“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
Friendship is often highlighted by Facebook “friendiversary” videos and best friend forever promises, but God places people in our lives as purposeful extensions of His love. In this life, we are promised to experience a multitude of heart wrenching moments. The community of people we befriend in life help us to traverse through them.
A thread of friendship is woven throughout the entirety of Scripture, and Abraham’s friendship with God reminds us of the importance of maintaining that friendship first. “Scripture called Abraham God’s friend, perhaps partly because God would not keep relevant matters from him.” -NIV CBSB Click here to continue reading …
“You are my friends.” (John 15:14)
Jesus had a close circle of 12 on this earth, but He calls us friends, too. The NKJV Chronological Bible Notes for this verse explain,“While He was not implying that His friends were His equals, He was offering to share with them what belonged to Him.” And the second half of John 15:14, “You are my friends, if you do what I command,” gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ perspective of friendship.
It’s important to consider what friendship meant in Bible times. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that “the language of friendship was applied to patron-client relationships, in which patrons supplied some needs of clients.” NKJV Chronological Study Bible Notes says, “In the Roman world, a ‘friend’ was often a political ally who owed one a favor, or a more powerful patron on whom one could depend.” Click here to continue reading…
“Love your enemies. Pray for those who torment and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 Voice Paraphrase)
Why would Jesus tell us to pray for someone that has snuck past our radar and hurt our family? The “bully” is a beloved child of God, too. The pain in their life is fueling their wrath towards us.
In a society where the hate is palpable, we have to slow down and sit with our Savior before we launch into our defensive attack. Through our actions and reactions towards bullying, we can lead the way for others who find themselves in similar situations. Even though it feels personal, it’s not.
“The devil has come to kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants us to fight each other like plastic foosball players, but Jesus has already crushed His agenda. If we refuse to play into it, we will experience what He came to give us: life to the full. (John 10:10 b). Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com…
“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17
God’s intention of friendship is love. Friendship should be less about what we get out of it and more about how we can serve God through it. 1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that out of “faith, hope, and love… the greatest of these is love.”
Jesus reiterated the importance of love when he reminded His followers to love God first with all their heart and soul (Matthew 22:37) and then love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39)
These ten friendships put God first and I believe when we model ours after these examples, we will experience friendship the way God intended us to. Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com. Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com …
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
Daily life is littered with all sorts of sickness. Flu season hit my household this week, and according to the CDC, most of United States is in the midst of a “high activity” flu season. One does not realize the luxury of the average day until it’s besieged and de-railed by influenza. Life comes to a pause, and workloads pile up. Click to continue reading …
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
The responsible way in which we choose to handle modern media will set the tone for our children’s online behavior. Young children mimic what they see, and habits are hard to break as they grow older. By holding ourselves to the standards that we expect of our children, especially within earshot, we are already removing some of the dangers they are exposed to daily. Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com…
It’s been two decades since my high school friend passed on to heaven, and I still can’t bring myself to go to a class reunion. Knowing she won’t be there solidifies the fact that lasting female friendships are hard to come by. God has a way of placing people to speak truth into our lives. No one could expose my terrible choices, applaud the successes I was too timid to share, or shake up a Sunday service by clapping and dancing in worship with me like my friend did. For a chronically insecure girl like me, her loss was devastating.
Through the long road of healing, God has graciously bloomed flowers of remarkable friendship. Each God-placed friend has extended the love of Jesus to me when I have needed it most, sometimes unknown even to them. When we seek God with all of our hearts, He blesses us with people to share life with. Here are three friendships that came into my life when I least expected to meet a lifelong friend. Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com…
Jesus promised us that “in the world we would have trouble” (John 16:33). Hate seems to be the prominent way societal agendas are pushed into action. Do you remember the part in Frozen when Elsa realizes that the key to controlling her icy powers is the warmth of love? The cartoon queen might be on to something. After all, how much hate can we throw at hate before we end up consumed in the eternal coldness of winter? Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com…
Experiencing God through worship has presentationally changed over time, but elementally remained the same. To understand where contemporary worship is going, it’s helpful to understand what it is and when it began. The charismatic movement birthed this style of worship known for a more casual setting. Leaders take the stage and utilize technology to connect more relevantly.
This shift in Christianity has been influenced by the importance of spiritual gifts … charismata. “These are supernatural graces which individual Christians need to fulfill the mission of the Church” (Wikipedia). God is the same today as He has been for all other generations before us. Though we evolve and change, He does not. Contemporary Worship is evolving into the next generation, and with that comes change. Click here to continue reading on crosswalk.com…
Whether walking into a giant atrium or a small-town sanctuary, first-time visitors feel every eye is on them as they walk into Sunday service. More than just a call to worship God for all of our blessings, and a place to pray for His help and healing, church is something God tells us to do out of encouragement for each other.
“Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Even in a church full of gospel truth, a wrong first impression causes a weary soul to turn on their heels and back out to the parking lot. The Voice commentary of the above verses lends a great perspective on the importance of every soul called to church on Sunday being welcomed: Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com…
Though we aren’t likely to hear the audible voice of God through a burning bush as Moses did, or in the midst of a dream as Joseph experienced, the One who spoke the earth and the heavens into existence still speaks to us today. When we seek to understand the character of our Creator, our lives will begin to reveal His protective hand.
A foundational relationship with our Father in heaven can be established because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. With His death, the temple curtain was torn, and we were all granted access to the One True God. In the think of life’s unfairness, He stands by our side. Through our mistakes and mis-steps, His back never turns on us. In our triumphs, He awaits the first high-five of praise. We don’t have to fix or become better versions of ourselves to start hearing from God. He loves each of us for who we are, right now. Though some of the ways He speaks to us today are incomprehensible, here are ten that we can trust expectantly. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Climbing ‘Parent Mountain’ takes faith. Soon after our newborn babies gaze back at us with the fresh hope of new life, the inventible responsibility crashes into our reality. God knows we feel insufficiently equipped. He created us to rely on Him. The falling feeling of not being able to sink our foot securely into the next step signals us to reach for His hand.
The overwhelming juggle of our own personal growth alongside that of our kin lends our advice to be as imperfect as we are! Where is the peace in that? In Him. To maintain a perfect peace through imperfect lives and rapidly crumbling world, we must place our trust in God’s wisdom. Peace is found in submission to His unchanging authority over our lives. He has gone before us and remains with us. (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Up the stairs she stomped, quickly followed by a slamming door. Once again, I had let my least favorite characteristics bubble to the surface and rain down over my tween. Placing trust in the fickle fade of aggravated feelings hurts our kids and our confidence. Paul assures us that our sinful desires wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). Moms like me who have taken the bait and engaged in an argument with their child know exactly what Paul speaks of in Romans 7:15. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Click here to continue reading.)
There’s an enlightening difference between “resolve” and “resolution.” Resolve reflects a decision or determination, while a resolution formally encompasses a decision made via conference with others. Wikipedia describes four different types of resolution, “New Year’s resolution” being the only one that doesn’t incorporate other opinions into its final draft. Could this be why resolutions often fall out of reach?
Resolution is a feeling of debate, dispute, and deliberation that takes contributing thoughts and opinions into consideration. Perhaps our vocabulary has been modified to cater to individual resolve, regardless of practicality or conference about our life’s direction. Particularly, the One who laid the very purpose of our lives into the fabric of who we are. Resolve to prayerfully consult God to reveal what He is asking from us. Entertain trusted family and friends to encourage and guide our steps. Then, compile New Year’s Resolutions that we can stand firmly in striving towards. (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Resolutions are strategic reminders for our repentant hearts. As Christians, they should be set in place to progress of the will of God in our lives. Before compiling a new list of goals, celebrate each step of progress that was made in the last year. Pay homage to the work God has done in our lives, before surging onto the next stage of growth. Giving God glory in worship for the accomplishments we achieve is a necessary element in the Christian attribute of fostering a grateful heart. Taking our failures into account, as well, shines light into the areas of our lives where prayer for clarity is needed. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Christmas is meant to pull us closer to His purpose on this earth, and grow our knowledge of our own salvation through His birth, life, death, and ascension into heaven. Sadly, many of our hearts will be overtaken by the need to give presents, and measure up the commercialized side of Christmas. For those who have not saved money, the panic and scrambling sets in to meet expectations that were never meant to take the center place of our hearts as Advent begins and carols are sung.
There will be disappointed faces on Christmas morning because of the empty space under their Christmas tree. But that isn’t the depressing part of that reality. Failing to save money for Christmas might lend the best opportunity to leave our hearts wide open for the real spirit of Christmas to usher peace and fulfillment into our hearts. Presents don’t fill our hearts with peace—only the presence of Jesus can do that. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The formation of blended families is surging in America, with 1300 new stepfamilies forming every day. Sending children away to be the “other” parent can cause worry and unrest, and an emptiness that was once filled with holiday tradition. For others, the welcome addition of God-placed family provides a security and happiness long dreamed of! No matter which side of the spectrum, in a struggle to cope or celebration of union, half the families in the US are remarried or re-coupled.
This is the society that we live in, and we have to find a way to unite in prayer for each other, especially at Christmastime. All families are challenged to maintain an unrealistic amount of patience with difficult family members at Christmastime, but the power of prayer can cut through any awkward situation. No matter how blended we may be, God hears us, He loves us, and embraces us! (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
God created time, and the passage of it is no surprise of Him. The “new” era we are living in is a place He’s already seen. He welcomes our creative interpretation of His Word through song, especially at Christmastime. The traditional carols, mixed with the unique sound of each generation, contributes to the timelessness of Christmas; for one day, when we look back, we will find our connection to Christmas in a song that has woven through our lives.
