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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.

In The Power of Christ

In The Power of Christ

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.

The Door

The Door

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

Doors, doors, doors. How many doors do we go through every single day? Just stop and think how many you’ve gone through today! If we consciously consider every single one in our homes, at work, in our cars, at the stores and doctors’ offices it really would be amazing just how many there are. 

Some doors lead to new rooms or buildings. Some are a pathway to a never before seen place. To enter, you may have to turn a knob, push a lever, or pull a handle, and yet some open automatically. Others open by pushing a button, like your garage door.

Doors come in all sizes, heights, widths, and depths. Some are strictly utilitarian, others quite ornate. They all lead somewhere, and we are continually walking through them.

The point is that doors are everywhere. They’re so prevalent that we hardly even notice them. Many of these doors we can take or leave, use or not use with very little consequence. An example would be when visiting the hospital — do I go through the standard door or the revolving door?

BUT there is another door, it’s THE Door. We must be conscious of this door every day, and aware of what it means. IT is the door that no man constructs; it is the door that God puts before us. The door to an abundant life, a life of meaning and purpose, a door to what is right and true. It’s THE door to life everlasting! AND… this door is ALWAYS open! We just have to walk through it.

Jesus has opened the lock and torn it off with His own sacrifice! IT is open, have you walked through by faith? As His child, recognize the door to abundant living He puts before you. Step through the door every day. This door leads to greater joy and meaning in life than we could ever imagine. He knows the way, so trust Him and step through!

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

By Pastor Ben Hill

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

By what name are you called? What’s in a name? The one indispensable name in all of eternity is the Name of Jesus! Of this we are certain. But beyond that, what is in a name?

Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare) is said to have opined: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

What’s in a name? I am Benjamin, Son of Reginal and Mary Ellen, Father of Brittany and Daniel, Husband of Debbie. But my name means more than that as well; I am Benjamin, Pastor, Counselor, and Teacher.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

So collectively, what name have we been given? And how important is it? We are called Christian, “little Christ”, “Christ-follower”. What’s in THAT name? Well, a whole lot! It defines us, it separates us, it should motivate and direct us! To live as “Christian” is to love as Christ loved, to serve as Christ served, to warn the lost as Christ did. To “live as Christ” is to care deeply and passionately about the souls of man.

So embrace the Name… live the Name… wear the Name with humble purpose… Christian! No matter “who” you are, remember “whose” you are, and BE like Christ!

God’s Tapestry View

God’s Tapestry View

By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)

‘The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”’
Genesis 12:1-3

Most, I’m sure, have heard the analogy that our lives are as tapestries. Viewing a tapestry on a wall, you may see a beautifully woven landscape of brilliantly intermingled color, intricate design and detailed order. And if it is displayed on the wall, it is likely completed. But, if you look at the back, you will find a different scenario. What you will see is a chaotic and jumbled mess of colored threads, hardly revealing the beautiful design just on the other side.

From above earth and above all the heavens, God sits on His mighty throne, and views our lives in a way that we can’t! He sees the finished product: what we will one day be! But from our viewpoint, we can only look up to see the other side; the countless threads of uncertainty, fear, pain and sometimes despair. We see threads, He (God) sees the tapestry! (Do yourself a favor and look up the song “Threads” written by my good friend, Eric Childers. It will bless you.)

Now concerning the context of the scripture you just read: Abram saw through his “Abram eyes.” BUT GOD saw him as Abraham, the Father of Nations — who he would one day be! Abraham was a man of character and a servant of the Almighty Father. Over time, God molded Abraham into what he became: a man who trusted God no matter what.

What about us? As you view your life and circumstance, remember that you are seeing the back side of the tapestry. But God sees you through His Son’s blood – painted, finished and a beautiful masterpiece of a tapestry. And HE calls you forgiven, redeemed, sanctified, and glorified!!

Trust God’s “Tapestry View” and don’t fear the uncertainty of the jumbled perspective we have. God’s got this!!

Where Are You?

Where Are You?

By Jane Horvath

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9

My love of cop shows started when I was 10 years old. The television program name was Car 54, Where Are You? It was a comedy that ran on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The story was about two NYC police officers based in the 53rd precinct of the Bronx. Car 54 was their patrol car. As a child, it was funny to me that no one ever seemed to know where the officers were located. The radio was constantly heard broadcasting, “Car 54, where are you?”

In Genesis 3:9, God calls out to Adam and Eve. He asks them, “Where are you?” Unfortunately, it is not funny in this instance. It is tragic, but also full of grace. God knew exactly where Adam & Eve were when He asked. They were hiding from God as a result of deception and disobedience. That is the tragic part. God was calling out to them. He was offering them a chance to confess. The confession of their sin would re-establish the relationship with Him and remove their shame. That is grace.

When we are in the middle of challenging circumstances, God wants to know where we are in our heads and our hearts. He wants to know if we are being deceived by the enemy or trusting in His plan for our lives. We need to be sure we are not hiding in shame and blame. Call out to Him and let Him know exactly where you are. He will meet you where you are. Learn to hide in His shelter, safe from the enemy (Psalm 27:5-6).

Today, God is asking, “Where are you?” He is not asking for a physical address, He wants to know where we are in relationship to Him. He is giving us the opportunity, seasoned with grace, to confess our sins without condemnation (Romans 8:1). He’s providing a chance at forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Give Him the answer to this question every moment of every day.