The Greatest Circle

During worship on Sunday, 70-year-old Janice went forward to put on her Lord in baptism (Gal. 3:27).  As is our custom, we all gathered around into a large circle around the auditorium after worship.  This “welcome circle” is meant to represent Christians all over the world who have put on Christ and are now united.  It represents Janice’s new spiritual family who stands ready to support, encourage, and help her in any way we can.  We sang songs like “God is So Good” and “I’m Happy Today.”  One of our elders prayed for Janice, and then we each went up and hugged and welcomed our new sister into the Lord’s body.  Her shining face was truly a beautiful sight to behold.

But here’s what I really love about the welcome circle:

I love being able to look around and make eye contact with every member.  It’s a treat to be able to look at the faces around the circle and think about my relationship with them, how thankful I am for them, or what prayer needs they may have.

I love seeing the expressions on their faces.  No heart is untouched by a baptism.  Whether young or old, each face reflects emotion.  Everyone is smiling, and many are doing so through tears.  I imagine most of us are recalling the day we obeyed the gospel ourselves.

I love the sense of connection.  In an increasingly disconnected society, I’m especially grateful for the sweet tie that binds us together in Christ.  These relationships are real and everlasting.

I love the joy.  After the circle broke up, I looked around in every direction.  The building was filled with groups of people whose faces were bright.  There were no polite or half-hearted smiles, but genuine teeth-showing grins.  Our hearts were encouraged and our strength was renewed.  This happiness can’t be fabricated or bought or forced.  It’s simply the unique joy experienced by those who love God and love His people.

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).

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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. RhodesWhen 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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