A Place or A People?

By Janelle Pollard

“I’m going to church today.”

“Would you like to visit my church?”

“VBS meeting tonight at church!”

These are a few examples of the kinds of things many Christians (myself included) often say or have said when referring to the place that we worship. Well-meaning, and probably due to habit or for the sake of convenience, we can often be heard descibing “church” as the building in which we meet each week to fellowship with other Christians and worship God. But what is the accurate description of the church, according to the Bible?

The topic of “church” is mentioned throughout the New Testament. In Ephesians 5:25-26, the apostle Paul, inspired by God, writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,”

So does this mean the church is a place or a people? If we were to replace the word “church” with “building” or “place of meeting,” would it make sense? Let’s find out..

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the building and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

It wouldn’t make sense. So, why does this matter anyway? It matters because Jesus died on the cross and paid for the church with his own blood (Ephesians 5:25, “..as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” When we obey the gospel, we are added to the church, not by our own doing, but by God’s, which we read about in Acts 2 where Peter was preaching at Pentecost:.

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

When we become a Christian through faith and obedience, we are added by God to the one and only church.

Romans 12:5, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

Choosing to be a part of this family, the church, is the best decision you could make, and one that you will never regret. If you aren’t sure yet about this decision, but would like more information about the church, please reach out and we would love to answer any questions you might have!

Let’s Go for a Walk

By Chelsea Pollard

My husband and I have been trying to take advantage of the warm days by going for walks. We’ve enjoyed the breeze and the beautiful scenery around us!

There are several places in the New Testament where writers use walk/walking as a metaphor. It paints a clear picture of what our Christian lives should be like, which I find very helpful as a visual learner. We are told to walk in the light and to walk in love. Paul even describes life as a race (2 Timothy 4:7).

In the book of John, we see that Jesus is the Light: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it … The true light which gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1:4-9).

Jesus was there in the beginning, He created everything, and He is the light. Jesus lowered Himself to become human. He came to earth so He could give all humanity for the rest of time the choice to walk with Him.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

In 1 John 1:5-7, we see that God is light and there is no darkness in Him. We have to walk in the light as He is in the light if we’re going to be saved. If we choose to walk with Him, it’s a lifestyle change. It is a continuous walk. If you are trying to walk in the light, God’s got you covered. I love the walk metaphor because it reminds me that some days I just have to take it a step at a time. It can get really hard and you might not want to walk anymore, but God is with you every step of the way. Our Creator loves us and He wants us to succeed.

Ephesians 5:2 shows us that we need to walk in love, just like Jesus loves us and gave himself for us. This means we need to live a life filled with love. After all, we’re meant to be like Jesus. We need to reflect Him in our lives so we can bring other people to know Him. God is love, so that’s what we need to be.

In Romans 6, Paul tells us that once we’ve been immersed, we’ve died to sin. We have grace, but we need to be actively walking in the light to have that grace. Verse four says, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” All throughout Romans is an interesting contrast between life and death. We see death/sin on one side, and life with God on the other. Verse 11 says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

We have the chance to live a new life! So, let’s go for a walk.

The Pitcher Plant

By Janelle Pollard

My mother-in-law and my mom both have the greenest of thumbs. It seems they can look at any plant and tell me what it is, when and how it grows best, and its favorite places to shop. I, on the other hand, do not have this talent. However, I have always found nature documentaries fascinating.

While all plants are truly incredible in their own way, one plant that is especially interesting is the Pitcher plant. This sly specimen has a way of attracting insects to its sugary sweet upper rim. The insect, while enjoying this tasty treat, has just unknowingly become a victim of a cleverly designed trap that will lead to its own demise. Once the insect has landed on the upper rim, it will become stuck, unable to fly away. Eventually, it will fall deeper into the “pitcher” area of the plant and will ultimately drown in the plant’s digestive fluids.

While the circle of life can seem sad at times, it also offers us an important lesson, if we are willing to listen and learn from it. Just like the insect, we as humans can be enticed by certain things in life. Some of these things may be sinful and some may not be. However, if we let them take over our lives, they can lead to sin and death.

I don’t know how much forethought the average insect has, but I doubt that before flying onto the upper rim of a pitcher plant, it knew it would be its final flight. But once it landed, the sticky sweetness had taken hold and it was too late to for the insect to change its mind. Sometimes, we think we are in control and if we do something we shouldn’t “just once,” it won’t become a problem.

