God

From Restless to Resting

 Recently my nine-year-old son began to lose a small patch of hair on his head. At first, I wasn’t overly concerned. Perplexed, but not really concerned.  After confirming that he and his sister hadn’t been experimenting with a razor or scissors, we made a trip to our doctor where we learned that Matt has alopecia areata (AA).  AA is a mysterious “disease” where a person loses his or her hair.  The degree of severity is vast, ranging from being confined to a singular patch on the head to total loss of hair over the entire body.  Fortunately, AA isn’t due to poor health nor is it life threatening.  It seems as though the worst part of the disease is the psychological effect it has on the individual losing hair. It has been 2 months since Matt’s initial diagnosis and the patch I initially noticed has now grown to about 5 square inches, and at least 12 other patches have developed.  His case appears to be one that is not of the ‘lesser degree’.

Years ago– before coming to a mature relationship with Christ– I would have flipped out and worried constantly about my little boy.  Thoughts such as, “Why is this happening?  Did he do something to cause this?  Did Ido something to cause this?  What if kids begin to mock him? What will people think about me as a mother for allowing it to happen?” would have plagued me. I not only would have tormented myself with unending questions, but I am sure I’d have had countless sleepless nights and many a  “drink” to calm me down. BUT because God entered into my life and has radically transformed it, that is not my response today. I now have such freedom in knowing that I can cast all my cares and fears on God (1st Peter 5:7), which has allowed me to keep calm in the midst of this situation, and to truly experience peace in knowing that everything is going to be ok because God is in control, regardless of the severity of his condition. I know it isn’t in my power to control the situation; I can’t heal Matt. But I can choose how I will respond to the situation: whether I will spend useless, destructive time worrying and fretting over something I can’t control, or whether I will put my confidence in God, Who is in control and Who  knows what’s best for Matt and loves him the most!

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As I have ‘cast my fears on God’— turned them all over to His most capable and loving hands, He has reminded me that He is the Creator of all things.  He not only created my precious little boy, but He also created me and gave me the gift of being his mother.  God entrusted me with the responsibility and privilege of raising Matt, and although Matt’s bout with AA was a surprise to me, it is no surprise to Him. I am confident that God will guide my husband and me, grant us His wisdom, and give us everything we need to come alongside Matt and to encourage him through this situation. Most of all, I know that we are not going through this situation alone; God is present with us every step of the way and He will not forsake us. As I realized these truths, it was as if The Lord gave me a big, warm hug!    

My faith in Christ grows daily as He constantly reveals Himself to me through scripture and prayer, and through the awareness of His abiding presence with me (Isaiah 41:10). It has been His strength at work in me that has carried me through many times of uncertainty in the past.  He has always been faithful to give me the peace I desperately need; I have no doubt that he will continue to be faithful and to deliver me from any fears that may arise in the future about Matt’s condition.  Of course I would love to say I could pray this whole thing away, but that isn’t always how it works.  God has a plan for our sweet boy and this disease is apparently part of it. I believe that God is able to work ALL things–which includes Matt’s disease–for Matt’s good and for the glory of God (Romans 8:28). Whatever may happen in the future regarding his condition, I will continue to trust our Heavenly Father and to seek His guidance and peace, resting in His love, His faithfulness, and His goodness.

Written by guest blogger Gina Ermiger

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The ABC's of Prayer Time

So it’s that time of night again, where I’m tucking my kids into bed and it’s time to pray.  As I prayed with them I began to hear a pattern of “rehearsed” prayer that I could hear was not really about communion with God, but was more about making mom happy.  

Their prayer started with the same words, and now was being said in a fast & lifeless way, “God, thank you for this day, please help me….”

The verse from Matthew 15:8 (NIV) jumped in my mind that says, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.“   Where were their hearts?  Hmmm…then I had to ask myself, "Where is my heart when I’m praying?”  (Don’t you love how kids do that?… make you examine yourself also!)   

So much of their prayer time (and sometimes my own!) is on what they want God to DO for them… the “making their requests known to God!”  'God help me with this’; ‘God make me better at that’; 'God please give me (fill in the blank)’. 

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 As a mom I knew that while it is good and right to make our requests made known to God, I also know it is a detriment if we miss out on all the other aspects of prayer time with God.  If my children only talk to God to “get stuff,” they will be missing the greatest blessing of prayer–  spending time with God and truly knowing Him!  Plus, it begs the question, “How will they feel when God doesn’t answer their prayers the way they prayed for Him to?”   If the purpose of their prayer is to get stuff, then what will keep them coming back to God if He in His infinite wisdom determines to not answer their prayer the way they asked?  

It is my desire that my children fall deeply in love with God and that they learn to “pray without ceasing”. I want them to communicate with Him regularly and to focus on HIM…not just on what they want from Him.  How could I help them with this?

Well, Julie Van Gorp (my ministry partner) shared with me something she’d heard and applied in prayer to keep the focus on God. It’s called, ’ The ABC’s of Prayer.’

