Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Decoding the Differences between Men and Women

a personal/ministry resource from Crosswalk

Decoding the Differences between Men and Women
Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg

It's something we hear from couple after couple: men and women are so
different! How can my spouse and I learn to understand each other?

Men and woman sure are different! It doesn't take science to tell us
that. All we need to do is look at how any group of guys or girls
interact to begin to see some differences. Obviously, these are
generalities, but here are just a few of the differences between men
and women:

• When guys need encouragement, they typically go for the slap on the
back from the guys on the court. When women need encouragement, they
want hugs from their supportive friends.

• Men look to their friends to be just company. Women want emotional
connection in friendships. For women, it hasn't been a good time if
they haven't had a good laugh or a good cry.

• Men think of intimacy in physical terms (S-E-X); women think of
intimacy in emotional terms (T-A-L-K).

So how are you supposed to know what your husband or wife wants and
needs? Well we've done part of the work for you! For our book, The
Five Love Needs of Men and Women, we surveyed more than 700 couples
from across the country and asked them to rank what they needed from
their spouse. The results may surprise you!

Here's a look at the top five love needs for husbands and wives – and
how you can meet your spouse's needs.

A Wife's Top 5 Love Needs

1. Unconditional Love and Acceptance. Imagine your spouse loving you
completely, without even hesitating over your mistakes. Sounds just
like Christ, doesn't it? That's the core of unconditional love, and He
is the source of it. You can reflect God's love for her and your love
for her by encouraging her, standing with her, complimenting her,
respecting her opinion, talking with her—and listening, spending time
with her, and serving her.

2. Emotional Intimacy and Communication. When your wife hears the word
intimacy, she thinks about emotional connection and communication. She
wants a marriage that has vulnerable sharing of inner thoughts,
feelings, spirit, and true self. Listen to her. Show her an
understanding heart. Give her attention and affection. Build rapport
with her. Resolve conflict and safeguard your relationship.

3. Spiritual Intimacy. A wife wants a marriage as a cord with three
strands: God, husband, and wife. She wants God to be inextricably
woven throughout the marriage relationship. She needs to be growing
spiritually and watching you grow spiritually and leading the home. To
do so, encourage her spiritual growth, encourage her fellowship with
you and others, encourage her to express her spiritual gifts, and
encourage her with your prayers.

4. Encouragement and Affirmation. To keep a bounce in her step, give
her daily doses of encouragement. Tell her she's your best friend,
that she's the best wife, give her some space when she needs it, leave
her thank-you notes, and give your wife extra help with chores.
Encourage her by understanding her wiring, giving her first place,
pointing out her potential, and appreciating her contribution.

5. Companionship. To your wife, friendship means heart-to-heart
communication, special time away with you, and growing old together.
It involves togetherness. She needs you to work hard at your marriage
– to laugh together, play together, stay the course, and work out the
inevitable differences between you.

A Husband's Top 5 Love Needs

1. Unconditional Love and Acceptance. When your husband needs your
unconditional love, it simple means that he needs you to love him and
receive him no matter what. Unconditional love starts with God. He
loved us even though we didn't deserve us. He loves us even though we
are full of pride and self-centeredness. In the same way, put aside
your own needs to meet your husband's needs.

2. Sexual Intimacy. Less than 50% and up to 90% of a man's self-image
is locked up in his sexuality. Sex, passion, pleasing the woman he
loves – that's what makes a man feel like a man. Consequently, when a
man experiences sexual rejection from his wife, he may shut down, pull
away—or worse—do something morally stupid. To meet his sexual needs,
talk to God about any hesitation you have. Start with your own heart,
learn what satisfies your husband, and commit yourself to meet his

3. Companionship. Are you the one person your husband can count on
when the rubber meets the road? Your husband needs your friendship. He
needs to know – deep down – that he is safe to explore with you what
is churning around in his heart and mind. Let your husband know you
want to be his best friend. Make your relationship a safe place for
your husband to face his pain, and be willing to love sacrificially.

4. Encouragement and Affirmation. Your husband will feel discouraged
and defeated when he doesn't hear you cheering him on – or he'll seek
the applause somewhere else. When he knows that he's the only one in
your world, the walls around your marriage grow stronger. Encourage
him to hear your applause. Encourage him by reminding him of God's
work in his life. Most important: pray for him to hear the applause of
heaven – to know God is on his side!

5. Spiritual Intimacy. Your husband needs to be growing spiritually.
He needs spiritual connection—with God, with you, and with other men.
Being the spiritual leader of your family is the toughest job your
husband will ever take on. Your husband needs your help. Encourage him
to spend personal time in the Word, talk about Scripture with him,
pray with him, pray for him, and make time for fellowship and worship

Meeting your spouse's love needs is one of the most important
responsibilities you have in your marriage. So take the time to learn
your spouse's love needs – and meet them! It will bring you closer and
help you build an extraordinary marriage!

Portions of this article were adapted from "The 5 Love Needs of Men
and Women," Copyright 2000 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights
reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., To order this resource or to find our more about Dr.
Gary and Barb – Your Marriage Coaches, visit or
call 1-888-608-COACH.

Doors Now Wide Open for Christian Clubs at Nation's Schools

source: Religion News/ Crosswalk
Doors Now Wide Open for Christian Clubs at Nation's Schools
Allie Martin
A federal appeals court has ruled that a South Carolina public school
district violated the constitutional rights of a student-led Christian

The unanimous decision (3-0) by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals last week ruled that the Anderson School District Five had a
discriminatory policy against Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), which
sponsors Good News Clubs in elementary schools. CEF was charged a fee
to use school facilities, even though the district waived fees for
clubs such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, the local Democratic
Party, and other groups.

CEF of South Carolina was represented in the three-year legal battle
by Orlando-based Liberty Counsel. Mat Staver, founder and chairman of
the legal group, says the decision handed down by the appeals court is

"The court clearly had some great words to say that every public
school in America ought to heed," says Staver. "It says, for example,
that the government may not bar religious perspectives on otherwise
permitted subjects, and that communities of faith may not be
arbitrarily excluded from the protections of the free-speech clause."

In short, said the court ruling, "speech is not to be selectively
permitted or proscribed according to official preference." Overall,
the court "hit the bullseye," says the Christian attorney.

"Government cannot treat religious group unfavorably compared to other
groups," he states. "Equal access is the law, and equal access means
equal treatment in every respect."

Staver contends that Christians clubs have a positive influence on
public school campuses and should not be harassed. In fact, he feels
they should be welcomed with open arms.

"I think it's ironic as these schools hassle the Good News Clubs,
because they're great organizations," Staver shares. "They teach
character, they teach morality, they teach right and wrong, they teach
respect, and they do it all from a Christian viewpoint -- and the
kids' lives are literally changed."

The Liberty Counsel founder believes the ruling now opens the doors
for Good News Clubs and other Christian clubs in public schools
nationwide. The case was Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Anderson
School District Five.

(c) 2006 AgapePress all rights reserved

The Emotional Affair: When Friendship Goes Too Far

for personal/ministry resource
includes 5 practical tips....

The Emotional Affair: When Friendship Goes Too Far
Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg
America's Family Coaches

It begins innocently – You talk about the events of the day, your
interests, share funny stories. Pretty soon you're discussing the
passions of your heart and confiding in each other about the problems
in your marriages. What began as an innocent friendship with someone
of the opposite sex has quickly become an emotional affair. And if
you're not careful, it could mushroom into a full-blown physical

Of course, most of us have friends of the opposite sex and never
stumble into an affair. But it can be easier than you think to cross
the line in those kinds of friendships. That's why you need
appropriate boundaries with opposite-sex friends and you need to guard
your heart – and the heart of your marriage!

We live in a culture that is largely hostile to biblical truth, moral
purity and marital fidelity. Our hearts are continuously bombarded by
temptations from our human nature, our culture, and the devil himself.
Here are three things you can count on:

1. You have a marriage relationship that is worth guarding with your life.

2. Living in a world that is largely hostile to healthy marriages,
your hearts will come under attack.

3. You cannot survive these attacks on your own. You and your spouse
must stand together against your common foe. You must guard your heart
and guard each other's heart. And you need others to stand with you
over the long haul – Christians who share your desire for a
divorce-proof marriage.

Men: It can be especially easy for you to begin capturing another
woman's heart without even realizing it. You may think you're just
having an enjoyable conversation with a coworker, but it may be the
only attention that woman has had all week. Before you know it, your
conversations move from friendly chatter to intimate subjects. We're
not suggesting men can't have friendships with other women, but we are
warning it can be easier than you think to cross the line.

