the importance of perseverance

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Life is not easy. It’s full of challenges, and when we face those challenges, we have a choice. Do we stick with it and persevere? Or do we give up?

My mom texted me yesterday with the results from her recent MRI. On top of severe osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, scleroderma, a herniated disc in her back, and celiac disease, they also discovered she has a radial capitellum capsular edema and a posterolateral  capsular synovial cyst.

She was recently confined to a wheelchair.

In other words, the pain and debilitating illness she now faces are nearly unbearable.

Some days it feels like too much.

It is a lot for her to persevere in these times of chronic pain, uncertainty, and a rapidly deteriorating health.

Hard for her husband, children, and grandchildren to watch as well.

But she perseveres. And no, neither she nor I will tell you that it’s easy or that she doesn’t struggle at times.

Chronic illness.

A difficult boss.

A challenging relative.

The effort to lose weight for health reasons.

The challenge to bring up your grades.

Working two jobs to afford basic necessities for your family.

Being a caregiver.

Trying to move on after a death or divorce.

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These can all bring about difficult life situations where it’s easy to give up and give in.

The Apostle Paul went through many trials and hardships and perservered for the Gospel. Missionaries today persist in bringing the Truth to people who may never otherwise hear the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Even in families, friendships, and neighborhoods, faithful believers hope to plant seeds. Pastors preach to both believers and unbelievers each Sunday.

Or even the perseverence in raising our child(ren) for Christ in an increasingly sinful and hostile world. Yet, when we continue to instill in our children the importance of a relationship with God, we will someday reap the rewards.

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How do we persevere and why is it important that we do?

By keeping our eyes on Jesus. The second we take our eyes off of Him, as Peter did in Matthew 14:30-31, we sink.

Realizing that He knows the “big picture.” How it starts, the middle, and the ending. Remember that we see the tiny hand-held TV screen of life, while God sees an enormous big-screen TV. Or to look at it a different way, we see one word in an entire book, while He sees the entire book – every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter.

Remembering that even in times of hardship, He loves us and will never leave us.

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Knowing that He is a great listener…and never sleeps. His “line” is open 24/7/365.

Being assured that He’s got this and was not caught off guard.

Spending time in constant prayer, giving thanks for all He has done, seeking His will for your life, and laying down prayer requests are tantamount to a close relationship with Him.

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Reading God’s Word and learning about the faithful ones of the Bible who persevered. To know we are not alone in our difficulties gives us hope and courage.

Keep going forward…even if you feel like you’re constantly going backwards. 

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Making sure you have a good support system. This can be a loving spouse and children, caring friends, and a faithful church body.

Being encouraged by listening to uplifting Christian music.

Facing each day one step at a time. Set small and realistic goals.

Life is not easy. Everyone has a struggle, or multiple struggles, that they face on a daily or ongoing basis. But with faith in God and perseverence, we can face our hardships head-on and emerge victorious.

 

 

 

 

the importance of authenticity

importance of authenticity

What do you think of when the word “authentic” comes to mind? An antique? A piece of jewelry? An artifact? While these things deal with authenticity in their own ways, there is another, more important type of authenticity. It is the vulnerability of allowing others to see our true selves and that we have flaws. It’s the sometimes-scary act of “being real.”

In today’s world, authenticity isn’t always a common thing. How can you be authentic? Here are some ways…

Put others first. Think of others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3).

Act the same no matter who you are interacting with. Are you the same person with the one you think can advance your career as you are with the person who can offer you nothing?

Don’t compete with others. We all have God-given gifts, talents, and strengths. Don’t begrudge someone for a gift/talent/strength you wish you possessed, but don’t.

Show no favoritism (James 2). Treat the person who lives in the run-down trailer on the bad side of town the same as you treat the person who lives in the mansion on the golf course.

Be genuine. If you say something, mean it.

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Avoid trying to impress others because of their social status, wealth, or appearance.

Be a person of integrity, both while alone and in the presence of others.

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Avoid being condescending or a know-it-all.

Show compassion and empathy when someone is struggling with a problem. If you yourself have dealt with the same issue, gently share what helped you. (Second Corinthians 1:4).

