Social distancing is hard, isn’t it?
You see someone you know and want to hug them or at least shake hands. Even introverts like me are struggling with the knowledge that we need to stay away from our friends and neighbors indefinitely for the greater good. Because, while we might not seek out other’s company as often as some, we like to know we can.
So how do we cope with these unfamiliar limitations for however long they might last? How do we connect with and encourage each other in a way that doesn’t result in too many people in too little space?
Here are a few ideas for spreading cheer without spreading COVID-19.
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If you’re really quiet you can almost hear it: the heartbeats of those around you. People are scared. We try to distract ourselves so we get more information, thinking it will help diminish fears. But instead, fears grow.
So what do we do when we are surrounded by fear? Here are 6 ways to demonstrate faith in the midst of widespread fear:
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Do you ever wonder why Scripture tells us to count it all joy when we face various trials and tribulations in life? (James 1:2-4)
Joy is an odd response to hardship and suffering.
And yet our faith promises us that God is committed to doing good when the enemy intends harm. (Genesis 50:20)
God is committed to bringing life out of death. (Romans 4:17)
God is committed to taking every bad thing that happens to us and using it to bless us. (Romans 8:28)
Trials can be a boot camp of blessings if we allow God to have His way. Here are 8 ways God wants to bless us in the coronavirus crisis:
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Because we hold a special spot in our grandkids’ lives, we can help them enjoy the season while also still appreciating its significance. So give some serious thought to strategies for celebrating Easter in fresh, meaningful ways that will live in your grandkids’ memories for years to come.
I came across a recent post by John Onwuchekwa joking about how his time at seminary had failed to prepare him for a pastoring during a pandemic. I got a good chuckle because I imagine that it might be a course we see in the future after this!
The truth is that most pastors I know are all learning to navigate the unfamiliar waters of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the fly.
Pastoring on any other day, during any season, is not for the weak in spirit. On a good day, being the pastor of a congregation of any size will challenge you, try your faith, and test your patience. At its worst, pastoring will bring you to your knees, causing you to shake your fists toward the sky and ask, as Jesus did, “How long must I endure these people?”
But, in all seriousness, being a pastor is a wonderful privilege and calling.
During difficult and challenging seasons, like we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s natural for believers to turn to their pastors for guidance, strength, wisdom, and encouragement. It’s not uncommon for the church to take its cues from their pastor.
Pastors, however, are not exempt from the uncertainty and concern that comes with a worldwide crisis—health or otherwise. So what can pastors do during this time?
Here are 4 ways for pastors to shepherd their flocks through a global crisis, like a pandemic:
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While the term “mentoring” does not appear in the Bible, there is no question that the concept of spiritual mentoring is woven throughout its pages.
In the Old Testament for example, we read of Jethro mentoring Moses, and then Moses going on to mentor Joshua. Other instances of mentoring in the Old Testament can be found in the accounts of Elijah and Elisha, Naomi and Ruth, and Deborah and Barak just to name a few.
The same emphasis is echoed in the New Testament where many more examples of mentorship can be found--Elizabeth and Mary; Barnabas and Paul; Paul and Titus; Paul and Timothy; Priscilla, Aquilla, and Apollos; and Jesus and the disciples.
In fact, as we read the Gospels, we notice that Jesus focused much of His ministry on mentoring twelve outsiders that no one else would have given a second thought.
And in Paul’s writings, he talks repeatedly about the importance of living in community--sharing our knowledge, experience, and lives with others. He also urges modeling of the faith, teaching, and intentional training.
In the book of Titus, Paul goes so far as to admonish the older men and women to “mentor” the younger. Further, he worked throughout his ministry to create a culture of spiritual mentoring. Paul got it!
Certainly, the Bible declares the importance of spiritual mentoring. We need mentors. Our children need mentors. And even though parents are to be the primary disciplers of their family, children need spiritual community.
They need mature Christians to invest in their lives by sharing knowledge, experience, and wisdom. They need trusted adults who will model the faith and offer intentional training.
So, how do we go about locating such people? Consider these seven ways to help your children find spiritual mentors.
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Are you experiencing pandemic virus anxiety? What about fear of the flu epidemic? Maybe you’re afraid of the very possible and real devastation of upcoming natural disasters. Maybe you fear we are living in the end times. Perhaps you fear the next crisis.
After all, epidemics and disasters not only cause shortages, price gouging, and stock market plummeting, they can mean disease, destruction, and death.
Fear is everywhere. It surrounds us. Many of us are completely ruled by it, moment by moment, day after day. We’re panicked souls trapped in a maze chased by the enemy—and we don’t even realize it.
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Blind optimism says our spouse is our perfect soulmate who can do no wrong--but this only sets us up for painful disappointment. Hope and help are found in confronting the hard facts of marriage together.
Whether our roommates are believers or not, here are some ways we can show them the love of Christ and not end up wanting to tear our hair in the process.
