Chit Chatting with Trinitee Stokes

 

Written by Jill Sheets

I first saw Trinitee Stokes on the Disney TV show K.C. Undercover–she plays a member of the Cooper family…a robot member. I was surprised when I watched the show how perfect her comedy timing was and how great an actress she is. She looked perfectly comfortable in front of the camera. She is going to go far in her career. But don’t just take my word for it–check her out for yourself! K.C. Undercover is aired every day on Disney channel.

R: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into acting

T:  I am 11 years old and originally from Jackson, Mississippi. I When I was two years old, I was watching an episode of That’s So Raven and it was really funny. That’s when I told my mom that I wanted to be on TV, so that I could make people laugh, too. I started out in theater at the age of three when my mom created me a role in her first stage play. When I turned five, I landed an agent in my hometown in Mississippi and my professional acting career began.

 

R: You are in K.C. Undercover. For those who have not seen it yet, tell us about it and about your character.

T: I play the role of Judy. Judy is the youngest sibling of the Cooper family, disguised as a sophisticated robot. She is there to assist the family when solving missions. Judy is cute, sassy, no nonsense, and very intelligent. She has started to feel some human emotions, which is something she hasn’t been able to do in the past. Some of the lines in her scripts would be something that I would say, so it makes it that much easier to come across in a natural way. Judy also has great fashion sense.

 

R: What is it like working with Zendaya and the other cast? Has she given you any advice?

T: Its wild working with the cast. We work hard, but we also laugh a lot. We always find time to start a dance party on set. Since I’m the only kid on the show, I get treated like everyone’s little sister. Something Zendaya always says is that we have a voice, so we should use it for good.

 

R: Tell us about Teachers and about your character Lauren.

T: Teachers was so much fun to shoot. It was the first TV show outside of Disney Channel that I had the privilege to work on. My character Lauryn is a very intelligent girl, yet funny in her own way. Her character was totally different from Judy.

 

R: If you could work with any five people, who would they be?

T: Viola Davis, Beyoncé, Denzel Washington, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansen.

 

R: Who is your biggest influence?

T: My mom is my biggest influence because her life motivates me to believe the impossible and to pursue everything God has for me.

 

R: I read that you also sing. Tell us about your song “Win Now.” Where can people get your song? Do you plan on recording more in the future?

T: “Win Now” is a song about learning to be comfortable with the way that God made you. Sometimes God has a special anointing on you and no matter how hard you try, you just won’t fit in with the crowd. “Win Now” encourages you to embrace your gifts and know that the moment that you believe you are who God says you are, you win! “Win Now” is available on iTunes.

 

R: I read that you are also an author and fashion designer. Tell us about that!

T: I am currently working on my first novel and a children’s series with my mom.

 

R: What has been your favorite memory so far?

T: My favorite memory thus far has been when my parents packed up our home in Mississippi and drove cross-country to California on faith. We made the trip a three-day site-seeing adventure. We stopped and spent the night in different states, and we sang songs like we were the Beverly Hill Billies!

 

R: What are your top five favorite books?

T: The Great Chocolate Chase, Judy Blume and the Not so Bummer Summer, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Story of Josephine Baker, and Land of Stories.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

T:

1. I like country music

2. I love to do different experiments

3. I enjoy cooking

4. I love solving murder mysteries

5. I am a young minister of the gospel

 

R: Do you have any charities that are close to your heart?  If so, tell us about them.

T: I recently “adopted” a child in need through Compassion International.

 

R: What are some of your future goals?

T: I have so many short and long term goals, but here are a few. I definitely want my own TV show and to star in feature films. I also want to travel the world performing and selling out arenas. Also, I look forward to walking into a department store and seeing my clothing line on display!

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

T: www.thetrinitee.com

Instagram: @the_trinitee

Twitter: @the_trinitee

Facebook: Trinitee Stokes

YouTube: Trinitee Stokes

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

T: I would tell all of my fans to always believe that they can accomplish whatever dream they have. Even if it looks impossible or they think that it is too big, still believe. Also, always work hard and have integrity. Lastly, always be true to yourself. Don’t try to be like anyone else. There is no one else in this world that can do you, so JUST BE YOU!

Photo credit: BOBBY QUILLARD

Pencil Skirt Pride

Pride always seems to get in the way of pleasing God. I know because it happened to me.

When I started a new job, I wanted acceptance and respect as a true professional. A shopping trip was the first step! I really needed some new outfits meant to impress.

That navy blue suit was a perfect fit! I was bursting with pride when I wore it! It had an adorable little jacket and a pencil skirt that fell below the knee. A white blouse and black shoes completed my professional outfit.

