now browsing by author
Many young Christian girls are searching for Christian husbands. This is a very important task. It is an idea that begins to form at a very young age. Girls may picture their prince charming with blue eyes, brown eyes, smart, funny, tall, and maybe muscular. These lists can become endless. As you begin to mature, the spiritual attributes and personality become more important. The spiritual requirements on your list should never be compromised.
Choosing a husband is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. I can understand how some of you may believe that it is very difficult for one to find a Christian man. It may be difficult but not impossible. We believe this because
God’s word assures us. In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus says, ” Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh recieveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” These words should give you comfort. As His faithful children we know that God takes care of our every need. All we need to do is ask. When I was younger and in search of a husband myself, I encountered this same worry. Growing up in San Antonio and attending a Spanish speaking congregation made it difficult to find my Christian mate because the girls outnumbered the boys. I remember talking to my parents about how I was afraid of never finding the strong faithful Christian man I was in search of. Living in this world may make this seem very difficult but God’s word assures us that it is achievable through perseverance and remaining faithful ourselves. My parents comforted me by telling me to keep a close relationship with God in prayer and they assured me that He was preparing someone for me. Prayer is very instrumental in this process. As young girls you don’t realize that your parents and grandparents are also asking the Heavenly Father for your same petition. “They would have no greater joy than to hear that their children walk in truth” III John 1:4. Make sure you always keep God very close in your dating years. Always seek Him first. Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Delight thyself in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Where do we find ourselves looking for a mate? Are we going out with ungodly people into ungodly places where a faithful Christian should not be found? Do we show ourselves to be faithful on a daily basis? What type of a mate are we attracting? My mother use to always tell my sisters and me, “Remember who you are and who you represent.” These were and are words that constantly remind me to always stay true to His word. These are words that I am passing to my children. The men that you should be in search for need to fear God. How often are they attending worship services? Do they have an active role in the worship service by preaching, waiting on the table, leading a prayer, leading the song service, or teaching a Bible class? Do they respect their parents? Are they kind to others? How do they interact with children? These are just a few questions you should be asking yourself. Remember, husbands are to be the spiritual leaders of the home. As I was dating I remember my boyfriend who is now my husband asking me several Bible questions just out of the blue. I can remember feeling a little overwhelmed and put on the spot. He wanted to know where I stood on my Bible knowledge. He also prayed for our meal on our first date. These actions very quickly made me know that I had found the spiritual leader of my home. If a man respects God’s word he will always respect and love you because he knows this pleases God.
Always keep in mind that Christian men are also searching for a Christian wife. They want a woman who fears the Lord and one who will help him build a Christian home. Our ultimate goal in life is to obtain Heaven at the end. Having a Christian husband encouraging you as you do him is the best life possible. I encourage you to always stay true to the Lord. Always remember that God takes care of His children and if you remain true to Him you too will obtain the “Gold Medal” on the left hand.
By Elisa Clinton
Spring 2013 Issue V6 N3
My husband was a faithful Gospel Preacher. He and I talked about his dream to be in full time mission work when he retired. That did not work out. He became very ill and passed away in October of 1978. At his passing, I was 47 years old. I moved to Howe, Texas and began working for Bealls department store in Sherman, Texas.
During the 1980s, I had the opportunity to go on three Campaigns for Christ to Montego Bay, Jamaica with a group that Brother Andy Kizer, preacher of the Howe Congregation, arranged. I would use part of my vacation time to do this. The Montego Bay campaigns were very successful as the congregation there grew and was able to move from meeting in a rented hall to having a building of their own.
In 1995, I started going to Jamaica with a group directed by Brother Eugene Jenkins. Brother Jenkins also directed one of the sessions at the Little Blue Bible Camp each summer. He asked me to be a teacher and counselor there. For several years each summer I would go to Jamaica two weeks and camp for another.
In June 2007, on one of the campaigns to Jamaica, Brother Fred Rhodes and I were out knocking doors. As we walked along, I mentioned that I wished I could do this full time. At that time, Brother Fred was in mission work at the Marshalltown Iowa congregation. With Brother Fred’s help and the Lord’s guidance, I realized the dream my husband and I had had.
It was time to “sprint to the finish”!