In just a few short weeks, classification of the coronavirus (COVID-19) escalated from outbreak, to epidemic, to global pandemic; and President Trump declared an official state of emergency for the United States and its citizens. And as anyone reading this knows, the impact of this kind of global crisis extends far beyond the sickness itself.
There is not a person on this earth who hasn’t been impacted by the coronavirus, in one way or another, and right now, many people are anxious, on edge, and afraid. Some have even gone to the extreme, bunkering down and “panic purchasing” toilet paper, respiratory masks, and bottled water in preparation for the “end of the world.”
Everyone will react to crisis and fear in different ways, but in trying and uncertain times like these, how should Christians respond? When the rest of the world is afraid and loses hope, how can Christians still bring the life and love of Jesus Christ to a sick and dying world?
Here are 10 things Christians can do in faithful response to COVID-19:
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Resurrection eggs give you the tools you need to better convey the message of Easter to your kiddos. They are a great hands-on and age-appropriate way to help them understand the progression of events that led to Jesus' death on the cross and miraculous resurrection!
You can make a shift in a moment. You can change the direction of your attention back to God. You can go from heavy to light. From beaten down to filled up. From worry to worship.
This is not the final list. I’m still (and always will be) learning.
Most of what follows about leading God’s church is counterintuitive. Or, maybe better said: not what you might be expecting. But these 10 lessons were learned while leading, and hopefully will provide some support along your own journey of discovery.
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Christians often assume that if they aren’t having sex with anyone other than their spouse, then they are considered to be sexually pure.
The reality is, being sexually pure involves more than intercourse; it involves our whole person - our mind, body, heart, and even the words we speak.
One of the fastest ways to destroy a marriage is for one or both partners to give up on the fight for purity. But, how do we fight for purity in our marriages?
How do we resist temptation and protect our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts? It’s not always easy, but with guidance from God’s Word, help from the Holy Spirit, and a desire to glorify Him in all we do, we can have victory over this fight!
Below are 9 questions to discuss with your spouse in hopes of helping you fight for purity in your marriage!
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Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
This verse gives us an elementary blueprint for living a life of peace. Simple yes, yet so far from easy. Hey, nothing worth having is easy though, right?
We can take comfort in knowing that is true. Wouldn’t it be grand if we could read that scripture and something triggers our brains to excitedly, undoubtedly respond with a simple “Alright!” and then move on, doing exactly what the verse commands? What is that like? Are you laughing uncomfortably right along with me now?
Anxiety is the silent leader in mental illness, our main ‘disruptor of peace’ complaints in the United States. Out of 40 million people that are affected, it is only reported that about 37% seek treatment.
This statistic is even higher in men as 1 in every 10 men report experiencing anxiety and depression, yet less than half reported seeking treatment. Men, we’re supposed to be tough, yeah? We just need to deal with stuff and move on. How in the world do we deal with something we can’t drink away, work and play away, or talk openly about? Let’s take a walk.
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When I learn to quiet distractions and listen to God’s instruction, I will in turn become the listener my family needs. Here are a few ways we can learn to be “quick to listen” with our family.
Since you love your family, it’s only natural for you to want to share spiritual truths and blessings with them. But if they’re unreceptive, it can make you feel rejected and alone, even in a room filled with close-knit relatives.
The threats of this world are real, but we do not stand against such threats alone. Our Heavenly Father stands with us, and in Him, we can find all we need to face such times.
Sleep is needed not just for physical reasons, but for spiritual as well. Here is more encouragement to make it a priority for your family.
Here are three ingredients to keep loving one another through the years even when our spouse has changed and the feelings don’t show up.
Loving our enemies is a foreign concept. Love and enemies are words that seem mutually exclusive. Putting the two together raises questions. When the Bible tells us to love our enemies what does that mean? Who said it? Why? How?
Many who have come out to family members in the past have been abandoned, shunned, or experienced strained relationships that they fear will never mend. As Christians, we need to prevent these types of reactions. We need to be a light, a safe haven, and a loyal friend when someone comes out. We’ll catch them by surprise when we don’t immediately lash out or turn our Bibles to Leviticus, rather, we can take our concerns to God in prayer and listen for how to love.
Early parenthood is lived as a blur. The details swirl together, nights run into the daytime, sleep is in short supply, and the survival of all involved takes what feels like a massive effort.
This season can start to take a toll on your mental well-being, relationships, and ability to thrive in other aspects of your life.
When sleep is in short-supply basic tasks can start to feel overwhelming. The events of a day can start to feel fuzzy in our minds. Long-term sleep deprivation and stress can lead to difficulty in fighting off anxious thoughts, grumpiness, and depression.
While this season is a beautiful mess, it’s not a place you want to stay forever. Eventually, you want to emerge from your sweatpants, wash that unkempt hair, and regain some control over your life again.
Actively putting effort to do more than just survive as a parent is so worth it! While there is grace for these time periods in our lives, we can’t stay in “survival mode” forever.
