Hope and Encouragement

Are You a Contagious Christian?

The other day I was racing to leave my neighborhood for an appointment when I encountered a long line of cars in front of me due to a repaving project. We were all ‘held hostage’ by a construction worker with a stop sign controlling the flow of cars driving in and out of the neighborhood. I was in a hurry, and my frustration level began to mount as the wait time increased. Finally, the STOP sign was switched to a SLOW sign and I was able to move, and as I drove past the sign, my irritation melted away as I saw the sign holder’s radiant smile as she took off her hat, graciously bowed, and gave me a ‘Miss America’ wave as she warmly signaled for me to drive on. She exuded joy that was contagious! I opened my window, and said to her, “You must know and love Jesus!” In response, she enthusiastically responded, “I sure do, and I have ever since I was a little girl!” I later learned that her name is Sharon--known by some as ‘Sharon the Fabulous Flagger’-and that I was not the only one who took notice of her exuberant demeanor.

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The following was posted in my town’s neighborhood Facebook page:

There was a wonderfully cheerful lady directing traffic around the road work on Hickory Drive earlier this afternoon. Are you in this group? I just wanted to say THANK YOU for doing your job with such flair. Your joy is absolutely contagious!!”

And another person wrote:

You want to get mad for having to sit there but then you get up to her and all you can do is smile and wave. Everyone should love their job like she does. She told me she has to deal with very impatient people and she soon realized that her friendly attitude could defuse aggression. She’s a gem!”

Sharon’s life shines forth like a light and is so God glorifying!

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV

Her joy in performing her menial job—especially in the extreme heat and humidity of ‘Hotlanta’—caused me to consider the following:

When others see me-- whether at work, at home, or out and about-- what is their impression? Do they see someone whose words, actions, and overall countenance testifies to the fact that I have chosen to follow Jesus and to serve as an ‘ambassador’ of His loving kindness? Does the way I do the ordinary things in life express joy in living, as well as concern for others, or do I communicate that I am merely in ‘survival mode’, self-focused, and unconcerned about those around me?

What about your life?  What kind of an ambassador are you for Christ? Are you a contagious Christian that attracts others to you and makes them wonder what is the source of your joy? Do the words and the tone you use with your family communicate irritation with or love for them? What about at work? Are you more of a ‘Suzy Sunshine’ who arrives with a smile that no amount of frustration can wipe away, or are you more of a ‘Debbie Downer’ who complains as if that’s your job? When you are grocery or mall shopping, do you smile at other customers? Let others in a hurry go ahead of you? Do you engage the cashier in conversation and thank her for doing her job? Do you stop to visit with neighbors while out walking or jogging? Do you make a point to welcome new neighbors and to invest time in getting to know 'old' neighbors? 

Do you think that you accurately represent Christ’s love to the people with whom you interact on a daily basis, whatever it is you are doing? Do you think Jesus would agree with your assessment?

Below are just a few ways in which you can represent the love of Christ on a daily basis as you go about your life:

1.  SMILE!  It’s amazing the difference a smile alone can make, especially when you look someone in the eye. By doing so you acknowledge that they are worthy of you taking notice of them. You may have heard of the testimonies of people who were contemplating suicide who decided against doing so because someone cared enough to just smile at them. Plus, wearing a smile will continue to fill your ‘joy cup’ because giving a smile almost always leads to receiving a smile! (To be clear: I am not talking about a sexy, flirtatious smile, but a warm and friendly smile that acknowledges that the other person is made in the image of God and therefore worthy to be noticed and their presence dignified by gracing them with a smile.)

2.  Say something kind and affirming to others. When I am out and about and see someone who is kind and outgoing, I will often tell her that her smile or joyful countenance blesses me. Many times I will follow that statement-- as I did with Sharon—with the comment, “You must know Jesus!” or something to that effect. Most times they say, ”I sure do!” and the faith of both of us is built up as we identify one another in the marketplace. But what if they don’t know Him?  Then it gives you a great opportunity to say, “Oh, I encourage you to get to know Him as He is the most wonderful person in the world and will change your life!”

