Monday, September 18, 2006

Smooth Sailing

by Greg Asimakoupoulos

The ebb and flow of ministry doesn't need to swamp your marriage.

It seemed to be a match made in heaven. Wendy had grown up on the mission field and dreamed of being a minister's wife since she was a little girl. I grew up as a PK loving the church, and I sensed a call to ministry by the age of 12. I'd envied my parents' mutual involvement in the congregation and prayed God would give me a wife with whom I could be a partner in ministry.

God answered both prayers. As newlyweds in our first church, Wendy and I looked for ways we could minister side by side. It wasn't hard. I discipled the husbands; Wendy counseled their wives. Together we led a weekly Bible study. We entertained church leaders and new members in our home, sharing in the planning, cooking and cleanup. We loved each other. We loved our congregation. We loved our identity as a ministry couple.

Soon, however, we discovered that, while the flood of pastoral demands could irrigate the work of ministry, they could also drown our marriage. Fortunately, we found some points at which we could regulate the flow.

We take up separate hobbies outside the church.
Wendy turned to gardening; I took up photography. Getting outdoors and celebrating the splendor of creation not only took our minds off the church; it filled each of us with joy that we could share with each other.

We protect our days off and spend them together.
Sunday may be holy, but Monday is sacred to us. Sleep in. Enjoy a cup of coffee. Leisurely read the paper. Go for a long walk. Plant flowers. Take pictures. Go antique hunting. Linger over lunch at a favorite restaurant. This was easier before kids, but when babies came we took them along. As much as we loved the church, we needed the routine of simple pleasures that had nothing to do with ministry.

We create fun traditions in our home.
Wendy and I decided to celebrate holidays and special days in ways that were unique to us. We decorate the house and have special menus for Valentine's Day, Academy Awards night, the Fourth of July and Santa Lucia Day. We have even created our own family holiday: July 31st commemorates the day 35 years ago when my parents moved our family to our new hometown. And don't even try to schedule a church board meeting on one of the special days we observe in our home!

We return to our roots regularly.
Wendy and I both have wonderful families -- we want to spend time with them! But throughout our marriage we have lived far away from our parents and siblings. So we have determined to visit our respective hometowns during vacations. Thus, every year we trek to places where we are known and loved, apart from our professions. Those times remind us of who we are as real people.
Taken from Pastor's Family Bulletin, September 1999

God's Reason

author unknown
source: Empowering Women through Christ

I don't know how to say it
But somehow it seems to me
That maybe we are stationed,
Where God wants us to be.

That little place we're filling
Is the reason for our birth
And just to do the work we do
He sent us down earth.

If God had wanted otherwise
I'd reckon He'd have made
Each one of us a little different
Of a worse or better grade.

And since God knows and understand
All things of land and sea
I fancy that He placed us here
Just where He wanted us to be.

Sometimes we get to thinking
As our labors we review
That we should like a higher place
With greater things to do.

But we come to the conclusion
When the envying is stilled~
That the post to which God has sent us
Is the post He wanted filled.

And there isn't any service
That we honestly can scorn~
For it may just be the reason
God allowed us to be born.

A Recipe for Joy

author:Adrian Rogers
source: Empowering Women Through Christ

These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:11

Joy is the birthright of the child of God. Every child of God ought to have a conscious, conspicuous, continuous, and contagious joy. If you are not living a life of joy, you are living beneath your privileges as a Christian.

The Source of Joy

What is the source of your joy? John 15:11 says the joy that you are to have as a Christian is the joy of Jesus. He says "My joy." Jesus literally wants to take the joy that He has and place it in you. We think of Jesus as a Man of Sorrows, but there was a genuine joy in Jesus; and if you do not have that joy, you are not like Him. Jesus is the source of joy.

The Stability of Joy
Jesus not only wants you to find His joy; He wants you to keep it. This is not a joy that comes and goes. Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." First Thessalonians 5:16 is even more clear: "Rejoice evermore." It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between joy and smiling. Even when the tears are coursing down your cheeks, there can still be joy in your heart. If you get your joy from amusement; when you can no longer be amused, your joy is gone. But Jesus never changes. He is always there, and that is why your joy can remain:

Steadfast in Sorrow - Being a joyful Christian does not mean you will not have sorrow. In fact, John 16:20 states, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice ..." But you can have joy in spite of sorrow.

Triumphant in Tribulation - Not only are you going to have sorrow, you are going to have tribulation. In John 16:33 we read, "... In the world, ye shall have tribulation ..." But Paul sang praises to God at midnight in the Philippian jail. The same joy is available to you.

Abundant in Affliction - Afflictions may come and go, but Jesus is still there. Jesus knows your afflictions and offers joy in their midst. First Thessalonians 1:6 says, "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost"

The Sufficiency of Joy
Not only is His joy here to stay, but the joy of the Lord is enough. Other things can give you joy in an area of your life; but unless you have joy in Jesus, your joy is not full. The fullness of joy is only in Christ. Psalm 16:11 says, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

The Secret of Joy
Even though this joy is available to us, not every Christian has joy. You can be a Christian and still be miserable. As a matter of fact, the most miserable man on Earth is not an unsaved man but is a saved man out of fellowship with God. David, after he had committed sin, prayed in Psalm 51:12a, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation." He hadn't lost his salvation, but he had lost the joy of it. We also read where Peter wept bitterly even though he was saved (Matthew 26:75).

Many Christians are joyless. They need to know the secret of joy found in John 15:5: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." There are three significant things about the life of a branch:

A branch is absolutely dependent upon a vine.
The vine sustains the branch and provides everything needed.
The branch never has to worry about its provisions.

The branch is not called on to do anything for God, just abide in the vine. What we do on our own has no eternal value. The branch surrenders to the vine in order to be useful. It is the vine that produces the grapes - the fruit of the Spirit - which includes joy. In order for there to be this dependence and restfulness, there must be total surrender.

Have you brought all of the issues of your life into one burning focus and said. "I have no greater ambition, desire, or responsibility than just to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ?" Dear friend, that is the recipe for joy in your life.

The Search For Peace

author: Marybeth Whalen, Speaker Team Member
source: Crosswalk

Key Verse:
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (NIV)

Peace. The very word settles down in my soul and sits quietly there, hopeful and waiting. How I long for peace to well up to overflowing inside me. Instead, I search in vain for this elusive part of God’s promise to me. Didn’t Jesus say that He was leaving us with peace when He ascended into Heaven? Then where is my peace? How can I have peace in my life?

I make the mistake of seeking peace by trying to control my life, my circumstances and the people I love. Surely if I can exercise some control over what happens to me, then peace will be a byproduct of that control. Right? Yet, peace still eludes me. I realize that control is not the answer I had hoped for.

I know I am not the only woman who struggles with desiring to control my life. I think that it is in our nature to want to control things. When Adam and Eve were cursed by God, He told Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) God was telling Eve that her desire for control would be a struggle for the rest of her life. She would want to rule over things, yet that was not the responsibility God had assigned her. Eve and every women after her has struggled with this ever since.

In my search for peace, I found that peace was not a product of control but the very opposite of it! I find peace when I surrender control. When I say to God, “I can’t,” I feel the absolute serenity of knowing that He can. I have found that being “out of control” is actually a very peaceful state of mind! When I am “out of control,” I allow God complete control.

To help myself remember this valuable lesson, I developed an acronym for “Peace” that I want to share with you:


I don’t have control and never will. When I purposefully embrace all the circumstances that God allows to come into my life, and accept that He has allowed them according to His perfect plan to accomplish His purposes, then I can experience the freedom He intended and experience the peace that passes all understanding. Try peace God’s way today! It may not be what you expected, but I can testify that His peace is truly perfect peace.

Dear Lord, Help me to embrace everything You allow in my life. Help me to surrender the control that I have tried to have and to trust You instead. Thank You for giving me perfect peace as You promised. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Write down the acronym for PEACE and the verse from John 14:27 on an index card. Carry it with you throughout your day. Ask God to help you surrender control and submit to His plans for you, whatever they may be. When you feel yourself starting to wrestle with your desire for control, reflect on the acronym and the verse on your card. Meditate on the Power Verses below. Spend more time in prayer seeking ways to give up control so that you can know God’s peace.

Reflection Points:
Why do you want to control things around you?

What steps can you take to lay down the control habit? What does the Bible instruct about this?

In what ways will it benefit you to replace control with peace in your life?