Think of it this way: If this woman invited you into her house and the
two of you were along, would the topics and conversation stay the same
as they do in public or with other people? And here's a word of advice
for you guys: Trust your wife's instincts in this area. If your wife
suggests another woman is behaving inappropriately, she is probably
right. Most women have radar, an innate alertness to nonverbal
communication and an ability to translate body language into emotional
facts. Your wife probably is able to see these things clearly. Regard
it as a gift from God that will keep you out of danger.

Women: you need to know that for you, as well as men, adultery begins
in the heart. Be careful you are not lured away from your marriage by
a man's tenderness, openness, warmth, personality, and attentiveness.
When you sense that someone else is captivating your heart, when this
attraction results in increased disappointment or frustration toward
your husband, or when you begin to dwell on or act out your
fascination, it's time to confront the threat.

Here are several practical tips that will help you guard your heart in
your friendships.

1. Dismiss and replace tempting thoughts. Don't allow any unwholesome
thoughts to make a home in your mind. If those thoughts enter your
mind, it's time to look away or leave the room. If you can't leave,
shift your focus away from that person by thinking of your spouse.
Start praying for your spouse and your kids. Wrong thoughts don't
easily coexist with sincere prayer.

2. Don't gaze too long into the windows of the soul. Eye contact in a
conversation is good. But if you catch a look that is too intense, too
engaging, or makes you uncomfortable, avert your eyes and resist that
gaze. A deep gaze can stir something in one or both of you, something
you don't want stirred up. Save that eye contact for one person: your

3. Don't go out of your way to see or meet someone. Don't take a
different hallway back to your office just to encounter that
attractive new employee. Don't select a seat in church because it is
near that person who loves to talk to you after the service. Don't
linger after a meeting hoping to be noticed by that certain person.
And don't meet with a tempting person privately, even if the purpose
is legitimate. Invite your spouse to come along, meet with a larger
group, or meet in a public place where you are never alone.

4. Be careful with physical touch. You may like to shake your friends'
hands or even sometimes give them a hug, and you may be very
affectionate with your family. But no matter how affectionate you are
at home, you need a different standard with members of the opposite
sex. Here's a helpful question to ask yourself: If your spouse, your
children, your mother and Jesus were in the room watching you give
that hug or pat, would they heartily approve? If not, don't do it.

5. Keep conversation general. Many affairs are started or fueled when
a man and woman who are not married to each other talk about their
personal lives. Talk about the weather, work, the new pastor, the
news, and the like. But if the other person starts sharing something
of a personal nature – even if disguising it as a "prayer request" –
redirect or terminate the conversation.

6. When all else fails, run for your moral life. If for some reason
you find yourself in a compromising situation with someone of the
opposite sex, immediately and physically remove yourself from that
situation. You don't have to explain or apologize. And don't let the
other person convince you it's no big deal. Do what Joseph in the Old
Testament did when Potipher's wife attempted to seduce him: drop
everything and run.

You can say no to the threats to your own marriage by guarding your
heart, and standing strong for a godly marriage.


Portions of this article were adapted from "The Great Marriage Q&A
Book," Copyright 2006 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights
reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,
To order this resource or to find our more about Dr. Gary and Barb –
Your Marriage Coaches, visit or call

Married over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and four
grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, your marriage coaches, have
a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touch people of all ages.
Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counseling experience and
Barbara's gift of encouragement and biblical teaching, they are
equipping thousands of families across the nation through their
interactive daily radio program, conferences, and marriage and family

Guilt-Free Holiday Menu

Written by Branda Polk

Planning a holiday meal can be a frustrating battle for the
health-conscious host or hostess. Your mind desires to provide a
delicious, festive, and healthy meal for your guests, but your heart
(and family) cries for the traditional, high-fat recipes identified
with the holiday season.

Healthy Holidays; A Plan to Help You Maintail for Healthy Lifestyle
Through The Holiday Season
This year, settle both mind and heart with this delicious menu full of
good-for-you food. Impress your guest's taste buds and save time and
waistlines with this easy-to-prepare line up of festive food,
appropriate for an intimate meal for four or — when doubled — for the
family gathering.

Appetizer: Festive Black Bean Salsa with Baked Tortilla chips
Salad: Spinach Jicama Salad
Main Course: Apricot Cornish Game Hens
Side Dishes: Low-Fat Creamy Potato Au Gratin
Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes
Broccoli with Lemon
Dessert: Delicious Cherry Cheesecake


Festive Black Bean Salsa
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno pepper (add more for additional heat,
omit for milder salsa)
1/3 cup red vinegar
1/3 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate to let
flavors blend. Best when made 1-2 days before serving. Serve with
baked tortilla chips.

Spinach Jicama Salad
Jicama is a sweet, crunchy root vegetable from Mexico that is
delicious alone or in a salad. You can find jicama in the produce
section of your local grocery store.

1 bag fresh spinach leaves, cleaned, dried, and torn into pieces
1 6 oz. can mandarin orange slices
1 cup Jicama, peeled and shredded or thinly sliced
1/2 cup fat-free or reduced fat poppy seed dressing
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (optional for garnish)
Place spinach, oranges, and Jicama in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with
dressing and toss together. Sprinkle with toasted almonds if desired.

Apricot Cornish Game Hens
2 – 4 Cornish Game Hens, cleaned and patted dry
2 envelopes of dry onion soup mix
1 jar apricot preserves
1 large bottle reduced-fat Italian dressing

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Determine number of hens based on size.
Plan at least half a bird per person for larger hens and a whole bird
per person for smaller birds. Place cleaned game hens in a roasting
pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine soup mix
and apricot preserves. Drizzle mixture over hens. Pour entire bottle
of dressing over hens. Cover roasting pan. Bake for approximately 1.5
hours or until done. While baking, occasionally spoon juices over hens
to baste and distribute flavor. Remove foil for final 10 minutes of
baking to brown hens. When done, remove hens from oven, cover, and
allow to rest before slicing or serving.

Low-Fat Creamy Potato Au Gratin
3 medium baking potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 small onion, trimmed, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
12 oz. evaporated skimmed milk
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all spices
(cayenne and black pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and salt). Coat a 10-inch
pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and layer half of the potatoes
in the bottom. Sprinkle potatoes with 1 Tbsp of flour. Arrange onions
on top of floured potatoes. Sprinkle with half of spice mix and 2
Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese. Arrange remaining potatoes in a spiral
formation on top of cheese. Sprinkle with remaining flour and spices.
Pour milk over the potatoes and top with remaining cheese. Cover with
foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, lower the temperature
to 350 degrees and bake for about 15 more minutes until the top is
golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before
serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes
4 large tomatoes, cut in half crosswise with seeds removed, forming "cups"
3 small shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp. margarine, melted
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
3 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground pepper (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle inside of tomato "cups" with
salt and set aside to drain on paper towels for 15 minutes. Combine
remaining ingredients, except pepper, in a bowl. Stuff each tomato cup
with breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake 10 minutes, then
broil 30-60 seconds until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Broccoli with Lemon
1 pound fresh broccoli, trimmed, washed, and cut into flowerets
3 Tbsp. chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. finely grated lemon rind
2 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam fresh broccoli over boiling water or in microwave until tender
but still crisp. Drain, cover to keep warm, and set aside. Combine
remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk to thoroughly combine.
Add cooked broccoli to sauce and toss together. Garnish with lemon

Delicious Cherry Cheesecake
Prepare cheesecake the night before your big event and keep chilled
until ready to serve.
1.5 pounds fat free cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 nine-inch graham cracker pie crust
1 can cherry pie filling
Light whipped topping (garnish option)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend together first 3 ingredients with
an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, combining each
one before adding the next. Blend well. Pour cream cheese mixture into
pie crust. Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool.
Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Top with cherry pie filling and a
dollop of whipped topping just before serving.

Mary's Angel

source: Right to the Heart
By Rebekah Montgomery

A little over 2000 years ago, God sent an angel named Gabriel with an
extraordinary announcement to a young woman named Mary in the town of

What do we know about Mary? We know that in First Century Israel,
girls were betrothed as soon as they became women - at 12 or 13 years
old. So we can guess that Mary was very young.

And there's something else interesting about Mary: Her name literally
means "bitter" or "bitterness." That's significant because Jewish
parents chose names for their children based upon what they hoped for
their child or how they felt about it.

So why would parents name a child "bitter"? Because the child was a
girl, not a boy.

Keeping that in mind, listen to Gabriele's greeting to Mary:
"Greetings you who are highly favored, the Lord is with you." (Luke

To a young girl whose name meant bitterness, these were strange words.
But Gabriel's message reveals so much about the tender care of the
Heavenly Father: His Word touches the deepest hurt of the human heart.

To Mary, the angel said, "You are not a mistake. God planned that you
would be born a girl so you could be the mother of His Son."

