Jumat, 28 Juni 2013

Free eBook: "Loving a Prodigal: Embracing Grace"

Free eBook: "Loving a Prodigal: Embracing Grace" by Judy Douglass

Free eBook: "Loving a Prodigal: Embracing Grace" by Judy Douglass
"All of us are prodigals and all of us need grace. I believe we never come close to grasping the reality of God’s grace."

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Download and share this free eBook with your friends, Loving a Prodigal: Embracing Grace by Judy Douglass.
From the author, "I think GRACE is one of the most important and least lived gifts from God. I want everyone to experience more and more of that GRACE."

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Kamis, 27 Juni 2013

From Control to Faith

From Control to Faith

by Gari Meacham on Thursday, May 09, 2013
When God began creating, He took darkness and turned it to light. Void turned to matter. Air, water, stars, moons, expanses hummed to His tune. But He longed for more. He longed for an image bearer who would be a reflection of Him. God longed for the intimacy of a Creator and the created. So He formed man and breathed the breath of life into him.
You'd think that would've been enough, but God still had one final gesture of love. A last bit of chocolate frosting to put on the cake, a polished gem to crown His jewelry box of creation. That gem was woman. Like a painting with perfect hues, so is the masterpiece of man and woman.
Adam's and Eve's lives consisted of relishing the fruit of God's creation, a romance with mates who gazed only at each other and an exclusive engagement with their Creator — their God. Nothing should've competed with this kind of glory ... but it did. We hear it called the fall of man, but I'd like to rename it the devastation of woman.
Most of the women I know don't feel like special icing on a cake or a gem in a jewelry box. I've asked around, and most women see themselves as tired, worn-out, used up, undisciplined in some areas and overly disciplined in others, unsexy, isolated, and insecure. A far cry from the image of womanhood described in the language of Genesis.
The fact that Eve was approached by Satan isn't surprising; after all, we're the trusting type. Eager to please and make daddy proud. The serpent was no dummy as he went straight for the woman's jugular with his rancid deception.
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, ‘You can't eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die."
"No! You will not die," the serpent said to the woman. "In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it (Genesis 3:1-6).
Up to this point, Eve's longings and desires matched her life. Loving husband, physical needs cared for, physical appearance appreciated and enjoyed, and a communion with her Creator that was vibrant and real.
But Satan targeted the jugular to get Eve's attention: Yes, it does get better than that. God is holding out on you.
Eve acknowledged the one protective rule that God laid over their lives: Don't mess with the tree in the middle of the garden. It's got a knowledge to it that will shred the heart.
She knew it meant death — the death of innocence — and Satan pounced on her knowledge with a lie so handsomely deceitful it sounded right. You surely won't die! God knows you'll be more like Him if you eat from this tree — and that's a good thing.
What happens next is both fascinating and heartbreaking because it defines the way women embrace life to this day. After she ate the fruit, she took it upon herself to convince her husband that he needed to follow her.
The Bible doesn't give a time frame for how long it took Eve to get Adam to eat from the same tree, but I have a hunch it may not have been immediate. I think she wore him down, nagging him relentlessly.
I'm smiling as a I write this because I can think of countless times I've figured out how to get my way with my husband, Bobby, and still make him think he's the man! Because I'm a strong-willed, independent, mustang type of woman, reining me in has always been a bit of a challenge. I'm usually most pliable after I've run myself into a two-by-four trying to create the world according to me, and then maybe I'll allow the protective arms my husband to wrap around me like a quilt. Prior to "the devastation of woman," the word control had never been uttered. Now it's screaming from the treetops.
Adam did the most dangerous thing imaginable. In the midst of the crying and convincing, he kept silent. He didn't protect or fight for Eve; he just went limp ... and all hell quietly broke loose. Their initial experience of living and loving in a Spirit hunger relationship with God was shattered.

Signs of Control

Adam wasn't born a baby. His needs were covered in terms of sleep, food, warmth, and fellowship with his Father. But God longed to nurture Adam in a more intimate way by giving him Eve. Unfortunately, Adam chose silence, and Eve chose control. The more a man is silent, the more a woman pushes for control. It's a vicious cycle that can beat itself raw.
I've spent many years believing I wasn't the controlling type, only to discover that to some degree, we all are. My friend Cindy said it perfectly: "Women are either controlling or being controlled." Control is a thorn that continues to pierce our hearts, and it's the wise woman who tackles the issue with the force of a linebacker.
What does a controlling woman look like? If you think she looks like a drill sergeant with a whip, think again. Sometimes she looks like an angel with a spatula, light pink lip-gloss, and sweet words laced with sour intent. Consider these characteristics of a controlling woman:
  • Won't let anyone help in the kitchen or around the house but complains that if she doesn't do the chores, they won't be done right;
  • Uses nagging as a tool because if she doesn't "remind" her kids, husband, or co-workers to do certain things, they will never budge;
  • Claims she wants a strong husband who leads but shatters him with her words, criticism, or silence when he tries to;
  • Continues to do things like waking up her older kids in the morning instead of asking them to set an alarm because she knows if she doesn't awaken them, they will sleep through class (my son tells me about a mom who still calls her college-aged son to wake him up daily).
Though I never viewed control as one of my stark issues, I've come to realize that my controlling nature is just snuggled in a cozier blanket than the ones others own. My words are sweeter but can still pack a punch.

