It’s Not About Me

By Chelsea Pollard

We don’t like hearing this, do we? I certainly don’t. Living in an individualistic world, I often find myself only thinking about, well, me. “I just want to be happy.” “I want to do what I want to do.” “This is inconvenient for me.” Occasionally, I have to be mindful of the fact that it’s not about me.

My husband, Gary, was preaching this past Sunday on 1 Peter 4:7ff. I’d like to share some thoughts on the topic of suffering for a purpose.

The end of all things is near” (v. 7). Our lives are very short (James 4:14), which is why Peter gave us commands for how we are to respond when coming under fire for our faith. We are to be alert and of sober mind. This means we need to be rational instead of reactionary. When we come under fire for our faith, it’s easier to stoop to their level. If someone is being ugly towards you, it’s easy to be ugly back. As Christians, we need to be calm when dealing with persecution, so that we may pray. This is essential in order for our prayers to be heard by God.

Above all, love each other deeply” (v. 8). He is emphasizing how important our love for one another is. When we are dealing with persecution, we need to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and rely on them. Having a strong and supportive church family can make all of the difference for a Christian who is just going through it, whether they are under fire from family, friends, or coworkers.

Offer hospitality and use your gifts to serve others (v. 9-10).  If you can use your words to help others, do so. If you can serve others, do so. Don’t hold back for your family!

So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (v. 11).  It’s not about me. It’s about Him! It’s about loving and serving your Christian family so that God may be praised in all things.

Chelsea lives in Bowling Green, KY, with her husband, Gary, and her dog, Bear. Chelsea and Gary have been married for five years (woo!) and Bear was rescued from a swamp. Chelsea works at Western Kentucky Heart and Lung. She enjoys quiet nights in with her husband and playing all the card/ board games she can with family, even if she loses (sometimes).

A Recipe for Helpfulness

By Emily Moore

Have you ever tasted something so delicious that you try recreating it yourself? The problem is, if can’t find a recipe, there is no way of knowing exactly what the dish needs. Thankfully, God gives us recipes when it comes to helping others. Paul’s first letter to Thessalonica is filled with practical instruction about helping other Christians in their walk. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul provides a key ingredient to helping the church: give each person what they need. Each person is different, but it’s easy to fall into the habit of generic outreach. We develop these blanket statements for whatever need arises such as, “praying for you,” “let me know if you need anything,” etc. There is nothing wrong with these phrases, but we have to make sure they are specific to the person’s need. Prayer is for every situation, and people need to know you’re there for them. However, our outreach is more effective if we tailor it to the individual’s circumstances. The hardest part about this task is figuring out exactly what the need is. Three things will help you determine a struggling Christian’s personal need. 

#1 Watch…In our fast-paced society, it’s easy for others’ lives to become a blur as we fly through our own. Next time you are at worship, a fellowship gathering, work, or anywhere else in the world, step outside of yourself and be on the lookout for those who seem down, stressed, or lonely. Noticing external cues is a major part of picking up on opportunities to help. 

#2 Ask…Too often, we fail to directly ask people about specific challenges and how we can help. In 1 Thess. 5:14, Paul mentions specific groups: “the idle,” “the fainthearted,” and “the weak.” Spiritual weakness or faintheartedness can be masked by a smile or humor, and many people are reluctant to express need for fear of seeming selfish or weak. We all need help pushing past spiritual plateaus or discouragement. Think about how much stronger others or you would be if someone asked to carry the burden too. Asking others about their struggles takes courage, but think about how much courage you’re challenging them to have by confiding in you. Ask people to share their trials with you! It will help you as much as it helps them.

#3 Listen…It’s a simple concept, yet so hard to do consistently. Take a lesson from God’s example. He gave us numerous verses on prayer. Our Father wants us to tell Him everything we are going through, grateful for, happy about…He wants to hear it ALL. Notice how many of those verses mention Him hearing us. He listens, and so should we. People should know they can come to us (His people) when they need help. Whether someone comes to you on their own or you ask them to share their life with you, listen. This act alone is a ministry!

These principles should be applied not just to Christians but to any and everyone who needs help. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone…” (Gal. 6:10). Love and the good news of the gospel are two needs that apply to EVERYONE. Watch for those in need; ask them about it and listen for ways to help.

Alive After the Suffering!

