Don’t Believe the Lie

Life teaches us many things. One thing I’ve painfully learned is lies are usually too good to be true. Sometimes, there are lies told that are almost believable, especially at Christmas time.

How about this one: “Santa Claus is real”? Responsible sane adults tell it to little children, along with the lie “I’ll never lie to you”. Yep! I once fell for it hook, line, and sinker!  It was intentional and well-meaning deceit, but isn’t that how Satan works too?

In the Bible, Satan is proven to be the first liar. Genesis recounts the Creation and the Fall of mankind through Adam and Eve. You see Eve believed a lie (Genesis 3:1). That belief ultimately caused her to lose her home in paradise and earned her pain in childbirth as punishment for disobeying God (Genesis 3:16). Her husband Adam also paid the price for her sin. He was condemned to struggle to survive for the ground was cursed (Genesis 3:17).

Here’s what the serpent said and Eve’s response:

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Genesis 3:1-3 (KJV)

Here’s what God really said:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it:  for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:26-27

Sin creeps in because the heart is deceitful. Jeremiah records the truth in Jeremiah 17:9-10:  

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”  

These verses warn us about how easily we can be deceived and the consequences. It’s not pretty, as Adam and Eve discovered.

The world at large continually tears down the true meaning of the Christian celebration of Christmas. Jesus has been replaced with Santa and Self. Much ado is made over Santa and gift giving. Character is revealed very clearly during the rush Christmas shopping.

Believers celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s own Son. His life on earth demonstrated God’s goodness, love, and mercy for mankind. He came to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. God’s law requires that sin be punished. Jesus took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross. He satisfied God’s requirements so that those who believe in Him can be forgiven and reconciled to God.

Trust is precious. Once lost, it’s difficult to regain. Don’t allow yourself to get into the habit of lying. Even “little white lies” are a problem because they seem okay, even harmless. If someone lies about something small, they will lie about something big when it suits the purpose.

Let’s reject the lies about the reason we celebrate Christmas. Seek the truth. The Bible tells us Christmas is about a baby boy born in a stable who came to be the Savior of the world.

by Linda Hull

Dear High School Self

Dear High School Self,

Hello, my friend. I see you will be graduating in the spring. You’ve had trials, drama, and success the last few years. I know you still aren’t quite sure where you fit or what part you will play in life, so be patient. It will reveal itself along the way. It has been and will be worth all the effort you have and are making. Sometimes we race across the finish line with fanfare and cheers. Other times we seem to barely survive and crawl across. HOW you finish matters a lot less than THAT YOU FINISH. Keep giving it all you’ve got, and you’ll get somewhere worth being.

I know you have often wondered if you have what it takes to become something more than you are right now, or if there is even anything MORE out there. Trust me, you can do it. I know now that you will never be alone, especially on those long, dark roads you have and will be required to travel.

Treasure the remaining few months of high school. Don’t allow what you don’t have to rob you of what you do have. Attitude and what you choose to dwell on can make a difference. Don’t allow the “can’t do, so don’t try” people to control your life. There are great things out there for you to accomplish, and wonderful people to meet. Keep yourself in the game so you can be on the field when the really interesting stuff happens.

You think you’ve done some cool stuff. You will always remember your experiences in football, swimming, and music fondly. Having such passion and endeavors has kept you on your feet. I know you are planning to swim in college. You will have a great experience. It may not last long, but it will help set a pattern you will follow the rest of your life. Never hesitate to go for your dreams, or try to accomplish really hard things. Strength and learning are more often found in the path and the effort rather than in the end result.

Hold on and continue to develop that growing faith in the divine. It will become a solid foundation during some of the storms that lay ahead, and it will also allow the sun to shine all the brighter each day. He is there for you.

My young friend, I stand at the other end of the path, looking back over 43 years with a measure of envy. I am happy that you have so much in front of you. Life is a wonderful adventure and will take you amazing places. I see clearly the events that separate us and, with some insight, can say that who I have become is due to all the experiences combined. We don’t get to skip over the rough spots, and we shouldn’t want to. It is the good and the bad, the success and the failure, the joy and the sorrow, things lost and things found, that blend together to give our lives depth, color, and meaning. I see more clearly the meaning of your life, and it has been worth it. All of these experiences make it possible for us to become the wonderful and interesting people that God intended. One day you will see to live…truly live, love, and aspire to be something more…is glorious.

What more can I say? Thank you for making me who I am. As a result of all that has happened, I have found joy and meaning. You will too. I believe in you.

Your friend,
Clark

Clark Burbidge is an award-winning YA author, especially known for the trilogies “Giants in the Land” and “Star Passage.” In this letter he writes about what he wishes he could have told his teenage self. Clark talks about being patient because even if you don’t feel like you fit in now, one day you will find your place in the world. He also discusses learning to enjoy the moment and not to not spend your time worrying about the next thing. You can read more about him here: About Author Clark Burbidge

Single and CONTENT!

by Sharon Keegan

MY STORY 2 – Sharon Keegan from Community Fellowship Church on Vimeo.