Counterfeit of Love

I'll never forget the day I faced the dragon of control like a princess with a toothpick for a weapon. Our infant son was strapped in the back seat of our minivan as I pulled up to the elementary school to pick up our first-grade daughter, Brooke, and our kindergarten lamb, Ally. Brooke was always social, flitting here and there with a lot of play dates and invites. But Ally was different. She was shy and timid. When Ally was in preschool, Bobby and I had a half-hour ritual just to drop her off for an hour-and-a-half class.
This was a big day for Ally, as she had finally felt comfortable enough to invite a friend over to play. They came tumbling out of the school and spotted me waving like crazy from our van. Brooke piled in first, then Ally and her little buddy, along with the two kids we took turns carpooling with. Little Suzanne from the carpool crew was famous for being bossy, so it wasn't surprising to hear her bark out a command: "Come over to my house! I don't have anyone to play with. Or ... hey, can I play with you guys?"
Without even a consulting glance at Ally, I invited bossy Suzanne to join Ally and her buddy for the afternoon. No amount of brownies or Kool-Aid could salvage that play date. After the lambs left our home and Ally and I had a moment together sitting on the wooden stairs of our home, I asked her if she had a good time. "It wasn't really that fun, Mommy," she sighed. She didn't cry, but suddenly I began to sob like a dam had been breached. As I tried to gain composure so I could explain to my 5-year-old what I was feeling, I uttered an apology that welled up from the deepest place in my soul.
"Sweetie, Mommy needs to ask you to forgive me. I had no right to invite someone else to your special time with your friend. I was just trying to make everyone happy, and instead I made you unhappy." With curled fingers and puckered lips Ally kissed the tears on my face and told me it was OK, but I've never forgotten this lesson — that sometimes good women who try to control everyone's happiness and moods end up the unhappiest of all.
Control is the ultimate counterfeit of love. It's the secret adulteress to good intent. Like a robber who's been hiding in a dark closet, control ambushes us. It gags us and then surveys what it can take from our lives without our ever realizing what's happened.
At times I wonder if I'll ever stop having to pull the gag off my mouth. Will my longings and my need to control shift from a roar to a quiet whimper? I've wrestled with this question for years and fleshed out my thinking in the safe retreat of countless notebook pages on which my mental meanderings are visible only to God. It's here that I've rehearsed the longings we all crave: a longing to be nurtured; a longing for intimacy, purpose, and discipline; and — the pinnacle of all longing — the longing to be treasured.
Curled up around these longings lay a brood of substitutes. The substitutes replace the true longings. Nurture turns to control. Intimacy pushes back as distrust. Purpose cools to bland insecurity. Discipline slows to laziness. And being treasured changes into being trampled or ignored.
Longings that languish in the "self mode" typically end in fear and control, while longings that bend toward God turn to faith. When we determine to understand our Spirit hunger, to hold out so that our real longings are filled by a real God, our lives will look different. We move from having an insatiable need for control to a desperate need for faith.
This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.
Gari Meacham is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher. Gari and her husband, Bobby, have three children and two grandchildren. They currently reside in Houston and are members of Second Baptist Church of Houston.

The Transition from Work to Home

The Transition from Work to Home

by Kenny Luck on Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The mantle of greatness

Airline pilots know that the approach to landing can be flown more slowly and landed in a shorter distance if the plane's flaps are lowered during final descent. If you've ever been a passenger on a commercial airliner, you've likely heard the noise as the flaps are lowered when the pilot slows the aircraft for landing. If a pilot doesn't go through this flaps-down process, you don't land safely — you crash.

Flaps down

We husbands could learn from such a calamity-avoidance process as we turn around familiar streets and corners before we pull into our driveways. Before you go home, practice flaps down. Mentally take a deep breath at a turn near your home and pray. That moment and that action are designed to slow you down emotionally and refocus you spiritually for the next phase of your day — at home with your family.
Pray a prayer like: "Lord, my family needs a dad and a husband when I walk through that door, but to give them what they need, I need to be like You. I'm leaving the pressures of my day in Your hands so I can focus on my family. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and help me to serve in Jesus' name."
Prayers like this one let you check in with your family and assess how you can lead them through serving them.

