If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:31b-32
Fay was a trusting person, or at least, that’s the excuse she gave when Tyke left her in the middle of the night a week ago. He’d told her he loved her and wanted to marry her as soon as they could so she moved in with him. Now he was gone and he hadn’t even said good-bye.
“Joan, I don’t know why I let myself get into these situations?” Fay dropped her head into her arms that lay crossed on the kitchen table. “I trusted him. I loved him, I think, but I never thought he’d leave.” Swollen eyes looked beseechingly toward Joan, a friend who’d recently come to know and love Jesus.
Joan cleared her throat. Would Fay listen this time? “Fay, I don’t know too many people I’d trust the way I trust my Lord.”
“What do you mean? You can’t even see Him. How can you trust someone you can’t see?” Fay hiccupped and then blew her nose.
Joan settled back into her chair. This could take awhile, she thought. “Jesus is alive and I have faith that He loves me and died for my sins on the cross. I know he’s real because I’m not the same person I used to be. Remember how I used to smoke, drink, chase the guys?”
“You mean like I do?” Fay sniffled.
Joan grinned. “Yeah, like you do. Anyhow, I hate the smell of smoke, I don’t need no booze any more, and I look at the guys we hang with through the eyes of Jesus. They aren’t all that good for us. Most of them don’t even have a full time job. All they do with any paycheck is blow it on booze and drugs. Like Tyke did.”
Fay sat back in her chair and eyed her friend. She knew Joan was telling her the truth. Why couldn’t she have known that Tyke wasn’t trustworthy? “Does this God of yours give you smarts so you know who to trust and who not to?”
Joan’s eyes widened. Finally. “Fay, God has provided us with a large book called the Bible. In it is all the truth we’ll ever need. Do you want to ask Jesus to come into your heart and change you into the person He wants you to be?”
Fay nodded. “Will he help me get a new boyfriend?” She chuckled. She knew she wasn’t ready for another relationship and from now on, she’d consult God’s truth before committing herself to another man.
Fay later learned that God would get her a new boyfriend, a new girlfriend, and many other new relationships as she walked in His truth, shared her faith with others, and waited for His timing and His direction.
Are you making choices, trusting people all too quickly and landing in hot water more times than you care to? The world’s version of trust fails miserably most of the time because that trust is based on the wrong things. If we trust because of God’s love and God’s provision, because of what His word teaches, then we have some facts at our fingertips on which to base our trust in another human.
Father, Your Word has all the answers and will take me where You want me to go, whether in a new relationship or in a new direction. Help me be patient to learn what I need to learn before I make the wrong choice. AMEN.
Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor. 4: 16-17
Rachel grasped the piano leg, waiting for the next blow. Her father’s leather belt had a large shiny buckle that bit into her skin every time it made contact with her bare legs. Rachel tried not to care, tried not to feel, and tried not to cry. Crying usually made the beatings worse.
Thus was the childhood of Jeremy’s mother. But he never knew that about her. His mom was the kindest, most gentle woman he knew. He knew a few women from school who were not so kind. His mom tugged at his hat, making sure his ears were covered before he went outside. He blushed, sometimes wishing she’d not fuss so much, but then he’d hear about some of the moms his friends had and was thankful all over again for her fussing.
“”I love you Jeremy.” Jeremy peeked through his half closed eyes to watch as his mom waved toward him. He tried to appear not to notice but smiled all the same, feeling the warmth of her love course through his body. He skipped down the sidewalk.
Rachel had been abused from the time she was three months old. How she survived is anyone’s guess but survive she did. Some days, she’d ask God to take her to heaven, to rescue her from a house where drugs and alcohol, parties and orgies were the norm. But God never did or so she thought way back then.
Now, she knew better. God had rescued her. He’d rescued her mind, body and soul for His purposes, renewing her into the person He wanted her to be. Today she was a mom and a great wife. At least that’s what her husband told her once in a while, teasing that he didn’t want her to get a swelled head. She loved being a mom, cherished the memories that her little family were making each day and supported her husband in the dreams he had for his life.
Do you harbor memories from a less than perfect childhood? Did your home depict the seedier side of life? God can take what you see as something that will destroy you and turn it into something that transforms you into the child He wants you to be, if you’ll let Him.
Father, thank you for rescuing me from my past. Thank You for changing me through my circumstances and drawing me into the comfort of Your Grace and Love. AMEN.