If we could truly see into the realm of the angels, those who are
disappointed and bitter would see that the very thing they thought
ruined their life is meant to bless others. They would see the truth
that Mary grasped when she proclaimed, "From now on all generations
will call me blessed." (Luke 1:41)

"I Believe in You!" The Power of Encouragement in Marriage

The Smalley Relationship Center

"I Believe in You!" The Power of Encouragement in Marriage
Dr. Greg Smalley
One of the greatest gifts you can give your mate is to believe in his
or her dreams. What a difference you can make if you always treat your
mate not as he might be at that moment, but as you know he can be.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called
"Today," …

— Hebrews 3:13

"I've hit the wall!" That was my first thought when I felt an intense
tingling throughout my body. "This can't be happening now!" I pleaded
with myself, "I still have eight miles to go!" But with each step, my
body engaged in a war with my mind. On one side of the battle was that
I had dreamed and trained for six months to complete a marathon. On
the other side, however, was my body. At the eighteen mile marker I
began to experience severe cramping in my calves.

My wife, Erin, found me at the next mile marker. Expecting to see me
running along joyously, her first thought was that I was injured.
After explaining my dilemma, all I could think about was quitting. In
my mind, if I had to walk the remaining distance, my dream of
"running" a marathon was over. As I struggled with each step, Erin
said something I'll never forget: "I believe in you!"

Looking back on the experience, Erin's encouragement seemed so simple.
"I believe in you." I've heard her use those words many times before.
But at that moment, during a time in which I felt so defeated, her
words were like a burst of energy.

The rest of the race looked like a scene out of a Rocky movie. With
each agonizing step, Erin was by my side. Some friends and family who
were watching even joined in the long walk. However, as we reached the
twenty-fourth mile, I couldn't endure walking any longer. If I was
going to finish the race, I had to start running. After several yards,
my calves began functioning again and I was able to jog. Finally,
after 26.6 long miles, Erin and I crossed the finish line together.
She believed in me.

The Power of Believing in Your Spouse

One of the greatest gifts you can give your mate is to believe in his
or her dreams. As the pressures of life intensify, sometimes the
difference between going after a dream and remaining passive is having
someone say, "I believe in you!" If it's your desire to become an
encouragement for your spouse, I suggest you answer two important

1. What are your mate's dreams? The first step -- learn what your
spouse is dreaming about. What specific things motivate him in life?
What does she want to accomplish in her lifetime? During a road trip,
Erin and I made a list of all the things we wanted to complete before
we die. As Erin talked, I was amazed at the diversity of her dreams. I
had no idea she even dreamt about some of those things. Understanding
your mate's goals is a great way to deepen your intimacy.

2. What stands in his or her way? After hearing about your mate's
dreams, it's important to determine what might inhibit realizing those
goals. Is it a lack of confidence? Maybe she doesn't know where to
begin? Whatever the reason, I encourage you to find out and assist him
or her to overcome those barriers.

As I discovered while running the marathon, when someone believes in
you, there's no limit to what can be accomplished. However, a goal is
only a dream until someone makes it a reality. And that reality
sometimes begins with a simple word of encouragement. What a
difference you can make if you always treat your mate not as he might
be at that moment, but as you know he can be.

(c) Copyright 2003 Smalley Relationship Center

NEWS: Persecutions on Christans in Eritrea

Eritrea Imposes New Controls on Orthodox Church
source: Special to Compass Direct News
Nine Samaritan's Purse employees jailed in Asmara.

LOS ANGELES – The government of Eritrea wrested financial and
personnel control away from the Eritrean Orthodox Church last week,
the day after security police jailed nine staff of a Christian aid

In an ultimatum delivered to the church's Asmara headquarters on
December 5, the state demanded that all offerings and tithes collected
through the Orthodox Church be deposited directly into a government

According to the unilateral order, effective immediately the monthly
salaries of all Orthodox priests are to be paid out from this
government-controlled fund of church income.

In a related policy, the government also announced new limits for the
number of priests to be allowed to serve in each parish throughout the

The order specified that any "extra" priests beyond this quota who are
now serving in any given parish would be required to report to the
Wi'a Military Training Center, to perform their required military

The leadership of the Eritrean Orthodox Church has reportedly accepted
the government demands, forwarding formal notice of the new
regulations to every Orthodox parish in the country.

Ignoring church canons, the regime of President Isaias Afwerki removed
the church's ordained Patriarch Abune Antonios from office in August
2005 and placed him under house arrest. After installing a lay
administrator, the government then put forward Abune Dioscoros as
Antonios' unofficial successor.

The Catholic Church of Eritrea reportedly continues to reject
government demands to curtail their staff of priests or send them to
military service.

Samaritan's Purse Staff Arrested
At the same time, Asmara sources have confirmed that 10 days ago
security officials arrested nine truck drivers working for Samaritan's
Purse, an international aid agency ordered to leave the country last

Eritrean authorities intercepted the men on December 4 as they were
driving toward the Eritrean-Sudanese border, where Samaritan's Purse
had projects assisting the nomadic Beja tribe.

A U.S.-based evangelical Christian organization, Samaritan's Purse is
the 11th international aid group expelled from Eritrea this year.
Officials in Asmara insist that these expulsions are simply protecting
the country from the aid dependency rife across Africa.

The detained drivers, most of them known to be evangelical Christians,
remain under arrest in Police Station No. 6 in Asmara.

Gospel Singer Released
Local evangelical Christians report that Gospel singer Helen Berhane,
released in late October after more than two years in jail for
refusing to recant her faith, is recuperating at her home in Asmara.

No reason was given for Berhane's release, although she was
transferred into emergency hospital care for several days earlier in
October, shortly after undergoing a new round of beatings.

"She is extremely strong spiritually, and in high spirits," one
Christian who visited her last month declared. Still in a wheelchair,
Berhane was severely injured in her right leg by beatings and
bruisings inflicted by her captors.

A member of the Kidrane Mehrete Fellowship, Berhane was arrested on
May 13, 2004, shortly after releasing a Christian music album that
proved popular among Eritrean youth. Jailed at the Mai Serwa Military
Camp, she was never charged or put on trial.

"She spent most of her detention in inhuman and degrading conditions
inside a metal shipping container which was used as a prison cell,"
Amnesty International wrote in a November 3 statement reporting her
release. "The authorities reportedly tortured her many times to make
her recant her faith."

Although Berhane reportedly knew that the world had heard about her
plight and that Christians were praying for her, local Christians told
Compass that they assumed she had been ordered not to talk about her
imprisonment after her release.

"Of course we've had no contact with her, because that's extremely
risky for somebody who's just released from prison," Horn of Africa
researcher Dr. Martin Hill of Amnesty International told the British
Broadcasting Corporation on November 4.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse the previous day, Eritrean
Foreign Minister Ali Abdu denied any knowledge of Berhane's case.

Instead, he criticized Amnesty International for its massive campaign
on her behalf, saying, "Who is accountable for them, and who has given
them the right to be the global police of this world?" Abdu said. "I
am not saying it is a lie . . . but we do not even give them
recognition," the minister said.

Designated by the U.S. State Department as one of the worst violators
of religious freedom in the world, the Eritrean government flatly
denies the allegations.

In ongoing crackdowns since May 2002, Eritrea has banned all
independent religious groups not under the umbrella of the
government-sanctioned Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran or Muslim faiths.
Serious restrictions against these four recognized religions have also
escalated in the past 18 months.

More than 2,000 Eritrean citizens are known to be jailed solely for
their religious beliefs, some for several years. Most are routinely
subjected to torture and severe pressure to either recant or remain in

Copyright 2006 Compass Direct News

QUOTES: Christmas, Serving Others

Hi!, thought i'd share the quotes we're going to have printed on our
church bulletin tomorrow :)

"The best minute you spend is the one you invest in people."
Ken Blanchard

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
~Charles Dickens

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a
happy family all wrapped up in each other.
~Burton Hillis

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
~Roy L. Smith

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.
~Mary Ellen Chase

Top 5 Reasons to Love A.M. Exercise

hi, thought maybe you'd find this interesting,
this is from sparkmail.
also, the Sparks website offers lots of programs and tips on
health,excercise, etc.

Top 5 Reasons to Love A.M. Exercise

Exercising early in the morning "jump starts" your metabolism,
keeping it elevated for hours, sometimes for up to 24 hours! As a
result, you'll be burning more calories all day long--just because
you exercised in the morning.

Exercising in the morning energizes you for the day--not to
mention that gratifying feeling of virtue you have knowing you've
done something disciplined and good for you. (Much better than a

Studies have shown that exercise significantly increases mental
acuity--a benefit that lasts four to ten hours after your workout
ends. Exercising in the a.m. means you get to harness that
brainpower, instead of wasting it while you're snoozing.

