Sunday, January 31, 2010

Same-Sex Friendships

"My female friends are absolute treasures," says Elsa Kok. "God brought some women into my life who were a lot like me. One woman I met knew a lot about God's Word, and I wanted to connect with her, so I said, 'Can I come over for coffee and I'll bring bagels?' We connected every Thursday morning for three years, and we still meet on the phone at five-thirty every Thursday morning.

"Friendships don't just happen. You have to take the initiative. You have to work at developing the relationship, but those relationships have taught me what real relationships are about. Those friendships have equipped me in ways I could never have been equipped without them. They've taught me communication, how to work through conflict, how to support and encourage, and how to serve. It is worth the effort."

Cindy shares, "I made new friends through the DivorceCare® support group. My friends and I would have a potluck or rent a movie. It was important for me to have female friends. We had an agreement that if anyone was lonely and feeling bad, even if it was three in the morning, none of us would mind any of us calling each other."

As Cindy mentioned, a Christian divorce support recovery group is a great way to meet new friends who understand what you are going through and who need new friends too. Even if your first impression is to avoid that type of group, please give it a chance. Same-sex friendships are an excellent cure for loneliness.

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need" (Proverbs 17:17 NLT).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

NNU providing complimentary live webcast of 2010 Wesley Center Conference

Given the strong interest in this year's Wesley Center Conference, Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) is offering complimentary, live webcasting from its campus February 4-6.

Titled "99 Parts Perspiration: God & the Creative Process," NNU's 2010 conference for pastors and laypersons features bestselling author Philip Yancey and respected preacher Jeff Crosno.

Yancey has served for many years as editor-at-large for Christianity Today and is a bestselling author who has seen over 14 million copies of his books sold, including What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998) and The Jesus I Never Knew (1996), both of which earned Book of the Year awards by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Crosno now serves as pastor of the Spokane Valley Church of the Nazarene and will present the 2010 Neil Ministry Address on Friday evening during the conference.

Focusing on what it means to partner with God in the creative process, the 2010 Wesley Center Conference has drawn widespread interest from pastors and laypersons alike. In addition to the two conference headliners, a wide variety of workshop tracks are being offered for writers, artists, preachers, and worship leaders.

NNU has worked hard in recent years to leverage the Internet and we see this as another great opportunity to resource men and women for the sake of the kingdom of God." The conference schedule can be found on the university's web site.

Pastors and laypersons are welcome to tune in to plenary sessions and workshops live via the Internet.

What Does the Bible Teach About Spending Money?

This is a guest post from Money Help For Christians

There are two common feelings associated with spending – guilt and pleasure (which may lead to indulgence).

At times people feel one or the other of those emotions, and at times they feel both. Either extreme is terribly dangerous.

An overly guilty conscience makes it difficult to honor the generosity of the Father. If God is the Source of all we have then ultimately it is a blessing to be able to enjoy his abundant generosity. Job 1:1-3 introduces a man of great wealth. For the very first paragraph the writer assures us that “this man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”

On the other hand, if you seek too much personal pleasure you will ignore the biblical mandate to consider the needs of others. This is, after all, the second most important command. Luke 16:19-31 highlights this danger in the story (parable?) of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man enjoyed all he had in abundance without regard for his neighbor.

Most likely, you lean towards one extreme – too much guilt or unchecked pleasure. It is essential as Christians for us to recognize our tendencies so we can address them.

Link with Others

An important step in your healing from loneliness is to link up with other people who are trying to develop a deeper relationship with God. These are the people who will help you move forward in faith and in life.

"Scripture encourages us to fellowship with one another," says Sabrina Black. "It says to encourage one another as long as today is today. As you are spending time with people who are concerned about the things of God, they're going to encourage you in your walk with God. If you are pursuing godliness, then they're going to challenge you when your behavior is anything other than biblical. People who are concerned about godliness will be able to look at Scripture and say, 'This is a clear application. This is a clear violation.'"

Dr. Les Carter says, "I've known people who have attempted to get things right with God, and they attempt to link up with other Christians, but they don't take the next step. They don't tell anybody what's going on inside. Another component of getting beyond loneliness is to open your windows. Let people see who you are. Let folks know how you can be ministered to and, in the process, be willing to hear who they are."

