Features

ARE YOU SEEKING THE LORD’S PURPOSE?

(November 13, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to seek God’s purpose for us in life…

‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ declares Proverbs 19:21.

Never doubting God
In 1975, I graduated from college and was immediately hired to teach in the public school system. While I never doubted my life’s calling as a teacher, God steered me from majoring in elementary education to that of a secondary educator.

And, because I was surprised by this unexpected turn in my path, I’ve never doubted it was God’s plan for me all along.

During my 30-year teaching career, God repeatedly reminded me through the relationships I had with my students, both during and after their high school years, that his purpose had prevailed.

Even after my retirement from education, God has used me to encourage, and to minister to, my former students.

Redirected by the Holy Spirit
But while I had post-retirement plans, God had a greater one. (more…)

LIGHT OF THE WORLD ILLUMINATES THE DARKNESS

(October 22, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to let our Christianity shine forth in a needy world round us…

My neighbours were excited to show me the photos and video of the ten tiny turtles they’d rescued. They’d observed the mother turtle laying her eggs in their yard sometime in mid-summer.

To prevent predators from digging up the eggs, the couple placed an old metal crate over the site and marked it with a fake flower. When I enquired about their new yard ornament on one of my daily walks, I learned about the eggs and was excited about the approaching due date.

Days, weeks and months passed until the couple decided they would dig up the nest. They knew the eggs should have already hatched.

Digging in the darkness
Using a trowel, the couple began digging up the dirt. Roots impeded their progress, but eventually they rescued the hatchlings. As dusk gave away to early darkness, they needed a flashlight to wash the small reptiles.

After removing the dirt from the tiny bodies, the couple placed each turtle into a plastic container. Walking to the nearby lake, they lowered the container into the water to allow the turtles to swim out on their own. The couple thought their rescue mission was over.

However, the turtles kept swimming to the shore where the couple’s wife was shining a flashlight. Then, it dawned on her that the turtles were attracted to the light. Turning the flashlight’s beam toward the lake and moving it gradually away from the shore did the trick. The ten siblings swam away.

The creation of light
Hearing the story of the baby turtles following the light, I was reminded of the many times ‘light is mentioned in scripture. In John 8:12, Jesus tells the Pharisees, ‘I am the light of the world.’ (more…)

FORGET THE FORMER THINGS

(September 20, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to let our Christianity shine forth in a needy world round us…

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Forget the past? Sometimes it’s easier said than done. In fact, I would say that it’s impossible to let go of the times we’ve been lost in the wilderness – unless we look up.

What does it mean to look up? Look up and seek… seek God, seek his forgiveness, seek his guidance, and seek his hand. Let him lead you from the past into his presence.

God’s presence washes over us like a fresh, spring rain, soothing our weary soul, reviving our spirit, and infusing us with hope. His hope, his strength, and his love can lead us from a life of despair to delighting in him.

Delight yourself in the Lord
In Psalm 37:4, David writes, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’

Many believe, especially new Christians, that God will give us anything our hearts desire if we have enough faith. But, as we mature in our faith, we begin to understand what is important in life and to our heavenly Father. (more…)

BE A LIGHT IN A BROKEN WORLD

(August 27, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to let our Christianity shine forth in a needy world round us…

In one of the ‘civil’ social media posts, I responded with the challenge that we need more Christ-followers who reach out to the –

  • Hurting
  • Disenfranchised
  • Lost
  • Lonely
  • Angry
  • Mentally ill.

Warming a pew each Sunday doesn’t make you a Christian
Jesus left the building (the church) and spent time with the very people mentioned above. If we claim to be a Christian, we need to be following in his footsteps. Kindness begets kindness. Apathy breeds apathy. Hate breeds hate.

Each one of us can make a difference, one person at a time.

 

 

Reach out – make a difference (more…)

SPEAKING PERSONALLY

(August 23, 2019) Brian Bell shares a meaningful, encouraging meditation straight from his heart…

The inspiration for this short meditation is drawn from my recent readings in Joshua and Judges (NTL) –and in particular Joshua 24:3, ‘Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the leaders who outlived him – those who had personally experienced all that the Lord had done for Israel.’

Also Judges 2:7, ‘…the Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him – those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.’

Personal experience of faith
Perhaps you remember where you were when you came to faith in the Lord Jesus… for me it was a very simple ‘act’ of  prayer in my bedroom as a young teenager (which I recorded in the flyleaf of a Bible) – very much in contrast to the apostle Paul’s Damascus road encounter!

Many years ago I recall Reverend Sam Workman talking about those who were ‘walking on the clean side of the broad road (that would describe where I was) but whatever our background and where, when and how we came into salvation our personal experience will have been different.

It is very clear the leaders God raised up for his people were people of faith – just like us, they were not without their flaws, but they were those who had a personal experience of faith… as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us!

As I consider this aspect, it is clear that in relation to faith there are – (more…)

MEANT TO RUN YOUR OWN RACE

(July 17, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to keep running the Christian race…

In my early 40s, I began competing in 5K races. I never considered myself an athlete. But, I’ve always had a competitive edge, less so since I’ve grown spiritually. I’ve learned it’s not about who wins but doing my best with my God-given gifts.

During the four years I raced competitively, my time steadily improved. At first, it was about beating others in my age bracket to the finish line. I won some trophies and medals, which now mean very little to me. At the beginning of my racing years, I focused on my competition – those women in my age bracket. When I did, my time didn’t improve much.