I had everything planned out. I was going to meet my husband in college, get married the weekend after graduation, and promptly begin serving in ministry alongside my husband. We would eventually buy a house and fill it with treasures I found at thrift stores and paint the inside with vibrant colors, carefully picked out after staring at paint swatches at Home Depot. I never wanted a career or ever dreamed about supporting myself financially. I was going to get a job of course, but I would be able to do anything I wanted because my husband was going to have a full time job with benefits.

I am now 32 and have never been kissed. I remember turning “sweet 16 and never been kissed.” It was cute then. “32 and never been kissed” sounds….pathetic?

I began to panic. I had no idea how I was going to support myself for the rest of my life with a degree that I randomly picked in the first place and never intended to have to use. But, with each year ticking by, my dreams slipped away and the plan imploded. I felt left behind. No one seemed to want to pick me, and I was devastated. I believed so many lies about married; I thought a wedding ring it would create the contentment and happiness that I longed for.

Year after year I crocheted countless afghans as wedding gifts. I kept thinking, when was it going to be my turn? At 32, I still live in an apartment with hand-me-down miss-matched silverware, and I have to watch 22-year-olds registering for Bed Bath and Beyond in preparation for their dream kitchen full of brand new free gadgets.

Eventually I got to the point where I was just plain jealous all the time. I was tired of being so miserable, but I didn’t really know what to do about it. I asked God for years to help me learn contentment, but all the asking didn’t seem to make much difference. I knew theoretically that my contentment had to be found in Christ, rather than my circumstances. But, that kind of maturity seemed impossible. After all, how do you stop wanting something that you want?

Growing up, one of my favorite books was The Hiding Place, which told the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family.  They were sent to Nazi Concentration camps for hiding Jews in their home. Corrie’s bunk was infested with fleas, and when her sister suggested they thank God for the fleas, she thought it a crazy notion. How could you be thankful for something you hate? But, Corrie’s sister insisted, and they thanked God for the fleas. They came to realize that the officers wouldn’t enter their bunk houses because of the fleas, and as a result, Corrie and her sister had a safe place to share the Gospel with their fellow inmates. I was determined to use Corrie as an example, and committed one day to be thankful for being single at every chance I could, even if I didn’t really mean it, or see the rationale behind saying it.

For a few years I developed a habit of thankfulness; I was intentional about thanking God for being single, even though my heart wasn’t in it. It was a long time before I really felt any difference. Then, out of nowhere, I had a breakthrough. I was renting a room in a women’s house, and I couldn’t stand the way she organized her kitchen. First of all, she put the silverware in the “wrong” drawer. She insisted on cramming the cupboards full of dishes, and every time I opened a cupboard, I was afraid that glass cups would come crashing down on my head. As was my habit, one day I stopped to thank God for being single and needing to rent from this woman. Then, I had this thought. What if I got married someday, and my husband wanted to put the silverware in the “wrong” drawer? What a nightmare! I would have to live with him for the rest of my life! I was able to utter, with all my heart, “Thank you Lord that I’m single and after I move out of this women’s house can set up my kitchen correctly.” And for just a moment, I became truly grateful for being single. My heart had finally caught up with my head.

When I was a teenage in the mid-90’s, there was a popular trend in churches called “true love waits.” I, like most of my friends, pledged to wait for marriage. My parents bought me this ring as a symbol of that commitment, and I wore it for years. Eventually, however, the concept of “true love WAITS” began to irk me. While I fully support the concept of abstinence, the word “wait” drove me nuts. To me, it implied that my goal in life was to sit around and wait for my husband to show up. I realized that I could waste a lot of years with that attitude, and that I had a responsibly to serve God with my singleness. I eventually replaced the ring with the a wedding band I inherited when my grandma passed away. No matter if I ever got a diamond for this finger, I know that I am already married. Even if I get married on earth, I won’t be married in Heaven. However, I will always be the bride of Christ, and I have been a bride since I asked Him into my heart at age 5. He is my permanent redeemer and the love of my life. Contentment in Christ means is assurance that I’m not pathetic. In truth, I’m a cherished bride.

The Power of Forgiveness

By Evelyn Horan

handshakeFor years I lived in a gloomy fog of depression, stress, and stomachaches. I had no appetite.  I carried the spirits of anger and hate around like we were good friends. And sometimes, I thought about ways I could repay the wrong I had suffered.

But,  I’ve found a better way to cope with hurts.  I experienced  God’s  forgiveness in my own life, and now I can forgive others.

