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Thursday
Jan192017

So They Could Choose

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven

I had just had my second child during the Christmas season, and this particular song by Christian artist Amy Grant spoke to me. In it, she sings from the perspective of Mary on her way to Bethlehem shortly before giving birth to Jesus. She sings of her trip and the growing. But then she says, “And I wonder what I’ve done.” Although this is just a songwriter’s interpretation, this line made me wonder: Why would Mary question what she had done?

Mary had done nothing wrong. She didn’t ask for this. In fact, the only thing she did do was receive the Word of God, which was the right thing to do.

Although I was not carrying the Son of God, I realized that most expectant mothers must go through this, even Mary. Whether it’s her first or her tenth pregnancy, a woman is filled with uncertainty. But, personally, having a baby taught me so much about the love of God.

First, I learned how to give my cares to Him. The day I received that first hospital bill, I panicked. I had never seen a one-time charge of that size. Based on 1 Peter 5:7, it was the first of many lessons that God taught me about worry: “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” ( New King James Version). I physically knelt at my couch, held up the bill, and gave my cares over to Him.

Secondly, I learned how to love naturally. Romans 5:5 explains that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” Love comes from who we are because of Jesus and not from what we do. I didn’t have to try to love my child. I loved my child because I was her mother. It’s who God made me and empowered me to be.

Third, I learned to let go and rest in Him. I read all the books and pamphlets recommended to me. I had my doctor visits and ultrasounds. I took my vitamins. But bad things can happen, and it’s easy to get scared. When a blood test came back with some questionable numbers, the nurse’s words were frightful. But I know my God and His peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). I knew everything would be okay. And it was.

Finally, I learned how to be led by the Holy Spirit in raising my children. Jesus promises that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26, NKJV). In raising kids, we’re not going to do everything perfectly. We will make mistakes. But the Lord gives us such sweet assurance that He will be there, every step of the way, helping us.

When I hear the arguments in favor of a “woman’s right to choose,” I am both sympathetic and saddened. I have extreme sympathy for the woman or young girl who finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy. Two out of three of my own were actually unplanned.

But how could I have justified ending one of my children’s lives? Who would I have chosen? None of the labors were pleasant. All of my children cost money. Yet, it was never my right to choose whether any of them lived or died. And now, all in their twenties, they may even say their lives have just begun.

I have learned so much from having my children. I’m so glad I left the choice of living up to them. I chose life, so they could do the same.

This week on the Gospel Truth broadcast, you can watch teaching that will encourage you in choosing life. If you would like to share your own experiences, please comment below. Please keep in mind the sensitive nature of this subject and be respectful.

Monday
Jan162017

The Ultimate Measure

“The world in which we live is geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in terms of brotherhood.”1

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered for leading the Civil Rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his assassination on April 4, 1968. He was an advocate for African Americans, women, and veterans. What is even more honorable about him is that he protested peacefully during socially and politically hostile times. In love and strength, he transformed American culture and politics.

In a lot of ways, today’s cultural climate is not much different from what it was then. One thing I admire the most about Dr. King was how he fought for freedom and equality peacefully and in love, without wavering in his message. With tensions of all kinds stirring today, it’s more important than ever for us to walk in that same strength. But the only way to walk in God’s kind of love is to surrender to the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16, English Standard Version

God doesn’t see the color of our skin. He sees the state of our hearts. If we’ve given our hearts to Him, all He sees when He looks at us is Jesus. That’s our unifying factor in Christ. Galatians 3:28 (Amplified Bible) reads:

There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority].

Dr. King championed equality, and in doing so, he left a legacy for unity and a vision for a better future. We as the body of Christ have a similar vision. So, how can we carry that out today? The answer is simple, although it maybe not always be easy.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, you shall choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (emphasis mine, AMP)

Choose life in your words. Choose life in your treatment of people. Choose life in your thoughts. And choose life even in your feelings. As you walk in the Spirit and not your flesh, the power of God will empower you to live like He did, laying down your life for others while not compromising the
truth (Luke 6:28).

Character is tested in times when walking in love and forgiveness is not the easiest path to take. But as sons and daughters of God, we must guard our hearts against our love growing cold and bitterness taking root. Otherwise, our effectiveness as Christians will be compromised (which is exactly what the Enemy would want). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this struggle and described it this way:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge
and controversy.”2

So, what is the “ultimate measure” of your character going to be? You get
to decide.

Please share a comment below if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life has
inspired you.

1 http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/quotes
2 http://www.thekingcenter.org/node/554

Monday
Jan092017

A God Secret—Drop the Rope!

During my middle school years, there was a lot of “tug-of-war” between my younger sister and me. I was under the mistaken impression that being a year older gave me certain rights. Our conflicts often ended in her walloping me. After one such incident, I remember a picture came into my head. It was of a tug-of-war game when, suddenly, one person simply dropped her end of the rope. Ah-ha, I thought. Game over.

The next time we got into a fight, I thought of that tug-of-war picture and decided to try it out. I simply said, “Okay.”

“You can’t do that!” she insisted. I asked her why, and she said, “Because it’s not fair.”

Fast forward six years, I became born again as a college freshman. I read John 10:18 where Jesus was explaining this same “drop-the-rope” principle as it related to His laying down His life: No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” Later in John 19:10-11 (New King James Version), Pilate said to Jesus, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Essentially, he wanted Jesus to pick up the other end of rope and struggle with him. Jesus simply said, You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”

In Hebrews 12:2, Paul wrote that Jesus “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” His heart was fixed. He had learned not to get in a power struggle with anyone’s flesh. Instead, He kept His purpose and His Father’s will before Him. He had prepared to succeed.

You may be thinking, That was Jesus, the Son of God. Of course, HE prepared and fixed His heart! However, Jesus wasn’t the only one who was prepared for difficult circumstances. Joseph, when propositioned by Potiphar’s wife, said, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). He had obviously hidden God’s Word in his heart because it came up like a force field to protect him.

And then there was David. Saul was trying to kill David—he had been for years after David had been anointed king in Saul’s place. In 1 Samuel 24, David could have killed Saul, believing God had delivered his “enemy” into his own hands. But David’s heart was fixed (Ps. 57:7). He penned it himself in Psalm 105:15: Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

In his How to Prepare Your Heart teaching, Andrew says that King Rehoboam “did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord” (2 Chr. 12:14). Andrew explains that when people don’t prepare their hearts before they are faced with a circumstance, they respond to their situation based on how they feel at the time.

Joseph and David prepared for success, and they weren’t even born again. They sought God and hid His Word in their hearts long before they faced their trials. If you recognize that you have been unprepared and have ended up in a tug-of-war in some of your circumstances, then Andrew’s How to Prepare Your Heart series will change your mind and give you the practical wisdom you need to prepare for unforeseen obstacles that may come your way.

Please consider sharing your experiences of when you may have been in a tug-of-war with your circumstances. Comment below.