By Mandy Bentley
I spent many years as a carriage tour guide in Charleston, SC. There was one house on the tour route called the Earthquake-proof house. The foundation of the house was built on a bed of palmetto logs.
Palmetto trees are spongy and porous, which is why they can withstand hurricanes. They can bend with the wind and are rarely uprooted under extreme pressure from the forces of nature surrounding it.
The reasoning behind building a home’s foundation on a bed of palmetto logs was that if there was an earthquake, the shock of the quake would be absorbed in the log and prevent extensive damage to the home. It worked for Fort Moultrie during the Revolutionary War. The palmetto logs absorbed the cannonballs and prevented damage to the fort. This is why the Palmetto Tree is South Carolina’s state tree.
When an earthquake occurs, it starts from deep within the core of the earth. There is an unsettling and then a shifting which forces shock waves to the surface of the earth. These shock waves first reach the foundation of a building. Then, that shock moves up to shake the entire building.
If the foundation is strong it can withstand the shock. If it isn’t strong, then the shock causes the building to crumble, or at the very least, to be severely damaged. Before there is even a chance to stabilize the building after an initial earthquake, there is usually an aftershock. At times these aftershocks can be known to last for days.
Today on my morning beach walk there was a Palmetto log that had washed ashore. It reminded me of the Earthquake-proof house and how mighty and strong those trees are. Able to absorb the massive shock of an earthquake and save the structure it supports. We should be like these trees in regards to our faith…“but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13.
To stand firm means to remain steadfast in conviction despite attack or efforts to persuade. No matter what rocks our foundation, we stand firm in our faith because we are rooted in Him. Those “shocks” are going to come, whether it be one big one or many smaller ones. Standing firm means that in every attack we do not waver. God’s Word says that if we can do that, the end will be sweet for us. I choose to stand firm, earthquake-proof.
Photo by Andrew Martin from Pixabay.
By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permisison)
During my high school years, I attended a Boarding School. I remember one particular day when I was walking in the hallway during class. I was with a young lady that I wanted to impress, so of course I was acting cool. We were singing made-up lyrics to a popular song about our school president, Mr. Hubert Smothers and other office personnel.
I was heartily singing this made up song, “Ms. Scarlett don’t dance, and Hubert don’t rock-n-roll…” As I rounded a corner, I walked headlong into, you guessed it, Mr. Smothers!
I’ll never forget him saying, “Benjie! What do you think you are doing young man?!?” It was certainly a rhetorical question. As a high school student, it seemed as if Hubert Smothers was omnipresent; he had a habit of just “showing up”!
What’s the point? Coram Deo is a Latin term for something that takes place in the presence of God or before the face of God. When we begin to understand the omnipresence of God, it is to recognize that no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, God is ALWAYS with us. There is nowhere we can go to escape His presence.
As it says in Psalm 139:8, “If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”
Come to think of it, why would we ever want to escape His presence? Why not embrace it and learn to live “Coram Deo” – IN His presence?!
Take the time to read the 15th Chapter of John. To “abide” in Him is to be at home there, to be relaxed and comfortable there. It’s when we can make that a natural part of our daily life that we will genuinely experience the full blessing of His presence. To live Coram Deo is to live our entire existence in the presence of, under the authority of, and in the glory of God! There is no better way to live!
Photo by Daniel Reche from Pixabay.
Next month, we are offering a group called Abiding in Christ. Group leader Kirby King agrees that abiding can look like many different things. Click here to read her in her own words What Abiding is NOT.
By Karen Baloy
Dr. Caroline Leaf’s ‘Brain Detox Program’ is designed to help you rid your mind of toxic thinking patterns and replace them with healthy thinking patterns. Dr. Leaf explains that the most important thing is to be honest about how you are feeling. Unfortunately, Christians sometimes feel guilty about being honest about negative feelings.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul encourages us to take everything to God in prayer — including complaints, petitions, thanksgiving and praise. In the Psalms, David does all of this.
One of my favorite things about David is his candor with God. He was considered to be a man after God’s heart and was so expressive with his language. I had spent years burying my feelings. It wasn’t until after reading several Psalms and learning about David that I finally felt the freedom to explore all of my personal feelings with God.
Psalm 64 starts with David petitioning, “O God, listen to my complaint. Protect my life from my enemies’ threats.” Most of us can relate to David’s pain of having nasty things said about him. You can hear the fear in his voice when he pleads in verse two, “Hide me from the plots of this evil mob, from this gang of wrongdoers.” That is raw honesty. God encourages us to be honest. (It isn’t as if He doesn’t know our situation anyway.) In fact, He loves honesty. God wants to be engaged in our lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly. What freedom!
The other major lesson we can learn by reading about David’s life is he understands the importance of handing his problems over to God. David allows God to handle the situation in Psalm 64 as evidenced in verse seven, “But God himself will shoot them with his arrows, suddenly striking them down.” Lastly and most importantly, David closes most of his psalms by encouraging everyone to praise God.
I’m now trying to apply David’s strategy to my daily life. I do it by acknowledging my feelings, discussing them with God, handing over what I cannot control to Him, and praising Him for His faithfulness. King David is such a great example of how we should engage God!
Photo by Jackson David from Pixabay.