Assuming you make exercise a true priority, it shouldn't be a
major problem to get up 30 to 60 minutes earlier--especially since
regular exercise generally means a higher quality of sleep, which
in turn means you'll probably require less sleep. (If getting up 30
to 60 minutes earlier each day seems too daunting, you can ease
into it with 10 to 20 minutes at first.)

When you exercise at about the same time every
morning--especially if you wake up regularly at about the same
time--you're regulating your body's endocrine system and
circadian rhythms. Your body learns that you do the same thing
just about every day, and it begins to prepare for waking and
exercise several hours before you actually open your eyes.
Exercise Extra: More than 90% of those who exercise consistently
have a morning fitness routine. If you want to exercise on a
regular basis, the odds are in your favor if you squeeze your
workout into the a.m.

“Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room”

personal/ministry resource from Crosswalk
Bonita Lillie, P31 She Speaks Conference Graduate

Key Verse:

Luke 2:6-7, "While she was there, the time came for the baby to be
born, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in
clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them
in the inn. (NIV)

No room in the inn? As a former maternity nurse, I can't imagine such
a thing. No matter how full the hospital might be, we could always
find one more bed for a woman giving birth. Yet, when our Savior was
about to appear the world hung out a "no vacancy" sign, refusing to
welcome Him. I could easily condemn those folks, except for the fact
that I did the exact same thing one year.

It was one of those years, the kind loaded with heartache and trials,
the kind we would rather forget. After a long arduous year, I found
myself completely lacking in Christmas spirit. I didn't want to
decorate or get a tree; my daughter did those things. I wouldn't
bake cookies or sing carols. Even buying gifts didn't arouse the
usual thrill. I was numb. I really just wanted Christmas to come and
go and be done with it.

One morning as I sat gazing at the Christmas tree I wondered why I
felt this way. Gently, the Lord spoke to my heart, "You have no room
in your heart for me." I softly cried as one by one, the Lord
revealed the ugly things filling up the chambers of my heart, keeping
Christ at bay:

Busyness - Can't we all relate to this one? Life can become so busy
and crowded. That year I was a full time wife, full time mom, full
time homemaker, full time homeschool teacher, part time nurse, part
time writing instructor, and so much more. All of these things
crowded in, crowding Jesus out. My life became one big "to do" list
and I lived my list, by not my life.

Anger, bitterness, and disappointment - We experienced the kiss of
Judas that year, as a dear friend betrayed us, resulting in a major
financial setback. My trust in fellow Christians was shattered.
Unfortunately, I closed the door to the trusting part of my heart,
padlocked it, and refused to let anyone in, not even Jesus.

Pain and sorrow - Matthew 16:24 says: "If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." I learned
what that meant that year as one by one I nailed my dreams to a cross
and watched them die. Then I shut the door to the morgue and said,
"No new dreams, Jesus."

Doubt and unbelief - At some point, faith and hope packed up and left,
leaving behind two unwelcome twins, doubt and unbelief. They are
unpleasant guests as they constantly scream, "Will things ever get

Selfishness and self-pity - I didn't realize how much room I occupied
in my heart until I had to exchange my will for they will. Ouch!
Suddenly, life became all about preserving me, forget opening my heart
to others.

That Christmas I served some eviction notices to those things in my
heart that kept me from God. Now I want the Lord to fill not only a
room of my heart, but the whole thing, every nook, cranny, and

How about you? Is there room in your inn for Jesus? He doesn't
require fancy accommodations. He's just looking for the welcome mat.
Let every heart prepare Him room!

Prayer for Today:

Father, forgive me for becoming so entangled with the world that I
miss out on You. Help me, Lord, to squarely face and submit to You
the problems that keep me from enjoying Your wonderful presence. Fill
my heart with Your life giving spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

How to worship when you are wounded

How to worship when you are wounded

Job's story is in the Bible for one question. Will I worship God if
everything goes wrong in my life?

Everybody goes through wounding experiences in life – even
those of us in ministry. Whether these wounds are physical,
spiritual, emotional, or relational, they're either in your life now
or they're coming. So what do we do when we're wounded?
Worship. It's the only antidote to our pain.

Job is a great example of this. He lost everything – his wealth,
family, friends, and health – in a 24-hour period. In one day, Job
goes from a hero to a zero. Throughout the book of Job we see a
man who is deeply wounded: physically, emotionally, and
relationally. Yet the book also tells the story of how Job
worshiped God instead of becoming bitter.

How do you do that? How do you connect with God during a crisis
in your life? Many of you had a crisis this week. Others have been
carrying around wounds your entire life and haven't been able to
get rid of them. To worship in the midst of this pain, you need to:

1. Grieve. Tell God exactly how you feel. You need to unload all
of your feelings. When you share your feelings with God, when
you trust him with your pain, you're worshiping – even when
those feelings are negative.

Job expressed his pain to God. Job 1:20 (CEV) says: "Job stood
up, he tore his robe in grief, shaved his head, and he fell to the
ground and worshiped." In the ancient Middle East, that's what
people did when they wanted to express frustration, anger, or
deep grief – they tore their clothes.

God did not make our bodies to handle negative emotions. God
never designed them that way. When we swallow our emotions,
our stomach keeps score.

So the first thing you do when you experience pain in life is
confess it. Tell God you don't like what happened – it stinks! Don't
worry. God can handle it.

2. Praise God. After you grieve, praise God in spite of your
circumstances. Don't thank God for your problems, but thank him
in the midst of your problems.

Job's story is in the Bible for one question. Will I worship God if
everything goes wrong in my life? Would you? It's easy to
worship God when everything's going your way. It's easy to be a
fair weather believer.

But what happens when everything goes badly in your life?
Would you still trust God? That's the ultimate test of faith. You're
going to be tested. That's guaranteed. At some point in your life,
everything is going to fall apart.

Yet there's a lot you can praise God for even when life is bleak. I
used to think life was mountains and valleys – highs and lows. But
the longer I live, the more I realize that's not reality. There's
never a time in your life when everything is perfect. And there's
never a time in your life when everything is bad. Actually, life is
more like two rails on a railroad track. One of them is the good
things in your life and the other one of them is the bad. You get
both all the time.

Job chose to thank God in spite of his pain – and so can you.

3. Ask God for wisdom and strength. When we're wounded, more
than anything else we need wisdom and strength – to know what
to do and to get the power to do it. Throughout his story, Job
depended on God for wisdom and strength.

You don't think straight when you are wounded. You start thinking
goofy thoughts, such as retaliating and getting revenge. You need
wisdom. The Bible says this: "True wisdom and real power
belong to God. From him we learn how to live and also what to
live for." (Job 12:13 MSG)

You also need strength – the power to do the right thing. Psalm
37:39 says, "The Lord saves good people and he is their strength
in times of trouble." (NCV)

I don't know what kind of problem you're going through right
now, but I do know that God is waiting to strengthen you. When
you become a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the exact same
problems before you became a follower of Jesus. You're not
exempt! But now you have God's wisdom and strength available
to you – so ask him for it!

If you haven't learned how to share your pain, you'll never get
well. You'll hurt the rest of
your life.

Rick Warren

4. Gather with others for support. God doesn't want you to
worship by yourself. You were never meant to handle all your
pain – and all of your wounds – alone. If you haven't learned how
to share your pain, you'll never get well. You'll hurt the rest of
your life.

Here's the problem: When we're wounded, it is human nature to
withdraw. When we get hurt, we put up barriers. We put up
boundaries. We put up walls. We pull back into a shell. We lock
ourselves into self-imposed prisons. That's just stupid. You're
never going to get well until you learn to open up again.

That's why even pastors need to be in a small group – a group of
others in ministry and a group in your church. A recent survey
said that 25 percent of Americans say they have no close friends
to depend on. If you don't need a small group, you will. You're
going to need people who are committed to you that when
everything drops out of your life, they'll still be there.

5. Keep on going. Did you know that keeping on keeping on is
actually an act of worship? In Job 2, Job's wife suggested that he
"curse God and die." She suggests her husband end his pain on
the spot by killing himself. But Job refuses. Instead he says,
Though he [God] slay me yet will I trust him."

That is the ultimate statement of faith. When all looked doomed,
Job trusted God and kept going.

What gave Job that kind of depth? In Job 19:25, Job says, "I know
that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the
earth." Job expected a coming savior, a redeemer.

Any pain you have is relatively short compared to eternity. One
day, if you've put your trust in God and in his redeemer, then
you'll live with him forever in eternity. And there will be no more
pain there, and no more suffering, and no more sorrow. So hang
on by not looking at the here and now but by remembering what
God has planned for you in eternity.

Those of us in ministry are not exempt from pain. Whether you're
experiencing pain because of unfair criticism, exhaustion, or
even a problem you caused yourself, or if there is pain from your
past that you've never dealt with, please don't ignore it. Don't let
it rob your ministry and block the worship you should be giving
God. Deal with it today. Grieve for the pain that's in your life.
Praise God in the midst of the pain. Ask God for wisdom and
strength. Gather with others for support. And keep on keeping on.