By Kathy Pollard

Luke opens the book of Acts with a bang as he presents Jesus as the risen Savior. It makes me think of the words of an old hymn, “He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!” How thrilling it must’ve been for Luke to pen the words, “He…presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3)! The reactions of Jesus’ followers are recorded for us to enjoy. Some women and His disciples show amazement and joy. Thomas needed a little more convincing but ultimately believed. Jesus’ comeback made an impact.

2020 was a year like no other. We try to focus on the blessings, but there is no doubt there were plenty of challenges. Many endured the loss of loved ones, financial ruin, relationship strain, or physical distress. It was rough. How did Christians hold up? How did the world see us? Maybe we could’ve done better, I don’t know. But I do know that opportunity awaits! Our neighbors, friends, and co-workers are still watching and, like Jesus, we can show them that we are “alive after [our] suffering.” The text says that Jesus used “many convincing proofs.” While we can’t read hearts or perform miracles like He did, we most certainly can follow His example. Notice two “proofs” He did that we can do, too:

“Appearing to them over a period of forty days…” Jesus went out among the people. He sought out His disciples. He appeared to crowds. He spoke with individuals. After His great suffering, He didn’t stay away. He didn’t barricade Himself in the safety zone of heaven. He went out among weak humanity, including those who let Him down. This challenges me! With the political turmoil, worldly agenda, fear and suspicion, it’s tempting to hole up somewhere safe until things die down. But so many around us are suffering in the worst way, trying to live without Jesus and navigating the darkness on their own. They need to see the risen Savior and the only way to do that is for His people to put in an appearance. Perhaps on this first day of the year, there are those who are ready for something new and whose hearts are open to change. It’s exciting to think we have this fresh open door of opportunity to show Jesus to our community!

“Speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God…” Jesus went out among the people and made the most of those encounters by giving them hope. He met two individuals on a roadside and “explained to them the things concerning Himself and the Scriptures.” He touched their hearts and they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And then they “got up that very hour” and went on to tell others, “the Lord has really risen” (Luke 24:13-35)! Jesus opened their eyes (v. 31) and helped them see that He truly was alive after the suffering.

Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be a better Bible student by committing to daily Bible reading or participating in a Scripture writing plan. An easy way to “speak the things concerning the kingdom of God” is to determine to verbally share something you read that day. Did something strengthen you in your reading? Did a phrase intrigue you? Were you challenged to do better or make a change? Whatever it is, look for a way to share it with someone, every single day. It could be as simple as saying, “That reminds me of something I read just this morning…” What will you be doing? Offering hope. Leaving people better than you found them. Helping others see Jesus.

This can be a great year for Christ. Let’s get out there, encounter the people, and speak of the only things that are real and lasting. A simple phrase here, a little thought there, a post about the Bible…let’s show the world that Christians are ALIVE after 2020.

Four Faithful Friends

Text: Mark 2:1-12

I love the story of the four men who carried a paralytic to Jesus. The crowd was so thick around Jesus that they were “unable to get to Him.” They went up to the roof, dug an opening, and let down the pallet to where Jesus was. Jesus was moved by their faith and healed the paralytic. This account is shared in three of the gospels but none of them mention the relationship between the four men and the paralytic. Were they related or just good friends? When reading this text, I tend to focus on how we should be willing to go to great lengths to get people to Jesus. I recently realized, though, that theirs isn’t the only example we should follow. Equally important is the fact that the paralytic was willing to let others help him.

Consider this account from the paralytic’s viewpoint. He must’ve felt such hope and anticipation when those four men offered to carry him to Jesus for healing. I imagine he also felt a moment of discouragement when he saw the crowd. Apparently no one made way for him to get through. But his friends were determined. What was going through his mind as they started lowering him down through that hole in the roof? Was his heart pounding? Did he think his friends had lost their minds? At the very least, it had to have been an uncomfortable situation, maybe filled with some anxiety.

Sometimes we need to ask for help.

Pride, discomfort, embarrassment, awkwardness…we can allow any number of things keep us from seeking help. But what’s a little discomfort if it will bring us closer to Christ? If I am struggling with something that is overwhelming me, I need to ask for help. If my heart feels disengaged but I can’t quite figure out why, I should find someone who can help me.

Sometimes we need to be humble enough to accept unsolicited help.

We may not even realize we need help. What if there’s something in my life pulling me away from Jesus and I’m not even aware of it? I will need help seeing it. I will need someone to point it out. Faithful friends will gently show me I’ve developed a bad attitude or a complaining spirit. Or they may need to mention some decisions of mine that show I’ve become self-absorbed or worldly. I might not realize that I’ve come dangerously close to compromising my faith or that I’m playing with fire. A good friend will remind me to do a heart check and will ask me if I’ve welcomed sin into my life.

