I See Good People #2

Thank you to all those who are sharing your inspirational thoughts and spreading cheerfulness.  You’re lighting up social media (Matt. 5:16)!  Here’s just a glimpse of some of the good stuff going around:

-Mandy Liddell posted this poem.  I need to memorize it!

Dear Lord, may I ever refrain
From speaking ill of others;
May I have kindly thoughts, as well,
For all my earthly brothers!
May I, dear Heavenly Father,
Radiate pure love for all…
May I see good in everyone;
May I pray for those in woe…
If I can do these things, O Lord,
While I am here on this earth,
I’ll feel my life’s not been in vain—
That I was blessed at my birth!”
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

-In the past three days, I’ve been excited to read three new blogs by young Christians.  I thank God for their desire to encourage others and share God’s Word.  Let’s encourage them, too, by supporting their efforts.

-For something fun, girly, and helpful, check out this new planner by Virtuous Magazine:

-Sometimes I read something and know the thoughts will stay with me for days.  Such was the case with these words by the brilliant mind of Cindy Colley:

-Recent terrific tweets:

  • @Gospel Advocate-  “Jesus viewed the 39 OT books as inspired by God and devoted Himself to studying them. Should we do any less?
  • @Stan Butt- “If anyone ever tells you, “It’s okay to be selfish,” they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
  • @Kevin W. Rhodes- When people do not see the good in life, it is because they first fail to see the God of life.”
  • And just for grins….@Tim Hawkins- “Conversation heard:

‘Grandpa, did you ever work out?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘Because I was out working.'”

-Hugo McCord quote posted by Jared Jackson:

When two people disagree on the interpretation of a Bible passage, one or both are wrong … but the Bible is always right.”

-Looking for some yummy recipes?  Check out the lovely Chelli Guthrie‘s blog, “The Planted Trees.

Prayer for Today:  Bless these good people, Lord, as they continue to brighten the lives of others!

New bloggers, Dale Pollard & Katlyn Vanderwende

New bloggers, Dale Pollard & Katlyn Vanderwende

Meet Brittany Davis, Christian magazine editor (and a recipe)!

Brittany Davis is a woman who decided to use her talents in a way that would spiritually uplift other women.  As a wife, new mother, editor, speaker, and author, she understands the need for good time management and proper priorities.  Anyone can see that Brittany is a beautiful woman with a radiant smile.  It doesn’t take long to discover that her beauty is heart-deep.  Please enjoy this pleasant conversation with our dear sister in Christ.

Kathy:  Tell us a little about yourself, Brittany.

Brittany:  My name is Brittany Davis I am the eldest daughter of Eric and Vanessa Owens. I’ve been married to my dear husband for five years and this past August we welcomed our first child, Landon. I am an author, speaker and publisher of the website, www.virtuousmagazine.com.

Kathy:  Virtuous Magazine is such a great resource!  What led you to start it?

Brittany:  I married my beloved in May 2009 and about a month before the wedding we found out that he had medullary thyroid cancer. So in June, right after the honeymoon, we came home and he underwent surgery.

To say I was stressed was an understatement. All went well with his surgery, but my very active and new husband was practically on bed rest for about four months.  I needed to channel my jumbled nerves, and painting rooms and scrapbooking weren’t cutting it. So I started Virtuous Magazine.

I’ve always wanted to use my talents for the Lord and I love magazines so it was a natural fit. And running the magazine has led to writing books and speaking.

Kathy:  We gave away copies of your book as awards at our teen girls’ camp.  Can you give us a brief summary of what “Style Your Soul:  Getting Dressed from the Inside Out” is about?

Brittany:  Oh wow, that’s awesome! Style Your Soul is a guide book for walking worthy and for presenting yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. It’s unlike anything because it gets to the heart of the immodesty epidemic that’s plaguing our homes, church and nation, but also shows that modest style is not an oxymoron.

*Note:  Brittany has also written “Awakening Love:  30 Days to Renewing Every Relationship” and “Ladies’ Day Themes.”  For more information, visit http://www.virtuousmagazine.com/books/.

Kathy:  As an editor, writer, public speaker, wife, and mother, you stay pretty busy.  Do you have any time management tips?

Brittany:  I’ve definitely been on a steep, sleep deprived, learning curve with my new baby, but I’ve found that advance preparation is the way to go. I try to do everything the night before from picking up the house to putting the diaper bag together, making lunch and laying out clothes. I don’t always get it all done, but when I do it makes the next day a breeze.

Also, working in batches has been beneficial for me; meaning doing all of one thing at a time whether it’s the laundry or writing articles. Instead of having loads of laundry each day I just do it all in one day, even if it takes the whole day, to get that task checked off the list.

