As tornado sirens filled the late evening air, hail stones barraged the residents of the small rural town I called home late one Sunday evening. At the break of new day, the remarkable thing was the relatively small amount of damage to the area and the homes in the wake of the storm. Dented vehicles, battered siding, and a few roofs beaten up.
But I noticed that the most vulnerable of places in every house and vehicle – the windows – were amazingly intact. Not a single broken pane anywhere – at least by initial report and personal observation.
Now come on! Hail stones the size of golf balls, and in some cases, small apples, and not a broken window anywhere? There’s a lot of windows, even in a small town. That’s darn near miraculous!
You know, we too, have all kinds of vulnerabilities in our lives. Areas where we feel chained to fear, defeat, or denial. Some we aren’t even aware of, but their presence is verified in how they effect our daily existence. The enemy thrives on finding our vulnerabilities and throwing his fiery darts at them to cause as much damage as he can. Usually, our vulnerabilities are revealed through temptation (a tool of the Enemy) or trial (a discipline of Grace).
But if you have been redeemed by the awesome power of the Gospel truth, you have a very precious promise available to you. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, speaking to a church with a LOT of vulnerabilities, Paul reminds them and us that if we trust God in the midst of the onslaught against our vulnerabilities, God will provide the means to endure and be victorious. I don’t know what you’re going through, but look out your vulnerable, yet intact window – and be reminded that you are under Divine protection and provision!
What’s revealing your vulnerability? A temptation that you need to flee from? Or a trial that you need to submit to and receive training from? Our vulnerabilities are there to help us see. But the point of being able to see, is so that we can respond to what it is we are seeing. If you need help fighting and fleeing the temptation; or if you need someone to walk with you through the trial – first look for that friend that God always seems to provide – and then give us a call if needed. We’re here to help. No matter the vulnerability, you can be victorious Image Bearer!
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, the Apostle Paul instructs us to, “… take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Have you thought about how practical and useful that is for you today? One of Lucifer’s many names in Scripture is “The Father of Lies.” Jesus told His critics (those who rejected Christ) that the native language of their father (the Devil) is lies.
We live in a world where advertisements tell us we are incomplete, insufficient, unhappy, and unremarkable – without their product! People at work and school hint that we need to be more, better, stronger, and _____________ (fill in the blank). Sometimes in our own homes and throughout our world, we are surrounded by criticism, shame, comparison, and guilt. Sometimes, criticism can be good because it challenges. At times, comparison can be illustrative and illuminating. Once in a while guilt and shame lead to Godly repentance. This is all good.
But often times, the world speaks the native language of its father, and the result is not constructive, good, or redeeming. It’s destructive, crushing, and demeaning. But we are told that we can take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.
So if you’re having a tough week, a rough couple of months, a lousy year already, where everything seems to be against you, remember this: YOUR Father’s native language is love. If you have Christ as your personal Savior, then you can take every negative and critical thought captive.
So when you hear the Liar’s voice, you just tell him:
“I am a child of the King! He created me on purpose and for a purpose! He knows every flaw in me better than me and you and STILL He loves me! He is in control of it all and He chooses to use me today! Right Now! And I will listen to Him!” Take the negative thought captive and release the thoughts that are real and True from Heavens perspective. By the way, when you take that thought captive, it dies. It doesn’t linger and fester and grow. You don’t need it; lies are useless once the truth is revealed. If you don’t kill it, it will do everything it can to kill you! Remember, one of you will be the captive!
Be a thought captivator! Who knows, maybe someone else needs to hear for the first time in their life, that they can do the same. Let His voice be louder than the Liar’s. Be a blessing this week Image Bearer!
I heard a wonderful testimony a while back about how God had redeemed a life from such deep brokenness, hatred, and criminal activity, that it was hard to believe the individual giving the testimony could ever have been the same person. In comparison, I’m almost embarrassed by the ‘blandness’ of my 12 year old conversion.
Have you ever experienced that? Having listened to such a powerful, life-transforming experience, you feel very shallow in comparison for not having experienced something so dramatic?
Colossians 1:13 & 14 says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
It’s interesting to note from Colossians that we were all enemies of God in our mind and behavior (v. 21) before being saved, but notice what it says in the above verse. “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness…”
I don’t have a deep and tragic backstory to my own depravity. But I am reminded here that I, like every other testimony-giver, have been rescued from Darkness. I know who I am in Christ. and part of that is knowing who I would be without Christ. When I catch glimpses of my anger or pride I recognize how much more my “darkness” could have matured with me as I aged – had Christ not saved me! So my testimony is not that I am drastically different from the 12 year old sinner I was, but that I am not the man I could have been.
Be encouraged by Grace! Celebrate the testimony that you do have – and share it with others. The value of a great testimony is not necessarily in how drastic the change in us was, but in how much we grow to love and look like Jesus no matter where we come from. We have all come out of the dark! If you haven’t yet, you can, and the Center For Human Development is here to help – no matter how simple or drastic the need. There is always hope. Live in the Light Image Bearer!