3.  Do not be easily irritated, but instead look to alleviate the irritation of others. I remember going to a grocery store on my birthday when I was in college and the cashier was nasty to me. My initial thought was, “It’s my birthday and I sure don’t deserve to be treated that way!” and I took offense by her attitude.  Then it occurred to me that I didn’t know what that person was going through that might have led them to act so unkindly; perhaps they had just found out some bad news or it was the anniversary of the death of a loved one, or maybe someone in line had just treated them poorly. I resolved that I would always seek to treat others as if it were a special day in their life, for every day is indeed special! The Lord makes each and every day, so we are to rejoice and be glad! (Psalm 118:24)

4.  Show appreciation to others who serve you and look for ways to serve others. Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28) We have the opportunity to represent Jesus’ heart of love to those who provide services to us, like our mailman/woman and sanitation workers by verbally thanking them and performing acts of kindness toward them. I remember watching a wonderful video of a family whose young kids would give something cold to drink or give a snack to the sanitation workers when they came by; a beautiful friendship developed between that family and those workers. Notes of appreciation and other acts of kindness can let them know you value them. Look for ways in which you can serve those who serve you.

5.  Pray for others! When you encounter people who appear from their sullen face or unkind actions to be experiencing a rough day, speak words of kindness to them if possible, knowing that a kind word turns away wrath, and always pray for them! (Proverbs 15:1; Luke 6:28) Pray that they will come to know the love that Jesus has for them and that they will be filled with His loving kindness and joy!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Lord, let my life so shine forth before others so that all who see me will see your life at work in me and Your life reflected through me! Amen!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

Death is Inevitable, but You've Been Given a Choice: Choose Wisely!

Although I had the blessing of going away on vacation and being with my husband as well as with many dear friends, in many ways July was a tough month. I found out a relative of mine has fallen prey to the ever-increasing drug epidemic that is sweeping our country and her life is in danger. Another beloved family member who’d been diagnosed with cancer about five years ago discovered the cancer has spread to another part of her body. My father-in-law was in great pain and hospitalized several times throughout the month, and the doctors couldn't seem to find the source of his problem. I came home to the news that some friends had tragically lost their 19- year old son in a fatal car accident, and on the heels of that, found out another friend’s 26 year old son had died from an accidental drug overdose. The reality is that blessings and tragedies make up all of our lives. As much as we love to focus upon all of the blessings, we have to admit that sin-- and the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death-- is part of living in this world. The death of our physical bodies is inescapable for all of us unless we are raptured by the Lord.

 As I heard about each of these situations, I felt an overwhelming sorrow, coupled with anger at Satan who is always afoot to rob, steal, kill and destroy. My heart hurts for the victims of these situations and their families. The reality that sin and death are a part of life doesn’t keep me from deeply grieving when I see its impact upon those I love and those suffering in this world.

I know that many people cannot juxtapose how a good God can allow so much pain, suffering and death, especially death like my friends’ sons. I heard comments to the effect that,  ‘It’s so unfair that they died so young!’ Statements like that imply that if we were ‘in charge’, we would do something much different—and ‘better’-- than God. I know that only God is good, and His ways are not only so much wiser than mine, but His ways are always righteous and designed for our good.

In the midst of my grief, the Lord clearly spoke to my sorrowful heart: People may have no choice regarding what brings about or the timing of their death, but everyone has been given a choice regarding their death. Will it be the entrance to heaven and an eternity spent experiencing intimacy with and true joy that can only be found in the Presence of God, or the gateway to an eternity of torment and suffering in hell?

When people cry out that someone’s death isn’t ‘fair’, what rises up in me is that none of us really want what is ‘fair’. For ‘fairness’ would require that all of mankind would be doomed to death, hell and damnation for the penalty of our sin-- something each of us is guilty of because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Roman 6:23; James 1:5; Matthew 25:46; Romans 3:23). We may try to convince ourselves that it’s not ‘fair’ that we were put under the curse of death because of the choice made by Adam and Eve, but like them, we all have chosen to disobey and disregard the Word of God. Disobedience and rebellion against His Word is sin, and the penalty of sin is pain, suffering, and death (Romans 6:23) What isn’t fair is this: Jesus, the only sinless person ever born, gave up the glories of Heaven to come to earth where He experienced rejection, abandonment, betrayal, and ultimately a horrible death on a cross so that all who choose to put their trust in Jesus’ atoning death-- which alone is able to pay the debt for their sin-- would be set free from the curse of death, become partakers in His resurrection, and able to experience unbroken fellowship and eternal life with the Lord in Heaven. We have been given God's Word that in Heaven “…death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain…” Revelation 21: 4 ESV. That makes my heart rejoice! In the midst of our sorrows over sin and the loss and sorrow that accompanies it, how encouraging it is to know that this life's momentary pain and suffering cannot be compared to the eternal glory that awaits all of us who put our trust in Jesus! (2 Corinthians 4:17)

God has set before each of us a choice: the question is, “Will we choose to receive His free gift of salvation bought with the blood of Jesus and spend eternity with Him, or will we choose to reject His gift, and therefore die in our sin, and spend eternity in hell?”