Power Verses:
John 16:33, “I have told you all these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Psalm 34:14, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

NBC Puts Sliced 'Veggies' on Saturday Morning Kids Menu

NBC Puts Sliced 'Veggies' on Saturday Morning Kids Menu
Jenni Parker
source: CrossWalk

Network Airs VeggieTales Cartoons With Religious Content Cut Out

The popular Christian-themed VeggieTales cartoons, which feature loveable talking vegetables Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato, and other "veggies," are now being broadcast on Saturday mornings on NBC. Fans will notice some changes, however, as the network has insisted any biblical or evangelical messages in the animated shows be edited out.

According to an Associated Press report, VeggieTales creator and consultant Phil Vischer is, at NBC's insistence, retooling the popular cartoons for network television. The cartoon still presents Bible stories, he notes, but the network has said they cannot preach to kids or show Scriptures at the end of each episode, so "we have had to make some edits."

The major TV networks have "some sensitivities," Vischer explains, "about 'preaching to kids' when you have an audience that's going to have atheist kids and, you know, Hindu kids," and so on. "And so we can tell Bible stories," he says, but "what we can't do is really turn to the audience and preach at them. What we can't do at the end is go to the computer and show a Bible verse, which clearly doesn't pass network standards."

For example, Vischer recalls, in one VeggieTales episode a character states, "The Bible says God gave Samson his strength," and NBC "didn't have a problem with that. But then the character kind of turns to the camera and says, 'And God can give us strength, too.' And that's kind of where [NBC] said, 'Okay, now you're preaching.'"

The animator notes that there was some initial miscommunication about what NBC would allow and what was off limits. "Some of it came as a surprise to us, what we needed to cut," he says. Nevertheless, he does not believe the end result of the editing has compromised the Christian integrity of the programs' basic messages.

"There is the kind of compromise that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to do," Vischer says. "But there's also the kind of compromise that [the apostle] Paul did when he said, 'I will be all things to all people' -- where he wanted to kind of adopt the culture of the people he was trying to reach; not offend them, but find a way to get the gospel in front of them. And I think that's a little more what we're trying to do here."

It remains clear, even in the edited episodes, "that we're telling a Bible story and we're communicating something from the Bible," Vischer contends; but "what we haven't been able to do is really turn to the audience and apply it to them." He acknowledges that he and his associates are "not thrilled" about all the cuts, but says "we're doing the best we can. If someone invites you to a dinner party and you get to talk there, you kind of have to live by the rules of the host."

But even though the Veggies' creator admits he wishes he did not have to make the cuts, he says he believes the cartoon's broadcasts will still teach kids good lessons that are based on biblical values. Meanwhile, he hopes the NBC broadcasts of the cartoon will help attract a new audience to the unedited VeggieTales videos.

So the Veggies will be a little bit chopped before being served up for Saturday morning network TV; but Vischer asserts, "we still think it's a good thing because kids can meet Bob [the Tomato] and Larry [the Cucumber] through this broadcast."

And then, the cartoon's creator adds, when young viewers who have been introduced to the characters through the NBC broadcast "go into Wal-Mart or Target, they'll bump into these VeggieTales videos, and they'll discover the whole story."

© 2006 AgapePress all rights reserved

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jimmy Draper on 4 Ways to Set Boundaries in Ministry

author: Jimmy Draper
source: LifeWay

It is important to acknowledge that most of us are our own worst enemies in thinking we have to be present at everything that happens at the church. It was a liberating day for me and for the church when I discovered that meetings could go on without me! It also is empowering for church members to know you trust them enough to do their work.

To evaluate how you are doing at protecting time for your family and yourself, consider these questions.
How often do you work on your days off?
What do you do when a church meeting or appointment conflicts with an event important to one of your children?
How often do you take your wife out on a date?
How long has it been since you enjoyed a round of golf, a tennis match, or some other sports or hobby activity?
On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate your physical fitness?
On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate your spiritual fitness? How long has it been since you ate dinner at home?
How often do you spend time alone with one of your children?
Did you take all of your vacation time last year? The year before?

If your responses to these questions indicate you have progress to make in setting and maintaining boundaries, don’t despair! You can make changes.

Here are four suggestions, based on my 35 years of pastoral ministry. I didn’t start out practicing all of these. Some were learned through the crucible of wrong choices. I offer them for your consideration.

1. Review the activities at the church.Decide which require your attention and which do not. This may require handing off assignments to the staff or lay leaders. Work with the appropriate
persons to make those changes as needed.

2. Get a physical check-up. If you haven’t had a physical examination recently, get one. Then develop a plan for eating, exercise, and recreation, and follow it. You will feel better and
have more energy for ministry and for your family.

3. Evaluate your present habits of prayer and Bible study.Are you allowing adequate time to prepare for teaching God’s Word? What about your own needs for personal spiritual renewal? Make changes as needed.

4. Schedule time with your family.Make time for the entire family as a whole and with individual members. Place these times on your calendar, along with church meetings and appointments
with church members.

All of us need to spend time with our children, attending their important events, and building strength into family relationships. Establishing boundaries and
respecting family engagements and needs is the only way to do that.

James T. Draper, Jr. recently retired as the president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Before joining the LifeWay staff in August 1991, he served as pastor of Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. He is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and also served as chairman of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He is the author of more than 20 Christian books and has traveled in 33 countries around the world, leading in evangelistic services and activities, as well as other types of conferences and meetings with missionaries and nationals.

Devotional: “Satan Yells, God Whispers”

author: Marybeth Whalen, Speaker Team Member
source: CrossWalk

Key Verse:

Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (NIV)


One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in I Kings 19:3-13. In this passage Elijah has run into a cave and is hiding from King Ahab, afraid for his life.

He is at a real low point, with which we can all sympathize. He wants to know if God is really there. Have you ever asked that question in your heart?

Unfortunately, I don’t struggle with knowing whether Satan is in my life. He announces his presence with authority. I see him in my own sinful nature. I sense him lurking, waiting to strike. He crawls up on my shoulder and says horrible, crippling things in my ear. His voice is loud and persistent. I want to silence him forever but I must wait for God’s timing for that. In the meantime, I know that I must contend with my enemy.

Unlike Satan’s shrill hiss, God’s voice is a gentle whisper - something I don’t so much hear as feel in my soul. God is the great lover of my soul. He does not enter uninvited but is always the gentleman, waiting to be asked in. He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). In His graciousness, He seeks permission to enter our lives and does not barge in unbidden.

Back to the passage in I Kings, we see God did not come to Elijah in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He came in a gentle breeze that soothed and comforted Elijah’s troubled heart. He comes to us in the same way. Remember this about His character when you are facing tough times. Just because He is quiet does not mean God isn’t there. He will not yell at you and condemn you. That is the Enemy talking. Get to know God’s character so you can recognize His sweet voice.

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Lord, thank You that You care enough for me to speak to me. Help me to know You so well that I instantly recognize Your voice. Help me to know when it is Satan speaking to me and to learn not to listen to him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Determine what God is asking you to step out and do. Don’t go by ability or emotions. Go by Truth and God’s leading in your life. Set a goal to practice whatever that is and watch God work on the rest!

Get out your Bible and read I Kings 19:3-13.

Reflection Points:

What can you do to better hear God’s voice and silence Satan’s? Do you recognize the two distinct voices? What does each voice say about their character?

Power Verses:

Deuteronomy 30:20, “And that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Psalm 29:4, “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.”

John 10:3, “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

Devotional:“Yes You Can”

author: Wendy Pope, Coordinator of Development, Speaker Team Member
source: CrossWalk

Key Verse:

Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (NIV)


It is amazing to me how, from a very young age, children come to believe whether they will be successful or not. Some children are brimming with confidence, and some need encouragement at every turn. I have one of each. My son never assumes that he will fail. He never lets his size or his age affect his belief in himself. My daughter, on the other hand, got her confidence from her mother’s gene pool. She will quickly give up on something just because it is not going well.

This started during her preschool days. When the puzzle piece would not fit, or when the shape would not go into the sorter, the first words out of her little mouth were, "I can’t do it." Knowing that I had grown up being a slave to this lie, I was determined to set a new pace for my children.

I started this new pace by teaching her to ask for help when she got frustrated. I had her say, "Mom, I am having trouble, will you please help me?" After many months of training, this became second nature. As she would come to us , we would help her, but we would also direct her to God’s Word (and today’s key scripture). After many years of teaching this principle, she is finally beginning to believe she can do all things through Christ.

Has the enemy robbed you of potential success in an area of your life by convincing you that you cannot do it? It grieves my heart to think of the time I wasted giving the enemy victory in the area of self-confidence. I have spent the latter years of my life choosing to overcome the enemy’s lies by defending myself with Scripture and, like my daughter, asking for help. I am now able to live free and enjoy life by daring to try new things.