It is interesting what we allow into our homes and cars by way of video games, music, movies, language and more…isn’t it? Here is a question to think about during this reading: What is God not God of in your child’s life?
I watched a PG movie with my family the other night. I would not have given the movie a PG rating. More of an upper PG-13 rating.
What does “PG” mean anyway? According to the MPAA, a “PG” rating is described as:
PG — “Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children”: The Rating Board applies this rating when the members believe the film contains themes or content that parents may find inappropriate for younger children. The film can contain some profanity, violence or brief nudity, but only in relatively mild intensity. A PG film should not include drug use. (http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/question467.htm)
Oh, and check this out…
PG-13 — “Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.” The MPAA added this rating in 1984 to denote films in which violence, profanity or sexual content is intense enough that many parents would not want to expose their younger children to the film, but not so intense as to warrant an R rating. Any movie featuring drug use will get at least a PG-13 rating. A PG-13 movie can include a single use of what the board deems a “harsher, sexually derived word,” as long as it is only used as an expletive, not in a sexual context.
“PG-13” didn’t even exist until 1984! Interesting. I always thought some “PG” movies made before the 90’s were a bit off.
So Hollywood is suggesting to me from the perspective of their solid moral foundation, how to be a good parent, and how to discern whether my kids should watch something.
(It is interesting that the original rating system was developed by a Christian minister at the request of Hollywood in order to appease the masses clamoring for protection. That system has “developed’ quite differently than it’s humble beginnings.)
But…what if my kids throw a fit (like most kids) that they don’t get to watch the movie, but “mom and dad” do!? My response? Parents have the responsibility to raise those children, no matter how old they are. A key verse that would support that thought is:
Mark 8:36 “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Now apply it to parents and their kids…
What does it profit a parent to gain their kid’s ______________ (affection? popularity? fill in the blank), but to lose their child’s soul?
Yikes. That gives me shivers! I compromise in this sphere sometimes. I don’t always choose the ugly battles because I want my kids to like me, or I want them to enjoy life with friends.
I once worked alongside a church leader who allowed their son to play very violent video games including the Grand Theft Auto series (extremely violent and morally deficient game that allows the player to commit acts of violent sex, battery, and other criminal behavior) because they wanted him to “fit in” with his friends. This is a dangerous, slippery slope, and personally, I find the mixed messages of that individual’s vocation and personal choices more than difficult to balance out. Imagine the adolescent trying to balance it out. It makes me wonder if others would look at any of my life/parenting decisions the same.
I wonder how much we willfully allow, even invite, into our home conforming to cultural norms in order to (ultimately) have a false sense of peace in our home. Can we play video games, watch movies, and enjoy a great fiction book? I believe we absolutely can, but the parameters we use to discern what is acceptable or not should be more about guarding hearts and souls than it is about what everyone else is doing.
How are you doing in your home?
Tony LaMouria, Counselor, Center for Human Development
Do you believe in Easter?
Maybe I should explain that question.
The thing about Easter is that it’s really a combination of a memorial holiday for the single greatest event in human history – and a celebration of the promise, which that event secured for all of us who believe in it. Got it? A memorial of an event – and a celebration of a promise!
Easter is a joyful memorial of the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ following his redemptive and sacrificial death on the cross! Without Easter, Christians would have no faith! It’s because of this historical event that we are gifted with the opportunity to know our Creator’s love and purpose, both individually and as a Church.
But Easter is also about the fact that Jesus is coming back! We don’t celebrate Easter simply because our Savior rose. We celebrate Easter because we know what it means to truly hope. We know that all the crazy, unjust, broken, perverted, mangled, and complicated junk we deal with in this world is eventually going to be made right. This mess we have made is not the end. A literal new beginning will come one day, and the perfect King will be in charge of making All Things new! He didn’t stay dead! He’s alive and coming back!
No matter how bad life gets, how hopeless elections seem, how unsecure the global economy looks, Easter reminds us that something incomparably better, real and lasting is coming. How does that sound? Hope it’s encouraging, because that’s what Easter is meant to be. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that through all the daily living. If you need help, we’re here.
Do you believe in Easter?
By Lee Webster & Tony LaMouria
If you follow the news, you will have noticed a great number of commentaries lately regarding the school shooting in Florida last month. When tragedy like this strikes our communities, it is natural to try to find a “why” answer and someone or something to blame. In addition, we hear and see a barrage of opinions and well-intentioned responses flood the media. But often, the issues that surface with the most robust activity are issues that are peripheral to the heart of the matter. It’s like trying to deal with a continuous oil leak down-stream, but never going up-stream to stop the oil flow.
When crisis does hit, it is fascinating to see the immediate human responses that do address the proverbial “oil leak.” There are three constants that we turn to, the value of meaningful faith, the importance of family, and how precious life is!
