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Earthquake Proof

Earthquake Proof

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.
Coram Deo: In His Presence

Coram Deo: In His Presence

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.

Nothing is Impossible: Guarded Heart Ministries

Nothing is Impossible: Guarded Heart Ministries

“For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1”37).

This is the verse that drives Luanne Botta, founder of Guarded Heart Ministries, both in life and in ministry to women and teens.

Luanne came to know Jesus at 22, after spending time in the party scene. Several years later, she began serving in ministry. She served as a leader of a women’s ministry at her local church for many years. Serving women is one of Luanne’s passions. She knows what it’s like to experience weariness in her walk with Christ. As she serves other women she hopes they will find the encouragement to keep going. God has not left them and He is not done yet.

With God nothing is impossible.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Luanne was a teacher in a Christian high school for 17 years. During the 2nd week of her first year, a senior girl came to her for help. The student told Luanne that she was having sex with her boyfriend. Through tears, she admitted that she no longer wanted to do that. Luanne’s heart-broke for this girl. Over the course of the next 17 years, Luanne continued to hear the same story day after day. She realized that God was bringing these students to her in their brokenness.

“On a daily basis, the Lord brought one teenager after another into my office crying out for the truth about their relationship with the opposite sex,” Luanne says.

Luanne saw that these teens needed two things. First, they needed Jesus – His grace and His love. Second, they needed someone who would boldly teach them how to fight against their culture by walking in sexual integrity. God was calling her to be that person.

Luanne began to speak to her students about Jesus. She showed her students that their hearts were really longing for Jesus. Her students began to understand how God saw them. They began to realize that they were worth waiting for and how much God loved them. The importance of purity began to make more sense in light of their relationship with Jesus. Luanne challenged her students to rebel against their culture.

With God nothing is impossible.

Teaching her students about purity in light of the gospel has led Luanne to write 2 books. Young Hearts. Pure Lives reminds young women of how God sees them, how much He loves them, and that they are worth waiting for. The Warrior Within challenges young men to embrace their identity in Christ and pursue sexual integrity. In both books, Luanne uses the Word to deal with issues facing both teenage girls and boys. She is unafraid to deal head first with the tough issues that others avoid, such as pornography and sexting.

Luanne continues to minister to both teens and women today. A move from Pittsburgh to South Carolina has given her more opportunities to do both. Through Guarded Heart Ministries, she is often invited to speak at high schools around the Upstate. She recently had the opportunity to speak at the Beautifully Broken conference, hosted by Life In Abundance.  Life In Abundance is thrilled to partner with Guarded Heart Ministries to present an upcoming workshop for parents and teachers on September 25, 2020. Details for that upcoming event will be posted on both websites.

With God nothing is impossible.

Luanne’s hope is that in the next 5 years teens and parents across the country will be using her books. She wants to see teens all over America choosing to trust in Jesus and choose purity. It is a tough battle. There have been many times she’s wanted to quit, but God keeps her going. She believes it is through His power alone that this battle will be won.

With God nothing is impossible.

Freedom to Feel

Freedom to Feel

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.

Asking the “Whys” of God

Asking the “Whys” of God

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.