Remember, your redeemer lives!

source: RWMT

A Broken Spirit for God

A Broken Spirit for God
Chip Ingram
source: crosswalk

Moses saw the suffering of his people and felt compelled to intervene.
David heard the taunts of a giant and was stirred to action. Esther
was informed of a plot to exterminate her people and took a huge risk.
Nehemiah heard a report about the condition of Jerusalem and his
broken heart drove him to prayer and action.

Do you see a common theme? All of these examples of faith began with a
huge need that broke someone's heart and moved that person to action.

The Bible is full of examples of this dynamic. God's people, stirred
with compassion or overwhelmed with desperation, repeatedly come to
him with an enormous problem. They see that all is not right, and they
can't be content to do nothing. Though they all lived in a world where
people say ?it's not my problem,? they couldn't live with that
attitude. The heart God had put within them had to act.

That's what it takes to make a difference in this world. Even in the
Walk Thru the Bible network of instructors, I can think of person
after person whose broken spirit became a catalyst for a powerful move
of God.

One of my favorite examples is a church begun years ago in Cairo's
large community of garbage collectors. Our regional director for the
Middle East and his father were instrumental in its founding. For
years it met in an obscure cave. It still meets there, but the cave is
no longer obscure; the side of the mountain has been carved out and
the open-air seating accommodates about 5,000 people. That community
of garbage collectors has been radically transformed because some
Christians saw a need and made significant sacrifices to fulfill it.

Keys to a Broken Spirit

It's easy to become desensitized to others' needs, especially in the
society we live in. On one hand, our culture emphasizes comfort and
success and offers plenty of opportunities to insulate ourselves from
the hurts of this world. We easily become self-focused. On the other
hand, global media technology gives us a constant stream of images of
the destitute, whether they live in our inner city or in a country
twelve time zones away. We see so many needs that we become
desensitized to all of them.

There are three keys to developing a broken spirit, and we can see
them all in the prayer of a man whose heart grieved for his homeland.
Nehemiah heard how the captives who had returned to Jerusalem from
Babylon were living in a devastated, vulnerable city. His response to
what he heard fulfilled God's purposes and left us with a great
example of how God inspires His people to action.

A broken spirit begins with a restored view of God. Nehemiah had been
living in a foreign land among foreign gods, but he addressed his
prayer to the ?God of heaven, the great and awesome God? who keeps His
covenants. A broken spirit knows how high and holy God is and doesn't
try to make Him a self-help genie. Like Isaiah before him, who saw God
and was filled with awe, Nehemiah bowed low because he understood the
greatness of the One he served.

Not only does a broken spirit involve a high view of God, it involves
an accurate view of ourselves. In his grief, Nehemiah felt compelled
to confess the sins of the nation. Even though he was a godly man, he
repented on behalf of himself and his people as a whole.

When we get near to God, we realize we're not doing nearly as well as
we thought. We have mixed motives and self-centered plans, and most of
what we think and do is tainted with impurity. We're also reminded
that the world was here a long time before us and will continue to be
a long time after we're gone, and God's kingdom isn't hinging on our
ability to step in and save the day.

That goal of a broken spirit isn't to feel terrible about ourselves.
We're significant and valuable in God's eyes, and He invites us to be
an integral part of His plan. But while an accurate view of ourselves
shouldn't make us feel horrible, it should also keep us from thinking
too highly of our role. We're reminded that we need the grace God
gives us.

The third aspect of a broken spirit is a renewed commitment to fulfill
God's agenda rather than our own. Nehemiah appealed to God's
promises-the covenant He had made with Israel long ago in Deuteronomy.
His request is filled with references to God's plan, God's agenda,
God's power, and the reputation of God's name.

After Nehemiah had prayed with a broken spirit-for four months,
according to some clues later in the book-God used him as part of the
solution. That's almost always the way it works. Nearly every great
movement of God or project that has brought about relief of human need
and the fulfillment of God's will has begun with one man or woman who
cared deeply enough to hear God's voice and then stepped out to do
something. God works through broken spirits.

Broken Spirit, Powerful God

Do you want your life to have an impact? Do you want to be a person
God strongly supports? God must work in us before He works through us,
and one of the ways He works through us is to let our hearts be broken
over the things we see. He uses our compassions to drive us into deep
levels of prayer and to stir us into action for His purposes and in
His power.

If you are willing to stand in the gap like Nehemiah did-to let your
heart be moved by the will of God-ask God to show you a need and to
give you a vision for how to meet that need. Ask Him to reveal where
in His kingdom He is calling you to build. And ask Him for a broken
spirit and a bold faith that will invite His power and purposes into
your life.

"A Cup of Christmas COCOA"

Encouragement for Today
source: crosswalk

"A Cup of Christmas COCOA"

Tracie Miles, Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker

Key Verse:

Matthew 2: 11, "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his
mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened
their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense
and of myrrh. (NIV)


One of the things I adore about the holiday season is hot cocoa. Who
doesn't feel warm and snuggly while sipping on a steaming cup of cocoa
with marshmallows or whip cream piled on top? The word 'COCOA' can
be used to help us remember the important aspects of Christmas,
reminding us of the happiness and warmth we can enjoy being a part of
God's family.


Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His
mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came
together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is the reason for the season. Remember to spend as much
time searching for God's truth, as you do searching for that perfect
gift. Christ IS Christmas – there is no Christmas without Christ.
During this season, share the gift that Christ has given you with
someone else.

1 Peter 3:3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such
as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a
gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. Do
you spend more time fretting over whether or not your house could be
featured in the holiday edition of Southern Living, than whether or
not your inner spirit is adorned with God's love and compassion for
those in need? Put a stronger focus on blessing others this holiday

Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes a face look cheerful. But a sad
heart produces a broken spirit. As the gift list grows, the budget
drains, and the calendar fills, it is easy to get discouraged. And
although Christmas is meant to be a joyous season, many people also
struggle during the holidays with depression and discouragement.
Despite the reasons that you might feel discouraged during this time
of year, focus on how much you are loved as a dear and precious child
of God. The holidays are merely a season, but God's love and
compassion for His children is permanent. Now that is something to

Matthew 2:10 –12 The shepherds saw the star, and they were overjoyed –
they were overcome with delight, awe, motivation, encouragement, love
for God – they were overwhelmed with the gift of life. Think of a time
when you were overjoyed- the birth of a child, a graduation, a
wedding, a beautiful sunrise, sparkling white beaches, a baptism.
Your feeling of happiness was likely so overwhelming, that tears
filled your eyes, you had a lump in your throat, or your heart was
beating rapidly. For many Christmas-a-holics, we are overjoyed when we
kick off the holiday season, but overwhelmed by the middle of the
month! Try to find ways to remind yourself each day of December to be
thankful for the birth of our Savior and overwhelmed by the blessings
that have been bestowed upon you, rather than being overwhelmed with
your holiday to-do lists or personal issues.

Jude :2 ..mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

Whenever I think of Christmas morning, from my childhood to the
present, the word ABUNDANCE comes to mind. As soon as the sun rises
on December 25th, until it sets in the evening, we are bombarded with
an abundance of presents, candy, baked goods, fruit, and other
delectable foods. But these things are temporary. What we really
yearn for is the abundant life promised to us in God's word. Our true
heart's desire is for mercy, peace and love, not just on Christmas
day, but every day throughout each year.

The next time you are in the mood for a hot cup of steaming cocoa, I
pray that you will be reminded of this devotion. As the warmth of
the cocoa trickles down your throat, allow the warmth of God's love to
pour into your heart, and then pour that love out abundantly onto

My Prayer For Today:

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the gift of your son, so that we
could have eternal life with You. Please help us not to get so caught
up in the earthly celebrations of Christmas that we forget to
celebrate Christ. Grant us joy and peace this season and into the
future. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:

The Adventure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel

The P31 Woman Magazine

Listen to Today's Radio Show

Application Steps:

Determine how you will honor Christ this Christmas and make your
schedule accordingly.

Reflection Points:

Do I spend more time and effort on decorating my home, or my heart?

Is my family focused on seasonal abundance, or spiritual abundance?

What can I do to help my family and others remember Christ as the
center of this season?

Power Verses:

Hebrews 4:16, "So let us boldly approach the throne of grace. Then we
will receive mercy. We will find grace to help us when we need it."

Psalm 136:2, "Give thanks to the God of gods, His love endures forever." (NIV)

Number 6:25-26, "The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious
to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." (NIV)

Live Your Dreams Now

source: crosswalk

Live Your Dreams Now
Whitney Hopler Contributing Writer

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical
applications of Shannon and Michael Primicerio's
soon-to-be-released book, Life. Now.: Overcoming the 10
obstacles that Derail Your Dreams, (Bethany House, 2007).