 

Dave Willis

 

the importance of mentorship

The importance of mentorship

I was fortunate as a child to have my extended family living nearby.  Not only was I blessed to have parents who loved and cared for me, but my aunts, uncles, grandma, and grandpa were also hugely instrumental in my life. As a teen, a dear woman named Marge spoke into my life about the love of Jesus.

Why is mentorship Important?

When we take the time to mentor others, we show them that we care. That we are there through the difficult times, and that we are committed to helping them become the best they can be.

Mentoring makes a difference in every life. No matter what our age, if we have someone invested in our lives, it makes an impact for the better.

Anyone can be a mentor, but an effective mentor is an encourager, they are available, and they set a good example.

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Life can be challenging. Mentors see the end result, not the here and now. They help the one they mentor to achieve those goals that are important to him or her.

We all need a mentor.

In our church, I have mentors whom I look up to – godly women who are examples in their knowledge (and application!) of God’s Word, the way they love their husbands, and the way they truly care for others. Most of these women are much older than I am. They have life experience and are mature in their faith.

My teen daughters and I have had many great discussions about who they would turn to (besides my husband and me) if they were going through a difficult time. Brainstorm with your kids some godly adults that they could call upon if times were tough. Someone they look up to, can be honest with, who will pray for and with them, and who will provide wise counsel.

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When we mentor someone else, we help shape their lives for the better. John C. Maxwell sums up mentorship in a nutshell when his quote: “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.

John C Maxwell

Who has been an important mentor in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the importance of aligning our actions with our words

aligning actions

Have you ever met someone and were astounded to discover that they were a believer? Perhaps they live a life contrary to that of a Christian. Or perhaps they act flippant about Christianity in the presence of unbelievers.

To be clear at the outset: our actions are not what makes us Christians. Rather, the only way we can become a Christian is to put our full faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, believe that He died for our sins, and repent and turn from our sins. (Romans 10:9-10; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 10:13; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:9, etc.)

However, actions are important. After we become Christians, our desire is (or should be) to please the One who gave His life for us. A changed life and the continual desire to become more like Jesus everyday in our actions and in our thought lives are two ways we can show our gratitude.

What are some other ways we can align our actions with our claim of Christianity?

  • Model Christlike behavior with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are all sinners. Only by His help can we achieve such things as honesty, kindness, compassion, and gentleness. Only with His help can we be sure to guard our speech.Colossians 4 6
  • Continue to grow in your walk. This can only be achieved by spending time in God’s Word, in fellowship with other believers, and spending time in praise and worship. Our goal should be that we strive to be more like Him this year than we were last year.

 

  • Give others the benefit of the doubt. This can be a tough one. In our culture, it is popular to think the worst of others without knowing anything about them. This shouldn’t be so for those of us who claim to be Christ followers.

 

  • Embrace humility. We all make mistakes. Everyone has things we struggle with no matter how long we’ve been a Christian. Be humble and own up to your mistakes and shortcomings. Seek the forgiveness of others when you have wronged them.

 

  • Practice discernment. Our society glorifies things that counteract what we read about in the Bible. We live in a culture that places a great emphasis on feelings and opinions. Those in and of themselves are not bad, but when we turn to the only Truth Meter – the Bible – we are told what we should put our focus on.

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  • Show grace and mercy to others. It’s been said that those who have been shown grace are more willing to show grace to others. Haven’t we been shown much mercy and grace by our Lord? Shouldn’t we extend that to others especially when they don’t deserve it?

 

  • Love others. This can be a tough one. As I sit here typing this blog post, I can think of someone I know who is extremely difficult for me to love. However, we are commanded to love others as ourselves and to place their interests above our own. Such love for others is a testament of our love for Him.1 Corinthians 13 1

We should be different. We should be set apart. We shouldn’t blend in with everyone else, but rather we should stand out. It should be plain to others who we strive to live for. Nothing temporary. Nothing that perishes. But the One who is eternal.

May our actions align with our words. May we give no reason for someone to doubt our authenticity.