In November of 2007, I retired from Bealls department store and began working in Marshalltown under the oversight of that congregation. I stayed there for a few weeks and then came back home to prepare for going back in April. Brother Fred and his wife, Dorothy graciously let me live with them for six months out of each year for the next three years. I would go up there in April and return to Texas in November.
In 2011, I turned 80 years old and my children felt I needed to “work from home.” So now, my work is overseen by the elders in Leonard, Texas and I work in and from my own home. I still go to Jamaica twice a year, Mexico once a year, Costa Rica once a year and travel in the states to various congregations for door knocking and Bible studies. Places in the states include Lebanon, Tennessee; Davis City, Iowa; Kinder, Louisiana; Mt. Pleasant, Texas as well as my home congregation of Ivanhoe, Texas where I also teach Bible class in quaterly rotation. I have also attended various lectureships around the country like the one in Independence, Missouri.
When to retire? There is no time for retirement in the work of the Lord. John 9:4 says “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” And I Corinthians 15:58 says “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”.
Some will say, “I can’t do all that walking and teaching.” Do you like to talk on the phone? Some like to text, do you? Some of the new Christians in Iowa set up Bible correspondent courses by phone because they cannot walk. One Christian brother corresponded to a lady in another state by email and she obeyed the gospel. There are always Bible classes to teach in our home congregations. If you do not want to be a teacher, be a helper. Some people like to write letters and send cards. You can visit the shut-ins or do some baby sitting while others are knocking doors. When you think about it, there are a lot of things to do even at 70 or 80 years old!
Hebrews 12:1 “…and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
The beloved apostle at the end of his life could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:7 The time of his departure was close but he was still working, teaching, and writing.
As long as we can talk, walk and listen, we cannot retire. Let us all be ready to
“SPRINT TO THE FINISH!”
Revelation 2:10 “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life!”
By Vella Puckett
Spring 2013 Issue V6 N3
In Hebrews 12:1 we find the words, “and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” This passage indicates the Christian life is like a race. And in 1 Corinthians 9:24 we see there is a prize at the end of a race and we are to “run, that ye may obtain.” When we attend track meets we see different kinds of races. As we look at the Christian race, we see that it can resemble many of those kinds of races. There are straight easy stretches, curves, hurdles and relays. Let’s look at the relay race.
In the relay, we watch with intense anticipation as the baton is passed from one runner to the next. If the baton is dropped or not passed in time, that team is out of the race. Even though the starting runner or leg, as it is called, may have gotten off to a great start and may have passed the baton successfully to the second leg, if the baton is not passed successfully the next two times, the race has ended for that team. The Christian race is similar to this in that it is our responsibility to successfully “pass the baton.” The baton in this race is the Bible, the inherent Word of God. Romans 10:17 says “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
As a child growing up in a Christian home, I had the blessing of having a mother who loved teaching Bible classes. I watched diligently as she spent many hours in Bible study and in preparing visuals. I also was blessed to be in her Bible classes for many years. The baton was being passed to me. You see, children learn what they live.
A Christian mother is so important to the family, the church and society. We are reminded in 2 Timothy 1:5 of the influence of faithful mothers and grandmothers such as Timothy’s mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. My mother continues to be a faithful influence spending many hours in Bible study and Bible class preparation. At the age of 82, she is in full time mission work teaching not only in several places in the United States but also Jamaica, Mexico and Costa Rica. Her influence has not only been passed to me, her daughter but also to her granddaughters and great granddaughters.
In the book of Ruth, we find the example of a faithful woman named Naomi. Because of famine, she and her husband and two sons went to the land of Moab. There her two sons married and now she had two daughters-in-law. But sadness came at the death of her husband and sons. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem and told her daughters-in-law to return to Bethlehem and told her daughters-in-law to return to their people. However, one daughter-in-law, Ruth refused to return to her people. Ruth knew she had a faithful mother-in-law, “thy God shall be my God.” She knew she had a kind and trusted mother-in-law and wanted to be part of her family, “thy people shall be my people.” What a wonderful relationship! Naomi was blessed to have such a wonderful daughter-in-law and we see that the faithfulness of Naomi was passed to Ruth. Ruth is the great grandmother of King David which means she is in the lineage of Christ!