What dreams lie dormant in your heart? Whatever you wish you
could pursue someday isn't really out of your reach right now. If
you start making deliberate choices to pursue your dreams –
without waiting for your circumstances to change – you don't
have to wait to see your dreams begin to come true.

So don't wait for someday. Overcome obstacles standing in the
way and start living your dreams now! Here's how:

* Overcome fear. Know that, although it's natural to feel fear
about taking the risks necessary to pursue your dreams, giving
into your fear will stop your progress. Realize that God will give
you all the power you need to do whatever He is calling you to
do. Rely on Him for help, knowing that He never fails. Don't worry
about what other people think of your dreams, since doing so will
allow them to control your dreams. Feel free to seek counsel from
a few trustworthy people who are close to you, but dismiss critics
who don't have your best interests at heart. Ask God to give you
the courage to do what He wants you to do, no matter what others
think. Make whatever changes you need to make to stop playing
it safe and living in a rut. Move, change jobs, find a new church,
or do anything else to get you unstuck and on the road toward
where you want to go. Meet with a trusted friend, family member,
or pastor to honestly express your dreams and fears, and ask that
person to pray for you. Check back in with this person regularly as
you make progress toward fulfilling your dreams.

* Stop trying to earn other people's approval. Ask God to help you
be comfortable with the unique person He has made you to be.
Then be yourself, rather than the person others think you should
be. Expect that, somewhere along the way while you pursue your
dreams, you're going to lose the approval of some people close
to you. Don't worry about asking anyone except God for
permission to go after your dreams. Understand that sometimes,
in order to obey God, you'll need to disappoint other people. Ask
God to give you the confidence you need to move forward with
what He wants you to do, even when people you care about don't
support you. For one week, keep track of how you make your
decisions (both simple ones like where to go to dinner and
complicated ones like whether or not to take a certain job). As
you make each decision, write down whether you did what you
really wanted to do, or whether you did what you felt others
wanted you to do. Then, after the week is up, study your notes to
notice a pattern in your decision-making strategies. Going
forward, remember to choose what you want to do instead of
seeking other people's approval.

* Be willing to leave the comforts of home. Understand that
pursuing your dreams often requires venturing out beyond all
that's comfortable to you now. Don't let a love for the familiar
stand in the way of your dreams. If you live at home with your
parents, set a time for leaving and stick to it. Establish true
independence in your life. If you're stuck in a dead-end job, look
around for better opportunities and go after them. If a longtime
friend doesn't support your quest to fulfill your dreams, find some
new friends who will support you. If your current area doesn't
offer the resources you need to pursue your dreams, move to a
place that will better enable you to pursue them. Don't be afraid
to leave behind a way of life that you've been conditioned to
think is normal so you can discover something better. Leave small
thoughts behind and dream big.

* Trade average for excellent. Don't be satisfied with halfhearted
living. Recognize that in order to give your best to pursuing your
dreams, you need to be at your best as a person. Decide to live a
life of significance – one that makes the world a better place
because you lived. Ask God to use your ordinary life to
accomplish extraordinary purposes. Never stop learning. Take
care of your body through good nutrition and regular exercise so
it will serve you well as you go after your dreams. Remove clutter
from your home, office, and car so you can think more clearly and
use your time more productively. Write down your goals clearly
on flash cards, and review them regularly to keep them in the
forefront of your mind and stay on track. Find a photo of
something that represents a goal you have (such as a photo of an
island if you're dreaming of vacationing in Hawaii one day), and
place it somewhere relevant (such as by your ATM card to help
you remember to save). Celebrate whenever you make
accomplish something that moves you closer to your goals. Every
day, spend time with God in prayer about your dreams and your
progress toward them.

* Surrender a sense of control. Realize and accept the fact that
you can't control many things that happen to you. Whenever you
encounter frustration and disappointment as you pursue your
dreams, identify what your feelings are and face them with grace,
trusting in the fact that God is still working out good purposes in
your life. Don't waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Know that,
although you can't always change your circumstances, you can
always change your attitude in response to them. Pray for the
Holy Spirit to help you grow in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
and self-control. Let go of the way you think things should
happen, and trust God to guide you through His best plans for
your life. Resist the temptation to be jealous of others who are
seeing their dreams come true while you're still waiting. Simply
remind yourself of all you do have to be thankful for, and keep
moving forward toward your goals.

* Start where you are. Don't wait for a certain time or situation to
start going after your dreams. Start right now, right in your current
circumstances. Be creative about maximizing your time. Know
that if you invest even small amounts of time toward reaching
your dreams, over the long haul your investment will pay off in a
big way. Whenever you have idle time, fill it in productive ways
(such as by listening to Scripture on your commute to work). Don't
let seemingly urgent things like household chores and checking
e-mail distract you from what's most important. Make sure that
you're focusing on important tasks – ones that will help your
dreams come true – first, and just fit all the "urgent" tasks in as
you can. Establish and grow relationships with key people who
can help you fulfill your dreams. Pray for God to lead you to a
mentor or two and place the right people alongside you at the
right times as you go after your dreams. Don't wait for all the
pieces of a plan to make perfect sense to you before moving
forward if you sense God calling you to do so; be willing to take
steps of faith as He leads you.

* Use money to fund your progress. Recognize that you'll need to
spend money to pursue most of your dreams. Don't let financial
constraints prevent you from following your dreams. Instead, think
and pray about a plan to make money available, over time, to
fund your progress. Get and stay out of debt to free up cash to use
for pursuing your dreams, such as starting your own business or
going back to school to earn a certain degree. Set up a budget
and stick to it so you don't overspend. If you're not bringing in
enough income, start looking for a second job or a new primary
job that pays more. Set short- and long-term financial goals. Save
as much as you can, tithe faithfully, and give generously.

* Stay motivated. Remind yourself often of the reasons why you're
making sacrifices and working hard to pursue your dreams. Paint
a vivid mental picture of what you want your life to be like after
you've achieved your goals. Write out a plan for how to make
your dreams realities and move forward with that plan while
inviting God to edit your plan as He sees fit. Dream lavishly and
expect God to do even more than you could ever imagine or ask.
Ask Him to keep encouraging you as you follow His dreams for
your life.

* Follow through. Be persistent when you face challenges on your
way to fulfilling your dreams. Don't grumble about difficulties;
instead, be thankful that you have the gift of each new day to
keep making progress. Try to enjoy the journey as much as the
destination. Be prepared for trials and tragedies that will
inevitably threaten to derail your dreams. When you encounter
them, depend on the hope that Jesus offers and keep working to
make progress as you can. Don't let your mistakes or failures
cause you to give up. Stay focused on your vision, keep working
hard, and continue to trust God.

* Keep seeking God's will. Constantly check in with God to make
sure your dreams align with His will for your life. Spend time with
Him daily in prayer. Regularly read, study, and meditate on
passages of the Bible. Participate in a church and a small group
to build relationships with trusted friends who can help you
discern where God is leading you. Make your relationship with
God your highest priority in life. Know that if you seek God
Himself first – before your dreams – then your dreams will fall into


Adapted from Life. Now.: Overcoming the 10 Obstacles that Derail
Your Dreams, copyright 2007 by Shannon and Michael Primicerio.
Published by Bethany House Publishers (a division of Baker
Publishing Group), Bloomington, Mn.,
Shannon Kubiak Primicerio is the author of The Divine Dance,
God Called a Girl, and the BEING A GIRL... series. A popular
national retreat speaker, Shannon has also been featured in such
media outlets as PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and Time
magazine. She has a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Biblical
Studies from Biola University.

Michael Primicerio has served as a youth pastor's assistant for
three years. He has discipled teenage boys and taught at youth
camps, high school chapels, and in a regular youth group setting.
He attended Calvary Chapel Bible College, including time abroad
in Israel.

Holidays Not Always Happy For Ministers' Wives

Holidays Not Always Happy For Ministers' Wives, Panel Says
Written by Chris Turner
source: lifeway

NASHVILLE, Tenn., 11/27/06 -- Shirley Cross knows what it's like to not be "Patty Perfect" - and still survive.

"It's been an interesting season each year to go through because each year brings the different stresses," said Cross, a pastor's wife, employee of LifeWay Christian Resources, former missionary and mother of two. "How do you handle prioritizing the church parties and the family time? Issues with going to see family also was always a stress because you had to find time. And a lot of times, you not only had the concern about 'is there time to go,' but [also] 'is something going to happen with a church member in the church' [when you leave]?"

The last six weeks of every year are supposed to be the most festive times of the year, especially for Christians. Families gather for big Thanksgiving meals and just weeks later gather again to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The herald angel ushered in Jesus' arrival with, "Behold, I bring you good news of great joy." Unfortunately, many times for ministers' wives, the only good news they hear during the holiday season is that they have almost made it through to January. The stress of balancing the realities of their lives against the expectations of other people can sap them of the great joy they long to experience during the holidays.

