couples
understand God's purposes, principles and provisions for marriage.
Many key concepts in Two Becoming One are taught in the popular
FamilyLife Ministry marriage seminars.

Teaching Kids About Money Teaches Parents, Too

by Mary Hunt
Debt-Proof Living

Children inherit physical traits from their parents. But there's
something else they inherit that many parents don't consider—their
financial behaviors.

Most parents believe that kids should start learning how to manage
money before they start kindergarten. But many admit they don't know
where to start or what to teach.

From the moment they're born, kids learn how to live by observing
their parents. You can start teaching your kids about money by simply
explaining to them what you're doing when you make day-to-day saving
and spending decisions. And the stuff you don't want them to pick up?
Stop doing it. And even when you blow it, don't stop. Let real life
give you the opportunity to teach your children what to do under those
circumstances, too.

Never spend it all. Show your children how to save money. Tell them
what a retirement account is and how interest works to make money
grow. Most importantly, teach them that they'll never be broke if they
always save for the future.

Delay gratification. Look for opportunities to explain the principle
of delayed gratification. Patience builds character. It's better to
save now and pay later. Teach kids the difference between needs and
wants. Children need to understand how making financial sacrifices
today can improve their financial situations in the future. It's good
for children to yearn. Having all they want whenever they want it does
not prepare them to thrive in the real world.

Spending choices. Kids assume that if you have enough money you can
have everything you want. And if you have everything you want then you
are happy. Hmmm ... wonder where they got that?

Never tell your kids, "We can't afford it." Think about it. That tells
the kids the only reason you can't buy this or that is because we are
poor and pathetic. If we had more money then we would be happy because
we could buy whatever we want. Instead, tell your kids, "We don't
choose to spend our money that way." Much better because you've
established the principle that life is about choices. And making the
right choices builds character. Now the subject isn't about money, but
rather about values.

Compare prices. The grocery store is a great place to show the kids
how you compare unit prices—the price per ounce for example. Show them
that just because something is on sale doesn't mean it's the best
value. Comparing prices is like getting a second opinion so you can
make the best decision.

How banks work. Kids think ATM machines are magic, so this is a lesson
you need to address soon. They see you stick a plastic card in the
slot and out pops money. Better still, you get to keep the magic
plastic. The underlying truth in all of banking is that you have to
deposit more than you withdraw; you can only take out what you've put

Kids also think that as long as there are checks in the checkbook,
there's money in the bank. You too, huh?

Teach the kids how a checking account works. Let them catch you in the
act of paying bills, recording the checks you write and reconciling
the monthly statement. Show the kids something really cool at Mvelopes
( This is an online budgeting system
that turns your checking account into a visual playground where you
divvy up your money into tiny envelopes. It's fun and will visualize
for the kids (for you, too) what it means to "pre-spend" your income.

Debit and credit cards. Your kids are growing up in a plastic world.
It's important that they understand as soon as possible what that
means. First it's easy to spend up a mountain of debt or blow through
the contents of a bank account with just a little piece of plastic.
But more importantly there's a big world of consumer credit pulling on
them to use plastic to live beyond their means.

Even if you've made mistakes in this area of consumer credit, you can
make that a learning experience for your kids. You don't need to
reveal all of the details, but an occasional financial faux pas can
provide a great opportunity to humanize money management. Kids benefit
from seeing how problems are solved, too.

Talking frequently to your kids will give you the opportunity to
communicate about life's many lessons.

Teaching your kids about money will be eye-opening and fulfilling for them.

For you, too.

"Debt-Proof Living" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt. What began as a
newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the
bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary
people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to
effectively manage their money and stay out of debt. Today,
"Debt-Proof Living" is read by close to 100,000 cheapskates. Click
here to subscribe.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ready to make a lasting change? Remember these 4 truths!

by Valorie Burton

There is nothing new under the sun, King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes
1:10, but every now and then, we need to be reminded of what we
already know. This month, I'd like to gently remind you of a few
divinely-inspired principles that will make the process of creating
change in your life easier.

1. People can change (but you can't change them).
We all have the capacity to change, but lasting change comes from
within. External pressure may create a temporary shift, but true
transformation occurs from the inside out. Out of the heart flows the
issues of life (see Proverbs 4:23) . Until one's heart changes,
transformation is impossible. It requires a personal commitment to
facing truth and walking through fear in order to step out of habits
and behaviors inside your comfort zone. So don't waste your time
trying to change others. Focus on changing yourself and praying for

2. Change is a process.
Occasionally, change happens "suddenly." There's the cigarette smoker
who stops cold turkey or the person who becomes fed up and makes a
major life-changing decision. But most of the time, change does not
happen overnight. Give yourself permission to fail, learn from
mistakes and try again. Eventually, just as you learned to ride a
bicycle or read, change will take root and won't take as much
concentrated effort. Adjust your expectations so that you give
yourself the space to improve over time.

3. Fear is inevitable.
Expect it and keep moving forward. In my book, What's Really Holding
You Back?, I wrote that fear is the emotion that threatens to keep us
from our dreams – if we allow it. One of the keys is answering your
"what if?" questions: "What if I fail?" "What if I'm wrong?" "What if
they say 'no'?" "What if I'm not good enough?" Answer the questions
that conjure up fear and you'll begin pushing through your greatest

4. Baby steps will get you to the finish line. Getting stuck is a
vicious cycle. Fear keeps you from taking action. Not taking action
leads to poor results. Poor results convince you that you cannot
succeed. Consider your vision for this year and identify a simple step
you can take this week to move you closer to it.


Challenge This Month

Embrace the change you are trying to make in your life as a process.
Don't beat yourself up for not changing perfectly, succumbing to your
fears or taking baby steps. Allow it to be a process – with ups and
downs – until you get to your finish line.


Journaling Assignment

With regards to a change you want to make in your life, what is your
biggest fear? What baby step could you take forward despite your fear?

Moms: Take Charge by Making Smart Choices

The following is a report on the practical applications of Robin
Chaddock's book, 12 Choices Smart Moms Make, (Harvest House
Publishers, 2007).

It's easy to feel out of control as a mom when you let society's
pressures and other people's agendas take charge of your life. But if
you use your God-given ability to make wise choices, you'll gain
control so you can live the abundant life God wants for you.

Here's how you can run your life so it doesn't run you:

Stay in touch with God. Every day, stay connected to God through
prayer. Get to know His voice speaking to you and make it a habit of
asking Him for guidance before making decisions. Ask God to reveal His
vision for your life, and help you clarify your values. Make time to
reflect regularly on how God is working in your life.

Discover who you are. Get to know and affirm who you are as a unique
person. Recognize clearly what you stand for, and what you won't stand
for. Figure out your central passion and greatest strength, and use
that information to make choices that bring out the best in you. Ask
God to give you the confidence you need to make smart decisions. Don't
compare yourself to other people and the decisions they make; feel
free to make choices that are right for you, no matter what other
people think. Resist the pressure to give into other people's
expectations for you if those expectations don't align with what God
is calling you to do. Realize that you don't need to compete with
other people. Just do your best, and be at peace with that. Remember
your true identity as a beloved and free person in Christ, and refuse
to base your sense of identity on anything less. Ask God to help you
see yourself from His perspective.

Make decisions wisely. Constantly ask yourself what you will do with
your life in light of your faith. Keep your vision and values in mind,
and as you make decisions, discern whether or not each choice will
help you stay true to them. Understand your own motivation before
making decisions. Be proactive about making decisions, realizing that
if you don't decide when faced with a choice, that in itself is a
decision to just let your life control you. Think for yourself and
don't let others talk you into something you don't feel confident
about. Don't take situations at face value; ask questions. Consider
all available information carefully, think through the various
options, and weigh the potential consequence of each option. Be able
to clearly articulate your beliefs and the reasons behind them.
Evaluate any message in light of the sender and the sender's
motivation. Be wary of people who urge you to do something simply
because it has "always" been done that way or because "everyone" does
it that way. Understand that when you say "yes" to one thing, you'll
usually have to say "no" to another. Know that even though you often
can't choose your circumstances, you can always choose how you view or
respond to those circumstances. When you make a mistake, don't be
afraid to correct it mid-course if you can. Stay focused on God's
intentions for you and avoid getting tangled up in society's demands
and expectations.

