The Other (proverbs thirty-one) Woman

 

Lurking in the shadows cast by the spotlight illuminating the perfect wife and mother I tried to cross-stitch into a wall hanging over twenty years ago lives the other woman.

Our family affectionately refers to this woman as the "Proverbs 32" woman.

I am the other woman.

I do realize the mother instructing her son (in this case, the wise King Solomon) in Proverbs 31 was merely summarizing the general idea of a noble wife and mother, and there was no way she expected her son to find a mere mortal who could fit the bill in every single category every single day. But when you are an over-achieving perfectionist like me, you tend to read this beautiful description of the ideal and then proceed to beat yourself up with your otherwise useless cross-stitching hoops.

See, I am not a quilter, a SAHM, a chef, or an entrepreneur. These things are wonderful, but I am not them. Nor am I a trailblazer or a visionary. I am just an overtired legal assistant with a posse of kids and a messy house. How can I measure up?

Below are just a few of the portions I struggle with: 

She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.

Does Super Wal-Mart count? Since I usually go to Aldi, shopping at Super Wal-Mart gets me excited over brand-name cereals and a produce section where they mist their vegetables. And don't even get me started on the free samples.

She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

I'm sorry, but I do not get up before dawn except for those very rare occasions when I have a plane to catch, and then I sleep in my travel clothes the night before so I can pull back my hair, grab some coffee, and make it to the airport just in time for the pre-flight safety checks. My eyes do not even open all the way until I get inside the airport with its lights cranked up to a brilliance rivaling the appearance of a comet.

If only I had a couple of those aforementioned servant girls . . .  

She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.

Okay, now there is just no way to "get up before dawn" and also be "energetic and strong." No way. Not before Starbucks.

Waiter, I'll take what she's having, please.

Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.

I guess the fact that I couldn't even finish the cross-stitched wall hanging before getting bored to tears explains a lot about why I did not make it into Chapter 31. My sister-in-law ended up finishing that project for me, and her initials stitched above mine are an ever-present reminder of my handiwork shame.

She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

She makes her own bedspreads?? Um, the last time I tried to make anything, it didn't exactly end as planned. Years ago, I got the wild and crazy idea to make bathrobes for my four daughters for Christmas. Believe it or not, they did actually turn out pretty well, if you didn't look too closely at the arms that were so long they would have been better suited for an adult male gorilla. 

She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

Okay, I've got this part down pat. I watch over everything. EVERYTHING. I see every sock peeled off in the living room, every coat thrown over the dining room chair, and every dirty dish left in my kids' bedrooms. 

I have been accused of having the ability to SMELL dust. (To this I say, how can you NOT smell dust when it gets so thick your husband asks if you bought a new table runner?)

But my favorite part of all is towards the end. This part resonates with me on a deep and personal level, and it ties the entire chapter up into a pretty package tied up with a ribbon and says, "Here, take this. This is for you."

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the lord will be greatly praised.

See why I love this? At the end of the day, all that really matters is whether or not my priorities are straight and my heart is right.

If I've got that down, then I am measuring up perfectly to the ideal of who I was uniquely created to be. All I have to do is trust God knew exactly what he was doing when he created me and gave me my unique family and my specific talents (or lack thereof).

Then I can step out of the shadows and into the spotlight of Chapter 31.

And my husband and children shall call me blessed.

Flaws, shortcomings, and all.

Submitted by: Beth Cullett
Beth is a legal assistant who is married to a Marine-turned-minister and the mother of six children ranging in ages from 13 through 26.  When she isn't helping her husband in his ministry with Celebrate Recovery, she is a subpar housekeeper, mediocre pianist, avid reader, and budding writer.

http://shakingmydust.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-other-proverbs-thirty-one-woman.html

True Beauty

All beauty is only reflection.”  I read that today in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and it struck me as an incredibly profound but rarely verbalized truth.  Our culture worships beauty – never more so than now.  And whatever we were born lacking, we can purchase on a payment plan.  We can change shape, size, eye color and hair color.  We can dewrinkle, fluff up, pouf out, and pay to look like we kissed the back end of every bee in a hive.

This kind of beauty – the kind that comes from a bottle or a syringe or a surgery – is it true beauty?  What about the beauty of a not-so-perfect looking, exhausted mother, tenderly caring for her special needs child day after day?

What about the beauty of utterly impoverished folk in a Third World country, walking mile after mile with no shoes to gather with other villagers and worship in grateful adoration?

What about the beauty of those who suffer for righteousness, whose stories and tears we will never know this side of Heaven?

These, I propose, are the faces of true beauty.  And if “all beauty is only reflection”, as the moon is but a reflection of the glory of the sun, then of WHAT is it a reflection?  Or perhaps, of whom?

I believe the answer lies in a seemingly paradoxical ancient writing by the prophet Isaiah.  He writes prophetically of the coming Christ, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (Is. 53:2)

Isaiah had not yet seen this God Man who, pierced and beaten, staggered under the weight of the sins of the whole world.  Under the weight of MY sin.  He hadn’t seen the weary trudging of dusty miles, the nights of no roof overhead, the aching loneliness.  He wasn’t there when this Man of no physical beauty gave life and dignity back to the woman with the issue of blood.  He didn’t get to watch as, with love in His eyes, He reached out and touched the shunned and miserable leper and made him whole.  Isaiah wasn’t there when the muscled back was laid open by a cat-o’-nine tails, only to then have a crude, heavy wooden cross placed on it.  The bleeding brow, the agony of slow suffocation…here, my friends, is beauty.  He endured that for you.  He endured that for me.  Oh, how beautiful He is!  Had Isaiah been granted just a glimpse, surely he would have asked how we could see anything BUT beauty in this consummate love and self-sacrifice.

Here is the beauty from which all other true beauty radiates.  And no matter what our past or our physical appearance, “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

So there you have it.  As you reflect the Beautiful One, you are beautiful.  True beauty – beauty of spirit that far outlasts fleeting physical perfection.

Beautiful friend, go do some reflecting today.  The world needs to see you shine.

Written by:  Christine Sakwitz
Christine is the author of The Beautiful Journey blog, women's Bible study writer and teacher, and homeschooling mom of two critter-loving children.  She has been happily married for 23 years and is passionate about equipping and encouraging women to live full, joyful, high-impact lives.

She would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter (Live_Fully_Now), or via email at chris@thebeautifuljourney.com.

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When I am Weak

I can remember when the shocking reality hit. No matter how hard I was going to try, or work, I was never going to dance again. Being 17, grief wheeled itself within. Why’s filled my head as I tried to comprehend what my life would be like now as a wheelchair bound teen. I, the stubborn one in my family, attempted with everything within to be as strong as I could. I didn’t want to be the weak one

 

As I struggled with the battle of accepting myself the Lord began to whisper sweet reminders to my soul. My heavenly Father reminded me so kindly and gently, “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (NIV, 2 Cor 2:19) It is not in our strength that God’s power is shown forth. Yet it is when we are willing to admit our weakness and lean on Him for strength when He is strong. 
 

Another verse that was so precious to me is, “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (NIV, PS. 147:10-11) These two verses spoke directly to my worn soul. I was a worn Christian. I was weak, and frail. Barely able to hold onto Him anymore. Nonetheless He began to draw my sickness torn soul to himself and whisper, “Eliza, do you see that verse. I say that I do not delight in the legs of men. When I see your weak legs, it doesn’t change what I think of you. Instead, I look at the heart.”