My Prayer for Today:

Lord, help me to believe your words. Help me to overcome any unbelief. I know my confidence and competence comes from you. Enable me to live like it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Make a list of some things you do well. Thank God for your abilities.

Make a list of things you struggle to achieve with excellence. Ask the Lord for help.

Reflection Points:

Is there an area of my life where I am giving into the enemies' lies?

How do I react when I am having trouble succeeding at a task?

Who do I call first when trouble comes my way?

Power Verses:

2 Corinthians 3:4, "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God." (NIV)

2 Corinthians 3:5, "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes form God." (NIV)

Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV)

Paradoxical Commandments

author: Dr. Kent M. Keith
helpmeet Sherry :) THANKS!

The Paradoxical Commandments were written by Kent M. Keith in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders. The original text are as follows:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Below are some more of these Paradoxical Commandments set on nice baby backgrounds...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Top 10 Healthy Party Snacks

source: LifeScript
a health resource

NOTE:"published articles of authors in this blogsite does not warrant FULL endorsement of the author's values and that of his website. Readers are reminded to subscribe only to advice/ information that does not go against the Scriptures and/or their own Christian preferences"

Healthy Party Foods #1: Red Wine
Most of us see parties as a chance to drink up and let loose, but when it comes to alcohol, choosing red wine over cocktails can save you hundreds of calories. Not only that, red wine is also rich in antioxidants that protect your heart and help your body to maintain healthy cells.

(apologies to those who do not approve of drinking red wine ,etc. the whole article must be published in whole, as originally taken from the source in order to avoid plagiarism issues)

Healthy Party Foods #2: Nuts
You might be accustomed to shying away from the nuts since they are high in fat, but nuts are full of the good kind of fat – unsaturated. Unsaturated fats help promote healthy hair, skin and nails, nourishing them from the inside out. Rather than snacking on greasy chips, grab a handful of nuts – they’ll also keep you satisfied longer. For the best total fat to unsaturated fat ratio, grab a handful of hazelnuts – they’re 94% good fat!

Healthy Party Foods #3: Raw Veggies
The veggie tray is always a hit at any party! No matter what kind of veggie you love, you’ll most likely find it on the veggie tray. If you’re hosting the party, get creative and blanch asparagus, green beans and other greens for tasty dippers. Vegetables are full of nutrients and water, low in calories and 100% fat-free. But watch out for those calorie-loaded party dips!

Healthy Party Foods #4: Healthy Party Dips
Speaking of calorie-rich party dips, we’ve got some great alternatives for you. Instead of mayonnaise, sour cream or cream cheese based dips, reach for the hummus (blended chickpeas) or fresh salsa. They’re both tasty, loaded with nutrients and low in calories and fat.

Healthy Party Foods #5: Tomato Juice
If you’re not the type who likes to eat your vegetables, drink them instead! You can get one or more servings of vegetables in a glass of tomato or V8 juice, and it’s a low-fat, low-calorie drink. And, if you must have a cocktail, try a Bloody Mary for the tomato juice benefit, and don’t forget to munch on the celery!

(apologies to those who do not approve of drinking cocktails,etc. the whole article must be published in whole, as originally taken from the source in order to avoid plagiarism issues)

Healthy Party Foods #6: Fruit Galore
Chances are, whichever party you’re at, there’ll be desserts – and tons of them! Fixing an aching sweet tooth is as easy as reaching for the fresh fruit. Just like veggies, fresh fruit is nutrient-dense, full of water and low in calories and fat – and they’ll help fill you up before the main courses, which are often the fattiest.

Healthy Party Foods #7: Fish
You might not think of serving fish at your party, but it really does make for a fancy and nutritious treat. Try mini sushi rolls for an oriental twist or smoked salmon pieces to really light up your table. Both are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that is lacking in the typical American diet. Increasing your Omega-3 intake can also help promote healthy hair, skin and nails.

Healthy Party Foods #8: Air Popped Popcorn
It’s the perfect snack for those of you who need to constantly be handling food. One cup of air popped popcorn has only 30 calories and provides more than one gram of fiber. Just don’t slather on the butter, because this health-conscious snack will quickly become waistline-sabotaging. Instead, try Mrs. Dash seasonings for a tasty kick.

Healthy Party Foods #9: Angel Food Cake
Serving cake or eyeing the cake in the kitchen? Forget the really rich and dense cakes and opt instead for angel food cake – a light and fluffy variety of cake that is low in fat and high in flavor. For an even tastier angel food cake, top your slice with fresh fruit like strawberries and a low-calorie whipped topping. If you choose well, you can literally have your cake and eat it, too!

Healthy Party Foods #10: Lemon water
OK, so this drink doesn’t sounds that festive for a party, but it’s a tasty alternative to water, and not nearly as bland. If you have a hard time wanting to drink water, squeeze a fresh lemon wedge into your glass to quench your thirst and replenish any water lost from drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages. Drinking water is great for you and doesn’t have the calories of other party drinks.

Parties are seen as a welcome time to indulge, but just because you’re feeling festive and celebratory doesn’t mean that your waistline should suffer, especially when there are so many other deliciously healthy party snacks available. Making a commitment to yourself to eat right and watch your caloric intake shouldn’t get thrown to the wayside just because of a social event.

It means becoming more knowledgeable of not only the so-called “bad” foods, but the good-for-you foods as well, and keeping within the boundaries of moderation no matter where you are. So snack healthy and snack happy!

NOTE:"published articles of authors in this blogsite does not warrant FULL endorsement of the author's values and that of his website. readers are reminded to subscribe only to advice/ information that does not go against the Scriptures and/or their own Christian preferences"

Moms: Make Time for God

author:Whitney Hopler

Your life as a mom pulls you in many different directions at once, and it’s easy to let the demands rob you of your quality time with God. But there’s so much more to life than an endless cycle of laundry, dishes, and errands. God wants you to spend time with Him each day so you can have the life you should have.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that you need God’s strength to fulfill your responsibilities well. Decide to make time for God, no matter what, and He’ll give you all you need for the important job of nurturing your family.

Here’s how you can make time for God in the midst of motherhood’s demands:

Be proactive and creative.
Don’t worry about trying to follow traditional methods for your prayer times. Realize that it’s okay not to do daily devotions early in the morning if you’ve been up at night with a baby or sick child; fit them in during your children’s naps or in the evening instead. Rather than thinking you can’t read the Bible because you don’t have long, uninterrupted stretches of time, decide to carry a Bible with you wherever you go and read small portions whenever pockets of free time open up for you. Know that you can spend time with God regularly if you’re determined to do so.

Clean up your outer life to get your inner life in order.
Realize that a messy home leads to cluttered and disorganized thinking. Understand that you have to get some control of your environment before you can seriously deal with your spiritual growth. Think about the purpose of each room in your house, and write it down. Then, with the purpose in mind, organize each room. Recognize that, while housework is boring, it’s a sacrament of service to your family. Train your children to help you in age-appropriate ways with regular household chores like laundry. Plan your meals at least one week in advance. Set up an efficient system for dealing with mail and all other paper (such as school and church announcements) that comes into your home. Create a family calendar to coordinate and schedule every family member’s upcoming activities. Nurture a peaceful atmosphere in your home. Ask God to help you see your spouse and children not as burdens, but as gifts to you. Embrace God’s grace by just doing what you can to keep a reasonably clean home, but not neglecting other parts of your life by trying to make it spick-and-span clean.

Manage your time wisely.
Think and pray about what you value most, and why. Then create a schedule that reflects those values so you’re spending your time on what matters most. Set goals to focus on what God wants you to accomplish. Keep your goals in mind when people ask you to commit your time to something; don’t be afraid to say “no” quickly if you don’t sense God truly leading you to undertake certain activities. Make sure you don’t commit to anything that would take too much time away from God and your family. Ask God to give you His perspective on what a reasonable schedule should look like for you each day. When you create your daily list of things to do, don’t just list chores, but also include pleasant activities you want to make time for, such as reading to your children or playing outside in the yard with them. Clearly communicate your schedule and expectations to your children, but be flexible and prepared for interruptions and changed plans that will sometimes be necessary. Invest time in yourself by pursuing some of your personal interests so you’ll be recharged to serve your family.

Think purposefully.
Acknowledge that you can’t operate at peak performance if you have too much, or the wrong things, on your mind. Understand that your thoughts lead to your behavior. Ask God to help you learn to think like Him. Meditate on His Word to understand His thoughts better. Prayerfully choose Scripture passages that relate to a theme you’re interested in right now (such as forgiveness or joy). Then meditate on them whenever you have some small increments of free time, asking the Holy Spirit to transform your mind as you do. Be ready to obey whenever God directs you to change your attitude about something. Post relevant Scripture throughout your house, in your car, on your computer, and anywhere else you can see it frequently. Engage your senses as you worship God, such as by using potpourri or candles and playing praise songs or soft music. Don’t waste time thinking about issues you can’t do anything about or trivial or petty topics. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones that honor God. Guard your mind by refusing to feed it with unhealthy images from the media.

