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Evening Primrose is a beautiful flower with a very interesting characteristic…it only blooms at night. I was recently blessed to witness this event one beautiful, albeit hot, summer evening. In the dusk of the evening, I watched with excitement each bud slowly open, layer by layer, into a full and vibrant yellow blossom. Each of us in attendance at the event tried to guess which one would open next. We then watched with amazement as the flowery scent attracted a hummingbird thirsty for the sweet nectar that each bloom provided. As I watched the wonderful workings of God’s creation, I wondered, “What made that first bloom open and what was the signal for each additional bloom to open?” My mind affixed upon the order in which each bud opened and I was reminded of our Lord and a parable He told in Matthew 20 about some workers in a vineyard.
In the parable, a landowner hires workers early in the day to work his fields and offers them a fair days wage for their service to which they agree. The landowner then goes out several more times throughout the day and hires more workers paying them the same days wage as the first. In Matthew 20:12, the original workers say to the landowner at the end of the day, “These men that were hired last worked only one hour…and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work…” But to the landowner, the last worker was as valuable as the first just as the very last blooming bud of the Evening Primrose is just as beautiful to the eye and succulent to the hummingbird as the first.
I hope you will take hope in the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He says, “So the last will be first and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16) for to Him, every Christian is valuable and receives the same inheritance no matter the order in which they bloom.
Just remember to bloom!
By Beth Drake
Originally printed in the Winter 2012 issue V5N1
What happens to love after the wedding? We all know that as times goes by we seem to lose focus of the relationship we had at the beginning with the one we love.
Tons of books are written on this subject. Television and radio talk shows deal with it, the internet is full of advice and our parents and friends have a lot of advice. Keeping love alive in our marriages is serious business. With all this help available, why is it so few couples have found the secret to keeping love alive? How can couples attend workshops or seminars on communication, hear a lot of wonderful ideas, return home, try two or three of the ideas, feel it’s not working then give up on all the other ideas they heard?
The problem is that people speak different love languages. Not everyone receives love just like you do. There are 5 emotional love languages. 5 ways people speak and understand emotional love. Once we discover the love language of our spouse and also our own, then we can begin to “communicate” love to our spouse.
We all have a need to feel love and affection and the need to sense that we belong and are wanted. Love need not evaporate after the wedding, but in order to keep it alive, most of us will have to put forth effort to learn what language our spouse is speaking.
The 5 Love Languages are:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
We all have inside of us a “Love Tank”, just as our body needs food (fuel) to fill our physical needs; we need LOVE in our “Love Tank” to fill our emotional needs.
Let’s talk about our love languages.
Words of Affirmation
One way to express love is to use words that build up. In Proverbs 12:25 it says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Verbal compliments or words of appreciation are powerful communicators of love. Be sincere in your compliments. Don’t use verbal flattery to get what you want! “The object of love is not getting something you want, but doing something for the well being of the one you love.”
Encouraging your spouse with words of affirmation will inspire courage. We all have areas in which we feel insecure or we lack courage. You never know what a difference you could make in your spouse by just giving them some words of encouragement.
Remember to use Kind words (A soft answer turns away angrer) and Humble words (Love makes requests, not demands)!
Quality Time means giving someone your undivided attention! In this day and time when everything is so fast paced, with places to go and things to do, we find it hard to just stop, sit down, turn everything off and just talk to one another or take quiet walks. Focus your attention on what your spouse is saying, and you may find you don’t know them as well as you thought you did.
Quality Conversation – is a sympathetic conversation where two people are sharing their experiences, thoughts and feelings. Be a GOOD listener! Pay attention to what is being said with body language, along with the words that are being said.
Here are 5 practical tips for Quality Conversation:
1. Maintain Eye Contact
2. Don’t be doing something while listening to
3. Listen for feelings
4. Observe body language
5. Refuse to interrupt
Everyone loves to feel special by receiving a gift. Gifts are visual symbol of love. Visual symbols of love are more important to some people than to others. Gifts can come in all sizes, colors and shapes. They can be made, found or purchased. They do not have to be given only on special occasions. Don’t forget the gift of SELF. Sometimes this gift speaks more loudly than a gift that can be held in your hand.