Landing like Jesus

You may wonder why transition from work to home is important. Many women have written to me to share about how their husbands are helpful to others at work and church but not in their own homes. Wise men know to give their best energy at home first. Then they're able to lead at work or minister at church with functional integrity.
The disciples had some trouble understanding that. They confused their greatness with what made Jesus great. Though they watched Him heal the sick, serve the outcast, and preach the Kingdom for the sake of others, they weren't getting it. Position and power replaced service and sacrifice in their hearts. It was time for a literal "come to Jesus meeting."
"But Jesus called them over and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many'" (Matthew 20:25-28).
That's landing it like Jesus. He wants us to see the same powerful truth He made sure the disciples saw: You're never greater than when you act in the favor of others where nobody else sees you — at home.
This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.
Kenny Luck is the men's pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and the founder of Every Man Ministries, which helps churches and organizations develop healthy men's communities. His 20th book Sleeping Giant (B&H Books) is the proven blueprint for men's ministries. Sign up for weekly devotionals and read more of Kenny's teaching at EveryManMinistries.com. Follow Kenny on Twitter at @everymm.

Why you can't find peace in wealth?

Look Up!

Look Up!

Look at the clear skies today my child and know that I have prepared the way for you. You do not know from day to day when the skies will be clouded over or clear, so in the same way, each day is unique in the realm of the spirit. You will never come to a place where you can say that you fully know me, because each day holds something new to experience in my presence.

So continue to grab hold of me and to experience something new from me each day. You do not need to stop experiencing new things or seeing new miracles in your life. There is no limit in my presence to how much you can grow or accomplish in me.

So look forward to experiencing new things with me each day. Look forward to getting to know me better each day. Then reach out your hand and I will show you new and marvelous things. Today I open the way for you to see my face and experience me as never before. For I am your solution for all things. Do not look to your cares or frustrations, but look to the skies! Look into my eyes and when you do that, all these other things will melt away. Your experiences with me will displace your frustrations. My presence and my touch will be so sweet to you that everything else will fade away. So look up! Come and experience me afresh today and see the wonders that I hold for you my child.

Free Sermon Series Package: "The Blessed Life"

Free Sermon Series Package: "The Blessed Life"
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"Pursuing happiness takes work. It's tough to find and even harder to hold. Ever want more than that for your life? God does."

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Free Video Package: "You Were Meant to Be"

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Free Video Package: "You Were Meant to Be"
"What makes you the best you?"

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Download thevideo bumper to introduce a sermon series called "How to Become the You You Were Meant to Be."
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Are you preoccupied with the meaningless?

Free Song Package: "Hymn of the Ages" by Graham Kendrick

Free Song Package: "Hymn of the Ages" by Graham Kendrick

Free Song Package: "Hymn of the Ages" by Graham Kendrick
Download this new worship duet from Graham Kendrick and Matt Redman.

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Download and sing this anthem of worship from Graham Kendrick and Matt Redman, Hymn of the Ages.
From the chorus, "To the One who is worthy of honour and glory / To You belongs the praise, to You belongs the hymn of the ages."
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Minggu, 23 Juni 2013

Faith is A Rest

Faith is A Rest

A body builder lifts weight to gain muscles. He exercises and trains his body to become strong. He may have started out weak and small, but with training he becomes a giant. In the same way, my child, your faith becomes stronger through exercising it and believing in Me more and more.
If you want bigger faith, you must learn to trust Me even more than you did before. If you keep using the same weights, how can you grow? You cannot. So then learn to trust in Me today for things you have never trusted in Me before.
Let go of your comfort zone and of what you've already learned to let me come through for you for, but stretch your spiritual muscles and trust Me in places you have never trusted in Me before.
When you can do that, then you will see an increase in your faith, you will see mightier works in your life. Exercising your faith should not be work or strenuous either, but faith means trusting fully in Me and letting go of the load. It means entering into rest. It means letting go completely and putting your mind on something else.
So then, enter into my rest and believe Me for something that you have not let me carry for you before. When you can do that in complete trust, you will indeed see my mighty hand move mountains in your life. So let go, my child, and give me your load and watch as I come through for you, says the Lord. Amen.

A New Day, A Blank Page

A New Day, A Blank Page

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he shall get up eight times. This is your inheritance in Me, says the Lord.

No matter how many times you have failed and fallen, it does not matter to me. Failing is part of the process of succeeding, so instead of letting it get you down, see it as getting closer to the goal. What matters is that you get up and try again.

But do not look anymore at the failures of the past. Instead, know that this day I lay before you the first page of a new book. This day is your chance to start afresh. So how will you begin your story? Will you be the victor or will you let life happen to you? You can choose to rise up regardless of how many times you have fallen, or you can choose to stay down.