It doesn’t seem like someone stuggling with alcoholism or drug addiction made their first choice to partake while also thinking, “if I play my cards right, soon I’ll be a full-blown addict!” I don’t think anyone who develops a sin problem, whatever sin it may be, started out by thinking that one day it would become what it has. That’s the trap of sin.

Something may seem harmless at first, but once we start, our brain has developed new pathways and soon, we will be enticed more and more. We would all be wise to learn from the trap of the pitcher plant. If there is something we aren’t sure, or even know we shouldn’t do, we should be more wise and insightful that the victims of the pitcher plant and fly far far away!

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
(James 1:14-15)

pitcher plant about to trap an insect
Image credit: the NY Times

The God of Peace

By Janelle Pollard

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that we are living in a sliiightly stressful world these days. This may or may not be a good thing, but I hardly ever watch the news. In fact, if it weren’t for some of our friends at church, I would not have known about the last two tornados that were in the area recently or the snow storms that we have experienced over the past couple of months. But now that I know I can count on them for the weather, I really see no need to start! Next, I’ll slowly delete my social media accounts (where the news still seems to be loud and clear) and then happily retreat into my own little hermit world where the sad, scary, and anxiety-provoking headlines can’t find me. Now, I realize this isn’t really the answer, but sometimes it sounds like a good idea. Did you know that, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, over 50 million Americans report dealing with anxiety? I don’t know how accurate that number is, but I do know that 50 million is a really big number.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” If I had to describe that in my own non-dictionary words, I would simply say “a lack of peace.” For many, peace can seem so elusive sometimes. Now, I understand that some people suffer from clinical anxiety due to chemical imbalances and things outside of their control. This is not an attempt to cause guilt or shame to those people. However, some of us create these feelings of unease in our own lives when we simply don’t have to.

In Philippians 4, we read about the God of peace:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

The Cliff Notes of this text:

1. We are given the following command: ”Do not be anxious about anything.”

God doesn’t just leave us hanging, but is offering us help. Christians have the incredible blessing of belonging to a God at whose feet we can lay our greatest (and smallest) problems. And not as a burden to Him, but by His own command because that’s how much He loves us.

2. If you have known the peace of God, then you know that it truly does surpass all understanding. The verse says, that if we will let our requests be made known to Him, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” What a priceless blessing!

3. We are given practical instructions on how to avoid unnecessary anxiety. Here are the things we should think about:

Anything:

  1. True
  2. Honorable
  3. Just
  4. Pure
  5. Lovely
  6. Commendable
  7. Excellent
  8. Worthy of praise

Eight things we are given in this verse to fill our minds with. We should elevate our thoughts to a higher, holier mindset by constantly focusing on these types of things. The “Elevated Eight,” we shall call them. If we watch movies and shows filled with bad language, violence, and obscenities, or listen to music and podcasts centered around worldly topics, we can’t expect to have thoughts based on the “Elevated Eight.”

4. At the end of this verse, Paul and Timothy give us one last piece of advice: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” We must take action and put these things into practice. They have given us great examples in their own lives and we would be wise to learn from them. If we just twiddle our thumbs and cross our fingers, while hoping to find peace, we will be greatly disappointed. We are not told that the God of peace will be with us by sitting idly by. However, we are promised that if we practice these things, then He will. And we may not be perfect at it at first, but as we’ve surely learned throughout life so far, practice makes perfect! 

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics

Managing Stress And Anxiety

By Kathy Pollard

I wish I could title this post, “Getting Rid of Stress And Anxiety,” but I don’t think that’s very realistic.  With the exception of perhaps childhood, each new phase in life presents its own unique set of challenges.  Maybe you find yourself in one of the following situations:

  • New marriage, new baby, new home, new work.  While these are exciting and wonderful, they also call for stamina and courage and wisdom.
  • Long-term care of an aging parent.  In addition to the physical exhaustion is the emotional turmoil of seeing your loved one suffer.
  • School/ work load.  I know some students right now who are being stretched in more ways than they ever expected.  Perhaps you’re in the midst of a project or job requirement that’s been going on for so long you can’t remember your last decent night of sleep.
  • Poor health.  After months or years of battling whatever is attacking your body, you wonder if you’ll ever simply feel good.
  • Financial worries.  Finding a job, paying your bills, wondering about retirement, health care…whether you’ve accumulated a mound of debt or you just long for financial security, money can be a very real and daily stressor.
  • Rocky relationships.  Perhaps your marriage is just barely hanging on.  Or you’re worried about your grown-up children or a spiritually wayward relative.  The people we love most can be a source of great anxiety.