Acts of Service
Acts of service is doing things you know your spouse would like, without them asking. You seek to please them by serving them. This does not mean you have to become your spouse’s slave, but when you do thoughtful things to help them out, you are communicating your love to them.
Physical Touch is probably the most well known way of communicating love to one another; such as holding hands, kissing, embracing and intimacy. For some people this is their primary Love Language and without it they feel unloved. Physical touch can make or break a relationship. It can communicate Hate or Love. Sometimes it’s as small as a touch on the shoulder or a kiss on the cheek as you leave the room. This communicates to them that you are thinking of them.
Love is a choice, and we need to make the choice that we are going to learn how to communicate with our spouses that we love them above all others.
I encourage all of us to start learning how to love our spouses and make our marriages what GOD intended them to be.
You can take a profile test to see what yours and your spouse’s Love Language is at:
By Kathy Robertson (Adapted from the book)
Originally printed in the Winter 2012 issue V5N1
It’s 8:05, and the alarm clock has been snoozed for the absolute last time. Mama jumps out of bed and realizes that she had better get a move on if they are all going to make it to class and worship service this morning. Mama flies down the hall to the children’s rooms. “Tommy, time to get up” next she heads for the girl’s room, “girls time to get up, rise and shine”. Mama then dashes to the kitchen, turns on the coffee and sets out cereal bowls and glances over at the time, she does a double take and then realizes they only have 20 minutes now! What happened to the time? Tension fills her body and she dashes to the rooms again, “kids get up, we’re going to be late”. Mama runs back to the kitchen and put’s the cereal and milk out and heads back to the room, this time anger starts to set in, “KIDS GET UP” the kids are startled as they are waking up. A change takes place in their moods. Sally starts crying. Tommy tries to get dressed and notices that he has no clean clothes, “Mom, are my clothes in the dryer or washing machine?” And it starts… “MOOOOOOOM!” from the other room “WHERE’S MY PINK DRESS?” Mama makes her way into the girl’s room and gives Suzy a stern look as she tells her to “wear- the-blue-one!” “Sally, please stop crying and let me get you dressed” “Where are my clean socks?” “Honey can you iron my shirt?” hubby says as he makes his way out of the bedroom and to the kitchen! “MOM, TOMMY USED THE LAST OF THE MILK” …. tick tock, tick tock it’s now 8:25. The voices start getting louder in mama’s head as the family strives to get ready for worship services….and the crying continues from precious Sally. At the last minute Mama runs into the bedroom and throws on a dress and boots and puts her hair up into a ponytail, pinches her cheeks and straightens her dress and grabs her Bible. LET’S GO! They all get into the car and take off. They finally arrive and all jump out of the car and run to get to class.
Mama sits in her class and starts listening to the lesson. The teacher begins “today’s class is on Matthew 25, the parable of the 10 virgins”. The teacher began reading:
Mat 25:1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. “Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps “Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.” But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.”The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ “But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ “And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut “Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
The teacher taught that the application was that we always need to be ready because we know not when the Lord is going to come. We need to be prepared for when the Lord comes for us. We need to get our priorities ready and have those lamps ready.
As mama sat in class she started thinking how this lesson could apply to her in her own life. She understood that she needed to be ready for when Jesus came (Mat 24:36), but is she putting the practice in her everyday life and is she teaching her family how to be prepared. Does she really want Sunday morning to be a stressful time? Is she setting the tone and the mood in the house to make getting ready for worship service something that her family is going to look forward to in years to come? The bell rings, class is over….. are you ready for worship?
Here are 5 suggestions to help you get to class on time:
1) Get a good night sleep Saturday night. Set your alarm clock and don’t snooze it! Just make it a point and know that Sunday morning is no snooze day…you snooze, you lose!
2) Before bedtime talk about worship service the next day. If the kids have memory verses, or if they’re studying a certain topic in class, talk with them about what they’re learning. Get them enthused and ready for Bible class.
3) Every one set out everything the night before what they’re going to wear or take; this includes underwear, socks, shoes, coats, Bibles, contribution. You do not want to spend any time looking for things on Sunday morning.
4) Soft music or, better yet, religious singing is an excellent way to start off Sunday mornings.