Data, research, and stories about American pastoral decline. We’ve all heard scary statistics about ministry like how nine of ten ministers know three to four others who’ve been forced out of pastoral positions; a third of all pastors serve congregations who either fired the previous minister or actively forced their resignation; and at any given time, 75% of pastors in America want to quit. Western church cultural influence has waned nearly 60%.
Why Your Pastor Left is full of detailed statistics and identifies the top ten “Ministry Killers” that cause pastoral stress and eventual “burnout.” I know all about these statistics, but not from research, but because the world tried to make me one. As an author and blogger I fought back by writing a book—at first as a means of catharsis after being forced out of ministry position, but as I dived into the research and talked to other pastors and ex-pastors I became somewhat fearful by what I found and resolved to share these findings with those who need it: people who want reclaim ground and help make the Church healthy again.
Christopher D Schmitz is an author of fiction and nonfiction as well as a regular blogger. He’s a seminary grad and a veteran youth worker who works with “at risk teens,” he has been with Youth For Christ since 2012. He is also the other of several published stories and maintains an author’s blog and a ministry blog: https://authorchristopherdschmitz.wordpress.com/ http://christopherschmitz.blogspot.com/
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If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. Matt. 7:11
Josh was in trouble. He’d tried to stop his wife from leaving, grabbed her arm, and now he was sitting in jail, charged with spousal abuse. He had one phone call.
“Dad, I’m in jail. Melly filed a charge against me for abuse. She left me and took the kids. I tried to stop her and…” His voice shook. His fear was a tangible force that covered the distance between the jail and his parent’s home.
His dad spoke slowly; making sure his words of comfort could be heard. “It’s okay son. We’ll be there as soon as we can.”
Josh sighed in relief. His parents would know what to do. His wife had taken all the money in their bank account so he didn’t even have any to post bail. A tear slid down his cheek, one that he quickly wiped away in case someone saw him crying like a baby. It would take a few hours but his parents were coming.
Josh’s dad dropped whatever he was doing, loaded the car, and drove hundreds of miles to support his son. Josh knew that whatever he asked them to do, his parents would do to the best of their ability. He felt secure in that knowledge. However, Josh’s dad had limits. He was human and basically a sinner, just like Josh.
God is our heavenly Father more capable than any human father. He gives to His children all that He has so they can succeed in carrying out the work of spreading the gospel, whatever form that takes. When we accept Christ’s gift of eternal life, walk where God wants us, He will provide the resources and the physical strength to carry our His wishes. We don’t have to wonder if whatever comes into our life will destroy us. God loves us so much; He knows about our needs before we need them. His resources are limitless.
Do you wonder where your next meal will come from or where you’re going to find the money to pay the debts you carry? What about an illness? Does the worry about it keep you from finding any joy in your life today? God loves you more than is possible for human parents or friends. Walk secure in that knowledge. Keep your eyes on heaven and walk where God places you, in confidence.
Father, thank You for giving me access to Your resources, for loving me so much that I can depend on You to provide for my needs. Help me keep my eyes focused on You today. Help me trust in Your love, Lord. AMEN.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is not law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Gal. 5:22-24
Sherie’s face was fused with the red hue of anger, loud obnoxious, out of control anger. Saliva leaked from the corners of her mouth as she spit hateful words towards her son. His body crumpled, shoulders sagged, and his eyesight flew in all directions looking for a place of reprieve.
“Forget it. I don’t know how I could have given birth to such an ignorant boy.” Sherie spat the words and stomped off to her bedroom sure that if she stayed in that room one more minute, she’d strike. She would not abuse her child as she’d been abused.
Sherie didn’t realize it, or maybe she did but was not about to admit. She did abuse her son verbally, every time she treated him in this manner. She also believed that her Irish heritage was responsible for her angry outbursts and there was nothing she could do about it.
Sherie had a host of excuses after each incident. She was a Christian and knew that God wanted her to stop yelling and parent in a calm manner but, “This is just how I am,” she’d say.
One day, a friend was visiting. Her son walked into the house she’d just cleaned with muddy boots. Sherie was livid. This time she didn’t hide her anger. She just let it fly. Her friend was astounded.
“Sherie, stop. Do you know what you just said to Justin? How can you treat him that way?”
