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The Good Shepard

On a trip to Norway this summer I experienced something so beautiful.  I wrote about it and it was run on Living Better 50 Magazine. I hope you have a moment to read this short article and I hope it encourages you to pray for those in your life that may have wondered.

The Good Shepherd

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The gift that will not fade …

10665930_10152750701973749_4060286779736131217_nGuest Post by Joe Duenich

What is the gift that will not fade?

My two daughters are grown and experiencing their very own adventure of life. While my wife and I are excited about being empty nesters and watching them blossom, it is kind of sad. We miss taking care of them and seeing them each and every day. But in the eternal scheme of things, not seeing them for days, weeks, or even months apart is really nothing. The day is coming when I who entered this world at one point will face eternity. That day is also coming for my kids…yours too. Our sons and daughters will hear from a just and holy, loving God about an eternal destiny. The thought of missing one of my kids in eternity is just unbearable for me.

So, if you’re a parent, I’m telling you, do whatever you need to do. Talk to your kids about their faith and about their futures and about God. And if it’s awkward or hard or embarrassing or you feel like you don’t have all the answers, talk to them anyway! You’re the parent. In addition to talking to them, allow them to see into your heart and your own walk with God. Teach them through your example. Be a great role model.

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It took a lot for this UW husky fan had within her to post this photo of WSU fans on her page.

Role modeling is one of the best ways to reach our kids. What is the example that we are to use to have our kids model after? Here’s an idea from Ephesians 5:1-4. “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks.”

This is not an exhaustive list but what a powerful place to start. Paul is encouraging us to imitate God…in other words, let your kids see you acting like Jesus by walking in love! Model purity…they need to see this from us as parents because they are hard pressed to see it from anyone else. And our mouths…the words that come out of our mouth have immense power to give life or death. We should choose words wisely around our children.

Lastly, make the commitment to pray for your kids every day. We live in a world where parents think so much about parenting and work hard to give so many gifts to their kids that are going to fade. There’s only one gift we can give to our kids that will never fade, and that will last for all eternity, so give it. Give it the best you can!

For more posts by men you can go to Dirt, Trucks, and Faith

Looking for a speaker?  view my profile at Christian Women Speakers or go to Christian Women in Media Speakers Bureau

 

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Can You Trust Me with your Children?

Guest post by Karli Reed, licensed minister with the Assemblies of God.

Parenting is one of the most honorable responsibilities given to us to discourage with grace and love. From the moment that they are born and take their first breath, we are scared out our wits – oh my word! What have we here!?! What am I doing and have I lost my mind? What do I do next? Next, we take a deep breath and say “Lord God, teach us each day every step we need to take to raise this one up for your Kingdom.

IMG_0214When each of my children were born, I would wait until everyone has left to go home for the night and then stand before the hospital window facing Spokane twinkling in the night. I would raise up each one and pray and give thanks for this promised child. “You gave me the vision of three children and you have kept your promise. Here is this one. Guide me to raise them for you and for the calling that You have destined to.” You would ask me if it was all piece of cake and I would say no it wasn’t. Each child you have is uniquely different and need to be raised according to who they are. As Parents, we will have moments we regret and wish we could do it over again but, we can’t. I just have to remind myself that parenting doesn’t end even after they’ve starting their family.

There is always an opportunity to change your parenting if necessary as long as we surrender it all into His hands. As we face the days ahead of us, it becomes necessary to teach your children how to walk and live the Godlike life. Teach them how to pray along side you so they learn how to communicate with the Lord.Teach them how to worship before God to learn intimacy with God.Teach them the word of God and how to read it, study it like a student with a Teacher beside you. Never underestimate your children. They can do it. Teach them ministry with you but be wise on how they can handle ministry and guard them from the harm done in ministry. Tell them about the hard stuff when they are ready. Let them see you walk it out and the teach them that it is ok to ask us about why things happen the way they do. Always keep Jesus in the center of everything you say and do.

The most important lesson to learn is this : “Can you trust Me with your children? Trust me enough to leave them in my hands so that I may do a work in their lives before I release them?”

Parenting goes through its different seasons and each season affects the next one. Each season has its sunrises and sunsets along with it changes. Parenting also goes through its storms such as bullying, suicides, death, rejection…..this list goes on. By trusting in God to carry us through the storms, we become seasoned parents ready to come along side with younger, new parents. Parenting is a life cycle with God walking beside you every step of the way.

