Serving is not about waiting tables at church. But it is about sharing food, handing out coffee, giving a smile, and using your skills and gifts to help, encourage, and support the people around you. Serving is about volunteering your time and talents to fill a need. If you are an extrovert you...
When they saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. “It's a ghost!” they said, and screamed with fear. Jesus spoke to them at once. “Courage!” he said. “It is I. Don't be afraid!” (Matthew 14:26-27) How are you dealing with your fears so far this...
We are the Fishers - Steve, Carolyn, Ellie & Micah. Our family has participated in the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection for many years. We have packed shoeboxes for so long that the kids don't remember a time when we didn't pack them. Ellie & Micah love to shop for...
As a teacher of a Christian faith-based preschool, I teach virtues as a way of encouraging young children’s moral development as well as modeling the very characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ. During the month of November, the virtues of thankfulness and generosity are emphasized. For...
Christmas gifts in shoe boxes given to children all over the world. What a neat idea! Who came up with this idea? Those were my questions many years ago, when I first came across this awesome program that brought joy, happiness and laughter to kids all across the world. What is so interesting...
The Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Shoebox Program is amazing, but if you think it is only about giving gifts at Christmas to needy children in the far reaches of the world you are greatly underestimating the power of a Shoebox. My family wasn’t going to church when we were first...
As we talk about becoming a worshiping community of 5,000, it's not for ego -it's because there are 100,000 who don't know Jesus! We're not just gong to sit on the sidelines and watch them go to hell in disbelief...get out of the boat! (Matthew 14:22-33) Nothing glorifies God more than...
When bad things happen to me, I feel sorry for myself. I interpret it as evidence of God's absence. His lack of favor, my inadequacy, and being cursed really. But when I read what God says to do, it reframes the bad with the good. James 1:2-6 says, "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and...
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John...
Full disclosure: I do not always have time set aside in my day to read the Bible and have a concentrated amount of prayer. It’s actually one of the main things I’m often convicted of. It is an area that I’m repeatedly asking forgiveness for and repeatedly committing to do...
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
We all have the choice to hold the hammer, to pick up a nail and drive it into the hand of the son of God. Every time we choose our way, our sinful desires, our selfish wants, we drive a nail in the hand of the Savior. Every time we say “no” to God and his will for our lives we are the voice in the crowd yelling “crucify him!”
If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that there is something in us that is offended by Jesus. God’s will always will offend our human nature.
But God chose to sacrifice his son on the cross to allow Jesus to be IN US.
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
“God made him who had no sin to BE sin FOR us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
When we come face to face with the will of God and the sacrifice of his son, we can choose to respond in one of two ways…
Reject his will and purpose for our lives. OR accept that his will and sacrifice is where we find our lives.
Until we are gladly yielding our will to Jesus; we’re actively opposing God’s work in the world.
Are you letting God’s will be louder than yours?
Are you living Jesus GLADLY or killing off his work in the world?
It’s time for us, his church to BE his work in the world.
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In February, The Church at Severn Run hosted a Royal Father Daughter Ball and the results were fantastic. Over two-hundred and fifty golden tickets were sold to church members and members of the surrounding kingdom. On the night of the ball, the young ladies were escorted to the ballroom, entering on a red carpet where they received enchanting tiaras fit for a royal.
From there, each proud king was announced by name while presenting his princess for the entire court to see. Culinary masters (AKA mothers of the young princesses) from all over the realm came together to create a dining experience that none would soon forget.
Dinner was served, lemonade flowed freely and once everyone had had their fill of the main courses, the vast table of cupcakes was unveiled. Chocolate, strawberry and vanilla cupcakes all topped with a rich icing made the evening even more magical. Competitions were held, and the princesses were delighted to see their royal fathers dancing to songs such as Can’t Stop the Feeling! and Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae). There was dancing, there was singing and each of those beautiful young ladies was absolutely beaming.
Now, while the ball was a huge success, let’s take a second to talk about the reason things like father/daughter dances are so popular right now.
Dads, you are so SO important in your precious little girls’ eyes. You are her hero. You are her love. You are her Daddy.
Life easily gets busy and chaotic; we as parents get so bogged down dealing with everyday trials that it can be easy to forget how much your daughters need you to invest in them. The relationship between father and daughter is so sweet. I am not saying that other relationships like mother/daughter, father/son are less rewarding or less important, but there is certainly something precious about a daddy and his little girl.
You, as her earthly father, have to opportunity to instill in her how much her Heavenly Father loves and values her. Remind her how very beautiful she is inside and out by pointing out the good you see in her. Turn her towards the scripture of Proverbs 31 and emphasize that the beauty that matters is the beauty that comes when Christ shines through her.
