Are You Joyful

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“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 

Its been a while since I last wrote and well a lot has happened, In the last 4 months two of my children have been married and another will be married in 6 months. I am strong, healthy and feel more content than I ever have in my life.  To say my heart is full is an understatement.

I feel like God has blessed me so much already, and he keeps continuing to bless me.

I know I’m extremely blessed to have milestones like this in my life. There was a time when I was not sure I would, due to a cancer diagnosis.  During the many trials in my life, I have realized that I have a heavenly Father who is joyful and loves me immensely. Did you know God is a happy God?  A God who loves us?  A God who is for us?  What more do we need?

In 1 Timothy 1:11, Paul writes to Timothy about “the glory of the blessed God.” This word blessed is translated as the common word for happy. Today’s key verse gives us more evidence of a joyful God. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

He saves. 
He takes delight in you. 
He rejoices. 
He sings.

We can be joyful right now, not because circumstances are perfect, but because our Father in heaven is perfect.

We can smile today, not because we feel like it, although, my life feels pretty perfect right now, but because we are responding to the truth that He is for us, and He is singing over us.  Isn’t that amazing!!

We pray, “Lord, make me more like You,” and that’s what we should do. But I wonder if we sometimes miss that being more like Jesus is becoming a happier, peaceful and joyful person. Living with joy is a holy pursuit, not a frivolous, shallow quest.

After all, I am sure this is why children loved being around Jesus because He had a twinkle in His eye, and a smile and He made them feel welcome. How do children feel welcome? Usually with smiles, laughs and perhaps a little fun. Children followed Jesus, which makes me think Jesus smiled and was friendly. Remember, it was a boy who gave up his lunch of five loaves and two fish to feed the 5,000. (John 6:9) That’s no small task for a growing boy!

Men and women, young and old, were drawn to Jesus. Joy is attractive. The more you put it on display, the more people want to be around you.

Can others see joy and happiness in your life? We all have different personalities, yet we are all commanded to rejoice. Rejoice in your own way; just be sure to rejoice. In so doing, you become more like your Heavenly Father who loves to sing and rejoice over you.

I know life can be hard: there are so many challenges we face in this fallen world. But, I would challenge you, even among the financial troubles, the illness, the loss, the pain, and the struggles of life, to see the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.  That should make us all smile and rejoice!

Lord, I choose to rejoice in Your love for me today. Thank You for saving me and singing over me. I praise You because You can turn my mourning into joy and bring happiness out of grief. Fill me with joy today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in You;

I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High ~Psalm 9:1-2

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Billy Graham 1918-2018

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Billy Graham is now with our Savior. 

Billy Graham 1918-2018
I had the pleasure to hear him speak in person and was truly blessed. An anointed man of God and warrior for the lost. I can only imagine the welcome he received not only from the Lord, but from all those who responded to his call of salvation.

“We loved Billy Graham because he told us the truth: The world is fallen, Christ is alive, and Jesus loves us—just as we are.”

His invitation hymn sang at his crusades across the nation: “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me.”

I am sure he received those precious words “Well done my good and faithful servant”.  A great example of a life lived well.

“Someday,” the great evangelist once said, “you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead.”

Here’s what he said we should think when we hear this news.

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

In honor of Billy Graham…Hymn sang at all his rallies

 

Proud Vs. Broken

Proud People vs. Broken People

Contrasting the characteristics of proud, unbroken people, who are resistant to the work of God in their lives, with the qualities of revived, humble people.
By Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Proud people focus on the failures of others.

Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Broken people are compassionate; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.

Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
Broken people esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others.

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit.
Broken people yield their rights; they have a meek spirit.

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.
Broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served.
Broken people are motivated to serve others.

Proud people desire to be a success.
Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire self-advancement.
Broken people desire to promote others.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.

Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.
Broken people are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God.
Broken people’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know.
Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Proud people are self-conscious.
Broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arms’ length.
Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

Proud people are quick to blame others.
Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.

Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.
Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken people are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.
Broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.
Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.
Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught.
Broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship.
Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition.
Broken people walk in the light.

Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of.
Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does.
Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

Responding To Domestic Abuse

Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Abuse

Author:  Category: CounselingRelationships

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Because the image of God is sacred, an assault upon one of his image-bearers through domestic abuse is an attack upon God himself.