Sometimes stress is temporary and we know it.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we’re just trying to get through it.  Sometimes stress is ever-present and overwhelming, and we find ourselves trying to survive one day at a time.  Whichever we find ourselves facing, there are a few simple, proactive ways to manage stress and anxiety.

1.  PRAY

Prayer is probably the first reaction when something causes stress, and I don’t think God resents that.  We find many passages reminding us to turn to God in our distress.  We’re told to cast ALL of our cares on Him (1 Pet. 5:7).  Prayer brings peace in the midst of anxiety (Phil. 4:6,7).  When stress is long-term, our prayers can fade or turn sporadic.  A renewed desire for God’s listening ear can go far in calming anxieties.

2.  MEDITATE

I’m not encouraging “getting your Zen on, man,” but rather committing to quality time in Bible study.  I like the quote I ran across the other day– “Meditation is not an emptying of one’s mind, like some religions teach, but a filling of our minds with the truths of God’s Word” (Jen Thorn).  The Scriptures are powerful (Heb. 4:12) and strength-giving (Eph. 6:10-17).  Neglecting this crucial practice only exacerbates stress and anxiety.

3.  BOOST YOUR HEALTH

It’s common knowledge that long-term stress takes a toll on our health.  Is there an area of your physical well-being that’s taking a harder hit?  See if you could make some small changes for overall well-being:

  • Exercise.  It strengthens the heart, clears mind clutter, and boosts stamina and self-esteem.  Take a walk in the morning and try yoga at night.  No one ever regrets making time to get the blood flowing.
  • Water.  The benefits are endless.  How easy it is to replace empty calorie drinks with water.  Add lemon for even more vibrancy.
  • Sleep.  Who hasn’t been robbed of some zzz’s?  Sleep is essential for mental clarity and emotional stability.  Young moms, get over your guilt and take a nap in the middle of the day when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Cleaner eating.  Bad food equals yucky mood.  Studies are now linking a healthy gut to an overall sense of well-being.  The last thing we need when anxiety is churning in our gut is to add processed foods or sugar to the mix.  Seriously, while it may not be fun to talk about, better eating choices are important when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety.

4.  UNPLUG

We are attached to our devices, aren’t we?  They’re everywhere and in every room.  Unplugging for a while each day will allow us to focus on those around us, re-appreciate moments of quietness, and even remove some additional anxiety (unpleasant posts on social media, disturbing news, etc.).  It’s good to give our eyes a break from any kind of screen.  Unplug and listen for natural sounds instead like the wind blowing, leaves rustling, birds chirping.

5.  UNCLUTTER

Speaking of devices…we can remove some from our sleeping space for a more peaceful and relaxing environment.  Clearing counter tops of paper stacks and junk also helps clear our minds.  Taking the time and trouble to make the bed and straighten up makes it easier to drift off to sleep later.  Messy rooms add to a feeling of anxiety.

6.  UNWIND

Yes, we could probably use that half hour to cross an item off the to-do list, but sometimes the wiser choice would be to intentionally unwind.  Don’t think of a soak in the tub as a luxury but as a way of promoting peace and health.  Discover the calming benefits of chamomile tea.  You might have to develop a taste for it, but consider it an all-natural anti-anxiety medicine.  Light a candle, rub your feet with lotion, and take deep breaths.  Even a few minutes of slowing down makes a big difference in a trying day.

7.  LAUGH

Laughing relieves stress, lifts the mood, and burns calories!  Have you laughed today?

8.  LOVE

Looking for tangible ways to show our love for others will ultimately lead to our own happiness.  Giving feels good.  It allows us to step outside of our cares and focus on bringing joy to others.  In the midst of your crazy schedule, do something even crazier like adding in a visit to a shut-in or making a homemade, unexpected surprise for someone.

Hopefully these ideas for managing stress haven’t added even more stress.  You might be thinking, Who has time for any of THAT?!  Some of the tips can be combined, like sipping tea while studying the Bible.  Or praying while going for a walk.  It’s probably unrealistic to try to hit all 8 tips every single day, but we can be more intentional in handling our anxieties.  It will be good for us and for those around us.  God has given us many ways to combat stress.  We could even add singing, looking for beauty, and counting our blessings.  What tips do you have?

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19).

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Wait for the Lord–a Bible-marking topic

By Kathy Pollard

Waiting is hard.  When you’re diligently praying for something and hoping for a quick answer, a delay can be a difficult and trying time.