What indescribable joy there is in knowing that death has lost its sting for all of us who have put our hope and faith in Jesus! What about you? Have you put your trust in Jesus and in His finished work on the cross on your behalf? If you truly believe that He died for your sake and in your place, are you living for His pleasure and for His glory—which is to make His Name known so that others will also come to know that salvation from sin and victory over death is found in Jesus, and in Him alone?

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I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

 Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

7 Secrets to Experiencing More Freedom in Your Life

God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins and to make us free from the power and penalty of sin in our lives.  God wants us to have an abundant life free from fear and doubt.  God also wants us to be free from:

  • worrying about what other people think
  • anger, bitterness and envy
  • greed, pride, doubt and many other human “ailments” that keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.

God wants us to have great faith and to obey His Word.

Faith + Obedience = Freedom and the first key of the equation to have more freedom is to have faith and believe God.  Obedience is the second half of the equation and is really where we get to exercise our faith.  Our faith leads to obedience and obedience brings freedom and peace.  In Colossians 3:1-20 (AMP) we are given some instructions on how to obey God and I’ve underlined them below

Colossians 3:1-10 Amplified Bible (AMP)  Put On the New Self

3 Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 

2 Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. 

3 For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

5 So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. 

6 Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming [b]on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], 

7 and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ]. 

8 But now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth. 

9 Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices,

10 and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self—

 How do you put to death that which is earthly in you (or in other words “get over yourself”) and experience greater freedom in your life?  We put on our ‘new self’ in Christ by doing the following:

    1. Seek things that are above - the approval of man is not things that are above - psychologist have noted that everyone has a box in our minds that they label the ‘generalized other’ and the people in the box are the people to whom we GIVE the power to determine whether who we are or what we do has value.  When we are not set on the things above we are likely trapped in approval seeking or approval addiction.  Constantly trying to explain ourselves & manage the ‘others’ views of us or what we THINK their views are and seeking for them to agree with us or think a certain way about us; perhaps that we are very well connected so we become perpetual name droppers, that we are not wasting time watching television we may add a disclaimer such as “I don’t watch a lot of tv but the other day I saw something…” or giving reasons and excuses as to why something was not done as promised so the others will understand, agree & ultimately APPROVE of how you handled things.  People pleasing and approval addiction is not FREEDOM.  

    2. Set your minds on things that are above - your reason for being here is much bigger than the things the ‘world’ complains about and sets their mind on.  This also helps us with our pride because when we are focused on the Lord above, we won’t be looking down on others.  (*my son wrestles and one of the first things your taught is to go for your opponents head…because the body always follows)

    3. Put to death & deprive of power that which is earthy in you - I want to get over my ego, my need to be liked by people I meet - my need to look successful, my need to be right, my need to be in control…how much of your life are those things running?  Part of putting off the old self is to give up the ‘right’ to being ‘right’.  I once heard that people will work harder to be right than to be successful.  What are you trying to be right about?  Write it down right now.

Have you decided that your child, spouse, mother-in-law or someone else in your life will “never change”? Where’s the faith in that statement, where is the expectation? Are you working harder to be right or to be in right relationship with God by believing that “all things are possible with God” and obeying His commands?  In order to correct this type of thinking we must die to ourselves, our understanding and experiences with people or situations doesn’t make us God and determine that we know a person will never change.  “Lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”  Ps. 3:5

    4. Rid yourselves completely of - anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth.

    5. Do not lie to one another - remember the truth sets you free

John 8:32

 

    6. Put off the old self - Scripture shows us a city that burned all their magic books once they came to know Christ.  Is there anything you need to ‘burn’ or completely get rid of so that you may be in right relationship with God? 