It’s important for us to find balance between meeting the needs of our kids and feeling like we are fully functioning as people. Setting new boundaries on how you use your time is very helpful in adjusting to your new normal.
Parenthood requires that re-evaluate what is most important to us and prioritize those things.
For a while, sleep may be at the top of that priority list! Time with your spouse may take more effort than ever before. Healthy may be something you have to actively pursue.
Whatever helps you feel your best has to come first alongside caring for your family. Everything else you may need to step back from for a bit in order to find balance in this new season of life and that is totally okay.
Here are 7 ideas on how to find your new normal.
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Much of friendship involves walking alongside each other as we experience the effects of sin and disappointment in the world. This task, though overwhelming at times, has the potential to paint a beautiful picture of Jesus’ work to heal and redeem all things.
Take a look at each of the following couples from the Bible. While their marriages are far from perfect, their stories provide truly beautiful inspirations to apply to our own relationships.
Did you know that you as a Christian are called to pray for others? Interceding for others is not relegated to a few gifted people. Your conversations with God on others’ behalf can move mountains.
Pursue the ones who have found strength in God to get back up after having fallen down. Pursue the ones who have overcome the unholy ambitions of their youth. Pursue the ones who have climbed the mountain of God.
What does the word “apologetics” bring to mind? Academics arguing from podiums? Street-corner preachers? Giant tomes filled with technical theological language to make the head spin? Ancient writings in Greek or Latin from early church fathers who may have been a footnote in your world history class?
Apologetics may conjure up a variety of mental images. But at a basic level, apologetics is just a term for the reasoned defense of the Christian faith.
Let's look at five common questions about apologetics:
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Valentine’s Day. When you’re single, you dread it. When you’re dating, you look forward to it. When you’re married, you may not even celebrate it.
My 17-year-old daughter and her boyfriend were talking the other day, and he had a strong opinion about Valentine’s Day. He told her, “If you care about someone, you should show that person how you feel every day not just on one specific day.”
Sometimes teenagers are wise. But please don’t tell them I said that.
I’m taking his advice to heart. Starting in February, I’m committing to love my husband in a new way each month. The idea is to form new habits that deepen and strengthen my marriage. Maybe you’d like to join me? Feel free to run with my ideas or tweak them to work for you. You know your husband better than anyone else. And if you’ve let that slide along the way, this is a great time to invest in getting to know him better.
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Mission statements help any organization to operate according to their deepest held values. Families need one too! Use these 7 scriptures as inspiration for your own.
Satan loves it when we have questions or doubts about God, and his hope is that we’ll never find our way back. I’m more than happy to inform him that my wandering is the very thing God used to draw me closer. That Satan would even care to mess with me tells me God has something magnificent in store for my life.
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Scripture gives us beautiful couples to model our marriages after. But we are wise to look for heart, rather than checklists.
In our culture today, doing has become a badge of honor. It’s become a status symbol and the way to define ourselves.
We’ve come to believe that our worth, identity and value are tied to what we do.
It’s not true, though. It doesn’t align with the way that God defines us in His Word.
In fact, “you are what you do” is just one of seven lies we’ve come to embrace about who we are.
Why are we so quick to abandon the truth and when did we become susceptible to this particular type of deception?
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One of the easiest Valentine’s date events includes you, your significant other, and a great flick to put your feet up to. Valentine’s Day is a day celebrating love—but it doesn’t have to be full of ooey-gooey gushy love stuff (unless you want it to).
Selected here are 10 films that have a focal love story, but wouldn’t all necessarily be considered strictly romances. Some are just for you and your special someone, but some are for the entire family to enjoy.
So, grab your popcorn and the hand of someone you love, and relax to one of these 10 great films to watch for Valentine’s Day.
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Recently, l was made to feel unwelcome at a Women’s church event because my anxiety sometimes requires my husband to accompany me. My husband offered to come with me to this event because l have agoraphobia: a fear of being in open areas and public places, as well as being in crowds.
Even though men were present at the event, as waiters, ushers, and security personnel, we were given strict instructions to stay at the back of the hall and wait until everyone had sat down before finding a seat.
I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had just as much a right as any other woman present to sit where l wanted, and to participate in the evening’s program. And yet, l was being quarantined by the church, because my anxiety made me dependent on my husband’s support.
According to statistics, anxiety affects 7.3% of people globally. That means every 13th person sitting in a church pew has an anxiety disorder. And yet, many are feeling pushed away from churches, whose services and support are designed to meet the needs of a mainstream congregant demographic.
When we consider the rising percentages of mental illness sufferers and the increasing rate of suicides in church communities around the world, it is painfully apparent that the church simply cannot offer a “one experience for all” approach any longer.
Therefore, the following are 7 ways the church can stop quarantining people with anxiety:
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In light of the diversity all around us, we must learn to speak volumes with our lives at work often without saying a word. How do we do it?