 

 

 

 

the importance of life

the importance of life

There is a lot of debate these days about pro-life and pro-choice. As a Christian, I look at things from the perspective that God created all life. Not only did He create us, He created us in His own image. (Genesis 1:27)

At the writing of this post, over 61 million babies have been aborted, and over 2,000 just today in the United States. Worldwide? 1.5 Billion so far. (Source: numberofabortions.com) )

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I developed severe Hyperemesis gravidarum. It was so serious that I lost 15 pounds in one week and was admitted to the hospital. I was unable to keep any food down and suffered from malnutrition to the point that my bones protruded and I fainted twice. Everything I ate, I vomited. A few months later, I developed pneumonia and was again hospitalized. In all, I was on bed rest for the first five months of my pregnancy. The doctors weren’t sure if my daughter would be all right. They weren’t sure if I would make it. Our lives were in the balance.

God is faithful and brought us through that ordeal. It also brought me back to Him, which is a story for another time. However, I can’t imagine ever not having that little life that had begun to grow inside of me. I had already grown to love her. God had designed her before He ever placed her in my womb.

Life is valuable. My mom has severe chronic pain and is disabled from an accident less than a decade ago. But her life, as one who cannot walk or even use her hands to send a text message, is no less valuable than the athlete running ten miles on the treadmill. A person with Down Syndrome, a blind person, an elderly person, or a person confined to a wheelchair is no less important than another human being. The baby in the womb is no less valuable than the adorable toddler swinging on a swing in the park.

Not in God’s eyes.

And they shouldn’t be in ours.

When did we, as a society, decide that some life just wasn’t valuable? When did we, as a culture, decide that some life is not important and must be extinguished? When did we decide that it was our job to make that call?

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My cousin and his wife lost their precious newborn a short time after he was born due to complications. They knew that their baby would die soon after birth, but in a valiant act, they chose life.

I have friends and relatives who have had miscarriages. They know the pain of loss of a baby who never had a chance to live.

So that brings me to abortion. A hot topic right now with a new law in New York passed allowing abortion right up to birth. I struggle with this news. For days, it has weighed heavily on my mind. The “right” to kill another human being? Isn’t that called murder? While abortion has been around for a long time and made legal in 1973 with Roe v. Wade, the thought of people doing even more to snuff out life up until the last possible moment brings about a whole new wave of horror.

You can probably tell by now that I am 100% pro-life.

My daughters and I have attended many pro-life meetings, where we spoke for those who will never get a chance to speak, prayed for those who have had abortions and those who were contemplating abortions, and prayed for the dads of the babies they would never know.

Why pray for those who have had abortions?

A close friend of mine had an abortion years ago. She confided to me that, while she remains pro-choice, not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about her baby and what he or she may be like if she had chosen life. She struggles with forgiving herself.

Thankfully, we serve a mighty God, who can forgive us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

We should come alongside those who have had abortions. We should care about them. Reassure them of God’s forgiveness. Refuse to condemn.

Why pray for those contemplating abortions?

Because when you’re struggling with how you will support a new baby, or you are in high school and pregnant, or you were the victim of rape that resulted in a pregnancy, decisions can be even more difficult.

We pray for those who are in the midst of that struggle. That they would choose the other “a” word – adoption.

Why pray for the dads who will never know their child because of an abortion?

Because, in my opinion, they are some of the most forgotten in this scenario. As one who once worked in the social services field, I saw dads who were against their girlfriend or wife having an abortion. But they didn’t get a say.

So come alongside that young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. Be there for her. Help her choose life. There are so many who would love to adopt a baby. To place your child for adoption, when you know you are unable to care for them, is one of the most courageous choices a woman can make. Support adoption. Support your local pregnancy center.

Come alongside those who have had abortions. Show the love of Christ to them. We don’t have to agree with someone to extend the hand of mercy.

And pray for the babies.

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Pray that someday abortion will be outlawed and that babies will have a chance to live and do all the fun things babies, toddlers, children, teens, and adults experience.

That we, as a society will truly see the importance and value of life. All life. Made by a Creator who loves us more than we could ever know. A Creator who desires for us to spend eternity with Him.

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the importance of priorities

the importance of priorities

Laura enjoys taking her three-year-old son to the playground. It gives her time to text her friends, catch up on Instagram and Facebook, and stream her favorite show on her phone. The only downside? Her son is constantly saying, “Mommy, look at me!” Without looking up, she usually just nods and continues spending time on her phone.

