Friday, April 13, 2007
"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things," Philippians 4:8 (HCSB).
The Search for Significance
"A mind is a terrible thing to waste" was an advertisement tagline in the 70's that encouraged young people to go to college. But, even a college-educated mind can be wasted when negative thoughts play repeatedly in that mind. All too often, we waste mental energy thinking wrongly about ourselves and then acting or feeling based on these incorrect thoughts. To overcome this vicious cycle, Apostle Paul gave us a mental check list for evaluating our thoughts so they would be correct. When thoughts enter your mind, use the following questions as a filter for whether you need to let that thought play in your mind or if you need to discard it and replace it with positive, empowering thoughts. Intentionally think about each thought and ask:
True or False? When a thought enters your mind ask, "Is that true?" Honest evaluation will give credence to how you will act or respond to the information. If the thought is completely true and in line with what God's Word says about you (see Psalms 139 for some details about what God thinks about you), then determine if you can make an improvement or change and act on it. If not, then accept reality and move forward without experiencing remorse, guilt or regret. If the thought is only partly true or untrue either way, it's a lie. Replace the lying thought with a truthful thought.
Noble or Degrading? Ennoblement is the old word used to describe the act of treating someone as royalty. Our thoughts should elevate ourselves and others. The opposite of noble thinking is to debase, degrade or lower. This is not a prideful elevation of us or others but a realistic view that everyone is a valuable, wonderful creation of God and deserves to be treated and thought of that way. Thinking nobly will help us avoid thoughts of comparison or competition since we are thinking of everyone, including ourselves, with high regard.
Right or Wrong? Right living begins with right thinking. When you think thoughts that are right, they are in line with God's Word. To think rightly we must know what God says and that requires time reading and studying the Bible. Thoughts that are wrong will be very evident to you when you have the measuring stick of God's Word for comparison. Just as partial truth is a lie, almost right or mostly right is still wrong. When a thought is evaluated as wrong, replace it with what is right.
Pure or Tainted? Pure thoughts are clean, innocent, genuine, stainless and uncontaminated. Tainted or impure thoughts are stained by improper motives, greed, pride, selfishness, or lust. When you recognize impurity in your thoughts, capture (2 Corinthians 10:5) and quickly discard them so they will not influence your decisions or lead to wrong actions.
Lovely or Ugly? Beauty is evidence of a creative and awesome God. "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:11. When our thoughts reflect beauty they reflect God. Ugly and displeasing thoughts and topics do not bring glory to God.
Admirable or Critical? When someone gives a good report or review they are speaking admirably. Admirable thoughts are positive and uplifting. Critical thoughts are negative and tear down. Recognize and remove critical thoughts before they come out as destructive words or actions.
Excellent or Poor? To excel is to reach new heights or perform at a high level. Poor thoughts are below average, back-biting, gossipy, negative, and harmful. We need not be preoccupied with only the achievements of others but also the excellent or virtuous characteristics we personally possess. Change poor thoughts into high achieving excellent thoughts about yourself and others.
Praiseworthy or Blameworthy? Great job! Nice work! Well done! All these comments of praise are fitting for quality work. Use these thoughts about your accomplishments when you have done well. Blameworthy thoughts are ones that place the responsibility for your choices or actions on someone else. Change thoughts like, "He made me so mad," or "I didn't have a choice; she made me do it," to thoughts that are praiseworthy. "Great job! I can control my anger," and "I chose to act (react or respond) that way," are more praiseworthy from yourself, God and others. Avoid playing the mental "blame game" by replacing those thoughts with praiseworthy thoughts.
Think about it. Wouldn't your mind be better used thinking correctly? Memorize Paul's check-list from Philippians 4:8 and carefully evaluate your thoughts for a mind that honors God.
Branda Polk is a certified Fitness Instructor, personal trainer, and wellness coach in Memphis, Tennessee.
"For we are the circumcision,
who worship God in the Spirit,
rejoice in Christ Jesus,
and have no confidence in the flesh."
To worship is to change. Because heaven is the worship center of the universe, to get ready to appear before Christ's throne you need to learn to worship Jesus as He deserves. For worship and praise are our duty and purpose of existence. The Father therefore seeks that we ascribe to Christ the honor, praise, glory, and majesty of which He is worthy,His true "worthship." Just as worship begins in holy expectancy, true worship ends in holy obedience. If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change.
Understanding the nature of worship leads to very practical applications in our lives. For example, resentments cannot be held with the same tenacity when we enter into Christ's gracious light. As Jesus says, we need to leave our gift at the altar and go set the matter straight (Matthew 5:23-24). In worship an increased power steals its way into the heart sanctuary and an increased compassion grows in the soul.
Holy obedience saves worship from becoming an opiate, an escape from the pressing needs of modern life. Worship enables us to hear the call to serve clearly so that we respond, "Here am I! Send me" (see Isaiah 6:1-8).
Make a choice to live in hope: As you meditate on the beauty of Jesus,the splendor of His redeeming love shown through His perfect patience, holiness, redemption, justice, and wrath;you will find living hope that spills over into the worship that He longs for! In doing so, you can rest in His beauty that will fill your soul to overflowing and transform you by His power so that earth's dark shadows flee as you steadily gaze on Jesus, the brightness of the Father's glory!
I exhort you to meditate on the wonderful words of this old song, and then sing it worshipfully to your Lord!
Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting
Jesus, I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art;
Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art,
Ever lift Thy face upon me As I work and wait for Thee;
--Jean Sophia Pigott
source: Rick Warren's minsitry Toolbox
Whatever we do should be done with excellence. God deserves no less than our best and so does the congregation!"-----Dwayne Moore, in the Praise More Powerful worship study
Every time we come together to worship our Lord on Sundays (as well as at other times), there are four goals our worship services should meet. While we have quite a bit of freedom in how we go about accomplishing each goal, the goals themselves are not optional and not subject to change. They remain consistent and of utmost importance.