Make your quiet time consistent.
Plan for a quiet time of prayer – however – brief every day, in a designated space in your home or yard. If you have to miss your quiet time one day, go back to it the next day to keep up the habit. Bring along items such as a Bible, a concordance, a journal, pens, a list of prayer requests, and photographs of people for whom you’re praying to use during your scheduled time. Never view your quiet time as a chore. Instead, get excited about it, remembering that the Creator of the universe wants to meet with you. Try to spend more time listening to God than you do talking to Him.

Repent often.
Ask God to help you be willing to confront your own sin regularly, so you can be transformed. Whenever you become aware of sinful attitudes or behavior in your life, take action to deal with them right then. Be alert to how God at work in your everyday life, and regularly thank Him for it. Daily, be sure to ask God what He wants you to do and how He wants you to do it. Talk with Him frequently throughout your day, honestly expressing your true thoughts and feelings. View all your activities – no matter how mundane – as sacraments because you’re ultimately serving God through doing them well.

Inspire your children to follow your lead.
Ask God to help you live with integrity, so your life will give your children the message He wants them to receive. Readily admit your mistakes, and ask your children to forgive you whenever you wrong them. Tell your children that God wants to be close to them, and motivate them to build close, personal relationships with Him. Teach them to pray and read the Bible daily, and to build meaningful friendships with other Christians, just as you do. Share both your successes and your failures with your children so they can learn from your example. Pray with and for your children often. Learn about basic child development so you’ll know whether or not its realistic to expect your children to acting in certain ways at certain ages. Don’t place unreasonable demands on your children. Listen carefully and often to your children, validating their thoughts and feelings. Express your love to them through frequent affection. Open and maintain an honest dialogue with them about all aspects of their lives, encouraging them to make God their top priority, just as you’re trying to do.

Lighten up.
Know that God wants to give you joy. Make time to laugh often. Enjoy the present moment rather than regretting, or being nostalgic for, the past or worrying about the future. Ask God for daily grace to overcome your weaknesses with His strength. Cut back on your activities so your schedule isn’t too stressful. Don’t be shy about asking people to pray for you about any type of concern. Make spiritual disciplines fun, such as by discussing Scripture with others over a meal. Be grateful for all God does for you, and give Him the gift of choosing to a positive attitude in life.

Listen for God’s voice.
As much as you love your family and as good as it is to serve them, don’t allow your family to eclipse God’s work in your life. Always make God your top priority over everything and everyone else so you’ll be close enough to Him to hear His voice. Be willing to surrender your own plans so you can hear what God wants you to do. Deal with blatant sin in your life and ask God for a pure heart. Read and study the Bible to get to know God’s character, so you’ll be better able to recognize Him speaking to you. Write down what God reveals to you, and ask Him questions to clarify His messages. Remember that God will never contradict His Word in the Bible. Ask other believers whom you trust to pray with you as you discern whether or not you’ve heard from God about something. Whenever you do hear God’s voice leading you to do something, be sure to be obedient and follow through.

Take care of your health. Remember that you can’t serve God to the fullest if your physical, mental, or spiritual health is poor. Take care of your body by exercising, eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep at night and rest throughout the day. Take care of your mind by reading and memorizing Scripture, reading other stimulating books and articles, engaging in interesting discussions with other adults, taking classes, taking trips, volunteering, or pursuing hobbies. Take care of your spirit by seeking God daily in ways such as prayer, journaling, meditating on Scripture, and maintaining your quiet time.

Adapted from Chasing God and the Kids Too: Balancing a Mom’s Most Important Pursuits, copyright 2006 by Cheryl R. Carter. Published by Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich.,
Cheryl R. Carter is director of Organize Your Life! (, a time management and organizing ministry for Christian mothers, and the cofounder of Foundations for Family Success (

Do You Have the Guts for a 'Hard Conversation' with God?

Stacy Hawkins Adams

Maybe it's his personality or maybe he's a bit of a rebel.

Jeff Edmondson isn't sure why, but since childhood, he's had no problem questioning God. Not for the sake of causing trouble, but because he has sincerely sought to understand the Creator as much as humanly possible.

"I think it's just my nature; I've always been pretty honest about everything," Jeff said recently from Kansas City, Mo., where he serves as manager of Barefoot Ministries, the youth publishing division of Nazarene Publishing House (NPH). We met recently at a Christian writer's conference where he shared with me details about his journey to the ministry and about one of his new projects - a book about the power of authentic faith.

Jeff grew up in a wonderful family that abided by an unstated rule: 'God said it, I believe it, that's good enough for me.'

Yet he always wanted more details. In searching for them, he grew closer to the heart of God.

"We have this fear of being honest with God, but I think that's what God wants, and that helps us in our relationship with him," said Jeff, who shares that message with the inner city youths he regularly counsels.

"It's okay to question God, but in your questioning, don't lose your faith. Allow God to work through your questions and listen for answers."

His ability to share his doubts, fears and frustration with God has allowed Jeff to develop what he calls "gutsy faith."

What is gutsy faith?
"You hear God speaking and you just obey," Jeff said.

Now, even he knows that's easier said that done.

In his newly released book, however, he offers a roadmap.

Gutsy Faith: Hard Conversations with God indicates that courage and faith can become one when we learn how to hear God speaking to us. The next step is to act on what God says.

"Our prayer time often tends to be a list of, 'Here's what I need' and I'm done praying," Jeff said. "Jesus says in Scriptures that God already knows what your needs are. That's what hard conversations with God are all about - spending time with the spirit and allowing that spirit to minister to us and listening to what God is saying down in our gut."

Jeff shares stories of contemporary men and women who struggled to trust God. He writes about Biblical figures who grew more intimate with God when they found the strength to fully surrender to Him.

Questions at the end of each chapter prompt you to consider your own faith.

Yet the book doesn't offer a cookie cutter solution with a money back guarantee.

Jeff doesn't insist that if you follow the path outlined in Gusty Faith that the desires of your heart will immediately become your reality.

What you will learn is how to trust that where the Heavenly Father leads you, He will keep you.
Jeff speaks from experience.

God has told him "maybe," "not now" and even "no" at times he believed he was in God's will and had enough faith to move mountains. God's timing has sometimes left him questioning whether he made the right decision.

Yet whenever Jeff hasn't understood why God is or is not moving, he has gotten better at listening and waiting.

"I don't know how to tell people that you've just got to get beyond fear," Jeff said. "Saying 'God called me to do this and I'm going to step forward and begin asking the questions and begin trusting God to work out the details' - that's where the gutsy part comes in.

"Even in small things, if people begin to recognize God's voice and act upon it, how incredible that would be," he said. "What woud happen to the church? It would just explode."

Here are a few of the Thought Questions Jeff asks readers at the end of the book's first chapter. Use them to assess your level of faith:
* What does it mean to you to have a gutsy faith?
* Do you think of yourself as a person with gutsy faith? Why or why not?
* Name at least five people in the course of your life whom you see as having a gutsy faith.
* What characteristics do these people possess that you would like to see developed in your life?

Gutsy Faith: Hard Conversations With God, by Jeff Edmondson (Beacon Hill Press, 2006). For more information on the book or Jeff's other ministries, you can visit his blog at

Stacy Hawkins Adams is the author of the Christian fiction novels Nothing but the Right Thing and Speak To My Heart. She is also a freelance writer and inspirational columnist. Stacy often speaks to audiences about the blessings that come with authentically living one's faith. She and her husband, Donald, have two children. She invites feedback at

Movie by Georgia church gets Hollywood's attention

Religion News
Movie by Georgia church gets Hollywood's attention
Orlando Sentinel,
USAJuly 23, 2006
Elliott Minor
Source: ReligionNewsBlog

ALBANY, Ga. -- A movie made by Baptist pastors using their congregation as cast and crew is a long shot for the Hollywood treatment.

But Facing the Giants, an inspirational film about a chronically losing high-school football team, is heading to 400 theaters nationwide after becoming embroiled in a ratings dispute that reached the halls of Congress.

Members of Albany's Sherwood Baptist Church donated the money for the $100,000 film, which is to be released in September by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Destination Films, a branch of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"We are thrilled. It was more than we ever imagined," said the Rev. Alex Kendrick, an associate pastor at Sherwood. "We felt like God answered a lot of prayers."