This verse rocked my view of God and how He views weakness. God wants us to be weak, not that He brings about sickness or a loss of work to make us weak. However, God longs for a weak heart that is willing to submit to Him and Him alone.

So wherever circumstances you are walking through right now. Know that He, who can make strength from weakness is working with your life.

Written by:    Eliza Downer, a teacher by day and writer by night, can often be found hiking in nearby mountain ranges or sipping a cup of coffee. She currently resides in Colorado with her parents and 10 siblings.

Free Devotional: Searching for Significance

Wycliffe Bible Translators has released a new free, 7-day devotional, "Searching for Significance", and it is available to download here!

We’re all searching for something in life. Whether you want to call it significance, purpose, meaning or something else, there is an innate desire in each of us for our life to matter — to have significance and purpose.

We want to explore that desire with you from a biblical perspective and dive into God’s view of your worth. That’s why we created a seven-day devotional, “Searching for Significance.” Each day we’ll explore a different part of God’s perfect plan for your life, and how he ultimately wants you to find purpose and significance through bringing him glory.

Download the devotional here.

Written by: Annie Monson

Wycliffe Bible Translators is the largest scripture translation organization in the world, with a widespread mission network internationally and in the United States. They endeavor to have begun a translation of the Bible into every language by 2025 while fostering Christian community, providing educational material and fellowship resources.

Living Hope

The definition of hope interests me. It isn’t an expectation of something random to happen. It’s not a blind belief. It’s not even about a doubtful this-or-that outcome. Hope is an expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something desired! [1] Hope is looking forward to something we desire and long for, something good and believing that it will happen, despite how the current situation might look like.

What is our hope anyway?


Our hope is in God who will raise us from the dead. Our hope is in the life eternal. (Titus 1:2) Resurrection power might seem ridiculous to the world, it did in Paul’s time and sadly true even now.

6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? Acts 26:6-8


Many people think heaven and hell are just fictional places. Because in order to be there we must be resurrected, just and unjust alike. (Acts 24:15) A judgement awaits us. Maybe they are too scared to face it, that they deny the reality of life after death.

God has a name called “Hope of Israel” (Jeremiah 14:8) and “God of Hope” (Romans 15:13). How wonderful that His children can call Him by the name of Hope. He is our hope.

How did we obtain this hope?


Christian hope is a life knowing God and His faithfulness. Because we too were before “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) If we didn’t know God and what He is capable of doing, how He has been faithful in fulfilling His promises since the beginning, we too would be hopeless. God cannot lie and so His promise of eternal life will also come to fruition. (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) We obtained our hope when we put our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the key to our hope. Because Christ is our forerunner we look up to Him, filled with hope, that God who raised Him from the dead will fulfill the same promise in our lives.

What does hope look like?


Hope is looking forward to something in the future. So how does it pan out in this earthly life? Hope is worked out in our lives by patience, perseverance and remaining faithful to what we believe. Life is so full of challenges, miseries, trials and heartaches. But we press on, hoping that one day we will go to a place where there is no more tears! When sinful thoughts entice us and cause us to stumble, we look at Hope and we say no to sin. Because this sinful pleasure is temporary, our hope is eternal.

…but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4


Hope is endurance (Rom 15:4), hope is continuing in the faith (Col 1:23), hope is patience (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Wow, the riches of His grace and the Hope of eternal life blows my mind. And the word of God that brings it all to us, incredible! Let’s remember these three elements as often as we can in a spirit of thankfulness.

Written by: Alice William

I enjoy learning from God’s word, it amazes me, the wisdom and treasures of God and the way He reveals them to me day after day in a profound manner. In this space I share with you what I’ve learnt through my time with the Word. I earnestly believe that learning alone isn’t sufficient but walking in the word is crucial in a believer’s life. As much as I desire to walk in the word, it’s not always easy. My hope is to encourage you, my dear friend, in your walk with God with words that He has used to strengthen my own walk with Him.  http://walkinginword.com

Being Grateful

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I work as a substitute teacher in a local public school. It is a very rewarding job to work with the students, however, when there is no school I have no job. This creates a great concern to be living without a paycheck and having a large family.

In the past, I have been able to secure short-term temporary jobs for the break time. This last break, however, I was unable to get one for the entire break. My wife and I did a lot of praying about it and were still very concerned, ok, very worried about it. In spite of what we saw, God had a different plan for us.

During the break I did get to work for a couple of days for someone for a little pay that did help a lot, but not enough. It also was hard to not be able to do any big family trip during this time, at least that is what we thought would happen.

On the Wednesday right after Christmas, my oldest daughter (an adult who lives with us), had won a pack of four tickets to a Six Flags park in Arlington, Texas. On Thursday, she was then given a four pack of tickets to the San Antonio Zoo.

Since I have a very large family, eight children, we had chosen to split up to use all the tickets we were given. My daughter brought herself and three other siblings with her to the Six Flags Park on that Friday. While she went north, my wife and I brought the three youngest to the zoo.

Both of these trips were a blessing to everyone that was able to go to the place they went. The older ones did not want to go to a zoo, and the younger would not have been able to do much at the park.

As my wife and I left for the zoo, we planned to be back home about 7pm. It was a three-hour drive to the zoo and we planned to leave the zoo when it closed at four.

The younger children had a great time at the zoo seeing all the different animals.

We left as planned to go home. We expected to be home several hours before my daughter and other children would get home.

As we were driving home, we got to about 30 miles from home, when the traffic came to a dead halt. There had been a major accident up ahead. I had decided to sit and wait for the road to open up, since it would have been about a 40 mile turn around to go a different direction around the accident.

As we sat there waiting, we did not know how long it would take. Time kept passing and nothing seemed to be happening. After about 30 minutes of sitting, we saw a helicopter come in and land. It was a medical emergency helicopter. At that point we knew that whatever happened, it had to have been very bad.

It was getting very frustrating to be sitting there, so close to home and, yet, not be able to get home. In just the time we had been sitting there, we could have been home already. The children were starting to get very hungry and tired of sitting.

While waiting there, we saw several people come running up from behind our vehicle to where the accident was. A few moments later, several men and ladies came back wailing very loudly. They stopped just near our vehicle and were holding each other crying.

My wife's and my heart went out to those people. We did not know what happened, but knew it had to have been bad. (The news the following day, stated that it had been a head on collision of two vehicles, and two others were also hit. One person was killed, and all the rest were hospitalized, several were children. Several were in severe critical condition.)

It was at that point, when we saw the people crying, that we started to be grateful for our own lives and protection. We ended up sitting at that one spot for about 1 1/2 hours. When we did get home, we were home only about 40 minutes or so before my daughter got home.

As difficult as it was to sit there, being very tired and hungry from a long day on the road, it was better than what the other people were going through. Several were in the hospital and one never made it home. Families were destroyed. Loved ones were lost. Lives were changed, and not for what seemed the better.

Instead of complaining about having to sit there, we prayed for those people. We prayed God's touch in their lives. And we gave God praise for taking care of us and allowing us to make it back home safely. If we had been just a few seconds faster on that road, we could have been the ones in that accident.

In our lives, there a times that things will occur that will be a major inconvenience or disruption in our lives. In those times we need to look at how the lives of others are going. We need to be grateful for what God has given us, instead of complaining or worrying about what we cannot have or what we are going through. Things can always be better or they can be worse.