I received several compliments from the older ladies in the office, who were just a little tired of the more casual attire worn by some girls. I was quite pleased I measured up to their high standards! The other girls didn’t say anything, but that was okay.

Right off, my boss gave me an important task to do that day. I was to go over to one of the government buildings to pick up some paperwork. No problem!

I found a parking place and started walking to the building. That’s when I discovered I could only take very tiny steps instead of my usual longer stride. I hated to admit it to myself but that skirt just didn’t have any give to it at all.  It was a bit of a hike and my time was slipping away. It was impossible to hurry.

When I finally made it to the building, my next obstacle loomed before me. To my horror there were about fifteen steps to the building’s main door. How does one get up steps if you can hardly bend your knees?  

I stood there, hoping  no one noticed I was deliberating about how to get up the steps. Obviously, my beautiful outfit was more suited for church, not office work. I had no choice but to swallow my pride and hike my skirt up a bit so I could go up those awful steps.

I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 16:18 (KJV):  “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Another verse that comes to mind is found in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Later, I had to admit to myself and God that my goal in wearing my gorgeous suit was to draw attention to myself. I wanted to show up the other girls in the office. There was an attitude in my heart that set myself up as better because I had a much desired position in the office. It wasn’t about looking good, but about setting myself apart in arrogance.

God doesn’t mind us dressing up for an important event. He doesn’t mind when we excel and do well. He expects us to do our level best in every situation, not purposely fail.

To do our best, we need to turn to Him in prayer asking for His direction and guidance. Our focus is to be on how we can please Him, not ourselves. Instead of seeking our own acclaim, let us take pride in what our Lord does! He alone deserves the praise and glory! Our joy comes from knowing that we are pleasing to Him.

A thoughtful reminder from the Apostle Peter:

“…be clothed with humility:  for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the might hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:5b-7

Every time I begin to feel prideful, I am reminded of my humiliating experience in a pencil skirt. I remember to trust God to help me to be the person He wants me to be.

Written by Linda Hull

Does God Care About Our Daily Needs?

How do I know God is a part of my daily life?  Every time I begin to think God is too busy in His Heaven to remember my needs and wishes that might seem trivial, I try looking for Him in my routine activities.

I remember one busy morning I had to shop in a short time. I needed an indoor basket plant for my friend, Helen who was recovering from a short illness, and I had other shopping to do.  Knowing that florists expect a “good price” for the sort of dish garden I wanted, I thought of a large discount store outside my neighborhood.

But I don’t enjoy visiting this store because it’s always crowded.  Still, I felt an inner urge to shop for groceries items there.  Just as I expected, when I arrived, the store was filled with shoppers.

Then I prayed, “Dear God, please help me find a gift for Helen.”

Inside the store, with shopping list in hand, I came upon a temporary table of assorted,  dish garden plants. I couldn’t believe it!  They were exactly the kind I wanted, but much more beautiful than I’d even imagined.

“I must have one of those basket plants,” I told myself.  I knew Helen would enjoy the plants.  Cautiously,  I read the sign and then looked again.  It was true, these large, healthy dish gardens were moderately priced.

“Thank you, God,” I whispered.

Then further down, on the right, there was  a display table of children’s books.  As I browsed through them,  I found a beautiful picture book showing the life of Jesus.  It too was moderately priced. The book would be the perfect gift for my young granddaughter Alyssa, whose birthday was in a few days.

“Thank you, God, for sending me here,” I murmured happily, reaching for the picture book.   Through my prayers, God had helped me find the things I needed today.

At home, relaxing after shopping, I thought about my morning.  And I had to remind myself once again–when I take the time to look for Him, it’s easy to find God doing wonderfully, unexpected things in my ordinary life.  I just have to stay alert and recognize them.

When I do, I find the reassurance that these little “special favors” are God’s way of showing me that I am not alone to meet the challenges in my life.  They reveal that God is here with me, helping me, and smoothing out my way in my day to day needs.

Isn’t it wonderful how God makes His presence known to us in ordinary ways all the time!  What a joy to know God is here in our lives, helping us, and blessing us every day with His faithful love.

Written by Evelyn Horan

Healthy on the outside, a mess on the inside

I was a fat kid.  I was teased relentlessly for it, and in sixth grade, I discovered this great thing called exercise, and I lost over twenty pounds.  It felt like a miracle!