Are we “passing the baton” to our daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters and great granddaughters? Is the Bible the most read book in our homes? Is worship to our Lord and King the most important thing we can do when that opportunity comes? Are we teaching Bible classes and teaching these girls how to be good Bible class teachers? Are we keeping faith in the family? Faith can only remain in the family if the Bible is the most read book, if Bible facts are the most facts taught, if Bible principles are the most
principles practiced and if God’s commands are the most sincerely believed and obeyed.
I have a responsibility to do my best to “pass the baton.” I am blessed to have a Christian mother who passed it to me. I am blessed to have “passed the baton” to my daughters and my daughter-in-law as they are all faithful Bible teachers. And my three beautiful granddaughters? Yes, we are “passing the baton” to them. The oldest one is now a Christian and is learning to teach Bible classes as well. And the two youngest ones love to “practice” teach.
Matthew 6:33 says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” It must be first if we want to successfully “pass the baton” and keep faith in the family.
By Lavonna Clinton
Spring 2013 Issue V6 N3
When my husband, Mike, and I were dating, we discussed many aspects of life. One main topic was that of careers and personal goals. The subject of Mike becoming a preacher was discussed. Mike’s dad was a preacher. His uncle was a preacher. He even had cousins who were preachers! So, wanting to be upfront and honest, I let him know right away that I had no desire to be a preacher’s wife. To this Mike replied, “That’s good. I don’t want to be a preacher!” I was so relieved! But why? Why didn’t I desire to be the wife of a gospel preacher? Well, let’s see…. Preacher’s wives were outgoing, helpful, available for anything and everything. They always had kind and uplifting words for the women of the congregation. They were to be the example of a good Bible class teacher. They were never discouraged or depressed in any situation. Preacher’s wives were to have enough Biblical knowledge to sit down and write a sermon or help her husband write sermons. I can think of many women who fit this description. I had great respect for each of these women who were preacher’s wives. But, I didn’t put myself into this category. I was not someone who could fill this role. The responsibility was too great! What set these ladies apart?
Little did I know that after only 41/2 years of marriage, I would find out what being a preacher’s wife really meant. Mike was asked to be the preacher for the Ivanhoe Church of Christ. He and I prayed and discussed this request at great length. Mike accepted the position and suddenly, I was a preacher’s wife. What?! Ok. I will try. I began asking other women who had been or were currently preacher’s wives for advice. They were wonderfully helpful and here is what I learned. Galatians 5:22-24 “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” This passage described my image of preacher’s wives perfectly. This is what made one successful. This is the driving spirit behind a preacher’s wife. It was not because of some position they held. It was because they were faithful Christian women; women who were striving to be pleasing to God. They were godly examples because of their love for God. I knew this. I loved God as well. However, I needed to look further. What could I do to grow to be a stronger more faithful woman?
In II Peter 1:5-8 we learn what is needed. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of on. Thankfully, the Lord blessed us with a congregation who was not only loving, kind and sincere in their worship, they were PATIENT. The first time someone introduced me as the preacher’s wife, I wanted to hide. They couldn’t possibly mean me? Yes, it was me. I did my best not to make any blunders.
The New Testament gives us great examples to learn from. Consider Pricilla in Acts 18. She was a godly woman and the wife of Aquilla. Pricilla was active in teaching and working with her husband. In verse 3 we read that they were tentmakers and opened their home to others including Paul. Verse 26 shows us that Pricilla was willing and able to teach others. Another example we can look at is the wife of Peter the apostle. The Bible does not call her by name or make direct reference to her. However, we know Peter had a faithful wife who was a godly mother. Peter was an elder for the church at Jerusalem (I Pt. 5:1). He had to have met God’s qualifications of an elder to serve as one (Titus 1:6-9). We can conclude from these facts that ‘Mrs. Peter’ was faithful to God, an obedient wife, and a mother who taught her children the scriptures. Not only was Peter an elder, he was a preacher of the gospel. This made ‘Mrs. Peter’ both an elder’s wife and a preacher’s wife. What a tremendous influence she must have had on the sisters at Jerusalem.
These examples and scriptures bring to mind the many sisters who have had great influence on me. I love them and have deep respect for them. Their advice and wisdom from experiences are true treasures. Some have passed away now and others still have great influence on those around them. These sisters have taken time to answer questions, listen attentively, and give books such as “A Helper Fit for Him”. When asked about her ability to relate to other sisters in Christ everywhere, Sister Faye Tarbet replied “treat every sister like she is ‘the best friend ever’. What great advice and Sister Tarbet did this well! I thank God for each one of these sisters. It is my hope and prayer that I can be an example and source of encouragement to a new preacher’s wife, too. So when the time comes and your husband decides to go into ‘preaching’, be excited, supportive and obedient to God and your husband.