Think healthy thoughts. Pray for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so
you can get rid of unhealthy thoughts and think correctly about God,
yourself, and others. Embrace the truths about God in the Bible. Think
the best about yourself as one of God's children. Ask God to help you
see other people as they truly are, without overlaying them with your
expectations. View situations in the world from a stance that is both
realistic and optimistic. Ask God to help you replace negative
thoughts and thinking patterns with positive thoughts and thinking
patterns. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself in your mind, and
replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Pray for the peace
that only God can give.

Forgive. Understand that being in an unforgiving state erodes your
ability to use good judgment and make healthy choices. Know that God
expects you to be willing to forgive because He has forgiven you. Rely
on God's help to forgive, remembering that He will always give you the
power to do so. Forgive yourself for not being someone else you
compare yourself unfavorably against. Ask God to give you the
confidence you need to embrace your uniqueness and distinct purpose.
Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Forgive yourself for what you've
intentionally done or left undone that has resulted in harm. Forgive
people who have pressured you in the past and influenced your
attitudes and behaviors in unhealthy ways. Carefully evaluate the
opinions and worldviews that other people express, and don't give in
to pressure to take them as your own. Know what you believe (and why)
and stand by your convictions. Forgive your friends and family members
for ways they've hurt you, and manage your emotions and expectations
so you're able to see those you love from a realistic perspective.
Forgive God for ways He has acted in your life that have made you
angry with Him. Understand that God is in ultimate control of your
life and trust that He knows and wants what's best for you. Pray for
the faith you need to recognize God's love, wisdom, and power –
especially in situations that don't transpire the way you want them to
turn out. Enjoy the peace God gives you when you forgive.

Be grateful. Realize that gratitude will give you the freedom you need
to make smart choices. Don't let perfectionism, unrealistic
expectations, or worrying steal your gratitude. Choose to be grateful
in all circumstances – not just ones you enjoy – trusting that God
will use everything in your life to fulfill good purposes for you.
Regularly notice both large and small blessings in your life and thank
God for them. Know that gratitude will give you the contentment and
confidence you need to make wise decisions.

Celebrate your uniqueness. Instead of comparing yourself with other
people or competing with them, embrace the distinctiveness of who you
are and be content with that. Remember that God has unique purposes
for you and your family to fulfill. Live in the present. Stay focused
on what you really want to do, rather than what other people want you
to do. Find creative ways to celebrate the unique qualities about you
and your family's unique culture, such as by going out for ice cream
or taking a hike together.

Call out the best in your kids. Decide to teach your kids how to make
smart decisions. Start by accepting them for who they truly are – not
just who you want them to be. Let your kids know that you appreciate
them for who they are instead of just what they do. Mention specific
traits and passions you recognize in your kids that make them special
people to you. Help them discover and articulate their vision and
values, and focus on how they can contribute to the world right now
instead of waiting until they're grown up to contribute in significant
ways. Be willing to let go of your kids more and more as they grow
older; help them become independent. Respect and honor your kids. Look
for God's Spirit inside your kids and affirm God's work in them.

Take care of yourself. Give yourself the foundation you need to make
healthy choices by taking care of your health – spiritually,
physically, mentally, and emotionally. Remember that God highly
esteems you; let that knowledge motivate you to care about yourself.
Ask God to help you make choices that will bring you energy (such as
pursuing a creative project) and avoid choices that will drain your
energy (such as gossiping about other people). Look at your daily
routine and pay attention to how you could change it to incorporate
more healthy choices (such as drinking water instead of soda or
spending time in prayer instead of watching an extra television show).

Listen. Ask God to help you become a careful listener who gains the
wisdom to make smart choices. Pray frequently, and listen to the Holy
Spirit when you do. Listen to wise counsel from spiritually mature
people you can trust. Listen to your kids by making time for them and
focusing on what you most need to respond to in their lives. When
you're listening to people, make eye contact with them. State in your
words what you think they're saying. Express empathy and
understanding. Ask questions to clarify or draw out more information.
Don't judge the people who are speaking, and don't get distracted by
thinking of your response while they're still talking.

Laugh. Recognize that laughter will help you live in a state of grace
that will enable you to make wise decisions. Allow humor to give you a
clear perspective on stressful situations. Don't take yourself too
seriously. Learn from your mistakes and don't be afraid to laugh at
them. Laugh with your kids and enjoy the time you have together. Let
laughter dispel your family's fears and refresh you all.

Play. Realize that play will rejuvenate you and improve your
perspective on situations so you can make smart choices. Give yourself
permission to rest and relax. Trust that God is in ultimate control of
your life, so you can let go of your concerns long enough to play with
your kids on a regular basis. Find creative ways to integrate play
into your daily routine, such as including your kids when you're
cooking and making a fun meal together, or singing songs or playing
pranks on each other as you clean the house. Ask God to help you see
the world through the eyes of your children and feel carefree. No
matter what your circumstances, choose to be joyful instead of giving
into stress.

Stay in touch. Stay in touch with your physical surroundings by
creating a home environment that helps you maintain balance and
promotes clear thinking so you can make wise decisions. Choose to
express your affection for your kids through touch regularly, such as
by hugging them every day, to keep your relationships with them
healthy and give them the confidence they need to make smart choices
of their own.

Make connections. Connect with other people so you'll have the support
you need to make smart choices. No matter what season of life you're
in, be sure to invest significant amounts of time and energy into your
marriage to keep it healthy and growing. Choose your friends wisely,
avoiding relationships that suck the life out of you and building ones
that provide mutual support. Find friends who you can trust to share
your sorrow, concerns, and joys with on a regular basis. Know that,
while you can't choose your family members, you can make wise choices
about how you will relate to them and how you will allow them to
affect you.

Don't hesitate to say "no" when you should. Never let guilt, anxiety,
comparison, or competition cause you to accept an invitation to do
something. Instead, examine your motives whenever someone asks you for
a commitment of your time, energy, and talent. Continually ask
yourself why you're considering the activity, event, or project.
Understand that there will likely be many good things you need to say
"no" to because they simply don't align with God's plans for you right
now. Don't take on responsibilities that aren't yours to take on.
Trust that, if you're not meant to do it, the person asking you will
find someone else who can help. Don't feel obligated to give a reason
to people when you decline their requests; simply decline with a firm
graciousness. Don't feel as if you need to respond to people's
requests right away; take the time you need to think about them before
replying. When you sense that requests will provide opportunities for
you or your family to grow in your vision and values, then say "yes"
with confidence. When it comes to the media's influence on your
family, don't be afraid to say "no" to destructive forces by setting
boundaries on your kids' television viewing, Internet surfing, and
other media use. Say "yes" only to media that will help them grow into
the kind of people God wants them to become. Enjoy the peace that
comes from making wise choices.

Adapted from 12 Choices Smart Moms Make, copyright 2007 by Robin
Chaddock. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or.,

Life coach Robin Chaddock is the author of Discovering Your Divine
Assignment and Being a Wise Woman in a Wild World. She holds degrees
in psychology, theology, and organizational management. An
award-winning community college educator, Robin also encourages
hearts, inspires change, and shares God's deep, eternal love with
audience members at conferences, retreats, workshops, and seminars.

Out of Your Comfort Zone: Live the Life God Intends

Jack Graham

Over and over again, we read about men and women in the Bible who did
great things for God. Now, notice I didn't say great men and women ???
but men and women who did great things.

Do you know what these men and women had in common? Each one of them
had a big heart for God. Like Nehemiah.

Nehemiah's story, which is recorded for us in the Old Testament, is
one of the great epochs of Christian history. Not only is Nehemiah's
story a manual on leadership, organization, and how to accomplish
goals, it shows us what God can do through a man whose heart is
totally and completely His.

I'd encourage you to take some time in the next month or so to read
the entire story of Nehemiah. But today there's one chapter of his
life that I'd like to focus you on… when Nehemiah took a step out of
his comfort zone and made an eternal difference for God.