Kathy:  Would you mind sharing one of your favorite recipes?

Brittany:  Lately I’ve been enjoying pan seared salmon with a side of mixed garden vegetables. I simply put some olive oil in a pan on the stove and sear the wild Alaskan salmon on both sides until it’s flaky and has developed a slightly crunchy coating. I season it with Tony Chachere’s original creole seasoning, cumin and rosemary. The vegetables are frozen so I just cook them on the stove with some olive oil butter.

Kathy:  Thank you so much for sharing your time and tips with us, Brittany.  May God bless you and your sweet family as you continue to shine for Him!

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Generation Gap?

Society has changed.

The culture is different.

Communication has changed.

Opportunities are different.

Some young people are calling for change.  Some old people shy away from anything different.  “Change” and “different” seem to be the two words that embody the rift between generations.

The MILLENNIALS want to be heard and taken seriously.  They have some great ideas on how to reach the lost.  They’ve had the opportunity to express themselves in a more widespread way, thanks to the internet, and they’re eager to take advantage of all the amazing advantages afforded them.  That’s so cool and so great!  Some, however, view anything that was done in the Lord’s church by the older generation as ineffective, simple-minded, and something that needs to be tossed aside.  That’s not so great.

The older folks have wisdom from years of study and life’s experiences.  They have the ability to see the big picture.  They are energized by the new opportunities to reach out, and desire to keep up with the latest so they can share what they’ve learned.  The Word has much to say about the wisdom of older ones being a crucial asset.  Beautiful!  However, some older folks are fearful of the ideas of the younger generation and suspicious of anything different.  In their zeal to protect, they might appear short-sighted.  That’s not so beautiful.

I realize I might be oversimplifying things in the two previous paragraphs, but I do believe this generation gap is nothing new.  Remember when Rehoboam consulted with both the “old men” and “the young men who grew up with him” in 1 Kings 12?  The Bible addresses the old and the young in different ways because there are different needs/ thoughts in each group.  The Bible also emphasizes UNITY (1 Cor. 1:10).  Jesus prayed for UNITY.  It was what was on His mind before He went to the cross (John 17:23), which shows how important it was to Him.  We should pray for it, too.  It should be on our minds.  Our thoughts, words, and actions should show that UNITY is important to us.

So perhaps we Christians can enjoy the generation grasp.  From Mirriam-Webster, “grasp” means:

  • to take and hold (something) with your fingers, hands, etc.
  • to understand (something that is complicated or difficult)

Yes, that’s what we’re called to do.  To hold on and reach out to each other.  To be understanding, even at times when we don’t fully agree or see eye to eye.

How can we do that?  We can make a concerted effort to reach out to those in a different generation from us.  We can seek them out, listen to them, validate them.  We can encourage and thank them.  We can help them reach their goals.  We can smile more at them.  We can look for ways to make sure our lives intermingle.  And we can pray for them.

Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.  We ALL, whether younger or older, desire to reach the lost, love God, and stay true to His Word.  Let’s use our unique perspectives and talents to reach those goals together.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8).

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Ways to LOVE MORE in 2015

What can we do that will really make an impact on others?  How can we draw others to Christ?  If that’s an important goal for you in this new year, you’ve probably already considered the words of Jesus when He shared the main way that we prove our Christianity.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By THIS all men will know that you are MY disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34,35, emphases mine).

If our love for one another shows the world that we belong to Christ, what does the world think when we display anything less than love?  In an effort to change/ teach/ enlighten others in the Lord’s body, we must be very careful that anyone reading or hearing our words can only think, “My, how they love each other!”  So what are some ways we can accomplish that?

  • Limit use of sarcasm, and remove snarky remarks altogether (Prov. 15:1; Col. 4:6)
  • Make sure the majority of our remarks and writings paint the Lord’s church in a positive light (Psa. 133:1)
  • Get in the habit of daily looking for ways to compliment and encourage other Christians (Rom. 12:10)
  • Avoid a reputation of being deliberately controversial (2 Tim. 2:24,25; Eph. 4:29-31)
  • Focus on unifying the body instead of promoting strife (John 17:22,23; Phil. 2:1-3; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 1:10)
  • Inject much more sweetness in speech and in writing (Prov. 16:24)
  • Be ever so gentle in defense of the gospel (1 Pet. 3:15)
  • Practice patience, even if attacked or wronged (2 Tim. 2:24,25)
  • Think, think, think before speaking or posting (Prov. 12:18; 15:28)
  • Share more Word than opinion (Col. 3:16; Prov. 15:2)
  • Remember that true wisdom and kindness go hand in hand (Prov. 31:26)

As we strive to be salt and light, let’s also make it very obvious that everything we say and do is motivated by love.