Mike has been preaching for more than 15 years now and I have completely changed my mind. I DO want to be the preacher’s wife! It has been and is a blessing to be a preacher’s wife! I love our home congregation. They are an extended part of our family. They are my brothers and sisters at Ivanhoe. Usually, I do not even think of myself as being ‘the preacher’s wife’ and am often surprised when referred to as such… I am simply a member of the Lord’s church.
By Tammie Dickison
Spring 2013 Issue V6 N3
I like to read about Queen Esther because her life was very interesting. She went from Jewish orphan to Persian queen. Mordecai,
her cousin, raised Esther after she became an orphan. Later when King Ahasuerus was looking for a new queen, she was one of the beautiful young virgins taken to the palace to be presented. After Esther was at the palace, she treated everyone including the servants with kindness. Esther was not only pretty on the outside, she was pretty on the inside. When she became queen, Esther still listened and respected Mordecai. She did not tell anyone about being Jewish because Mordecai told her not to. However, Mordecai found out that Haman, the King’s highest official, was going to have the Jews killed and their homes taken away. He then sent messages to Esther. He told her that she needed to help save her people. Esther was scared, her being Jewish was still a secret! She made the excuse that the king had not called her to see him in thirty days. No one could go before King Ahasuerus unless he called them. He could have them killed, even the Queen! Mordecai reminded Esther that even though she was the queen, she would still die like the rest of the Jews. He also told her that she may have been put in the position of queen for this very reason. Esther chose to be brave!
Queen Esther and the Jews fasted and prayed for three days. This was a race against time. These things would happen within a year. On the third day Esther went to see the king and requested that he and Haman join her in a banquet. King Ahasuerus accepted her invitation! After requesting a second banquet Esther got the courage to tell the king that the “wicked Haman” was trying to kill her and her people. Because she was brave enough to speak out, the Jews were able to fight for themselves and be saved.
By Meagen Folkes
(Meagen is one of our Young Readers/Young Writers.)
Spring 2013 Issue V6 N2
Having been a participant in track during my high school years, I visualize the Christian race on a runner’s track. Hebrews 12:1-2 says “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfector of our faith…” ESV
However, to begin the race, we do not approach the starting line unprepared. Preparation is imperative for a successful race. When does this preparation or training begin? Training begins with future parents and parenting begins with future spouses. When looking for that spouse, choose someone whose number one goal is Heaven. Having a spouse with the goal of Heaven strengthens the endurance of the Christian race and keeps the focus on the finish line. Matthew 7: 13-14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”KJV
As a couple becomes parents the priority of running the Christian race is already set. Therefore, the preparation for the child’s training has already begun. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up an child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Ephesians 6:4b “…but bring them up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord.”
As a young child, I remember attending church services at every opportunity. This was a “get to go” not a “have to go.” God was the center of our family. Christianity was the way of life. It was there in every aspect. We began our days with prayer and ended our days with prayer. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and
shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and whou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It didn’t matter how busy we were, supper was usually eaten together. Conversations almost always included Biblical discussions from what happened at school, to where we wanted to go, or what we did at home. Dad and Mom had a book, chapter and verse for everything. II Timothy 3:15 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” I Peter 3:15 says “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
Many people think of Christianity as a religion filled with “DO NOTS. “This perception can make for a sad countenance. Dad always said “Christianity is a religion of “DOs.”
DO obey your parents. Ephesians 6:1
DO pray. I Thessalonians 5:17
DO study. II Timothy 2:15
DO tell the truth. Proverbs 12:19
DO have respectable friends. I Corinthians 15:33
DO keep yourselves pure. James 1:27b
“DO all in the name of the Lord.” Colossians 3:17
Having the “DO” mind set resulted in happy Christian parents with a happy home. The happy home was another step in the preparation for the children’s upcoming race.
When does the Christian race begin? At baptism. I was baptized into Christ at age eleven. I was at the starting line! The race had begun. Did the study and parental training end? No, personal study increased and parents cheered me on with love and support.