Christmas is communicated in song in many ways, and the best new carols stick to scriptural bases, sometimes adding melodies from classics right alongside new compositions. Here is a great place to start when looking for some new holiday inspiration to add to the Christmas playlist. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The Father lavishly loves us, but is also wise to withhold what He knows we cannot handle. Guilt and shame over gift-giving attacks from unprejudiced angles, but never from His. The balance of our heart’s intention lies within the reason we give.
There is a crafty side of greed that subconsciously attempts to derail our God-placed desire to give generously. Human nature is bent towards sin, too, in need of constant refinement and redirection. Whether we are wealthy enough to spoil our loved ones, or lack the provision to gift at all, the seed of our generosity must be aligned with Scripture. We can experience a peace in giving and receiving when we understand where God’s Word weighs in. (click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The flight path from mailbox to front door is well worn during the Christmas season. Little feet tear out of the car after school each day to see which toy catalog was delivered while they were gone. Inside those pages are toys that they never even knew existed before glancing over glossy pages. Each with a different colored Sharpie in hand, they whir away circling and circling …“Where do think you’d even put all of those things?” I try to reason, but they are much too overtaken with glee as they imagine the possibility of holding onto all of this cool new stuff.
Our kids need us to intervene in this annual scene of greed. One good way to do it is by teaching them to part with and pass on some of their older toys. Learning to physically part with things is a healthy habit to instill. Another way to encourage practicality in their Christmas lists is to limit the number of things they are allowed to ask for. And lastly, don’t reinforce the madness by gifting them the very things that we’ve just tried to convince them they don’t need. Here are some great gifts that exceed the value of this year’s hot toy list. (click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Snuggled up by the Christmas tree, little eyes marvel over the pages of the most miraculous story of all time—Jesus’ birth. The Son of God’s birthday has sparked classic holiday stories that we enjoy year after year. Whether it be a new version of an old classic, a copy carried through our own childhood, or a fresh new spin on the season, grab a book and cuddle with the kids this season.
Though Christmas has become commercialized over the years, Proverbs 22:6 reminds us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” As they grow, the root of all that is good about the season will remain. Include stories that tell of the Biblical version of Christ’s birth, for God’s Word read allowed welcomes His presence. It’s not necessary to shy away from fun quips and other holiday stories, as long as the right message remains front and center. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
God promised us in the Old Testament that He “will take care of the hidden things” (Deuteronomy 29:29). When we were created, He declared, “It is good!”(Genesis 1:31). God set us down in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by His love and provision. We were created to exist in the joy of knowing that He is Lord and we are His creation. The sinful curse that began with the Serpent has since caused confusion over how much fun we are actually allowed to have in this life. (click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
We are called to look for, find, and help each other—especially at Christmas. Paul helps us to understand the place from which we are motivated and able to give in fulfillment of others’ needs in Romans 13:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The Greek translation of “fill” in this verse signified an active filling in to perfection or completion. The only way we are able to find and fill someone else’s need is to be filled, first. The power of the Holy Spirit produces the place of great hope from which we give to others. (click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
I clutched the New Testament pages of my worn and highlighted Bible, as I read through
the gospel of Mark. Matter of fact and quickly moving, I sped through the life of my Savior morning after morning, miracle after miracle. We so commonly know of Him, even if we don’t fully understand who He is. Those in His own hometown, including His family, thought He was crazy when He stepped out of the simple life He was born into and into His earthly ministry of miracles. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
When looking to reflect and celebrate the Advent Season as a family, it’s important to keep some key elements of our devotional activities front and center. Christ is sole reason for Christmas; everything we do reminds, or causes us to reflect upon Him. If we can accomplish daily focus on Jesus, then our Christmas is bound to mean more this year than ever before.
There is an intimacy created when we experience Scripture together as a family. The power of God’s spoken word has the ability to meet us right where we are, separately and together, simultaneously. Take the time this Advent Season to intentionally sit as a family and allow Him to minister to and prepare our hearts.
Families need this time, if only for the Advent season, to reconnect and bond together as they walk through this season of celebration. Perhaps divorce lingers on the horizon as fights fill the hallways of our homes; maybe our kids have been the victim of bullying and we’ve had to watch their innocent light burn down to just a flicker. This holiday may be bringing with it the celebration of a new addition to the family, or union of a blended one. Jesus is amidst every circumstance we live through. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Christmas presents quickly become fruitcake cheesy and impractical unless we plan ahead to give heartfelt gifts this season. The point of Christmas is to move beyond materialistic lists that are advertised to us each year. When we rush to grab a limited quantity item or a deeply discounted product, we can end up with an empty wallet and a pile full of meaningless “stuff” to wrap.