Nehemiah was a displaced Jew living a thousand miles from Jerusalem in
what's known today as Persia, or Iran. He had risen to prominence as
the cupbearer to the king of Persia, and he lived quite a comfortable
life in the king's palace. He slept on satin sheets and down pillows.
He was living the good life!

Yet one fateful day, some Jewish friends of Nehemiah returned from a
jaunt to Jerusalem. And he asked them a question that ended up
changing his life: "How is it with the people of Jerusalem?" And they
said, "Nehemiah, it's not good. The walls are down, the gates are
burned with fire, and the people are living in shame and disgrace."

When Nehemiah heard this, it was like a shot to the solar plexus. It
buckled him. It swept him off his feet and onto his knees! And he
began to cry out to God… but not for just a moment. For four months he
prayed until God showed him what to do!

Nehemiah refused to ignore what God was doing in his heart…which was
to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. He could have continued
to live in luxury in Persia, but Nehemiah's heart was a thousand miles
away…in Jerusalem. His heart was the heart of God.

I believe God is doing exactly the same thing in the hearts of His
people today. And that includes you! He's stirring your heart to do
something for His glory.

God is calling you to step out of your comfort zone… to do the unusual
thing… to do the counter-cultural thing… to make His kingdom great!

Now, please, don't misunderstand me. You don't have to be a pastor, a
missionary, or a super-spiritual star or hero! All you have to do is
have a heart for God… and a willingness to get out of your comfort

It may be something as simple as just walking across the room at a
party to talk to someone you normally would have ignored. Or inviting
your neighbor over for tea. Or taking a co-worker to lunch to see how
they're doing.

Whatever it is, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone… like
Nehemiah did… to do great things for God!

God is looking for men and women who have a heart for Him… who want to
take their lives to the next level… who want to step out of the maze
of mediocrity and live for something bigger than themselves!

It's my prayer that this will be the passion of your heart and life!

PowerPoint(r) Ministries started as a vision of Dr. Jack Graham and
his wife Deb. They believed that the power of God was evident in their
growing church and that His Gospel message should be spread beyond the
walls of that church to the world at large. They put their faith into
action and purchased airtime on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
PowerPoint(r) Ministries was then officially launched in April 1994.
PowerPoint(r) Ministries now reaches 31 cities and 18 states in the
United States through their radio and television stations. In
addition, they broadcast in over 70 countries including the U.S.,
Great Britain, South Africa, Iraq, Israel, and more


By Karen Ehman

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we
drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these
things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek
first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be
given to you as well." Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV)


As a woman, don't you wear a lot of hats? During the course of your
week, you may place on your head any of the following hats: wife,
mother, worker, daughter, sister, aunt, grandma, chief cook and bottle
washer, chauffer, nurse, maid, counselor, referee, PTO member,
committee chair, oh, yeah….and a woman of God. Sometimes these hats
are stacked so high that trying to balance them all on our pretty
little heads sends us toppling completely over!!! And sadly, often the
last hat we try to place on the top of this mountain is the crown we
wear as a daughter of the King.

I love the simple, straight shooting words of our Lord. He cuts to the
chase, breaking commands down into bite-sized chunks. He doesn't
direct us to apply a complicated six-step process in order to achieve
what He has planned for us. No, He simply tells us gently, but firmly,
what must be done in order for our lives to get in order. "But seek
first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these things will
be given to you as well" (Matt. 6:33, NIV). However simple these
verses may be, sometimes fleshing them out into reality in our lives
isn't always easy.

Especially in today's society, a climate of frenzied activity breathes
and breeds busyness. Years ago, success in our society used to be
determined by what neighborhood you lived in or what kind of car your
drove. Now our society measures success differently???by how busy you
are! We have no white space left on our calendar; our kids constantly
are carted from one activity to the next; why we hardly even eat
dinner as a family anymore! Yep, something in us longs to "one up" the
next gal by painting our lives in a bold shade of busy.

Although we live in a much different society than the original
recipients of Jesus' words that day on the mountainside, we can learn
from them none the less. They were concerned about where their food
and clothing would come from. While there are those in our midst who
still have those concerns, there are others of us who are fretting
about different issues. Like how we will get the food purchased and on
the table, the house cleaned, the kids bathed and dressed, the laundry
done, the kids chauffeured, the marriage prioritized, the relative
visited, the work project done…and on and on it goes.

While our responsibilities may scream at us at every turn, Christ
stands whispering… Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness, and all
of these things will be given to you as well. Perhaps His words will
prompt us to do a little plate scraping, ridding our schedules of some
of the activities that clamor for our time and draw us away from time
spent with Him.

Whatever set of hats God directs you to keep in your wardrobe,
remember to put them on in proper order. They will only stay standing
when the crown your wear as a daughter of the King is placed on first!
(Must be the points on that tiara! J)

Dear Lord, I'm sorry for the times that my hats are completely out of
order. Make I seek You and the righteousness You offer me first every
day before I attempt to carry out any of my God ordained
responsibilities. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

Family Enrichment Tool Box by Michelle Weber

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:

Take a piece of paper and be alone with God for a few moments. Write
in order what you would say your priorities are. An example might look
something like this:

My husband
My children
My extended family members
My job
My friends
My commitments at church and in the community

Next, take a painstakingly honest look at how you spend your time.
Does it accurately reflect what you say your priorities are? Are you
allowing a number 6 or 7 to take precedence over a 1 or 2?


What are some commitments that I could bow out of in order to make
more white space on my calendar and more time for God and my family?
Have friend hold you accountable to do so.

When asked to take on an outside commitment, really ask yourself "Am I
called?" Do not ask yourself, "Am I capable?" Bad question! We women
have the curse of capability! Make sure you are called.

Power Verses:

Psalm 31:14-15a: But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God.
My times are in your hands..." (NIV)

Psalm 70:4: But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may
those who love your salvation always say, "Let God be exalted!" (NIV)

Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105

Are You Hearing Voices?

Dave Burchett

My primary source of income is television sports directing. Soon I
will head into another season of Major League Baseball with my beloved
Texas Rangers. Reading the positive reports from spring training has
me excited about this season. I picked up the paper today and found a
Peanuts cartoon that hit the nail on the head on a couple of levels.
Peanuts creator Charles Schultz loved the Lord and loved baseball.
That should qualify him for sainthood in my scorebook.
This particular strip has Charlie Brown standing on the mound ready
for the first game of spring. Charlie Brown loves baseball more than
any character on the planet except my friend John Frost. Charlie
raises his arms in triumphant joy and exclaims, "I love the start of
baseball season."

In the next panel he has a nostalgic smile and notes, "There's a
certain indescribable feeling in the air." From rightfield Lucy
decides to add her feelings about what is in the air: "Defeat!"

Isn't that what most of us deal with from time to time? Or maybe all
of the time. We feel excitement. We feel triumph. We feel optimism.
And then that voice from rightfield tells us that defeat is certain.
That voice can be programmed from childhood. Negative parents,
teachers, coaches, siblings, friends (?), Christians (?) and assorted
others have laid down tracks on our mix of negative thoughts. But
another voice that believers hear is the voice of Satan.

One thing is certain as you follow Jesus. If you are doing something
for the Lord you can count on hearing from the Enemy. I get letters
and emails and stories nearly every day from heartbroken people in the
church. It almost always starts out the same way. "I was serving Jesus
and it was going great and then…"

...another churchgoer did or said something.
...someone took my place or took me out of my place.
...I didn't get appreciated or honored.
...I was disappointed by someone or something.
Then the voice jumps in. And the voice starts telling you what you
want to hear. That they should never have said that or did that if
they were really a Christian. Or, you deserve that spot, not them. Or,
how dare they take you from that position? Maybe the voice reminds you
of how hard you work and no one cares. Or how others don't work and
you have to do it all and they still don't care. That voice is not the
quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. That voice is the one yelling
"Defeat!" from rightfield. That voice is the one robbing you of your
joy in serving Jesus. Let's be honest. If we are serving Christ to
honor Him, we should be serving without expectation. Have I done that
very well? No. Am I getting better? A little bit.