In order to grow in your new relationships, you must be sure to be open with your friends, let them know how they can help you, and be willing to listen and respond to their problems as well. God wants to bless you with close, Christian friends. Ask Him today!

"As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend" (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Develop a Relationship with God

"My struggles brought me closer to God," says BJ. "He was able to take my anger away when I gave it to Him. He was able to take the depression away. He even took the loneliness away eventually. Grow closer to God, and as you start to dwell on Him and the things of God, you forget all the things that hurt, and He will take your loneliness away."

God wants to meet you right where you are now. He is never surprised or appalled by anything you have done. He wants to ease your lonely heart today.

Dr. Robert Abarno says, "He's always available to you. He says, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' But you have to make the decision to have a relationship with God. Nobody else can do it for you. You must say, 'I want to be saved. I repent of my sins. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.' That's a positive action that can result from immense pain."

Beginning or renewing relationship with the living God is a sure cure for loneliness.

"Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14).

We encourage you to take that positive action today and pray the prayer that Dr. Abarno suggests:

Lord God, I want to be saved. I repent of my sins. Please forgive my sins, and cleanse me from unrighteousness. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Single vs. Alone

Dr. Myles Munroe says not only do people misunderstand what it means to be single, but they also misunderstand what it means to be alone. These words are not synonymous. Let's look at what being alone means.

"In Genesis 2:18 God says to this man, 'It's not good for man to be alone,'" states Dr. Munroe. "God never said it's not good for man to be single. You must understand that singleness is not a problem to God. As a matter of fact, God encourages singleness. He wants you to become unique, separate, and whole.

"'Alone' is what God saw as the problem. The word literally means isolated. God was saying He doesn't want a person to be isolated in him or herself.

"Loneliness is a terrible thing; it's a disease; it's a product of a poor self-concept. It's a product of people who don't believe that they are worth being loved or that they are important, so they feel isolated from the crowd. That is a sickness. God says He doesn't like that. He doesn't want that to happen to anybody. Aloneness is the source of that."

God does not want you to be alone, but He does want you to be single—separate, unique, and whole. Take a moment to think about where you fit in Dr. Munroe's definitions of single versus alone.

"Look at me and help me! I'm all alone and in big trouble" (Psalm 25:16 Msg).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today’s To-Do

God is good and merciful and does not treat us as we deserve.

Repeat as necessary several times an hour.

Learn to Be Single

You may feel a deep need for a mate, a partner, and a companion to ease your loneliness. Be patient, now is not the time. First, you must learn to be single.

"You don't solve loneliness by getting married," says Dr. Myles Munroe. "Some of the loneliest people in the world are married people. Nothing is worse than being lonely in a marriage because you're trapped."

Dr. Munroe says God designed people to be single.* He explains, "People walk around with a tremendous misconception of what it means to be single. Singleness, in its basic definition, means to be separate, unique, and whole. To be single means you are separate from everyone else, and you are unique in yourself-which means you recognize there's no one like you, and you have worth within yourself. To be single also means you are whole; you don't depend on other people to make you somebody. Until a person is completely single in these three areas, his or her relationships will always be a problem."

Have you come to the point where you know you are separate, unique, and whole as a person? After you consider each of these three areas in your life, think about the longings and worries you have and the emotions you sometimes struggle with. Learn to recognize areas of your life that need work, and avoid new relationships with the opposite sex until you are completely single. God has a purpose for you in your singleness-don't miss it!

"For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, . . . everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him" (Colossians 1:16 Msg).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Will this lift Jesus higher or will this lift me higher?"

I read this over Cindy's shoulder. Its from "TruthMedia Women's Devotional".

Healing Within the Body of Christ

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"
(John 13:35).

Scripture says, "God resists, or opposes, the proud but gives grace to the humble"
(James 4:6).

Pride is a killer! It is one of the subtlest tools of the enemy. God actually resists the proud! Who would want to be opposed by God!

Yet in the church we often do find pride, but it wears a different cloak than it does out in the world. In Christian circles we know that pride in our position and possessions are not a Godly thing. We scorn openly the pursuit of "fame and fortune" alone. Yet pride exists in our hearts and in our churches in two prominent ways that we often try to justify.