Being a young Christian can be a challenge. The devil is waiting on the sideline of the track with many distractions and obstacles. One of these obstacles is peer pressure. Peer
pressure comes in many forms. Talk like this, dress like that, date that boy or go to this place. But what does God say? “Remember thy creator in the days of thy youth.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1 I remember times when temptation was strong and the words of my Dad would echo in my head, “Remember who you are.” “Bring honor to the family
name.” Who do we belong to? We belong to God. Whose family name are we to honor? The physical name yes, but more importantly the spiritual name of Christian. Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” We are to honor God and wear the name Christian.
One of the biggest hurdles of the race was leaving home. The devil waits for the children to leave the protection of the Christian home. I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” But suited up in the Christian armor, the child, now adult is ready to face life’s challenges. Ephesians 6:13-17
I am thankful to have grown up in a happy Christian home, which began with my parents being raised by Christian parents as well. It is however, a sobering thought to now be in the parental position. God has blessed my husband and I with two children who are now Christians themselves. Our oldest is now a senior, is about to leave home for college. I know the devil is waiting to “pounce” on him and every other young Christian as they leave the protection of their Christian homes to make their own way in the world. I pray these young adults stay the course, run with endurance, and keep their armor on and their eyes on the finish line. Look to Jesus!
Through prayer and daily study we can all stay focused on the finish line and the reward of Heaven. So that when we cross the finish line, like Paul, we can say “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” II Timothy 4:7
By Sheri Folkes
Spring 2013 Issue N6 V3
Have you heard
About the Big Race?
It’s the one with the crown
When Jesus we face.
Like any race
There are things to know
Preparation is a must
Before we go.
The things to know,
Where are they found?
Right there in the Bible book,
Truth that is pillar and ground.
Studying the Book
I learned what to do
Wow! What a great race
I want to teach others too!
Following God’s Word
Obeying His commands
On the mark, set, go
The race began.
But hurdles come
To slow me down
I will not be hindered
As I go for the crown.
I’ve run so long
I’m tired and worn
But I can’t stop now
Gabriel hasn’t blown his horn.
Jesus is strong, providing help
I continue to run In the Big Race
I sprint to the finish, winning the crown
When I behold The Lord’s glorious face!
By Lavonna Clinton
The Spring 2013 Issue’s theme is “The Big Race”. All the articles in this issue are written by women from the same family. From the matriarch Vella Puckett to her great-granddaughter Meagen, these women set the example of not only running the race but supporting each other and encouraging others along the way.
We, the FWNL team, hope you are uplifted, strengthened, and motivated by the articles this family has shared with us.
Strength. A word meaning muscles that lift hundreds of pounds, feet that run miles, and energy that never seems to run down. Yes, but looking around us, even at our own frail bodies, we realize that God is not commanding us to be so physically strong. Some are born unable to run or even walk. If God’s command to love Him is with physical strength alone, then He would be showing partiality and we know God is not partial (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6).
So how DO we love God with all our strength? What is that strength? From Strongs, Thayers, and Vines Dictionaries, the word “strength” in this verse doesn’t mean so much physical strength, but means “overly”, “in extreme”, “above and beyond”, “very”, “to the utmost”, “muchly”. It‘s a superlative strength.
As we mature spiritually, we rise to this strength, grow to it. God doesn’t “feed” it to us every so often while we sit and wait for it. Yes, it comes from God, but it comes when we desire in our hearts to seek Him through His Word, when we truly learn who He is, when we ask His help for the trials and challenges we face, and when we recognize that He is the only one who can supply the strength we need to get through life (Philippians 4:13).
Paul tells the Ephesians (6:10) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Then he goes on to tell them how…by putting on the “whole armor of God”, with the Word, The Sword of the Spirit in their hands, to stand firm and pray. Each piece of armor has a purpose in supplying strength, but it’s useless without the Sword of the Spirit. It gives examples of strength, and reminds us of the love God has for each of us. It builds our faith (Romans 10:17). It gives us hope (Galatians 5:5; Ephesians 1:18; 4:4; Colossians 1:5). It equips and guides us for every good work, on whatever path, throughout our lifetime (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalms 119:105).