Prayer for Today:  Grow our love for one another, Lord, so we can draw others to You.

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When Loved Ones Fall Away, Part 3

“RETURN TO ME.”  God repeated this plea over and over when His children turned away from Him.  He told them that He would not be angry with them if they would only acknowledge their sin against Him (Jeremiah 3:12,13).  He promised to heal them if they would return to Him (v. 22).  Perhaps the saddest words of all regarding Israel are found in Jeremiah 3:7.  “And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’  But she did not return” (emphasis mine).

Are you worried about someone who has yet to return?  Have you spent hours pleading and praying?  God understands.  Remember, He loves the soul of the wayward even more than we do.

Excerpts from the book RETURN TO ME due out in February:

From chapter five, “Keep Praying”–

Prayer is the ultimate litmus test because it is colored by our attitude.  The command to pray in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is sandwiched between the commands to rejoice and be thankful.  We’re to have a joyful, prayerful, thankful mentality, especially when working with others, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (v. 18).  It’s too easy to get caught up in the exact opposite.  Perhaps we feel unable to rejoice because we are filled with anxiety or discouragement.  After praying endlessly for someone without seeing any “results,” it’s tempting to think God no longer hears or cares.  And instead of being thankful, we become resentful.  What can we do?  Rejoice, pray, give thanks anyway.

From chapter six, “Let Go of the Guilt”–

“The soul who sins shall die.  The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).  This entire chapter in Ezekiel is about some confusion the Israelites had about sons bearing the guilt of their fathers and vice versa.  God wanted them to understand that each one will be held accountable for his own actions, and his alone.  Notice also, “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity…shall he live?  All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (v. 24).  The Lord concludes with “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways” (v. 30).  Just as children cannot stand in judgment on the basis of their parents’ goodness, parents will not stand in judgment on the basis of their grown children’s waywardness.  

Chapter seven is entitled “Warn the Wanderer” and deals with what our responsibility is and what our responsibility is not as we reach out to the wayward.  It also covers our objectives, what we hope to accomplish with the warnings.  Excerpt from chapter seven–

The Israelites thought their punishment would be brief.  Their hearts remained hard because they couldn’t believe God would allow them to remain in captivity.  After all, they were His people and He loved them.  Jeremiah, also writing to the Israelites in Babylonian captivity, pointed out their delusion.  He told them to build houses, plant gardens, marry, and have children because they had seventy years of captivity ahead of them (Jeremiah 29:5,6, 10).  But why did the Israelites believe, in the first place, that God would be easy on them?  Because they were deceived by false prophets who simply told them what they wanted to hear (Jeremiah 29:8,9).  How frightening to think that there are those who will tell our wayward loved ones what they want to hear!  They will offer false peace.  The wayward may relax, convinced that God just wants them to be happy, that His grace covers everything.  We must warn the wanderer that there are those whose teaching leads to destruction, whether intentionally or not (2 Peter 2:1,2).  

This concludes the excerpts I’ll be sharing from the book.  Thank you to all who have offered your encouragement!  And to those who have requested prayers for your wayward loved ones, know that I will continue praying for them and for you.

Image credit:  Michael Hite

Image credit: Michael Hite

When Loved Ones Fall Away, Part 2

If you’ve had a loved one turn away from God, you may have asked, “HOW?”

  • How do I know what to say?
  • How do I keep from being led by my emotions?
  • How can I make sure my own faith stays strong?

Thankfully, the answers to our questions can be found in God’s faithful Word.  I have a book coming out in February (Lord willing) that deals with what to do when loved ones fall away.  Each week in December I’ll be sharing some excerpts from the book.

From chapter one– KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOD

God’s love is nothing like man’s imperfect love.  God’s love is perfect and everlasting.  When things are going well, we are secure in that knowledge.  But sometimes when our hearts are hurting, we forget the amazing depth and enduring nature of God’s love.  Could it be Satan whispers doubts in our mind about God’s love?  Like Mrs. Job advising her husband to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9), Satan’s lies begin with God to get us to turn away from Him.  When he tempted Eve, Satan mentioned God’s name three times (Genesis 3:1-5)!  To keep ourselves from ever believing Satan’s lies about God, we need to continually reacquaint ourselves with the love of God.  The Word is filled with the truth about God’s love.  Study it often so its voice will be louder than Satan’s.