God is concerned with the crises in our lives. His concern is evident in the provisions he has given us and which, if we look very closely, are always there – especially when we need them most. When we wonder how and why circumstances can happen; when we wonder where God is when it hurts so terribly, faith, family, and life always rise to the top of our purview. We can’t deny it, because it’s where we always turn.
Scripture tells us that faith is being sure of what we have hoped for and certain of what we cannot see. That doesn’t mean that we are blindly assuming “it will all work out”. It means that we know that the bigger picture we have been promised and are relying on – God’s sovereignty and goodness – will eventually right every wrong. It’s confidence in His goodness, perfection, creativeness, wisdom, and power to do what nobody can imagine experiencing or witnessing.
Working with people from every background, faith and demographic over the years, it is clear that family is not just blood relatives, but is the community of like-minded individuals that know they can be safe with, dependent on, and courageous with. I have known families (and I would consider my own) to be made up of individuals from different parents, races, and countries. It is amazing to see the beauty and power of God’s grace in His idea of “brothers”, “sisters”, “mothers”, “fathers”, and “family”.
Perhaps most significant is the commonly shared belief in the value of life. When it comes down to it, we all believe in the sanctity of life and we demonstrate it in the shared tears and pain of loss.
There is a good God over all of this. He does provide. While we cannot simply sweep away the pain or the questions, we can help each other find a few comforting answers that let us know we are not forgotten; we are not forsaken; we are not alone. How powerful to note right before Easter, that here is hope because there is a returning redeemer one day. In the meantime, let us persevere together in faith, family, and audacious resiliency of life.
For this video blog, Lee Webster invites us to consider one of the most fundamental concepts in marriage – fights! You read that right. Here are a few quick thoughts on one of the biggest issues in marital communications. Fight patterns…
“Every couple I know has a fight pattern.”
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In a small town near where I live, there is single blinking red traffic light. There are many intersections in the town, but this light marks the only true crossroads in the community. Depending on what you do at this stop light, you can experience some very different outcomes.
I have noticed that God allows crossroads along my journey. As I consider those already in my rearview mirror, I note that at all true crossroads in my life, He has always provided the opportunity to stop.
God is not vindictive and spiteful. He does not bring us to crossroads to get back at us for not driving right. I believe the Bible shows that He allows crossroads to give us opportunity to pause and reflect; to consider and even to ask for direction. Sometimes we need the crossroads to remind us that the journey is not some mindless wandering. We need to be reminded that there is a purpose and that we need to consider the outcomes are not ultimately about what we want. The way may be straight and narrow, but there is still a map to consult. There is still a Map Maker who just happens to also be the Road Builder – and He loves to talk about both.
Are you at a crossroads? Is there a blinking red light? You are free to move, but maybe you are there so that you can take a little time to get refocused, re-grounded, or possible get out of the drivers seat.
Listen. Don’t be afraid to wait. Where do you go from here Image Bearer?
For our first video blog, Lee Webster invites us to consider one of the most foundational concepts of our society – and our families. Here are a few quick thoughts on MARRIAGE and an invitation to take action with CHD and CFD.
“Marriage is good for all of us.”
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I spent several months looking forward to Christmas, and as soon as it was here, I was looking forward to New Years. On New Year’s Eve, I was already thinking about the next big project before the ball even dropped.
The Holiday season is barely behind me and a busy Northwoods Winter is still before me. Already, the retail stores are looking forward to Valentine’s day and in some cases, St. Patrick’s Day.
I have a tendency in my western culture to live in the moment while planning for the next. I live on a perpetual treadmill of excited anxiousness for what’s next. In a business sense, this is marketable wisdom; but in holistic living, it may cause anxiety as well as a plethora of other imbalances in life.
There is wisdom in planning for tomorrow, but if it keeps me from fully embracing the moment I am in – from recognizing the presence of abundant provision and grace for now – then there is something unbalanced in my enjoyment of now and my concern for tomorrow.
I wonder if we need to be reminded that life isn’t simply about preparing for, planning for, and investing in – tomorrow. We have today. We are not promised anything more. Our Creator wants us to be wise about tomorrow, but not at the expense of today.
The enemy uses our insecurities and failures, the failures of others, and the circumstances of the broken world to bring us down; to cause worry and strife of all kinds. However, the great promise of our Savior is that he is always with us. Take a look at this promise:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
We can be certain that the future is not going to be perfect, but as the famous minister and civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy said, “I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future”. I can live fully in this moment and focus on what I need to in this moment, allowing it to last as long as it needs to; because tomorrow is already in His hands.
Let me share one more verse with you:
“Bear one anothers burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Sometimes, the Truth doesn’t match what we are experiencing. That doesn’t mean the Truth isn’t real. It means there is something wrong with our interpretation of the experience, or our application of the Truth to that experience. That’s why we need each other. Sometimes we need help figuring it out. With His promise in mind and the provision of others who are able to help, we can be victorious in just living today.
Be encouraged in the reminder that you are not alone and that there are brothers and sisters in Christ all around who can help
So, who will have victory today? You? Or the treadmill?