So here’s what I asked them to do:   When you begin your prayer I want you to focus on WHO God IS and go through the ABC’s in your mind and come up with a character trait of God for each letter of the alphabet.  For example:

A- God is All powerful/Almighty

B- God is beautiful

C- Creator of all things

D- Deliverer

E- Everlasting 

F- Father

G- Good Shepherd

H- Holy…..etc…

It wasn’t long before my children and I began to spend far more time focusing on WHO God is and praising Him for His Character and Nature than on our requests.  Then, when they were making their requests they had already been reminded of WHO He is, which makes WHAT He decides to DO with our request all the more acceptable and filtered through His loving, perfect nature.

I want them to love God for WHO He is and not just for WHAT He can do for them.  His character never changes; however you never know what he’s going to DO next!

Focus on the ABC’s the next time you pray and let us know how it helps you to focus on God!  

Written by: Jamie Shaver

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God's Love Made Manifest

We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and God has told us that the wages (cost) of this sin is death.  Yet, God does not want us to die, He has great love for us.  In fact, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  This is how God shows His love for us!  

(Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23)

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It is amazing to me that God loves us this much!  God owns everything, “…the world and it’s fullness are mine.” (Psalm 50:12b) He owns all things and has an abundance of created things with which He can do with what He pleases; and yet, He chose to sacrifice the one thing that He did not have in abundance.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) He gave His “only” Son.  God’s love is sacrificial.  God did not give out of His abundance to forgive our sins, instead He gave Himself!

Do you know that you are loved by God 1 John 4:8-10, 1 Peter 2:24, Hebrews 12:2-3, Philippians 2:8, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Hebrews 2:9, Psalm 30:12

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins! He himself bore our sins, in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed!”   Look to Jesus beloved, He is the founder and perfecter of our faith, and for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him, love Him and look to Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!  God’s Word tells us that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God!  Are you asking for His power in your life or are you trying to do things in your own power?

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.

    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Written by Jamie Shaver

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Christmas Prayer

Thanks to all of you who have followed us on our True View website and watched our shows, read our blogs, and supported our ministry with your finances and prayers. You are a blessing in our lives!  It is our hope that this Christmas prayer will be a blessing to you and that the Lord will fulfill this prayer in your life in the New Year. Committed to Jesus, Who is the Way, Truth and Life!

Jamie and Julie

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 Lord, as I reflect upon the nativity scene and Your birth, I pray that You will be born anew in my life today.  Please enable me by the power of the Holy Spirit to have the receptivity of Mary that says, “be it unto me as your handmaiden”. Like Mary, may I be willing to respond to the call to carry You with me wherever I go into a world sorely needing Your love, regardless of the personal cost to me.

May I be like Joseph, willing—despite criticism, mocking and humiliation, disbelief and unbelief— to go wherever you say whenever you say.  May I act immediately upon the visions You give me, regardless of my own plans and desires.  May I be like both Mary and Joseph, willing to leave the comforts of the familiar to go into the realm of the alien and defiled, trusting that You who called me will protect and guide me.

Lord, please give me the persevering faith of the kings who were willing to travel great distances and experience discomfort to seek You until arriving at your feet to worship and adore You.  Give me their heart to follow You, the Bright Morning Star who alone gives light to the darkest sky and life.  Give me their humility to bow down and worship the One who came then— and Who still comes today—without fanfare to a world desperately needing a Ruler Who is “Faithful and True”. May I be willing— as the kings were in giving their frankincense, gold, and myrrh— to sacrificially give Jesus gifts that will bless and glorify Him: my time, talents, resources, and most of all my will and life.  May I be like the Magi in that I too will be willing to disobey guidance and instruction given by mankind when it conflicts with the vision and voice of the Lord.

May I have the heart of the shepherds who with exuberant joy and without delay left their assigned “task of the urgent” to minister to the “most important”.  May I walk in the reality that the only thing that will bring joy to my life and leave a mark on this world forever is when, like the shepherds, I leave my own field behind so I can go to and enter the place where I wholeheartedly worship the Unblemished Lamb of God.  May I too be willing to leave behind the good—tending to “my sheep”—in order to do the best— tending to the Perfect Lamb and ministering to His needs and desires.

May my life never be too full— like the innkeeper’s was— that I cast you outside the primary place and do not make room for the ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Lord of Lords’ to have preeminence in my life. May I recognize that my heart—like the manger on that first Christmas— was made for the sole purpose of receiving the Messiah, the greatest One ever born of woman who also came to be born in me, and in all who are willing to receive the One and Only truly life-changing Christmas gift!

Most of all, I pray that I will be like You, Jesus, consumed with the desire to do the will of Our Father, who also has called me and sent me to minister to a lost and dying world.  May my life also be a perfect reflection of God the Father’s sacrificial, unconditional, everlasting love.  I pray this in the Name that is above all Names, the Name of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, Who alone is worthy of all glory and honor!  Amen

Prayer written by Julie Van Gorp

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Gifts: As Described By God

As I contemplate my own shopping list for this year’s Christmas gifts; I

wanted to see what God’s Word said about gifts, and after I found out what

He said, I wanted to share the gift of His Word with you!

