A Quick Word of Encouragement

 

“I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” – Psalm 16:8

Tough Tuesday? He understands.

Last night I watched a thunderstorm blow through my town. Storms are always fascinating to watch, so long as I’m inside. When my safety is assured, I am free to marvel at God’s creation.

I don’t know what you are facing today. It could be a massive storm, or you could be in a state of complete joy. Regardless of your current condition, whether it’s a storm or a celebration, you are free to spectate.

Sit back, relax, and trust because you are under the protection of the Father.  It doesn’t make your situation easy, but it might make it bearable.

Filled with overwhelming joy today? Let it overflow until you are the catalyst of joy for another person.

God bless y’all. I pray you have a wonderful Tuesday.

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

Ten Traits of a Real Man

Manliness is not defined as grease, guns, belches, and wrenches. It’s not clothed in Carhartt, Browning, or Realtree. A man doesn’t have to dip, cuss, and drink to be considered masculine, but there are a few things that are truly manly.

Below are ten traits of real manliness. Most of them are common sense (something that is hard to find in today’s world). A real man:

  1. Leads. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business or your family, the world looks to men for leadership. It is no wonder women are stepping up in the public sector. They are simply trying to fill a natural void.
  2. Is strong. You don’t have to be able to bench press 400 pounds but the world knows a real man when they see it. He carries himself with confidence that speaks for itself.
  3. Learns. Don’t know how to fix a car? A real man takes it upon himself to learn. Not sure how to shoot a weapon? A humble man asks for help and guidance so he can be a capable provider and protector.
  4. Provides. A real man doesn’t have to be pestered or asked to work. He does it because it is required of him by society and he has self – respect. Laziness is not in the vocabulary of a respectable man.
  5. Protects. Safety can be felt from a real man’s countenance. Women and children do not need to fear when a guardian is in the area. They can trust that they will be taken care of if anything threatens their quality of life.
  6. Cares. Sensitivity is not a bad thing. Being a man means knowing how to care without being overly emotional. A real man cares enough to listen and help problem solve.
  7. Solves problems. Although he may not have the solution, he can find the person who does. Whatever it takes to solve a problem, he will either seek the Lord’s provision or be that agent of repair, himself.
  8. Loves his wife and children faithfully. Even in the face of fear, a real man steps up and takes care of his wife and child. He is faithful to his family and loves his wife more than himself.
  9. Disciplines himself. A man of honor asks the Lord to help him. It is only by walking in the Spirit that a man can control the urges that his body presents.
  10. Sacrifices. Either for his country, his family, or ultimately the Lord, a real man will do what it takes to stand up for what he believes in, even if it cost him his life.

 Are you pursuing genuine manhood? If yes, great. Continue to be what society needs. If not, find a man who is your senior and demonstrates the qualities above. Learn from him and model his character.

God bless, and have a great Saturday.

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

 

 

 

Three Benefits of Friendship

 

I remember back in middle and high school youth groups the pastor would speak about the issues of “cliques.” He would often encourage us to get outside our comfort zone and make sure that we are not maintining a closed group of friends. Recently, I observed a shift that happens to our friendships as adults.

Unlike grade school, as adults we often have to be encouraged to work to maintain high quality friendships. Having a tight clique can be a source of strength and encouragement. It can also test our patience. There will be times in life where we need support that comes from outside our family unit. Here are three benefits to having tight – knit friendships.

  1. They can help sustain you in hard times. Many of you have lived this principle. God often uses friends to help us when we feel our strength faltering. Friends provide the medicine of laughter[i], the comfort of proximity, and freshness that comes from seeing a face that isn’t family.
  2. They provide an accurate account of your walk with the Lord. Friends can see hypocrisy. They see growth. They sense annoyance and feel your anger. The beauty of friendship is the fact that they can observe all of the bad moments and still be loyal to you. However, a good friend will not see a pattern of destructive behavior and just ignore it. If your friend is truly sharpening you, then be prepared to hear the hard truths about behavior that you may need to address with the Lord[ii].
  3. Friendship teaches us selflessness. It is easy to say that romantic relationships make us more like Christ and require a sacrifice. Commitment to quality friendship requires the same kind of selfless love. Being reliable, taking time to listen, sacrificing your own wants, holding your tongue, and avoiding anger and frustration are all traits that have to be mastered in order to love the people closest to you. God sanctifies us through relationships with friends.