5) Most importantly, pray. Pray that you will be prepared and teach your children to be prepared for worship. After all, God prepared for our salvation before He created the foundation of the world.
By Karen Bookout
Originally printed in the Winter 2012 issue V5N1
“Please, God, give me a strong faith. In Christ’s name, amen.”
When I first became a Christian, I picked up my Bible and read of people like David, who single handedly killed the most intimidating warrior of his time. I would turn away from my study of such men and women, wanting a faith like theirs. So, I would close my eyes, bow my head, and pray for God to give me a strong faith. Days, weeks, and months would pass by, and guess what? I still felt trapped inside of my own timid, halfhearted, wavering faith.
If you find yourself at times asking the same prayer, and following the same endless cycle that I did for so long, then please, listen closely.
Jonah had to sit inside a dark whale for 3 days to grow his faith. Daniel had to lie in a pit of lions overnight to grow his faith. Job had to lose all of his wealth, family, and health to grow his faith. Paul had to completely switch his life long religion to grow his faith.
God does not freely give a faith transformation to us. Faith transformation follows the changing of life long patterns and habits, acts of obedience, and the enduring of challenging experiences.
For just a moment, I’d like to discuss five faith builders that God reveals to us in His Word.
The first faith builder is that of personal Bible study. We are told in John 1:14 that “the Word became human and made His home among us” (NLT). If we want a stronger faith in God, we must develop a stronger faith in the life of Jesus Christ. If we want a stronger faith in the life of Christ, we must develop a stronger faith in the Word, our record of God and the life of Christ.
The second faith builder is that of prayer. While in the garden prior to the crucifixion, Jesus gives the following instruction to His disciples, “Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!”(NLT).Prayer has the power to help us fight the very things that weaken our faith.
The third faith builder is that of service. Serving others was the very purpose of Jesus’ coming to this earth, according to Matthew 20:28. Serving others connects us to the very heart of Jesus. We see his mercy, kindness, and love in acts of service. This connection with Christ inevitably grows one’s faith.
The fourth faith builder is that of friendship. As God advises us on friendship, He warns that “there are friends who destroy each other” (Proverbs 18:24). In the same manner, He also tells us that good friends “can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). The friends we choose can either make or break our faith.
The fifth, and possibly greatest, faith builder is that of tribulation. Nearly, if not all, occasions of faith transformation in the Bible occur during or following a troubling experience. The Word teaches us in James 1:2-4, “when troubles come your way, consider it an pportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”.
If we actively pursue these five faith builders, our prayer will hopefully change from “God give me a stronger faith”, to “God, please have patience as I build my faith according to your instruction”.
By Jennifer Savage
Every Girl is a column devoted to our Teen and Tween age sisters in Christ. We named this column Every Girl because we believe that every girl is a wonderfully made creation and we want to encourage her to reach her full potentional. Jenn Savage is a student nurse at FHU.
Originally printed in the Winter 2012 issue V5N1
In keeping with the theme of ‘5’, let’s look at the 5 defensive pieces of God’s armor that are worn. God’s Armor, or the “Armor of God”, not meaning what God wears, but what we as His children are told in Ephesians 6:11-24 to put on ourselves to fight and win against Satan and his powers.
From the above mentioned verses we can identify those pieces of armor as….the Belt or Girdle of Truth (verse 14), the Breastplate of Righteousness (verse 14), the footwear of the Gospel of Peace (verse 15), the Shield of Faith (verse 16), and the Helmet of Salvation verse 17).
It’s easy to see why the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use this analogy. As a prisoner, Paul was with the Roman soldiers constantly, and Christians of the day were also very familiar with them and would easily understand the analogy. But since we today do not see such soldiers of old, how can we know what God intends? Let’s study on it a bit.
Verse 14 tells us to “gird up” or secure our “loins” with Truth. The “loins” are the abdominal area of the body and is our core of physical strength. Unprotected or wounded in that area, it would be nearly impossible to stand strong in an upright position, let alone fight. Figuratively speaking, Truth is the basis of our spiritual strength and helps us stand firm without falling.