In The Power of Christ, Mom and Dad, Take a Stand!
By Luanne Botta
A year ago I was teaching a group of high school girls at a Christian school. We were talking about the sexual culture we are living in and their greatest concern was, “How in the world do we navigate between the voices of the world and the truth of God’s Word?” They were so hungry to hear answers on how to walk out their remaining high school years with integrity and character in one of the most vital areas…sexual integrity.
We spoke about how the entertainment industry lures their generation through the selling of desire, making it confusing to both them and their guy friends on how to handle the sexual onslaught coming at them on a daily basis. Once they understood their value as young women of God and their true worth, we had an amazing breakthrough in this area of their hearts.
“Despite what the culture says, self-control – not self-indulgence – frees you from a broken heart, shattered emotions, and spiritual detachment. Unfortunately, many Christian teens have been deceived and bought the lie that they don’t need to control their desires for sex but to indulge them. You are told, “You’re just being a kid,” or Who cares, it’s no big deal,” or “What’s wrong with you? It’s a natural thing, what are you waiting for.” (Young Hearts. Pure Lives./Chapter 2 – You Are Worth Waiting For.)
May I speak to you directly as parents? The Lord has gifted you with your children. He has given you a calling and commitment far beyond any job you will ever have. You are undoubtedly faced with the challenge to bring them up in today’s culture that is spinning out of control and it can be exhausting. However, it is imperative that you are closely involved in your child’s life, staying active in what they watch and the friends they choose. You are their greatest influence and they will respond to what you allow or don’t allow.
I want to assure you…this is NOT a losing battle! We are in a battle where Jesus is Lord! “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Psalm 127:1. He has your family in His control and He is crazy about your kids!
I have been in youth ministry for over 25 years and I have had the unique opportunity to minister to hundreds of high school teenagers, both guys and girls. I have seen first-hand that they want to understand and emulate true love’s design including respect, honor, value, commitment, and deep intimacy.
If I can give you one major tool as a parent in this culture it is Be A Watchman! A watchman stands watch, sounds an alarm/warning and guards the home. You are in the fight for your family and you are your child’s greatest role model. You are not their friend; that will come once they start their careers and their own families. Parent them now, that is what they need to navigate this culture that is attempting to deceive them.
Please understand that your prayers move heaven and you set the tone for your home. You are stewarding unto the Lord and you will find that His Word is a powerful guide. Specifically, the book of Proverbs is a wonderful tool to give you wisdom and direction to lead your teen through this journey.
It is so easy to let the entertainment industry raise your kids, especially when you’re exhausted, but it is important to always be on-guard. I highly recommend no TV’s in the bedrooms, otherwise teens will retreat to their “cave” and be influenced by the culture rather than parents. Another suggestion is to not allow cell phones in the bedrooms when going to bed. The almost guaranteed negative influence can happen fast without detection.
A problem parents are currently voicing across the globe is how much time they should allow their teen to spend on social media. It is a balance that is needed. Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok…these influences don’t come without consequences. And particularly with the overwhelming onslaught of human trafficking coming through social media, it needs to be monitored and balanced. Yes, parenting is demanding, but your children need you so much in these years, even if they act like they don’t want your opinion or rules. They are desperate to feel safe and your rules make them feel safe and make them feel loved, no matter how much they challenge you.
“He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” Proverbs 13:18
You are their watchman at the gate. Take your stand against this cultural onslaught and love them through truth and boundaries. You are not alone in this fight: there are thousands of parents just like you. Pray for your kids and over your kids. They ultimately belong to the Lord. He will guide you through all of the joys, rebellion, heartache and victories.
I want to cheer you on and encourage you to stand! Then, keep Standing! Run to the Lord and He will give you the wisdom you need to raise your child. This is a promise.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
In all her years of experience with teenagers, God compelled Luanne Botta to author two books for high school students: one for girls and one for guys. Both books contain many topics that teen deals with through their high school years, including the media selling of seduction, wisdom in friendships, the battle of sexting, importance of a personal quiet time, a godly character and sexual integrity. A professor from Regent University in Virginia Dr. Rick Nugara described the books like this: “There has never been a generation more at risk nor has there ever been a more timely message.”
For resources to help your teen, visit the author’s website at luannebotta.com.
Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
By Emma Reaney
A version of this article was first posted on Start Your Day with Emma Clae.
I really struggle with asking God why. Big time.
I’ve had moments when I get really angry at God because oftentimes, I don’t understand Him. For a long time I didn’t understand why he gave me an eating disorder. I didn’t understand why I was having such a difficult first semester of college during freshmen year. I didn’t understand why I had to see my family hurting at times, especially when there was nothing I could do. Sometimes I just don’t know why God does the things He does.
It makes me mad. So unbelievably mad. And I’m writing this during one of those “mad” times. Right now, I find myself asking “Why God?” and “Why the heck is this part of your plan?” and “What good is going to come out of this?” ***Disclaimer: I wrote this post about a month ago and am just now posting it so I’m no longer “unbelievably mad.”***
I don’t like His timing, I don’t like His plan, and I don’t like the way He is supposedly working in our lives. But you know what? Sometimes we aren’t supposed to like His plan. It may take months or even years before we finally understand why God did what He did…Click here to continue reading.