The first goal should describe everything from the opening song to the closing prayer. Every element in our services should exalt the Lord. It was Jesus who was lifted up on the cross. Thus, he earned the right to be lifted up in our praise because he paid the ultimate cost. Our services should, therefore, be carefully evaluated to assure that the choir, soloists, musicians and anyone who speaks all seek to point the attention away from themselves and toward the name above every name. Visual elements like videos and dramatic skits are tremendous tools as long as they add to the theme and the ultimate direction of the service: that of pointing people to Jesus.
The second goal for every worship gathering is to exhort the lambs. The music, the message, and the other service elements should involve some moments that deliberately encourage and challenge others in God's family. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Encourage one another and build each other up." After walking through this world during our work or school week, every one of us as believers could stand some revitalizing and encouraging by being with God's people in God's presence. That's why we should look around every Sunday for someone we can brighten with our smile and our joyful song!
The third goal is to evangelize the lost. That is not to say that every song and testimony and announcement has to be aimed straight at non-believers. No, we've just seen how every service should include elements specifically designed to exhort and encourage believers. However, we cannot and dare not ignore those who need our Lord so desperately. After all, it is for them that we have been left on this earth. We are to "show forth the praises of him who called us." (1 Peter 2:9) What better time to show forth his praises to them than during our worship and praise gatherings? Our prayer and intention should always be that many will see our praise "and fear and trust in the Lord." (Psalm 40:3)
The final goal of every worship gathering is to engage the listeners. What we do should be interesting to those in the audience. Whatever we do should be done with excellence. God deserves no less than our best and so does the congregation! While it is not our responsibility as pastors and worship leaders to entertain the people in the pews, it is most certainly our responsibility to offer them plenty of reason to want to listen, watch, and participate.
When we sit down to plan the elements and flow for each week's services, we should first pray and ask God to help us plan for and reach these goals. Then, before we finalize any worship order we should carefully think through that order in our minds, asking ourselves, "Will this worship set meet all four of these service goals?" We should never be satisfied with what we've scheduled until we can say a resounding yes! to that all-important question.
This article is an excerpt by Dwayne Moore from Week 6 of his in-depth worship study, Praise More Powerful.
source: Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox
"Be careful what you thinkg becaure your thoughts run your life." Prov. 4:23 ICB
Several years ago, we moved into a house with a huge back yard, which our children immediately proclaimed as "the perfect spot for a trampoline." Since they had worked so hard helping us move, we rewarded them by buying the trampoline they wanted for so long.
As we unpacked and assembled the trampoline, I also unpacked memories from my college years. One of my physical education courses included six weeks of instruction on the trampoline. My class couldn't wait to get started! However, before anyone set foot on that trampoline, the professor spent several class periods going over the safety rules. We didn't need rules! How hard could it be? You get on the thing and jump! Not so, according to our teacher. With great persistence, she detailed rule after rule, especially the one about making sure you led your body with your head ... or something like that ... I really wasn't listening. She persisted, even though it was obvious that we were ready for her to be quiet, move out of the way, and let us jump! I guess she thought desperate measures were called for as she began sharing every injury of every student in every class she had ever taught over the years – injuries that happened, she said, because the students were impatient and ignored the rules.
Finally, the teacher ended the class by saying, "Good gymnasts know that where their head goes, the rest of their body will eventually follow." To this day, every time I see a trampoline, those words pop into my mind. And they are just as true when applied to temptation.
In the war with temptation and sin, our greatest battlefield is the mind. We are constantly at war for its control! To live right, must think right. Proverbs 23:7 (NASB) says it well, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is." Everything we do or say originates with a single thought. Filling our minds with truth will fill our lives with truth. Isaiah teaches, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you." (Isa. 26:3 NLT) In this verse, "fixed" literally means "loyal or faithful" and refers to the same kind of faithfulness found in marriage. In order to discipline and guard our thoughts, we must make the commitment of being married to the truth of God.
If, however, our mind is not filled with truth, the enemy will pollute it with lies, tilling fertile soil where temptation and sin can flourish. Polluted minds produce polluted lives but mind pollution can only happen with our permission. I am amazed at how many men and women in ministry rarely have a fresh word from God or a new truth found in a daily quiet time with him. God's Word is a powerful purification system for the mind, reprogramming and training thoughts to line up according to God's standards. Depositing God's Word into the mind results in a holy discernment and God-given strength to recognize and turn away from sin. It is the idea of placing a sentry or guard at the entrance of the mind, giving him the authority to determine what does or does not come in. We are quick to give the custody of our mind away to lesser things, to unworthy goals, or desires and thoughts, and to sin. Understand that if it is going on in the mind, it is reality and often the first step toward the edge of a very dangerous cliff.
The story is told of an eagle perched on a block of ice just above Niagara Falls. As the swift current carried the ice and the great eagle closer to the edge of the falls, the eagle ignored the warning cries of other birds and animals. "I have great and powerful wings," he boasted. "I can fly from my perch at any time. I can handle it." Suddenly the edge of the falls was only a few feet away, the torrent of water carrying the block of ice over the powerful cascade. The eagle spread his massive wings to mount up over the impending doom only to discover that it was too late. His claws were frozen to the cake of ice. Sin is like that.
When we allow our minds to "perch" on sinful thought patterns, we entertain destruction. Our arrogance blinds us to the ramifications of sinful behavior and soon, we find ourselves on the brink of disaster, wondering how we got there. How many men and women in ministry are destroyed by a habit that began with one sinful thought.
Temptation first targets the mind, knowing that thoughts determine direction. We can literally change our lives by changing our thought habits, by choosing to discipline our minds. As men and women in ministry, we should have thought lives worth recommending to others. What a haunting thought! Vulgar language, raunchy movies, questionable books, negative conversations, destructive thought patterns, ugly gossip, and disparaging criticism have no place in the life of a believer and certainly not in the heart of anyone in ministry.