-Waiting for test results

-Waiting for a Christian mate

-Waiting for a job change

-Waiting for wrongs to be made right

-Waiting for clarification/ answers/ knowing what to do

-Waiting for a heavy burden to be lifted

The advice given is usually something like:  Be patient.  Don’t run ahead of God.  You can trust Him.  He knows what’s best.  But when it’s been a long wait, you just sigh and say, “I know.”  And tap your foot.

This Bible-marking topic is for those times when you’re tired of waiting, and perhaps beginning to wonder if God even hears your prayers.  Be encouraged, friend.  God anticipated those moments and He has words for your heart.  

As you soak in the following Scriptures, keep in mind what the word “wait” means.  It does mean to be patient.  But it also includes an anticipation, a looking forward to something arriving or occurring.  It means to wait in place with expectation.  So the advice you’ve been given is biblical.  Don’t run ahead of God.  But also, don’t give up hope while you’re waiting.  In the front of your Bible, write:

Wait for the Lord- Psa. 25

None of those who wait for You will be ashamed

Read through the entire psalm.  Circle all three occurrences of “wait for You/ wait” (v. 3,5,21).  Notice what David is asking for while he waits (v. 4-7) and what he is doing while he waits (v. 15).  Now go through and underline the qualities of God.  At the end of the psalm, write 27:14.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

This is another beautiful psalm written by David.  It shows his utter dependence upon God and his refusal to give up (v. 13).  Circle both occurrences of “wait for the Lord.”  Underline “be strong” and “take courage.”  Strengthen your soul with prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship.  God doesn’t want you to be discouraged.  He wants your heart to be filled with courage.  In the margin, write “(see also 31:24).” At the end of the verse, write 33:13-22.

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.

Circle “waits for the Lord” (v.20).  Draw a square around “hope” (v. 18, 22).  “Hope” in these verses means “to wait, to hope for.”  In the margin next to “hope,” write “to wait.” Underline the phrases that show God still sees and cares:  “the Lord looks” (v. 13), “He sees” (v. 13), “He looks” (v. 14), “He who understands” (v. 15), and “the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him” (v. 18).  Squiggly underline “our heart rejoices…because we trust” (v. 21).  At the end of the psalm, write 40:1-3.

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.

Circle “waited patiently for the Lord” (v. 1).  Underline what God did for David (“He inclined,” “heard my cry,” “brought me up,” etc.).  Squiggly underline “many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.”  In the margin next to that, write “Others are watching.”  When we wait patiently for the Lord, we are living out our faith and teaching others to trust in God!  At the end of the verse three, write 62:5-8.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.

Circle “wait in silence for God.”  Why do we wait for God only?  Draw squares around what He is:  “my hope” (v. 5), “my rock,” “my salvation,” “my stronghold” (v. 6), “my salvation,” “my glory,” “my strength,” “my refuge” (v 7).  Underline all of verse eight.  At the end of the verse, write 130:5.

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His Word do I hope.

Circle “wait for the Lord” and “wait.”  Underline “in His Word do I hope.”  What better way to spend waiting time than in drawing hope from the Word?  At the end of the verse, write Prov. 20:22.

Do not say, “I will repay evil;” wait for the Lord, and He will save you.

Circle “wait for the Lord.”  Underline “He will save you.”  Remember, He sees everything and knows all the details.  Don’t take matters into your own hands.  Wait for God to make it all right in the end.  At the end of the verse, write Isa. 40:31.

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Circle “wait for the Lord.”  Underline all the beautiful promises for those who wait:  “gain new strength,” “mount up with wings,” “run and not get tired,” and “walk and not become weary.”  At the end of the verse, write Lam. 3:25.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

Circle “wait for Him.”  Underline “the Lord is good.”  Notice what God wants us to do while we are waiting for Him.  At the end of the verse, write Micah 7:7.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.

Circle “wait for the God.”  Underline “my God will hear me.”  Blessed assurance! At the end of the verse, write Isa. 30:18.

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.

I know we’re backtracking but I wanted to end on this wonderful thought:  God waits for you, too!  Circle “He waits.”  Draw a square around “longs” and “long” and in the margin next to it write, “literally means ‘waits’.”  God waits for His people to trust in Him so He can bless them.  Remember His grace and compassion.  Remember His desire to take care of you.  

While you’re praying, “Please, God,” keep acting in ways that please God.  May the Lord bless you as you wait for Him. 