Looking for a speaker?  view my profile at Christian Women Speakers or go to Christian Women in Media Speakers Bureau

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He is the God of Constant Opposites

Today has not been my day. I am overwhelmed with pain and confusion as to what to do. Honestly, I am flat out tired. I feel like I am being buried in a pile of something that stinks really badly and I want out of it. In my 50 years I have learned that life is hard from time to time but in the middle of everything, there is one constant I can count on…God. No matter how deeply I may feel buried in a pile of something that stinks, He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

In Revelation 22:13, God says this about Himself: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. God uses three comparisons to describe Himself. Notice each one is the opposite of the other. God says He is the Alpha and the Omega. These are the opposite ends of the Greek Alphabet. He says I am the first and the last. He is before all others and after all others. The beginning is the opposite of the end. Everything begins and ends with Him. What I mean by God being the “Constant Opposite” is that He is the opposite of our painful circumstances.

22186328_sHe is constant and I can always count on Him no matter how badly my circumstances may stink. I can also count on Him because He is the God of “opposites”. It may seem strange to think that God who is constant could be the God of opposites but it’s true.

Let me explain…

In our weakness, He is the constant opposite. He makes us strong.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

In our brokenness, He is the constant opposite. He brings us healing.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

In our sin, He is the constant opposite. He offers redemption.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7

In our sorrow, He is the constant opposite. He brings us joy.

He will… bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3

When we are lost, He is the constant opposite. He will find us and save us.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

When we are tired and weary, He is the constant opposite. He will give us rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

On days like today when I feel overwhelmed by heaping shovels of something stinky being dumped on me, I can count on God to be not only my constant but my constant opposite. I know when I reach out to Him, He is waiting to pull me out of it. He will clean me up, set my feet on something firm, and give me strength to keep going.

You too can count on Him to be your constant opposite. No matter what you feel buried in, reach out to Him. He will pull you out of it. In your weakness, He will give you strength. In your brokenness, He will give you healing. When you are caught in sin, He offers redemption. In your sorrow, He brings joy. When you are lost, through Him, you are found. When you are weary, He alone can bring you rest.

God is the beginning, the end, and the constant opposite in all of our painful circumstances. You can count on the God of constant opposites.

*All Scripture used is NIV

Originally posted on Living Better 50 Magazine

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Don’t Wait for the Error Code

With any new appliance, car, boat, or computer, we are given an owner’s manual. Over the years this Midlife30950352_m Domestic Goddess has gotten a few error codes on her washing machine. Thankfully I can turn to the manual for help and troubleshoot the issue. God has given us a manual for life. It is the Bible. But unlike the owner’s manual for our appliances, we need to read the Bible before there is an error code.

Life can be very worrisome at times. When you have an understanding of the Bible, you will be able to recall the truth of God in a crisis much faster than you can figure out what the error code on your washer means.

In one of the hardest times of my life as a parent I learned how important it was to have knowledge of the Bible. In my brokenness I was crying out to the Lord. I remember lying on my floor in tears, praying that God would help my family in our pain. God reminded me of this scripture. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV) I had read that more than once. When I was wondering how I could handle another day, this verse comforted me. I could go to Him and find rest.

Because I had spent time in the Word of God, I knew that God was reminding me of His truth. I was able to pick up the Bible and with no trouble, go right to that scripture. Being able to recall that one verse led me to more of God’s truth. Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul…for My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

With God, our biggest burden ever was made easier because we could count on Him. If I had never spent time in the Word I would not have known that to be true. Over and over the truth of God guided our family through that very upsetting time. God’s Word can also guide you step by step when you are not sure what you are to do next or your pain blinds you. Psalm 119:105 says it perfectly – Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (NIV)

It is one thing to never open the owner’s manual for your washing machine until there is an error code but it is another to wait to open your Bible until things become overwhelming. Being able to recall the truth of God at any moment is very important. I hope that you make time in the Word of God a normal part of your day. I am currently reading the Bible in a year and I love “The Victory Bible Reading Plan”. There are many “Bible in a Year” reading plans that you can find online or at your local Christian bookstore. Make time in the Word a priority in your life. Don’t wait for the error code.