Mary Southerland is a pastor's wife, mother of two, author of Coming Out of the Dark, Experiencing God's Power in Your Ministry, Escaping the Stress Trap, Sandpaper People, and Hope in the Midst of Depression (Harvest House) and a conference speaker. She is also the founder of Journey Ministry, a teaching ministry dedicated to equipping every woman for her unique journey. Mary is available to speak for conferences, retreats, and women's events. You may contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit Mary's Web site at www.MarySoutherland.com .
Ever watch a love story about a married couple that made you cry—not because you could relate but because you couldn't? Ever watch a married couple enjoying one another so much that you sighed with hopelessness for your own marital situation? Ever attend a wedding so romantic that you felt this couple was experiencing a wedding bliss that looked nothing like your marriage reality?
For many years, I could relate to the tears, feelings of hopelessness, and despair. My husband and I were Christians but we were both miserable in our marriage.
You cannot be in a more uncomfortable position than to be unhappily married with no grounds for divorce. Nowhere in Scripture does God give permission to divorce because we no longer like one another or can't get along.
1. Accept that men are different
The reality is that men and women are different—very different! But it is God's design for a man and woman to be different so they may become one.
2. Treat him like a friend
One day, wallowing in self-pity, looking at my husband with a "How did I get myself in this mess and how can I get out" look, the Holy Spirit dealt with me. He reminded me that my husband was also my brother in Christ. "Love your brother" is a command. If I could not love him as a husband, I could love him as a brother.
I had not looked at it that way, but when He spoke it to my heart, it confirmed something that my husband often said: "You treat your friends better than you treat me."
Thankfully, those days are behind us now. I can look at my husband and truthfully say, "Lord, thank you for him." Daily, the Holy Spirit teaches me to recapture that "loving feeling" by seeking peace.
3. Tone down your criticism of your mate
Using words that engender peace, setting an atmosphere that welcomes peace, and appreciating the value of peace to the point of paying whatever price is necessary to attain it, is a lesson well learned.
1 Peter 3:10-11 changed my perspective and changed me: "If you want to enjoy life and see many days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it."
Friday, April 06, 2007
he following is a report on the practical applications of Gary Chapman and Jennifer M. Thomas's book, The Five Languages of Apology, ( Moody Publishers, 2006).
Have you ever apologized to someone, but found that person still upset with you? In your frustration, you may have thought there's nothing more you could have done. But since people have different ways of apologizing, the way you expressed your apology may just not have gotten through to the person you offended.
If you speak a different apology language than the person you're trying to reach, he or she will likely view your apology as insincere. But if you translate your apology into that person's language, you can pave the way for forgiveness and reconciliation in that relationship.
Here's how you can become fluent in the languages of apology and experience healed relationships:
Learn the first language: Expressing regret. This says, "I am sorry." When you speak this language, you let the person you've offended know of your own guilt, shame, and pain over the fact that your behavior has hurt him or her. You don't simply correct problems without acknowledging your remorse; instead, you verbalize your regret in specific ways. In your apology, give as many details as possible to show you understand how your wrong behavior affected the offended person. Don't tack on a "but …" to your apology, either blaming your actions on something the person did to provoke you or making excuses for what you did. Make sure you don't try to use an apology to manipulate the offended person into reciprocating. To give your apology more emotional weight, consider writing it in a letter that the offended person can read again and again. Make it clear to the offended person that you feel hurt because your actions have hurt him or her, so you can identify with the pain he or she is experiencing.
Learn the second language: Accepting responsibility. This says, "I was wrong." When you speak this language, you accept responsibility for your failures and refrain from rationalizing your own bad behavior or blaming others for it. Show the offended person that you fully own up to what you did and understand that it was wrong.
Learn the third language: Making restitution. This says, "What can I do to make it right?" When you speak this language, you try to right a wrong by making amends for what you've done. Realize that any offenses causes the person who's been hurt to lose something – perhaps something tangible, such as a promotion after being publicly humiliated, or something intangible, such as self-esteem. Make it your goal to try to repay the person you've offended to restore a sense of justice and let him or her know that you still care. When apologizing to a friend or family member, try to express the sincerity of your love in ways that reflect that particular person's love language: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch. Beyond expressing your love, do whatever you can to restore something your wrong behavior took away, such as by repairing a damaged item or speaking to others to restore the person's reputation. If you're not sure what the offended person might consider appropriate restitution, ask for suggestions.
Learn the fourth language: Genuinely repenting. This says, "I'll try not to do that again." When you speak this language, you decide to change your behavior so you won't repeat the offense. Tell the person you've offended that you intend to change, develop a specific plan for doing so, and ask him or her to be patient with you while you go through the process of changing from destructive to healthy behavior. Write down your plan for change so you can keep referring to it, and when you fail, get up and try again. Show the offended person that you're making a concerted effort to change, and ask him or her to support and encourage you to help the changes last.
Learn the fifth language: Requesting forgiveness. This says, "Will you please forgive me?" When you speak this language, you show the offended person that you want to see the relationship fully restored. Let the person know that you realize you've done something wrong, and that you're willing to put the future of the relationship in his or her hands, since the relationship depends on that person's choice to either forgive or not forgive. But never demand forgiveness; understand that it's a gift that must be given freely. Don't expect the person you've offended to forgive you immediately, because forgiveness can be costly and take some time. Ask God to help you be patient as you wait.
Discover your primary apology language. As you consider the five languages of apology, think about which one is most natural for you. Ask yourself: "What do I expect a person who has offended me to say or do that would make it possible for me to genuinely forgive him or her?", "What hurts me most deeply about this situation?", and "When I apologize to others, which of the five languages do I think is most important?"
Discover someone else's apology language. When you realize you've offended someone, ask: "What hurts you most about what I said or did?" In general, you can also ask: "Describe an apology someone once gave you that you considered insufficient. What was lacking?" and "When you express an apology to someone for something you have done that hurt him or her, what do you think is the most important part of an apology?"