If I approach my service without expectation then it is about Him and
not me. I am always ready to reverse the pronouns. If I offer to serve
and I am not picked… praise God. He knows my heart and knows that I
had an unselfish desire to serve. If my four decades of following
Jesus have taught me anything it is that God will honor that spirit.
Don't let that "voice" ruin your walk with Jesus.

There is another voice. It is much softer and requires a lot more
effort to hear. You have to slow down and be quiet and spend time in
prayer and God's Word. Casting Crowns has a great song called "The
Voice of Truth" that describes this spiritual battle:

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again, "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

The song goes on to describe that "other voice":

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

Jesus had to deal with voices. Three times He was tempted by Satan
(Matthew 4). The very men who Jesus invested His life into heard that
voice and made ungodly suggestions. James and John wanted to call down
fire from heaven to destroy a town that did not welcome them. Jesus
rebuked them. And Peter got his hair parted when he tried to explain
to Jesus that the events the Lord had just outlined really couldn't

But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such
things. "Heaven forbid, Lord," he said. "This will never happen to
you!" Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get away from me, Satan! You
are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human
point of view, not from God's." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If
any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish
ways, take up your cross, and follow me. Matt 16 NLT

All of us hear those voices. The voices from bad experiences in our
past may require a little help to erase. Here is a little tip that I
have learned: The voice we hear in the spiritual battle is the loud
one. Listen for the quiet voice. Be still. Pray. Read His Word. The
Voice of Truth says, "This is for my glory." That is a plumbline for
righteous action.

Is it for His glory? That is what the Voice of Truth tells you.

I am choosing to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director,
author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians
Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for
those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through

Adapt to Your Child's Unique Design

Chameleon Parenting: Adapt to Your Child's Unique Design
Jill Savage

My fifteen-year-old daughter loves to go to the mall. She loves to
shop, but even more she desires to see how outfits are put together or
clothing is constructed. She dreams of becoming a fashion designer

She has a mom who hates to shop.

My twelve-year-old and nine-year-old sons love sports. Between the
two of them, there are baseball, soccer, and basketball games to
attend. They both love the competition and action of sports.

They have a mom who barely knows what the words "offensive" and
"defensive" mean.

Our two older kids loved music. They were involved in choir, school
musicals, and theatre. As a music teacher myself, I loved being a
part of their activities throughout grade school, junior high, and
high school. It was a natural fit to be involved in what they were
involved in. I could support their interests because they were my
interests too!

My three younger children are teaching me some new mothering lessons.
Just like a chameleon changes it's colors to blend in with its
environment, I'm learning to adapt to my surroundings and blend in
with my environment. I'm learning to be a chameleon mom.

What is a chameleon mom? She's a mom that realizes her child's
interests are different than her interests. Rather than discouraging
their interests, she chooses to adapt and take on the colors around
her. What that means for me is that I'm going to the mall more
often???not because I'm learning to love to shop, but because I'm
learning a new way to love my daughter. I want to step into her
world. I want to be her primary influence. I want to spend time with

For my boys, I'm learning the language of sports. There are
positions, strategies, and rules to understand. I'm mastering the
sign language of referees and umpires. I'm working to step into their
world and share in their interests.

If your children have different interests than you have as a parent,
you might need to become a chameleon parent. As you learn to change
colors, here are some tips to help you adapt:

Resist the urge to try to change your child's interests. Celebrate
their differences and launch into learning about their world.
Tame your fears about the future. One mom confided to me that she had
been discouraging her daughter's interest in the fashion industry
because of her own fears about the environment her daughter might work
in someday. Set your own fears aside and let your child explore.
Ask questions. Children feel valued when mom and dad show interest in
what they are doing. What was your favorite part of the game? What
does this term mean? What interests you most about this?
Acquire knowledge. Go to the library or surf the internet to find
more information and educate yourself.

Connect them to learning opportunities. Watch for community education
classes offered in the summer. Arrange for them to shadow someone
working in their area of interest. Let them explore their interests
freely under your guidance and encouragement.

Children need parents who are involved and invested in their life.
They need to know that mom and dad are willing to step into their
world and learn to love the things they love. This gives them
stability and value that will last a lifetime.

Chameleons change their color as a form of protection from their
You and I have to do the same. Our predators are busyness,
work and volunteer responsibilities, fatigue, and general disinterest
in things our children might be interested in. We need to adapt to
our environment to protect and prioritize the relationships that
matter the most.

The one thing a chameleon parents needs to remember is that this
environment won't last very long. Children's interests change over
time. Even if their interests stay steady, they grow up and leave
home in the blink of an eye. You only need to change colors for a
short season of time. Before you know it, you can go back to the
color that matches your interests and environment…until, of course,
you become chameleon grandparents!

Jill Savage ( is the founder and Executive Director
of Hearts at Home (, an organization designed
to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of
motherhood. She is the author of five books including
Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her
newest release My Heart's At Home (Harvest House Publishers). Jill
and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in
Central Illinois.

The Spiritual Fruit We're Scared to Grow

By Rebekah Montgomery

But the fruit of the Spirit is … patience … (Galatians 5:22)

The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap
eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper
time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6: 8b, 9)

Patience: 1. enduring pain, trouble, etc., without complaining. 2.
calmly tolerating delay, confusion, etc. 3. diligent; persevering

—Webster's New World Dictionary

Patience, which is a virtue, should not be confused with apathy, which
is a vice.

One winter, to scratch my gardening itch, I bought peat pots and
started plants in the house. In the discount basket at the hardware
store I found seed packets proclaiming, "Hardy perennials seeds —
anybody can grow them!" so and thought, "I guess I'm 'anybody:' these
should grow." I put them to bed in the little peat cups where they
sprouted beautifully. Despite my tending, they remained
unpromising-looking. When I planted them in the garden, they promptly
disappeared and remained incommunicado for the rest of the summer.

By the next spring, I decided the poor things had expired, so I
planted annuals on top of them. However, I discovered my perennials
were not dead at all — only on an extended vacation. Everything came
up all at once in a mad confusion.

I should have been more patient.

How many times I have planted eternal seeds in some area of my life,
waited and waited and waited, finally gave up on God, took matters
into my own hands, and made a big mess — when I should have been
patient a little longer.

How many times I have prayed and prayed for someone or about a certain
situation, then decided to do things my own way instead of waiting on
God to show me what to do?

There are times to step forward in faith at the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Then there are times when the Holy Spirit says, "Wait. Be patient. At
the right moment, I'll show you the next step. I'm doing something
that takes time."

To better understand the sweet fruit of patience, here are small
slices of definition that help explain God's variety of patience.

"Patience," hupomone or makrothumia, which is often translated as
patience in the New Testament, implies suffering, enduring, or waiting
by a determination of the will and not simply because of necessity. We
are told to develop this essential Christian virtue.

To "wait patiently" for God is to uncomplainingly endure the various
sufferings, wrongs, and evils with which we meet, to bear with
strength, dignity, and faith the injustices that we cannot remedy and
the provocations we cannot remove.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good
heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering (hupomone)
produce a good crop." (Words of Jesus: Luke 8:15)

Here, patience or persevering carries with it ideas of productive
endurance and gutsyness when others might be tempted to despair
because the patience will produce something wonderful and important.

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,
temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle (hupomeno) … (1
Timothy 3:2,3)

"Gentle" describes an important attribute of the patient person. In
our typical usage, this connotation of patience is often overlooked.

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering
produces perseverance (makrothumia); perseverance, character; and
character, hope. (Romans 5:3, 4-NIV)

The concept of patience or perseverance describes a process that does
us more good than the troubles or pain can harm us. It is the picture
of steel being tempered by fire, or raw silver being purified to

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)

As the translation of qawah, or "to wait," or "to expect, " this word
is used frequently in the Old Testament and typically expresses the
type of patient, trusting faith in God.

Like moss covers scorched earth after a forest fire, patience is a
harbinger of greening growth after one of life's devastating
calamities. The thought of learning patience should not make us fear,
but give us hope that via the life-giving Spirit, the pain we
experience will produce in us this rare and nourishing fruit that
reclaims the minutes, hours, days, and years stricken by Satan's

Patience is the sentinel of faith, the guardian of peace, the
protector of love, and the drillmaster of humility

Patience governs the flesh, commands the spirit, overrules the temper,
guards anger, and subdues pride.

