WE WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD!

The holidays are drawing near. Many may wonder if they will be alone yet again this year. Friends and family may be far away or busy with their own plans, but no matter the circumstance, there is one who knows your loneliness. No one has to go through life all alone.

I love Psalm 118:14 (KJV). It says, “The LORD is my strength and song and is become my salvation.”

Who is this LORD? Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. The psalmist is rejoicing in the One who can get us through any crisis. He is our strength! When we feel alone, our LORD is with us. We can be joyful because we have a constant companion!

How does this work? Jesus came as a baby, then was crucified on a cross, and rose again. His death was God’s way of dealing with sin in the world. Jesus paid the price God requires. Sin must be punished. Jesus took the punishment on behalf of all mankind. When He rose from the grave, He ascended into Heaven. Then the Holy Spirit came to reside in the hearts of all Believers. Consequently no one who has repented of their sin and called upon the name of Jesus for salvation from the punishment for sin is alone. The Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the Believer.

Therefore the LORD truly is with us, giving us strength to endure any situation. When life gets tough, I go to Psalm 118:24:  “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

The LORD already knows what a day will bring, whether sorrow, hardship, or joy. He knows and understands our trials and fears. He is aware of our disappointments. Yet, despite all we face, He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).

We expect to suffer trials and troubles, because we live in a sin filled world where the sin nature present in each of us has predominance. We must constantly strive to obey our LORD.  With the help of the Holy Spirit and guidance from the God’s Word, the Bible, we can choose to live a life that is pleasing to God.

We can choose to embrace the life He gives us, rejoicing in each day. To enjoy the happiness we can find in each day, we must choose to rejoice and be glad despite our circumstances.  We may repeat that part “we will rejoice” with gritted teeth, but we can know with certainty that we are not alone in our anguish.

I will rejoice and be glad!

I choose to trust Him with each day of my life.

That trust in Him gives me peace because I know He is faithful to do what He promises. Without Him, I will fail and fall. With Him, I can overcome. I will rejoice with thanksgiving because He is faithful even when I am not.

This holiday season let us rejoice and give thanks!

*Let us give Him thanks for His many blessings!

*Let us praise Him with love and joy for His gift of redemption and forgiveness of sin.

*Let us give thanks for our hope for an eternity spent with Him.

*Let us thank Him for revealing Himself to us.

 

by Linda Hull

Do You Thank God For Your Blessings?

Do you thank God for your Blessings? It seems I spend more time in prayer asking God for things rather than thanking Him for what He’s done.  In my self -pity, I seem to compare myself with friends and people I admire. There’s always someone who is more talented, more popular and more organized. I should remember to be thankful.  For example, I am thankful God hasn’t answered all my prayers.

 Earlier, in my prayers, I had asked God to help me get on the basketball team.  Emma, a friend, lives down the street. She is great at sports.  A few weeks ago, I was embarrassed  in front of the rest of the team, when Emma, team captain, of the after-school basketball team, and the most popular girl in class said to me, “Alyssa, I don’t want to make you feel bad. But it takes a lot of running and dribbling, and co-ordination to make the team. Isn’t that right, Mary?” Emma nodded to her second-in command- standing beside her.

    “That’s right,” Mary said.  “You know Alyssa, you made a lot of mistakes this afternoon. And you missed all your basket shots.”

    “Maybe, you should try out for the volleyball team,” Emma said. “They don’t have to move around the court as much as we do. They stand more in place. I think volleyball would be a lot easier for you.”
    I nodded. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide.   After dinner that evening, my mom tried to tempt me with my favorite desert- chocolate pudding, and I didn’t even want any.

       I had asked God for His help to get on the basketball team, and I didn’t make it. I was sad. Could I look at the situation the way God expected me to do? Finally, I sighed, as I admitted to myself, it was true,  I wasn’t very coordinated. Once I almost fell down trying to dribble a pass ball from a team member.

     But now, I feel a lot better these days. I’m on the volleyball team, and I’m serving good shots over the net. I’m enjoying myself. I’m exercising and getting physically fit, and I think this is the plan God had for me, even though it is different from what I had wanted.

    There are times, I’m sure you will agree, we’ve spoken a cross word to a friend or a loved one, or a time when our younger brother or sister tried our patience.  I remember while enjoying my own good health, I forgot to visit my friend Debbie, when she was sick.  I know she would have been glad to see me.

      When I enter into self-pity, I try to think of all my blessings.  My first blessing is my physical and mental good health.  A second blessing is my Christian home and family. I remember my personal possessions and all the wonderful things I have– my room, my TV, my computer, and my cell phone.

    When I think of all the abundance I enjoy compared to the rest of the world’s population.  I know God has blessed me by letting me live here, when I remember there are millions living in poverty in many countries in the world today.