When we focus on Christ’s all-encompassing gift to us, we are sure to find ways to be thoughtful in giving to others. Like everything else in life that we worry about, gift-giving can be lifted up to Him through prayer. Spending time with Him in the Word each day will tenderize our hearts to the reason for the season. When we walk through life with a grounded perspective, He flows in and out of our lives affecting every part of it! It will help us to think more of others. Here are ten ways to give that challenge the sentimental parts of our hearts. (click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The holiday season lends Christians the opportunity to extend the love of Christ more than the usual weekend experience. ‘Christ’ resides in ‘Christ’mas, in more ways than one. By knowing how Christ intended to draw hearts to freedom through salvation, we can be better equipped to offer an authentic experience to those that are visiting our church, or experiencing church for the first time.
Whether visitors are here visiting the “other” side of their extended family, or just stumbling in fresh off the moving truck to a new hometown, it’s important for all to feel included. They should be able to walk into any church and feel like family, whether it’s their first time or thousandth time in church. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The season is filled with in-your-face advertisements and doorbuster deals, get-it-now and have-to-have lists, and bombardment upon entering any retail establishment from late October on. The oncoming surge creeps into our lives a little earlier each year. Holiday content washes over all media channels, bathing us in the sound of sleigh bells and mistletoe.
The extension of the season allows more time to reflect on what’s really important in life. For the Christian, that is the baby born in the manger to save all of humanity. But there are underlying themes that run off the original Christmas story and onto the big screen.
These ten movies shine the light of love into a dark world. Let Christmas come early, because it’s dark out there. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
It’s hard to imagine our God allowing any of His children to reside permanently in hell; yet, the Bible clearly states that’s exactly where we’re going, unless we are saved from the fate of death that sin entails through salvation in Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
God set us down in Eden, with everything we needed and no shame (Genesis 2:15; 25). The devil is as crafty today as he ever was (Genesis 3:1), and will do whatever he can to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10.) It’s a reality to be feared, but not an ending that we have to choose. Jesus won’t return until every ear has had a chance to hear (Matthew 24:14). (click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
“During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God” (Exodus 2:23).
God rescued His people out of slavery in Egypt. His greatest command to us is to “love one another.” Though the Bible does not support it, God’s Word does illuminate how slavery could happen. The fall of humanity in the garden by the consumption of one forbidden apple (Genesis 3), set the rest of time on edge against sin. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The end of this life is the beginning of an eternal one for all who believe in Christ (1 John 2:25). Our compassion should trump all else when consoling those who mourn an unbeliever. The Bible clearly tells us what will happen if unbelief is the fate we choose; however, we should not pretend to know everything about a God whose ways are beyond our understanding (Job 37:5).
The God of miracles, He has the final say over where a heart resides. In the quiet depths of every earthly heart, His voice calls. The answers may be audible to Him, alone. Romans 10:9-10 speaks of salvation beginning in the heart. The rest is in God’s hands, and timed perfectly.
When offering comfort in a crowd that doesn’t believe in its Author, here are ten strings of text to stay away from. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The first few notes of “O Holy Night,” and the Peanuts singing, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” stir the true spirit of Christmas in our souls. We feel this way because many of the Christmas Carols that have become part of the tapestry of our every December, are woven from the very One who was, is, and always will be. We sing songs that have been passed down and formed from the way God’s Word moved someone’s heart to put a tune to it.
In a world full of commercialism, especially around Christmastime, we need Hebrews 4:12. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Though we might not all be the best at memorizing Scripture, human nature often lends the success of our memory to song. As children, we learn our ABC’s by singing them!
The gospel of John reminds us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” Jesus is the Word, and the reason for the Christmas season. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Deadbeat parents choose to turn from the responsibility they have to their children. Many have been the victim or witness the destruction abandonment can do to a child. How are we to react to a behavior that couldn’t be farther from what our good Father intends for us?
God’s commandment is clear: “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). There are no exceptions in this modern era that give us a free pass on following this rule, but there are ways to honor parents without allowing tender hearts to become a perpetual doormat. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
People volunteering to serve God’s church are, first and foremost, still people. God did not grant humankind the power to rise above out of our own abilities. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. “
God places people in our community of believers to work as one part of a whole. When sitting in class on Sunday morning, we must recognize the divine inspiration in someone that has given themself for His purpose. We must also reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit in us to speak the Word directly into our lives, no matter what human mouth it comes out of.
We, too, have a purpose and a place we are called to in God’s church. As we review these 10 Myths about Sunday School Teachers, let’s think about what we are doing to hold them, and ourselves, accountable to work as the church family God designed us to be—dependent upon Him, completely. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The temptation to compare leaves any and all churches vulnerable to living in the past. Relevancy is a hot topic in modern churches, and the lack of it is to blame for the closing of older church doors. The trick is finding the balance between living in the world we’ve been put in to reach, without sacrificing the truth of God’s Word.