The thing was, though, I was skinny fat.  I hated vegetables.  I didn’t eat much fruit.  And I loved carbs almost as much as I loved fast food.  I discovered that I could eat what I wanted to, if I just did enough aerobic exercise.  And so I did that, for a really long time.  It didn’t matter that I felt yucky as in always, always tired, and that I got headaches constantly.  All that seemed to matter to me was that I appeared healthy on the outside.

Even as I was destroying myself on the inside.

It caught up to me.  Autoimmune diseases are knocking on my door.  I’m not that dummy who says, “Huh, how did that happen?”  I’ve had a conscience about this for years.  For the last decade at least (told you I’ve been doing this for a while), I’ve been feeling guilty.  I felt like an addict:  after every cheeseburger and French fries from McDonald’s that I consumed, I’d tell myself it was for the last time.  Next time I was hungry, I’d eat a carrot.  Except I didn’t.

Joint pain, fatigue, and abnormal blood tests made me change my life around.  I eat healthy now.  Not that I didn’t throw a million tantrums in the grocery store when I realized EVERYTHING I ate before had tons of sugar, gluten, or chemicals in it.  The first three months were the hardest, but I’d allow myself one cheat day a week, and I discovered after eating clean, I no longer liked the processed junk.  I no longer understand why I liked it to begin with.  And I feel amazing.  I feel young, even if the date on my license tells me that I’m not.

My eating habits have reflected my spiritual life more times than I’d like to admit.  I’d nurse that anger, focus on the negatives rather than the positives, focus on myself rather than consider anyone else’s needs, and overall let myself slip into habits that I knew weren’t necessarily practices I was proud of.  But I still went to church.  I still read my Bible.  I still prayed (if praying, “Please let this crazy annoying driver in front of me turn left while I turn right” counts).

Semi healthy on the outside.

While decaying on the inside.

If doing the wrong thing makes us feel so horrible, and doing the right thing makes us feel so amazing, why do we keep chasing the wrong choices?  For me, it was about habit.  And comfort.  Familiarity makes me feel safe.  And, to be brutally honest, because I am, you know, incredibly lazy.  So much so that it sometimes frightens me.

Creating my own illnesses scared me straight.  I realized I was poisoning myself by being so lazy that I wouldn’t look up new recipes or buy unfamiliar produce or try something new.  And each time I go out of my comfort zone and smile at a stranger and ask them about their day or do something selfless, I understand that my spiritual life is the same type of thing.  While I may know what nourishes my body, it does no good until it is what I choose to consume.  And while I may know the difference between wrong and right, it doesn’t do any good until I choose to engage in the better choices.

I don’t want to be fake.  I want to be as real as I can be from my soul outward, and I want to shine a light that makes other lives better.  Religious practices mean nothing if you aren’t communicating with the Savior and putting yourself out there as His vessel.  What is right isn’t always easy.  But it is always worth it.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:25 (NIV)

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Believe In What You Do: Tying Faith And Career Together

There are times when it feels like your beliefs can rub up against the world outside in a way that often isn’t immediately a fit. A lot of young Christians find that when it comes to career. However, the truth is that your faith and your work can have a much deeper relationship than many expect. The conventional wisdom of the modern workplace and the wisdom of your faith aren’t incompatible. Here, we’ll look at ways that you can resolve those seeming mismatches and find a career that fulfills and works with your spiritual relationship.

Be true to the values

One of the easiest ways to reconcile your beliefs with your career is to focus on a job that speaks to the very core of your faith. There are few things more Christian than healing the sick, for instance, so finding a career in healthcare can be just the kind of mentally and spiritually nourishing work that helps both aspects of your life co-exist. Or you might consider the careers that follow the path of addressing the inequalities of the world, such as working in foreign aid or in taking paid positions for nonprofits that are at the forefront of battling many of the issues facing modern society.

Spreading the word

Sometimes, the best way to reconcile faith and career is the most direct path. Not every religious person should immediately think about taking a religious job. However, if your faith is not only your moral compass and your guiding path but is a true passion for you, then it only makes sense to follow a career in that position. There are a lot of directions you can take in it, too. A Master of Divinity degree, or a MDiv, can lead to a career path in the church, for certain. But it can also provide a bedrock for a more scholarly approach to religion, including teaching religious studies that can deepen your understanding and relationship with your faith.

Being a believer in the workplace

If you choose a career path outside the church, as you may very well want to, it’s important to realize that there might be some challenges when your faith comes face-to-face with the workplace. If you’ve been raised in a religious family and in a tight faith-based community, then it might feel natural for you for your beliefs to be a natural part of life and conversation and never far from your mind. However, it can cause some challenges in the workplace. It isn’t sacrificing your ideals or compromising your spiritual self to realize that advice based on the scriptures might not play too well in a professional environment. Rather, keeping your faith personal can be tremendously helpful. Prayer is often a great tool for fighting workplace stress and taking the Christian view on showing compassion to wrongdoing can help you contribute to a better workplace, even if you’re extolling the virtues of your belief directly.