    7. Put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (God’s Word brings a supernatural cleansing that washes your mind and emotions from the contamination of the world, the memories of past experiences, and the lies that the enemy has tried to sow into your brain.  When you make it a priority to fill your mind with truth from God’s Word, your mind is renewed and you become inwardly strengthened and very hard to deceive.)  You know Francis Frangipane writes in his book ‘In Christ’s Image Training’ “a Christian is not just a person going to Heaven.  Shouldn’t a Christian also be a person coming from Heaven, with the goods, power and virtue of Heaven?”  When we put on the new self that is exactly what we are doing, we are bringing things from Heaven, including our freedom in Christ into our current situation.

In what areas of your life would you like to experience more freedom?  

Written by Jamie Shaver

Happy Mother's Day & 6 Things to do if it's not 'Happy'

Happy Mother’s Day: 6 things to do when your Mother’s Day is not ‘happy’

For many women Mother’s Day is a time of joy and celebration, but for some, Mother’s Day can be painful.  Perhaps your mother was not loving or kind.  Maybe like my friend, your mother disowned you and the two of you do not talk anymore.  For others, Mother’s Day is a reminder that your mother is no longer here and you still have a deep longing for just one more phone call or lunch with her.  I know my own mother struggled with Mother’s Day because my brother (only 2.5 yrs. old) died just a few days before and that memory every year made Mother’s Day hard.  To my many friends who have had miscarriages, struggled with infertility, or simply have not married yet and are wondering if you will ever be a mom, Mother’s Day can be challenging.  Lastly, Mother’s Day may be a day of unfulfilled expectations as some mothers expect that somehow their family is going to fulfill something deep within our hearts that only Jesus can truly fulfill.  Maybe your family did not do something in the way in which you expected.

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If Mother’s Day is challenging for you, here are several things you can do:

Serve: Focus on serving someone else.  Write a card, deliver flowers, cook a meal for a single mom with young kids, or someone that is going through a rough situation. Whenever we take our pain and use it to help others we are blessed.  “In everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive.’”  Acts 20:35 AMP

Write: Write a journal entry about the things that you learned from your mother and how they are living-on in your life, so future generations can know your mother’s legacy and how she impacted you.

Pray: Spend time in prayer asking the Lord to search your heart and help you to have gratitude for all that He is in your life.  “For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you.”  Mark 11:24 AMP

Share the Gospel: If you have never had children or are finding that pursuit to be unfruitful at the moment, praise God that you are able to bring forth life in other ways by sharing the gospel and knowing that you can be sharing the truth which ultimately brings forth everlasting life to others!  “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 AMP

Praise God:  When we worship God for all He has done and IS doing for us everyday we will find that through our praise we find joy.  [ Come to Me ] At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth [I openly and joyfully acknowledge Your great wisdom], that You have hidden these things [these spiritual truths] from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants [to new believers, to those seeking God’s will and purpose].  Matthew 11:25 AMP

Show Gratitude: Thank God for your children and find ways to show your children what            you are thankful for about each one of them.  I’m writing each of my children a short letter letting them know the positive character traits that I see and appreciate in each of themand that I’m thankful to be their mom.  Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God].  Ephesians 5:4 AMP

This year I’m choosing to celebrate motherhood differently.  I want to be intentional and be grateful for all the work it entails and that I am capable of doing it.  To my friends that are hurting on Mother’s Day, you are in my prayers and I’m praying that God meets your every need in a way that only He can.

With Love,

Jamie Shaver

3 Questions God Asks to Help You Discern Your Spiritual Condition

"Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom." Psalm 51:6 AMP

 

God does desire truth deep within your heart.  He wants you to hide His Word in your heart and exchange the truth of a matter for any lies that you may be believing that hinders you from the abundant life He promises you will have in Him.  Below are the first 3 questions God asks in the Bible; ask yourself these questions and use them to assess your current spiritual condition.

God knows everything, so when He asks a question it is always for the benefit of someone else, the first question God asks is…“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)  

Are you close to God?  Hiding from God?  Far away from God?  

The second question God asks in the Bible begins like this…Who told you?    Here God is asking who are you listening to?  Where are you getting your information?  Who do you believe?  God wants us to listen to Him and His Word for truth and guidance.  