Love is the key to relevancy. God will place people in the doorways of our churches, and leave the responsibility of loving on them to us. Jesus comes into broken hearts in a flurry of love, healing the hurting. We, God’s church, are an extension of that love. Here are ten ways we are hindering the ones we need to be helping, thus failing to move forward equipped to help those who have the most dire need for Christ’s saving love. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Greed, “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed” (Merriam-Webster), can creep in the back door of our hearts and quickly take over our well-intended desires to live generously in the love and peace of Christ.
“Greed is condemned by Scripture as contrary to the purposes of God” (Dictionary of Bible Themes, #5870). We’ve been warned that the devil is a liar and that he’s shifty, but we cannot blame him for all of our inclinations to give in to temptation. Before it expands to corrupt our foundation, here are ten signs we are being controlled by greed. (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
This is not a rally cry for divorce, but it could be a wake up call for your marriage. Many of us start down this road with visions of fairy tales in our heads, and echoes of Mark 10:9, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate,” that ring fresh in our ears. God allows us to make mistakes, and it’s possible to marry the wrong person.
To determine whether we are enduring the difficult reality of married life, or the consequences of bad decision-making skills, we must seek God’s counsel. Beyond daily prayer and study of the Word, professional counsel should be considered whenever a question regarding the stability of a marriage arises. Christian counselors are people are put in place as the healing hands of Jesus here on earth. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Jesus’ death on the cross allows us to embrace the soul-gripping freedom of eternity that we are invited to share in as Christians.
“But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God” (John 1:12, VOICE).
Humanity is born into a curse of sin we cannot control, but we serve a God who has made a way for us to escape it. This Biblical promise guarantees that “every ear will have a chance to hear,” and Jesus will not come back until then. But He will be back. For those who have accepted Him as our Savior, we will get to gaze into the face of Peace and embrace the King of Kings.
There will be no sickness, death, pain, or suffering in Heaven (Revelation 21:4). We will be reunited with believers who have gone before us (1 Thessalonians 4:17). All of the questions that we have stored up will fall away in the midst of the glory that will surround us when we finally arrive home. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Memorizing Scripture alludes a lot of us. Why would the Devil want to make it easy for us to carry around the Living Word of God on the tips of our tongues and the top of our minds? Because it’s powerful!
“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
The Hebrew word for “word” in this verse is “promise.” David wanted to hold onto God’s promise, knowing that was the only way he stood a chance of resisting sin. This side of the gospel, we cling to the promise of Jesus. We no longer have to worry about the impossibility of avoiding the fall into sin; rather, we hold onto the grace of forgiveness that allows us to repent and keep moving towards holiness … and a heart like His. Jesus is the Word. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Tragedy is a prevalent backdrop this side of heaven. Our hearts and minds are scorched with sorrow and drained of comprehension as we scroll through our daily news feeds. For modern generations of children, lock-down drills are as routine as fire and tornado drills.
John 16:33 assures us that “in this world we will have trouble.” The word “trouble” in this verse is translated from the Greek word thlipsis (a cognate form of the verb thlibō) meaning to “press, squeeze, crush.” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary.) When we are leveled by tragedy, it’s important to remember that God is not surprised. (click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Pieces of life are unlocked in the dimly-lit atmosphere of worship. What we notice when we gaze around the surrounding crowd is part of God’s message. He places us in a church family purposely. The one Sunday of fifty-two that we choose to come to church doesn’t catch Him by surprise at all. The Creator of time doesn’t waste a minute.
What we stand to gain by noticing those around us is a better understanding of who He is. Without a single spoken word, the unique beauty of every human being tells a story that has the power to stand out and affect ours. The challenge that awaits us each time we walk through our church doors is to gaze into a broader picture of who we all are, as we worship and absorb God’s Word together. Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com
Dull passages of the Bible yield encouraging truths to strengthen our faith. God layers His Word with intricate nuances that weave throughout the backdrops of our days, until the moment arrives for us to notice and absorb them like never before.
The everyday miracle of Scripture is the way by which God connects with our daily lives. Mundane verses suddenly pull us through turning-point moments. Our Father comforts, encourages, and instructs us, not only through obvious passages, but through hidden tracks as well. Let’s allow these ten “b-sides” to settle in our hearts today. (Click here to continue reading here at crosswalk.com…)
Human suffering is a part of life. It’s crucial to remember what we know about God in the moments when we teeter on the edge of leaving it behind. Our hardship is never in vain, though we feel deserted and desperate. God loves us (John 3:16). He promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5). He hears us (1 John 5:14) and answers us (1John 5:15). God alone is fit to judge us (James 4:12). We are not fit to sentence ourselves to death. God’s timing is perfect (Ecclesiastes 8:6). He cares for us (Matthew 10:30) and has a purpose in place for each and every life (Jeremiah 29:11).