Cross was part of a panel discussion recently recorded for an episode of Inside LifeWay (found at, the official news podcast of LifeWay Christian Resources. Cross joined Barney Self, Chris Adams and Inside LifeWay host Brooklyn Noel to discuss the great stress ministers' wives face around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Self is a licensed family counselor and a member of LifeWay's pastoral ministries team. Adams is the women's enrichment and ministers' wives specialist in the training and events area of LifeWay's church resources division. She formerly served as a special ministries coordinator at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas.

Ministers' wives often feel the pressure to be "Patty Perfect" during the holiday season, being the perfect hostess or guest, or providing the perfect gift - for everybody. Unfortunately, while ministers' wives may be smiling on the outside, the panel said, inside they are "probably screaming," hoping to survive until January.

"They cannot always afford to go and visit family, or because of church responsibilities they're not able to leave and go be with family," Adams said. "So sometimes it can be really lonely for them.

"There is also the issue of finances," she said. "Who do you buy presents for? Do you try to have something at your home, a little gift of some sort to give to those who come by your home? Where do you stop the gifts? Is it with other staff members? Is it with other congregation members?"

Adams also said the expectation to be at so many Sunday school parties or other gatherings can be a financial burden for those ministers' families with smaller children, which translates into a considerable expense for babysitting. Self said the expectations "are ubiquitous."

"There is a significant need for ministers' wives and ministers to show a graceful balance and say, 'yes, we love you but no, we are not coming to your party,'" Self said. "That is a way to affirm those who are inviting but it is also a way to draw the line as well.

"I think the ministers themselves can help their wives by defining for the church what's appropriate," Self added. "Very often the minister doesn't do that. He just sort of plays a passive role and takes it as it comes. Which means he brings home the list of Sunday school parties and there's an expectation that they're going to go to all of them."

Cross acknowledged wives have the fear that people don't want to hear "no." She said ministers' wives often fall prey to wanting to be people pleasers and fear saying no will offend church members. But, she said, saying "no" is a learning process, and one that is a necessity if wives are going to enjoy the season and help create a meaningful time for their own families.

"In order for balance to occur there needs to be an awareness of both sets of needs and expectations," Self said. "If you try to meet all of the needs it will not work. Often ministers' wives ignore their own needs and focus on the needs of others. This is a set-up for trauma in the family of the minister."

Adams said church members can look for ways to minister to their ministers' families by praying for them and doing something special for ministers' wives to acknowledge their contribution to the ministry. Self added that this is a difficult time of the year emotionally for many people in the church and it adds extra stress on ministers and their families.

"I think it's critical for the ministry body to be lifted up in prayer … by the congregation and certainly by specific groups within the church that are really committed to the church life being the best it can be," he said. "I think bathing ministers and their families in prayer, especially during this season, is vital because the pressures on them are greater."

Visit to listen to the entire discussion or for a complete transcript.

NEWS: Embryo cloning gets the go-ahead

Embryo cloning gets the go-ahead
Mark Davis and Mark Metherell
source: Religion news blog
December 7, 2006

AUSTRALIAN scientists will be able to clone human embryos for medical
research under legislation passed by Parliament which divided the
country's most senior politicians.

In a rare conscience vote, the House of Representatives passed the
controversial measures despite the Prime Minister urging MPs to vote
against the bill because it eroded some of society's most absolute

The new Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, also opposed the legislation,
saying it crossed a fundamental ethical threshold by allowing human
life to be created for the purpose of scientific experimentation.

During his speech on the bill last night, Mr Rudd became emotional
when he recalled the suffering of his mother from Parkinson's disease:
"Mum died two years ago so she is not here to ask about this [bill]."

Despite prominent opponents, the bill passed by 20 votes.

The bill has been strongly supported by medical research organisations
because they say it widens the scope for eventual development of
treatments for crippling and lethal diseases.

The vote split both the Government and the Opposition because MPs were
free to vote according to their consciences rather than along party

John Howard was joined in voting against the bill by the Treasurer,
Peter Costello, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, the Health
Minister, Tony Abbott, as well as Mr Rudd and Labor MPs Peter Garrett,
Gavan O'Connor and Tony Burke.

Those in favour of the bill included cabinet ministers Brendan Nelson,
Julie Bishop, Ian Macfarlane, Alexander Downer and Philip Ruddock and
Labor frontbenchers Julia Gillard, Simon Crean, Jenny Macklin and
Wayne Swan.

Opponents failed in a last-ditch attempt to amend the bill to prohibit
use of foetal tissue for cloning, a measure critics said would mean
aborted female foetuses would be harvested to extract eggs for the
creation of embryos.

Speaking in the debate, Mr Howard said he had wrestled with the moral
issues at stake, trying to resolve the tension between the benefits of
medical research and the moral doubts over whether it was acceptable
to experiment on embryos.

But in the end he had not been convinced that the scientific evidence
justified changing the existing prohibition on so-called therapeutic

"I think we live in an age where we have slid too far into
relativism," he said. "There must be some absolutes in our society."

Mr Rudd said: "I find it very difficult to support a legal regime
which allows creation of a form of human life with the single purpose
of allowing the conduct of experimentation. I am concerned with the
crossing of such an ethical threshold and where it may lead in the
long term."

The legislation would allow the cloning of embryos for research
through somatic cell nuclear transfer, commonly called therapeutic

The House of Representatives vote follows a narrow one-vote majority
in the Senate in favour of the private member's bill introduced by the
former health minister Kay Patterson.

In a decision which shocked supporters of the legislation, Mr Costello
earlier yesterday spoke strongly against it. He said he was not
convinced by the legislation's 14-day limit on the life of cloned
embyros, which was a shifting line and one "I would not anchor
legislation on". Mr Costello supported the 2002 legislation allowing
stem cell research on embryos produced by IVF.

Mr Abbott, an avowed opponent of cloning, acknowledged that even
though he was opposed, he could not say how he would respond if the
process led to a treatment which could save a loved one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Build your family before building a ministry

by Ronnie Floyd

I believe that building your family is more important than building
your ministry. ... Today it stands as probably the only legacy I will
ever see this side of heaven. I would not trade anything for it that
ministry offers.

Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.
and author of 10 Things Every Minister Needs to Know

I was a very young pastor in a growing church. I had my academic
degrees behind me and was engaged in my pastoral venture — hook, line,
and sinker! I was in my late 20s and had been married for just under
10 years. Josh was 4 or 5 years old and Nick was only 1 or 2 years
old. I was zooming and filled with life, vitality, and vision.

God was doing some marvelous things in our church. We had seen it come
alive with great passion and fire for evangelism. Everything was

Heaven was happening on Sunday, but trouble returned on Monday.
Meetings were dominant in the church world back then, and they seemed
to occur nightly and continuously for pastors in that season of
American church life. Jeana had been raised in a pastor's home, so she
understood the challenges of church and family to a degree, but I was
exhausted and my family was caught in the middle of it all.

I would hurry home around 5 p.m. in order to get back to an early
evening meeting with some committee or group of leaders. My family was
very young, and the church was growing. I knew this was taking its
toll on Jeana and me. The boys were way too young to feel it or know
it, but I was neglecting them due to all of the demands on my life.

One night on my journey home, I came to a stop sign. I believe I could
take you to it today. It was like the Holy Spirit spoke to me in that
still, small convicting voice. I am not sure what occurred, but I am
confident of what I told the Lord at that very moment. I said, "Lord,
I will stop sacrificing my family on the altar of ministry success."
That event and moment has shaped my life and family to this very day.
Had God not taught me that lesson at a young age, it might have been
catastrophic later in ministry, marriage, and life.

I believe that building your family is more important than building
your ministry. Not only have I believed it, I have lived it. Today it
stands as probably the only legacy I will ever see this side of
heaven. I would not trade anything for it that ministry offers.

As I have evaluated our journey in balancing marriage, family, and
ministry, I have narrowed the journey to seven values that we observed
in our family. These seven values were things we esteemed, believed
in, championed, and rewarded continually.

Value prayer
Since we are ministers, this sounds like something you would expect
another minister to say or try to prove he does, but make no mistake
about it: You will not succeed in marriage, family, and ministry
without prayer.

For at least two decades I have prayed Ephesians 6:10–18 – the armor
of God – over my family daily. I call their names out to God
specifically and then place the armor on them piece by piece. I do
this for all of our immediate family. We are in a war. Satan goes
after your family with great intensity. Therefore, stand your ground
in Jesus' name by placing the armor of God on your family in prayer

Also, we prayed with our children before they went to school every day
without exception. I encourage you to pray through the various crises
or situations you face as a family. Also, pray with your spouse
nightly. Jeana and I trade off nightly as to which one of us will pray
before we go to sleep.