5 reasons to pat yourself on the back if regular meal-sharing is a practice in your home, or 5 reasons to start making it one.
Letting God continually lead your decisions and actions requires a daily and life-long practice of placing His Way and His Word first. This can be a struggle, but it’s a struggle worth engaging in.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5-7).
Jesus came to earth to work. He modeled a balanced life. Time with His Father was a priority. He worked performing miracles and teaching, fostered relationships with friends, and took time to rest. Laziness is an aversion to work, slowing our pace and productivity. “Laziness is not the passivity it pretends to be,” writes Paul Maxwell for Desiring God, “It is active obedience to something other than Jesus Christ.”
A balanced life includes Sabbath rest or room to breathe. But Sabbath is resting with the intent on surrendering our efforts to God, not in setting goals to sit down and be idle. When we’re doing the work of the Lord, His balance produces joy both while we work and while we rest, wasting no purpose for any of it.
Media is something we must manage well in modern life if we want to remain productive and informed. And it is something we must control if we want to thrive spiritually.
Here are five lessons I've learned as a pastor to inspire your sermons. Mostly, they involve waiting on God, and never leaving the Word.
Disciplining your kids doesn't have to be a guessing game.
Galatians 5:3 tells us to use our freedom to serve one another in love. But how do we do so without getting burnt out?
Discover 5 powerful ways to keep faith over fear by trusting in God and His protection.
When people share their Christian church experiences with me—particularly those not actively connected in a local church community—I hear stories of pain. Some caused by professing believers. Some not. Often, they include a mixture of life experiences which include pain from multiple sources.
Clique isn’t usually the word used, but their stories depict a sense of not fitting in. Of not being noticed. Of feeling like it’s high school all over again because only the popular and charismatic ones make it to what’s perceived as the in-crowd.
This perception can include:
- incidents with individuals who are closed off to a select few
- people not noticing how they come across to others
- inaccurate perceptions of what’s actually happening (due to an observer’s past pains, distorted belief systems, and unhealthy expectations)
And even though it’s a perception, the reality is: small changes can make a world of welcome difference.
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We all will encounter seasons where we can’t seem to get a break and where our friends can’t seem to hit a snag in the road. But we must learn how to celebrate our friends' victories and see God's love through it all.
Drifting is never something a spouse intends. But without intentionally bringing intimacy back into the marriage, the consequences can be dire.
We crave connection with our kids, and so do they! The following questions will help you to create a sense of connection and bonding with your child.
What does it mean for men to lead their families? How should they go about doing so?
Listen to even one televised news report and fear or anxiety may capture your thoughts and grip your heart. We do not overcome the effects of ‘the news’ by denying or ignoring the evil in our world that causes such intense emotions, but rather by applying scriptural truth to circumstances and responding biblically.
But it doesn’t take a newscast to stir up fear. The enemy, Satan, wants God’s children to live in constant fear and anxiety as they stockpile worries and are burdened by cares. The Bible says such temptation is “common” to mankind (
What does the Bible say about fear and anxiety; and what might we pray to the Lord based on those Scriptures that can help us exchange toxic emotions for God’s wondrous peace? Let's begin to pray these prayers for anxiety over our thoughts and exchange fear for peace.
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Affection should be a part of ministry. It was for Paul:
“I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:8)
“being affectionately desirous of you … because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
Affection isn’t quite identical to kindness or even love. In these verses, for instance, affection involves yearning (Philippians 1:8), desire, and dearness (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
Put it this way: to do ministry well, you need to not only love people, but like them. You need to give your heart to them.
But amidst the strains and seasons of ministry, it is easy for affection to cool. Just as in a marriage, romance does not keep on happening all by itself; you have to be intentional to keep kindling it. So also pastors, we must be intentional to keep kindling affection (for instance, yearning, desire, dearness) in our ministry relationships.
How do we do it? Here are a few ideas.Photo credit: ©Unsplash/NqobileVundla
If we fail to sing in church, we are missing out on a major component of worship.
“I’ve tried more than once to get out of debt and it never seems to work. How do I develop the discipline and stay motivated to get out of debt?”
Blowing it as a parent is something we will all do at some point or another. The question is, how will you handle it?
If you’ve considered fasting but are not sure about its purpose, looking to the Bible reveals some surprising stories concerning fasting and its remarkable results. Scripture gives us examples of individuals like Daniel, Moses, and Jesus, who turned to fasting for powerful breakthroughs in their lives. Jesus urges us as well to set times aside to fast (Matthew 6:17).
Through practice and study of God’s word, we discover fasting is more than just abstaining from food, but also involves humbling one’s self before God. Biblical examples help us understand why and how we should fast.
Below are 4 prayers for powerful breakthroughs focusing on fasting for preparation, understanding, facing temptation, and God’s mercy.
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The New Year's issue of a magazine captured my heart. The cover was a picture of newly fallen snow with one little pine sprig popping up in the middle. It looked like hope!