Dads, take you daughter out so you can establish A high expectation for a Godly relationship. Talk to her; ask her questions about her likes and dislikes, open doors for her. Show her how she should be treated as a precious Daughter of the Heavenly King.
Dr. James Dobson wrote a book I highly recommend called “Bringing Up Girls” (there is also “Bringing Up Boys” that I’ve heard great things about). In a chapter called, “Why Daddies Matter” Dobson has this to say: “There is a place in the female soul reserved for Daddy, or a daddy figure, that will always yearn for affirmation. Not every girl or woman is the same, of course, but almost every girl desires a close bond with this most significant man in her life. She will adore him if he loves and protects her and if she finds safety and warmth in his arms. She will tend to see all men through the lens of that relationship.”
He goes on to ask, “Why do girls and women have such intense needs for affirmation from their fathers, and why does the hurt caused by abandonment or rejection often reverberate for a lifetime? As you’ll recall, a primary reason for this inner ache is because a daughter’s sense of self-worth and confidence is linked directly to her relationship with her dad. What he thinks about her and how he expresses his affection is a central source of her perceived value as a human being. It also affects her femininity and teaches her how to relate to boys and men.”
So, in case you didn’t know already, Dads, you have a big job loving those precious daughters of yours.
It is my sincerest prayer that we, as parents, look to our Heavenly Father when guiding the little hearts and minds of the daughters and sons he has given us.
The mother of three little princesses
As Americans we generally like to be first. (Those of us with competitive tendencies like to be first more than others!) We are taught to be first and win the race of life starting at a very young age:
- First to walk and talk
- Climb to the top of the class
- Be the first to graduate from college
- Win the race up the corporate ladder
So we can be the best and get the best for ourselves and achieve the American Dream, right?
But wait...is there more?
What is God's perspective on this “be first, win the race, get to the top” concept?
The Israelites were farmers.They grew food not just as a livelihood but to survive. The idea of first fruits is seen in numerous places in the Old Testament when the Israelites are instructed to give God their first fruits. For example, in Exodus 23:19a they are told, “Bring the best of the first fruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.”
For as important as food production was to God’s chosen people, God’s expectation was that they give back to him the first and the best of their produce. After all, it was God’s blessing that allowed the plants to grow and provide more than sufficient food throughout the growing season.
The majority of us do not plant, grow, and harvest any substantial amounts of food. We work at any number of jobs or have income from various sources. We don’t live as nomadic farmers like the Israelites did so what does the idea of first fruits have to do with us today?
The British dictionary gives us a clear definition on how first fruits apply to not just a crop, but to all forms of production. It defines first firsts as “the first results, products, or profits of an undertaking”. No matter what we do to create income or achieve results, it falls under God’s exception of first fruits.
First Fruits is the top of the totem pole. It's the income that comes in first. It’s not after taxes, heath insurance, the phone bill, the mortgage payment, the trip to the grocery store or a stop at the mall. Its comes out of the first earnings.
Sounds painful and maybe even scary.
Is that really what God intends? I think so. In this way we demonstrate our trust in him and acknowledge that it is through his blessing we received the income. It’s not because we went to college, it’s not because we worked really hard and it’s not because the economy just happened to improve. It’s because God allowed us to earn the income. It is a blessing!
As you ponder the amount to give back to God, remember it’s the first fruits he’s asking for from us. Our first and best. It’s through giving this way that we win in God’s eyes.
By the way, if you want to set up automatic giving to make tithing your first fruits automatic, please follow this link.
We were five years into our marriage. I threw my bags in the trunk and buckled my babies in the back seat. The rain poured from the sky leaving me soaking wet. I’m leaving. I can’t stay with him anymore. I have completely fallen out of love with him. I hate him.
As I saw his shadow staring at me in the rearview mirror I started to think about our past. I was 16 and he was 18 the first time we met each other. He was charming, kind and had a smile that made my knees go weak. We couldn’t get enough of each other. But now all I wanted to do was get away from him.
How did this happened?
How had we gotten to this point?
How could our once strong, forever love have grown so cold?
Life had happened to us. Five years and two kids later we were struggling. It was hard, and painful. Disappointments, struggles, empty promises, and unmet expectations.
Wasn’t this supposed to be a fairy tale?
Wasn’t love all we needed?
Weren’t we supposed to live happily ever after?!
Well, yes. We can live happily ever after. But it doesn’t just happen. Marriage needs constant care. It deserves our time and attention.