With each day that rises, it is Me giving you the opportunity to write a new story. Each day I give you new mercies, but it is up to you to take advantage of this.

Take this moment then to write the first few lines of this new book. It is the story of your life. Let it be one of conquering and being the victor. Let go of all that is behind you and start afresh. No matter what has happened in the past, it is no more, but today is the start of something new.

Rise up on this eighth time then, and together you and I, can write the story of a lifetime. When you choose to rise up, I will make sure that you do, says the Lord. Amen.

Jumat, 14 Juni 2013

As Contant as the Tide

Apostle Colette Toach

As Contant as the Tide

My child see how the sea tosses and turns. One minute the water can be calm and the next it can begin to get turbulent and dark. In the same way there are many changes of season that will come on your life. There are times when you will feel at peace and there are times when there is anger brewing in your heart and circumstances that are challenging you.
Yet no matter what is going on in your heart and in your life, I remain constant. Just like the tides are constant each day, so I am I constant in your life. I am not moved by your moods or by your failures. I am not moved by your successes or by your discouragements. I am not moved by the wrong or the right things that you have done. No my child, I am faithful and when I have said I will do something, I will surely do it.
Just like you can expect the tide to come in or out regardless of the emotion of the sea, so also can you rely on me to meet your needs and to fulfill my promises regardless of how you feel. No matter how down you sometimes feel or how difficult it seems to trust me, know that I never lose hope in you. I never stop moving forward. I remain constant and if you can rest in that, you will come to peace once again.
You will not lose out on my promises if you are feeling weighed down, because my promises rely on my power to come to pass and not on your righteousness. So have faith, not in what you feel, but have faith in who I am. Then you will know that your future is in my hands and I will surely bring all to pass as I have promised says the Lord.

Jumat, 07 Juni 2013

Shine Brightly

Shine Brightly

My Child, do not look to the right or the left to see what others are doing and how you should or shouldn't do things, but look to me as your standard.

I am doing in you a new thing and making you an image to be looked upon and admired. But if you keep comparing yourself to what is around you to see if you measure up or not, how can you shine brightly?

You cannot, because you will simply conform to the pattern of the world. But the light I have to give you, is brighter and will shine stronger. So then, do not be afraid to do things differently from others. Do not be afraid to be a stark contrast to what is around you. Only when you are different, will you stand out and only when you stand out, will you draw others to you.

So let go of your security and of what works and instead do what I say you should do. For I have not called you to blend in, but to be the salt of the earth.

Let not your security be in the pattern of this world, but in me. Then you will see success and you will look behind you and see others following the pattern that I have put into you. Amen.

Salvation is at Hand

Salvation is at Hand

As the waves crash to the shore and bring with them the wealth of the ocean, so shall I bring my wave of blessing upon you, says the Lord. For although you cannot see the blessing right now and you are wondering how you will find it, if you would only stand still in my presence, I will bring it to you.

I do not need you to go into the ocean to find it, neither do I need you to try with your own strength to bring it to pass. No, the greatest effort that you can make right now is to stand in faith! When you do that, then you will see that I am your salvation. You will stand still and a mighty wave will come and cover you, meeting every need. When it comes, it will bring the abundance of the sea with it and you will discover treasures from the deep that you did not have to dig for.

You will be like my Israelite children that lived in cities they did not build and ate of vines that they did not plant. My child, do you think that your efforts alone will bring these things to pass? No, they could only overcome their enemies with my power and with my hand. In the same way, you must stand in my power and in my name.

You must stand at peace and I will bring the wave. You cannot with any power of your own cause the wave to form. You cannot with any power of your hand dig up the treasures from the ocean. However, I can do all these things with my might.

So stand now in faith. Stand now and watch my salvation, says the Lord.

Come Eat and Drink

Come Eat and Drink

I am the bread of life and when you come and eat of me every need you have is satisfied my child. For I know the cravings that are in you and the things that you hunger for. I know the struggles and desires that you have. However, you will not have these needs met by others, but only by me, my child. You will only have that hunger satisfied in my presence.

So come and see that I have everything you need. I see the cries of your heart and I see your hidden desires. I see your hunger and your thirst. I am the well of living water that can quench that thirst and cool you down from the heat of the sun. So run to me and find that I have everything that you need.

Then when you are full and satisfied, you will feel the peace you have been struggling to find. You will feel the fullness that you have been craving. Then when the peace comes you will see things as you have not seen them before. Just like Abraham saw the ram in the thicket, so you will suddenly see things that have been there all along.

For I desire to meet the deep wishes of your heart. I desire to meet your need and cover you with every blessing. But first come to me and be satisfied. Come to me and eat of me first and drink of me first. Only then will you be truly full. Only then will you see the blessings that I have for you, says the Lord.