Keeping your ties

The more major problem that many young professional Christians have is keeping themselves tied to their faith while in the working environment. For one, if you really want to succeed in your career, as your faith supports, then it can take a lot of time. Making time for God, and touching base with your spiritual self is important. Prayer and seeking the advice of your pastor or reverend can help you reconcile your faith and some of the difficult workplace related choices. For instance, many face issues when it comes to aspects of self-promotion and pride in the workplace that might be helped out with some advice or introspective prayer if you just take the time for it.

Be true to you

Most important of all, you should realize that God doesn’t intend for you to make your relationship with him the only thing in your life. It should always be there, but you are also on the Earth to do good here and to engage here fully and with confidence. If you have a passion, then figure out what it is and how you can make a career with it. So long as you keep your relationship with your faith and keep to the example set by it, there should be no conflict that stops you from working in the field you truly want to.

It can feel like treading a thin line when the modern working culture seems to prioritize ruthless competition and sometimes selfish behavior, but there are a lot of different work environments and career paths where you can find your fit. Hopefully, the tips above help you find them.

 

Chit Chatting with Play Writer Elizabeth G Honaker

 

By Jill Sheets

I have never gotten the chance to interview anyone who wrote plays before until now. I am absolutely thrilled I got to interview Elizabeth G. Honaker. She started writing plays when she was very young and is still going. Read on and learn more about her, her plays, and her advice for anyone who is interested in becoming a playwright themselves.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start writing plays.

E: I have always been “dramatic.” I bugged my first-grade teacher (a nun) to let me participate in Saint Gabriel’s annual Christmas show – and I was allowed! In 8th grade, I wrote science fiction scripts and tried to persuade my friends to rehearse them during recess (it didn’t work!). As a young adult living in England with my husband Allen and children James and Christine, I started becoming interested in Christian drama – especially writing three-minute skits; so I wrote them for our church’s family service. When our family moved back to the United States, I was asked to take over our church’s Easter presentation of The Living Last Supper. It was interesting, but it was a static presentation, so I asked if I could add Mary’s testimony regarding the Resurrection of the Lord. The next year, I added more of the Holy Week events, and in 1994, I wrote my first play that focused on one character. I have written somewhere around twenty different full-length Easter scripts, half of which are in print. I intend to publish them all eventually.

 

R: Tell us about some of your plays and how you got the idea for them.

E: I have long recognized that the ultimate ideas for all of my scripts come from divine inspiration – the work of the Holy Spirit. And I say that in the sense that He gets all the glory for touching lives, and I get all the blame if there are defects in the script. In any case, I most often get ideas that inspire me and get me wanting to write during communion or during a sermon. The Pascal Lamb came from a communion service, as did The Bread of the Servant. I’ll admit, though, that I got the idea for Journey to Life while vacuuming the living room! Behind every single script, though, is my own struggle with a particular issue; I think that’s why strangers walk up to me after performances and say, “You wrote that play just for me.” I share my life problems, and the Lord, in the person of Jesus Christ, provides answers.

 

R: I found this book and I couldn’t help but buy it! Tell us about Mizz Liz’s Five Steps to Good Writing.

E: I have been teaching students how to write good papers for decades now. It started when I taught high school English, and continued when I began to tutor students at my home. I boiled down everything I knew about writing into five steps that are not difficult to understand, but they take explaining (for instance, I used to integrate these steps into my high school curriculum over the period of five months). At one point, I wrote them down with bullets for my college classes, and then I started to develop handouts for students who had been absent from one or another lecture. Finally, I decided that a book written at the 8th-grade level would help me to teach my at-home tutees more efficiently. I now use that book with everyone – even my college students.

 

R: What is your writing process for your plays? How do you come up with the ideas?

E: Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I attribute all the good ideas to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is funny, though – it’s as if the Spirit and I have an annual “appointment” during the Christmas break (which is something all teachers look forward to for relaxation, not for producing a script!). It all starts with a story from a Gospel. I will contemplate a person or group of people and how they might have encountered Jesus – what He would have done for them, how He would have drawn them from the suffering, etc. The concept will “simmer on the back burner” for months, until the day after Christmas. (That is pretty much the “last minute” for producing a workable script for the Disciples to perform for the following Easter.)