Patience bridles the tongue, harnesses energy, tramples temptations,
endures persecutions, and gives victory in martyrdom.

Patience sounds the tone of unity in the church and harmony in
families and communities.

Patience softens the edges of poverty and diminishes the illusionary
shine of wealth.

Patience forces us to our knees in prosperity, elevates us in
adversity, and is cushions the blows of reproach. It teaches us to
forgive our enemies and to be the first to seek forgiveness of those
whom we have injured.

Patience makes us more like Christ.

Six physical factors that affect your worship service

If you want to wake up your services, brighten up your environment.
Take the curtains off your windows! Throw open the windows and doors!
Turn on all the lights!

Rick Warren

Facilities and physical environment have a lot to do with what happens
in a weekend worship service. The shape of your building will shape
your service. Walk into some buildings and your mood will instantly
brighten. Walk into other buildings and you'll feel depressed. The
shape of a room can change a mood instantly; so can the temperature of
room; so can the lighting in a room. Be aware of these factors and use
them. Figure out what mood you want your service to project and then
create it.

One of the problems we face in maintaining the church environment is
that we tend to overlook defects after about four weeks. Once you
become familiar with a building, you stop noticing what's wrong with
it. The defects and disorder don't bother you as much as they did when
you first noticed them. You become oblivious to the faded paint, the
frayed carpet, the chipped pulpit, the outdated tract rack in the
vestibule, the old bulletins left inside hymnals, the stack of stuff
on the piano, and the burned-out light bulbs overhead.

Unfortunately, these things stand out immediately to visitors. They
notice details.

One way to combat this tendency is to do an Environmental Impact
Report on your church. Get a photographer to walk around your
facilities and take pictures from the eyes of a visitor. Then show
those pictures to your leaders and determine what needs to be changed.
In particular here are some environmental factors you need to pay
close attention to:

1. Lighting
Lighting has a profound effect on people's moods. Inadequate lighting
dampens the spirit of a service. Shadows across a speaker's face
reduce the impact of any message.

Most churches are far too dark. It may be our conditioning from all
those years Christians worshiped in the catacombs! I've noticed that
even churches with plenty of windows often cover them up. Somehow,
churches have gotten the idea, maybe from funeral parlors, that
dimming the lights creates a more "spiritual" mood. I completely

I believe that church buildings should be bright and full of light.
God's character is expressed in light. 1 John 1:5 says, "God is light;
in him there is no darkness at all." I believe churches should be the
brightest public buildings. Light was the very first thing God
created. God said, "Let there be light!" (Gen. 1:3) Today, I think God
would like to say this to thousands of churches.

If you want to wake up your services, brighten up your environment.
Take the curtains off your windows! Throw open the windows and doors!
Turn on all the lights!

Here's an experiment: This week secretly replace all the light bulbs
in your worship center with twice the watts, then notice the change in
mood in next Sunday's service. You may have revival!

2. Sound
Invest in the best sound system you can afford. If you're trying to
cut costs, do it in some other area. Don't skimp here. Saddleback grew
for 15 years without our own building, but we've always had a
state-of-the-art sound system.

It doesn't matter how persuasive the message is if people can't hear
it in a pleasing manner. A tinny, fuzzy sound system can undermine the
most gifted musician and incapacitate the most profound preacher. And
nothing can destroy a holy moment faster than a loud blast of

If you are a pastor, insist that your church purchase a lavaliere
microphone so you are not handcuffed to the pulpit. Movement while
speaking maintains attention.

3. Seating
Both the comfort and the arrangement of your seating dramatically
affect the mood of any service. The mind can only absorb what the seat
can endure! Uncomfortable seating is a distraction that the Devil
loves to use.

If you can get away replacing the pews, I'd advise it. In today's
culture the only places people are forced to sit on benches are in
church and the cheap bleacher section at ball games. People expect to
have their own, individual chairs.

Personal space is highly valued in our society. This is why box seats
are prized at stadiums. If people are forced to sit too close to each
other, they get very uncomfortable. There should be at least 18 inches
between people if you're using chairs and 21 inches between people if
you're using pews.

If you use moveable seats, set them up so people can see some of each
other's faces. It will dramatically improve how people respond to the
service. If you are planting a new church always set up less chairs
than you need. It's encouraging to your people when additional chairs
must be brought in as people arrive. On the other hand, it's very
discouraging to worship in a service when surrounded by empty chairs.

4. Temperature
As a pastor who has preached for years in un-air-conditioned gyms and
unheated tents, I say this with the utmost conviction: The temperature
can destroy the best planned service in a matter of minutes! When
people are too hot or too cold they simply stop participating in a
service. They mentally check-out and start hoping for everything to
end quickly.

The most common mistake churches make regarding temperature is to
allow the building to become too warm. Some usher sets the thermostat
at a reasonable setting before the service without realizing that when
the building is actually filled with a crowd, the body heat of all
those people will raise the temperature substantially. By the time the
air conditioning has cooled everything down, the service is nearly

Always set the thermostat several degrees cooler than what is
comfortable before the service begins. Cool it down before the crowd
gets there. The temperature will rise quite quickly once the service
starts. Keeping the temperature on the cool side will keep the crowd

5. Clean, safe nurseries
If you want to reach young families, you've got to have sanitized and
safe nurseries. There should be no mop-buckets in the corners and the
toys should be cleaned each week.

6. Clean restrooms
Visitors may forget your sermon but the memory of a foul smelling
restroom lingers on ... and on ... and on! You can tell a lot about
the morale of a church by checking out the quality of the restrooms.

The sad truth is that many churches need a completely new building.
They'll never reach their community in the building they're using. One
pastor told me in frustration that he was praying, "God, let the fire

When my friend, Larry Dewitt was called to pastor a church in Southern
California he found a small, clap-board church building in a high-tech
suburban area. Larry recognized that the age and style of the building
was a barrier to reaching that community. He told the church leaders
he'd accept the pastorate if they'd move out of the building and start
holding services in a Hungry Tiger restaurant. The members agreed.

Today, after moving to different facilities, that church has grown to
several thousand in attendance. It would have never grown that large
if they'd stayed in their original building. The shoe must never tell
the foot how big it can get.

For years Saddleback used high school campuses for our seeker
services. In order to make the best of what we had to work with we
organized two quality control crews. The first crew would come in
before 6 a.m. and set up 42 different classrooms and a gymnasium. The
set-up crew would diagram each classroom's layout on the chalkboard
before moving anything. That way everything could be reset in the
right order by the take-down crew when they came in at 1 p.m. after
all the services were over. Every classroom was vacuumed twice every
Sunday – once at the beginning of the day and once after we'd finished
using the rooms. It was hard work but part of the price of growth.

The goal in all that we do is the same as what Paul said in Titus 2:10
"... so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our
Savior attractive."

21 fresh ideas for Easter

by Tamara Rice

Like digging out a dusty box of holiday decorations, many churches
pull their standard Easter pageant fare out of the ministry attic
without much consideration as to why. Perhaps this year it's time to
take a prayerful look at your local community and ask, "Who do we
really need to reach with the message of Christ?" and "What will be
the most effective way to reach them?"

Hallmark and Hershey's have done the work to keep Easter "top of
mind." Research shows that it's also the holiday most likely to draw
an unbeliever to church. So, how can you take advantage of this
once-a-year chance to share the transforming message of the cross?

Outreach magazine recently asked readers to share some of their best
Easter connection ideas. The result: 21 seasoned ideas that have been
proven effective. As you read them and begin to brainstorm, be
creative and consider how God wants your congregation to reach out to
those who don't know him this Easter.

1. Community humility. We participate in a community-wide Easter
service held at a local college stadium. Pastors from various
denominations come together to plan, pray, share ideas, and divide the
workload and costs. Because of the pastors' humility, the services
have had great success in our community. – Trinity Assembly of God,
Algood, Tenn.