Value marriage
The greatest thing you can do for your family is to have a spiritual
and enriching marriage relationship. If you want your children to make
the right decisions in life – especially in relationships – then you
have to have a healthy and godly relationship with your spouse.

When you spend uninterrupted time with your mate consistently and
weekly, your mate and your children know that your family is more
important than your ministry.
Ronnie Floyd

One way I do this is by taking Friday off every week to spend with
Jeana. I've done this ever since "the stop sign moment" I mentioned
earlier. It is our day, and I attempt to stay away from the office.
When you spend uninterrupted time with your mate consistently and
weekly, your mate and your children know that your family is more
important than your ministry.

Value church
The minister and his family need the church in their lives as much as
any other family needs the church. I always told the church when my
children were young, "Pray for my children to grow up loving Jesus and
the church." My children love Jesus and the church. Both Josh and Nick
married young ladies who love the church. Josh and Kate, as well as
Nick and Meredith, will raise children who love Jesus and the church,
beginning with Peyton.

Yet Josh and Nick always knew they came before the church. When Josh
was experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in the
13-year-old World Series, I did not preach or attend a Sunday night
service which I had been scheduled to do.

In fact, the only game I ever remember missing was when I was asked to
preach to Promise Keepers in Washington, D.C. – before a million men.
I almost chose not to do it, but a friend advised me to talk to my
boys and ask them what they thought I should do. Both immediately
said, "Go do that!"

Value mentoring with gentle accountability
Teach your children to walk with Christ. Teach your children how to
have a daily time with God. Start when they first begin to read words.
Mentor them to lead and influence others to the degree of their
God-given giftedness.

Mentor them in their relationships as well. Do not let them become
culture-driven, but encourage them, in a godly way, to act differently
if God asks them to do so. At times I would intervene in my children's
relationships and re-direct them to others. Why? We knew if Satan
captured our children, it would happen through their friends or their
dating relationships.

Value consistency
Consistency builds godly children. Inconsistency builds the opposite.
You must be consistent in your leadership as a parent. You must be
consistent in your discipline. You must be consistently honest with
them as well. When you make a parenting or marital mistake (and you
will), admit it to your children.

Also, pick a time and develop a consistent time together with your
children. As our boys got older this became tougher, but we tried to
make Sunday at lunch a time when we would always go out somewhere or
stay at home and watch a football game together.

Value communication
Build a climate in your family where your children can tell you
anything. This means you let them finish without interruption or
explosion. Always affirm that you love them unconditionally. I still
tell my children, "I love you." I still kiss them on the cheek or the
neck, as well as embrace them. I let them know early on that they did
not have a bigger cheerleader than me. I believe beyond "I love you,"
the greatest words a dad can say to his children are the words, "I
believe in you."

Value vacations
Time away throughout the year is valuable to your family. In those
early years, it was limited due to finances. I believe it is also
important that as your children grow up you ensure that every vacation
is not going to be spent with other family. They need time with you
away from others.

One more time
Jeana and I are not perfect and do not have perfect children or a
perfect grandchild. However, what we do have is a healthy family, a
family full of love and grace. We want to be together.

I believe this can occur for any minister and his family if he values
the right things. Just one more time to set the record straight:
Building your family is more important than building your church!

Remember: "If anyone does not know how to manage his own household,
how will he take care of God's church?" (1 Tim. 3:5)

This article was adapted from Ronnie Floyd's book, 10 Things Every
Minister Needs to Know.

Schedule a buffer for yourself

source: RW Ministry Toolbox

...The faster you go, the more margin you need.

I'm guessing many of you have no white space in your appointment
books. It's absolutely crammed with appointments and reminders and
tasks. You've left no margin in your life, no place for rest, and I
think God would say, "This is not good!"

The truth is, you can't hope for space in your schedule or pray for
space in your schedule or expect somebody else to provide space in
your schedule. If you're going to free up some space for yourself, if
you're going to allow some down time and build some buffer zones into
your life, you're going to have to make the decision to do so. No one
else will do it for you.

This means actually leaving some empty spaces in your planner – a
pretty scary thought to some of us. But the result is that your Palm
Pilot won't reveal the word "Overload" every time you open it up.

Here's a fact about life: The faster you go, the more margin you need.
If you're going 70 miles per hour down the freeway, you want more than
three inches between you and the other car, don't you? It's no
different in life. Most of us in ministry have lives that are filled
to the brim with activity. You start your day running and it only gets
crazier as the day goes on. Since you're going so fast, you need
margin all the more. You need to build that margin into your day.

Why do we find ourselves having to work all the time? The Bible tells
us very clearly that if we don't allow space into our schedule, if we
just work all the time, we're foolish. Ecclesiastes 10:15 says, "Only
someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with

Don't you like the Bible? It cuts straight to the point. It's deals
very bluntly and honestly with our struggles.

It reminds me of the guy who comes home with a big pile of work he
needs to finish. His little kindergarten daughter looks at the pile
and asks him why he's working so hard and why he always has to bring
work home. The father looks at her and says, "The problem is, I just
don't get it all finished at work so I need to bring it home and get
it done here."

If I really want to last in life, I've got to stop and realize there's
a whole journey of life to live. I've got to remember it's not how
fast I live that's important; it's how well I live.

Rick Warren

The daughter looks up at him and says, "Daddy, I think they should put
you in the slower group."

Why is it we have to feel so important that we have to keep every
moment of every day busy? Why do we stress load everything? Why do we
have the mindset that everything has to be done right now, and
wherever we're going, we have to get there quickly? The truth is -
life is not a race; it's a journey.

If I really want to last in life, I've got to stop and realize there's
a whole journey of life to live. I've got to remember it's not how
fast I live that's important; it's how well I live.

Pastor (or whatever your vocation is), some of us just need someone to
give us permission to slow down. Why not consider this your

Rick Warren

What does God teach you when you're down?

personal/ministry resource from the Collingsworths

What does God teach you when you're down?

I do not know if God teaches you things when you are down, but I have
learned (and am continuing to learn) lessons that would've never been
mine had it not been for this pause in my life.

Take nothing for granted.
Little did I know a road trip would send me to the hospital - three
times, over a seven-week period, with a life-threatening condition.
When was the last time you looked at your situation and wondered, "Do
I cherish the moments that I have?" James often reminds us about what
life is: "You don't even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life
will be! For you are a bit of smoke that appears for a little while,
then vanishes." (James 4:14, HCSB).

Enjoy things about your spouse, and your children, that you are taking
for granted today. Nothing can take the place of time spent looking at
the good things that are yours. Not everything is bad in any marriage.
Look for the good spots and relish in them.

Your life experiences count.
Many times as we navigate the roads of life we look around at all the
great people we know who are making a difference. I was amazed as I
viewed a recent "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" television show about
a 26-year-old mother who had cancer. She was making such a difference
as she bravely fought for her life. She was such an inspiration to so

Trying times tend to make us bitter or they make us better. We can
choose to rise above, see the good, and know in our heart that those
times make us stronger. They also allow us to learn things so we are
able to help those around us.

God needs you to learn what you need to know to touch another life.
Think about Jonathan and David and the vast wisdom they shared with
one another. There are many stories in the Bible that give us a
glimpse of lives filled with desperation, until God sends someone
along to help them. Who are you supposed to be helping? Or are you
praying for someone to help you through a difficult time in life?

Tune into His leading.
You can be used in a great way. Have you ever been prompted to make a
call, go see someone, send a card or letter and failed to do it? I
believe the Holy Spirit is continually pressing us to do things to
make a difference in someone's life. We have the joy of the Lord in
our hearts to share and God has blessed us with gifts to give away. If
you do not do what He requires, just think of the incredible blessing
you will miss!

Maybe there's a couple walking in the same shoes you walked in 5 years
ago. Or maybe there's a young mom suffering from the same kind of
depression that gripped your heart when you were her age. You may know
of a couple struggling to maintain an "everything is fine" image, yet
you can see through the facade. Ask God to show you people to minister

If you're going through a tough time and think, "Who is supposed to
help me?" Pray for that person or seek out someone to call. God's
voice works to call us out to minister, and sometimes it prompts us to
ask for encouragement.

Today, I pray you will minister to someone. Or, that you will pray and
seek out the person who is supposed to minister to you! Remember, we
have no idea when we will be called home, so do those things you have
put off, say a nice word, or write a note of encouragement!

J.B. and Shugie

The Collingsworths coach church leaders on strategies to divorce proof
their congregations, and help couples build strong marriages. They
lead seminars in churches across the U.S. to make a difference in
marriages! If you are interested in booking JB & Shugie in your
church, please email beth@marriageandfamilymatters