When I was teaching high school, I would close the door to the study where the family computer resided and type away all day every day until the play was done. Sometimes, it would reveal itself in three days; sometimes it took a week or ten days. Once I had worked out a story, it seemed that I would see the action of the play, hear the dialog, etc. I would just type it as I saw it. Occasionally, I would write an entire scene and then realize it didn’t fit the story. I would just set it aside and move on. I never obsess over “now where did THAT come from?” because the ways of the Spirit are much bigger and more complex than I am. Who knows? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great classic The Scarlet Letter came to him from a short story he had written years before – which didn’t even focus on a woman pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Nowadays, my main computer is in my study upstairs. Instead of locking myself away – which doesn’t really work because my study is our balcony, not an enclosed room – I now ensconce myself in the family room, and Number One Husband (Allen) pretty much leaves me to do my thing however long it takes. Of course, he stills feeds and waters me, and nags me about going to bed when it gets to be one a.m. But without little ones running around, it is easier to “rule the roost” this way. I still get the script ready for the Wesley Grove Disciples (in Maryland – they still present my plays each year at Easter) by their first scheduled read-through in January.

 

R: Do you have a favorite play or book?

E:  Gosh, that one’s tough! I love Dorothy Sayer’s The Man Born to be King, which started as radio plays about the life of Christ over the BBC during WWII. I love all of C.S. Lewis’ works, especially The Chronicles of Narnia. I have read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its entirety at least three separate times in my life. I love teaching T.S. Eliot, especially the works he produced after he became a Christian. I am a fan of Calvin Miller and Ravi Zacharias. I love well-written biographies of the founding fathers (and I have David Barton to thank for getting me hooked on those). I…now how long do you want me to go on?

 

R: What is your favorite Bible verse?

E: My favorite verse is whatever connects me to the mind of the Lord each time I read the Bible. When I read with a willing mind and an open heart, the Holy Spirit makes the Word live to me. I have to say, though, that the very first verse I memorized when I became a real Christian at the age of twenty-one was Romans 8:28. And I remind all my students that Philippians 4:8 does not mention God or Jesus, and yet it is the best advice for anyone seeking reality.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to write plays?

E: Study how to tell a story with actions, and as few words as possible (a la Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel, and – if necessary – use words”). Study Shakespeare and how he packaged his messages, including comedy in the middle of his tragedies, to focus the groundlings’ attention on what was to come next. Reflect on modern plays or episodes that move you and ask yourself, why do they move you? How have the characters impacted you? Then write your action and dialog down and have someone else read them aloud. Make your characters speak like normal human beings; don’t give them sermons to preach. Make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. And – of course – you can always email me for advice: efghonaker@gmail.com . I promise I’ll respond.

 

R: Where can people get your plays and other books?

E: Right now, all of my plays and books (beside my book on how to write, I also have an historical novel on the martyrdom of Saint Paul and a thesis on the medieval mystery plays) are all available through Amazon.com.

 

R: Do you have an official website? What about social media?

E: My husband recently took down our website because of software issues – the software was no longer supported and we found that we couldn’t update our site. We are working with a third person to design a better site. The domain will be bolb.org and it will have an online store for our new ebooks on how to start drama groups in your church, make affordable costumes and props, and use inexpensive sound and lighting.

I have a page on Facebook – Bread of Life Books – where I’ve posted pictures and video excerpts from my last three plays. The plays are all presented by amateur actors (by that, I mean they are not professionals) but they really put their hearts into the production each year. I am humbled just to watch how they bring each script to life!

I also have a Linkedin page under Elizabeth Golibart Honaker.

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

E: Once upon a time, a gentleman whose opinion I valued very much told me that drama was sinful – no matter whether it had a Christian motive or not, the actors were sinning in pretending to be their characters. I respectfully disagreed with him, but then felt I had to study the Bible more closely in order to affirm the truth of what I already believed. I discovered that God had commanded several of the Old Testament prophets to depict His messages in dramatic form – and the drama was not at all “warm and fuzzy;” it depicted real judgment and real consequences for Israel. In the New Testament, Christ told parables, which reproduced vivid pictures of heavenly truths in the minds of His listeners. When a pastor preaches from the pulpit, does he not present illustrations from real life? People watch Christian plays and dramas knowing full well that the people who play the parts of characters are not trying to pass themselves off as people they are not. The actors help the audience members “lose” themselves in the story so that the power of the Spirit can have an opening into their hearts. And knowing the impact that Christ-centered drama has had on both audience members, stagecrew, and actors, I cannot help but believe that this is a God-sanctioned phenomenon.