2. Easter road show. Develop a team that can conduct Easter services –
even a children's service and egg hunt – at locations around your
community. Housing projects, senior citizens' developments, even
trailer parks are good. You'll hit individuals and families who might
never have the chance to visit your church and hear the Gospel. –
Adapted from SonRise Christian Church, Goose Creek, S.C.

3. Lily gratitude. Instead of spending money on Easter lilies to
decorate the church, purchase lilies as a donation to local
businesses, hospitals, law enforcement, schools, etc. Attach a small
tag from your church: "With appreciation during this Easter season." –
Adapted from First Southern Baptist Church, Lawrence, Kan.

4. Resurrection run. We hold a resurrection run motorcycle rally and
invite motorcycle enthusiasts from the community to join us. – FAITH
Riders Motorcycle Ministries, Cookeville, Tenn.

5. Easter labyrinth. On Easter, we promote a labyrinth experience
featuring stations of the cross. Even unbelievers are interested in a
spiritual experience that helps them learn about the true significance
of Easter. – Adapted from Harbor Trinity Church, Costa Mesa, Calif.,
and New Generations Church, Albany, Ga.

6. Easter signs. In cities where increasing restrictions are affecting
public signage, creative churches are using silk-screened, corrugated
plastic yard signs. Planted on the front lawns of church members, the
signs invite neighbors to Easter services and events.

7. Love jars. Our ladies outreach group fills canning jars with
brownie mix – layered and sealed with a lid covered with seasonal
fabric. We make a personal visit to the home of each of our Easter
visitors. It's a non-threatening, non-preachy visit that simply says,
"We're glad you came ... hope to see you again." – Memorial Baptist
Church, Verona, Wis.

8. Spring family festival. We follow up Easter Sunday with a spring
family festival. We give the kids carnival tickets stapled to their
Easter Sunday egg bags to use on the day of the festival for rides and
games. It's a strong motivator that turns an Easter-only visit into at
least two visits. A barbecue and outreach-oriented message series give
the parents a reason to return as well.

9. The empty egg. We offer a community-wide Easter egg hunt that
involves several avenues to share the Gospel. From puppet ministry to
music, to sharing the parable of the empty egg (representing the
tomb), we use this event to introduce them to Christ and invite them
to our Easter services.

10. One card. One guest. We hand out printed invitations to our Easter
worship service to all of our regular attendees. We ask them to pray
for one person that God is leading them to invite. Members either mail
or hand-deliver the invitations to the people they've been praying
for. We've seen a great response to this. – Adapted from Cannon United
Methodist Church, Snellville, Ga.

11. Appreciation gift. We give an inexpensive Max Lucado book ($1.50
each) to the first 50 families who come to our service. – Horizon
Church, Surprise, Ariz.

12. Cross connection. Our congregation uses the tradition of a flower
cross. We purchase hundreds of carnations and during the response
time, we invite people to place a flower in a large wooden
cross-framed with chicken wire. During a recent Easter, one woman who
had been praying for her gravely ill, unchurched husband saw him go
forward and place his flower in the cross. Talk about resurrection
power! – Adapted from Allendale United Methodist Church, St.
Petersburg, Fla., and Tyler Street Church of Christ, Sacramento,

13. The world's biggest Easter egg hunt. The week before Easter we
advertise a huge event we call "The world's biggest Easter egg hunt,"
including games, food, prizes, free Bibles, and music. We then invite
the community back the next week for our Easter services. – Adapted
from Eastside Baptist, Marietta,Ga.; Freedom Worship Center, Soddy
Daisy,Tenn.; Providence United Methodist, Fayetteville, Ga.; and
Daybreak Community, Shawnee, Kan.

14. Easter kindness. Easter is often more inwardly focused than
Christmas and Thanksgiving. This year, mark Easter weekend with a
significant act of service to your community (restore hiking trails,
host a dinner for the homeless, hold a blood drive, run a 10k for a
local women's shelter, etc.) and invite your community to join you.

15. You can do it. Encourage everyone who attends your Easter service
to bring canned food for a local food bank. Seeing the church serve
others helps even unbelievers focus on the selfless sacrifice of

16. Palm Sunday reflection. Invite your community to join you for a
meaningful time of spiritual reflection on the Sunday before Easter.
Last year, we created sacred spaces that guided people through the
events leading up to the cross. It helped all of us prepare mentally,
emotionally, and spiritually for the Holy Week. We borrowed from the
liturgy of other churches to help create the sacred environment. –
Oroville Nazarene Church, Oroville, Calif.

17. Location: neutral. Instead of holding services at your church,
schedule them at a neutral location. One church uses a flower ranch
located on the property of one of their members and draws many
unbelievers each year. – Adapted from Good Shepherd Lutheran, Turlock,

18. Next generation invitations. In addition to direct mail, signage,
and other materials, promote your Easter service with an e-card that
can be easily forwarded along with a personal note. Outreach, Inc.
(publisher of Outreach magazine) offers e-cards as part of its free
(with purchase) Easter Impact sites.

19. Spring clean-up. The week before Easter, host a huge,
community-wide garage sale to benefit a local charity or cause. Offer
a tax receipt to any donors and even offer to pick up larger items.
Make it a fun community event by providing food, music, and fliers
promoting your Easter-week activities.

20. Egg-vitations. The Sunday before Easter we give children 10
plastic eggs with candy and an invitation for their friends and
families to attend our Easter service. It is great to see our children
involved in inviting people to our church. – Creekside Church,
Centennial, Colo., borrowed from Fellowship Church, Grand Junction,

21. Celebrity connection. Invite a local Christian "celebrity" to
participate in your Easter service. Ideas: Ask the mayor to provide
narration; ask the local pageant queen to sing; or have a local DJ or
news anchor participate in a reader's theater.

This content originally appeared in the January/February 2005 issue of
Outreach magazine, the gathering place for ideas, insights, and
stories of today's outreach-oriented church leaders. For more ideas
and information, visit

The Desires of My Heart

Elizabeth Maddrey

I've been thinking a lot lately about the desires of my heart. From
the time I was fourteen I have had exactly two burning desires: I was
going to teach computer science at the college level, maybe high
school, and after I'd done that for a while, I was going to have
children and be a stay-at-home mom.

I spent four years in the classroom. One year I taught in a Christian
high school, the other three years I taught in a community college. I
tell people that I stopped teaching because we moved, or that I
decided it was time for a little break, but the whole truth is I am
not a good classroom teacher. I am great at planning classes,
delivering lectures, and even getting grades done in a fair and timely
fashion. I have the underpinnings necessary to teach as well as the
desire. But all the desire in the world won't lead to the inherent
understanding of students that a teacher needs. In that department I
find myself sorely lacking. And the desire that was once a burning
flame is now simply a painful echo.

Those same four years entailed working toward the fulfillment of my
other desire – to have children. Now, looking back and taking stock of
everything, I have come to the realization that it probably will not
happen. Certainly there are other options like adoption that we have
not yet seriously considered, and so people wonder why I say that I
will never have children. The answer is simple. Faced with the
decision to either continue to want and be hurt by every failure or to
let go of the desire, I have realized that I need to let go.

For the past four years I have claimed the promise of Psalm 37:4,
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your
heart." (NIV) I acted with the knowledge that if I dedicated my
efforts to Him, and asked for His will, He would bless my efforts and
grant those desires. But that isn't what the scripture says. I was not
delighting myself in the Lord, I was telling the Lord to delight in my
efforts. The difference is humbling. As I have cried, struggled, and
screamed for God to grant me the desires of my heart, I have set
myself up to fail. Verses five through seven explain His promise.
"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He
will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your
cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait
patiently for Him." I have been waiting since I was fourteen years old
for God to grant the desires of my heart, and all those years I should
have been asking for God to make the desires of His heart my own.

It's a difficult realization for me, and I struggle with it almost
daily, but I am slowly changing my heart's desires. I have put away
the specific list I used to present daily to God and instead ask only
that He will help me to desire Him above all else. It's difficult, but
I can slowly see the changes and the joy this is bringing to my life.
When my friend called to tell me she is pregnant with her third
"oops", I was able to be happy for her without the slimy fingers of
jealousy and pain intruding on that joy. I will delight myself in Him
and He will give Himself to me. And in doing this, He will give me the
desire of my heart.