The third question is: “Have you… (eaten from the tree) of which I commanded you that you should not (eat)?” in other words, Have you disobeyed me?  When you are not living in accordance to God's ways there are always undesirable and negative consequences that accompany those decisions & God longs for you to obey Him.

God also shares with us what to do if we find ourselves “off” His path for our lives in James 4:7-10…

James 4:7–10 gives us: 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  KJV

This passage lists several action words that reveal a God who longs for us to know Him, love Him & obey Him. We are told to do these things:

 

• submit to God,

• resist Satan,

• draw near to God,

• cleanse our lives of evil actions,

let Jesus purify our hearts, and humble ourselves before God.

I'm praying that these questions will offer you an assessment of your heart that will draw you closer to God.

Blessings~

Written by Jamie Shaver

 

A Living Hope

by Anne Kerr, Guest Blogger & Founder of TrueNorth Freedom Project

“The one thing I didn’t have when I was addicted to pornography was hope.”

Last year, my husband spoke these words to a group of supporters of TrueNorth. God set Greg free from his bondage to pornography in a powerful way in the fall of 2013. I learned of his addiction a few months after God rescued him from it, and his journey toward restoration and wholeness became our journey of transparency, healing, and hope.

Casual porn use can escalate into repeated porn use, affairs, purchasing sex, and abuse. Addiction is multi-layered and different for everyone. Porn addicts are not on a quest to find the perfect body. They are seeking to repeat pleasurable feelings in the brain that viewing porn generates. These feelings are a result of a chemical called dopamine which is released into the brain.

Dopamine plays a healthy role in everyone’s brain. Chocolate can give us a sweet reward, no pun intended. Joyful experiences like a wedding, or birth of a child, can send dopamine levels sky high. But watching moving porn can release up to ten times the amount of a normal, healthy dopamine spike. The brain literally gets high on it, higher than the brain was designed for. Similar to the neurological response to cocaine, the brain remembers the feeling and initiates a desire to feel that way again. Tolerance for the good feeling can develop, and more hardcore porn or riskier behavior may be needed to achieve the same chemical levels. This can lead to addiction.

God designed our brains to respond to sexual sights and experiences, and even children can get aroused by them. Many of us have forgotten how various sexual encounters caught our attention when we were young. Learning to talk about those feelings and to channel them as God intended is important, whether we are young or old. God-honoring sex within marriage also produces dopamine along with other chemicals that bond us to our mate. Sex outside of marriage, or variations of it such as viewing porn, creates unhealthy bonds that can leave us empty, isolated, and alone in our shame.

I began TrueNorth a few years ago to help Christians learn to talk about sexual issues and struggles more authentically within relationships. We’re working to bring information from science and God’s Word to help others understand the truth about sex and porn use. While God designed us as sexual beings, His Word gives direction for living within a sexualized culture and for raising children in this environment. Since we cannot fully shield kids from an overly sexualized culture, we must prepare them for it and lovingly guide them through it. And since we cannot completely avoid the temptations that a sexualized culture brings, we must learn to handle the temptations in a way that leads us toward God and each other and keeps us from falling deeper into sin and despair.

God has a clear message of hope, but sometimes habitual sin can make it harder to hear truth. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Slavery can take many forms. Porn addiction is a form of bondage, and Christ came to set us free.

 Some who use porn may not hear God’s freedom call because they are bound by sin and shame. Some may believe it’s too late for them, or that God doesn’t hear their cries for help. Others may be wounded by another’s sexual sin and feel hopeless themselves.

God has so much more for us when He opens our eyes to the things that give us less. Porn is something that not only gives less; it steals more. My husband can attest to this. And when God reveals the truth of our sexual design and shows us that none of us are immune from the temptation of sexual sin, I believe we can begin much-needed conversations that lead to deeper intimacy with others.

My husband found a living hope in Jesus and together we have found healthy, healing ways to talk about sexual struggles and sexual intimacy within our marriage. If you’d like to read more about how God began changing Greg’s heart and his restoration journey, check out the blogs he wrote earlier this year beginning with Revealing the Heart. (click bold 'revealing the heart' to read that blog).  Whether you struggle with sexual sin or someone you love struggles with it, Greg’s story will give you hope.