American culture functions in ways that often marginalize people with disabilities. Imagine the challenges of being a wheelchair user and traveling by plane, or being a blind person placing an order at a restaurant. The obstacles can be daily for those with disabilities to partake in even the most common activities. Church is no exception, and oftentimes, people with disabilities experience church to be a difficult place to get connected.
It is estimated that less than 2% of deaf people in America have a relationship with Jesus, according to statistics from Gate Communications. The opportunity is ripe to help people with disabilities find their home in a local church. It is possible to host specific events for people with disabilities and make adjustments so that church can be a more welcoming place. Here are five ways churches can reach out to and make modifications for people with disabilities.Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/KristinaPaparo
The most fundamental lesson any child can learn about finances—even more important than saving—is the lesson of giving.
Your time is priceless, and your grandkids will thrive because of your willingness to snuggle with them or make their favorite pie. Here are six ways you can brighten your grandkid's bad day at school.
Days are short, and we are busy. Carving out time to spend Sundays in a church community may seem impossible. I know because I’ve missed quite a few in my thirty-six years, which is why I’m the perfect person to offer some reasons to never miss one.
I grew up going to church and believed in Jesus at a young age, but during my young adult life I thought I had better things to do on Sundays. I wandered, thinking I was invincible and in control of my destiny. On the surface, I was doing okay. I didn’t get into trouble with the law. I worked and paid my bills. I tried to be kind and encouraging to those around me.
But my insides were anything but okay. It wasn’t until God used events like my tough marriage, parenthood, a bankruptcy, and a failed business to reorient my life back to Him that I became healthy internally as well. A big part of getting healthy involved my church attendance, so I know the power of sitting in those rows.
Here are my 10 reasons to never miss a Sunday:
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It’s that time of year again. We make resolutions because we want to bring change to bear on our circumstances. But what would a set of New Year’s resolutions look like for you and your church, your role as a leader, or simply as someone who wants to live a life of strategic Kingdom investment?
If you could use some extra wiggle room in your budget, here are just a few ways to save money throughout the year.
This January, join hearts and hands and determine to start – and finish – this new year as a united team.
Why did Jesus create the church, and what is its function? More specifically, what should your local church be doing if it is going to fulfill its purpose and mission?
It's a different world than the one you grew up in, which means your children have different needs. Read these 7 lessons you need to be intentional about teaching them.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the eternal life we can find in Him. In prayer, give thanks to God for so loving the world that He gave His only Son this Christmas! May these Christmas prayers help you express gratitude for Jesus and rejoice in the blessing of His salvation.
As we approach the holiday season, we are faced with yet another opportunity to pause in the midst of all the excitement, decorations, and commercialization, to consider again the origin of Christmas--the One whose birth we celebrate. Let's not forget the true meaning of why we celebrate during this time of year. Celebrate the baby Jesus and trust Him as Savior today.
We hope these Christmas prayers bring you joy and gratitude. May God bless you and your family this Christmas season!
Surrounded by the busyness of parenting, it’s no wonder to me that Jesus had to withdraw after meeting multitudes on his travels. We’ll never know exactly what it was like for Jesus, but amongst all the cooking, cleaning, planning, parenting, attending to my relationships... I can start to relate.
“But the news about Jesus spread all the more, and great crowds came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray” (Luke 5:16).
Even the Savior needed quietude.
Our Savior, strong and wise, filled with love and compassion for the lost, needed to withdraw to the wilderness to pray. Jesus sought places of solitude to pray and to express His deep reliance on our Father in Heaven.
How much more do we imperfect humans need to prioritize time alone with God?
Mark 1:35 also shares this example that Jesus set: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Jesus gained much from His time alone with the Father.
When we retreat to be alone amongst our crazy lives, we too can pray to God.
Even if we don’t see a miracle happen from every single time we pray, even if we don’t see God’s answers materialize right before our very eyes, even if our circumstances don’t change one single iota after we pray, there are many other benefits that can be gained from consistent time spent in solitary prayer.
If Jesus set this example for us, he did it for a good reason. Here are 7 proven benefits of daily prayer.
It’s intimidating to step into a church filled with strangers. It’s even harder when one’s single and most of those strangers are attached.
When first married, I often attended church alone. Surrounded by couples and families, I felt lonely, out of place, and ignored...
...Like I didn’t belong.
I was reminded of this time when, nearly two decades later, our adult daughter began searching for a church home. As she walked into one worship center after the other and glanced around, all she saw were families. Was there no place for her?
Her experience isn’t unique. In a faith culture that often caters to young couples and families, the rapidly growing single population often feel excluded and overlooked.
Here are ways the church can speak love and acceptance to the not-marrieds among us.
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Some words of wisdom are simply unforgettable. Here are five of the most useful bits of preaching advice I’ve ever been given. May they inspire you as well.
If you are sensing a disconnection with your spouse, request that they sit down with you and ask yourselves a few questions. Do you and your spouse see any of the following warning signs occurring in your marriage?
