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May 19, 2016, 1:00 PM

Just Learn

by Haley MaKenna Hardman

“The rest of your life is a long time. And whether you know it or not, it’s being shaped right now. You can choose to blame your circumstances on fate, or bad luck or bad choices…or you can fight back! Things aren’t always going to be fair in the real world; that’s just the way it is. But, for the most part you get what you give. Let me ask you a question: what’s worse, not getting what you wished for, or getting it and finding out it’s not enough? The rest of your life is being shaped right now with the dreams that you chase, the choices you make, and the person you decide to be. The rest of your life is a long time, and the rest of your life starts right now.” –Haley James Scott, One Tree Hill

 

When I heard this I was reminded of something someone once told me: “Stop worrying about what step to take next, and take this time that you’re in right now and just learn. Learn. Learn. And learn some more. Even if that’s all you do during this season. Because as soon as you step out there, you’re going to wish that you had learned as much as you could while you could. Trust me. Learn while you still have the chance.” This was told to me the night that I admitted to a human being- three actually- that I was called to a ministry. It had been sitting on my chest quite literally for about three days before I told a soul. I hadn’t told anyone, or even really admitted it to myself before then, because I thought that as soon as I said it out loud everything would be real, I would have to know how to do it by myself, and I would have to be ready. I was wrong… Are you ever really all the way ready? Can you ever truthfully say that you are ready for anything that life may throw your way? I’ll answer that for you: no. You can’t. You can be prepared for things if you know in advance that they may happen, but you can’t possibly know everything that your day is going to hold. In turn, you cannot possibly be absolutely ready for anything. I had the audacity to use that as an excuse to not do what God was calling me to. Don’t worry, that mindset didn’t last long, but it’s taken me a while to get to where I am, and if you ask me tomorrow, I may have a different outlook on life because I change every day.

It’s been nearly a year since that night. Oh how much I’ve learned in a year’s time. I didn’t always want to just learn though, and it’s taken me some time to be okay with it. I’m the kind of person that likes to make plans and have everything scheduled out, and then do it no matter what. It’s hard for me to see the check point in this race and still have to keep my pace. If I were to race ahead, I wouldn’t make it to the end because I would use all of my energy getting there and not have enough to finish. Do you see where I’m going with this?

 

1 Corinthians 7:17 (NLT) says,

Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.

 

            There’s a song by Jared Anderson called, “Where I Am Right Now” and it has become my “reminder” song, because I constantly have to remind myself to slow down. I think we as a church, and as individuals, try to skip to the part where everything is sunshine and rainbows, but we rarely ever touch on the stops in between the beginning and end because the middle isn’t always easy. Do you think that if David hadn’t spent all of those years fighting off bears and lions by himself that he would’ve relied on God so easily? Do you think that if Saul hadn’t persecuted the church before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus that he would’ve had the same passionate heart for those that were active in the church, yet not acting like true Christ followers? We have to remember, I have to remember, that the things we’re going through right now are for a reason. Instead of hating the season we’re in, or trying to skip ahead to the good parts, we should be thankful for the training that we go through on a daily basis, and just go along for the adventure that God is taking us on. Look at it this way: Abraham had to wait 25 years for God’s promise to be fulfilled in his life. At one point, Abraham got impatient with God and tried to take matters into his own hands, and he ended up creating the enemy of what would be his future kid.

            If you’re like me and you get impatient sometimes, understand that the things you’re going through right now have something to teach you, and they’re shaping you into the vessel of honor that God created you to be. Don’t negate the learning seasons or get impatient. It may seem like you’re not going anywhere, but trust me, you’re making much more progress than you can see. Just learn.

 

- Haley 




May 18, 2016, 12:00 PM

Faith To See Jesus

BY GREG HIGGINS

 

 

In Mark 2, the Bible tells a story about a man who could not walk. He was laid up in bed and relied on others to do things for him. One day, they heard Jesus was going to be in their town and his friends decided to take him to see Jesus. Once they got to the house, there was so many people that they realized they couldn’t get to Jesus.

One friend decided they should carry this man to the roof and make a hole to lower him down to see Jesus. When they did this, Jesus forgave the man and healed him of his disease. The remarkable thing about this story isn’t that Jesus healed him. It’s the reason He healed the man. The Bible says that Jesus saw the faith of his friends and healed the man. Let that phrase sink in for a minute. Jesus didn’t heal him because of his faith, but because of the faith of his friends.

Let’s get real for just a second. How many times have we gone to church and walked away unsatisfied because the preacher didn’t preach what we needed. Sometimes we walk away feeling disappointed or frustrated. What if, though, you weren’t there for yourself? What if there’s a chance you were there because someone needed your faith? Perhaps someone was there that had cancer and since you had been healed of cancer, your faith was needed. Maybe someone needed a financial breakthrough and your faith was going to be the instrument used to get them to that place.