We need others to care enough to be honest with us. There’s a time for building up and encouraging but there’s also a time for loving rebuke (Prov. 28:23). Then we need to be humble enough to accept it, without making excuses or getting defensive or being sensitive. We need to accept it with gratitude.

It took four friends and Jesus to help the paralytic. There’s no shame in letting others in. That’s what the church is for. That’s what family is for. Surround yourself with people who love the Lord and make it easier for you to stay close to Him. The beauty of it is that it can influence others for good, too. Notice what happened when the paralytic allowed people to help him:

“He got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this'” (v. 12).

Thankful for good people in our lives! (photo credit: John Moore)

What Friendliness Looks Like

Warm.  Friendly.  Welcoming.  These are the words we hope visitors can use to describe our church family.  We discuss ways to accomplish this, like stationing greeters at each door or creating a “Welcome Center.”  A few months ago Neal and I moved to a new state to worship with a new congregation full of new faces.  We’ve been welcomed with invitations to lunch and housewarming gifts.  But one young lady really stands out in our minds.  Her name is Sydney Elkin and she has managed to make even the auditorium feel warm.  So here are some things I’ve learned from a 9-year-old on how to be friendly:

Seek Out the New Faces

Not long after we moved, I was sitting in a pew by myself near the front of the auditorium.  A sweet girl walked up to me and smiled.  She looked me in the eyes and said, “I just wanted to come talk to you.”  I couldn’t help but smile back and say, “Oh!  Well, thank you!”  We chatted for a minute or two.  When she left, I kept smiling.

How simple was that? I’ve since learned that Sydney and her family sit in the back half of the auditorium.  She made the decision to walk all the way up to where I was and meet me.  The introvert in me is really impressed with her bravery!  Sydney’s not a “greeter” but she knows how to greet.  I learned from her how impactful it is to go out of your way to talk to someone.  Instead of just saying hello to those we come across as we make our way to our pews, we can take a few minutes to seek out visitors or anyone sitting alone.  They will definitely feel welcomed by someone who walks over to them with a warm smile and a handshake.

Get Other Members Involved

A couple of weeks ago after a worship service I was standing in the aisle chatting with a few people.  Sydney walked up to me with four other young ladies and said, “We just wanted to come talk to you!”  I laughed in delight and said, “You did?”  Sydney led the conversation by asking questions like, “What are your plans for tomorrow?”  I had the sweetest time with those five girls as they stood in a little arch around me for several minutes.  I still felt the warmth as I told Neal about it on the way home.

Aside from the fact that Sydney is obviously a remarkable young lady, what a wonderful thing to do!  All four of those other girls are equally sweet but may not have been comfortable going to talk to someone on their own.  Sydney encouraged them to join her and I benefited from it.  It’s such a good idea.  When we see a visitor, a loner, a shy person, a teen, or a widow, we can round up a couple of folks and say, “Let’s go say ‘hi’!” It will certainly make anyone feel special but it will also help the members being pulled in.  It will gradually create a culture of congregational warmth and friendliness.

Add a Thoughtful Gesture

This past Sunday morning, Sydney walked up to Neal and me and handed us an envelope.  It contained a handwritten note with some sweet compliments.  She also wrote, “I would love to help you with anything I could.”  Have I mentioned she’s NINE years old?  Our hearts melted.

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Sydney knows the meaning of follow-through.  She keeps thinking of ways to engage us and make us feel welcome.  Now we have a colorful note that will make us smile every time we see it.  All it took was a little time from a thoughtful soul.  A local jam or muffins, some wildflowers from your yard, or even a cute sticker (why not?)…there are many creative, tangible ways to bring a smile.  It’s a second-mile gesture that sends a big message:  You’re special.  You’re thought of.  We’re glad you’re here.

I’ve learned a lot about friendliness from Sydney.  Nothing she did felt awkward or scripted or forced.  Her enthusiasm didn’t come across in an overwhelming way.  She just shared her sweet self in a natural way.  It was genuine and just right.  I’ve started praying that I will be more like Sydney.  Thank you, God, for this mighty example from a tender heart!

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Look at that smile!

 

 

 

How Long has it Been?