Repeated together in prayer, God’s Word has the power to lift us out of the deepest pit, the darkest despair, and soul swallowing sadness. Look to Him in confidence, knowing that He is especially close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to guard our hearts, but constructing healthy boundaries among the family God has placed us with is extremely challenging. In the gap between fresh hurt and restored peace, the words with which we choose to express our emotions can be critically wounding, or soul restoring. To process emotion as our Savior would, it’s best to talk out our conflicts with Him in prayer.
Father, praise You for family. You tell us that it’s not good for us to be alone, and therefore have placed people around us that impact our lives and move us away from the loneliness of solitude. “The Lord is my strength and my song,” Exodus 15:2 reminds. We must remember that the family we live with is not responsible for our happiness. They are not charged with the status of our hearts and souls. And they cannot control how we feel, nor leap into our minds in an effort to understand the depth of our emotions. (Continue reading at crosswalk.com)
“Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together.” (Ephesians 4:3)
Here is a wonderful prayer to use to close a meeting, church service, or any type of gathering! Use your departure as a time to thank God and ask for His protection and blessings.
Father, praise You for the gift of unity that the Spirit creates in our relationships! You place others perfectly in our lives, and inspire us as Christians to work together with the gifts that we have been blessed with. When we look at this meeting through Your eyes, we see Your gifts fostered in us to further Your plans. (Continue reading at Crosswalk.com)
Hearing the call to serve is only half the battle. Once we slip into the shoes we were meant to fill, the journey continues to twist and turn with ups and downs. But serving the church doesn’t mean loyalty to one building… or one logo. It’s all about one man. Jesus. And spreading His gospel of love, peace, and hope. The church consists of all believers, regardless of denomination, over all time. Prayer is a powerful way to see and listen outside of the confines we serve in. (Continue Reading at crosswalk.com)
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Summer is a welcome break in routine. Relaxation. Laughter. Sunshine. Fun. But soon after the regularity that our children are accustomed to comes ends, their health can take a brief nose dive.
To all of the moms exhausted by long summer days and seasonal viruses… take heart. Through prayer, we can regain our strength and help our little ones return to fun in the sunshine. (Continue reading at crosswalk.com…)
“Know His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19)
We are pulled in different directions, and hardly any of the popular notions we are tempted to entertain on a daily basis would have us following Jesus as God intends. But prayer is powerful. Through our wavering, the Holy Spirit translates, and God hears. In Christ, we have peace in knowing that when we lift our confusion into His hands, He will faithfully guide us and answer us. (Continue reading at crosswalk.com)
It’s challenging for a mother to let go of an injustice that has befallen her child. Bullying is an epidemic, and it’s not limited to physical harm. The mental torment that some children receive in the classroom can distract them from learning, and lead them to question the very core of their self worth. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
“It is by grace we have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:5)
Many of us feel the tight bonds of our budget each month. How do we have faiththat God will provide for us when we’re struggling to keep our lights on, gas in our car, and our growing children in clothes that fit? What about the ache to reach out to others when we lack the means to do it, or having to tell our kids they can’t join their peers because the budget is maxed out? (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
It’s much easier to tell our children to say their prayers than to guide them through the process. Praying out loud is a bold expression of faith. Though many of us feel comfortable praying out loud in a group, it’s hard for others to muster the courage to verbalize prayer even to our own children.
Even when we are brave enough, we often let the opportunity to pray with our kids pass by in the rush of the day’s routine. Carving out time to pray with our children blazes a trail for them to cope with life the way God created us to – in conversation with Him. (Click here, or on the above image, to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Mealtime prayers are essential conversations with God. Paul tells us to:
“Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a VOICE)
Poverty and starvation are an everyday reality for some, while others of us quench their thirst and put hunger at bay at our leisure. No matter which side of the pendulum we find ourselves on, praying God’s will over our lives and our meals is important. (Continue reading at crosswalk.com by clicking here, or on the image above.)
Why do we let waves of fear swamp our lives, instead of dropping to our knees in prayer? Why does anxiety continue to crush us, when all we have to do is look up? Jesus has already cleared a path for us to talk to God, but we often continue to struggle within our own minds for solutions to life’s problems. Weave prayer into the natural inclination to solve problems by surrendering what ails us to our God. He promises to hear us, defend us, and loves us… through it all. It’s that simple. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
God places people in our lives who bother us. He sets us in situations that make us feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t always feel optimistic to live in the pocket of God’s will of our lives, even when we undeniably trust Him. But, there is one verse that can help us bound forward obediently, without having to paste on a fake smile through gritted teeth. Beyond the sustaining joy we experience from a life walked behind Jesus, we can reprogram our thought process to a happier tune though the instruction of Philippians 4:6: (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Darkness can seep into the most joyful moments. Moms who are suffering with postpartum depression know what it’s like to live a sleepless life with the lights out. Whether you aren’t sure you’re suffering from PPD or know for a fact it’s attempting to disrupt your life, realize that there are many others wide awake with the same crippling fear. Click here to continue reading on crosswalk.com
Food is a common disguise for contentment. Whether we over-indulgently seek comfort by splurging, or restrict caloric intake to feel in control, it’s easier to blame what we eat for our problems than to dig past the surface of what ails us.