During that Christmas break, I was able to spend a lot of time with my family, since I could not work anywhere else. Along with that, money came in from different sources that totaled up to almost exactly what I would have made at my normal job. God had a plan that was to support us and meet all of our needs. We were blessed in many more ways than having a temporary job would have been.

Give God praise today for what He has blessed you with. Be grateful for what God has given you or spared you from.

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Written By: Tom Arn

Tom has been happily married for nearly 25 years and is blessed with eight wonderful children. Over the years he has learned many things from many different experiences with  God. He desires to share some those experiences and things he has learned with you. His prayer is that you may know God more and be more like Jesus everyday. You may see his daily devotional blog at http://www.insightsfromtom.com

When Mom Gets Angry

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."

~ Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)

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Recently, I was reading a memoir written by highly successful woman. She was also a mother, and the descriptions of motherhood sounded like this: “I love spending time with my kids . . . For me,  motherhood is the highest calling . . .  just looking at my children makes me so happy.” It sounded as if the majority of her moments with her children were blissful, fulfilling, and warm - with kisses and hugs all around. The more I read these rosy descriptions of motherhood, the more guilty I felt: lately, my interactions with my two teenagers have been a far cry from loving! Instead, they know how to “push my buttons,” and I find myself getting angry with them quickly and easily.

At first, I panicked, wondering, “Is this normal? Does anyone else get angry with their kids?” In other words, I was looking for some other moms who could commiserate, since misery loves company! But the more I thought about it, the more I came to the realization that - normal or not - being angry with my children feels wrong. The more often we argue or fight, the more tense our household becomes - and this is not the type of relationship I want my children to remember when they think back to their teenage years.

So, I set off to my Bible to see what God has to say about  anger.  Here is what I found, along with some ideas and takeaways:

  • “The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 145:8). As human beings, we do and say the wrong things so often, it would be easy for God to get angry with us, wouldn’t it? And when I think about the types of things my own children do that result in maternal wrath, it just doesn’t compare. For example, my daughter has a maddening habit of remembering to ask me to wash her gymsuit  . . . at about 10 PM at night - long after I’ve folded the other laundry and cleaned up for the night. In the grand scheme of things, I can think of a lot worse that I’ve personally done. If God isn’t going to hold my transgressions against me, what makes me think I should treat my daughter differently?

Fortunately, God has infinite patience and is filled with love. As a parent, I can focus more on loving thoughts and words, in an effort to “crowd out” the negative. If I spend more time talking to my daughter in a positive way, I won’t have room for the criticism. That’s not to say she never needs to be admonished, and there are certainly times that she needs to experience consequences for her actions. However, when I find the dynamic tipping to a point where I’m upset with her more often than not, it is probably time to check myself and ask if I’m being “slow to anger” or not - and most times, the answer is probably no.

  • “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1). This goes right along with the verse in Psalms. One way I can crowd out anger with love is by using gentle words. The next time I want to react to something my son or daughter says or does with a sharp tongue, I can choose a gentle response rather than a bitter one. I've seen firsthand that when I overreact with harsh words, their "tempers flare,” and they start yelling or reacting defensively right back at me.
  • “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs” (Proverbs 19:11). In the words of the song from Disney’s movie, Frozen, I need to "Let it go!" I am not earning anyone's respect - including my children’s - by becoming angry; rather, I need to take that moment to pause so that I can better learn to control an angry reaction.
  • “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quickly hold it back” (Proverbs 29:11). The older I get, the more wise I have gotten in many areas of life. I find that when I don’t feel the need to be right or have the final word, I am becoming more wise in this area, too.
  • “An angry person starts fights; a hot tempered person commits all kinds of sin” (Proverbs 29:22). Ouch! How true this is. Whenever I react in the heat of the moment and get angry, I find myself saying things I later regret. Making a mean comment or just having to have the last word definitely falls into the "sin"category! Thinking of it in these terms makes me more committed to avoiding this type of transgression.
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All of this sounds good in theory. The real question is, can I put this to practice in my life? My plan is to re-read what I've written here each day, and act on my own suggestions when I'm tempted to lose my cool.

Now, what about you? How do you react when you get angry with your children? Are there ways that you have positively dealt with these negative emotions? I'd love to hear from you!

Written By: Julie Lyons

Julie Lyons is a married, working mother of two teenage children - and first-time pet parent to a very spoiled five-year old Maltese. Last year, she decided to blend her part time freelance writing with her faith, resulting in her new book, The Inspired Woman. For more encouragement and inspiration, visit Julie’s website at http://www.mydailywalkwithgod.com.

Rare, Yet Available

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This is about the love that is all-inclusive and inexplicable.

So rare, none but you offer it; Yet available, whoever seeks it, finds it. Your invite is to all and sundry; The rich & poor, ‘rested’ & weary.

You call in love, not for a spree, But to give life that’s abundant and free. Oh such amazing grace! Extended to every tribe and race.

You, so high and holy Chose to love me a sinner so unworthy. In my stead you did the suffering, Giving yourself up as a fragrant offering.

No longer am I ridden with guilt, ‘Cos I’ve been stripped of my filth. What a glorious identity, Clothed with a new personality!

Thank you Jesus, for the love, You poured, by the Spirit, from heaven above. So rare, none can offer it; Yet available, everyone can seek and find it!

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This love is made available to all through the ultimate sacrifice of Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the world. Find out how to experience it here.

Written By: Jenom Makama

Jenom Makama is a Son-worshipper, husband and father of two, blogger and avid reader, food and people enthusiast. I inspire people to be authentic by choosing truth, through my blog jenomm.com.

A Daring Request

Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; Psalm 26:2

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David had called out to God to vindicate him from his enemies. His reasoning was that he had trusted in God and never faltered in it. He then asked God to test him and examine his heart and mind.

When a person is working hard at trying to improve something, he may ask another person to examine it to determine if it better or not. Writers will often have an editor read through their book to search for any mistakes.

Many do not want anyone to look at it, for fear of being wrong or having too many mistakes in it. They do not want to be looked at as bad. Many fear the truth and know it in their hearts that what they are doing is not that good.

Believers tend to live their lives the same way. They live their lives one way at church and another way in the home or workplace. They fear if any other believer sees them as they really are, seeing the mistakes they make.

David made a very daring request for God to examine his heart and mind. God is the only one that can do that perfectly. God knows exactly every purpose of every action a person has done, and He knows every thought a person has had.

As a believer, you should be willing to dare to ask God to examine your heart and mind. Open yourself up honestly to God's inspection of your life, not just the outward actions, but the inside heart and mind. These are the things that no other person can see at all. In fact, often, it is hidden from the individual himself, the real hidden motives of his heart.

The daring part of asking God to do this, is knowing what God may find there. God knows that you have sinned against Him. There is nothing that you have done or thought that God is not fully aware of. Now it is opening yourself up to allowing God to show you what He finds.

God will examine you in love, not to destroy you or find fault with you, but to improve you. He wants you to be like Jesus. This can only be done if the inner heart and mind is examined and changed.

Are you willing to take the dare and ask God to examine your heart and mind?

I pray today that you will trust God's examination of your life; that you will allow God to change what is needed in your life; and that you will pass God's examination of your heart and mind as faithful to Him.