Elizabeth Maddrey is a digital products analyst at META Group in
Virginia. She met her husband, Tim, while they were both completing
computer science degrees at Wheaton College in Illinois. After
graduation, they had many interesting experiences while Tim served
four years in the Army. Their family, at this point, consists of two
spastic Shetland sheepdogs.

Six Keys to Good Fathering

Dr. John King
Author, Helping Guys Become Men, Husbands, and Fathers

The following are six keys to raising kids. It's not a formula, but
rather elements I have seen work and we have personally used

1. Have an affectionate and affirming relationship.

Growing children is like growing young plants. Every word we say is an
opportunity to frame and shape their world. The most crucial thing you
can do is speak words of affirmation and affection into their life
from the time of their conception.

Be positive. And don't allow your kids to be negative, even though
that's the way we all naturally tend to be. If your child speaks
negatively about themselves, correct them, lovingly and firmly. Don't
let it pass. The girl who's allowed to say she looks ugly will grow up
believing it.

What causes children to act and think that way? They're simply
repeating the kind of worldview they receive from other people. Watch
your words. Do you call yourself fat? Does your wife say she's

Instead, affirm and compliment your wife's appearance...and do the
same for your children.

When my son Noah was young, he went through a stage when he stopped
eating his food and would get really upset after meals. We had hurt
him by commenting on the "pokey-out belly" he had when he ate. We
thought it was cute, but he interpreted our comments and fond laughter
as a judgment that he was ugly. How old was he? 12? 14? No. He was
just 3 years old!

This really upset us and caused us to be attentive to what we said and
how we said it. For our son, that could have been the start of an
unhealthy association with food and a damaging eating disorder. The
wonderful thing about children is they bend but don't break - just
like young plants you can train to climb a trellis. Through our
affection and affirmation we were able to correct our mistake and
Noah's perception of his belly. Children are very forgiving of our
mistakes! They give us the grace to learn and grow as parents.

2. Be open communicators.

Talk about anything, at any time. Continually communicate. I make
Jessica tell me about her day. When she says, "Dad, I can't remember,"
I stop and make her tell me.

I insist that the channels of communication are open. I've done that
since she could talk, because I want the channels to still be open
when she is 20.

As parents we have to deliberately train and equip our children with
the tools to express their emotions. If I am concerned about something
they have done, I don't just tell them it is wrong. I sit them down
and say something like: "Sweetheart, I am feeling a little upset about
something you said/did and I need to talk about it." I have done this
since Jessica began talking, even before she could understand. Now,
years later; if she is upset, she says, "Dad, I need to talk to you
about something that is upsetting me." Give your child their tools
before they need them so they can draw on them in times of need.

3. Communicate clearly and specifically about sex.

Make sex normal. It's a normal, powerful, natural thing. Sociologists
tell us that human beings have three major drives: food, shelter, and
sex. We talk to our children about money. We talk to them about caring
for their home. We need to talk to them about their sexuality. It's
going to hit them one day and they need to be able to talk openly with
us. Once again, give them the tools to cope before they need them.

We also have to prepare our children for a world that is preoccupied
with sex. The Bible calls it lasciviousness, or a preoccupation with
lewd sexual behavior; and sure enough, the world is preoccupied with

The Bible also talks about modesty, and that's something we seem to
have forgotten in Western church culture. Let me put it to you in
straight talk: we are not meant to dress, act, talk, dance, joke in
any way that could be seen as a provocative sexual "come on." That is
lasciviousness. When you're with your wife, go for it. That's pure.
But around your children, or allowing your kids to act out, dress, or
behave in a sexual manner, is not acceptable.

All children - boys and girls alike - need to be prepared for this
challenge. There is a statistic to the effect that 45 percent of all
pornography accessed on the Internet is viewed by women. It's hard to
believe, but it points to a change in our society. I've seen this
change myself, in what we do. The sexualization of our society has
affected both genders. With so many sleazy messages around for our
children to imbibe, it's important that Dad is always on approachable
(and proactive) source of good, clean wisdom on the subject of sex. It
is not your wife's job to have "the talk." Both your daughter and son
need to get a balanced, wholesome male perspective as well.

4. Be a good role model.

Where there's no model, there's a vacuum, and it will be filled. When
"moral America" was decrying Marilyn Manson for his satanic and
aggressively vulgar music, he said something to the effect that "if
you will not raise your children, I will." Powerful point. You have to
be a role model for your children and you have to be a good one. The
most powerful influences children will ever have are their parents.
Please, don't choose to abrogate your responsibility by transferring
it to the school, church, or sports coach. It's not their
responsibility; it's yours.

5. Stay tuned in to their world.

Always be aware of what your children are feeding themselves - their
music, their friends, their movies, their life. Go to a movie with
them. Watch the cartoons on TV. Read a book before you let them read
it. Listen to their music - stop, listen, and read the lyrics. If your
child is depressed, it may be because they're listening to songs with
suicidal lyrics. Find out what they're plugging into their ego. You'll
have to take responsibility for setting limits on it, too. Control
that stuff.

If ever there was a "home invader;" it's the TV. A parent said to me
recently, "We have a television in all the bedrooms and our son always
goes to sleep with it on - it's a great babysitter."

Well what is little Johnny going to sleep with between the hours of
7:30 and 9:30 at night? It ranges from hard-sell advertisements to
programs full of sexual and violent behaviors. You are giving this
invited, non-regulated "guest" permission to enter your family and
feed your children whatever garbage a pervert producer deems fit for
so-called "adult" programming.

If your children watch TV two or three hours every night, that adds up
to 14 to 21 hours each week. This box-shaped "guest" invades and
influences the behavior and morality of your children - the internet
is another familiar "guest" these days. Add 30 hours a week of school
teachers and school kids and you have up to 51 hours of external
influences on your children. How many hours per week of wholesome,
loving parental influence do they get to balance out the others? It's
your responsibility to set limits and be consistent about them.

6. Pray for your children and yourself.

It's vital that dads take spiritual responsibility by praying for
their kids, their marriages, and their life. You should be constantly
asking God for His protection over your family. He'll listen. He'll
respond. It is absolutely vital.

If you don't know how to ask God's favor on your family and friends,
give us a call. We'll put you in touch with someone who will help. I
cannot overstress the importance of a father praying for his family.
When Dad's praying, Heaven moves and hell shuts up.

One thing I'm constantly surprised by is the myth that women are more
spiritual than men. People who make these sorts of comments must think
the Bible is complete fiction. The Bible is predominantly about the
spiritual journeys of men as they battle to establish the Kingdom of
God and redeem their families.

God created you, a man, first, because He wanted to establish a divine
order - you in close relationship with Him, prepared and equipped to
take care of the family He has given you. Christ is Prophet, Priest,
and King to the Church. A father is the same thing to his family.

Materials from Helping Guys become men, Husbands, and Fathers, by Dr.
John King, copyright 2006

A Better Marriage

Find the Freedom in Christ to Work on a Better Marriage

You can try any kind of strategy to improve your marriage, but nothing
will work unless you first get your own relationship with Christ
right. Instead of focusing on what to do about your marriage, focus on
who Christ wants you to become, and everything else in your life –
including your marriage – will be impacted. Once you embrace the
freedom Christ offers, you'll be able to embrace your spouse with more

Here's how you can find the freedom to work on a better marriage:

Pray for the right motivation. If you haven't already done so, begin
an eternal relationship with Christ by inviting Him to become your
Lord and Savior. Ask Him to help you show your gratitude for all He
has done for you by honoring Him with your marriage. Remember that
your spouse is made in God's image, just as you are. Decide to accept
your spouse as God has accepted you. Commit to becoming the type of
husband or wife God wants you to become.

Deal with conflict wisely. Recognize that conflict is an inevitable
part of life. Understand that you can best resolve conflict
successfully when you and your spouse both hear and appreciate each
other's perspectives. Approach conflict constructively by: listening
carefully to each other, speaking the truth in love while refraining
from destructive words, working together with a cooperative spirit to
search for a win-win solution, following God's leading when making
decisions, avoiding attacking each other or becoming defensive,
focusing on the issues, and remembering that your marriage is more
important than the need to win or be right.