Here are four tips to help you pay attention to your marriage.
Communicate - Communicating tells your spouse, "I care about you." Be real with each other about what you need, and what you see, even if it isn't what they (or you) want to hear.
Consecrate - Remember your marriage is holy. Grasp the fact that marriage was meant to draw us closer to Christ. Your spouse was never intended to fulfill and complete you, only Jesus can do that. Your marriage is meant to be an example of how Christ loves us.
Collaborate - Work together to improve your marriage: attend a conference, join a couples bible study, pray together. Growing together will keep you from easily growing apart.
Choose - Each day wake up and choose to be married. Decide your marriage is worth your time and energy. Decide that your spouse is worth your love.
After a lot of hard work and communication, we’ve been able to repair our marriage. It takes time and attention every day, but it is so worth it! Yes, we still have disagreements. Yes, we still struggle. But because we decide every day that our marriage is worth working for, our marriage is working.
Are you working on your marriage? Are you improving in it? There is always room to grow, to have the kind of life changing marriage that people around you notice something different.
Reach for the kind of marriage that God can use for His glory.
Interested in attending the Marathon Marriage Conference March 10-11? Register Here
Money is one of the most talked about topics in the Bible. If you read through the book of Proverbs you will walk away with at least a Bachelors, if not a Masters in Finance. Jesus makes plenty of references to money as well. In one of the regularly quoted passages on tithing Jesus gives this rebuke to the religious leaders:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” -Matthew 23:23
Jesus affirms that tithing (along with seeking justice, mercy and faithfulness) is something that his followers should be doing. Let’s explore a few reasons why Jesus tells his followers they should tithe.
Can I share something that is shocking with you: God doesn’t need your money. God used his voice to speak and created the entire universe. He breathed into dirt and humanity came to life. He spoke and the raging storm stopped. Jesus called out and a dead man came back to life. If he can do this with his voice, he certainly doesn’t need our money. So why does he tell us that we need to tithe? I believe that he tells us to tithe because we need to develop into disciplined givers. I’m naturally a taker. I think I need more and in order to get more, I must give less. So when I freely and joyously give my tithe, God works in many ways, not the least of which is to change my heart. Through tithing I am transformed more and more into a person who is inclined to give. Personal transformation is one of the main reasons that God tells us to give.
Sometimes when I don’t feel like giving, I have to remember that God expects me to be obedient, even when I don’t feel like it. Being obedient is what creates the discipline of giving in my life and helps me submit to God’s authority. When I know that God has commanded me to do something and I choose to ignore or disobey, I am living in opposition to him. I’m telling him that what I want is more important than obeying him; that I know how to handle my money better than he does. Conversely, when I do obey and give, especially when I don’t want to, I’m learning to be disciplined in submitting to God’s authority over my life. Discipline in one area tends to lead to discipline in others as well.
While obedience in giving my tithe is important, it is certainly not the only reason God wants me to tithe. There is something powerful that happens when I faithfully take 10% of my income and hand it over to the church to be used by God. I think God asks us to give 10% because it is not enough of our income to break the bank but it is certainly enough to make us notice. I think God has designed it this way so that he begins to challenge out view of money. It makes me evaluate the position that money holds in my life and how much value I place on money.
I choose to tithe because I want to show God that I value him more than money. I want to show God that I put my trust in him, my security in him, my hope in him and so I tithe. I tithe to ensure that I don’t fall into the trap of worshiping at the altar of money. Paul gives us a powerful warning when he says:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
-1 Timothy 6:10
I don’t want to wander away from God in search of more money. There is a spiritual law at work that says when I trust God enough with my money to obey him and give my tithe, and perhaps more, he will ensure that my needs are provided for. He will also ensure that I will grow closer to him.
All too often I like to think of myself as the exception, like tithing is for everyone else. I will rationalized that “God knows how much debt I have and he wouldn’t want me to be in debt longer, so it’s not that big of a deal if I don’t tithe for a few months. I’ll be back on track soon.” No matter what my financial state is, I am not the exception! God asks everyone who claims to be a follower of his Son Jesus Christ, to give 10% of their finances to his church for his work. He gives us this command to change us. He gives us this command to test us. He gives us this command to free us from the love of money and the multitude of evils it can lead towards. Ultimately, God has given us the command to tithe because he loves us!
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your past. It doesn’t matter how bright or bleak your financial outlook feels. God wants you to be faithful with whatever he has given you. Everything we have is his. He has asked us to give 10% of what he has given us back to his church.
The time to be faithful is now.