Let’s toss out the glossy trappings of the magazine spreads, and follow God’s example of making sending love the core of the holiday.
We've all heard not-so-comforting things said to us in our times of grief. Here are 6 phrases you should say instead to be a place of hope and comfort.
A couple of years ago, while speaking at a ladies’ Christmas event, something unexpected happened. I had planned to read portions of the Christmas story from Matthew 2 and Luke 2. But as I began to read from my open Bible, I discovered I did not need it.
The words flowed from memory—KJV style.
Here’s the truly amazing part: I’ve never worked to memorize those sections of Scripture. The passages were imbedded in my heart simply because my father read them to our family every Christmas Eve. My dad desired to keep our hearts and minds on the real meaning of Christmas. And God honored his commitment to impress God’s truth on his children (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
Although my husband and I intentionally worked to have a positive spiritual influence on our children, I know we also missed many opportunities to impact them with the truth. Often, the demands of daily life derailed good intentions. Sometimes, we allowed the urgent to overshadow the more important.
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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.
“In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:1-6).
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We're not only permitted but commanded to sing, dance, and exalt the name of God. Artists, however, will tell you – it’s easy to cross the line where worship becomes performance. So, when preparing to lead worship, here are six facets to consider.
"This year I’ve decided to get serious about getting out of debt. What are some tangible ways I can make real progress?"
Your husband takes on the role of being spiritual leader, protector, and provider. He deserves some recognition for being an every day hero!
Looking to forgive someone and get free of bitterness and pain? Here are six biblical steps toward true forgiveness.
As our kids face doubts, temptation, and fear, God knows we feel inadequate to help. How can we give thanks when we’re frustrated and helpless as moms and dads?
Loneliness is sneaky and can creep in even when we aren’t dissatisfied with our spouse. Read on to see 5 practical ways to kick loneliness out of your marriage.
Ryan Duncan is editor of Crosswalk.com
Black Friday is that infamous time of year when we forget everything we learned the day before about gratitude, and go stark raving mad for things. Most people know what to expect at a Black Friday sale, some might even enjoy the chaos.
However, for those looking to avoid the usual frenzy, here are 10 things to do on Black Friday besides shop.
Wondering if your prayers of thanksgiving are from a heart of faith? Here are 3 dos and don'ts of thankfulness.
What does Scripture say about living together before marriage? What myths about cohabitation does God's heart break down?
Don’t be stingy with your stuffing. Don’t be tight with your turkey legs. Generously serve without grumbling. When considering how to host this Thanksgiving, you might be inspired by Abigail (who we read about in 1 Samuel 25).
Whether we extend a warm smile, a listening ear, or a sweet compliment—or hop on a plane to Africa to share the Good News of Jesus—God is quick to lift you out of your pit of despair when you show love to people. Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
It's okay to feel sad at Thanksgiving. But if you're ready for the clouds to lift, here are three suggestions that can help transform your sadness into thankfulness.
"Do not be anxious about anything" Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6. Sounds easy until the moment hits like a train and every ounce of peace disappears from your mind. How are Christians commanded to not care or not have concern of things? What does really expect us to do in times of trial, confusion and unrest?
Levels of anxiety peaked when PTSD settled in. Every nerve seemed ready to burst out of my skin at any moment. I couldn’t settle the sensation down. Friends attempted encouragement through words, prayer, and scripture. I tried much of the same. No matter how many soothing moments I experienced, the effects didn’t stick.
While truth impacted my soul, I still felt jumpy. Worship music ministered comfort to my heart, and I believed God was working through it all— but my body didn’t get the memo. Have you ever felt like this?
It’s easy to feel like you’ve failed as a Christian when Christian deeds don’t instantly make everything better. For some reason, people like me believe the right path will get us to the outcomes we want. As a result, we place expectations on ourselves and God that aren’t realistic. When our carefully chosen plans don’t result in full and lasting relief, defeat clings.
Choices are important, but they aren’t the full picture. Unattended trauma resides in bodies unaware. Stressful and painful incidents accumulate.
Sometimes, even though you know Philippians 4:6; you can’t “not be anxious.’ What then? Here are seven helpful tips on how you can live without being anxious:
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Worshiping God should happen in every aspect of our lives--not just while we sit in church pews. The beautiful news is that worshiping with your spouse not only supports your intimacy with God, but also with eachother.
Type the question “Who is Jesus?” into your computer search bar, and you’ll find 622,000,000 results. That’s well over half a billion answers!
Christians know there is so much more to Jesus than what’s found on the Internet, but how do we explain Jesus in a way that is simple enough to be clear, yet scripturally rich enough to be compelling?