Then, I learned a secret to persevering and not giving up. I began to focus on a goal ahead of me on the race course. I’d locate a tree, a utility pole or some other object in sight. As I passed each goal, I set another one, leading me to the finish line and improved race times.

Focus is the key! Focusing on my personal best instead of the competition was the answer to winning. (more…)

CLEAN YOUR HOUSE AND RENEW YOUR SPIRIT

(June 7, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to ensure our ‘inner house’ is clean…

Psalm 51:10 TLB speaks of ‘being cleaning’ – being filled with clean thoughts and right desires.

I like a clean house. But, as I grow older, it seems to take me longer. But what used to take me three to four hours on a Saturday morning, now takes all day – and then some. I attribute it to my wandering mind, or should I say forgetfulness.

Here’s how it works
I start in one room, usually the master bath, with intentions of working my way from north to south.

However, while wiping the bathroom mirrors clean, I remember something I need to do in the kitchen, like thawing a frozen chicken for my supper. After taking care of that task, I see something else that needs doing while I’m there.

Then I notice the trash is overflowing, so I remove the bag and deliver it outside to the garbage can. (Some of you can probably relate).


By the time I return to the master bath, I’ve wasted time. It also requires me to refocus on my original task. Now where did I put that bottle of Windex?

Cleaning out the unnecessary
In the process of a recent house cleaning, I decided to go through cabinets, drawers and closets to rid myself of things taking up space. I’m blessed with an abundance of storage in my house. I’m also a coupon clipper and redeem them to stockpile items I need before the coupons expire. (more…)

DON’T LET FEAR DOMINATE YOUR LIFE!

(May 14, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to move on in life unafraid…

On April 29, I found myself huddled in a closet with my dog. Tornado sirens were blaring for the second time that evening. I took deep breaths, and then exhaled prayers for safety, not only for myself, but for everyone who was in the path of the storms relentlessly barrelling across several states that day.

According to the news, at least 18 tornadoes were sighted across Oklahoma this past Monday, leaving behind destruction and flooding with the torrential rains that also fell. Two people were killed and 22 injuries were reported. While there have been deadlier tornadoes and destruction, living in a state known as tornado alley can lead even the most fearless person to shelter when the sirens go off.

When fear governs your life
I’ve overcome most of the fears from my past – the ones holding me hostage, the ones keeping me from stepping outside of my comfort zone and the ones denying me a joy-filled life.

Before a tornado hit my previous house in Claremore in 2016, I never feared stormy weather. Growing up in Louisiana, I survived multiple hurricanes during my 16 years living there. I can’t recall being fearful. We always had plenty of advance warning to prepare or evacuate.

Although I know God watches over me, I can’t stop racing to my hidey-hole when I hear the warning sirens. Even though I prepare in advance with pillows and blankets piled on the floor of my closet, the sound of approaching danger rules my human heart, which threatens to jump out of my chest. (more…)

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS!

(April 23, 2019) Carol Round shares an after Easter reflection…

‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ wrote Paul in Galatians 2:20 (ESV).

Can you feel his pain? With eyes closed, can you imagine the sounds, sights and smells of that bleak Friday, when our Saviour and Lord was nailed to the cross, not for his transgressions, but for ours?

Have you ever sat quietly, considering what he did for you and become overwhelmed by the thoughts of his sacrifice? Did you ever ask why he willingly gave up his life for yours?

Not my will, but yours
‘And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will”’ (Mark 14:36).

Jesus’ words, as well as his actions, the night before his crucifixion reveal a life of obedience. He knew the pain he would face, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He accepted willingly the cross he would bear for all mankind.

What Paul understood
The apostle Paul understood the sacrifice made by his Saviour. However, it took a mighty act of God –being struck blind on the road to Damascus – to open the eyes of this persecutor of Christ’s followers.

After Paul’s life-changing experience on that dusty road, he was baptized and instructed in the Christian faith. The most determined of the apostles, Paul suffered brutal physical pain, persecution, and eventually martyrdom. What was Paul’s secret to enduring a lifetime of hardship for the sake of the gospel?

We can do all things
Paul’s secret can be ours, too. In Philippians 4:13TLB, he says, ‘. . . for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.’ (more…)

DARE TO BELIEVE!

(April 23, 2019) Mike Shreve encourages us believe we are more than conquerors because of Jesus’ resurrection.

It matters little if you have had great failures or problems in your life! You are an heir of resurrection life – and that means coming back from the dead.

You may have gone through tough times spiritually, to the point where you almost felt dead mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. But remember the bold statement Jesus made at the gravesite of Lazarus: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live’ (John 11:25). 

So, dare to believe! No matter what you have been through, reflect on what we’ve just celebrated over Easter and dare to say, ‘I believe…

  • In the cross;
  • In the blood;
  • The price that was paid;
  • That the stone rolled away by the power of God;
  • That Jesus arose victorious;
  • That he conquered death – and because he did…
  • I can be “more than a conqueror” by claiming the present-tense benefits of the One who arose victoriously for me.’

Grasp these present-day benefits of Jesus’ resurrection
Most believers view the resurrection of the Lord Jesus either through a historical or a prophetical lens!

They tend to look backward to Jesus’ victory over the grave or look forward to the resurrection of believers at the conclusion of this age.

But seldom do believers grasp present tense benefits that have come to us as a result of this spiritual conquest… here are some powerful ones: (more…)