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Lessons Learned in the ICU

Disclaimer:  I certainly recognize that many others have gone through more serious, long-term stays in hospitals.  These are just a few thoughts from my own personal experiences this week.  

Our oldest son, Gary, went to the ER with respiratory distress early Monday morning.  He was admitted to the ICU, sedated and paralyzed, and put on a ventilator.  My husband and I hopped on a plane and have been with him ever since.  While I wish Gary and his sweet wife, Chelsea, didn’t have to go through this, there are several reasons I feel blessed to have been here this week:

  • God’s Family has no geographical borders.  Our home is in Colorado.  Our son’s home is in Alabama.  We have been welcomed and helped by Christians here just as if we were one of their own.
  • Christians are second-milers.  Oh man, I don’t have enough word-count to share every kindness that’s been extended to us.  We’ve had visits and messages of encouragement.  We’ve been brought snacks, homemade bread, blankets, parking tokens, meals, a gift certificate to a restaurant that delivers to the hospital, a vehicle to borrow, and magazines.  We’ve only slept in the waiting room one night because of the generosity and thoughtfulness of friends and local churches.  The kindnesses just keep coming!
  • Every prayer matters.  Within a couple of hours of our first morning here, we had four different area preachers come by and pray with us in the ICU.  Through the years Neal and I have circled up with folks for a prayer around a patient’s bed.  I never really knew how courage-bolstering that could be.  So many others have let us know they are praying.  Every single time, we feel comforted and grateful.
  • Things get put into perspective.  The world goes on outside these hospital walls but in here it feels like time stands still.  We are mostly focused on life, faith, and family.    Questions rise to the surface:  Does Gary know how much I love him and how proud  he makes me?  Do our Christian friends know how acutely we feel their concern and how much it means to us?  Through it all, we’ve been praying and contemplating.
  • Love is greater than fear.  It seems like every time my heart begins to worry, some kind gesture or word comes our way.  We are really seeing the Light this week.  Its warmth covers our cares.
  • Inside beauty is invaluable.  Oh, our sweet Chelsea.  She has helped Gary through things that weak stomachs won’t want to read about.  She works long hours and sleeps short nights in a hospital room but has yet to complain about a single thing.  Just now Gary asked her, “How are you holding up?”  She answered, “I’m fine, Hon.  You don’t have to worry about me!”  She is a cutie pie but more than that, her inner beauty has been a blessing to us all.  She is a worthy woman and we thank God for her.
  • Progress is worth celebrating.  Every little step on the road recovery causes rejoicing.  From big things (like coming off the ventilator) to little things (like sitting up for the first time), we smile and hug each other as we witness evidence of improvement.  I was never so excited to walk in and see someone eating applesauce.  When we share these good bits with others and they rejoice with us, it makes us smile all over again.  Consider how much more important spiritual progress is for new babes in Christ or for those making their way back from waywardness.  Every small step is a victory.  If we celebrate with them it can only encourage them to keep trying.
  • God is so good!

I was going to include a point about vanity.  It doesn’t matter that I only had five minutes to pack and left behind hair products and other beauty essentials (um, like tweezers).  Our first visitor was an old college friend we haven’t seen in over 26 years.  We’ve been meeting people for the first time and reuniting with family members this week.  I’m wearing sweats and have my hair pulled back in a ponytail.  I was going to include that point about vanity, but I do care.  I wish I looked better.  Ah well, I haven’t learned everything in the ICU.

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The Romans 12 “Do’s & Don’ts” List for Social Media

Social media is pretty great.  Apparently a lot of people think so since literally billions of people use it.  I love staying connected with long-distance friends and family, seeing what God is doing the world over, and laughing out loud over a hilarious meme.  It’s wonderful being able to post a prayer request or read an encouraging status.

But social media can also be misused.  Wasting time, ranting, sowing discord, getting involved in an ungodly relationship, or promoting self are a few examples of being a poor influence through our activities on social media.  Chris Pirillo said, “Twitter is a great place to tell the world what you’re thinking before you’ve had a chance to think about it.” Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).  Which category will our posts and messages fall into?  Justified or condemned?

The following list is from Romans 12.  It seems perfect for making sure our social media activity stays good and Christlike!