Throughout the pages of the Bible we find many examples of loving God with all strength. Abraham was told to move his family to a strange land. That was hard enough. But look at the strength of character, faith, and determination to do God’s will when he was told to “go and offer Isaac”. We’re not told of the agony and heartache he must have gone through. But his love for and faith in God gave him the strength—physically, emotionally and spiritually—to do as God asked.
Others, like Queen Esther, risked her life for her people. Job lost everything he had and all of his children…ALL at the same time. How could he bear that burden? How could he NOT curse God? He knew his only hope was in God.
Then Paul, while facing death, writes letters from prison that express his faith, hope, love, and yes, even joy. He examples the “Greatest Commandment” for us, showing us how we, too, can love God with ALL our hearts, ALL our minds, ALL our soul—our very innermost being—and with ALL our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength. Paul had “a thorn in the flesh”. We don’t know what it was, but it bothered him. Evidently he was physically hindered, but never do we see Paul using that as an excuse. His strength shone through in his courage to do what God wanted him to do. His faith and hope in God and God’s promises are always evident. He loved God with the entirety of his being, every day of his life, from the bright light on the road to Damascus until his death at the hands of a Roman government.
Even though we are not like the Apostle Paul, there are many things we as women can do. Look at the life of that virtuous woman (Proverbs 31) and see all she did, not only for her household, but for others as well. Study Esther. look at Dorcas, who sewed for people. Look at Lydia, who was a business woman. Look at Priscilla, who helped her husband Aquila in his teaching the Gospel. Look at the women who were with Jesus and the Apostles.
There are many things we can do as Christian women to love God with all our strength. Many of those things are not public and may seem to go unnoticed. But God knows every call you make, every card you send, every word of encouragement you speak, every prayer you pray, every class you teach, every time you stand up for the Truth. Even a “cup of water” is important to Him (Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41).
Loving God with all our strength goes beyond the words “I love You, God.” It goes beyond the mere physical. It is a decision of our hearts and minds. It’s something we DO. But loving God cannot be done alone. Strength to love God as we ought must be shared with others. As His Church, we must be unified in faith, love one another, encourage one another and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). For our love to properly go upward to God, it must go outward to others.
To love God with a superlative strength, we must have determination. Our minds must be ever learning. Our character must be courageous and watchful, always standing for Truth with every ounce of strength and zeal within us. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength must be our way of life. Our Eternal destiny depends on it.
By Beth Howard
I don’t know about you, but there are many times at the end of the day when I feel like I cannot find the energy to do one more thing. No matter how simple or routine that one more thing is. For instance, I will lie down in bed to go to sleep and remember that I have forgotten to brush my teeth. So, now I am laying there having that mental conversation, “I really need to get up and brush my teeth. But if I get up, I will probably not be tired anymore and then it will be even later when I am tired again.” You get the idea. In the end, what helps me decide is a simple question; do I want to possibly pay several hundred dollars on a dental procedure for fillings or other dental work? So, I choose to get out of the bed and brush my teeth because of the ultimate consequence that could affect my pocket book. Consider if you will the mental motivation to get myself out of bed. It seems as if it is a motivation that is not always present in my life! This is the same motivation that I need when I want to exercise… or refuse that wonderful dessert…or read my Bible…or spend the time I need with my kids teaching them God’s truth. Why is it that sometimes I find the energy to check Facebook or watch television, but I can’t find the same determination for the things that are most important to me? I love the way I feel when I eat right and exercise. I love reading God’s word and spending time with my children. So, what keeps me from being constant in these practices or disciplines? I wonder if perhaps, maybe, I do not love those things like I ought. Perhaps, I am not loving the Lord like I ought. Perhaps, my actions are saying that I love the pleasures of this world more than those heavenly treasures?
My husband and I are trying to form the habit of having a daily family devotional. We always start off strong and then fatigue sets in. We are tired and ask, “Will one night really make a difference in our children’s life?” It may not. It probably will not. But…perhaps…it just might. Perhaps we discuss something that night that stays with them and helps them flee the devil when the time is right. What then? Is it possible to put a value on that particular night? If I could see the future and know that it would make this lasting impression, could I find the energy then? I think I would be so excited about that study and time together that I would probably stay up all night in the excitement of knowing that our child would be protected from that Roaring Lion, the devil, on the hunt. Whatever ounce of mental strength it took to make that night happen, I would consider it a blessing! These eternal consequences, I must keep always at the front of my mind. As Proverbs 3:13-14 states, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver, And its gain than fine gold.” This is the kind of Godly wisdom and understanding that our children need. It is the kind of Godly wisdom that we all need. This Godly wisdom to help in this world of pleasure and sin is of utmost value.