Think of your closest friends today and thank God for their presence in your life. Commit to serving them and loving them even more than you already do.

God bless, and have a great Tuesday.

[i] Proverbs 17:22

[ii] Proverbs 27:17

When a Christian Leader Fails

Almost monthly I feel like I open up the Christian Post only to read a story about another Christian leader who has failed morally. These stories break my heart. Also, what breaks my heart are the tragic responses of some Christians.

When someone fails the natural human tendency is to feel superior. Our public reputations stand unblemished while someone wallows in their own mess. Pride is lurking, waiting to takeover the recipient’s heart when he or she hears the news. Here are some helpful ways to respond to the public moral flounder of a leader.

  1. Pray for the individual. This is a pretty obvious point that almost goes without saying, but prayer still gets overlooked. When someone you look up to and have served under falters, intercede on their behalf. Your prayers will help minister grace and mercy to them in their time of need. Think of a time you failed and reflect on how much you wanted someone to pray for you.
  2. If possible, reach out to them. You don’t have to send a long email or leave a comprehensive voicemail. When leaders loose their positions, sometimes they experience a time of disillusionment because part of their identity has been taken from them. It is natural for them to feel like they are of less value to God and the church after failure. Fight that lie by letting them know that they are more than a “title” to you.
  3. Don’t slander. Don’t feed gossip. If someone brings up the news in a malicious way, tell the gossiper that you are praying for the individual, and then let the topic go. It can be tempting to want to stir up drama and discuss rumors, but there is no edification for anyone from that kind of chatter. Be simple and to the point. Don’t give yourself or them any opportunity to slander or gossip.
  4. Step up and help out where you can. If a leader leaves a void, help fill it if you have the right gifts. Preachers aren’t the only men who fail in the church. Be ready to step into the small areas that need as much attention as preaching and worship.

Dealing with people’s shortcomings requires grace and mercy. Make sure that you are allowing the Holy Spirit to make you a more gracious, kind, and loving person. These kinds of people are the agents of healing that mistaken leaders need in their lives.

God bless, and have a great Saturday!

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

Three Ways to Fight Fatigue on Sunday Morning

We have all been there. We had a full week. We are worn out. We overworked ourselves on Saturday and stayed up to watch the game. The alarm goes off on Sunday and our bodies scream out “don’t do it!” In that moment, discipline and resolve are necessary if you are going to make it to church.

There will be times in your Christian walk that you simply don’t want to go to church, regardless of the quality of worship service that you attend. I want to point out three realizations about church that are vital. Often times, simply having the right perspective can change your attitude.

  1. The moment that you want to go back to sleep is actually spiritual warfare. Granted, it may not be the most intense war being fought, but it is a struggle between serving self and serving the Lord. Identify your desires and tell them to God. Sometimes we think less of ourselves for having to say a prayer for strength to simply get out of bed. There is nothing wrong with asking God to help us do the right thing.
  2. Be proactive about fighting fatigue. If we are honest, there are times that we struggle to get out of bed because of poor choices the night before. I am as guilty of this as anyone. Set a realistic bed time for yourself (and your spouse, if you have one) and guard it diligently. Being happy and refreshed will enhance your worship the next morning.
  3. Think of all that you miss out on. Of course, sometimes the songs sung aren’t your favorite, the coffee isn’t hot enough, or you just don’t want to have to talk to that certain “someone.” But, these aren’t valid excuses for why you should miss out on church. Remember, all the social aspects of church only add to the blessing of being in the presence of the Lord. You will not be adequately fed in your spiritual life if you are not going to church consistently. It keeps you accountable and focused on the right things during the week.

These are meant to be helpful tips for beating that draggy feeling when it comes time to wake up. I will deal with hurt from the church body at a later time.

God bless, and have an enjoyable Tuesday.

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

 

Guest Blogger – Kayla Hamlin

By Kayla Hamlin 

“Forget your pride (what have you to be proud of?) and your anger (who has done you wrong?) and accept the mercy of these good Kings.” (Lewis, The Horse and His Boy)

“Pride and joy” is a common American phrase, but more often than not, pride is accompanied by anger and violence, rather than joy. Prince Rabadash (to whom the above quote was directed after his failed ambush) was prideful, and that would not allow him to accept the mercy of the Kings. This made him angry, violent, and unhappy.