Christian drama is not just for the talented; it is for the taught. We learn the message of the Gospel, and we present it via drama to others. People like me write the words, so that the story flows and engages the audience, but Christian actors can come from every walk of life, and from any age level. I have had police officers and homemakers and school children and babies and retired teachers and Boy Scout members and pastors and – well, you get the picture.

Lastly, I just want to leave people with a reflection: What could be more dramatic than the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? He didn’t merely talk about the Plan of Salvation; He enacted it in the flesh! He didn’t come to save well-polished “actors” – He came to save those people who find themselves lost, with no Director in their lives. Voila!

 

True Beauty: Understanding What It Means

God tells us we are wonderfully and fearfully made, and to Him, you are beautiful and unique. He does not compare you to others, as you are the person He made you to be.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where we can feel judged. Despite what the Bible says, we can face pressure within ourselves, or from others, to conform to a false idea of beauty. In this article, we will try and get some perspective on the matter, and try to understand what true beauty means.


On the surface

When most people think of beauty, they think of face value. First impressions are made, wrongly, by the way somebody looks on the outside. The media doesn’t help. From magazine models to movie stars, we wonder why we don’t look like the people we see on the page and screen. There is also peer pressure at school to look and dress a certain way. If you are too fat or thin, or you are wearing the wrong fashions, you may struggle to fit in with the crowd.

For starters, don’t be fooled by the false image the media portrays. The pictures you see in magazines and on the internet have often been photoshopped, with any blemishes removed before publication. Movie stars are as insecure as anybody else, spending a fortune on making themselves look beautiful for the screen. You can look after your skin, with advice from a website such as Exfoliate.com, but you don’t need to compare yourself to others, as chances are, they will still look like you do first thing in the morning.

You don’t want to neglect your body, and we have offered advice at Relatemag.com. Health is important, so while you don’t need to feel ashamed about the way you look, there is still the need to be sensible and take care of yourself. Body shaming has become a trend, but there is no ‘perfect’ weight provided you are healthy and looking after yourself. There will always be bullies in life, but don’t subject yourself to their torment and criticism.


On the inside


The Bible tells us we are made in God’s image. We don’t know what God looks like, but the verse refers to the qualities of God, rather than physical appearance. You have probably noticed some of these qualities in other people, including love, kindness, and grace. It is this writer’s opinion that true beauty radiates from the inside. As you will know from movies such as “Mean Girls,’ people can be beautiful on the outside, but very ugly on the inside.

Focus on your inner beauty. Be somebody that cares for others. There will be people in your life who may not be physically attractive, at least to society’s standards, but you won’t notice this when their beauty radiates from the inside. Think of the people you love, and ask yourself why you do. It will be who they are on the inside, and the way they care for you.

So, what is true beauty? You decide, but above all, love yourself, for who you are, and be good to others.

Love: It Can’t Coexist with Hate

You only love Jesus as much as you love the person you like the least.  Or, how about this:  your love for Jesus equals the amount of love you have for the person you hate the most.

Harsh, right?

You’re shaking your head and saying, no way, I love Jesus way more than that.

I’ve thought the same.  In fact, I’ve been in denial for several years.  I’ve looked at other people (Christians, mind you) who were burning with anger and hatred and thought, “Wow, they must not love Jesus very much.” But all the while, I’ve not put much thought into what this meant in my own life.

The fact that the difficult equation has surfaced many times throughout the years tells me that it’s something I need to work on.

The fact that I felt compelled to write about it tells me I’m not the only one.

Think about this.  Jesus tells us to love one another.  People who aren’t Christians like to call us out on this one, too; they like to point out our hypocrisy.  And it’s rampant for a reason…loving someone you don’t like is really, really hard to do.

It’s so hard to do, in fact, that it’s easier to walk away from people we don’t like and stop dealing with them altogether rather than find some common ground or forgiveness or, gulp, here it is again, love.  We harden our hearts and dismiss people like they are broken or out of date cell phones that can be replaced by shiny, unfamiliar, newer versions.  I know because I’ve done it.  Repeatedly.

Until I decided that I’m done, I’m not walking away.  I’m going to deal with it.  By giving it to God.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but here is the thing…GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY.  I got so fed up with the fury churning at the inside that I’ve simply prayed, “God, please, fill up that space, that gap, where I am so shamefully lacking, and help me love this person.”  I had to mean it.  I had to empty myself of the anger by no longer giving it my attention, and I let God do what He does.  And here’s the thing…He did.