    God didn’t promise to grant me all my wishes, but He did say He’d meet my needs.  It’s time to trust God and know that He has our best welfare at heart, and He knows our future. I should be more grateful.

     It’s time to count my blessings and thank God for His goodness to me. I should say, “‘Thank You, God, for all You’ve done for me, and for all You’re going to do'”

    I think I’ll begin right now!

written by Evelyn Horan

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

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.

 

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®

 

Almost A Giant

The hallway seemed crowded with kids even shorter and smaller than last year!  When two girls passed, I heard their giggles.

“Did you see her? She’s so tall!”

“She’s almost a giant,” the other girl said.

“Why did I grow so tall over the summer?” I moaned.

In the lunch area, I found Jan and Amy, my friends from last year.  It was different looking down at them.  It was REALLY different being able to see over their heads.  In a moment they suddenly exchanged glances and left in a hurry.

The day was ruined!  The whole year was ruined!

Fighting back tears, I pretended everything was normal until the long day at school ended.  Then I hurried home and threw myself on my bed and had a good cry.

“Dear Jesus,” I whispered, “I’m different. Why did I grow so tall?”

Something warm and fluffy brushed against me.  “Hi, Maggie.” I ruffled the fur of my orange cat.  “You’re small and cuddly.  And I’m like Gulliver in GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.  I’m a giant!”

My cat rubbed against me,  purring softly.

I smiled tearfully.  “I’m suffering and you want to be petted.  You’re so selfish, but I love you.”

Mike, my seventeen-year-old brother, stuck his head in the doorway and grinned. “I couldn’t help overhearing,” he said.  “You love me even though I’m selfish.  Thank you, Sandy, thank you!”

I  hurled my pillow at him.  “Ooh, you weren’t supposed to be listening!”

Mike caught the pillow.  “Someone,” he said softly, “has been crying on your pillow.”

I picked invisible specks of lint from my jeans.

“If you don’t want to talk about it, I think I can guess,” Mike said.

“No, you can’t. Nobody understands what I’m going through.”

“I’m still a teenager.”  Mike grinned teasingly. “Even though I look and act like a dashing young man.”

“You’re a boy!”

“Sometimes, but being short and cute and sensitive has its advantages.”

I still didn’t look at him, as he sat beside me.  “Well, being the tallest girl in class has no advantages I can see; starting with your SHORT friends not liking you anymore,” I mumbled.

“Remember last year when I had that physical before I became a church camp-counselor for the boys?” Mike asked.

I nodded.

“I asked Dr. Johnson something I’d been worried about for a long time.  “‘Doc,’ I said, ‘I’m one of the shortest guys in my class, and I feel lousy about it.  Am I going to grow anymore?'”

“What did he say?”

“He showed me a growth chart and told me  that most of the guys my age would be taller than me.  I probably wouldn’t grow much taller.  He said he wouldn’t recommend a career in basketball!”

I gasped.  “Why did he say that?”

“He was being honest. He put his hands on my shoulders and told me, ‘The world is made up of tall people, short people, white people, black people,–all kinds of people. You are what you are.  You can spend your life wanting to be something else.  Or you can accept who you are, and be a happy person who will bring love and happiness to others.  You can choose for yourself.'”

“That’s deep!”  I whispered.

“Right,” Mike said rising. “I’ll never forget it.  That’s why you see me, as I am.  On the small side, but otherwise perfect.”  He beckoned playfully.  “Stand up.  Now, look at you,” he said. “You aren’t as tall as I am.  You’re a shrimp!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  “The girls think I’m a giant.”

“They’re probably wishing they were taller,” Mike said. “They know you’ll be great in sports like basketball and soccer and don’t forget track.”

“Oh, sure!”

“It’s true.” Mike smiled and crossed to the door.  “We older people know these things!”

As Mike closed the door I looked over at the picture of Jesus on my desk.

“Thank you Jesus,” I said sighing. “Thank you for giving me an understanding brother like Mike. He’s just what I needed today.”

As I  started to do my homework the phone rang.  “Hi, Sandy, it’s Jan.”

“Oh hi, Jan,” I said, cautiously.

“Sorry we had to rush away today. Amy and I had to hurry to the library to get some books for a social studies assignment.  But let’s all eat lunch together tomorrow and get caught up on what’s been going on over the summer.”

“Well, sure,” I said, happily. I’d been wrong about the girls!  “I’ll see you at lunch.”

I hung up the phone smiling.  Tomorrow would be a much better day.  “Thank you, Jesus, for showing me I didn’t lose my friends,” I whispered.  “And I’m not going to worry about being tall anymore!”

Written by Evelyn Horan