Here are ten suggestions for explaining who Jesus is to a non-believer. The first five suggestions discuss how to share Jesus; the last five discuss what to share about Jesus.Photo Credit: Unsplash/KellySikkema
Frozen family relationships are so multilayered and can happen over so many years that reconciliation can ever be possible. But even if the other person doesn't budge, you can still be sure you are pleasing God with how you treat them--and nothing softens hearts like the love of Christ.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
It’s no surprise that the enemy of God turned up in the Garden of Eden. Satan knew that if he could cause division between husband and wife, and their Creator, it would be a small win for him.
What the enemy didn’t understand then, and continues to forget now, is that the mighty power of God can overcome any division in marriage. For when two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus, He is with them. By His strength, every couple can fight the enemy and succeed.
No matter how that ancient serpent—the devil—is attacking your marriage today, you can fight back. Here are 7 commitments married couples can make to fight the enemy together:Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet
Here are 7 ways God can work mightily through husbands to bring healing from child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse to their wives.
The deeper question for believers affected by 'disordered eating' is not only how did this issue become so pervasive, but does God have anything to say about it?
God’s grace, coupled with effective medical treatment, is the most powerful way to cure the invisible injuries that PTSD inflicts on survivors of traumatic events.
We were pulling into the parking lot of my church when the DJ mentioned a controversy surrounding a burgeoning Christian recording artist. Apparently, she had appeared on a popular daytime talk show and there was an uproar about it. I was waiting to hear what had happened on the show that caused such a stink. What did she do?
Then I realized, with sinking dread, she didn’t do anything. Nothing happened. There was no incident, per say. Her crime was just showing up. Because, you see, the talk show host is gay.
My heart sank.
Are we reading the same Bible? I know what Scripture says about that issue and let me be clear, I’m not here to debate or deny that.
But who did Jesus hang out with?
To love the lost like Jesus, we need to move in closer.
Some read the story of the widow giving two small coins all wrong (Mark 12:42). Some see it as Jesus okaying giving the Lord next to nothing. Truth is, He is applauding the woman for giving her all to God.
As you open your eyes to the world around you, be prepared for God to enlarge your world and your heart through the immigrants and refugees He brings into your life.
Christmas lights, music, and decorations bring brightness to home and family. It makes my heart happy to “sprinkle” Christmas through every corner of my house. I love the family movie nights with special Christmas treats, and I adore the month-long party celebrating Jesus’ birth. But it takes a massive amount of energy to plan and execute this type of Christmas, so it makes sense to start in November.
But Christmas preparations can overshadow Thanksgiving. Soon Thanksgiving turns into a day to relax and watch football. Or it’s a time to plan a strategy to score the best of the Black Friday shopping deals. And neither of these are wrong ways to spend Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving is so much more than that. It’s a time to remember.
Tattoos are more popular than ever. Currently one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo (21percent) which is up from the 16 percent and 14 percent who reported having a tattoo in 2003 and 2008, respectively, by the Harris Poll. Entertainers, professional athletes, and even a 2009 version of Barbie, have multiple, and very visible, tattoos. With such prevalence and rising interest, Christians rightfully ask what the Bible says about tattoos.
The short answer is...nothing. At least nothing definitive. The Bible makes no specific reference to tattoos as we understand them in modern times. Some Christians condemn all tattooing as immoral because God clearly forbids them in Leviticus 19:28. Since the word tattoo does appear in this verse in some popular English translations, this argument seems straightforward. For example, the NIV reads, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”
Other Christians say this passage no longer applies to us because it is Old Testament law, and not for Christians. If you go online to try to answer the tattoo question, you’ll see both approaches and contradictory conclusions. Both of these approaches, however, are misleading because, as we will see, the answer to the tattoo question is that the Bible has nothing clear to say about the practice of injecting ink under the skin to form permanent pictures, patterns or messages—a.k.a. tattooing.
Whether you love it or hate it, Halloween is a great time for Christians to do more than stock up on candy: it’s a time to talk to our kids about how to bring light into a dark world.
You’ll notice that these topics aren’t firmly in either the “for” or “against” camp when it comes to the practice of celebrating Halloween. That’s because, in my opinion, questions about whether Christians should decorate, celebrate, read particular books, or dress up in certain ways on October 31st or any other time of year are applications of much broader questions, like how people of faith approach death, fear, the supernatural world, and our testimony to others.
The discussion-starters below are just ideas meant to prompt you to bring up other related questions—even better, ask your kids what they’ve wondered about related to Halloween, the occult, magic, and what the Bible says about these topics. That way, they’ll know that no subject is off-limits. Christian families should be able to discuss anything from a biblical worldview, and it’s the best place for conversations like that to happen!
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Though unintentional, sometimes we can make others feel insecure. If we're aware of some of the ways it’s possible, we can be more sensitive. Here are 6 ways to be helpful.
Where does the phrase "your body is a temple" come from? Why does the matter for Christians?
Your kids are nearing that age where romance seems a little less yucky and somewhat intriguing. Don’t assume that just because they don’t talk to you about that they aren’t thinking about it!
As parents, we need to be prepared to help guide our kids in their thinking about dating, courtship, and marriage. Remember, your kids are your disciples and it’s vital that you help them think Biblically about marriage and choosing a spouse.