Looking for a speaker for your next event? View my profile at Christian Women Speakers and at Christian Women in Media Speakers Bureau.

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Be the Change

I’d like to build the world a home and furnish it with love. Grow apple trees and honeybees and snow-white turtle-dove. I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like to hold it in my arms, and keep it company.

Growing up I remember singing that song from the Coke advertisements. It was a great ad but is singing a song or having a Coke with someone really going to change the world? We are called to live like Christ no matter what our age. Our lives are to be a reflection of who Christ is within us to all we come in contact with.

You may wonder how can I, one person; make a change in our world?

A changed world must first begin with you. Each one of us individually can make a difference. Micah 6:8 (NASB) says, He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Loving what is right, showing kindness and walking humbly with God impacts everyone you come in contact with. If you want to be the change, start with yourself. Pray for God to change your heart. To break your heart for what breaks His. Ask God to give you His eyes, and His ears, so that you can see and hear the needs around you.

Starting with yourself, your desire to change the world will grow to include others who are in our life. As you walk humbly with God, like Micah 6:8 says, you will find in your day many situations that require you to show kindness. Your family, your friends and those in your classes will need you to show His love and His kindness to them. Moment by moment we affect the world by how we choose to react to those in our lives.

Your attitude towards others is either going to open or close the door to Christ. Your prayers for others are an act of love for them.

Your friendships are also a means of sharing yourself and your relationship with Christ.   As you share your heart with your friends, their hearts can be won for Christ. When that happens, you can walk with them and support them in their spiritual growth.

15036003_sYou can change the world. Start with yourself and then be willing to let God use you with others in your family, with your friends, and in your work place. No matter your age you can be the change in your school, the clubs you belong to or in the sports you play. There are so many people who would love someone to care enough to sit and visit with them over a cup of coffee, or even while drinking a Coke. This simple act can change our world.

Maybe the Coke song is on to something…

I’d like to build a world a home and furnish it with love. Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle-dove.

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like to hold it in my arms, and keep it company.

I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand. And hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land.

It’s the real thing (Jesus is the real thing) what the world wants today (Jesus is what the world NEEDS today), that’s the way I’ll stay with the real thing. (With Jesus)

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. A song of peace that echoes on and never goes away.

Today I want to challenge you to make an effort to really press into God and be willing to let Him change you and mold you into a reflection of Him for the world to see. Then I want to challenge you to pray and ask God to show you where there is a need and how you can be used to make a difference.

The change you want to see in the world begins with you. Are you willing to try?

Originally written for the Whatever Girls Ministry.

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Out of Practice

Today’s guest post is by Deborah Thomas, Eye Sights BlogDebby with short hair

Everyone knows that practice is not optional if you want to get better at something. I just talked with a seasoned piano teacher about the possibility of teaching a four-year old to play the piano–can they do it? She said that to the degree that the parents make the child practice is how well they do. With discipline and regular practice, they progress solidly. But parents that do not require their child to practice see them struggle.

The same goes for any skill. I used to take private dance lessons to learn how to country swing better. I had no boyfriend so practicing alone in between lessons was almost useless. Line dancing practice a la solo worked better, as long as I did not forget any of the moves.

In Christianity, we have moves, also. I call this practice. If we are out of practice, today is a new day! Christianity does not end at conversion; that is only our birth. We must go on with Christ, a life time with Him. We need to get smart!

Whoever learns how to throw hardball while sitting on the sideline? Who learns how to suffer without bleeding or injuring a body part? Who knows grief unless there has been loss of some life? Who can swim well without practicing strokes or treading water a long time? Can anyone really practice being kind until they are shown unkindness in their face? The Lord is not going to hand these things to us on a gleaming platter. He wants us to practice and exercise our spiritual muscles.

1 Peter 1: 6 & 7 declares: “…now for a little while, you may have…to suffer grief, in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Trials come to give us practice; if we practice, we prove our faith. God wants to know if our faith is the real thing. Authenticity matters. You cannot just say you are a Christian. Your life has to prove it. Practicing your Christianity brings forth outstanding results: praise, glory and honor to Christ.

I do not want to be out of practice, as I walk in faith before the Lord. Suffering? Grief? Unkindness? Trials? Yes, they are there all right. But they are just the backdrop on which we practice our instruments for Him. Amen?