Smartly-dressed Mike and his wife Debbie walked into my office for their first session. One look at Debbie revealed that she had been crying, but was trying to hold it together. Mike exuded smug self-confidence. Debbie’s head hung low, Mike’s was held high. As they told their story, details began to emerge.

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Mike and Debbie were in their early thirties with two young boys, ages 2 and 4. Mike was an investment banker, Debbie a stay-at-home mom. When Debbie would share something in the session that made him look bad, one look from Mike would silence her, occasionally mid-sentence. During the session, Mike was calm and collected. As they told their story, it became clear that Mike would leave the family’s home early for work, often not returning until late into the evening. It was Debbie’s job to have dinner ready every evening at six, for at least herself and the children, but Mike felt himself under no obligation to attend dinner, and seldom did. Nor was he under any obligation to let Debbie know where he was or when he would be home. This was not her concern, he said.

In his words, Mike worked hard to provide a nice living and a nice home for them. If she was ungrateful for all he provided them, she could leave. If she did, he said, he would get the best lawyer money could buy and he would make sure that she and the kids didn’t get one penny more than he was obligated to give. He seemed completely, almost pathologically, at ease saying these words.

By all accounts Mike had never laid a hand on his wife or his children, at least so far. (He was seldom in close enough proximity to do so, frankly.) His abuse was entirely emotional and economic. The wife and children regularly attend a church in the area. The husband did not often attend. He didn’t see the need. Towards the end of the icy session, the husband declared, “Go ahead and tell the pastor how bad things are in our marriage. What can he do to help you?”

Over the years, I’ve heard many women say things like:

“I really wish that he would just go ahead and hit me. Then I would know what to do and I’d be able to get the church to help me get out.”

What I have described above is a case of verbal, emotional, psychological and economic abuse. And, though Mike hasn’t laid a hand on Debbie, she is being crushed by him. Brothers and sisters, this is a tragedy. And, sadly it is epidemic in the church.

Domestic abuse can be defined as the desecration of the image of God in one’s spouse or intimate partner through patterns of intentional misuse of power, overtly or covertly, in words or in actions, to gratify self. In the beginning, the Creator formed humankind in his own image (Gen 1:26-27). God breathed a soul having intrinsic worth and dignity into the man of dust (Gen 2:7), formed the woman from his side (Gen 2:21-23), blessed the man and the woman, and gave to them both dominion over the rest of the created order (Gen 1:28). As a desecration of the imago Dei, abuse is a violation of the inherent worth and dignity of the God-breathed human soul.

To “desecrate” is “to treat (a sacred place or thing) with violent disrespect.” Because the image of God is sacred, an assault upon one of his image-bearers is an attack upon God himself. Physical violence is tied to the imago Dei in Gen 9:6, “Whoever shed the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”

But, the Scriptures also describe forms of violence that aren’t merely physical. Verbal assault is also tied to the image of God in James 3:7-9. Speaking of the tongue and its power, James asserts:

“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

Note the use of Genesis 1-2 language in James 3: “beast and bird”, “reptile and sea creature.” James references our creation mandate as image bearers who fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the rest of God’s creatures. Indeed, we have tamed and subdued the creatures of the earth successfully. Yet we use the most powerful of weapons, the tongues our Creator has graciously given to us to bless others, to verbally assault and curse those whom God has specially created in his likeness, all while blessing God simultaneously! What hypocrisy! How can we praise God and denigrate those who bear his image?

God has expressly told us how we are to use our words:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29)

Mike’s words tore down his wife, they were inappropriate, and they certainly did not give grace her – or to anyone. Mike had even mastered the use of non-verbal communication to incite fear and to control his wife.

Economic mistreatment of a husband and father to his family is just as abusive. Remember what Paul said to Timothy? “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim 5:8) Mike’s threats to withhold financial provision from his family placed him in a class that Paul called, “worse than an unbeliever.”

Abuse, in any form, overt or covert, in words or in actions, is an act of oppression against one’s spouse. It’s oppressive because it is a desecration of the image of God in the other person.

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble…he does not forget the cry of the afflicted” (Ps 9:9, 12)

“O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” (Ps 10:17-18)

God responds to the oppressed by hearing their cry and offering them safety. God responds to oppressors with justice. Shouldn’t God’s people respond in the same way?