God provided food in the Garden of Eden, in the desert to the Israelites, to a crowd with two fish and five loaves, and He provides for us today. As Creator of humankind, we can take solace in the fact that He knows how our minds work. Lean into Him to live well-fed. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Whether you embrace the “stay-at-home” status, miss adult conversations, or work while they nap, the struggle to maintain a daily balance is real. No longer are we on our own schedule, but that of little people who can’t tell time. Life is constantly interrupted by inconvenient vomiting and quarantine-worthy cases of pinkeye.
They can hear us on a conference call three floors down and tucked into the corner of the basement, but are nowhere to be found when getting into mischief. Every time we turn around, we are letting go of one stage and barreling into the next. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
When the tears roll down over your overwhelmed cheeks and you can’t recall the last time you washed your hair, hold onto this prayer.
“Oh, Mommy,” she gasped. “What is happening to you?”
Head hanging, sweat dripping, and tears surfacing… I looked at her and told her it would be okay… even though it was clear to the both of us I was not.
When mom goes down, the ship starts taking on water. The quicker she heals, the faster it rights itself. The best way to make a mom’s sick day is to shorten its duration, and for that… rest is key. (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
“Jesus replied, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)
Marriage shouldn’t be a defining characteristic of who we are. Jesus said, “I am the way,” yet many around us say, “he/she is the way.” Marriage is not a destination that promises happiness, a life fulfilled, or a sign of a job well done. Jesus is. (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
The sobering reality of addiction’s prevalence is evident in our daily prayers. The “addicted people” we are praying for have increasingly become “our people.” Our family… our friends… our circles of influence… our kids. When we feel a child is lost, slipping away, and have only a crack in the door to peek in on their lives… we can turn to the One in control to restore life. (Click to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
“Not-so-newlyweds” know the pain of love… the joy of love… and what it means to
choose love daily. If you find yourself in this category, the memories of your early days of marriage might be fading.
You’ve told your husband to put his sock in the hamper (not next to it!) more recently than you’ve told him how much he means to you. Or you’ve asked your wife how she didn’t notice how low the gas tank was in her car before she hopped in to run an errand more recently than you’ve said how beautiful she is. (Click here to continue reading at crosswalk.com)
Locked doors and lock-down drills bring fresh emotions to the surface during parent-teacher conferences and morning drop-off lines. The realistic worries of a modern parent are the stuff of fictional horror stories. How do we get past the lump in our throats as we say goodbye for the day? Focused prayer allows us to cope with the broad band of threats to our children’s safety without smothering their ability to be a productive part of society. (Click here to continue reading…)
The dangers outweigh the practicalities of entrusting a child with a device that many
adults struggle to use safely and appropriately. Parental guidance is at risk of being trumped by the smartphone unless we put a foot down. (Click here to continue reading…)
Commitment is hard to honor when marriage doesn’t feel like love. There are undoubtedly unsafe situations that require immediate escape through the Father’s guidance. But for many, marriage slowly fades into an agreement on paper. (click to continue reading)
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
A mother’s intention is never to raise an employee that feels entitled to show up late for work on account of the line for their five-dollar cup of coffee. No mom pictures her sweet-cheeked babe steered through life by any other substance than her love. Yet, these fears are very real for more than just a few faithful moms.
Fear will grow up to crush us unless we fight back. Thankfully, prayer isn’t a wafting of positive thoughts into thin air, it’s a firm grip on the truth of God’s promises. (Click to continue reading…)
Try to get back into the shape we were in 20 years ago in just one year? Give up soda forever? Cut out all reality TV shows? Forcing it all to happen in one year sets up a resolve to fail. We all know how to set aspirational New Year’s Resolutions, but keeping them all year can seem pretty hopeless.
The key to accomplishing it all lies in getting to know who we are… one year at a time. (click to continue reading…)
“Good morning, sweet girl!” I forced a smile as my daughter crept down the stairs to steal
my quiet time.
Bible study since the birth of my children has been an eight-year battle. I’ve done all sorts of things to avoid being noticed until 7 a.m.
There’s little time for formality after childbirth, but always time for Him. Though we may not be able to wrap our exhausted minds around how to fit one more busy thing into our lives; the Author of Creation can stretch our time. (click to continue reading…)
In a culture that wants to convince us that we always need more of something, Christmas joy comes regardless of gifts. It’s not just a notion of hope, but the reality of God’s provision. Christmas is about a little baby born in a manger, set on earth to live out a reality impossible to everyone but God. And His plan never includes forsaking His children in a time of desperation… (click to continue)
Christmas can be joyful no matter our circumstances, because of the hope Jesus brought down from Heaven with His birth. Those of us blessed with the witness of parenthood forever share a piece of our souls, and it seems insurmountable to fill the void when those little lives that once clung to us in safety are replaced with somber quiet… (click to continue)
Divorce doesn’t have to be the crushing end to all Christmas traditions. Hope does not have to fade as the picturesque view of a familiar life wanes. Christmas is the celebration of the hope Jesus brought into the world with His infant cries.