I have stood across from people I have absolutely nothing in common with other than the fact that we both have noses on our faces; our political, spiritual, moral codes, our likes and dislikes so polar opposite it’s difficult to see them as people, and I have loved them for reasons I cannot explain.  I have recognized them as souls that God made with a purpose, and I have felt nothing but compassion.  I have faced people who have hurt me deeply and personally, and I have prayed the same prayer, and all my hurt feelings have shriveled in God’s pool of forgiveness.

Loving others, the ones that are most difficult to love, the ones that are the most distant, have brought to me more peace than anything else I have experienced in my life.  I wish there was something that I could so eloquently say that would convince you this is true, but I don’t have those words.  I can only pray that you want it enough in your own life that you try it.

And, while this may be another article of its own, I think it’s important enough to add: this goes for yourself.  If the one person you can’t stand to be around, the one person you wish you could change or punish or perfect is the girl staring back at you in the mirror, you have to love her, too.  You can’t love Jesus and hate yourself.  

Anger and hate and contempt cannot coexist within a soul that claims to love Jesus.  They are too big of burdens to bear, and they will squeeze out all the goodness that Christ wants to bring out in our lives.  Fortunately, the opposite is true.  His light is brighter than the darkness of contempt, and He will quench it if we allow Him to.  The question is, which one will you choose?

 

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Let God Be Your Giant Slayer

Life’s problems and challenges, I call “giants”, seem insurmountable and impossible to resolve. The Bible story of a young David taking on the giant, Goliath, and winning gives me a lot of hope! Consequently, we know we can win our battles too when we let God be our Giant Slayer!

Young David, the youngest of his father’s eight sons, was a keeper of his father’s sheep. David’s job was to shepherd the sheep, keeping them safe, warm, and well fed. Now sheep are not particularly smart so they must be led to fresh grass and water. They need protection from predators. David’s job was challenging!

Funny thing, as he learned the challenges of being a shepherd, he didn’t know that God was preparing him to shepherd a kingdom. Life changed for David when Samuel, a prophet of the Lord, came to David’s father Jesse looking for the one who replace King Saul as king. No one expected David to be selected, especially David.

God had specific qualifications he was looking for in the future leader of the Israelites.  God is looking for one who is His, one with heart who loves God more than life, and loves others as God loves. God is looking for someone teachable and willing to obey His commands. Samuel 16:7 tells what God requires:

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

Our battles are the LORD’S. He knows we are weak and dependent upon Him. He will fight for us, just as He enabled David as he fought for the Hebrews.

David wasn’t afraid of anything as long as He kept a right relationship with God. David knew God would provide the direction and instruction he needed. Saul doubted he could fight Goliath and win, but David told him how God had prepared him:

“Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear:  and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.  And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD Be with thee.” 1 Samuel 17:36-37

We too have our challenges ahead of us, but we can be assured that God has it all worked out if we will follow Him. He will lead and guide us each step of the way. Like David, He will prepare us, even when we don’t realize it!

What are your giants?

Bitterness? Bitterness keeps us from staying focused on Him. It is the result of us seeking our will and being angry when we don’t accomplish our plan. Feelings of being let down by God when we don’t get our way, leads to resentment and separation from our LORD. Bitterness is a giant that must be conquered.

Addictions? Addictions weaken us. Depending on something or someone other than our LORD leads to disappointment. When we can’t handle life’s challenges and consequences from wrong decisions, we often turn to artificial means to cope. Addictions are giants that must be overcome.

What is the giant that seems insurmountable in your life? Tell the LORD. Seek His help.  The LORD overcomes all giants, if we let Him.

Written By Linda Hull

Chit Chatting with Dr. Erick Schenkel

 

Written by Jill Sheets

It always amazes me when someone is so dedicated to Jesus that they would spend years in the Muslim world, or any other dangerous place, to preach the Good News, even knowing that they are risking their lives. That is just what Dr. Erick Schenkel and his family did. Read on to learn more about his sixteen years in the Muslim world, the Jesus Film Project, and what his favorite Bible verse is.

 

R: Tell us about yourself and about your book Everyone, Everywhere.  How did you come up with the idea to write the book?

E: Five years ago, my wife and I returned to the USA after sixteen years in the Muslim world to lead the Jesus Film Project. A few months ago, one of our team members at Jesus Film Project asked the question, “What would it take to finish the job of making it possible for everyone, everywhere to know someone who really follows Jesus?” My book is an attempt to answer that question, based on the best thinking of our whole team.

 

R: You went through a lot while spreading the Good News–you and your wife have even been beaten.  Despite this, you never stopped proclaiming the Gospel. How did you do it? 