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Written By: Tom Arn

Tom has been happily married for nearly 25 years, and has eight wonderful (all still at home) children. He loves Jesus and has been serving Him in many ways for many years. Active in teaching in the church and in a school, he desires to share some of what God has shown him over the years. His blog is primarily a devotional blog, but also includes book reviews and other things he has learned and wants to share. You may check his blog out at http://www.insightsfromtom.com .

Texting With God

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?How cool would it be if we could actually just pull out our phone and text God? I always assumed that there would be no such thing as hardship if we can communicate with God on the spot. If every time something bad happened we could just ask for instant advice, wouldn't the bad go away? Jesus could communicate perfectly with God, though, and he still faced incredible hardship. I believe communication means a shoulder to go to and peace through whatever you're stumbling over. It doesn't mean the disappearance of every struggle.

In Mathew 27:51, just after Jesus was crucified, it says that: "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." (NIV). Don't quote me on my biblical knowledge but this is my explanation: In the old testament, people had to enter a special place to communicate with God. They had to go through a curtain where they could then be in His presence. This verse explains that when Jesus was crucified, he tore that barrier that separated his people from him. Do you know why he did that? Simply because he wanted to text you back. He knew voices reached out to him and he cared.

So when you think about it, we actually can sort of text God. We can shoot up a question to the one who always listens. Sometimes it feels like you're texting that one friend that never replies but the truth is that God is always at his phone reading his texts. Jesus made that a possibility. Now, I'd be lying if I said I always remember that this is true. There's always going to be times when you're down so low and you're getting scraped up by the ground and you really don't think God is listening in. You think you got the wrong number. You think your signals too weak. What we think is trouble on God's end of the conversation is actually trouble on our end. It can be hard to understand when God is speaking to you, and everyone deals with that. I believe God speaks to each and every person in a unique way.

Another thing you have to watch for (and in my opinion, this is the hardest part) is who's texting. The devil wants to get in our minds and he wants to lead us astray. The devil never wants to help us. He can make us confused about our source of wisdom. You know when you get a text and you look at your phone but you just see a number; you have no idea who it is. Sometimes we look at a message given to us and can't tell whether it was from demons or Jesus. That's where the genius invention of caller I.D. comes in. John 10: 27 says "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (NIV). The important advice here about spiritual caller I.D. is that we need to be like sheep that wait for the voice of their shepherd. Sheep that won't listen to a thief or a liar. We need to learn to recognize the voice of God. That's when we are able to set up a contact in God's name. No one's perfect, though, so don't feel like the worst human around if sometimes you do find yourself listening in to the wrong voice. Just stop, take a step back, look at the bible and remember what you know about God and call out to him.

Okay, quick wrap up. Here's what I'm trying to get across. You can communicate with God and in fact, God loves to communicate with you. Jesus made that possible. Through any stumbling block in our path, we can still converse with our all-knowing father. The devil wants to confuse us but Jesus gives us a way to know it's him. If you feel God's number is pretty far down in your recent messages, go and give him a text. He'll jump for joy even higher than when you finally get that text from your crush. Yup, even more than that. ?

Written By: Everitt Born

I'm a Christian writer who enjoys writing short stories, poems and devotionals. I have a website called crEate where I publish this writing; dEvote is a part of that website specifically for devotionals. Check it out!

It's Just A Stage

Living the real life stages of our relationship with Christ. We have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. A beautiful, strong-willed 2-year-old daughter. Like most little ones, the word NO can send her off on a tangent of fits. You know, the laying on the floor kicking and screaming kind of fits. (Sometimes at our local grocery store) She has two older siblings so I know from experience that this stage in her life will pass, but when you're a mom trying to tame your toddler in a grocery store full of locals, it's undeniable that your face will turn red as you scramble out the door with the little one over your shoulder.

We have a 9-year-old daughter who is also beautiful. A bit over dramatic at times but we can't imagine life without her. She's at astage in life where she's just grasping all the consequences for her own actions and decisions. For instance, she often forgets her lunch at home. The first few times it happened I ran back home to get it for her but I told her I couldn't keep doing this. Now, the consequence? She has to eat whatever the school provides for their hot lunch program. (It's really not that bad, but most days she's not fond the of what they're serving) Not doing homework leads to bad grades, not picking up your iPod means losing it for a week, and so on. She's a sensitive soul so things like this impact her greatly but she's learning life lessons very quickly!

We have a 15-year-old son. He is a fine young man and makes me very proud. There is nothing greater than watching your kids grow into young men and women. He's very involved with youth group and is developing a very good relationship with God, this makes me delighted more than anything else. He's had many, many learning lessons in life. He's been through both of the fore mentioned stages in life, along with many others. Now when he makes a mistake he knows it. He knows when he shouldn't be watching an inappropriate YouTube video or movie. (Not that he never does, but he does recognize that it is wrong) Typically when he makes a mistake there's no need to explain what went wrong and usually he accepts responsibly for his actions almost immediately. Most times with his head hung in shame. It's hard to watch him make mistakes, but now, in his stage, I know that I need to let him make his mistakes and accept responsibility and maybe gently nudge him is the right direction.

We all go through stages. Just as children have many stages so do we have such stages in our relationship with Christ. I wonder how often He wants to throw us over His shoulder and carry us away when we throw a tantrum because we didn't get our way. Or if His heart breaks when He realizes that we "forgot our lunch" and he has to watch us suffer through a long day, or month, or year. Or if He feels a bit of pride when we are able to instantly own up to our mistakes and ask for forgiveness without hesitation. I think these stages, they can come and go in life, especially when we fall away from our relationship with Him. When we talk to Him less and get wrapped up in our earthly problems. When we try to shoulder our burdens on our own, we can easily revert back to the “toddler” stages.

"It's just a stage" they tell us as we're raising our babies but really, life is full of stages, not just of growing physically but of growing in our faith. Stages of our relationship with Christ. I can remember early days of faith when I had a difficult time understating what faith was all about. Before I saw him work in my life, before I really read scripture, before I gave him the glory for all the good that surrounds me. I am happy to say that the stage I'm in right now with God is one of comfort, of strong faith. I have seen Him work and I fully understand that everything I have is due to His undeniable mercy and grace. Not that there's never a hard time, not that I don't have days when I error (sometimes terribly), not that there aren't days when I'm discouraged, but even on the bad days, ultimately I know the good in my life outnumbers the bad by a landslide! Stages, oh the stages we go through.And through it all our Father never waivers in His desire to love and support us in spite of all our blunders.The perfect love of a Father.

Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration - what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.”

Written By: Nancy Stank

I am a wife and mother of three. Between working full time and being a full time mom I am faced with the constant need to find a balance. I find this balance when I reflect and immerse my self in my relationship with Christ. You can find me on the web at https://christianblog.com/e263

Better Than Food

I have not departed from the command of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. Job 23:12 (NIV)

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As Job is going through a lot of suffering, he does not understand why it is happening. He is willing to state his case before God of his innocence of any wrong doing. In his heart, Job knows that he follows all of God's commands. He desires God's Word more than food.

Eating food is something most people like to do. Many will even eat much more than they need too, because they love eating the food so much.

Look at the many different restaurants that have all you can eat buffets. Those places are constantly filled with people stuffing themselves. There are restaurants that are now open twenty-four hours a day, because there is always someone ready to eat something around the clock.

What people desire to eat is different for each person. Some like junk food, such as chips and candy. Others love fast food. Others just like deserts. While others attempt to eat healthy meals, just a lot. The desire to eat is great.