Hope lives in Jesus-filled hearts.
When my daughter’s ukulele instructor requested I sit in on her lessons, I should have refused. My ears cringed when she practiced wrong. Although unqualified to critique her musicianship, my opinion hit her heart because of who I am to her.
How do we talk to our children in a way that encourages their character without inflating their attitudes? Take a deep breath, and just don’t say one of these. (click to continue)
“Why does it have always have to be like this?” whined my eight-year-old daughter. Both of my daughters react the same way to each act of differential sibling discipline, unfair choice made, or anything else that pops up on the elementary-aged “no-fair” radar.
We’ve all been on the other end of a question that we have absolutely no idea how we’re supposed to answer, let alone on a kid-appropriate level. Or, caught ourselves dead in our tracks over-explaining our reasoning to the children we are in charge of. Spiritual preparedness is the only key to responding to the wacky, weary, and out-of-bound inquiries pint-sized people ask.
Here are a few actions to find the right answers. (click to continue)
Being a kid can feel pretty helpless, but learning how to unlock a conversation with God is like discovering a secret superpower. Suddenly, the people placed around them will mean a little bit more. And turning them outward by teaching them to pray for their friends allows them to experience God’s love.
We can teach our children to pray for their friends using the acronym LET’S PRAY. (click to continue)
“But everyone else-” my daughter trailed.
“But you’re not,” I interrupted.
Modesty isn’t only about wearing a sports bra that covers what it’s intended to in it’s entirety, but also behavior and self-perception. A lack of it leaves the door wide open for comparative worry and anxiety, threatening to steal a lot more than innocence. Here are the verses about modesty that your daughter needs to know. (click to continue)
The homework problem that stumps them… the toy they don’t want to share… the practice they don’t feel like attending… the commitment they don’t want to honor… the sibling they want to smack… Preparing our hearts daily with the truth of God’s Word enables us to breathe through our kids’ meltdowns and apply the discipline they need to grow into God’s calling on their lives. (click to continue)
Parenting is tough stuff. Summertime can put an extra stress on schedules that don’t allow for stay-at-home-parent down-time, and further tax the juggling of working parents. The absence of structured school days challenge “teachable moment” opportunities. Here are five ways VBS can keep the reel running. (click to continue)
The sight of my daughters in their pajamas long after lunchtime sends my pulse into a panic. They’ve earned a moment to embrace their inner sloth after another stellar school year, but I prefer to make sure every minute of sunshine is accurately accounted for. My quest for a healthy mix of downtime and activity-time has unearthed some secrets to savoring summer. (click to continue)
“Mommy!!!!” my daughter squeaked with joy, “Can we please take Chicky home?”
On our annual fall trip to Amish country, my daughters cannot wait to jump out of the car and play with the animals at the farm we visit. Brianne has a giant tender spot in her heart for animals, and as precious as it is, we cannot adopt every animal she wants to add to the family. But, oh, how I wish we could. It’s amazing to watch my kid light up like that, and awful having to watch it break. (click to continue)
My husband and I sat across the table, aggravated as our picky daughter’s kids’ meal sat idle. The loss of us catering to her taste was starving my patience. As my volume increased, and my husband’s face turned red, God said, “Be compassionate.”
How does a disciple of Christ discipline in the face of unreasonable behavior? Prevent the angry parent fail by inserting compassion into your gut reaction. Here’s a five-step method to master those burn-a-hole-right-through-you moments of madness. (click to continue)
Parenting is a battlefield bursting with questions that beg to be answered. Thankfully, many older mothers distribute their wealth of knowledge to the next generation.
In a sea of moms willing to give advice, why are there still so many unanswered questions?
There are three big questions I tend to ask older mothers, and much wisdom to be gleaned from their answers. (click to continue)
No one ever told me how horrendous helping my children do homework would be. Even if I encouraged finished homework by Tuesday to avoid complete implosion on over-tired Thursday, the process can blow up horribly.
I’ve attempted multiple tactics: Hovering, double-checking, not checking at all, reminding when it’s due, putting it in their folder, driving it up to school when they forget, and ignoring it completely. We tried completing a little each day, all on one day, while waiting for sister at dance class, in the morning, after school… None have yielded a formula to equate homework with happiness.
In the world of “10 steps to a better (fill in the blank),” it’s easy to crave the end product of someone else’s preparation. The key is in knowing how to make it stick, especially in the realm of parenting. (click to continue)