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Chuck doesn’t understand what the big deal is about going to church. Sunday is his only day off, and he’d much rather sleep in than wake up and attend some boring church service.

Megan seeks perfection. The perfect husband, the perfect kids, the perfect house in the most prestigious neighborhood (even though her mortgage has made it necessary for her husband to take on a second job), and the perfect SUV. Her children attend the best private schools in the area. In short, Megan wants – no demands – the perfect lifestyle. And she’ll do just about anything to get it. Besides, why would she want anyone to think she was anything less than perfect?

Damien is a workaholic. He is set on advancing up the career ladder as quickly as possible and trampling anyone who stands in his way. As such, he’s not a very popular guy at work. When he finally does arrive home in the evenings, he has no time for his wife and family and continues his work at home. Damien rarely clocks in more than four or five hours of sleep at night since he believes sleep is severely overrated.

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What do each of the above examples have in common?

They have mixed up priorities.

When we get off track, how do we get our priorities back in order?

We start by realizing what’s important in God’s eyes.

He places a great value on spending time in worship, fellowship, attending church, and spending time with Him. We are commanded to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” ~ Matthew 22:37.

The Lord also places a high value on loving your spouse and your children.

We are told in Matthew 6:24 that no one can serve two masters. Things such as money, status, and power can quickly overtake us.

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There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but they shouldn’t be our priority. Instead, Seek to make your priorities those that are eternal. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. ~ Matthew 6:19-20

There’s nothing wrong with working hard at your job or enjoying texting friends or spending time on Facebook. It’s when we elevate those things and they become idols in our lives that they become issues.

Pray that the Lord would show you where you have erred in your priorities. Pray that He would assist you in getting back on track so that the important things in your life are Him, your family (both immediate and extended), your friends, and doing your job well (but not by being a workaholic or perfectionist). Do your job as if doing it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

Ask that the Lord teach you to number your days so that you may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12).

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the importance of new beginnings

new beginnings

At the beginning of every New Year, many make resolutions that they aim to keep throughout the year. Decisions to make them healthier, fitter, more organized, etc.

In the classic 80s song New Attitude, Patti LaBelle sings of starting a new beginning with a new attitude “from [her] head to [her] shoes.” Every time I hear that song, it brings to mind a crabby lady in need of a personality overhaul.

But what about a new beginning in Christ?

Paul in the Bible received a new beginning – a “start over”, if you will. A harsh man who made it his life’s goal to persecute Christians, Paul was the furthest thing from one who could be used effectively by God. Wasn’t he?

On the contrary. God used Paul in a mighty way. After Paul’s conversion, he was one of the greatest apostles who ever lived. He endured beatings and spent much time in prison for the sake of the Gospel.

Could you be used for God’s Kingdom?

Probably not if you have a “checkered” past, right? If you’ve done things you’re not proud of, sinned in ways you don’t care to admit, you certainly can’t be used. And definitely, God isn’t going to forgive you for all of those things you did. After all, we’re not talking “minor” sins here.

Again, on the contrary.

God can and will use you.

We serve a  God who is One of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances. Jesus took all of our sins, past and present, upon Himself when He went to the Cross. Your new beginning means your dry erase board is wiped clean from all of the junk that once cluttered it.

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So how can you have a new beginning?

Commit your life to Him. If you have not made Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life, that is the first step.

After you have made a decision for Christ, you are forgiven. You have a new beginning. You also have eternal life and will spend eternity with Him. Nothing can ever take you from His hand (John 10:28). But it doesn’t stop there. Find a Bible-based church where the pastor digs into the Word and preaches it each week. Find a mature Christian to mentor you in your walk.

Spend time in the Bible. The Old Testament is wonderful, and I would highly recommend reading it, but as a new believer, the best place to start is in the New Testament in the Book of John.

Turn your eyes toward Him. Listen and watch things that aren’t contrary to your new faith.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

This year, spend time in prayer to dedicate your life to a new beginning for Christ. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “the old is gone, the new is here.” And that is definitely something to celebrate!

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Other posts in the “importance series:”

the importance of relying on God

the importance of gratitude

the importance of honesty