See, if his friends didn’t act on their faith, this man would have never seen Jesus. He wouldn’t have been healed and he would go to his grave being lame. Take that a step further, though. If they didn’t act on their faith, they themselves would never have seen Jesus. Not only did they bring about a change in their friends life but they got to meet Jesus themselves. Next time you feel the sermon isn’t for you and you’re ready to leave, ask God who could use your faith on their behalf. It could cause you to see Jesus.

 

- Greg




May 17, 2016, 12:00 PM

Words

by Brenda Farmer

 

 

Words are a powerful tool endowed to each of us.  We all use words to speak, to express, to write, to translate what we hear and how we feel.

When you speak your words, do you stir up strife and anger, or do you release love, peace and joy?  It is a question that all of us should often ask ourselves.

There is an old saying, “you reap what you sow”.  I’ve said it many times, and I have certainly been told the same.  The saying is based on scripture.  (Job 4:8, Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.)  Therefore, if we want to receive words of love and kindness, we should practice giving words of love and kindness.

The fact that God grants me a new day every 24 hours to get this right, makes me very thankful to Him!  I’m given a new day to polish up my words with love and kindness.  My husband, family, friends, and strangers may truly appreciate the effort!

Years ago, I read an analogy of how words are like feathers.  It went something like this:  Speaking words are like going to a windy hilltop and slitting open a feather pillow.  The wind catches the feathers and blows them in every direction.  It is almost impossible for one to collect all of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.  Saying “I’m sorry” is never enough to make the pillow like it was before…

 

Jesus gave His all for us that we may have life and have it more abundantly.  High on His list of teachings was brotherly love.  Be encouraged to choose your words wisely today and flavor your words with love and kindness.  May you reap love and kindness in return!

 

- Brenda




May 15, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Choice Is Yours

by Greg Higgins

4/19/16

 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15

I feel like Joshua might ask this same question to the Christian church if he were alive today. Think about this question. The children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt. They had seen God sustain them in the wilderness. They watched as He delivered Jericho into their hands. Day after day, week after week and month after month, they watched God do amazing things.

 It was Moses at first and then Joshua who finished the journey. Now Joshua’s time had come to an end. He knew he would be dying soon and he wanted to remind the people one more time. See, up until this point they had relied on Moses and Joshua to be the voice of God. They had relied on them to point them in the right direction. Whether it was who to fight or where to take up residency for the time being, they heeded the council of them.

Now, Joshua’s time was coming to a close and he wanted them to know that the choice is now in their hands. They can choose to serve any number of gods they want. They can serve the false gods throughout the land. They could go back to worshipping the gods of the Egyptians. Then Joshua says that he chooses to serve the Lord. Not just any god or any lord but “The” Lord. This was the same Lord that said “I am” to Moses. The same One that delivered them at the Red Sea. The same One that caused Jericho to fall without a fight.

I wonder if Joshua would look at us and say the same type of thing. The scripture might be worded differently but it might sound something like this:

“Choose for yourself whom you will serve. Whether it’s the technology in your hand or the schedule that you have to keep. Perhaps the sporting even that you must attend. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

There is still only One God and He is still a jealous God. This is why Jesus said that “No man can serve two masters.” And He was right. You cannot serve God and your Facebook page. You cannot serve God and your grandchildren. You cannot serve God and anything else that exalts itself above Him. So, the question remains: Whom will you serve?

 

- Greg Higgins




May 14, 2016, 12:00 PM

Think on the Good Things

by Brenda Farmer

5-5-16

 

Recently, I wrote about “toxic thinking” and that recurrent, negative self-talk can be destructive to our thought life, our health and our relationships. Our thoughts affect our words, how we feel and how we behave.  (See my blog on pariscog.com, “Praying the Word of God” published May 2.)  Today, I want to encourage you to transform “toxic thinking” into “thinking on the good things”.

A great scripture is written in Philippians 4:8 to explain how we can focus our minds on thinking on good and positive thoughts.

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

The Apostle Paul wrote this scripture to the Christian believers at Philippi approximately 1,955 years ago.  It was good for them then, and it is good for us today!

There is a book that I have read multiple times, Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.  I highly recommend this book.  She teaches that we can change our destructive mind-set when we learn to think more like Christ.  Here are six steps that she outlines to help us think more like Him:

  1. Think positive thoughts (Phil. 4:8)
  2. Be God-minded  (Isaiah 26:3,4)
  3. Be “God-Loves-Me” minded (1John 4:16, John 17:23)
  4. Have an exhortative mind (giving encouragement).  And, be thankful and appreciative to God and to people! (Eph. 4:20, 1Cor. 13:7)
  5. Be “Word-Minded” (John 5:38)

 

May these thoughts and scriptures give you valuable insight into what lingers in your mind and how you can effectively change some old, harmful ways of thinking.  May these words encourage you and lift you up!  Have a Blessed Day!

 

- Brenda Farmer


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