By Kathy Pollard

What is it about the holidays that feels so bittersweet?  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” And yet, if you’ve lived long enough, this time of year can be a little hard on your heart.  If you are missing loved ones, the sentimental tunes on the radio flood you with precious memories.  If you have strained relationships with family members, you’re thinking back to happier times before whatever-it-is happened.  If you’ve experienced a big change in your life, you find yourself longing for the way things used to be.  Whatever it is, sometimes this time of year can give you a bit of the blues.  I know you’re doing your best anyway to make others happy.  That’s the right thing to do, and focusing on others always bring real joy (Phil. 2:1-4).  Keep up the good work!  But here’s a little something for you…a gift from God, if you will, from His heart to yours.

“How long has it been since you talked with the Lord
And told Him your heart’s hidden secrets?
How long since you prayed,
How long since you stayed on your knees ’til the light shone through?
How long has it been since your mind felt at ease,
How long since your heart knew no burden?
Can you call Him your Friend, how long has it been
Since you knew that He cares for you?

How long has it been since you knelt by your bed
And prayed to the Lord up in heaven?
How long since you knew that He’d answer you,  and would
Keep you the long night through?
How long has it been since you woke with the dawn
And felt that the day’s worth the living?
Can you call Him your Friend, how long has it been
Since you knew that He cares for you?”

(Mosie Lister)

We sang this in worship last Sunday and the words have been with me all week.  No matter the loss, burden, or regrets, it is enough that He cares.  It is more than enough that He cares!  Think about that when you’re feeling a little lonely.  The One who knows what you’ve been through and what you’re going through is still with you, and that is something that will never change.  How long has it been since you (really) knew that He cares for you?  Let this truth strengthen every smile you offer this season.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us

(1 John 4:16)

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That Perfect Married Couple

By Kathy Pollard

Do you know that perfect married couple?  They look happy together.  They’re always holding hands and seem to have it all figured out.  People look to them for advice.  They’re the hashtag-relationship-goals of social media.  I could name some couples that fall into this category for me.  I’m grateful for their example of marital bliss, and their PDA posts make me smile.

Neal and I are not that perfect married couple.  A superficial glimpse might make it appear that we are.  We do hold hands.  We do say nice things to and about each other on social media.  We’ve been asked to teach the occasional marriage seminar.  And so every now and then someone will remark on our relationship as being “exemplary” or some other thoughtful description.  I thank them because I appreciate their kindness but inwardly I cringe and think, “Far from it.”  We agree to teach about marriage because we can study what God’s Word has to say about it.  After nearly 27 years together, we can share some lessons we’ve learned from experience (some of them the hard way).  But we have had our own struggles and are still learning and growing, one year at a time.  We’ve hurt each other and let each other down.  As a wife, I’ve been guilty of lying, betraying, sulking, and manipulating.  Some of those hurtful things I knew I was doing in the moment.  Some of them I only realized later when I looked back over my behavior.  Our marriage has had rocky times because of the pressures of trials.  And our marriage has had rough patches because of the consequences of our own choices.  We’ve had to practice forgiveness, patience, and grace.  No, we are not that perfect married couple.

But we are a married couple and our God is perfect.

I’ve been reminded of this truth a couple of times this week.  Take a look at these “perfect” couples.

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I met this couple last night.  They got married at ages 15 and 17, and have been married for 55 years.  I asked them separately what has held them together for over half a century, especially since they started out so young.  Without hesitating, each of them said, “God.”  For them, it was as simple as that.  When they were standing together again, I pointed out that they each gave the same one-word answer.  She laughed and said, “Without God, I would’ve kicked him out a long time ago!”  They went on to add other advice, like the importance of giving 100% instead of 50/50 (and making that determination each new day).

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I met this couple two nights ago.  They’ve been married for 67 years!  It didn’t take long to figure out what has held them together.  She told me their first date was at Mammoth Cave.  He nodded and said, “I should’ve left her down there.”  He shared their secret to commitment:  “Divorce never crossed our minds.  Murder did, once or twice, but divorce was never an option.”  We all laughed and they looked at each other with a twinkle in their eyes that gave me a glimpse of the young couple they once were.  I loved their sense of humor and strong faith (made obvious by supporting a gospel meeting on a weeknight).  I imagine 67 years has given them a few stories of hardships and struggles but they are still together, still sharing some laughs, and still holding hands.

These are the real, perfect married couples.  I don’t know them well enough to see beyond the superficial.  But I do know that they’ve entrusted their marriages to their perfect God.  How blessed we are to enjoy life together, find reasons to smile, and keep holding hands despite our imperfections!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Eph. 3:20).

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).

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Image credit: WordStream