There is often pride in standing for a "principle of righteousness" while walking away from reconciliation. Making such a stand is not wrong in itself; however it is often accompanied by a lack of grace and a spiritual superiority that cuts off the Spirit of God from working in a situation. If you are ever tempted to "stand for righteousness" against another Christian, check if your trademark of love is visible. Make sure your heart is clean in all the secret places and that you have done all you can to live at peace (Romans 12:18). If the basis for your stand is your own pride, be very careful, for God resists the proud.

The second place pride plays a major role in the church is in the area of spiritual gifts. You may have a discerning heart or a prophetic gifting. God may reveal truth to you in a situation. Again, be very careful. God calls us first to prayer and often nothing more. If words are to be spoken God will clearly reveal that, but the first task is to obey the call to prayer. Much damage has been done in the church when someone feels they have received a word from God and simply talks, rather than prays, about it. If you think you sense something, pray, pray, pray and God will reveal if there is anything else He requires. God's whisper in your Spirit will never be in conflict with what He directs in His Word. When we speak in spiritual pride, the Spirit is grieved and we cut off that which God was at work doing in our lives and in the situation (Ephesians 4:29 & 30). The simple question before opening your mouth is...

"Will this lift Jesus higher or will this lift me higher?"

Be slow to speak, especially words that sow negative seeds about another, and be quick to listen.

Father God, show me where I may be harboring spiritual pride within my heart. Help me to be careful to listen to Your gentle nudges when I need to be silent. May I be careful to pray before I speak. I want to lift Jesus up in my church. Help me to guard my tongue as well as my heart. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

  • Can others see your trademark of love?
  • How do you handle hurt in your life?
  • Does your response lift up Jesus?

Rebound Relationships

One of the most serious consequences of the loneliness that comes from separation or divorce is the tendency to enter new, opposite-sex relationships too quickly. These relationships, often called rebound relationships, can cause a tremendous amount of pain in your life.

"The illusion that getting another person will make you happy is a very devastating illusion because it wasn't true the first time, and there's no reason for it to be true a second time," says Gary Richmond.

Lee shares, "I was extremely vulnerable, and I was not as in control of my emotions as I thought because the new relationship was so comfortable. It really was an escape. I realized later that there was so much more healing to do. When someone comes along and is attracted to you and you're attracted to that person, you have to be aware that this is not the time for that."

Dr. Les Carter says, "Many times folks ask, 'Is there a particular period of time that I should wait before I get into other relationships?' Time isn't really the major factor. Rather, it's knowing yourself and your motivations, and knowing who you are and why you want a new relationship."

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:11-13).

Lack of Self-Esteem

Loneliness can lead to a lack of self-esteem. When you lose the feeling of value that you received from your marriage, you might begin to second-guess your worth as a person. Don't let feelings of worthlessness take root. They are complete lies. You are so valuable as a person.

Rob Eagar shares what he learned about loneliness and low self-worth. He says, "Probably the best advice I received was that my self-esteem is not based on how other people view me. If someone rejects me, sure the pain is real and it hurts, but my true self-esteem is based on how God views me. God sees me as a lovable, wonderful person who is so valuable to Him that I was worth dying for. That is why His Son Jesus Christ came to earth and died on the cross. I can still get up and walk out and hold my head high because if the God of the Universe loves me and says I am valuable, then His opinion is all that really matters."

Yes, God's opinion is the only one that truly matters in the whole scheme of life.

"You are precious and honored in my sight, and . . . I love you. . . . Do not be afraid, for I am with you" (Isaiah 43:4-5).

Sunday, January 24, 2010


a guest post from Garry Mullen

… for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. – Luke 4:2

It is hard not to be tempted in our culture by many things. We are tempted by power, sex, the accumulations of things (and some of the things are not worth accumulating). We are a tempted people. And sometimes we think that we are the only ones tempted – or that it is something new – or that we are even evil because of our temptation. But that is not the truth.

The bible outlines the three temptations of Jesus, but these aren’t the only three temptations that Jesus suffered. The Bible says that Jesus was tempted for forty days. For forty days, Satan worked hard at getting Jesus to abandon his mission. But for forty days Jesus resisted Satan’s advances. At the end of the forty days, Satan left him until an “opportune” time. A time when he might once again be encouraged to quit.

There are some things that we need to hear from this passage. The first is that temptation is not evil. Jesus was tempted. But we also need to recognize that temptation happens at the opportune time – which usually means when we are weak. So if we want to resist temptation, we will need to be extremely careful when we are tired (or hungry.)