While the need to eat food is important, the need to eat of God's Word is more important. Job knew the value of God's Word in his life. He desired to have His Word more than the food that is only here today and gone tomorrow.

Jesus told the disciples that His food is to do the will of the Father. The will of the Father (God) is doing what He says to do, following His Word.

Most believers do not even read the Bible at all, except on Sunday when in church. They do not study or memorize any verses from day-to-day. They do not have a hunger for God's Word. They do not treasure the greatest book in all of creation.

You need to ask God to give you a desire to know His Word and to apply it to your life. As you read the Bible more andmore, you will also learn to love it and desire it more and more. You will not want to go one day without feeding on His Word.

What do you treasure more?

Food?

Or God's Word?

I pray today that you will have a desire to know God's Word; that you will read the Bible daily; that you will apply God's Words to your life; and that you will be willing to forsake all else for knowing His Word for your life.

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Written By: Tom Arn

Tom has been happily married for 24 years, and has been blessed with eight wonderful children. Over the years he has been a pastor, children's pastor, Sunday School teacher, and in many other areas of ministry in the church. He has a great love for God and wants to share some of the things he has learned. He has been writing a devotional blog at http://www.insightsfromtom.com for about three years. It is his heart's desire to see people draw closer to God as they learn more of His Word.

Give or Take

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

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(Philippians 4:6 NIV)

This is a time of year when many of us take time to thank God for the blessings we have been given in our lives: family, relationships, our "stuff," and even our circumstances.  We also give thanks to God for being loving, caring, and for giving us a way to Him through Jesus.  These prayers of thanksgiving are important.  We also sometimes have prayers of request from God, or petitions.

I was recently getting ready to pray and bring my request to God, and I paused to reflect, "Am I a giver or taker?"    Do I come to God to thank Him and spend time with Him, or just when I need something?   In other words, when it comes God, am I primarily a "Giver or Taker?"  I know what God is; He is a giver all the way!

  • Giver of love
  • Giver of life
  • Giver of mercy
  • Giver of grace
  • Giver of peace
  • Giver of blessings

...just to name a few.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

(2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV)

Do you like when people only come to you when they want something, but never reach out to you at any other time?  Probably not.  We need to respect God and giveto Him, for Him, and from Him to others.  He wants us to be givers!  He doesn't want this out of "reluctant compulsion," but out of a "cheerful" heart. God knows this will bless our lives and make them more the way He intended.

He wants us to give the things I listed above to others.  He wants us to give control of our life to Him.  He wants us to submit ownership of all of our "stuff" to His control.  He wants us to bring Him praise and thanksgiving, whether we "feel blessed" at the time, or not.  Be a giver.

Written By: Brian Goslee

Brian Goslee is the Founder and Executive Director of Changed Through Faith Ministries, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides resources and faith-infused experiences to help fathers and sons grow closer to God an each other.

For daily devotions and short videos to help grow your faith, click here for our free app.

Visit our website at changedthroughfaith.com for much more!

Be An Encourager

But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring relief. Job 16:5 (NIV)

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Job's friends were continually pointing out how wrong he must be to be going through the harsh suffering he was dealing with. They had no words of encouragement for him. Job states that he could speak in the same way if the roles were reversed, but that he would not. He would speak words of encouragement and comfort striving to ease their suffering.

The world loves to kick a person when he is down. When a person has fallen a little in some area of his life, the world will point out more wrongs and keep him down. Others will just love to point out where he went wrong to bring him in to the suffering that is happening.

People of the world will treat others this way, because that is what the devil wants to do. He sets out to kill and destroy anyone he can. He wants to destroy any hope or belief that a person has. Destruction of progress in a person's life is important to the devil.

It is easy to do things as the world does. It is easy to point out faults and wrongs in a person, and cut them down while they are down. However, that is not what you as a believer should be doing.

Jesus said that He was sent to proclaim good news. That good news is that God loves the people and wants to save them. Jesus did not come to condemn the people or sit and just point out all of their faults. He built them up with love and compassion.

Every believer should be seeking to build up another person. Building another person is done by encouraging the person, rather than pointing out his faults.

As a believer, you are supposed to be doing things just like Jesus would do them. You are to be His disciple, one who is learning to live just like He lived.

What kind of words are you speaking today?

Are they words like the friends of Job, cutting down, condemning, and destroying?

Or are they words like Jesus, loving, caring, full of compassion and building up?

I pray today that you will know God's love for all people; that you will show compassion for others; that God will strengthen you to encourage others; and that you will show God's comfort to others.

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Written By: Tom Arn

Tom is a man who has been happily married for over 24 years, and currently has eight wonderful children. He has been in the Army, full time ministry, volunteer ministry and numerous jobs. Tom has been writing a daily devotional blog, along with book reviews on http://www.insightsfromtom.com. God has blessed his life in many ways and he desires to share some of what he has learned with others.

An Open Life

Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die. Job 13:19

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The friends of Job were convinced that Job had done something sinful to bring on the troubles that he was going through. In their minds, the only reason God would inflict trouble on a person is because of sin. Job was convinced that he was innocent before God. He challenges anyone to bring a true charge against him. If that could happen, Job would be silent.

Seeing a fault in another person is very easy. The news media loves to look at faults that people have. Only occasionally does the news look at something good in a person.

At the same time, most people do not like to have any of their faults looked at or seen. They do not want to be told about something wrong in their life. Very few are willing to be corrected by another person.

The world likes to keep things in the dark, behind closed doors. Many will claim that those things are personal and of no one else's business. For most people, if those things were known, it would be embarrassing and often harmful to their career or status in the community.

The person who wants to grow will want to know what faults he has. He will desire to be corrected and set on the right path. The true believer in Jesus will strive to live a life that is without fault.

God sees into the hearts and minds of every person. He knows the truth of every action or thought a person has. There is nothing hidden from Him. Man cannot see into the heart as God can, he can only see on the outside.

You must live your life as an open book before men and God. The ultimate life to live is one that is living for God with no faults. God sees into your heart already and sees everything. Men should be able to also look at your life and see nothing but Jesus in you.

Live your life in a way that no one can accuse you of any wrong. Allow yourself to be an open book for anyone to examine. Let them see Jesus in you. If anything else is seen, allow it to be pointed out so that you can change and live for God.

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I pray today that you will allow God to cleanse you of all sin; that you will be an open witness of Jesus; that the world will only see Jesus in you; and that you will seek to change any wrong in your life.

Written By: Tom Arn

Tom is a happily married husband of 24 years with eight wonderful children. He loves Jesus and talking about Jesus. He shares some of what God has taught him over the years in a daily devotional he writes at http://www.insightsfromtom.com.

Giving Into Pressure

Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. Ezra 4:24

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King Cyrus had given the Israelites permission to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem. The people in the surrounding area began to be afraid. They that if the city was rebuilt, the Israelites would revolt and break away. They persuaded the king to force the people to stop the building. After a lot of pressure, the Israelites stopped the building of the temple.

In the eyes of the world, Christians are a dangerous threat, even though Christians are to love everyone, including their enemies. The threat comes in that Christians do not believe in or act the way the world does. Jesus had set a standard that was different from that of the world. This has a severe effect on the lives of those in the world and they do not like it.

People in the world try to accuse Christians of hate because they do not conform to the world's standards of living. For many years in America there has been the term of "political correctness" being used. Believers are threatened in many ways to give in to the world's way of living.