E: The amazing grace of God! God has been so good to us in so many ways, and we know that eternal life with Him is ahead of us. We want everyone to have a chance to know God personally, for time and eternity. Everything else is so much less important.

 

R: If you could have done something different, what would it have been?

E: One of my regrets is how narrow my focus was as a young man and a new Christian. I wasted time arguing with other followers of Jesus over less important issues than the life and death issue of taking the Good News to everyone. I held my opinions way too strongly.

 

R: You said, “Which is more important, good works or preaching? The answer is always both a and b.Would you mind explaining this and why it is both?

E:  New life in Jesus is something we show as much as it is something we proclaim. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Knowing Jesus changes us into people who love others and want to serve them. As soon as I met Jesus, I went to visit my family members who hated my side of the family, I started feeding street people…the love of God changed me. No amount of words speak as loudly as a changed life. But only words can explain the change people see in us as we follow Jesus. We must explain: “You are not seeing a good person here, you are seeing a person energized by knowing God, and you can know God too!”

 

R: What was the Reset: Together 2016?

E: Reset: Together 2016 was an amazing meeting of thousands of Christians on the National Mall in July 2016, organized by a coalition of Christian groups led by Nick Hall. It was remarkable, because it included such a broad cross-section of Jesus-followers of all ages from so many backgrounds. The main statement the event made was, “There is a new generation of followers of Jesus in this country who are ready to humbly offer their lives to make Jesus known to people in need.” It was hot that day, but the spiritual atmosphere was hotter! Those who think the church in America is dying with the millennials are going to be surprised by the folks who were in Washington that day.

 

R: What would you like people to take away from your book?

E: There is nothing better than following Jesus and making Him known to others. I hope a lot of people who are casual Christians will catch a vision for real life in Christ and get excited about living a whole new way.

 

R: Where can people get your book?

E: The book can be found at jesusfilm.org/EveryoneEverywhere or at Amazon.com.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

E: I am working on doing what I wrote about in the book: giving everyone, everywhere a chance to know Jesus. I travel around the world learning first-hand how people are using video to share the Good News of Jesus, and then I come back to our office in Orlando, Florida and try to help us do better at making powerful video material available in every country of the world.

 

R: What is the Jesus Film Project?

E: The Jesus Film Project (JFP) was started in 1979 to translate the feature film, JESUS, based on Luke’s Gospel, and to distribute it globally. Over the years, other films were made, and, to date, there have been 7.5 billion views of JFP films in 1,510 different languages! The film JESUS has become the most watched film in history and over 490 million people have indicated decisions to receive Jesus Christ after watching our films. The Jesus Film app makes all the JFP films freely available on Apple and Android devices.

 

R: Tell us about about some of your experiences in the mission field.

E: Some of my most memorable moments took place in official Muslim countries in Central Asia, where my family lived and served for twelve years. In those countries, I became friends with several former Islamist radicals who have become followers of Jesus and who risk their lives to tell others about him. I also suffered the loss of dear brothers in Christ who were killed for their faith. My strongest lasting impression is that, despite deep cultural differences, people are the same everywhere in the world. God can change the hardest heart—just as he did for Saul of Tarsus in the Bible—and make apostles out of persecutors.

 

R: What was your first thought when God told you what he wanted you and your family to do?

E: Excitement! My experience of God’s leading is that He prepares my heart to want to do what he wants me to do. That’s how I understand the Bible verse that says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When I sensed God’s call to leave America, I knew there were many things I would miss—the Boston Red Sox, Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee, and leaf-peeping in the fall in New England. But I was excited about what I would see and learn, and I have not been disappointed! The awe of experiencing the majesty of thousand-year-old civilizations, the rush of taking aid into a war zone, the thrill of seeing people who have never heard of Jesus before receiving Him and being transformed just as I am being transformed—nothing better!

 

R: What is your favorite verse?

E: Psalm 113:7-8. “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the dung pile, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.” That’s what God has done for me—a poor kid from a single parent family–and I am grateful.

 

R: What advice would you give a teenager who has trouble preaching to people, whether they are shy, nervous, etc.?

E: Be yourself. Have a real relationship with Jesus. Find ways to love people that are natural to you. Don’t worry about “preaching” to people. Learn to listen. Find ways to connect with a person, then share your experience of Jesus in the flow of your relationship with the other person. Share early and often what Jesus means to you.

 

R: Are you or your book on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website?

E: My official Facebook page is Erick Schenkel Jesus Film. You can read more about my work at the Jesus Film Project at jesusfilm.org.

 

Photo Credit: Jesus Film Project®