Today we gather together for worship – not as the perfect – but as the tempted. And sometimes the temptation wins the battle. But we get up and repent and try one more time. That is who we are - the ones that have failed in temptation forgiven by the one who never gave in.


"Loneliness rarely occurs when everything is going just right," says Dr. Les Carter. "When you go through experiences of loneliness, invariably you're going to begin looking inward, thinking, 'Did I do something to set this up? Should I have acted differently? Is there something wrong with me?' Questions like that can crop up, and the result of this self-doubt can be guilt."

Recognize your feelings of guilt as by-products of loneliness. Your guilty feelings may have no other basis than that. Bring those harmful feelings and questions to God. He will take your burden. Trust Him in this.

"When I was first divorced," says Elsa Kok, "I was feeling broken, worthless, and disappointed in myself. People would say, 'Elsa, God loves you.' And I would say, 'Whatever.' I didn't buy it. Not at all.

"Moving away from that attitude is a process. Be assured that God does not despise broken people. He knows you're broken. He knows you're going to make wrong choices. What delights Him is when you come to Him with your hurts and poor choices because He can do something about them.

"When you come to Him, He thinks, I'm so happy to see you. You are an amazing child of mine. I have handcrafted you. I have given you gifts you haven't even begun to explore yet. I have a hope and a future for you. You'll be so glad you came to Me. This will be a choice you will never regret."

God is never ashamed of you. He loves you and wants to relieve you of your heavy load.

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens" (Psalm 68:19).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

NCN News, Holiness Today magazine announce web site merger

NCN News has shown rapid growth over the last few years as more and more Nazarenes use the latest technology to get information about their denomination and broader church family.

During this time, a functional relationship between NCN News and Holiness Today has emerged under the Nazarene Communications Network umbrella that enhances the services we provide our global Nazarene family. Holiness Today focuses on two important elements:
* Fostering the pursuit of practical holiness and everyday faith. This is why the magazine is named Holiness Today.
* Facilitating the connections between our global Nazarene family. We do this via the presentation of our message and mission through the stories we share from the church at large.

NCN News began as a service to disseminate news about the denomination. We are merging our two delivery systems into a common web site accessible by either URL: or Developed by Nazarene Publishing House, this newly-launched web site connects news, information, mission, and message in an easy-to-use format. In addition, both entities have Facebook and Twitter accounts where news and stories are distributed frequently.


Siloam Mission announced that Floyd Perras has been named the Chief Executive Officer. Perras was hired through Siloam’s Board of Directors. The new executive appointment is effective March 1, 2010.

As a national business leader, Perras comes to Siloam Mission with over 20 years of experience in missions and humanitarian agencies in Canada.

“Perras is a proven leader who brings extensive training and experience to Siloam Mission,” says Board Chair, Riley Coulter. “He will lead Siloam with integrity and effectiveness, but most importantly, he will fulfill the mandate to help those who are experiencing poverty and homelessness in Winnipeg.”

"I am thrilled by the opportunity to work alongside all those at Siloam Mission,” says Perras. “I have followed Siloam since its small beginnings on Main Street, spending time as a volunteer and then, for a time, on the Board of Directors. Siloam has always had a place in my heart and I will lead to my full capacity as it continues to grow and advance the programs and services offered. We will work to strengthen Siloam and bring forth my vision to make change happen in Winnipeg’s inner-city.”

Perras has earned an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Calgary and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Canadian Nazarene College. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene.

How Linux Differs from Windows

a repost from Ministrymaker

Since churches and ministries are always looking for ways to save money, learning as much as you can about free computer software alternatives is a good idea. Operating systems like Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux do pretty much the same things, but in different ways.

Cost and licensing

Linux operating systems are published under open source licenses that make the source code available to everyone. Microsoft products, including Windows Vista and XP, are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. As for cost, most Linux distributions are free and can be used on an unlimited number of computers. Windows operating systems are expensive, and legally each license can only be used on one computer.

Distributions and versions

There are many different distributions of Linux. A few of the more popular Linux flavors include Ubuntu, SimplyMEPIS, PCLinuxOS, RedHat, Knoppix, and OpenSUSE. Windows operating systems are distributed only by Microsoft, and include Windows 95, 98, 98SE, Me, NT3, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista and their latest offering, Windows 7.