“What? Did you see what he did? I can’t let him get away with that. What kind of parent would I be?” Sherie huffed, crossed her arms over her chest and stood as if waiting for her friend to apologize.
“Aren’t you a Christian?”
“You know I am. The Bible says…”
“Yes, the Bible says we are the branches tied into the vine of Holy God Almighty. We are to produce the fruit of…”
“Yeah, yeah. Patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But I get so angry. It’s that Irish blood, you know. We’re hot heads.”
“You can stop. What do you think happens to the Holy Spirit, residing in you, when you spout off like that? What do you suppose is His purpose in your life anyway?”
Sherie sat down hard. “I know that I grieve the Holy Spirit when I get angry. I want to be a Godly woman but every time Jason does one of his stupid stunts, I see red.” Tears began to filter through her long eyelashes. “I hate the look on Jason’s face when I lose control.”
“Then when you feel yourself getting angry, stop. Get down on your knees and throw yourself at the foot of the throne of Grace. You are grafted into the power of God through the Holy Spirit so you can do anything He sets your heart to do with His help.”
Sherie listened to her friend that day. Slowly over the next year, she practiced praying instead of blowing off steam. She became a calmer woman and Jason began to hug her once in a while as he’d done when he was little. Their home became more peaceful.
Have you excused poor behavior as part of your heritage, or because it’s expected of you? How often do you abuse the very ones you love the most by shouting obscenities or hateful words expecting it to bounce off them as soon as you’ve calmed down. It doesn’t bounce off. In fact the Bible talks a lot about the damage our tongue can do. Let the Holy Spirit produce His fruit in your life. It’s your choice.
Father, I am so sorry for grieving the Spirit with my anger. Please forgive my bad behavior. Holy Spirit remind me, every time I feel anger rise, to stop and seek Your help. AMEN.
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Janet buckled the baby into his car seat, slammed the door of the small SUV her husband just bought her, and sat in the driver’s seat. For the next three hours, she was the family taxi driver. She sighed, tired already.
Jeremy had soccer practice, Louise had dance team practice, and Joan had swim lessons. Those she’d stay for since they were over first and then she’d retrace her route to pick everyone up. Supper was in the crockpot so they’d be able to quickly eat before driving over to watch Jeremy’s baseball game.
After she got home tonight, she still had to get ready for her luncheon tomorrow (she was the speaker), and then the BPW meeting tomorrow night. “Yikes, I’d better think of someone to pick up the kids. I’ll need to prepare another slow cooked meal. God bless the invention of the crockpot.” Her mind whirled with activity as she drove toward the kid’s school.
Busy-ness is one of Satan’s tools to seek, devour, and destroy God’s people. Parents, and grandparents as well, are so busy today that they have no time for family, little time for the Lord who seems to get their leftovers most of the time, and little time for their marriages.
Women and men too, want it all. We want all the material possessions that the world says we need, social standing in the community, and kids who excel at everything. Grandparents continue to seek new adventures, volunteer for one more community project, and race from one coffee get-together to another forgetting that the Lord sits quietly in their living room waiting to visit with them.
God’s word cautions us against too many busy projects in our life. Even though sports activities are good for the kids, too many can cause them to get their priorities out of whack just like their parents, who rush here and rush there continually. We stick God on the back burner, fitting Him in here and there, if we have time. Most days we forget about Him altogether.
Do you think Satan enjoys your busy-ness? You can bet your boots he does and he’ll continue to salve your conscience with how important this is and how important that is until God is a distant memory. What activities could you retire from your agenda so you can add quality time with God to the plan for your life?
Lord, I have been busy. Help me free my schedule so I can work where You want me to work and when You want me to sit quietly, help me make that a priority. I love You Lord, and want to be with You. Help me start my day, resting in Your Word and in conversation with You. AMEN.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Luke 2:10
“Ken, have you checked the doors? Make sure they’re locked and turn the alarm on before you come to bed, ok?” Ginni lay under the covers, pulled them all the way up toward her chin, and listened. She could hear the long drawn out sigh of frustration coming from down the hall as her husband retraced his steps to do as she wanted again tonight.
Three weeks ago their house had been broken into when they’d been visiting their daughter. Now Ginni was afraid all the time. She thought she heard a noise just outside their bedroom window. “Ken, someone’s outside!”