TrueNorth has resources and information for couples, parents, ministry leaders, and anyone desiring deeper intimacy with God and others while living with the challenges of a sexualized culture. You can find these by clicking “Tools” or “Stories” on the TrueNorth Freedom Project website, which is www.truenorthfp.org.

Christ, our living hope, frees us from our shame, gives us courage to step into the light of truth and grace, and invites us to go deeper with Him as we face the challenges this culture presents. Ask God to show you the next step and trust Him to lead you into truth for your journey. You will find grace for your own sin or perhaps God may use you to help rescue someone you love from their own bondage to sin. Trust Him to provide all that is needed.

Written by Anne Kerr, Founder of TrueNorth Freedom Project

If God Could Use These 20 People, He Can Use You & My 14 Yr. Old Son- Zach’s Dilemma

Have you ever been at the crossroads between ‘should I say something?’ & ‘I’ll just ignore this’? That’s the intersection my 14 yr. old son found himself in due to the lack of godliness among the many kids he interacts with everyday.  Here’s the scene:  Zach was in a high school weight room lifting weights with his peers when a song comes on that is full of explicit sexual content and        ‘f-bombs.’  Zach is totally distracted by the vulgar nature of the song and tells me about it as soon as he gets in the car that day.  Here’s the conversation:

Zach: “Mom, when I workout I like to think about God and I feel like He gives me strength to lift and then as I’m doing that today this terrible song comes on…”

Me: “Were the coaches in the room?


Zach: “Yeah, I think 2 or 3 of them”

Me: “Did you go and tell them that you would like to listen to different music?”

Zach: “No, I feel like they wouldn’t listen to me…maybe if I told them it was affecting my performance that would get their attention because I feel like that’s all they care about.”  

Sidenote: As a mother I feel that as early and as often as I can I want to be in the “coaching” role that tells my children how to handle a situation, that they are capable of addressing it on their own, and then praying for them to have courage and do the “hard” thing, because the right thing is often the “harder” thing in the short-term and easier in the long-term.

Me: “Well, first you need to talk to the coaches and ask them to change it and if they are unwilling, then you need to bring your iPhone with your earbuds and listen to your own music.”

Zach: “We aren’t allowed to have our iPhone in the weight room because they said they don’t want us to be distracted.”     (I find this ironic due to the huge distraction that such graphic music can be)

Me: “Anytime that anyone is asking you to sin (listening to vulgar music) and the way for you to not sin (listening to your own music on your iPhone or similar device with earbuds or wearing ear plugs) is against the rules, then you have my permission and God’s to break the rule.  We are free to disobey any rules/policies that go against God’s rules/policies.”

Zach: “Well I just decided to ignore the music the best I could.”

Me: “How do you know that God hasn’t placed you in that weight room to make a difference and make the place better for all the guys that are in this program?  You addressing this with your coaches could positively impact the environment for everyone.”

Zach: “I just feel like I’m only one person & they listen to the masses, my weight lifting partner was singing all the words and I don’t think anyone else cares.”

Me: “God cares, and you are believing the lie Zach that one person cannot make a difference.  One person can make a difference especially when that one person has the power of God in them!  Jesus was only one person and he made quite an impact, and we have the same power in us that Jesus has.”

Today I’m praying for my son to have the courage to address this issue with his coaches this week.  I’m also praying for myself, my other children, and you & your families that all of us would recognize that we have been called to be more than conquerors over this present darkness!  If Zach is unwilling to do this on his own, then we still plan to have him talk to the coaches himself but he will do it with his dad by his side.  

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” 

James 4:17 ESV

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Change can happen and can start with us!   Zach is in the weight room to build his physical strength and while that is of some value, God puts us in the weight room of life to grow our spiritual strength!  Be a spiritual warrior!  Is God asking you to speak out against something in your current situation or environment?  If you’ve ever doubted that God can use you, please consider the following 20 people:

Abraham was old

Isaac was a daydreamer

Jacob was a liar

Joseph was abused

Moses had a stuttering problem

Gideon was afraid

Rahab was a prostitute

Jeremiah & Timothy were young

David had an affair & was a murderer

Jonah ran from God

Naomi was a widow

Job went bankrupt

Peter denied Christ

The disciples fell asleep while praying

The Samaritan woman was divorced

Zaccheus was small

Paul was too religious

Timothy had an ulcer

Lazarus WAS DEAD!!!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV

Written by Jamie Shaver