Programs, applications and games

While there are Linux alternatives to nearly every major Windows program out there, more applications and games are developed for Windows than for Linux. Installing programs in Linux is usually done through a package management system like Synaptic in Ubuntu, which allows users to easily download and install free games and applications. In Windows, the software must be purchased/downloaded from a local or online retailer, and then installed in a separate process.

Resource requirements and appearance

Linux distributions are highly customizable and typically require less system resources than Windows operating systems. Desktop appearance varies in Linux from distribution to distribution, but they all function in a similar way. Most versions of Windows only have a few customization options (themes) and are typically very resource intensive. Vista for example requires at least 2GB of RAM to run smoothly. With Linux, there are modern distributions that are specifically designed to run on older, slower computers.

Security and privacy

Since the majority of computer security threats are created to attack Windows, Linux operating systems are much more secure. Linux systems are not completely immune to things like viruses and keyloggers, but system security is definitely better on a Linux machine. Even if attacked, the Linux file system is designed in such a way that it makes it difficult for viruses to do much damage.

Ease of use

Since many computer users start with Windows, it’s often difficult for them to switch to Linux. Once again, Windows and Linux do basically the same things, but in different ways. The major difference for most users is the way the window manager organizes and displays icons and other components that make up the desktop experience.

Want to try Linux?

Check out Ubuntu at

You can download Ubuntu and burn it to a disk yourself. Your computer needs at least 384MB of RAM to run the live CD. Put the disk in your optical drive, restart your computer, then choose to boot from the CD when prompted. Ubuntu runs directly off the CD, so there’s no worry that you might harm your Windows installation.

Feeling Out of Fellowship with God

A lonely person can feel out of fellowship with God. In separation and divorce, your love relationship with your former mate has broken, and you may wonder if your relationship with God is still intact.

"Human relationships ideally are meant to be pictures of godly love," says Dr. Les Carter. "When a husband and wife share real, solid love, it's not difficult at that point to know what God's love is like and to feel a sense of richness in the Lord."

Without a loving marriage as a model, you might become confused about where you stand with God.

"I felt so hopeless and alone," says Ginny. "Even though I knew God was with me, I couldn't feel Him."

God is with you, and He will always be with you and will love you with a perfect love. Cheryl says, "I remember there came a time in my life when I realized that God was always going to be there for me and that I might be lonely at times, but I was never going to be alone. Once I realized that, I was able to go forward and not worry about being alone any more."

The Bible says: "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord" (Romans 14:7-8).

Friday, January 22, 2010


Another consequence of loneliness is promiscuity.

"Whenever you get caught up in promiscuity or get into the party scene, then typically it implies that there is an emptiness, a desire to connect with other individuals," explains Dr. Les Carter. "You may be willing to go whatever route it takes to fill the emptiness. By not dealing well with loneliness, you can have many other consequences."

Greg says, "I was really vulnerable during this time, and whenever a woman paid attention to me, there was that draw and attraction. With all the loneliness I was feeling, any kind of comfort I got from a female made me want to get into a relationship with her or become physical with her. I knew that wasn't where I needed to be." Greg found that the best solution was to focus on developing same-sex friendships and to turn his attention to the Lord and focus on Him.

You do not want to turn to sex or to new relationships with the opposite sex to ease your loneliness. Your emptiness can only be filled by God. Choose God. You always have a choice as to how you are going to live each moment of every day. And you can choose whom you will live for.

Be careful that you don't react to your feelings or to new situations by seeking any kind of comfort, but that you think first. Prayerfully consider your actions today and how those actions will positively or negatively affect your life tomorrow, next month, or five years from now.

God says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. – 2 Kings 14:4

A repost from Garry Mullen.

I admit that this blog entry may get me in trouble. That’s okay. I was in a situation today that disturbed me. Whether it should have or not – I am not sure. One of my core beliefs is that God is speaking through our culture and it frustrates me when we seem to be unwilling to hear the message. Luke tells a story of Jesus entering Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passion Week. It is the day that we call Palm Sunday. On this day, the supporters of Jesus lined up as he came into the city. Basically they threw a party for Jesus, and as happens when you throw a party – it got noisy. And as often happens (I apologize for this – but it is true), the religious people got upset about the noise.