Sherwood's pastors think television and films have a greater influence than sermons, so they got into the movie business in 2003 with Flywheel, about an unscrupulous used-car salesman who turns his life around after finding God. It was shown at local theaters and distributed on DVD.
"Every church has to find out what they're supposed to do," said the Rev. Michael Catt, the senior pastor. "For us, it was making movies."

For Facing the Giants, Kendrick and his brother, the Rev. Stephen Kendrick, also an associate pastor, wrote the script and helped produce it with the help of 500 church volunteers and a handful of technical behind-the-scenes professionals who conducted a two-day "boot camp" to train the mostly volunteer crew.

Alex Kendrick plays the lead role of Grant Taylor, coach of the fictional Shiloh Christian Academy football team. He and his wife face the usual everyday problems -- car troubles, mounting bills, a rodent in the house -- as well as infertility concerns that strain their relationship. In addition, the coach learns that some parents are calling for his ouster because of the team's losing record.

Taylor prays and searches the Bible for answers that ultimately ease his family problems and change his coaching philosophy. He turns the team around by telling players they need to believe in God as well as in themselves.

The church spent about nine months producing Facing the Giants, including three months of filming at local high schools and pecan orchards. All the actors and extras were volunteers, including a cameo by University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt. All but a handful of the football players in the film were from the 1,500-member church's school, Sherwood Christian Academy.

The movie was "discovered" after the church contacted Nashville, Tenn.-based Provident Films, which had focused on Christian music distribution, for permission to use some of its songs. Provident, which merged with Sony last year, wanted to see the movie.

"We thought it was a tear-jerker, and we worked with Provident to get the rights," said Benjamin Feingold, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which will handle DVD distribution. He said that he has an affinity for Albany because his grandfather, a Polish immigrant, is buried there and he has relatives in the area.

The film's supporters recently complained when the Motion Picture Association of America's rating board gave it a PG rating, which is usually a warning of some profanity, violence or brief nudity. Thinking the rating might have been based on the movie's strong religious message, conservative talk-show hosts, Washington lawmakers and religious groups saw the decision as evidence of an anti-Christian bias in Hollywood. U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the House Majority Whip, sent a letter to the MPAA demanding an explanation.

The board doesn't usually explain its ratings decisions, but after being bombarded with more than 15,000 e-mails, a spokeswoman said the rating was based solely on the film's mature subject matter -- football violence, depression issues and infertility -- and had nothing to do with its religious content.

Sherwood pastors said they knew the PG rating was a possibility, although they had hoped for a G.

"Obviously, [the controversy] has given the movie a lot of exposure," said Catt. "We did not file an appeal on that. Football was a part of how we wanted to tell this story."

Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, said he's not surprised at the interest in Facing the Giants.

"We're always looking . . . for compelling, uplifting and inspirational stories, whether they're religious-based, or emotional- or human-based," he said. "We're catering to the audience that is moved by the characters and the story line, rather than the pyrotechnics of blowing people up."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

6 Principles for Boundaries in a Pastor's Ministry

Written by Barney Self
source: LifeWay

Ministers often struggle in setting God-honoring boundaries. This struggle may stem from a misunderstanding of the appropriate place ministry has in the life of the minister. When persons experience the sense of call to ministry it is easy to confuse or combine the personal relationship with God and ministry for God.

Ministry and Relationship with God are two very different elements in life and need to be handled in a way that will fulfill our commitments in the most God-honoring fashion.

1. Our first covenant relationship is with God. Our second covenant relationship is with our mate.The combining of those covenants leads to the healthy and solid triangular relationship with God at the pinnacle and the Husband and Wife at the other two corners. It is from this pattern that we can both minister inside our homes to our spouse’s and children’s needs as well as minister outside our homes to our congregation’s needs.

The healthy minister’s priority list is God first, spouse second, family third, and ministry fourth.

2. Crises arise within church life that demand the minister’s attention.Illnesses, deaths, births, weddings and traumatic moments all demand the minister’s attention and presence. However, outside of these major “musts”, the remainder of the ministry applications needs to be called into question. In the questioning process, it is essential to determine whether the health of the
minister or the well-being of the minister’s family are potentially going to be harmed by fulfilling a ministry request.

There must be a healthy balance between meeting the needs of the congregation and the needs of the family.

3. Scheduling is a vital battleground.Time should be set aside weekly for yourself, your spouse, and your children. The real key is to determine what amounts of time are necessary for
generating personal spiritual renewal, couple relationship growth and family connection. This determination will need to be made by the ministry couple and will vary from time to time especially as the children age. Weekly time slots need to be allocated to personal, marital and family needs. These can then be treated just the same as other appointments.

Training of the church staff and congregation regarding both the need and the reality of this commitment will also occur over time. In so doing the minister models healthy priorities for the staff and for the church as a whole.

4. Beware of the drain of Counseling.Ministers need to determine whether this activity is within their gifting. If so, the setting of boundaries is critical for the minister, the counselee and the
church’s benefit. Another factor that has to be considered is that of dual relationships. Often ministers who counsel others find both their role as counselor and their role of minister to be compromised. It is not always so, but may be.

If counseling an individual is perceived to be a problem then it would be appropriate to refer the counselee to a qualified Christian therapist in the area.

5. Keep a list of pastoral counselors that function as a referral base.Referral sources allow the minister to focus on other ministry issues and can also potentially allow the counselee to obtain more effective therapy. Another factor that would require the counselee to be referred is when the minister discovers serious emotional or psychological struggles or other major trauma in
the life of the counselee. When that discovery takes place, the question that needs to be asked is “Will I be the best person to help the counselee?”. If the answer is “no” referral is both a good idea and an ethical mandate.

Editors note: For more help, read 7 Steps to Building Your Network of Professional Counselors also by Barney Self.

6. The church can assist in good boundary settingIt would be helpful for each church to develop a plan for the assistance for congregation members needing counseling. Such a plan would likely stipulate the assistance to be provided, the timing, the duration and the financial arrangements as well. This takes the pressure off of the minister and helps the counselee understand clearly where the boundaries lie.

The ultimate goal of boundary setting is to protect the minister, the minister’s wife and family and the church body from the traumas of blurred boundaries. If the boundaries are clear, each of their needs will be met, and ministry will happen in the most efficient manner. The church will also have the best opportunity for growth.

Healthy boundaries promote the "Abundant Life" for the minister, the minister’s family and the church family as well.

Barney Self , Ed. D., is a licensed marriage and family therapist and works in LifeWay's pastoral ministries as LeaderCare counselor.

What Forgiveness Isn't

6 myths that may be keeping you from letting go.
by Denise George
source: Christianity Today

I listened quietly as my friend Jamie told me the frank details of the sexual abuse she'd suffered as a child.

"I hate my father!" she blurted out. "He abused me for more than a decade!" Jamie cried. "But my pastor said if I want to heal from my childhood pain, I have to forgive."

"What did you tell your pastor?" I asked.

"I told him I could never forgive my father, that I didn't want to forgive him, that no one—not even God—would expect me to forgive him!"

Jamie told me all the reasons that kept her from forgiving her abusive father. I'd heard many of them before. In fact, I'd used some of them two years earlier, when a friend I'd trusted to keep a confidence told several women in my Sunday school class about a painful circumstance I was going through. I felt betrayed by my friend—as I should have. But forgive her? That was the last thing I wanted to do! I dropped out of the Sunday school class and avoided her at church. But a year later, when I reread what the apostle Paul said about forgiveness, his familiar words touched my heart in a special way: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32, my emphasis).

As I meditated on that verse, I knew I'd been forgiven much. I needed to forgive my friend, even if I didn't feel like it. I decided to do so. Later, when I met her and told her I'd forgiven her, she apologized, and we both cried. I wish I could say she and I became good friends again—but I can't. Her betrayal deeply hurt our friendship, and I was careful never to share another confidence with her. But God's Word and my decision to forgive set me free from bitterness.

Facing the Challenge
Jamie and I are just two of a legion of Christian women who've struggled with forgiveness because it's difficult—almost impossible—to do. Yet in Luke 6:37, Jesus says, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." He elaborates in Matthew 6:14-15: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." The apostle Paul repeats Jesus' command: "Bear with
each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13). Surely Paul's "whatever grievances" covers any kind of hurt, betrayal, or injury another person could inflict!

In talking with hundreds of women about forgiveness, I've discovered six myths that keep us from the healing and freedom God desires for you and me.

Myth 1: Forgiving means the offender didn't really hurt you.
Jamie thought if she forgave her father, it lessened the severity of his abuse. Yet Jamie's forgiveness doesn't deny her father hurt her. In fact, it clearly recognizes the enormity of his evil—if Jamie's dad hadn't deliberately caused her pain, she'd have no reason to forgive him.