Unfortunately, the world lies to our kids about three basic aspects of marriage: marriage isn’t necessary, marriage isn’t forever, and marriage isn’t just between a man and a woman. Let’s dig a little deeper into what messages our kids are receiving from these lies.Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet
Grief is a personal journey. No can tell you how to grieve, or for how long. But by the grace of God, here are 4 encouragements that can transform your grieving into worship.
I glanced around the crowded restaurant searching for words but to my embarrassment, my mind was blank. I was sitting across from my husband, but I felt like I was on a blind date with someone I barely knew. It was our first kid-free night out together in the better part of a year and although I had been looking forward to the night, it had taken an unexpected turn.
In an attempt to take advantage of the small window of time we had together, my husband had suggested we not talk about our jobs or our children but instead just focus on enjoying each other’s company. Only four minutes into our kid-and-work-free conversation, here we were, awkwardly fumbling through a conversation about the weather.
How could we have nothing else to talk about? We’d been a couple for almost a decade, we were raising three kids and balancing ministry and career together. We were pros at running the bedtime routine, packing lunches, and checking homework. We’re even decent at coordinating our weekly schedules. But when all of that was off-limits and we were left to just talk about us, the conversation was shallow and dare I even say, uncomfortable.
We want open discussion until someone's opinion differs. Then we form a wall around our heart. So how do we break this cycle and empower each other instead? We practice the element of 'platinum faith' that responds instead of reacts.
It's just a fact of life that couples will fight. But these fights don't have to damage the relationship! Instead, they can even strengthen it.
You’ve had an idea for a long time of something you would really like to do. It tugs at the back of your mind in quiet moments when you’re driving, jogging, cooking, walking, gardening, or waking up in the morning. But you’re not sure if it's something God wants you to do. How can you know without a doubt that God will be on this big adventure with you?
I was in a similar position while in seminary. I was sure God had me enroll but I wasn’t sure what He wanted me to do when I graduated. I was working on a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership with a focus on equipping the laity, but I had no idea what to do with that degree when I finished.
I was confident it would be something in the business world since I had an MBA and was working in management. The only caveat I gave the Lord was “Please don’t ask me to work in women’s ministry,” where I had no gifts or interests—or so I thought.
Looking back, I see the Lord took me through the following 10 steps to guide me into the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken in my life. I trust that these steps will help you, too as you contemplate acting on your “stretch” idea that seems impossible but you just can’t shake.
Do you have your leap of faith in mind? Here are 10 steps to help you determine if your leap of faith is in God’s will:
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Cultivating an attitude of gratitude will change your life.
That’s a bold statement but it’s backed up by science, experience and God’s Word.
Studies show that giving thanks actually changes our brain. Practicing gratitude has been shown to make us happier, sleep better, stress less, and even recover from certain illnesses more quickly.
I’ve seen incredible benefits of gratitude in my own experience. After my husband died and I became a sudden widow and single mom, I desperately needed to see good when life felt so bad.
I began intentionally thanking God each day. And while my circumstances didn’t change, my heart did.
I began to see God’s hand all around me. I saw His personal and practical love for me. I realized that even in my deep loss I’d been greatly blessed, and I began to treasure the simple, ordinary things in life.
Of course, the results of studies and experience shouldn’t surprise us because the Bible is full of verses that tell us about the power of gratitude.Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Sergei Akulich
Jesse and I have been on a mission for the last couple of years to be completely debt-free by the time we are 33.
We were following the Dave Ramsey method for quite a long time, but as life got more busy, we became far too relaxed with our spending money and weren’t being as wise as we should have been with our finances. We were ready to start fresh!
I recently shared on my Instagram Stories that the amount of money we were spending (specifically on food) literally made me sick to my stomach.
I honestly avoided looking over my bank statements for a while because I knew how reckless we were being with our money, but once we finally did, it was a huge eye-opener. Over the past two months, we have implemented these six tips listed below. And in less than 60 days, we have cut our spending money completely in half!
It has been such a huge blessing to us (and to our savings accounts.) Although it takes self-discipline, we feel so much better that we are putting away so much more for our family.
Here are six tips to help you cut your spending money in half:
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As a believer, how do you resist the urge to pretend or play the social media game to win people over? How do you use social media instead of it using you?
What if we altered our thinking about hospitality as one of “entertaining” to that of “relationship”?
Anxiety is both a mental health issue and spiritual issue. Here is how Christians can deal with their anxiety with God.
When we recognize our is in an eternal being created by God, for God, in God’s image, and fully known and loved by God, we are more able to see the soul of the person behind the behavior.
Intimacy—“into me see”-- requires safety and vulnerability, but to be vulnerable means you must trust the other person. You must know them and base your decisions on that knowledge. Trust is based on truth.
Are women supposed to be all-tolerating doormats? Can we express anger and yet not sin?