Sadly, many believers have given in to the pressure to conform to this world's standards. They feel the threats of job losses, jail time, lawsuits and more, and choose to change their words and standards. Churches, and many believers, now allow open sin as acceptable in God's eyes, changing the Word of God, and doing what God clearly says not to do.

As the Israelites gave in to the pressure to stop building the temple, many believers today give in to the pressure to stop building God's kingdom. They stop being His witness out of fear of those in the world.

The world will do their best to put pressure on you to turn from Jesus and follow their ways. As the world puts on the pressure on you to give in to their ways, you must make a choice as to who you will follow.

Will you follow Jesus, who gives life?

Or will you follow this world, which brings only death?

I pray today that you will stay focused on what God wants you to do; that you will only live for God; that God will give you strength to overcome pressure to turn from Him; and that you will continue to build His kingdom.

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Written By: Tom Arn

Tom has been writing a devotional blog, http://www.insightsfromtom.com, for three years. He has been happily married for 24 years with eight children, (three now adults), one of which is going on two years old. He has worked in many different areas of the church and in many different jobs throughout his life. He has a great love for God and for His word and to let others know about Jesus.

After Salvation: Struggles and Fires

Transition

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We are bathed in awe as we take our first breath. Our ears can hear at last, and our eyes are now open. We emerge into life as showers of joy surround our minds. We can hear the shouts of joy from the angles above as we pick up the scent of heaven.

It seems like nothing can destroy the first weeks of salvation. We feel like our journey is finally over. Pure and innocent, like smoking holy weed.

We soon realize that our problems don’t disappear. The haze fades away, and the liquid glory honey cloud becomes a distant memory amidst the returning train of reality.

A glimpse of heaven

Everyone who ever started something with enthusiasm and great joy knows the sloping feeling of the mundane creeping in again. We get used to new environments, new jobs, and new spouses.

The new and fresh doesn’t stay like that by the definitions of those words. We call it the honeymoon phase. Everything fades away, even the new-found joy of salvation.

It’s almost like God opens up a little window to us; a glimpse of a future yet to come. It is enough for us to experience him and make our first memories. It’s a rock that tells us ‘stuff is real.’

The pain of growing up

When I gave my life to the Lord, many challenges arose. All of a sudden, I couldn’t relate to my buddies anymore.

It was more than just their inability to understand why I wouldn’t drink and smoke anymore. Those are just behaviors one can ignore.

What got us was our sudden disagreement on core issues such as women, sex, love, and purpose. None of those things clash in young men until those values change.

Some reacted with anger and some with indifference but over time I grew apart from most of them. What do you do together if you don’t party and set the world on fire? Not a lot in those wild years.

I had my fallbacks and slips, bitter tears after long nights but my decision for the Lord hunted me when I was alone. I knew one could fall, but we can only walk towards one destiny. The course is set either way.

The doubts and the unknown

Everything I knew and valued started to disappear into obscurity. Friendship became hollow, and the gin and juice I used to love became a mere memory. I started asking myself how I should act as a follower of Christ?

I wanted something real. I experienced radical salvation out of a miserable lifestyle. I wanted to grow in being radical and the cost of giving up my pleasures was a great sacrifice for me. I needed people with a radical love for Christ, yet instead, I found a bunch of sissies playing games.

Most Christians had no idea how to handle a rough diamond. They are used to “perfect” people who hide their problems under the carpet. Keep’ on smiling until you die.

I didn’t know how to smile. So we didn’t get along. I ended up alone and frustrated, doubting my decisions and slipping time and time again.

The cracking of the wall

My defenses started to shake. Rejected by my old brothers and rejected by my new ones. With no place to go, I began to feel like I was doing things wrong.

I started to doubt my actions. I became self-conscious. Hiding my insecurities with pride and swagger didn’t work anymore. But that’s the only way I knew how to deal with my fears.

So I became defensive and moody. A shadow of my former self. No place to go and no place to hide. My anchors got challenged, and I had nothing left. The people who were supposed to catch me were too busy catching Benjamins.

Being reborn was not just a metaphor for me. Like a baby, I had to learn how to walk and talk. Everything was new for me, and it was the beginning of a long and painful process of healing and learning.

I learned that true Christianity is only for real warriors. What is commonly known as the church has nothing to do with faith. Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable; he came to give us salvation. And he was willing to pay the price.

The church today tries to control people into a particular kind of churchgoer. Always nice, always on the surface. Crack a joke, show up on Sunday and put a fish on your car.

That’s not the man I desired to be when I surrendered my life to my God. Jesus wasn’t like that. He whipped the moneychangers, battled the church of his time and didn’t care what anyone thought. A man’s man.

Father and mothers

A standard recommendation after salvation is to find a good church. I agree with that, but the problem is that one doesn’t know what a good church is. How can you, you’ve just been saved.

So how can we avoid the pain and frustrations with others?

I believe in commitments. Giving a commitment to a church is a big deal, something people tend to give to early.

Visiting a church two times doesn’t mean that you now belong to that church. You’re a visitor, checking things out. That’s fine.

Take your time in finding the right place. Check out everything that’s available in your area. Don’t give up looking and don’t settle for an online church. There are great resources out there (like here and here) but there is no replacement for interacting with people and building relationships. Chats can’t emulate that.

You need brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. You need a place where you can open up, and you trust the people around you. You can’t be alone because the devil attacks at night.

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Once you’ve found a church, then commit. Become a part of it and attend even if you don’t feel like it. Pursue relationships with your local family, stay in the word and love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Written By: Michael Klim

Michael is no stranger to tears and pain. Growing up in Berlin as the son of refugees, hardening his heart seemed like the only way to survive the jungle.

Yet his God had a different plan. He stole his heart and put him on a journey towards wholeness and completion. He is married to Shalyn and has two gorgeous little girls. They make their homes in a small town in the midwest.

Michael blogs at heartandgrowth.com

Mothers You are the Backbone of the Family

There's an old saying, "God couldn't be everywhere at once, so he made moms."

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That statement has horrible theology in it. But it attempts to convey the importance motherhood plays in our lives. Mothers hold a special place and role that no one else can fill.

This post is the fourth in a series on the Christian family. Our focus turns to the importance of motherhood. The foundation text is the famous account of the Wedding at Cana.

On the third day, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. John 2:1-2

The Background

Weddings in Palestine were a cause for great celebration. These events would last for several days. A crucial part of the celebration was the lavishness of the wine. Wine aplenty wasn't because everyone attending the wedding wanted to get drunk. To clarify drunkenness was a social disgrace. The Jewish social custom required that there be plenty of wine for everyone. Hospitality was sacred in Jewish culture. And running out of wine would have been a humiliating experience for the wedding host. In a culture of honor and shame that would be devastating.

Mary understanding the situation came to Jesus and said, "They have run out of wine." Jesus' answer may seem abrupt—almost rude—if we don't read it in context.

And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4

Being from the South, I would never address my mom that way. The term "Woman" is not disrespectful. Jesus didn't speak to his mom in English; he was talking to her in Aramaic. The term Jesus used was one of honor. It should be translated,"Dear Woman" or "Gracious Lady." The phrase "What have I to do with thee" is a Hebrew idiom. Accurately, translated that means "Leave things to me, and I will settle them my way." Mary said to the servants...

(v. 6) Do whatever he tells you.