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Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].  James 1:17

And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.  Ecclesiastes 3:13

Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38

If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him! Matthew 7:11

As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].  1 Peter 4:10

Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him,and to require His favor, till He comes and teaches you righteousness andrains His righteous gift of salvation upon you.  Hosea 10:12

For since He Whom God has sent speaks the words of God [proclaims God’s own message], God does not give Him His Spirit sparingly or by measure, butboundless is the gift God makes of His Spirit!  John 3:34

And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of andrelease from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38

I pray, that your gifts from God lead many to the free gift of salvation through your witness in the Name of Christ Jesus.   God bless you.

Written by Jamie Shaver

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8 Traits of God to Be Thankful For

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As a family we regularly praise God for Who He is, His Nature and Character during our prayer time.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving we will again be praising Him for the many amazing and pure qualities that He is.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4

Here’s a list of 8 traits to get you started.  I’m thankful God that you are:

Pure Knowledge. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

Pure Presence. “Am I a God near at hand” says the Lord, “and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:24)

Pure Power. “God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.” (Psalm 62:11)

Pure Ability. “Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from you.” (Job 42:2)

Pure Sovereignty. “The earth is the Lord’s and its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.” (Psalms 24:3-4)

Pure Holiness. “For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45)

Pure Justice. “The Lord is righteous in her midst [Israel and the rest of the world], He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.” (Zephaniah 3:5)

Pure Truth. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)*

in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

That I may make the voice of thanksgiving heard and may tell of all Your wondrous works. Psalm 26:7

What are some Thanksgiving traditions that your family has that honor the Lord?  Share them with us!

*(“Pure” list above is an excerpt from blogger “Nobody”)

Written by Jamie Shaver

 

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Are You Thankful in ALL Circumstances: Part 2

“In all things and in everything give thanks and praise in Christ Jesus.”  (Emphasis added) 1st Thessalonians 5:18 Does this describe your attitude toward life? I wish that I could say that it always does mine, but the truth is that sometimes I allow my circumstances to determine my response rather than having a God-pleasing response to all of my circumstances. I tend to find that is most true in the 'small things' of life in which I can get most easily irritated.

Meditating upon this scripture, I thought about things that irritate me or that I may not understand at the time, that God has used to protect me from something harmful or to give me an unexpected blessing. Do you trust that if you are in Christ that God orders your every step? (Psalm 37:23) He is over not just the ‘big things’ in your life, but also the ‘small things’—the very details of your life!

For example, I’ll never forget hearing from a friend how upset she was with her Mom when she was in high school and her Mom told her she couldn’t go out with some friends one night. Her Mom had a sense that she shouldn’t go; it turned out that her friends were involved in a horrible car crash and several lost their lives. Even though she didn’t understand the ‘why’ behind her Mom’s decision and at the time she didn’t agree with her, God used her Mom to order her ‘steps’ to protect her.  How thankful she was for her Mom’s discernment and that she had obeyed her Mom!

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I’m sure that like me, you’re aware that over 30,000 people who were supposed to be at the World Trade Center Towers on the morning of 9/11, weren’t there for a variety of reasons. One of those stories is about a man who was supposed to be at work on the 86th floor by 8:30 a.m., but because his 12 year old daughter—usually ‘an angel’—couldn’t find the ‘right shoes’ to go with her dress, and then remembered she had homework she had to do, caused him to be late. He yelled at her the whole time he was taking her to school, but his irritation soon turned into gratitude when he realized that God had used his daughter’s disobedience to save his very life!

You may never know what God protects you from as He orders your steps. However, I encourage you to consider how different your life would be if you were thankful in all things, trusting that God is always at work for your best. How different do you think your attitude toward life would be if you approached every day as an adventure with God in which you trusted Him to order your every ‘stop’, as well as your every ‘step’?

For example, what if you praised him immediately when you got stuck at a red light?  Or, if you immediately thanked God for the opportunity to be ‘Jesus with skin on’ to the person whom you’re seated next to on the plane rather than being irritated that they’re a ‘talker’ or gruff and unfriendly?  Or, what if instead of complaining about the fact that your husband always leaves his dishes on the sink rather than putting them in the dishwasher, you thanked God that you had a husband and considered all of the ways in which he blesses you?  Or, if instead of being upset when your boss forgets to tell you about a last minute deadline that puts you under additional stress, you thank God that you have a job and ask Him to help you get your task done in a way that you’ll know you couldn’t have done it without His strength? Or being thankful when your dog throws up on your carpet just as you're walking out the door to go to an important meeting? Or when you seem to run into a glitch with your computer every few seconds (like what has happened to me while I've been writing this blog!)?

You can trust that when God says to be thankful in all circumstances—even in the ‘small’ things of life that may be the very things that most easily irritate you-- He is at work for your good to bless you.

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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