To read more of Deborah’s posts go to Eye Sights.

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There’s a “I” in Him

As a mom of former college baseball and softball players, I have heard the saying “there is no “I” in team” more times than I can count. In other words, one player is not to work alone, but rather work together with others to achieve a certain goal. Today I am drawn to the word “Him”, as in Christ. Yes, there is an “I” in that word but I am not just talking about the “I” in the spelling of Him.

As a woman, a wife, and a mother, who walks her life out with Christ, I can truly say; there’s an “I” in Him. Me, myself, and I are in Him and He is in me. We are a team and He is my captain. It is “I” in Him and “Him” in me that makes all things possible. Christ said it himself in Matthew 19:26, “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

Because I think like a baseball/softball mom, let me put it to you this way. Life can feel like a ball game. It may 5435255_mseem like you are at the bottom of the 9th, stuck on 3rd with 2 outs and you’re ready to give up. But it is at that moment that He steps up to the plate and knocks one out of the park. Christ is the only one I would ever want batting at that point in the game. I know that the things of this world sometimes leave me stranded on third but Christ will always bring me home. Never has He left me standing alone on the field of life and I will never stop giving Him praise.

Today I pray that you, too, are the “I” in Him and that He is in you. I pray that you will step behind Christ as your Team Captain and let Him call the plays. I also pray that you will let Him be your strength whatever life brings your way.

I hope that knowing you can also be the “I” in Him brings you peace during even the hardest of times.   What are you waiting for? The words of the song “Centerfield” by John Fogerty say it perfectly…“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play”. Be the “I” in Him!

 

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The Blessing Box

I am sure you have heard the expression, “Count your blessings”.

In our deepest pain, our blessings may be hard to find because it is difficult to see past our present circumstances. When we choose to walk with God, there is no guarantee that there won’t be struggles. By acknowledging our blessings and worshiping God in the storm, we not only honor Him, but it opens heaven’s floodgates of strength and comfort to carry us through whatever we are facing. When we feel like we have nothing in us, those are the times we need to praise Him all the more.

DSC_7524About five years ago we walked through a very painful time when our daughter was harmed in an act of violence. More than once, I thanked God that there were only 24 hours in a day because with each new morning His mercies were new. At one point during that hard time my friend took my hands and raised them to the Lord and said, “Thank God for the blessings you can see”. At first I looked at her like she was crazy and I thought how can there be anything to be thankful for in this nightmare.

As I sat on the floor with tears streaming down my cheeks, my friend held my hands up to the Lord, and I said, “Thank you, Lord, they did not kill my daughter”. In that moment I felt a sense of joy during the most painful time of my life. My daughter was alive! I had missed that in my pain. With my hands still held up by my friend, I began to thank God for the blessings I had not noticed in my pain.

Suddenly I realized she had let go of my hands and I was holding them up on my own. I was still hurt by what had happened and concerned about what lay ahead of us but I had new strength. For the first time in over a month, I was able to sleep through the night. The next day I added a night of sleep to my list of blessings.

In September 2015 while thanking God for a new blessing in my life, I got the idea of making a blessing box for my husband and myself. It sits in the area where we spend time in study and prayer. On the days that are hard and we struggle to find the words to pray, we can dump out the blessings in the box and then read them one at a time. It is very powerful. I can start on empty and when I am done reading them, I am running on a full tank of joy.

I want to encourage you to make a blessing box for yourself. If you are married or have children living with you, make a blessing box to share or make one for each of you. When the storms hit and you can’t find the words to pray dump that box out in your lap and start thanking God for how He has blessed you. Let Him turn your sorrow into joy because a joyful heart is good medicine. –Proverbs 17:22 (NASB)

 

Authors note:

Here is an idea for the whole family. Get some fun things to decorate the blessing box and include the whole family in the decorating. Setting aside time each week to share your blessings with each other and adding them to your blessing box is a simple way to acknowledge what the Lord is doing in your family.

 

Every couple of months dump the box out and take turns reading the blessings. No matter how old your children are, they can all take part in this. Teaching your children to count their blessings and give thanks, helps build their faith so that when the storms come, they will remember to look beyond their circumstances and see the goodness there is in the Lord.

 

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