"Forgiveness is a redemptive response to having been wronged and wounded," wrote author Lewis B. Smedes. "Only those who have wronged and

wounded us are candidates for forgiveness. If they injure us accidentally, we excuse them. We only forgive the ones we blame." Choosing to forgive her father acknowledges the pain Jamie endured at his hands. It also begins her healing.

Myth 2: Forgiving means you excuse the offender's hurtful act.
When I chose to forgive my friend, I didn't condone her cruel behavior. Forgiveness, I've discovered, is a response that seeks to redeem the hurt, not brush it off. An accidental "slip of the tongue" needs no forgiveness because it isn't deliberately caused. Intentional hurts—like my friend's betrayal—need forgiveness. When I forgave my friend, my forgiveness didn't lessen the impact of her painful action. But forgiveness unlocked my own "prison" of bitterness.

Myth 3: Before forgiving, you must first understand why the offender hurt you.
On December 1, 1997, Missy Jenkins, a sophomore at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, stood with her classmates and prayed before school started. Before they said their final "amen," 14-year-old Michael Carneal pulled out a pistol and fired 11 shots into the student prayer group. One bullet severely damaged Missy's spinal cord. Paralyzed from the waist down, Missy will spend
her life in a wheelchair.

Missy doesn't know the reason her classmate deliberately hurt her. Michael may not understand his reasons. But that didn't keep Missy from choosing to forgive him.

"I believe hating him is wasted emotion," Missy says. "Hating Michael won't make me walk again. Besides, I know it isn't what Jesus would do."

Our human mind yearns to make all the confusing puzzle pieces fit together neatly before we forgive. However, the truth is we can forgive an offender even if we never discover the reasons for the inflicted pain. Author Philip Yancey writes in What's So Amazing About Grace, "Not to forgive imprisons me in the past and locks out all potential for change. I thus yield control to another, my enemy, and doom myself to suffer the consequences of the wrong."

Myth 4: Before forgiving the offender, you must feel forgiving.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with how you feel. You can feel hurt, betrayed, and angry, and still completely forgive the one who wounded you. Biblical forgiveness is an act of the will. It's a choice you make.

Can you still feel angry after you forgive? Yes! Anger means you're in touch with reality—it's part of being human. But be careful to aim that anger at what your offender did, not at the offender herself. Then let your anger push you toward justice.

Myth 5: Forgiving means the offender will face no consequences.
When we choose to forgive someone, our forgiveness doesn't "let him off the hook."

Forgiveness also doesn't mean justice shouldn't be served.

In December 1983, Pope John Paul II visited a prisoner, Mehmet Ali Agca, at the Rebibbia prison in Rome. In May 1981, Agca had aimed a pistol at the pope and shot him in the chest. After much pain and agony, John Paul recovered, and now he looked Agca in the eye, extended his hand, and said, "I forgive you."

Even though the pope forgave him, Agca still faced the consequences of his crime. He served a lengthy prison sentence until he finally was released last January.

Myth 6: When your offender is punished, you'll find closure.
On June 13, 1990, Linda Purnhagen saw her two daughters, Gracie, 16, and Tiffany, 9, for the last time. Dennis Dowthitt, a dangerously sick psychopath, strangled Tiffany to death, then raped Gracie and slit her throat. When authorities discovered the girls' bodies, they arrested and convicted Dowthitt, and scheduled his execution.

A decade later, as executioners strapped him to his death gurney, Dowthitt apologized for the savage killings. But not even his confession, apology, and execution brought closure for Linda. She was disappointed after the execution, not relieved.

We think we can more easily forgive others if they confess the crime and apologize for the pain they caused. But don't look to justice, imprisonment, or execution to bring needed closure and healing. Only forgiveness will do that.

The Choice to Forgive
The decision to forgive an offender is probably the hardest choice we can ever make. Some crimes seem too horrible to forgive. Our instincts tell us to avenge the person who caused us pain, not to release him from the debt he owes us. But as Christians, we can't afford to have unforgiving hearts, for we have been greatly forgiven by God in Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

Only forgiveness can release us from a life of hatred and bitterness. "Forgiving is a journey, sometimes a long one," wrote Lewis B. Smedes in Shame and Grace. "We may need some time before we get to the station of complete healing, but the nice thing is that we are being healed en route. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner we set free was us."

Denise George,, is the author of 20 books, including Cultivating a Forgiving Heart—Forgiveness Frees You to Flourish (Zondervan).

Forgiveness ABCs

Acknowledge the hurt. When someone deliberately hurts you, don't try to diminish the pain and its effect on you. Acknowledge your suffering—and express it aloud to God. Scripture promises: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18), and "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3).

Blame the offender. If a person hurts you by mistake, she didn't mean to inflict pain, so she needs no forgiveness. But if a person intentionally hurts you, then the pain she caused was deliberate. Say aloud: "I personally blame you, (name of offender), because you hurt me on purpose." Correctly placing the blame readies you to begin the forgiveness process.

Cancel the debt. You've acknowledged the hurt and rightly blamed the offender. Now you're ready to make the willful decision to "cancel the debt" your offender owes you. Find a quiet place to be alone and ask the Lord's help in forgiving the person who hurt you. You might pray the "Lord's Prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13) and meditate on verse 12: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." After you've prayed and while you're still alone, speak aloud
your decision to forgive: "(Name of offender), I've chosen to forgive you for hurting me; I've decided to cancel the debt you owe me." You've now embarked on the process of forgiving the person who hurt you. —D.G.

Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian Woman magazine

Until Death Do Us Part

Authors: J.B. and Shugie
Source: Marriage Matters

A close relative of mine was married to a fine guy for 42 years. Barbara and Ray had a storybook kind of marriage. They didn't live a fairytale; rather they lived their lives so that there was no doubt in their children's minds, or in the mind of anyone who knew them, where they stood. Their relationship was intact and strong. Ray died last week after a short but hard battle with leukemia.

Things I Learned Watching Them:

1. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Ray and Barbara were always so positive and had joy. They were always happy and upbeat. They loved life. They gave all they had to enjoying their children and grandchildren.

2. Keep loving each other. Ray always loved Barbara and the feeling was always the same. She loved him unconditionally and he did her!

3. Keep close to the Lord and try to argue less! Their daughter stood and shared about her dad and talked about their marriage. She said that she and her brother had never heard their parents argue. It was not that they argued behind closed doors…they just didn't argue.

4. Let the kids see you reading your Bible. I have a quiet time but my kids did not often witness it. Let them see you making God's Word the most important thing you do in the day.

5. Be a godly example. Follow Christ and His teachings and let them permeate your heart and life. May your actions speak volumes of who you are.

6. Show kindly affection toward others. Make your life count as a person and as a couple. Give so that others see your good works and glorify God as a result!

7. Make friends along the way who will see you through the hard times. We all need other people. We need to reach out to others using our home as a tool.

We have lived near neighbors before who never had "strange cars" in front of their home! In contrast, our neighbors must think we are party people because we have "strange cars" at our house all the time!

8. Show your devotion to your spouse by letting your children know how very important he or she is to you. Always let your spouse know they are the most important person in life to you after your relationship with the Lord.

9. Spend quality time with your family. All the hobbies in the world and all the things that we can play with don't amount to much in the end. Our wives and children won't talk about the time we spent at the golf course or hunting or fishing!

10. When the end comes, I hope everyone realizes there was something different about your life, your marriage, your family, and your friends! May all who come behind us truly find us faithful!

We preach a sermon with our lives daily. I want mine to count. Do you?

J.B. and Shugie

The Collingsworths travel around the country, coaching churches and couples on how to build strong marriages. Their ministry is based in the Dallas/Fort

Worth Metroplex. If you are interested in having them speak at your church, contact them at 1(800)404-MAFM (6361).

How did we survive our childhood?

source: G6PD groupmate

If you were a kid in the 50's, 60's, 70's or even early 80's did you survive your childhood?

1 - When we were growing up we never wore seatbelts in the car, cars didn't have airbags...

2.- Riding on the back of a pick up truck was an adventure that we still remember!

3 .- Our cribs were painted with bright colors (paint which was full of lead)

4.- We didn't have childproof medicine bottles, nor did our parents ever childproof our house

5.- When we rode our bikes we never wore a helmet.

6.- We would drink water from the faucet or from a hose in the backyard (not bottled water).

7 .- We didn't have cell phones , so our parents were never able to reach us (awesome) .