Understand gender differences. Know that men generally long to
achieve, produce, and succeed, but women generally long to nurture
relationships, care for others, and create welcoming homes. Realize
that men tend to share information to try to solve problems, while
women tend to share feelings about issues. Understand that men thrive
on action, but women thrive on communication. Know that men are
sexually aroused primarily through physical images, while women are
sexually aroused primarily by loving words and actions. Realize that
men need sex in order to feel love, but women need to feel loved in
order to have sex. Understand that men will respond to stress by
taking time out to be alone, while women will respond to stress by
sharing their feelings with others. Ask God to help you appreciate the
differences between you and your spouse, and help you use them to
encourage and help each other become more together than what either of
you could be alone.

Put your relationship with Christ first. Recognize that you have to be
complete and healthy in Christ before you can build a whole and
functional marriage. Read the many promises in Scripture that remind
you that you are accepted, secure, and significant because of Christ's
work on the cross. Make your relationship with Christ your top
priority, so you can become the spouse that God wants you to be. Don't
look to the world for fulfillment. Instead, embrace your identity as
God's beloved child who can let God's love flow through you to your

Strengthen your character. Expect God to use your marriage to
transform you as a person and help you grow to become more like
Christ. Understand that the more spiritually mature you become, the
more you will be able to love your spouse. Rather than focusing on how
you would like your spouse to change, recognize that you only have the
power to change yourself, and focus on that. Know that by changing
yourself, you'll be changing the relationship dynamic of your marriage
and inspiring your spouse to decide to change. Be willing to forgive
your spouse and meet his or her needs, as God leads you to do so.

Speak your spouse's love language. Ask your spouse which type of
language communicates love best to him or her: gifts, service, time,
touch, or words. Then do all you can to use that language to show your
spouse your love. Tell your spouse what your primary love language is,
and explain how he or she can best love you with it.

Don't let money come between you and your spouse. Acknowledge that all
your money ultimately belongs to God, because He alone has made it
possible for you to receive and earn all you have. Work with your
spouse to become a wise steward of the money God has entrusted to you.
Establish a budget together. Ask God to help you become content with
whatever you have at any time. Thank God regularly for what He has
given you. Give generously to support God's work on Earth and to help
people in need. Reduce your debt until you become debt-free, and stay
out of debt. Save for future emergencies. Invest wisely, avoiding
get-rich-quick schemes and using your investment money for ventures
that bring glory to God. Commit to avoiding greed and being honest in
all your financial dealings, and live by the highest standards of
financial integrity in your family, church, and job. Make restitution
for any wrongs you've committed against other people or their
property. Don't oppress the poor or bribe the rich. Refrain from
participating in any unethical legal proceedings. Work faithfully and
diligently for your income, while also balancing work and rest.

Repent of sexual sin. Remember that your body is a temple of God,
because His Spirit dwells in you. Decide that you will honor God with
your body, rather than insult Him by using it for sexual immorality.
Ask God to reveal every sexual use of your body as an instrument of
unrighteousness, and as He brings specific incidents to mind, renounce
each one and commit your body to God as a living sacrifice. Reserve
the sexual use of your body for your spouse only. If you've been
guilty of treating other people as sex objects, ask God to help you
remember that they are made in His image, and are therefore worthy of
respect and dignity. Work to prevent adultery in your marriage by
making regular deposits in your spouse's love bank (meeting their
needs) and avoiding withdrawals (disappointing them). If your spouse
is having an affair, pray, search the Bible for guidance, ask the Holy
Spirit for wisdom, and get counsel from your pastor, a counselor, and
perhaps even trusted friends. Ask God to help you become the spouse He
wants you to be, knowing that positive changes in you will attract
your estranged spouse's attention and possibly motivate him or her to
reconcile with you. If your spouse is not repentant, consider a
separation to get your spouse to take the issues between you
seriously, but don't rush to divorce. Always focus on love over anger;
love is much more powerful. If you're having an affair, break it off
completely, choosing never to see your lover again. Change your phone
number and e-mail address, or even move or change jobs if that's
necessary for you to make a clean break. Take time to grieve the
relationship you lost, and heal from it. Expect it to take time for
you to earn your spouse's trust back; be patient and willing to hold
yourself accountable to your spouse.

Forgive. Always forgive your spouse for ways he or she offends you.
Remember that God has forgiven you, and let your gratitude motivate
you to do what He expects – forgive others. Rely on God to help you
forgive, knowing that you can trust Him to help you every step of the
way. Be honest about how you feel, allowing yourself to feel the pain,
hurt, resentment, bitterness, and hate. Then submit yourself to God,
and ask for His grace and power to forgive. Agree to live with the
consequences of your spouse's sins against you, recognizing that you
can't avoid them, but you can choose not to let them make you bitter.
Release the offense and decide that your spouse is no longer in debt
to you for it. Never bring the offense up to your spouse again, in
arguments or any other discussion. Whenever your emotions recycle the
pain or your spouse keeps offending you, continue to choose to
forgive, but make it clear that you won't tolerate abuse. Get whatever
help you need to break free of abuse if it's occurring in your
marriage. Never take revenge; instead, trust God to work in the
situation (perhaps through your church, family, or civil authorities)
to bring about justice in the right way. Ask God to help you replace
your old resentful feelings with Christ's forgiving love. Deal with
painful memories by recalling good memories from your marriage as
often as possible. Ask God to help you keep a healthy perspective on
your marriage.

Try even if your spouse won't try. If your spouse isn't willing to
work to improve your marriage, make an effort to do so yourself.
Realize that even if your spouse doesn't come around and your marriage
doesn't get better, you will have become a better person yourself
through the process. Remember that Christ lived with pain during His
time on Earth, and He understands your pain even when no one else
does. Pray for wisdom about how best to try to improve your marriage.
Ask God to give you creative ideas to become the best possible spouse
you can be, then respond to His guidance by acting on those ideas.
Know that you'll likely get your spouse's attention by treating them
the way God wants you to treat them. Let your actions match your
prayers, and allow God's love to flow through you to your spouse.
Don't accept excuses or blame from your spouse; be loving, yet firm
about the need to change your marriage. Get support from some caring
Christians as you try to work on your marriage. Ask them to encourage
and pray for you. Remember that it took a long time for your marriage
to develop problems, so expect it to take a while to resolve them. Be
patient and don't give up. Put on the full armor of God mentioned in
Ephesians 6:10-20 to take a stand against evil.

Set your marriage free. Once you and your spouse have become free in
Christ, work together to set your marriage free, as well. Make sure
you've each left your parents and any previous spouses emotionally and
bonded properly to each other. Break family cycles of abuse that have
been passed on to you from previous generations. Ask God to reveal any
self-centered thoughts or behaviors that have kept you from assuming
your responsibilities to love and accept one another. Then repent.
Break sexual bondage so you can have a healthy sexual union. Release
old hurts through forgiveness. Unmask Satan's deceptions in your
relationship and seek the truth that will set you free. Renew your
marriage covenant with God and each other. Maintain your freedom in
Christ by participating in a healthy church together, reading and
studying your Bible daily, praying and seeking the Holy Spirit's
leading together, reminding yourselves of your identities in Christ,
taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, sharing your
struggles openly with each other so you don't drift away, taking
responsibility for your own spiritual growth instead of relying on
your spouse to fight your battles, and working with a pastor or
counselor to help you solve persistent problems.

Adapted from Experiencing Christ Together: Finding Freedom and
Fulfillment in Marriage, copyright 2007 by Neil T. Anderson and
Charles Mylander. Published by Regal Books, Ventura, Ca.,

Dr. Neil T. Anderson is founder of Freedom In Christ Ministries and
president of Discipleship Counseling Ministries. He has 35 years of
pastoral and teaching experience and was formerly chairman of the
Practical Theology Department at Talbot School of Theology. Neil has
authored more than 50 best-selling books on Christ-centered living.

Dr. Charles Mylander is Executive Director of Evangelical Friends
Mission, the missionary sending agency for evangelical Friends In the
United States. He is the coauthor with Neil Anderson of Extreme Church