From chapter four– SEEK GUIDANCE FROM GOD’S WORD

Emotions, both positive and negative, are powerful, and certainly our emotions are involved when a loved one falls away.  Our society places an emphasis on letting personal emotions guide important decisions.  “I have to follow my heart.”  “Do what feels right to you.”  The world’s mantra is that while rules are good, ultimately one should live by what feels right to them.  But feelings can be an unreliable and unsafe guide. “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9).  When Saul persecuted Christians, he wasn’t trying to be wicked.  He thought he was doing the right thing.  He was following his heart.  He didn’t realize his actions were contrary to God’s will.  He said, “Indeed, I myself thought…” (Acts 26:9).  He was convicted by his feelings.  His conscience never once made him question his actions (Acts 23:1).  Even good people make huge mistakes when allowing their feelings to guide them.  It wasn’t until Saul encountered Christ that he learned to “speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).  Wise Solomon sums it all up by saying, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26).  When a loved one falls away, we must be aware of the danger of being led by our feelings.  It can happen without us even realizing it.  The way to safeguard against that is to stay in the Word.  “Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, that I may not be ashamed” (Psalm 119:80). 

Next week’s excerpts will deal with the subjects of prayer and guilt.  I’d love to hear from you…Have you had a loved one fall away?  Have you had to make sure your emotional response stays in line with God’s Word?  What have you done to strengthen your own faith?

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When Loved Ones Fall Away

Few things in life are more heartbreaking than having a loved one turn away from God.  The disappointment, fear, worry, and pain can be overwhelming.  How do you keep a positive attitude, go on with your own responsibilities, and hang on to hope?  How do you keep from being guided by your emotions?  What do you do with the anger?  How do you make sure your own faith stays strong? These are the types of questions I struggled with, and the questions I address in an upcoming book.  Throughout the month of December I’ll be sharing excerpts from the book.  Today I’ll share the introduction.  My prayer is that this book will strengthen and encourage those who find themselves pleading with wayward loved ones.

Introduction

It has to be true that the greater the love one has for another, the greater the pain when that love is rejected.  A mere acquaintance who does not return overtures of friendship is no heartache.  A bond forged at youth camp which promises to keep in touch “forever and ever” then gradually fizzles out causes no tears.  But when a husband of twenty or thirty years spurns the wife of his youth in favor of a more youthful wife, the pain is unbearable.  A mother whose angry son has gone the way of the world and no longer wants anything to do with her feels like her heart has been ripped from her chest.  
    Consider the greatest of all loves–the love God has for His children.  Can we really adequately grasp the depth of God’s love?  Time and distance can douse friendships.  Unfaithfulness can kill marriages.  But nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38,39)!    Even when the children of Israel rejected Him and repeatedly committed spiritual adultery, God pleaded, “Return to Me” (Jeremiah 3:1).  God is the creator of man and the creator of love.  God IS love (1 John 4:16).  What immeasurable pain, then, God must experience when His children fall away!
    Hosea’s task was difficult and his message from God was an emotional one.  The faithfulness of the Israelites was described as “a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away” (Hosea 6:4 NKJV).  Hosea pleaded with the children of Israel to turn from idolatry by reminding them of the loyalty of God’s love.    God said He loved them from their youth, and He taught them to walk, “taking them by their arms.”  He “drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love,” and “stooped and fed them.”  God’s tender care for His people is very apparent, and so is His hurt as He declared, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.  Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.”  None at all?  To spiritually lose one child is detrimental enough.  How easy, then, to understand God’s grief as He cried out, “How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel?…My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred” (Hosea 11:1-8).
    “How can I give you up?”  So many read this passage and feel their chest tighten with sympathy.  They can completely relate to this question.  Concerning a wayward loved one, many have thought over and over, “How can I bear to let you go?”  Nothing is more grievous than having a loved one fall away from the Lord.  Losing someone in death is painful, but Christians can look forward to that happy reunion in Heaven.  Losing someone spiritually is overwhelmingly painful.   In addition to the severed relationship, there is the fear of losing a loved one eternally.  There is the loss of being able to pray, “Lord, come quickly,” for instead there is a panic that He might return and it be too late for the beloved prodigal.  
    The Father knows how we feel.  He understands.  We can turn to Him for guidance and help.  As much as we want to wring our hands, weep, and wring our hands some more, we know that is not healthy after an extended period of time.  The purpose of this book is to discuss how to cope when loved ones fall away.  At the end of each chapter is a “Faith in Action” activity.  Sometimes it helps just to have something tangible to do.  To get the reader started, and to build a foundation for this study, there is even a suggested activity here at the end of this introduction.  Also at the end of each chapter are some thoughts shared by individuals who have had a loved one fall away from the Lord.     
    “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24).

*Faith in Action-  Go through the first several chapters of the book of Jeremiah.  Underline in black (representing sin) phrases like “they have gone far from Me,” “backsliding,” “forsaken the Lord,” “transgressed against Me,” “rejected,” and “My people have forgotten Me.”  Then underline in red (representing God’s loyal love) every time God says, “return,” “return to Me,” or “amend your ways.”