8.- We would get scrapes, bruises, brake bones , lose teeth , but we would never sue for these accidents. ,

9. - We would eat cake, , bread and butter, , drink sugary drinks, and we weren't overweight because we were always outside playing

10.- Four of us would share a drink, we would all drink from the same bottle and that wasn't gross nor would anyone get sick.

11 .- We didn't have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X boxes, video games , cable TV with over 100 channels, VCR's , surround sound , cellular phones , computers , online chatrooms , instead we would have tons of FRIENDS (i'd like to add that we have tons of real friends we can talk to, play with, etc... coz i have hundreds of people in friendster but very few knew where i live...hehe) ..

12.- Some of us weren't as bright as others but when one would get left back that was no big deal. They would not get taken to a psychologist, nor did they ever suffer from dyslexia, hyperactivity, ADHD, ADD, etc, they would simply repeat the grade until they passed.

13.- We had freedom , mishaps, , successes, , responsibilities, and we would learn to deal with them. The question is...How did we survive? and above all, to become the GREAT people that we are today? .

Are you from one of these generations?

If you are, then send this message to others from your same generation or to others who are younger so that they can see how we survived .

They will probably say that we were very boring, but I believe that we were VERY HAPPY CHILDREN

You can’t get to heaven without going through hell. So if you’re going through hell right now, keep going. – BK Denise Lawrence

Monday, September 04, 2006

Devotional: Labor Day

“Labor Day”
Rachel Olsen, P31 Speaker, Senior Editor of Encouragement for Today
source: Crosswalk

Key Verse:
Genesis 2:3, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (NIV)

In 1882 cabinet maker Peter McGuire introduced his idea for a new holiday saying, "Let us have a festive day during which a parade through the streets of the city would permit public tribute to American Industry." A dozen years later President Cleveland signed a bill into law designating the first Monday in September “Labor Day.” For many Americans today is a day off work, a chance to cook-out and hang-out in the lingering warm weather of summer.

A day off from labor, however, was not a new concept when McGuire suggested his holiday of tribute to American workers. This concept of a day of rest was first declared by the Lord. In illustration, God rested the seventh day after creating the world and He deemed the day of rest holy (Gen. 2:2-3). He didn’t call it Labor Day - He called it the Sabbath.

Sabbath is a not a day of tribute to workers, it’s a day of tribute to their Maker. It’s a day to rest your body while renewing your mind by making the focus of the day your Maker and your relationship with Him. In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath is the focal point of the week - not just a day of laundry or list-making to gear back up for the week ahead. The Jewish people spent three days preparing for Sabbath, and three days reflecting on what they had learned or encountered of God during the Sabbath. They were a Sabbath-focused people, and therefore a God-focused people.

Keri Wyatt Kent, author of Breathe, writes, “This creates a rhythm of life that puts our focus not on our stuff or our schedule but on the opportunity to meet with God.”

What does your Sabbath typically look like? Are you truly focused on God, beyond perhaps an hour or so of worship at your local church? Do you emerge from Sundays renewed and energized by who God is and what He can do through your life? Or do you get to the end of Sunday feeling tired and regrettably resigned to start another week of work?

Kent reveals:
“We are created in the image of God, and he modeled for us a way of life that makes sense for how we are created. Here’s how to dance the dance of life, he said: work, be creative, use your imagination, throw yourself into it, whether you are washing dishes, reading to your kids and running a household, or trading stocks, reading corporate reports, and running a business. …At the end of each day, stop. Take a rest, eat a good meal, get enough sleep, and refresh yourself. Take time to think about your day, to notice where God was in it and where you were blessed, and to say, “It’s good.” Then go back at it the next day. And after six days, take a whole day off. And say, “It’s really good.” Spend a whole day just pausing, just reflecting on how really good it is, and then start the dance again, at a sustainable pace.”

That sounds really good to me. May this Labor Day mark the day that you and I decide to become Sabbath-focused people.

My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, I want to honor You by practicing Sabbath rest. Show me how to live this way. Meet me there in my time of contemplation, reflection, and worship. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Like the Jewish people, spend a few days this week preparing for the Sabbath. Shop and plan ahead for the day. Can you put a meal in the crock pot the night before? Perhaps purchase a new journal to begin recording your Sabbath day discoveries. Go dig out some Dominos or board games to play together as a family as you reconnect with one another at the close of the week.

If you desire more on this topic, see Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Breathe

Reflection Points:

What do Sundays mean to you?
Do your Sundays look like your Saturdays except that you add church to the list of activities?
Is God prompting you to carve out a day to rest, bless your family, and focus on Him? Will you respond?

Power Verses:
Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)

Genesis 2:3, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 6:16, “So now the Lord says, “Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NLT)

Isaiah 40: 28-31, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths will grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

Growing Girls into Godly Women

Written by Jimmie Davis and Tep Lim
source: Lifeway

Today's postmodern teenage girls face a variety of issues and pressures from the world, but how are churches influencing them to become godly women? Women's and youth leaders are stepping up to the plate to address that need through girls' ministry.

Girls' enrichment ministry is an intentional and organized method to spiritually transform the lives of teenage girls, moving them from large open groups to smaller closed groups, while equipping them to be godly women. Many times it's couched as a sub-ministry under student ministry, women's ministry, or both.

Girls' ministry is a proactive way to instill godly values in young women while addressing the needs and issues they are facing. It can also be seen as a preventative type of ministry. When girls establish their identities and values on God's Word as teens, they are well on their way to becoming godly women and avoiding the pitfalls (and consequences) so many of their peers may fall into as adults.

Before you consider expanding your church's women's ministry to include a girls' ministry, look at the needs of today's postmodern teenage girls:

1. Self-Image
Girls today are prone to low self-esteem. Some are pressured into promiscuity and alcohol or drug use. Many find themselves dealing with eating disorders, self-mutilation, pregnancy, unhealthy Internet relationships, even confusion over sexual orientation.

2. Decision-Making
Teenage girls need to learn how to make wise decisions as they become women. Much of women's ministry today is crisis intervention. Many crises are brought on by unwise decisions made during the teenage and college years. Girls are maturing earlier, being exposed to temptations earlier, and losing their innocence earlier than in past generations; therefore, we must reach them for Christ earlier.

3. Application of Scripture
Girls need to know the truth of God's Word and how it applies to their lives as women. By impressing on them the importance of reading, studying, memorizing, and applying God's Word to their lives at a young age, you will help them move along the path to becoming a godly woman.

While these three aren't exhaustive of all the needs of girls, many can be traced back to these essentials. Girls' ministry may also provide for these other needs:

close-knit relationships with other girls,female role models,validation of feelings,affirmation,awareness of hormonal issues,emotional security,physical security,understanding of the male mind,acceptance,genuine love,boundaries, andhelp in working through problems (such as abuse, eating disorders, unwanted pregnancy, and STDs).As you pray about how your church might reach teenage girls, take time to talk to other youth and women's leaders. Research trends and habits among teenage girls. Ask God to show you how He'd have you proceed, whether that means simply organizing a youth girls' event or if it means launching a full-blown ministry. With God paving the way, a girls' ministry can be a powerful tool in His Kingdom.

Jimmie Davis is director of girls' ministries at First Baptist Church Spartanburg, SC, where her husband Sam is assistant pastor. Tep Lim is ministering to college students in Madrid, Spain.

Breakthrough Tactics...

Breakthrough Tactics that will take Your Ministry to the Next Level
By Rebekah Montgomery
source : Right to the Heart

"Everything's going wrong!" wailed the women's conference leader. "You won't believe all the bad things that are happening to the members of the committee!"

Actually, I would. Two forces are at work:

1. Satan does not want women to be encouraged, healed, saved, and/or blessed: therefore, he will cause chaos.

2. God does not want just anyone to be in His service. He wants a few good women who are so passionate about telling others about Him that they willingly stand toe-to-toe against Satan to do so.

Ministry is Not For the Faint of Heart
Service to the Lord is not something to be entered haphazardly. Just as a woman cannot wake up one day and say, "I'd like to be a brain surgeon," so too she cannot suddenly decide to be a writer, speaker, conference leader, Bible study teacher, or ministry director without preparation.

Preparation Requires Study
Even if you have a compelling personal story to tell, study the Scriptures constantly and thoroughly. There is an appalling lack of Biblical literary - even among God's people. Yet the Bible is the only authoritative Word of God. Its truth must be the central theme of everything you teach, plan, or do.

Rewrite the texts into your own words. Apply them to your life. Study the Scriptures on your knees. Pray through every line asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate them to your soul. Memorize them. Get commentaries and read them.

Preparation Requires Training
Network with other Godly women who are doing what you believe God has called you to do. If it is writing, find some other writers and apprentice yourself to them as their disciple. Let them mentor, correct, and teach you. This is the Titus 2 pattern for training leadership.