  • Don’t be conformed to this world- v. 2
  • Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought- v. 3
  • Show mercy with cheerfulness- v. 8
  • Be loving- v. 9
  • Avoid all evil and promote good- v. 9
  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love- v. 10
  • Give preference to one another in honor- v. 10
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints- v. 13
  • Bless those who persecute you- v. 14
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep- v. 15
  • Don’t be haughty- v. 16
  • Associate with the lowly- v. 16
  • Don’t be wise in your own estimation- v. 16
  • Never pay back evil for evil- v. 17
  • Respect what is right in the sight of all men- v. 17
  • As much as possible, live at peace with all men- v. 18
  • Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good- v. 21

“Don’t use social media to impress people; use it to impact people” (Dave Willis).

social-media-and-marketing
Image credit: WordStream

 

God Will Be by Your Side, and I’ll Be on Your Other Side

Every now and then I get caught up in the what-if’s.  This afternoon was just such an occasion.  I was worrying about something to the point that Neal asked me what was wrong.  I unloaded my fears.  “What if this happens….what if this doesn’t happen…?” Neal listened and reminded me that God is in control.  I said, “I know but what if…..?”  And I proceeded to try to get him to understand all my reasons for being concerned.  He finally said,

“Even if the very worst scenario happens, God will be by your side and I’ll be on your other side.”

Okay, that was powerful.  How comforting to know that, no matter what, God will never leave me and neither will my husband.  That truth helped me take a deep breath and let go of the useless worrying.  I thank God for His promise to always be with me (Heb. 13:5).  I thank God for Neal’s wisdom and his commitment to caring for me.  I know that next time my “anxieties multiply within me” (Psa. 94:19), I will recall the peace-giving image of God and Neal flanking either side of me.

I wonder how many others need those words said to them?  I can think of individuals I know who are hurting and could probably use the reminder that they’re not alone.  May I never get so caught up in my own little world that I neglect to comfort those around me.        That’s part of the purpose of the church, right (Heb. 10:24-25)?  I love knowing that I could go to another Christian with my fears or failures and be reminded of God’s faithfulness and their love.  May I ever strive to be that Christian for others, too.  I may not be able to solve problems or make the pain go away, but I can certainly hug more, pray more, and remind more that “God will be by your side and I’ll be on your other side.”

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another…1 Pet. 4:8.

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You Can Always Come Home

HOME SWEET HOME.  Those three simple words engage the senses.  They conjure up images of loved ones, the home place, your childhood tree swing.  Perhaps you associate it with the smell of apple pie, your favorite birthday meal, or your mother’s perfume.  Or maybe you can close your eyes and hear your father whistling while he’s working on the car.  We want to fill our own homes with that same sense of belonging and rightness, so we intentionally create good memories for our own families:  laughter around the dinner table, nightly devotionals, loving touches, and sweet traditions.  Home is synonymous with comfort and security.  When we’re away from it, we long for it.  Not every earthly home is ideal, but many would agree that “there’s no place like home.”

Thank God for the home He provides for His family!  He must want us to enjoy that same sense of love and security because He gives us a home to enjoy now and one to look forward to in eternity.  When I close my eyes and think of my church family, I can’t help but recall warm hugs, precious memories, dear songs, and loving support.  No matter where we live, we have a home made up of Christian family.  What a blessing!  I can’t imagine trying to get through this life without it.  Jesus promises a heavenly home with our Father (John 14:1-3).  This one will be big enough to accommodate all of our loved ones.  There will be no goodbyes or sad memories (Rev. 21:3-4).  It will be the ultimate Home Sweet Home.

As dear as home is, some choose to walk away from it.  Whatever the reason for it (indifference, rebellion, sin), the absence is keenly felt by the Father and family.  I ran across a song recently called, “You Can Always Come Home.”  It is based on the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  In that passage, Jesus tells a parable of a young man who chose to leave home to experience the world.  He lived wildly and recklessly.  He cared not for his reputation or his family name.  But his new lifestyle brought no satisfaction.  The thrill was short-lived as he found himself broken and alone.  That’s when he thought of home and his wayward heart longed to return.   This passage never gets old for me.  My breath catches every time I read of his father running to meet him.  His father didn’t say, “You made your bed; now you have to lie in it.”  He didn’t say, “What do you have to say for yourself?!”  He most certainly didn’t say, “I don’t know you,” or “You’re no son of mine.”  Instead, every action on his part said, “Welcome home, my son.

I have loved ones who have wandered away.   I pray they will long for home and make the journey back, regardless of time or distance.  As the song pleads, “Remember, you can always come home.”

My own heart has struggled with seasons of waywardness.  May I always be drawn to the real love and security offered by my Father.  May HOME remain my favorite place to be.

 

 

 

 

 

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