As the religious are complaining, Jesus stops and makes a statement. “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” The message seems to be that God’s message will be revealed under any circumstances. If we keep quiet, God will reveal the message in another way.

Here is where I think we have a problem. I believe (and you can argue with me) that the church in North America has been silent. It is not that we aren’t speaking – but we aren’t speaking the language. We aren’t making a connection with the culture, we have stopped speaking the language of the people around us. And for us it is frustrating because we think that we are speaking the message, but we aren’t speaking the language. So God has picked up the message himself and our culture (the same one that we are ignoring) is screaming out his message.

To make matters worse, we seem to be proud of the fact that we have no connection with culture – proud that we don’t understand the movie references, or the music – any part of the prevailing culture. But having said that, we also know that we stand for something - well, different. We are supposed to “remove the high places.” But the high places will never be removed until we can at least speak the language.

We can’t ignore our culture. We have to learn to speak the language and communicate with people outside of our holy groups. It is a sign that we love them and truly want the best for them. And then we will be able to be the witnesses we are called to be - again.

Depression and Futility

Loneliness can lead to depression and to the sense that everything is futile, so why bother.

Harriet shares: "I would go to bed and curl up into a ball and burrow down under the covers. I felt like I was just a speck in this deep blackness, almost like when you look up and you see a little star in the dark heavens at night, cold and alone.

"Some people thought I was dying. They told me months later that they thought I had a terminal disease because I rarely spoke and I'd lost so much weight. The loneliness was showing up on my face and in my demeanor. I had once been a confident, fun-filled, always-finding-something-to-laugh-about kind of person. All of a sudden, I felt like a woman who was ninety years old and would be alone forever. I saw no hope."

You, too, may be so lonely and depressed that you are barely going through the motions of living. Perhaps you feel it is worthless to even try. It is not worthless. God created you for a purpose, and He fully equipped you to fulfill that purpose. Your life has meaning and worth. God made you to be exactly who you are. You are so special to Him.

Make the effort to get out and interact with family and friends. Join a church group or Bible study. Learn God's plan for your new life. Harriet says, "Once I reached the point where I began to let people close to me know what was going on in my life, the loneliness began to dissipate, but it took months."

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


a guest post from Pastor Gary at a Nazarene church on the South Carolina District.

It is amazing how fast the cell phone has become part of our every day lives. When cell phones first came into existence, only executives and business men used them. Now, EVERYONE has cell phones. We use them to connect to people in a variety of ways.

I would like to suggest a way that you can use your phone that you may not have thought of. Say you are rendered unconscious due to an accident and the response team needs to contact someone to let them know you are seriously injured. How will they know who to call?

Select a person you which to be notified in case of an accident and enter their phone number in your cell phone. Instead of entering their name; enter three letters: ICE. This stands for In Case of Emergency. The EMT can find ICE in your phone directory and call the person designated to be contacted.

Most EMTs are aware of this and everyone should have this stored in their cell phones. Be safe but be prepared.

Consequences of Loneliness

Anger and bitterness are consequences of loneliness. The longer you are lonely and the longer you separate yourself emotionally from other people, the greater the chance for negative emotions to build up inside you.

"Life was very empty feeling, very lonely," says Kim. "I had a sense of being lost, not being a part of something, and it was difficult. I was angry. I was bitter. It was building up inside of me."

Joanne says, "My ex-husband and I had to face each other every day. We worked together. We owned a business together. It was in front of me day after day, and the anger I felt had to be controlled, which I'm not real good at doing."

Take action to remedy your loneliness before the anger, bitterness, and other negative emotions become overwhelming.

Angie feels her loneliness most deeply at the end of the day, and she turns to God through Bible reading and prayer for healing and relief. "I deal with my loneliness by turning to God because He's there," says Angie. "He would never leave me or forsake me. He's my friend. He's my Father."

Another suggestion is to attend a Christ-centered divorce recovery support group, such as DivorceCare®. This group will teach you how to grow closer to God in your pain and will help you learn His purpose for your life. It will also provide you with a network of friends who will help you sort through your emotions and identify your needs.

"A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones" (Proverbs 14:30 Msg).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Family and Friends Pull Back

When a person is going through a divorce, family and friends often don't know what to say or how to interact, so they tend to pull back. This can contribute to your loneliness.