Find good books, chat groups, websites, classes, and conferences that will challenge your mind and broaden your horizons.

Preparation Requires Sacrifice
I'm taking a risk here. I could deceive you and only emphasize the joy of seeing women delivered and/or being born again because sacrifice is downright unpopular. But when God calls someone, He tells her to count the cost.

When Saul was called, Jesus plainly said, "I will show him how much he must suffer for My name."(Acts 9:16)

The truth is this: Nearly every woman I have ever known who answered God's call has been tried by fire. Satan tries to discourage her but God uses the fire to purify her.

God is looking for a few good women to be in His service. Are you one?

5 Phrases Every Pastor's Family Should Know

Written by Julie Workman
source: Lifeway

Though striving to be made perfect by God is worthwhile, too often we try to be perfect on our own. Self-made perfection leads to feelings of inferiority and depression. While seeking to live up to God’s expectations develops spiritual maturity, working to meet others’ expectations ultimately drains us.

Kindly showing church members that your family can’t be everything to everyone requires patient training, especially if “the last pastor’s family did it better.” It involves effort, but reprogramming others to understand that clergy families are “real” proves to be worth the investment.

Your family can begin by learning several simple phrases which might help others better understand your challenges.

“I’m having a difficult time.”
We need not reveal every detail, but showing that we feel sad, bothered, hurt, or discouraged makes us human. We are reminded in 1 Peter 4:12 that we should not be surprised when we suffer painful trials.

When we allow others to see that we face difficulty in our lives, they will be more prepared when they find themselves struggling. Making our supporters aware of our frustrating times also gives opportunity for them to pray fervently.

“I need to pray.”
Protect your daily quiet time, letting callers know you didn’t answer because you were praying. Spending time at the altar before, during, or after worship services gives you a moment away from distractions and time alone with God to center your thoughts, sending a loud message that you are humbly seeking God. And nothing squelches a critical spirit in the group like seeing the object of criticism kneeling at the altar!

“I don’t know.”
Where’s the pastor? Who was supposed to shovel the sidewalk? What time does the witnessing class begin? Why can’t the new pews be chartreuse or blue instead of beige? Questions such as these carry the potential to send a clergy spouse running and screaming!

Though your wife has been called into ministry as your helper, she need not feel responsible for each and every detail in the church. Encourage her to refer queries to you or other individuals who can answer correctly.

“I’m not comfortable with that.”
I don’t play the piano, teach Sunday School, or join the weekly scrapbooking group. I’m not good at those things. Each person has personal preferences. Some women are scared silly standing next to their husbands after the service to shake hands. Others might be horrified at the thought of making cookie calls. Some may even feel more capable in the less traditional role of driving the church bus.

Find out what works for your family—not by default but by careful attention. Then design roles around individual interests and gifting. “Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others” (1 Pet. 4:10).

“I have a history too.”
Though most Christians feel somewhat embarrassed to share about their lives before they knew Christ, pastors’ families often find it almost impossible. Yet our past mistakes can act as a point of identification with others. In the proper setting, without giving sordid details, an admission of past sins can help others heal as well as giving ourselves permission to continue in the healing process.

Each time we reveal to our church members that we are “real,” it serves to chip away at the glass of the fishbowl, until one day we might just find ourselves free to swim along with all the other fish in the sea!

Julie Workman is a pastor’s wife, pastor’s daughter, pastor’s daughter-in-law, and pastor’s sister-in-law. She and her husband, Joel, and their four children make their home in OH. Adapted from a previously published article, used by permission.

Time: How do I balance it all?

by Rick Warren
source: Ministry Toolbox

The problem with your time is not the clock. The problem is not even time, rather it’s how you use it.
Rick Warren

If you’re going to be effective in ministry, you’ve got to learn how to manage your time. Ecclesiastes 8:6 says, “There is a right time and a right way to do everything, but we know so little.”

The problem with your time is not the clock. The problem is not even time, rather it’s how you use it. To get mad at the clock is like getting mad at your scales in your bathroom. It’s not the scales’ fault that you don’t like the way they read. Time is simply a measurement. So we must learn how to manage it better.

Anyone in ministry needs to know, “How do I balance all that I've going on at work with all that I’ve got going on at home with all that I’ve got going on at church?”

We all have the same amount of time – 168 hours a week. The only question is, “How am I investing it? We want to learn to invest it wisely so that we won’t be like the guy in Isaiah 49:4 who said, “I have used up my strength but accomplished nothing.” For some of us, we fear that’s becoming our life verse!

Ephesians 5:15-17 offers three steps to understanding how to manage your time better:

1. Analyze my lifestyle
Verse 15: “So pay close attention to how you live. Don’t live like ignorant men. Live like wise men.”

Pay close attention. Carefully evaluate your schedule. Seriously consider how you live. Be aware of time robbers. Don’t be in the dark. Don’t say, “I wonder where all my time went!” That’s unwise. People say, “I’d like to be involved in this particular ministry, but I just don’t have the time.” You have the same amount of time as everybody else. It’s just how you use it. So he’s saying analyze your lifestyle.

In order to save time, you must first know how you lose it. You discover the leaks and figure out where it’s going. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There’s a way that seems right but it ends in death.” We need to look at our lives and realize that sometimes what we think is right is a big waste of time. If we look seriously at a lot of the things that we think are really good, we'll see they're just not worth much. Aristotle said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Sit down and make a time log: “How did I spend last week?” Or, over the next seven days, keep a record of how you spend your hours. Look at them one at a time. Where does your time go? Just by keeping a record, you’ll use your time better. That’s how Weight Watchers works. Whatever you record, you’ll manage better.

2. Utilize the present
Verse 16: “Make the most of every opportunity you get.”

The Bible says we’re to take advantage of today by capitalizing on opportunities. Be alert to the possibilities. The best time to manage your time is right now – not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Now. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Never boast about tomorrow because you don’t know what will happen between now and then.”

Vince Lombardi once said that any football game are often won in 10 or 12 crucial decisions. They make or break the game. When you utilize the present, you’ve analyzed it and you take advantage of the opportunities as they come up. You capitalize on those advantages.

How do you make the most of the present? Two things:

- Do it now. That’s the best time advice I can give you. Three little words: Do it now! Don’t procrastinate. If you had a bank account and I were to tell you that every morning someone was going to put in $86,400 into that bank account - you could spend it any way you wanted to, but at the end of that day, whatever money you had not spent in that account, you lost - do you think you’d try to spend it? Or do you think you’d let it go to waste? But guess what? You have 86,400 seconds every day! You’ve got to draw them out. You’ve got to take advantage of them. Utilize the present by doing it now. Sometimes I get stuff in the mail that says, “For a limited time only.” We should write that over a lot of possibilities in life, because they are for a limited time only.

- Eliminate time wasters. 1 Corinthians 10:23, “I may do anything, but everything is not useful or constructive.” Paul says, “I can do anything. I’m free as a Christian to do anything. But it’s not all useful. It’s not all constructive.” He’s saying that many things in life are not necessarily wrong. They’re just not necessary. You’ve got to eliminate the time wasters.

Time wasters tend to be unique to all of us. It's amazing how creative we get when we have a job to do that we don't want to do. We creatively put off things we really need to do by quickly getting a bunch of other stuff done.

3. Prioritize what’s important
Verse 17: “Don’t act thoughtlessly but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to do.”

When you talk about time management, you’ve got to do what God wants you to do. That’s the secret. Doing God’s will. You have just enough time to do God’s will. If you do not have enough time right now, it means one of several options.

1) You’re doing something God never intended for you to do.
2) You’re not doing what God intended you to do.
3) You’re doing the right thing in the wrong way.

You have just enough time to do God’s will. He would not have a will for your life and then not give you the time to do it. So if you don’t have enough time to do everything you need to do, it means God didn’t expect you to do it all.

Forgive Me When I Whine

source: Sherry L.
"thank you helpmeet!"

Today, upon a bus, I saw a girl with golden hair
I looked at her and sighed and wished I was as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave,
I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one leg and used a crutch
But as she passed, she passed a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine
I have 2 legs, the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy
The lad who sold it had such charm
I talked with him a while, he seemed so very glad
If I were late, it'd do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me,
"I thank you, you've been so kind.
It's nice to talk with folks like you.
You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have 2 eyes, the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child with eyes of blue
She stood and watched the others play
It seemed she knew not what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
"Why don't you join the others, dear?"
She looked ahead without a word.
And then I knew, she couldn't hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have 2 ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go.
With eyes to see the sunset's glow.
With ears to hear what I would know.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I've been blessed indeed, the world is mine.