One of the first things I gave up was my wish to retaliate when someone wronged me. I  learned that God is in charge. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19). I learned I was supposed to leave the discipline and judgment of others to God.

But I found exercising forgiveness difficult. I could eventually forgive the act, but I was tempted to hold a grudge against the person who wronged me.

A sermon I heard on forgiveness introduced me to Matthew 6:14, 15: “If  ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

“When we forgive others,  in response to God’s forgiveness,” the minister  said, ” the benefits are wonderful.  We become healthier physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

Before that time, my stomach was in knots more often than it was relaxed.  My face and jaw muscles would tense with anger, and my blood pressure would rise when I thought  about a wrong I’d experienced.

Could I forgive?  Could I really look at the situation the way God expected me to?  Not without His help. Through prayer I uncovered the ugly hurt I’d harbored in my life.   I explored the ridges and folds of the pain in the light of God’s forgiveness. I realized my unforgiving spirit had been a sin, and I gradually came to repentance. It took a long time, but I reached the place where I could say with conviction, “Yes, Lord, I’ll release my hurt and give it over to You.”

After I prayed to God for forgiveness and confessed my sin, a warm feeling of love filled my spirit. My stomach relaxed and my breathing became deep and free. It seemed as if chains had been removed from my heart.

I never thought it would happen–and certainly it wouldn’t have without God’s power–but I sought out  the one who had caused me pain. I apologized for my unforgiving spirit and years-long grudge. In turn, I received  an apology.  Our friendship was not only restored, but renewed with a deeper level of understanding.

Because I asked God’s forgiveness for my sin of being unforgiving, I can now forgive a wrong done to me.  Finally, I also know without doubt that I am in God’s care. I am His child, and He knows my hurts.   All I must do is put my problems in His healing hands.

It’s You

by Nadia Gyane

smile-winterDid you know that you can ignite someone’s gift, by being your very best?

 

You can encourage people to give their best wherever they are, just by what you do and what you say. What you carry is what you can promote in others.

 

Being excellent at your job, in your school, in your college, in your home, in your life, in your relationships and in your world. You can motivate people to do the same and it all starts with you.

 

Make a choice today to do your best, because God deserves it, in all areas of your life, because He gave His very best for you.

Let It Go

by Nadia Gyane

 

free-fallingThere will be times in your life when God wants you to let go and I mean really let go. Let go of the hate, the hurt, the disappointment, the temptations, the bitterness and the resentment. Let go of the past, your bad friends and bad attitude and move into all that He has for you.

Letting go of all the bad things is more than reasonable in most cases, however there will also be times when God wants you to let go of something you see and know is good. That good job, that good girl or that good guy. That good home and that good friend. He will want you to let go of it in order to give you the very best. The best job, the best guy, the best girl, the best home and the best friend.

We must let go in order to receive something better from God and it won’t always be easy. It is difficult to let go of something we know is good for us and instead trust God that He has something better in store.

It is hard to look back at what was and believe that there will be something more than what we had. God knows better and only has better things in store for you. Which is why He tells you to let go and trust Him.

It isn’t always easy and at times you will have to cry as you let go. But what sweet, sweet joy comes as we obey and receive that better thing that God has in store for those that trust Him and choose to let go.

Let it go, today!

Who Am I?

Who am I? Gambill_CharlotteIs an unspoken question we can all struggle with over time as we navigate the different challenges and seasons of life. Just when we think we know who we are, our situations change, relationships alter and we realize yet again we have allowed people and things to identify who we are.  But your identity is not in what you do or where you are, it is in whose you are.

Do you remember the story of Jacob in the bible? His name literally meant deceiver. His mother pushed him to strive after his brother’s inheritance. Never content with where he was or who he was, he wore disguises, lied and eventually had to flee from his home as a result. Jacob can be a picture of our own identity struggles. Just like Jacob we can become driven by peer pressure, society and others agendas, but our true identity can only be found in our total surrender to God. In Genesis 28 Jacob becomes separated from all that is familiar and comes face to face with the power of his turnaround God.

Jacob goes on a journey where he moves from deceiver to becoming a diligent worker in Laban’s fields; he turns from striving to please others, to being secure in who he was. One night as Jacob is about to return to see his family, there is a wrestle that takes place and in it God asks Jacob this question: ‘What is your name?’ He answers, ‘Jacob.’ Then God replies, ‘Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel; you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.’  In Genesis 32 God renamed Jacob in accordance with his true identity. Jacob gained a limp that day that gave him his own unique walk. Maybe as you read this article you need to begin your own Jacob journey, maybe it’s time to step away from all the labels, agendas and peer pressures and allow god to rename you. Don’t settle for a life that is less-than when you serve a God who is more-than.

Allow God today to turn your life into all He predestined it to be.