Overcome barriers to apologizing. Realize that all relationships are worth the effort to apologize. Ask God to motivate you to value your relationships enough to apologize whenever you've offended someone. Understand that even when the other person is most at fault in a certain situation, you can't justify your own wrong behavior based on that fact. Be willing to apologize for your own part in marring the relationship. If you view apologizing as a sign of weakness, recognize that you have low self-esteem and seek counseling to develop a healthy self-image. Know that apologizing actually will enhance your self-esteem, because it will lead people to respect and admire you.
Don't cheapen apologies. Recognize that you don't need to apologize anytime there's any tension in one of your relationships, or anytime you simply irritate someone. Understand that apologies are designed to deal with moral failures. Don't just assume that a stressful situation is your fault without truly thinking about it, and don't apologize simply to avoid conflict and get an issue settled quickly. Know that a "peace at any price" mentality will only lead to simmering resentment. Don't forgive someone too easily for seriously negative behavior that he or she should deal with; instead, hold the person accountable for it. Ask God to give you the courage you need to face issues honestly and wisely.
Learn to forgive. Realize that it's just as important to accept an apology as it is to offer one. Know that choosing to forgive someone will open the door to reconciliation between you. Remember that forgiveness isn't a feeling; it's a decision. Ask God to help you forgive, and rely on the strength He will give you to do so. Understand that you can still pursue reconciliation with someone who has offended you even if that person doesn't apologize: First, lovingly confront the person – several times if necessary. If, after several attempts, the person who offended you is unwilling to apologize, you should trust God to take care of justice in the situation rather than trying to seek vengeance yourself. Remember that God is even more concerned about righteousness than you are, and He will take the best possible action on your behalf.
Be realistic about forgiveness. Recognize that, while forgiveness can occur as soon as you make the choice to forgive, trust sometimes takes a long time to reestablish in a relationship. Don't expect forgiveness to remove natural consequences of wrong behavior or the painful emotions and memories that have resulted from it. But know that forgiveness is always worthwhile, because it's the only way your relationships can heal.
Teach your kids to apologize. Help your kids develop the ability to successfully apologize in life by teaching them underlying lessons. Train them to accept responsibility for their actions. Let them know that their actions affect others, and that there are always rules in life. Set healthy rules for your family. When determining whether or not a particular rule you're considering is good for your family, ask yourself: "Is this rule good for my child?", "Will it have some positive effect on my child's life?", "Does this rule keep my child from danger or destruction?", "Does this rule teach the child some positive character traits, such as honesty, hard work, kindness, or sharing?", "Does this rule protect property?," "Does this rule teach my child responsibility?" and "Does this rule teach good manners?". Be sure to enforce consequences when rules are broken. Teach your kids that apologies are necessary in order to maintain friendships. Explain the five different apology languages to them. Model how apologies should work by apologizing to your children when you hurt them and letting them see you apologize to other people – such as your spouse, other family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
Apologize to yourself. Ask God to help you remove the emotional distance between the person you want to be (your ideal self) and who you are (your real self). Write out a self-apology statement that details mistakes for which you haven't yet forgiven yourself. Then, in front of a mirror, read your statement to yourself. Pray for God's peace to fill your soul. Learn from your past failures and look forward to a brighter future.
Adapted from The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships, copyright 2006 by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. Published by Northfield Publishing, a division of Moody Publishers, Chicago, Ill., www.moodypublishers.com.
Gary Chapman is the author of the best-selling Five Love Languages series and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary travels around the world presenting seminars, and his radio program airs on more than 100 stations.
Jennifer M. Thomas, Ph.D., is a psychologist with Associates in Christian Counseling (www.christiancounseling.org) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Jennifer counsels on a wide variety of individual and couple's issues, from communication to trauma recovery and spiritual healing. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.
My husband, Dr. Tony Evans, could go to conferences and network with other pastors, but there weren't any things like that for me. At first, I struggled to live up to an image of what a pastor's wife should be. But when Tony told me he just wanted me to be me, it represented a real turning point.
My experience led me to create the First Lady Conference for senior pastors' wives, so these often overlooked women could be educated and encouraged. The ministry is growing -- our seventh annual conference attracted more than 500 women last year. But ministries like the First Lady Conference and the Global Pastors Wives Network are still not widely known.
Unfortunately, it takes something like the murder trial of Mary Winkler on April 9 to draw attention to the unique needs of senior pastors' wives.
When the Tennessee woman was charged last March with shooting her husband in the back with a shotgun, it created headlines around the country.
I've never met Mary Winkler, and I don't know what happened in the privacy of her home between her and her husband Matthew, pastor of Selmer's Fourth Street Church of Christ. But I've talked with hundreds of women who have struggled with the burden of being a senior pastor's wife. It's safe to say that Mary Winkler's family needed help. It seems that there may have been no place to turn, and no place to talk, to help defuse what became an explosive situation.
Since the news broke, speculation about the Winklers' marriage has gone public in a way that rarely happens to a preacher's wife.
According to testimony in a bond hearing, Mary Winkler told investigators that she shot her husband after they argued about financial problems. Various news outlets have indicated that she was the victim of a financial scam.
The Associated Press reported last April that "experts say preachers' wives often struggle with depression and isolation" because they are "expected to be exemplars of Christian virtue while bearing unique pressures on their private and public lives."
During a November interview on ABC's "Good Morning, America," Winkler's family said they believe she killed her husband because she was abused. Her father said that he saw "bad bruises" covered by heavy makeup on her face.
The Associated Baptist Press, using Christian counselor Tony Rankin as a source, reported last August: "In Rankin's opinion, pastors' wives sometimes engage in an unattainable quest for perfection, often isolating themselves and losing a sense of reality along the way."
There has been so much interest in gaining a glimpse into this often secret world that the CBS drama "Close to Home" aired an episode about a fictional pastor who was found dead in his home, with his wife and secretary the main suspects.
While we don't know the details of what happened between Mary and Matthew Winkler, this much we do know: Pastors' wives have as high a level of stress and burnout as their husbands do.
The late Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and the Global Pastors Network, gleaned these figures from various sources a few years ago:
- Eighty percent of pastors and 84 percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their roles.
- Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
- Almost 40 percent of pastors polled said they have had an extramarital affair since beginning their ministry.
- Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
- Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel left out and unappreciated by the church members.
When pastors' wives have problems, they often go undetected because they can become isolated and lonely. In "What Pastors' Wives Wish Their Husbands and Churches Knew About Them," Pastornet.net reported in 2001 that 56 percent of pastors' wives had no close friends in the church.
Often these women, looked up to as leaders, are reluctant to approach members of their congregations for help.
So next time you see your pastor's wife, be sure to offer some words of encouragement. She may need them more than you know.
Lois Evans will host the First Lady Conference June 7-9 in Dallas. She is a former president of the Global Pastors Wives Network. Contact her at email@example.com.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Along with her husband, Gary, Vivian Padilla-Chapman has been homeschooling her two children, Daniel and Sara since 1991. Daniel just completed his 2nd year at Georgia Tech as a President's Scholar this fall and Sara just graduated high school. Vivian holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of South Florida. First published in The Mother's Heart magazine, a premium online publication for mothers with hearts in their homes. Visit www.The-Mothers-Heart.com for more information
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
by Bayless Conley
It has been said that it is a wise man or woman who lives life by "majoring on the majors" instead of "majoring on the minors." But to do that, you and I must be able to figure out what things in life are major, what things are truly important, and what things are trivial or nonessential.
One way to discover what is "major" is to find out what is important to God, to determine what it is that He attaches special significance to. And in Scripture, He does give us a clue.
There is a phrase that comes up over and over again in the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, that lets us know when God is saying, "Hey, what's coming up is especially important."
It is the phrase take heed.
Whenever we find this phrase, we've come upon something that God considers especially vital. For example, in Hebrews 2:1 it says:
"Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away."
The word heed in the verse above is the same Greek word translated "take heed" elsewhere in the Bible. What the writer of Hebrews is telling us is that you and I need to give our undivided attention to the things that we have heard "lest we drift away."
And what are the "things we have heard"? God's Word! God wants you and I to realize how incredibly important it is for us to stay focused on what we have learned from the Scriptures!
But the verse above is actually stronger than that. The word earnest literally means "superabundant, excessive, and frequent." You and I need to give superabundant, excessive, and frequent heed to the Word of God which we have heard. Why? Lest we drift away!
There are many good men and women who have run their lives aground on the rocks of sin by not giving attention to God's Word. And it wasn't because they overtly turned away from God, but because they began to drift.
That's why the writer of Hebrews emphasizes how vital it is for you and me to pay attention to what God says in His Word. He says to give superabundant, excessive, and frequent heed "to the things we have heard."
The obvious question you need to ask yourself is this: Am I taking God's Word for granted, or am I taking it seriously and giving heed to it?
Many of God's people don't realize the treasure they have in God's powerful Word. They get washed in the blood of the Lamb, they know they're going to heaven, but they begin to allow dust to collect on the cover of their Bible.
And then they wonder why their life isn't what it should be and why their Christian walk is empty. My friend, the Bible tells you who you are in Christ, it tells you what you have in Christ, it tells you what you can do, and it tells you what God has done for you.
The Word of God is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among those who are sanctified. It is bread for your spirit and water for your soul! So it's my prayer that you will make God's Word the priority God desires for it to be in your life???starting today!
Answers with Bayless Conley broadcasts practical teachings of the Bible to its viewers in a non-religious way. For years, Bayless Conley struggled with drugs and alcohol while searching for answers. It was not until he was more than 20 years of age that a 12-year-old boy showed him the powerful reality of a relationship with Christ. Since 1979, the Lord has opened the television airwaves to the Answers program, which currently airs each week in more than 100 nations around the world.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries
Here is an excerpt on three warning signs that you've let "your issue" impact your life negatively:
Our danger is that not only will we disagree and separate, but that we'll cross the line from justifiable disagreement to anger and bitterness. Let me share three warning signs to help you know when you've crossed that line.
Number two: When you begin to attack the person and not the problem.
Number three: When you would rather talk about "your issue" than about Jesus Christ.
If we have to disagree--and sometimes we do, and if we have to go our separate ways--and sometimes we do, then let us disagree agreeably--with respect and not rancor.
You can reach the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
La Mesilla, Guatemala -- Can a small FM Christian radio station in Guatemala plant churches in Mexico?
Absolutely! Witness the fruits of Radio Impacto, a 1,000-watt FM station that sits in the scrubby border town of La Mesilla, Guatemala.
"Our goal is to reach Chiapas state [in southern Mexico] with the gospel," said Christian Villatoro, pastor of the fast-growing Twelve Pearls Evangelical Church and general manager of the radio station. "It's difficult to do ministry in Mexico and almost impossible to put a Christian radio station there. So we decided to focus our broadcasts to that audience."
To do that, Radio Impacto incorporates Mexican music and invites pastors from Chiapas state to appear on the air regularly. In Mexico it is illegal for a radio station to be owned by a Christian organization.
Villatoro knows that the broadcasts are bearing fruit. "Three years ago a listener traveled all the way from his small town in Mexico to visit me here in Guatemala. He told me that he was Roman Catholic but had doubts about his faith.
"I invited him to my house and two hours later he accepted Jesus Christ," he said. "Today, in his town, there is an evangelical church and a growing number of Christians."
Villatoro says that someone from Radio Impacto visits that town every eight to 10 days to provide training and discipleship and help the new church grow.
Radio Impacto is on the second floor of the Guatemalan church's new building. The bare walls of the control room and studio reflect the station's austerity, but the on-the-air enthusiasm witnesses to the fervor of staff members to reach Mexico for Christ.
Largely a self-developed ministry, the radio station reflects a church that bustles with activity. The station was started about five years ago by Ronaldo Orellana, a local businessman and a member of Villatoro's church.