Dr. Les Carter says, "Sometimes families and even churches may be prone to shooting their own wounded. They just don't know what to do with you. They don't know what they should say, so the best thing they know to do is pretend like you don't exist."

James shares, "Friends that I had didn't know how to handle it. Anytime I was around them, I was either crying or upset, so it was tough on them too."

Your friends and family may sincerely desire to help you, but they often do not have the right advice or experience to offer you true comfort. Do not blame them for their inadequacies. You could help them by explaining how they could help you. People feel more comfortable when they know where they stand and what they can do.

During times of hurt and perceived rejection from others, you have a choice to make about those relationships, and we encourage you to choose to build and not break down friendships during this difficult time.

"Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me" (Psalm 27:10).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Protecting Your Dreams

a repost from TheChristianDollar...

Losing weight is no easy task. It take determination, intense planning, and utter self control. Anything you do in life that goes against the norm requires a focused intensity that is difficult to match.

Shedding debt, building your emergency fund, and investing is the same way. If you’re counter-cultural on your beliefs about credit, debt, and handling money, you need to protect your methods being compromised by undue frustration.

Allow me to give you an example. Let’s say that you have several overweight friends and, you, being overweight yourself, decide it’s finally time to go on a diet. You get all excited. You’re cutting back the cake and bringing on the broccoli. You start rejecting the ways of your overweight friends and striving for a higher goal. Hoping your friends will get excited and encourage your endeavors, you tell them all about it and how much better your life will be once you lose the pounds. Unfortunately, they start telling you about how you’ll never make it and eating cake is actually “good for you.”

You see, many people, even friends, will not necessarily get excited with you. The same is true for your financial ambitions. Others would rather spend money eating out, going on vacations, and borrowing to drown their worries away. In many cases, this has happened to me. People who I expected to get excited only told me how it wasn’t possible. Only my closest friends have been an encouragement, and I thank those of you who have blessed me with your kindness.

Whatever your dream, protect it! If you’re going to lose weight, do it! Prove them wrong! Believe in yourself! If you’re going to pay off your mortgage in a third the time it takes most, do it! Prove them wrong! Believe in yourself! Those who aim low tend to hit their targets. Aim high, and dream!

A New Lifestyle

"What helped me get through those lonely days was knowing that God does love me, that He does have a plan for me, and that His plan is for my good," says Selma.

Your daily life is different now. You no longer have the security and comfort of your old routine and of knowing where you belong. The new lifestyle may feel awkward and uncomfortable. This contributes to your loneliness.

Warren Kniskern says, "This is a time to depend upon God like never before. Place your cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for you. He knows the struggles you're going through. Don't lose hope in terms of getting on with your life. There is life after this tragedy."

Your new lifestyle is unfortunately one that you did not choose to be in. But now that you are here, you do have a say as to how you will respond to your new circumstances. Every moment, you are faced with the choice of how you will act and react to the thoughts in your mind and to the situations that occur.

Anyone who has a relationship with Jesus Christ has available to him or her the wisdom and the strength to make right choices through the Holy Spirit.

"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Romans 8:12-14).

Profound Loss

When you go through divorce, you experience a profound sense of loss, and that makes the loneliness deeper.

Harriet says, "What was so bad is that I knew what it felt like to be loved, to be cherished, to not be lonely, to have a full life. All of a sudden it seemed like my life was over. I was convinced that I would never be loved again, that I would die alone. I don't ever want to feel like that again."

Danny shares, "At some of those darkest hours, I would envision Christ on the cross or envision Him going through what led up to the cross—the pain and suffering He endured. When I was able to focus on that, it made my problems seem so much smaller. At my darkest hours I would concentrate on Christ Himself. That helped me tremendously."

Your loss is real and intense, but you will make it through this. Know that Jesus Christ is the One who knows exactly how you feel. He knows how deep your hurts are, and His tears are flowing with yours. Crawl into His strong arms and let Him love you.

"Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning" (Lamentations 5:15).

Couples-Oriented Society

It can be painfully obvious that this is a couples-oriented society. At restaurants, at the movies, and in the shopping malls, it seems as if everyone is with someone else. Popular songs say you can't live without that special person in your life.

Bonnie Keen says, "Everywhere I went it looked like there were whole families intact, and I stuck out like a sore thumb."