There were six 20-30 gallon stone water jars nearby that were used for ceremonial washing. Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water. They did, and then he told them to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet. The master of the banquet was not the bridegroom; he was more like a head-waiter. His job was to make sure the feast ran smoothly. The servants drew water from the stone jars and took some to the banquet master, and he said...

(v. 10) Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink, but you have saved the best till now.

As we look at how Jesus and his mother related to one another, there are three faith lessons that both parents and children can learn from this story. The lessons that this miracle is teaching are about a mother's faith and how that faith can impact our lives. The first lesson we can learn is:

Remain A Part of Your Child's Life. Parents often make jokes about how much they're looking forward to getting the kids out of the house. And that day the kids are out of their hair forever. Kids often make jokes about getting out from under their parents control as soon as possible.

The fact is, however, the closer we remain to our parents or our children, even in adult years, the better off we'll all be.

Mothers, the second lesson in this story is:

Believe in Your Child's Capacity This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:11

I ran across this story to illustrate. The need to be aware of your child’s potential.

Wendell Burton is an actor and musician. In the early 70's he was in "The Sterile Cuckoo," and he played in some television dramas. Sometime in the mid-seventies he became a Christian, and he recorded a couple of albums of contemporary Christian music. We met when he performed at my church.

Wendell's mother is a Christian, too. She was in a Home Bible Study at her church in Los Angeles, and a member of her Bible Study group was Bob Dylan. When she met him, she said, "Oh, Mr. Dylan, you should meet my son. He's a songwriter, too. I'll bring you one of his albums." When she told Wendell about it, he was embarrassed. He said, "Mom, please don't bother Bob Dylan. He's not interested in my music." Wendell's mom said, "Sure he is! [How could anyone not like your music?]" So, at the next Bible study, she gave Bob one of her son's records.

A couple of weeks later, Wendell got a call from Bob Dylan. He said, "I listened to your album, and I think it's good. In fact, I'm working on a song right now, and I would like your input. Can you stop by my house and listen to it?"

Wendell said, "Only a mother would assume that Bob Dylan and I are on the same level as songwriters."

When Mary was at the wedding in Cana, and the wine suddenly ran out, immediately she went to Jesus, because she knew he could do something about it.

Mary was the one who recognized his potential.

That's the kind of mother every son and daughter needs—one that realizes her child's potential, even before everyone else has a chance to. Look for the strengths in your children; remind them of the good they can do.

The third lesson in this story is:

Give Your Child the Space To Grow. Mary told Jesus about the situation regarding the wine; she told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do; then she stepped out of the picture. Then Jesus solved the problem his way, using his method.

Mary said to the servants:

(v. 5) Do whatever he tells you.

Mary didn't try to tell Jesus how to perform miracles or how to be the Messiah. She let him make those decisions on his own.Every parent must learn when to step back and allow their child to make his or her decisions. Sometimes they'll make decisions you don't agree with--decisions that you don't understand--but you have to be willing to allow them to handle the details of their lives themselves.

When your child was little, you were the only one who could offer the kind of love, nurture, encouragement, and support that he or she needed. Now that they're full grown, you still can do it. They may no longer live in your house, but they still need you. They need you to be involved in their lives. They need you to recognize possibilities that they may not be able to recognize in themselves. And they need you to stand by them in support as they make their way in life.

Other Articles in this series on the Christian Family:

https://revheadpin.org/2016/08/25/the-homefront-is-crumbling/https://revheadpin.org/2016/08/11/is-the-apostle-paul-a-male-chauvinist/http://revheadpin.org/2016/09/01/fatherhood-only-real-men-need-apply

Written By: B. Keith Haney

I am Keith Haney, Husband for 25 years, Father, blogger, hopefully soon a published author and Mission catalyst. All the while serving an Awesome God. You can find me on the web here revheadpin.org

Weeds In A Garden

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During the spring, I had cleared out all of the weeds in the garden and planted many types of vegetables. For a while I was able to keep most of the weeds out. At one point, some animals got into the garden and ate down some of the plants. Then we had some severe rain storms that destroyed many of the plants. This led to discouragement and caused me to cut back on the work in the garden. Along with that, there was no plants that were producing any vegetables. Why work on keeping the weeds out, if there are really no plants to protect? With that I left the garden alone for the last two months.

Over the last two weeks I had decided to start working in the garden again to get it ready for the fall planting season. Nearly the entire garden was completely covered in weeds, some of which were standing more than two feet tall. It was a nightmare to look at, and very discouraging.

I set out to start clearing the weeds out of the garden. Over several hours of work, over several days, I have cleared more than half of the garden of any weeds, most of which I had pulled by hand. In the process I noticed that my green pepper plants and tomato plants, which I thought had died, were alive and thriving. I already have pulled about 15 nice sized green peppers from the plants, and green tomatoes are already growing, much to my surprise.

As I was pulling weeds, I began to think about the garden, life and what Jesus said about weeds. Life is like a great big garden that God has planted. Jesus said that in the end God will have the angels toss out all the weeds in His garden. These are those who do not believe in Jesus, who are not serving God and producing His fruit. In our lives we are supposed to produce fruit that He desires.

Just like my garden has weeds, so does God's garden. Seeds from weeds in other places have found their way into my garden and taken it over.

The world is hard at work planting seeds of weeds in God's garden. The world does not want God's garden to produce His fruit.

In my life, and everyone else's life, there have been seeds of weeds sown. These are seeds of discouragement, unbelief, fear, hatred, greed, jealousy, and the list goes on. If left alone, these seeds will grow and take over your life, just like those seeds did in my vegetable garden.

To combat these seeds, you need to regularly work at weeding your garden of life. On a daily basis, take a look at your garden and ask God to reveal the weeds in your life.

Go before God, the master gardener, and seek is wisdom and strength to get rid of the weeds in your life. Do not allow the weeds of this world overtake your life and destroy the fruit God has planted in you.

This means it will be work. Sometimes it will be very hard and dirty work to get rid of those weeds, but it will be worth it in the end. The longer the weeds have been allowed to grow and mature and spread, the more work it will take to get them out of your garden. The longer the seeds of sin have been allowed to grow, mature and spread in your life, the more work it will take to get them out of your life.

Start today to weed your garden. Work to produce the fruit God has made you to produce. Be the great garden that God has planned you to be.

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Written By: Tom Arn

Tom is happily married for 24 years and father to eight wonderful children (from 19 months to 22 years old), whom he homeschools. He has worked as a pastor, children's pastor, in the oil fields, army, many other jobs, and now currently as a substitute teacher in public schools. He has been writing a daily devotional blog Insights From Tom, for nearly three years. God has shown him many things over the years and he wants to share that with everyone he can.