1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience physical abuse at some point in their lifetime. Those who have experienced severe verbal, emotional, psychological and economic abuse at the hands of an oppressor are even more common. Statistically, there are several Mikes and several Debbies in your church. How will you care for them?

Greg Wilson holds two Masters of Arts degrees, in Marriage and Family Counseling and Christian Education, from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a Licensed Professional Counselor – Supervisor in the state of Texas, and is a featured Pre-Conference Workshop teacher at ABC’s 2017 National Conference, addressing this very issue of recognizing and responding to domestic abuse.

Praying Over Our Children

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30 Prayers for your children

1. Salvation—”Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Isa. 45:82 Tim. 2:10)

2. Growth in Grace—”I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

3. Love—”Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them. (Gal. 5:25Eph. 5:2)

4. Honesty and Integrity—”May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection.” (Ps. 25:21)

5. Self-Control—”Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.”
(1 Thess. 5:6)>

6. Love for God’s Word—”May my children grow to find Your Word more precious than much pure gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.” (Ps. 19:10)

7. Justice—”God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.” (Ps. 11:7Mic. 6:8)

8. Mercy—”May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

9. Respect (for self, others, and authority)—”Father, grant that my children may show proper respect to everyone, as Your Word commands.(1 Pet. 2:17)

10. Biblical Self-Esteem—”Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:10)

11. Faithfulness—”Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.” (Prov. 3:3)

12. Courage—”May my children always be strong and courageous in their character. (Deut. 31:6)

13. Purity—”Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions.” (Ps. 51:10)

14. Kindness—”Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thess. 5:15)

15. Generosity—”Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.” (1 Tim. 6:18-19)

16. Peace-Loving—”Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (Rom. 14:19)

17. Joy—”May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thes. 1:6)

18. Perseverance—”Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them.” (Heb. 12:1)

19. Humility—”God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all.” (Titus 3:2)

20. Compassion—”Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.” (Col. 3:12)

21. Responsibility—”Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5)

22. Contentment—”Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through Him who gives them strength.” (Phil. 4:12-13)

23. Faith—”I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them.” (Luke 17:5-6Heb. 11:1-40)

24. A Servant’s Heart—”God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7)

25. Hope—”May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

26. Willingness and Ability to Work—”Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col. 3:23)

27. Passion for God—”Lord, please instill in my children a soul that ‘followeth hard after thee,’ one that clings passionately to You.” (Ps. 63:8)

28.Self-Discipline—”Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.” (Prov. 1:3)

29. Prayerfulness—”Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

30. Gratitude—”Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20Col. 2:7

The Ultimate Sacrifice

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I witnessed the worst and the best of humanity last night.  I was on a call as an advocate on a child abuse case.  A 14 year old girl had called the police to report her step father for sexually abusing her. This had been going on for 7 years.  Her mother had threatened her continually, if she ever told anyone she would be thrown out of the house. During the interview the young girl was asked why she decided to call the police now she said “because my little sister just turned 7 the same age when he started molesting me, I wanted to protect my sister.”

This young girl had endured horrible abuse at the hands of her step father for years, Threats from her mother, no emotional support.  Yet, the love she had for her sister caused her to risk everything to save her.  When the stepfather found out what she had done and why, he responded..”I would never touch my biological child, I have morals” really you have morals?  He was arrested and the mother decided her abused daughter could no longer live under her roof.  she would be going to her grandmothers house to live.  At the end of the night about 3am, I was sitting in the sheriffs suv crying my eye’s out and looked over and the big strapping deputy was doing the same thing.

While thinking about what a loving sacrifice this young women made for her sister. I thought about the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  Jesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He was put to death by being crucified on a cross, and his body was laid in a tomb behind a stone. He lived and then died rejected and alone. Like a rose He was trampled on the ground. Jesus took the fall and thought of you ABOVE ALL!

Jesus saw sacrifice as something beautiful because it would bring us life.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16.

Jesus’ calls us to voluntarily lay down our lives as He did–to sacrificially love people even when it’s uncomfortable or painful. What if you saw sacrifice as a beautiful word?

Just as this young girl sacrificed all for her sister, sacrificed her home, her security. This is real love.  I pray for this young women, I pray when we follow up that she comes to know Jesus as her savior.  That his transforming power will heal her heart.  I know this young women changed my life with her sacrificial heart and bravery.