Verse 14 also mentions the Breastplate of Righteousness. This piece of armor protected the chest area over the heart and lungs, the life center of the body. Righteousness is living right for God, striving to be holy and pure in heart as well as actions. Righteousness protects the spiritual heart from evil and the Devil with his snares. Any soldier going into battle without the breastplate is asking for certain death. So too, if we are not spiritually covered with righteousness, we are asking for certain spiritual death.
In Verse 15 Paul tells us to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace”. The NIV says “andwith your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace.” Until I studied this verse more, I always thought of it as taking the Gospel somewhere… having our shoes on and ready to go. But, the context of this setting in verses 10-16 is about standing firm and fighting, not advancing or going anywhere. Could it be, as Barnes states in his commentary, that it refers to a Christian’s “stability and surefootedness from the Gospel which gives him peace so that he can stand in the battle”? That does make sense.
The Shield of Faith mentioned in verse 16 is not so much worn on the body as it is held up by the hands. As the shield guards and protects from physical danger, “faith protects us in our spiritual lives even in the midst of physical trials” (Barnes). Satan is always after us with his “fiery darts” of fear, doubt, worry, and temptation, but the only way he can get to us is if, or when, we let that shield of faith drop. We cannot let it dip even a little bit or the Devil will catch us off guard and hit us before we know what has happened.
Another thing I found about the shield of the soldier is the way the soldiers all raised them together. Because these shields were quite large, the outer soldiers held their shields out in front, touching the shield next to him, while the soldiers behind and inside the formation held theirs up over their heads, forming a solid barrier. This reminds me that the fight against Satan is one we all must fight, and fight together. Standing unified in the faith–joining our shields (as it were) will help strengthen us as a Body so that we can as one unit stand firm together. What a comforting thought to know that we don’t have to fight this battle alone.
The last piece of “worn” armor is the Helmet of Salvation in verse 17. The helmet protects the head and gives a sense of safety. The knowledge that we need salvation and taking the action to gain that salvation (believing God’s word, repenting of sins, confessing the name of Christ, and being baptized for the remission of those sins) gives us hope that protects our very thoughts from the cares of the world and the temptations that come our way.
Another thought regarding the Helmet of Salvation is this: Once we have commited our life to Christ and Salvation is ours, we are told in Philippians 2:5 to “develop the mind of Christ”. We should think differently from the world. We should love God and Christ so much that we have His very words written on our minds to help us remember the reason for Salvation, as well as those words of promise and encouragement that help us in our daily battle against Satan.
This concludes the pieces of armor that are “worn” in some fashion. But what soldier would go into battle without his sword? This is the soldier’s only “offensive weapon”. As a Christian, our only offensive weapon is the “Sword of the Spirit”. “Of the Spirit” shows where the sword came from–from the Holy Spirit inspiring those who wrote, then specifies what that sword is–The Word of God. So the Word, God-breathed by God the Holy Spirit, should be our weapon carried into battle against Satan, held close to our sides, ready for use at a moment’s notice.
Along with the five worn pieces of armor and the one offensive weapon, Paul tells us in verse 18 “to pray” and to “be alert”. This armor would be of little use without God’s help and strength to wear it continuously on a daily basis. We must seek Him in prayer so that we do not become weary or discouraged. Our hearts and minds in prayer, ever on Him, will help us to be victorious over Satan.
But I wonder….do we really understand that the Christian Life is a battle, a daily struggle, a true spiritual war we are waging? Do we really understand that putting this armor on is NOT a mere suggestion? The words in this text are commands, not “if you want to” words. We are told to “be strong in the Lord”, to “put on”, to “take”, to “stand firm”, to “pray” and to “be alert”, and “having done all, to stand”.
Do you have your armor on? As women of God we MUST wear this armor daily. Never can we ever take it off and lay it aside. To do so would be to give up and let Satan win. To let Satan win means the loss of not only our souls in Hell, but very likely the souls of our children and grandchildren, spouses, and yes, maybe even our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Our influence reaches farther than we ever know. Let’s encourage each other to wear God’s armor and stand firmly together in our fight against Satan, so that we can one day be victorious and live with God and Christ eternally in Heaven.
By Beth Turner
originally printed in the Winter 2012 issue V5N1