Fear can paralyze us, make us ineffective for our family and for the Lord. It can cause some people to barricade themselves inside their homes. They never venture out to meet people, to serve others, or even attend church. Fear can cause some to overlook the perfect job because it may involve flying around the country and they fear flying. It can cause a wife to remain behind when her husband wants to ride his motorcycle for fear of being in an accident.
The Bible tells us that fear is not from God. Satan uses it to keep us from becoming the person God intends for us to be. He wins when we give in to those niggling tremors that disappear if only we’d trust God and take that first step out of our comfort zone.
In Luke, an angel appeared to shepherds watching their flocks of sheep on a hillside outside Bethlehem. If they had not listened to the angel, look what they would have missed. Joseph was also told not to fear when he was to take Mary as his wife even though she was pregnant. Look what he would have missed if he had not listened. Mary, too, was told not to fear, and God allowed her to be the mother of His Son.
What great opportunities are you missing just because you fear doing something that you’ve never done before or because you fear stepping into that environment? Focus your attention on the Lord Himself. Step out of your comfort zone and watch what He does through you.
Lord, I do fear sometimes. Help me trust that You know what is best and will protect me if I walk where You want me to walk. Help me be the person You want me to be and the vessel that You can use for Your glory. AMEN.
Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27
Diane looked at yet another catalogue. They kept coming in the mail, even from places she’d never heard of. This one wanted to sell her some new leather chaps and vest. The one yesterday wanted her to redecorate, or at least, add to her furnishings. The temptation to buy more was incredible.
She looked around her modest home toward the lumpy looking mass of fur lying on the rug by her back door. “Boomer, we need anything?” She always talked to her favorite pet during the day when there was no one else to bounce ideas off. The dog’s ears perked up for a second but then relaxed in sleep once more. “You’re no help.”
Diane continued to look around. She really did have everything she needed. Sometimes she’d like a newer dishwasher or a stove with all four burners working but she only ever used the front two anyway. Contentment was a word that her pastor had preached on last Sunday.
He’d used Luke 12:27 to highlight his point. “Why should we keep striving for more and more when God supplies our needs,” he’d said. “The world around us has become so materialistic. Nothing satisfies us anymore. Contentment is a lost art. If our needs are met by the Lord Himself, as this verse says, then what more could we really want?”
Diane put the catalogue down. There was nothing she needed. Her chaps and vest were still in good shape and besides she was dieting. Soon she’d be looking for a smaller size anyway. And as far as her house was concerned, she had a comfortable place, plenty of food to eat, and her constant companion, Boomer. She looked toward him again. “You sure know how to exude contentment, don’t you Boomer? As long as you’re fed and come for walks with me, you’re happy. Me too,” she said. “Me too.”
Do you get caught up in the materialism of today’s modern Babylon? The excessive spending, excessive debt, and excessive lifestyles of Babylon in the days of Daniel are evident in our western culture today. Learn to be content with what God has given you. Stick those catalogues in the garbage before they tempt you further to add to your debt load.
Father help me with Your strength in the face of today’s temptations. Keep the enemy, who wants to destroy me, at bay, bound and ineffective. Help me gird myself with Your sword, the Word of Your truth. AMEN.
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. Isaiah 58:11a
Trudy walked slowly toward the rally entrance, her car locked in the designated parking lot. Her campsite had been set up the night before so today she could concentrate on walking where the Lord guided her. Today, she was tuned into the people around her.
One young lady arrived at the entrance, seated on the tiny back seat of a motorcycle driven by a large, definitely older man. She hopped off as soon as the bike stopped and rubbed her sore backside. Her face was sun scorched and her hair, tied into a braid, was wind-whipped, in need of a comb.
Trudy was close enough to hear their verbal exchanges. “Get me a cold drink of water, will ya?” The man sat with one leg crossed over the gas tank of his bike. His long beard look tattered and when he removed his head rag, the line between sunburn and bare scalp was clearly visible giving him the appearance of a skin colored cap. The woman moved quickly to comply.
Trudy lowered her head and watched. When the woman returned, the man took one sip and then threw the bottle at her. “That’s not cold, b—-. Get me a cold one.” Trudy cringed as the woman retraced her steps to retrieve another bottle of water. Why do women put up with this kind of treatment, she asked herself and then continued on her way toward her campsite, a distance down the road.