The devil is always trying to squeeze his way into any Christian’s life. The temptations are all around us each day to keep up with and be like everyone else. The only way to combat this imperfect world is by attaining this perfect wisdom only found in God’s word. Romans 12:2 states, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Doesn’t that sound great? This is exactly what we need when we are weak and not able to find the energy for the truly important things. We need a transformation, a renewal! We must read God’s word every day! When our days are busy and our plates are overflowing with things to do, we must remind ourselves that in order to prove what is good and acceptable and perfect to God, we must read His word to find out. This daily reading will develop a love for God that will start in the mind, but will grow into an active, outward love for the many souls lost in this world. Showing others that the Lord lives in us, as well as how comforted we are by Him, should show those outside of Christ where to go and the greatest thing to attain.
I know that when I fall short from making the best decisions, I can take comfort in God’s word. His word will get me back on track to the person I want to be, and He desires me to be. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” As Christians, we must be a determined people with a mindful purposeful mission. A group that has an end goal for Heaven, but also a daily goal of reaching Heaven and taking those we love with us. There is nothing more important in this life than pleasing God and attaining that heavenly reward! We must keep this great reward of spending eternity with God at the front of our minds, so that with God’s help, we will find the energy we need for His work. I have a dear friend whose grandmother once said, “If we miss Heaven, we’ve missed everything!” and I guess I cannot say it any better than that.
By Dana Alsbrook
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart” – Helen Keller. I found this to be a beautiful quote. The older I get, the more “emotional” I seem to be. I find myself weeping more often at worship, at funerals, during weddings and when babies are born. I can sing songs to the Lord and listen to the words and before long I can be lost weeping in worship to my King. When I was younger, I seldom cried. While some people might be brought to tears by things like this, others do not show their emotions outwardly. Think of the men in our lives. Some men are more prone to showing emotions; others are not. King David was known as a man after God’s own heart, and he was very forthcoming with his emotions, whether he was heartbroken (Ps 51:17), or jubilant (Ps 59:16,17). Take a look at the apostles. They all had different personalities. Obviously, people are different in how they show their emotions. An outward display of emotions is not necessarily a test of the inward heart.
I found this quote sad, (by political cartoonist and poet, Michael Leunig, who does not profess Christianity,) “Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.” While quite profound, without any guidance, the author and his audience are left without the hope of true happiness. Jesus said something similar once, but He gave His audience clear guidance and hope for our future. In Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…; and your neighbor as yourself.”
In the English language, we either view the heart to be the organ that pumps blood through the circulatory system of our bodies, or the emotional feelings held by an individual. But here are three examples of different ways heart is used in the Greek NT. Among others, it is translated as mind, soul and emotions.
The first way the heart is translated is as the Mind, (Luke 3:15) “all were wondering in their hearts”; (Luke 5:22) “reasoning in your hearts”. The second way the heart is translated is as the Soul, (Acts 2:37) …they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And finally, the third way the heart is translated is as our Emotions, (John 16:22), “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
Consider Matthew 12:40, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” For just as Jonah was in the CENTER of the big fish, Christ foretold that He would be in the HEART (or CENTER) of the earth for three nights. Likewise, we must make Christ the very CENTER of our being! And how can we do that? In every area of our lives! We can start by following His commands. Christ said, in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
Christ did not leave us to flounder without further encouragement and guidance. His Word continues to be a lamp with the message that we need to help us see a clear picture of how the Lord wants us to show His love to Him. 1 John 3:10-23, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another… But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”
Loving the Lord with all our hearts might feel emotional at times. This can even be a good thing, so long as this emotion results in an action. Love is well described in 1 Cor 13, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have be come a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
These are all emotions. Christ told us what the greatest commandment and the greatest emotion is: Love. I may become more emotional the older I get, but will I become more loving? Will I become more loving to Christ through my brothers and sisters? It is my prayer that regardless of our emotional level, each of us always chooses godly, loving action over clanging cymbals.
By Laura Warnes