While a live program involving greetings and announcements for Mexican listeners is under way in the studio, 100 women have gathered in the church's old worship center for an afternoon meeting. And, their efforts are almost drowned out by hundreds of teenagers in the adjoining school also operated by the congregation.
The station is supported by the church's 400 members who also provide some volunteer help on and off the air.
Each week the church offers three worship services and has 225 participants in a women's Bible study, 100 teenagers involved in youth ministries, 100 men meeting for prayer and a number of daughter churches springing up throughout Mexico and Guatemala.
Villatoro says that 30 percent of Guatemala is considered to be evangelical but in his town, the number reaches 35 percent of the population. In contrast, the evangelical population in Chiapas is about 19 percent.
He is grateful for the help provided to his station by HCJB Global Voice engineer Steve Sutherland from Quito. The missionary has visited the station three times in the last two years to help improve the technical quality of the signal.
The station also uses several hours of programming, including special releases for women, men and children from ALAS-HCJB, the mission's Christian Spanish programming satellite network with about 90 affiliates across Latin America. In addition, HCJB Global Voice's radio development ministry recently provided a training workshop for Radio Impacto's staff.
Despite all of the work involved with serving an active church, operating a school and running a missionary radio station, Villatoro isn't done yet.
"We need to increase our transmitter power," he said. "We moved the antenna to a higher mountain a year ago, but now we need to go up to at least 3,000 watts so that we can put a better signal into Mexico and reach farther into the country."
The pastor indicated that the station is heard well in large cities such as Tuxtla Gutiérrez, but there are pockets of Chiapas where the signal is spotty. "We need a new transmitter and we need some remote control equipment," he explained.
Through Bible studies, music, on-air telephone conversations and other programs, the team at Radio Impacto is addressing serious problems among the Mexican audience. Drug addiction and the growing influence of gangs among youth are two concerns that drive many programming decisions.
But primarily, as Villatoro stands in front of his hillside church gazing across the border into neighboring Mexico, he dreams of reaching farther into Mexico to bring others to Christ through his church's ministry via radio.
Jack and Barbara were happily married ??? once upon a time. However, their seven year marriage spiraled inexorably downward as conflicts tore them apart. They chipped away at one another about finances, discipline of their three children and frequency of intimacy. When angry, she often used biting word, and he slammed doors and spun out of the driveway. Finally, Jack decided to end their turmoil by moving out.
I counseled Jack as he vacillated between signing divorce papers and thoughts of reconciliation. I watched as he struggled to move forward with his life. His left brain methodically plotted out the course of his life while his right, and more emotional side, lost footing and settled into an enduring sadness. Letting go of his marriage was not as easy as signing the rental agreement on an apartment across town.
Talking to Jack, it became clear that he was not finished with his marriage. He had left angry and depleted from years of "unfair fighting." Although tired of hours of blaming and accusations, he shared, "There was a lot more to our marriage than those times of conflict. I miss her smile, her sense of humor, her tenderness. I miss the way she could make up our home. You ought to see my apartment now. It looks like a train wreck. The macaroni and cheese was no special treat for dinner last night either."
Jack agonized over the loss of his marriage, wondering if it might be possible to span the incredible gap between he and his wife. We talked about what it would take to bring them back together ??? not to endure more years of heartache, but to recreate their relationship.
We decided to send Barbara a card inviting the possibility of talking. We agreed upon a purpose; opening dialogue with no pressure for reunification. He had changed and his heart was ready to talk again. He sent the card.
Barbara received the card, and immediately recognized his handwriting. She laid the card on the table and prepared a cup of tea. She was surprised at the flutter she felt as she looked at the envelope. She felt an odd mix of annoyance and excitement. Would this be a welcoming note, she wondered, or possibly another one of Jack's scoldings for the way she had handled some situation with the children? She slowly opened the note. The card had a picture of autumn leaves in golds and browns with the words, "A Season of Hope." Inside, Jack had written a note.
"Barbara. Time seems to have tamed a lot of emotions. I am surprised at how I feel compared to how I felt three months ago. I am not sure what I want to say, but would like to begin talking with you again. My heart is softer. I can see where I was wrong, and have no need to blame or attack you. I wonder if you feel the same. I wonder if you have second thoughts about our marriage. Would you like to talk? I will call you in a few days to see if you want to meet for a cup of coffee. A latte can cure a lot of ills. Love, Jack."
Today Jack and Barbara are talking about reconciliation. Perhaps your story is similar to Jack and Barbara's. Perhaps your marriage is teetering on the edge of brokenness, but deep down you still hold a sliver of hope that your marriage can be made whole again. With them, and with you, the process of reconciling years of hurt requires careful consideration. Solomon says, " When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider." (Eccl. 7:14) But, what should you consider when entering such uncertain territory? Here are a few suggestions:
Are you overreacting to times of trouble? It is tempting, when times are bad, to believe that everything is bad. When emotions are high, things get blown out of perspective. Battle lines are drawn and enemies are made. One must be careful to keep things in perspective. Love blossomed powerfully once and it can again.
Have you considered your part in the problem? While it may be satisfying to blame everything on your mate, playing the victim, this is usually a very simplistic appraisal of the issues. What do you bring to the situation? What are you really like to live with?
Have you sought out expert advice on your problem? This does not mean talking to friends who are likely to side with you and take up an offense against your mate. It means finding an objective listening ear who will evaluate the full extent of the problem, point out troubling patterns of interaction and ways to handle conflict effectively;
Have you been careful to fully forgive past problems? Assuming there has been a change in behavior, and a repentant heart, you may need additional work to let go of grudges and anger, remembering forgiveness is a process, not an event;
Have you both made amends for past wounds? Making a sincere apology is certainly a beginning, but it may take much more than that. Deep wounds do not heal quickly and often require special counseling assistance;
Have you remembered that there are no perfect relationships? As you considered throwing out the old in hopes of something new, please remember that the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but it still needs to be mowed. There will be problems in every relationship and, as the Apostle James says, these problems can be a catalyst bringing us closer to the person Christ wants us to be. (James 1:1-2)
The prospect of reconciliation with someone who has hurt you can be daunting. Perhaps you have moved into a place of calm and safety, and like a startled turtle, are reluctant to poke your nose out again. Consider the story of the prodigal son in Luke 12. After squandering his father's blessings, he humbly returned home. The father greeted him, immediately forgiving past sins and embraced him again. God does that for us ??? perhaps you can do that for your spouse. Perhaps it is time to talk. Latte anyone?