During the course of the weekend, there were several times when Trudy saw the same woman. Her young, very pretty countenance was always sober looking. No sign of a smile was ever witnessed by anyone in the Christian group Trudy worked with. She’d asked them all to pray for this woman as soon as she’d entered camp, Everyone made a point to smile toward the woman whenever they could.
Late Saturday night, just before group members went toward their separate tents to attempt some sleep in that raucous atmosphere, the young woman stumbled toward them. She had several bruises on her face and arms and tears slid uncontrollably down her cheeks. “Manny’s looking for me and I can’t let him find me. Can I sleep here tonight?”
Trudy straightened from the opening to her tent. “Lord, please let me share your love with this woman tonight,” she whispered as she turned toward the woman. “You can share my tent.”
“Oh, I don’t need to sleep in your tent. Just let me sleep on the ground somewhere. Anywhere, as long as Manny can’t find me.” Her lips trembled and she rubbed the bruises on her right arm tenderly.
“No way.” Trudy went over and hugged her. “I have a large mattress, a queen size actually. I also have some clean sweats and I think we’re about the same size. Come on, let’s get some sleep.” She hooked her arm around the shoulders of this young person in a comforting manner.
That night Trudy was able to lead Tracey into the Kingdom as she explained how Jesus had died for her sins. The Lord strengthened Tracey that night, satisfied her need for protection. The next day she went home alone. She resolved to find a Bible believing church with the help of members from a Christian motorcycle group who happened to live near her. Tracey clung to God’s promises from a small pamphlet that Trudy gave her.
Are you being sensitive, like Trudy, for opportunities to share Christ’s love and God’s promises with someone today? Furthermore, are you relying on God to strengthen you and to guide you when you leave home or through trials and situations? God wants to free you with His love as you follow where He leads.
Father God, thank You for loving me and for loving all those whom You will send my way today. Help me keep my eyes focused on You and Help me shine with Your love as I greet and meet others. AMEN.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Sam listened but had a hard time believing that his reprieve was over. Seven years earlier, he’d been diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer with a 1% survival rate. He’d battled and won and now seven years later it was back. How was he going to tell Diane?
He walked out of the doctor’s office, moved toward his SUV and sat down on the driver’s seat hard. Would he make it this time? Is this the end for him?
Plugging his key into the ignition, he turned the vehicle on and shifted into drive mechanically, his mind elsewhere. The scenario of a conversation with Diane just two weeks ago began to play in his head. They’d been thanking God for the years he’d been given and now…
Sam drove towards his office building. It was still the middle of the day, too early to head home. He wanted to talk to Diane so badly. She knew he’d had this other appointment and that the doctor was worried after his last check-up. He didn’t want to tell her over the phone.
Sam turned down a side street. He picked up his cell phone. “Dan.” He spoke when his boss answered. “I need to go home. I need to discuss the findings from the doctor with Diane and I can’t do it over the phone.” Sam turned the vehicle toward home.
“That bad huh? I’ll see you tomorrow then. We’ll be praying for you Sam.” He hung up and Sam reflected on God’s gift to him of a Christian boss. All the way home, he saw how God had gifted him with many blessings over the last seven years. He’d even been able to see his first grandson.
When he pulled into the driveway, Diane opened the front door, concern written all over her face. She knew without Sam telling her that the news was not good. Tears welled in her eyes but she swiped them away quickly before Sam saw them. He hated to see her cry over him.
They hugged for a long time when Sam entered their home. Then Diane made a pot of tea and the conversation began. “God has looked after me so far and given me seven wonderful years. He will see us through this too.” Sam looked hopefully toward Diane, trying to infuse his optimism into her psyche.
“Our ladies Bible study is in the book of Daniel. We’re learning that God saves us from the fire, saves us through the fire and saves us by the fire. No matter the outcome, God will save you.” Tears flowed freely now at the thought of God taking her husband but Diane loved the Lord and knew He loved her unconditionally. God also loved Sam.
“Trusting in God means that whatever the outcome, we will keep our eyes on Him, right? That’s how we’ll handle this new situation.” Sam reminded Diane of God’s blessings and together, they began to plan for a fight, to do battle with cancer once again, with God’s help.
Father, help me keep my eyes on You no matter what the circumstances are in my life. Build my trust today Lord, so that when I need it, it will be strong. AMEN.