 

turnaround-god-discovering-gods-transformational-powerBIO: Charlotte Gambill has an infectious love for life, a deep love for people and zealous love for God’s House. Her passion is to build the local church across the earth, to see people reach their full potential and to develop and strengthen leadership. Charlotte is known for her practical, humorous and passionate application of God’s word. Her messages of life and purpose are rallying a generation to embrace the broken and become ambassadors of hope. Charlotte is an author, speaker, pastor and mother; she leads Life Church in England with her husband Steve and together they have two children, Hope Cherish and Noah Brave.is the author of Turnaround God: Discovering God’s Transformational Power (Thomas Nelson, Inc.). Visit her website at CharlotteGambill.com

Remind Me

by Nadia Gyane

 

prayLord remind me when I’m having a bad day of your blessings and provisions you have given me for the day.

When my hair doesn’t look its best, that I am still beautiful.

When I feel unworthy and unloved that I am truly and unconditionally loved by you.

Remind me of your blessings that you send me each and every day, your caring hand upon my life and your gentle voice that guides me all day long.

Lord remind me of your forgiveness and your mercy’s which are new every morning. Remind me even when things don’t go my way that you are always there, and that you care.

Remind me that you are my Rock, my Life and my Salvation.

Remind me of your precious gifts sent to bless me.

Please Lord remind that you are my everything, my all and all and that I love you, because I may forget, so please Lord remind me.

Choose the Back Seat

by Nadia Gyane

backseatWhen you want to elevate yourself and be seen and praised by thousands even millions of people, choose the back seat.

The Bible tells us that we are to take the lowly place, the furthest seat at the wedding so that we can be elevated to our rightful place. We should not get so big headed and think so highly of ourselves that people need to accommodate our ego and pretentious ways.

You are going to have to choose who you are going to please in this life, your flesh or your God. Your flesh will want one thing and God will want another and neither one are willing to compromise. You will need to make the final deciding vote. If the praises of men is what you run after and you want to be spoken well of and seen to be doing good things in front of people, then you have chosen your flesh, and that will be your only reward. However if you want to please God and hear your Heavenly father call you out by name and lift you up to greater heights, you need to place yourself on the back seat and start to get real comfortable there, because God is no respecter of persons. He can raise up one and set down another at any given time. In pleasing God your reward will be great, but your flesh will have to die and that is something that a lot of us Christians are not yet willing to come to terms with. Needless to say you make the decision every day and either look to seek the praises and approval of people or the approval and praises from a great God and King.

The decision is yours, but I recommend that you take the back seat.

Modesty

by Haley Norris
sweaterHello, friends! Lately, I have seen several articles or blog posts on modesty circling the social media I’m on, so I decided I may as well jump on that bandwagon and put my two cents in! Modesty is something that I have found to be very important, especially as I’ve gone through my high school years and grown as a daughter of Christ. The way I dress is a reflection of who I am. When I think of the many reasons I have decided to take a stance on modesty, I think my future husband is one of the most important. I’ll admit it, I’m a dreamer. I think about my future husband often. What he will be like. What is he doing right now? This very moment. I don’t like to think that he is being tempted to lust after another girl. Especially regarding what she is wearing. So why should I dress immodestly, tempting other young men to lust after me? In talking about the wife of a noble character, Proverbs 31:12 says: “She honors him all the days of her life.” Notice how it says all the days of her life. It doesn’t say just some of them, or just the days she knows him, but ALL the days of her life. I feel that the way we dress can bring honor to our future husbands. Wearing clothes that don’t flaunt our bodies and tempt our brothers in Christ is a statement of respect. It says that we respect ourselves enough to not seek attention in that way. It also says that we respect our future husbands enough to not dress in a way that attracts ungodly men. Above all, it shows that we respect our Maker! He made us so beautifully! We are to embrace that beauty, not by revealing everything, but by dressing in a way that makes us look like the young ladies He has called us to be! I want the way I dress and the way I present myself to point others to Him.  I want to set an example for younger girls around me! I want to show them that it’s OKAY to not dress in revealing ways. That the short shorts don’t add points to your popularity. I know there are several younger girls that do look up to me, and I want more than anything to set a good example for them. I want them to see that modesty is a good thing, no matter how much society looks down on it. I will say, the term “modest is hottest”, is quite literal in the summertime. Modesty is not always the most comfortable option. And the cutest swimsuits are often the most revealing. Yes, modesty does take sacrifice, but it is so worth it! And dressing modestly doesn’t mean losing all sense of fashion! You can still look cute and dress modestly! In the long run, the sacrifices made to dress modestly are greatly outweighed by the good that comes out of it! Think of what the world would be like if more women took a stand on modesty! If we all dressed in a way that showed how much we respected ourselves, as well as our brothers in Christ! I hope to see more girls striving for that! Thanks for reading!
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 6:19