This article was adapted from Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage (Revell, $14.99, March 2005)
Dr. David B. Hawkins regularly counsels hurting couples as a licensed clinical psychologist and social worker. He teaches at Washington State University and has hosted radio and television broadcasts on abuse and domestic violence. He is the author of several books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage.
Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
The scheduled opening is set for Memorial Day, May 28, according to officials with Answers in Genesis, the museum's builder. The ministry notes that initial interest in the museum is such that some parts of it (including the parking area) are not large enough to handle the anticipated crowds on the busiest days. As a result, there will now be nearly 60,000 square feet to handle the expected turnout.
"The Creation Museum's expansion is due to the fact that we are seeing tremendous interest nationwide among our own supporters and the media, including many members of the international press," said AiG Founder and President Ken Ham.
The Answers in Genesis Creation Museum is a one-of-a-kind, high-tech museum, filled with animatronic displays (e.g., moving dinosaurs), striking videos, a state-of-the-art planetarium, Special Effects Theater, etc., that is spread out over 60,000 square feet incorporating up to 40-foot ceilings to contain some of its massive exhibits. The museum will go beyond telling the compelling story of the creation of life on this planet to proclaiming the Bible as supreme authority in all matters it addresses.
Set to open on May 28, 2007, at its location in northern Kentucky 2 exits west of the Cincinnati Airport, this $27 million "walk through history" museum will counter evolutionary natural history museums that turn minds against Scripture – and Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe.
As the museum presents its walk through the history of the Bible, visitors will see real dinosaur bones (and a clutch of eggs and other exceptional fossils), view a huge casting of a mastodon, examine a superb mineral collection, take a tour of the universe inside a state-of-the-art 78-seat planetarium, and experience what they would typically find in a first-class natural history museum.
The museum's striking exhibits demonstrate to guests that the Bible is the "true history book of the universe" as they take a time journey through a visual presentation of the "Seven C's of History" according to Scripture: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross and Consummation.
The ministry already has over 7,900 charter members and tens of thousands of donors, who have helped raise more than 90 percent of the funds needed toward the museum's construction price tag of $27 million.
Media coverage from the world's major newspapers and TV networks has also helped raise interest, Ham said. On one recent day alone, Ham confirmed that 11 media calls or e-mails were received at the AiG offices. These included: a New York Times reporter, an award-winning HBO documentary producer, a correspondent with one of Brazil's largest newspapers and representatives from eight other media outlets. On Friday, a CNN crew spent the entire afternoon filming at the museum.
In addition, over the past 18 months, four different crews from the BBC have visited the construction site. International journalists also have been regularly filming and photographing the facility for advance feature stories over the last several months – a sign, ministry officials believe, of the intense interest the museum story has among worldwide media.
Because of the large media interest and the support of so many donors, the museum is now adding approximately 2,000 square feet of exhibit space to the inside of the museum complex. Some of the space involves the creation of two-story displays that take advantage of 40-foot-high ceilings, including a re-creation of a portion of Noah's Ark and an enlarged dinosaur exhibit. Another 7,000 square feet is being re-worked at the front of the building, creating a striking glass-enclosed portico as the new entryway for guests. The museum's café has also expanded to accommodate additional visitors. Outside the complex, an additional 85 parking spots are being added.
As a result, the expansion has meant that the construction price tag of $25 million has increased to $27 million for the museum. Organizers hope the facility – located within a day's drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population – will attract at least 250,000 visitors during its first year of operations.
As part of the museum experience, visitors will see real dinosaur bones, a number of dinosaur eggs including a clutch of eggs, and other exceptional fossils. They can also view a huge casting of a mastodon, examine a superb mineral collection, take a tour of the universe inside a state-of-the-art 78-seat planetarium, and enjoy exhibits created by a designer known for his work at Universal Studios and other theme parks.
"We are tremendously encouraged to see how God has blessed and grown this museum," Ham said. "The quality of the exhibits is on par with what you see at the best science museums anywhere in the world. I was in Orlando recently, and I would say that some of our dinosaur animatronics are as good as what you'd find at the Disney parks there."
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry (i.e., confirming the validity of the Bible) headquartered in a new facility adjacent to the museum. The organization conducts more than 300 teaching meetings each year, hosts an award-winning Web site (with up to 30,000 visitors per day), and produces the "Answers" radio program heard on more than 860 stations throughout the United States.
© 2007 ASSIST News Service
In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26-year-old mother stared
down at her 6 year old son, who was dying of terminal leukemia.
She also had a strong feeling of determination.
Like any parent, she wanted he r son to grow up & fulfill all his dreams.
Now that was no longer possible.
The leukemia would see to that but she still wanted her son's dream to come true.
"Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted
to be once you grew up?
Later that day she went to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona,
where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix.
old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.
Wednesday morning, we'll make him an Honorary Fireman for the whole day.
One-with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots.
They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast."
hook and ladder truck.
He rode in the different fire engines, the Paramedic's van, and even the Fire Chief's car.
upon him, so deeply touched Billy, that he lived three months longer than any doctor
One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the Head Nurse, who believed in the hospice concept - that no one
should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital.
be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition.
Will you please do me a favor?
When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system, that there is not a fire?
It's the Department coming to see one of its finest members one more time.
And will you open the window to his room?
16 fire-fighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room.
"Chief, am I really a fireman now?"
the angels have been singing.. "
By Melanie Chitwood
Proverbs 3:5 & 6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." (NLT)
One morning I was feeling a sense of urgency to finish writing a talk for a retreat, as the retreat weekend was only about two weeks away. As I sat at my laptop computer the words were flowing and I was feeling a sense of accomplishment.