Rabadash’s prideful condition reminds me of Luke 15, the parable of the two sons. The older son came home to a party being thrown for his brother, but he was livid and refused to enter. Soon after, his dad came to greet him. He said “this son of yours (not my brother) has squandered your wealth. I have never disobeyed you, why have you never given me a goat to celebrate with my friends.”

His dad replied “my son, you have been with me my whole life, all that I have is yours” (inspired by the prodigy ). The older son had worked his whole life, and he was proud of that. He didn’t understand that the father isn’t about work, He is about hearts. The young son’s heart had gone and returned, but the older son’s heart was never really there. The Father was celebrating his young son’s returned heart, but the older son’s pride wouldn’t let him celebrate with or understand the Father. All his pride did was make him angry at the sight of other people’s joy. I imagine the Father used those same words as he urged his son’s heart to return home. “Forget your pride (what have you to be proud of?) and your anger (who has done you wrong?) and accept the mercy of the good King.”

Allow me to compare this story with one in Luke 7. Jesus was having dinner at a Pharisees’ house. A woman walked in. She had nothing to be proud of, and she knew it. She rushed to Jesus and cried in thankfulness, she wet his feet with her tears, she dried them with her hair, and she anointed them with oil. Jesus said “your sins are forgiven, your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

Both characters had nothing to be proud of, (our best days are like filthy rags to God) both were offered a mercy they didn’t deserve. One refused to take part, choosing a life of pride and anger. Contrarily, the other praised God for His gift.

She walked away joyful, he walked away angry.

She walked away peaceful, he walked away discontent.

She walked away satisfied, he walked away dissatisfied.

We could live in pride, but what do we have to be proud of?

We could live in anger, but who has wronged us that God has not forgiven?

Or We could accept the King’s mercy, joy, and peace.

*Psalm 73, Galatians 5:19-23, Psalm 43:4, Psalm 42:5

 

Kayla is a high school junior who began following Christ nine years ago, and IMG_2101discovering Him for herself in middle school. She started
her ministry journey as a dance teacher at the age of 14. Since then her love for children’s ministry has grown as she works with the Lord, readying young hearts for his kingdom’s come. Kayla wants to attend college in the future to study education an
d world languages. She thoroughly enjoys fine arts, watching musicals, spending time with family and cherry pie.

 

Photograph taken by Miguel Á. Padriñán

Five Ways to Compensate When God Seems Far Off

Any Christian who has been walking with God for a short time knows that God can seem far off. Even experienced Christians are not strangers to the odd feeling of distance between themselves and the Lord.

When we run into seasons of boredom with the Lord, it can be tempting to want to compensate. This kind of strife is the wrong approach and will only cause you to miss what is actually happening between you and the Lord. If you are feeling disconnected, distanced, or “bored” in your relationship with God, try these five things.

  1. Check your life for sin. This principle is simple yet true. We are fallen creations made right with God; therefore, we are not immune to sin. Remember, sin isn’t bad just because God calls it bad. It is harmful because it ruptures your relationship with God. Consistent sin is a sign of a rebellious heart, and God eventually deals with idols that we place before him. Discipline yourself now so He doesn’t have to later.
  2. Check your prayer time. If we are failing to talk to God, it only makes sense that we will feel far from him. Anytime we fail to communicate with someone we know, the natural response is to feel a lack of connection with them. We must put in effort to maintain our open line of communication with the Father.
  3. Check your Bible study. Make sure you are reading to learn, not just to clear your conscience. Reading the Bible simply to complete the task is as effective as trying to read a history textbook at midnight. That kind of devotion will not cause change, and you will miss out on what God is saying to you through his Word. Try reading smaller amounts in your Bible. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew, only to end up choking your spiritual walk.
  4. Check your friends/influences. Is the company you are around passionate about the Lord? Are you pursuing meaningful relationships that better you as a man or woman of God? Often times we feel discouraged by the people around us because we haven’t picked the best people to spend our free time with. We have to make sure to share our lives with people who draw us closer to the Lord.
  5. Be okay with bland. There are seasons of life when we seem to be plateauing spiritually. Be aware, this is simply an illusion. God uses every moment in our lives to make us more like Christ and to draw us closer to Himself, so long as we are submissive. Learn to relish the quiet moments. There will be days you look back and wish you were in calmer waters.

 I hope you find this post practical and applicable. Keep in mind, the Lord loves you and is pursuing you every day. Make sure you are looking for Him.

God bless, and have a wonderful Tuesday.

 

Photo is property of George Ro Photography