Features

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…)

THE VALUE OF A FRIENDSHIP

(March 21, 2019) Carol Round reflects on the great value of having a friend…

I still think of my friend Sonya throughout my day, relishing the memories we made through our common bonds as well as adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (ESV) says, ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity’ – that’s the value of a friendship!

We bonded over our love of animals, landscaping our yards and fried chicken livers. But, our friendship grew through adversity.

Sonya, 12 years my senior, moved into my neighbourhood in 2010. After leaving Georgia, she purchased the house next door to me. I welcomed this tiny woman as my neighbour but, as so many of us are apt to do; I judged her first by her appearance.

Quickly connecting
In her late 60s at the time, Sonya dressed more like a teeny bopper, even when doing yard work. However, as I grew to know this precious woman, my spirit couldn’t help but connect through our mutual love of Jesus. (more…)

YOU FIND WHAT YOU SEEK!

(February 15, 2019) Carol Round reflects on the need to know God intimately

While cleaning house recently, I tuned my TV to a local news broadcast. My attention wasn’t completely focused on the interview of a woman who writes book reviews.

I heard bits and pieces of her remarks as I dusted the furniture. It seems I don’t multi-task as well as I used to.

The following statement, which ended the segment, did grab my attention: ‘You find what you are looking for.’

Several scriptures came to mind, including Jeremiah 29:13, ‘You will see me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Seeking God wholeheartedly
In Jeremiah 29, the prophet sends a letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. His words to those who had been taken captive by the Babylonians were meant to comfort, to encourage and reveal God’s plans for his people if they wholeheartedly sought the Lord and fulfilled his purposes.

I thought about the times I’d drifted away from the Lord’s plans for me. (more…)

VICTORY IN 2019 – ENCOURAGEMENTS FROM JOAB

(January 15, 2019) Brian Bell reflects on winning tactics against an enemy

We’re two weeks into 2019 already!

Over past months I’ve been reading and meditating on Old Testament scriptures and have been encouraged and challenged as the Lord has reminded me of encouraging  truths I can apply to my own life as I seek to victoriously move ahead in 2019 – as can the body of Christ, those believers who make up the church.

In particular I’ve been reminded of spiritual warfare and, knowing my own battles and that if the Lord tarries the enemy will continue to be active in 2019, I share some brief thoughts based on 2 Samuel 10: 6-13 that I trust may be helpful.

I won’t include a historical overview other than to say that Joab was King David’s general. In the verses I mention here, Joab has been sent by David to meet a large army made up of Ammonites, Arameans and others. The story opens as Joab approaches the place of battle… let me share from his winning tactics what I see as lessons for the church.

1) Appraisal
This thought is in the words of verse 9: ‘When Joab saw he would have to fight on two fronts…’

It’s good to be wise and not underestimate the approach and tactics of an enemy – as believers we need to remember that the ‘enemy’ is not ‘people of flesh and blood’ (as the apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12). So, for example, people with whom we may disagree even on some point of doctrinal theology should not be seen as enemies!

We can be sure the enemy will always seek to display his best and most subtle attack formation – the word ‘appraisal’ is a way of describing how Joab sized up the situation. (more…)

2019 – ONE QUALITY MOST LIKELY TO HELP SUCCEEDING

(January 15, 2019) Ed Delph shares a helpful 2019 challenge…

As we embrace 2019 the following idea moves us forward, onward and upward!

Most everyone these days is looking for success in one way or another. Here’s a life-changer for youa spiritual and natural principle applied in a practical way.

The marshmallow test
One of my one of favourite writers, James Clear, offers this idea in his latest book, Atomic Habits. Read on…

‘In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel began conducting a series of important psychological studies. During his experiments, Mischel and his team tested hundreds of children, most of them around the ages of four and five years old. It revealed what is now believed to be one of the most important characteristics for success in health, work, and life.

‘The experiment began by bringing each child into a private room, sitting them down in a chair, and placing a marshmallow on the table in front of them. At this point, the researcher offered a deal to the child.

‘The researcher told the child he was going to leave the room and if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, they would not get a second marshmallow. The choice was simple. One treat right now or two treats later. The researcher left the room for 15 minutes. (more…)

A MISTAKE THAT CLARIFIED THE ‘MYTH-TAKE’

(December 11, 2018) Ed Delph shares another timely thought-provoker…

Here’s a true story I think you’ll enjoy by an unknown author about Christmas. Read and enjoy!

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorising songs for his school’s Winter Pageant presentation. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher who assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation, that all parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of dress rehearsal, I filed in and found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

(more…)

MEET WHAT WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU

(November 11, 2018) Ed Delph shares another timely thought-provoker…

A burglar who needed money to pay his income taxes decided to rob the safe in a store. On the safe door he was very pleased to find a note reading, ‘Please don’t use dynamite. The safe is not locked. Just turn the knob.’

He did so. Instantly, a heavy sandbag fell on him, the entire premises was lit by floodlights, and alarms started clanging!

As the police carried him out on a stretcher, he was heard moaning, ‘My confidence in human nature has been rudely shaken.’

Watchful godly fear
This story illustrates what I would like to introduce us to today. We may stifle it; we might quench it; hurt it or even defile it. However, we will never be able to escape it. It will always be there attaching itself to the highest standard we know. Everyone has heard it talk to us, congratulate us, convict us, remind us or try to guide us. (more…)

FEARLESS FAITH

(November 10, 2018) Jeff Benson shares from the heart…

Like most people, I have many weaknesses. My greatest weakness by far has been my ‘fear of man.’
Such an inbuilt thing for me… a bit like when it comes to a fear of heights, when you walk up to the edge of a cliff or lean over a guard rail from up on top of a tall building and instantly feel that fear …

The fear of man can be the same. There’s often no conscious thought associated with it, we just feel that fear…it just happens … you just automatically and instantaneously feel that fear.

My journey…
For me this feeling fear has been a huge issue… (more…)