After about ten minutes of writing, however, I was jolted by an alarm going off in the house. Thinking it had to be the smoke alarm, I raced upstairs ready with a plan of action: I would press the reset button, stop the alarm, and get back to writing.
When I got upstairs, I discovered it wasn't the smoke alarm. Instead, it was the carbon monoxide detector blaring loudly.
I had forgotten we even had this type of warning device in our house. I only gave thought to the danger of carbon monoxide being in our house for about 30 seconds. To be honest, I was mostly concerned with getting this noise to stop so I could continue my work.
Later, as I told my husband what I'd done, he reminded me that there really could have been carbon monoxide in the house, and wasn't I at all concerned about that? Well, no… but later when I thought about this whole event, I realized that ignoring the alarm paints a picture of our spiritual lives.
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Monday, April 02, 2007
Senior Editor, Crosswalk.com
And then this week, I figured out that not only had I met the site's creator late last year, but that he works at the same direct marketing firm as one of my family members. Providential? I don't know.
But I do know that the videos on this site are all over the map. Some are interesting (like hearing about creation vs. evolution in "Chatting With Charley"). Some are kooky ( "The Atheist's Nightmare" and a banana ... huh????). And some are plain hilarious, like the video for "Baby Got Bible". I've already sent the URL for this one to several people today - my boss included.
GodTube.com hasn't even officially launched yet, but it's already getting between 50,000 and 60,000 unique users a day.
"Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities
of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom."
Genesis 13:2 (NIV)
As I read the story of Abram and his nephew, Lot, today's key verse
convicted me. I stumbled on the word "near". I knew the story of the
evil and debauchery that took place within the walls of this city.
There was contempt in my heart for this dreadful place and the sinful
practices of those who called this place home. I stood in judgment
against Lot for choosing to live near such a place. Through further
study of the Word and the nudging to the Holy Spirit, I realized I was
more like Lot than I wanted to be.
Lot chose the land in the Jordan Valley because of the lush green
grasses and the promise of prosperity that it offered. He knew this
land could provide in abundance for his family. Perhaps, he thought
such prosperity could bring him notoriety in the region. He knew well
the reputation of cities that lay adjacent to where he would pitch his
tents. Lot had no idea of the power of sin and the draw it can have on
those weak in the faith. He eventually moved inside and exposed his
entire family to corruption. His decision to live close to sin brought
him great heartache and led to the death of his wife.
Many times the draw of sin is so alluring that I decide to camp right
outside its boundaries. I justify staying close to the sin because I
can have advantages that I might not have otherwise. I want to watch
or flirt with temptation, never intending to partake or participate.
Then slowly, I move closer and closer until the temptation is too
much. And when my faith is too weak, I give in.
I recently met a woman who was under conviction because of a life
spent in sin in her very own Sodom and Gomorrah. The woman confessed a
20-year extra-marital affair. She asked me to pray for her and to
offer counsel. Overwhelmed by the confession and feeling unequipped to
help, I began to pray. As we prayed together, the Lord clearly
whispered to me the counsel I was to give. I was to tell this woman to
move, change her phone number, and never look back. Through my
weakness, He made me strong and gave me the courage to say the words.
Her response was no. She wanted to remain his friend. She could not
cut off all ties with this man.
Ladies, we cannot be friends with sin. We cannot flirt with sin. We
must move away from it. God has equipped you with all that you need to
make the move. Later in Genesis, Abram pleaded with God to spare Lot
and his family before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. He was gracious.
He answered Abram's prayer and moved Lot out of city before its
destruction. Sin will bring destruction to your life. Pray and let God
help you move. Let me pray for you as Abram did for Lot.
Dear Lord, through the power of this prayer, You can help my friend
move out of sin. Your designed her life for a prosperous future full
of hope, not for sin. Won't You help her today? Enable her – and me –
to say "yes" to Your prompting and move away from sin, into Your arms
of saving grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear from God by Priscilla Shirer
Out of the Mouths of Babes by Wendy Pope
Do You Know Him?
Be alone with God. Sit quietly or perhaps with soft music. Allow Him
to gently point out to you the areas from which you need to move. Make
the decision - trust Him to help you.
What is my present state of sin?
What makes it so alluring?
What is God telling me to do?
Mark 14:38, " Watch and pray so that you will not fall into
temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (NIV)
1 Corinthians 10:13,"No temptation has seized you except what is
common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted
beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also
provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (NIV)
2 Timothy 1:7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a
spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (NIV)
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Then try one of these 5 fresh and guilt-free approaches to tracking God's work in your life.
by Jody Veenker
source: Today's Christian Woman
Collecting quotes and thought-provoking observations from my favorite Christian writers is a powerful journaling technique that boosts my spiritual morale.
My friend Cindy was the person who encouraged me to start an Impossible Prayers Journal. Cindy had just finished reading Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala, and she was struck by his contention that a lot of churches in America aren't praying God-sized prayers. Cindy began challenging me to examine my prayer life and to ask God to do things that were more in scale with his glory and power than my human thinking.
If you enjoy the beauty of God's creation, one way to enjoy his handiwork even further is through a Creator's Journal. Find pictures that express all kinds of natural elements, press leaves and flowers, or snap photos of different seasons and types of weather. Whether you gravitate to photographer Ansel Adam's black-and-white portraits or to colorful faces from every nation and tribe, a journal of awe-inspiring sights can drive your thoughts to the grandeur and glory of their Creator. Under each illustration, write down reasons why these scenes inspire you. You also can incorporate Scripture that speaks about God's workmanship.
When four of my friends became Creative Memories consultants, I began attending quite a few scrapbooking parties. In their party pitches, my friends frequently mentioned that photos are one of the most powerful ways to remember.
If you don't have a ton of free time, this is one of the easiest journals to keep. All you have to do each day is list three to five things for which you're thankful.
Jody Veenker is a freelance writer who lives in California.