Explain

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How will you explain the guilt, The secret eyes behind a secret door The mirror where a stranger always lurks The darkness where a boy is always hiding

How will you explain the need, The tremor in your haunted, lonely heart The terror that at night your mind is fraying The flesh for which your body longs with groaning

How will you explain the drive, To make your life work here and now, forever To grab a piece of heaven in your hand And never have it leave your grasp again To stroke and squeeze, and fiercely consume it And feed the worm that on your soul is feasting

How will you explain the pull, To be in love no matter how destructive To live as if your heart no hurt is bearing To run from home as if no home you needed

How will you explain the passion, Which chains you like a beast at night so black The urge so shameful, like fire that consumes you And shackles you, a slave of secrets dark

How will you explain the shadow, That inside lurks, behind a door that`s bolted Old nameless fear, ancient dread unspoken It terrifies a child in grown man`s body

How will you explain the madness, Voracious crows your sanity devour They take away the last enduring grain And leave you in a room, cold, white and empty There in that silence, sleepless voice resounds Your ravaged mind it fills with utmost horror It whispers that no peace you`ll ever have, No hope and joy will ever spring within you

How will you explain the falsehood, The mask your face so firmly that is gripping The laughter when you feel just bitter tears The silence when you want to scream with terror

How will you explain the shame, That friend unwanted who holds you in the darkness Caressing face so gnarled with searing pain And with a black veil guilty eyes it cloaks ‘I`ll care for you’ with poisoned lips it whispers And so the young tree ever crooked grows

How will you explain the bitter anger, The shame embracing, evil lie believing Your excellent and perfect heart you stomped on Believing that it only death deserved…

How will you explain the sorrow, Your glory and the beauty wasn`t seen An ugly soul you thought your lot in life was A twisted face and blackened heart to bear Received as your fate from cruel gods How will you explain the question, ‘Why was I made thus?’ little boy once asked A question in the withered soul that echoed And no one heard that silent, raspy voice The answer from the unseen lips that slithered ‘That`s who you are,’ the shadow then proclaimed ‘And never in your life will you be loved!’ ‘You are dirty, bad and rotten deep inside,’ ‘And all who know you will forever curse you’

How will you explain the lies, The wicked voice that echoed in your ears Sharp, deadly words right in the heart that stabbed you And doomed you to a life of endless torment

How will you explain the creature dark, The hand unseen, your throat at night that`s gripping The sharp and hungry blade your heart that pierced, Your beauty, hopes and dreams it cut to pieces…

Since you were little is your soul so shattered And you, my child, have not had too much joy Confusion, hatred, bitterness consume you, And shameful pleasure is your only friend But look, your eyes move to the horizon, And take your mind outside the hell within you A world is there, that you my friend will see That needs you, and the glory that`s inside you

A heart that`s darkened, rotting, almost dead, Might not seem much to you or to the others But long before the darkness draped your world That heart was made for paradise and glory

And how will you explain the glory bright, That makes you wish for world that`s somehow better A world without death, pain, and broken hearts Those places from your youth without the sorrows

Why does your heart for such world always yearns Why do you long so for a life that`s better And why does that glory, buried deep inside Death is refusing with a bitter cry?

It is because, child, such good world is true Too good indeed, to not have been existing And there is One who came to look for you Down in the darkness, a Hero came to find you Red blood once flowed, staining the wooden cross A young brave heart that day ceased to beat A sacrifice was offered to Death A price was paid then, a captive was released

That captive is your dear, eternal heart And you, my friend, for freedom have been ransomed Each tear from you, there in the darkness shed Is precious for the One that came to seek you He cares for you, that heart is loved by Him And God forbid that He should ever lose you…

How will you explain the guilt, The secret eyes behind a secret door The mirror where a stranger always lurks The darkness where a boy is always hiding

How will you explain the need, The tremor in your haunted, lonely heart The terror that at night your mind is fraying The flesh for which your body longs with groaning

How will you explain the drive, To make your life work here and now, forever To grab a piece of heaven in your hand And never have it leave your grasp again To stroke and squeeze, and fiercely consume it And feed the worm that on your soul is feasting

How will you explain the pull, To be in love no matter how destructive To live as if your heart no hurt is bearing To run from home as if no home you needed

How will you explain the passion, Which chains you like a beast at night so black The urge so shameful, like fire that consumes you And shackles you, a slave of secrets dark

How will you explain the shadow, That inside lurks, behind a door that`s bolted Old nameless fear, ancient dread unspoken It terrifies a child in grown man`s body

How will you explain the madness, Voracious crows your sanity devour They take away the last enduring grain And leave you in a room, cold, white and empty There in that silence, sleepless voice resounds Your ravaged mind it fills with utmost horror It whispers that no peace you`ll ever have, No hope and joy will ever spring within you

How will you explain the falsehood, The mask your face so firmly that is gripping The laughter when you feel just bitter tears The silence when you want to scream with terror

How will you explain the shame, That friend unwanted who holds you in the darkness Caressing face so gnarled with searing pain And with a black veil guilty eyes it cloaks ‘I`ll care for you’ with poisoned lips it whispers And so the young tree ever crooked grows

How will you explain the bitter anger, The shame embracing, evil lie believing Your excellent and perfect heart you stomped on Believing that it only death deserved…

How will you explain the sorrow, Your glory and the beauty wasn`t seen An ugly soul you thought your lot in life was A twisted face and blackened heart to bear Received as your fate from cruel gods How will you explain the question, ‘Why was I made thus?’ little boy once asked A question in the withered soul that echoed And no one heard that silent, raspy voice The answer from the unseen lips that slithered ‘That`s who you are,’ the shadow then proclaimed ‘And never in your life will you be loved!’ ‘You are dirty, bad and rotten deep inside,’ ‘And all who know you will forever curse you’

How will you explain the lies, The wicked voice that echoed in your ears Sharp, deadly words right in the heart that stabbed you And doomed you to a life of endless torment

How will you explain the creature dark, The hand unseen, your throat at night that`s gripping The sharp and hungry blade your heart that pierced, Your beauty, hopes and dreams it cut to pieces…

Since you were little is your soul so shattered And you, my child, have not had too much joy Confusion, hatred, bitterness consume you, And shameful pleasure is your only friend But look, your eyes move to the horizon, And take your mind outside the hell within you A world is there, that you my friend will see That needs you, and the glory that`s inside you

A heart that's darkened, rotting, almost dead, Might not seem much to you or to the others But long before the darkness draped your world That heart was made for paradise and glory

And how will you explain the glory bright, That makes you wish for world that`s somehow better A world without death, pain, and broken hearts Those places from your youth without the sorrows

Why does your heart for such world always yearns Why do you long so for a life that's better And why does that glory, buried deep inside Death is refusing with a bitter cry?

It is because, child, such good world is true Too good indeed, to not have been existing And there is One who came to look for you Down in the darkness, a Hero came to find you Red blood once flowed, staining the wooden cross A young brave heart that day ceased to beat A sacrifice was offered to Death A price was paid then, a captive was released

That captive is your dear, eternal heart And you, my friend, for freedom have been ransomed Each tear from you, there in the darkness shed Is precious for the One that came to seek you He cares for you, that heart is loved by Him And God forbid that He should ever lose you…

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Written By: George Stoimenov

Not long ago Isought life whenever I thought life was to be found - like all others, I too have a hungry heart. But there was only despair and darkness. Sad is the life without hope, but even that sadness is only felt by those who know their hunger. It was in Africa, where He chose to finally meet me, after years of torment. I wept as received the only embrace which I truly needed. The years that followed brought strife, tears, and pain, but that was needed, much needed, if my heart was to be restored. He gave me a sword, a new name, and brought my old, old desires back from the world of the dead. How could they be dead, child? They were in the heart of the infinite God. Yes, we must become like children, for it is children that we are...

Old, long-buried hopes arose within me as the quest advanced. In His love, He restored, and is still restoring my heart which, as any other heart in this wonderful and terrible world, had been hidden in darkness and despair.

I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness...

You can find me on the web at https://storytellingandmore.wordpress.com/