"I couldn't stand to see happy couples," admits Sherry. "In my Sunday school class were happily married couples, and I loved all of them, but I didn't want to be with them because it hurt, and I was angry."

"We're outsiders," says Bob. "We're the third wheel or the fifth wheel. We're in a couples society, and it's an awkward situation."

The popular song lyrics are wrong. There is only one Person you need for fulfillment. That Person is Jesus Christ.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Who are you bringing to Movie Nite?

Saturday at 7.

"One Night With The King" chronicles the life of the young Jewish girl, Hadassah, who goes on to become the Biblical Esther, the Queen of Persia (400-322 B.C.), who saves the Jewish nation from annihilation at the hands of its arch enemy while winning the heart of the fiercely handsome King Xerxes, played by Luke Goss, 36 ("Charlie" 2004 ,Blade II," 2002; "The Man" 2005).

See you there!!!

Spiritual Basis of Loneliness

Mankind was created to be in a right relationship with God, but because we chose to go our own way instead of God's—thus sinning—we can no longer enjoy that right relationship except through Jesus Christ. Our souls long to be in fellowship with our Creator, but our thoughts and feelings often pull us in the opposite direction, to a more self-centered focus.

"Part of the problem of loneliness is a spiritual problem," says Dr. Les Carter. "Every one of us begins life as a sinner, and as a result we are reminded daily that we're not completely linked up with God. One of the major causes of loneliness can stem from not being connected with God the way you want to be."

James says, "One of the greatest tactics from Satan is that he wants you to doubt God, and he'll try to make you think that loneliness means God is not there for you. If he can make you doubt God's ability to take care of you, and you start reacting to the situation in your own strength, then Satan has won the battle. God is the only answer through the whole thing. If you seek to glorify God and not glorify yourself, then you'll win."

All people were created by God and for God. Our loneliness can only be filled when we are in a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Movie Nite: "One Night With The King" Saturday January 16 at 7 p.m.

"One Night With The King" chronicles the life of the young Jewish girl, Hadassah, who goes on to become the Biblical Esther, the Queen of Persia (400-322 B.C.), who saves the Jewish nation from annihilation at the hands of its arch enemy while winning the heart of the fiercely handsome King Xerxes, played by Luke Goss, 36 ("Charlie" 2004 ,Blade II," 2002; "The Man" 2005).

The "One Night With The King" cast includes such notable talent as John Rhys-Davies as Mordecai and John Noble as Prince Admantha. Both actors starred in the blockbuster trilogy "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers," and "Return of the King." The film also features veteran actor Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Jr. in the lead role of Hegai.

Bring a friend.

When You Feel Rejected

"I had absolutely no idea what loneliness was until I found out my husband was having an affair," says Harriet. "For two months I lived with the knowledge that my husband, the person I had loved and trusted more than anyone in the world, had betrayed me.

"I knew for the first time what loneliness was, true loneliness, and why there's a difference in loneliness and being alone. I could be in a room full of people, and loneliness was there. Loneliness was my constant companion."

Not only do you feel separated from people, you also feel a sense of rejection from them. When you're rejected by someone whose opinion truly matters to you, such as your spouse, you can mistakenly feel that you are a "reject."

"I felt like I had a big 'D' on my forehead," says Sherry. "Everywhere I went, I felt like everybody was thinking, What a loser. You couldn't make a thirty-one-year marriage work."

You are incredibly worthwhile and valuable in God's eyes. He does not judge you or look down on you. He has chosen you to be His special worker, and He'll strengthen you for the task, upholding you every step of the way.

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:9-10).

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected" (1 Timothy 4:4).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Contentment Goes a Long Way

an article from The Christian Dollar

We live in a small house. One bedroom, two cats. My wife and I would one day like to have a bigger house, you know, with more room! But in the meantime, we are learning to be content. I’ve heard it said that contentment is a key to financial success. So true! Too many people impulse and buy houses they can’t afford.

This morning my wife said she was so content with our lifestyle (very frugal). You have no idea what a blessing that is to hear her say that. She understands that if we live like no one else, we can later live like no one else.

Contentment leads to:

1. Less stress.
2. More money through not “needing” toys.
3. The joys of simplicity.

The ability to be content stems from God. It is a good idea to sit down and write a list of blessings in your life whenever you’re feeling discontent. Finding positives in life gives hope.

There is a certain amount of discontentment that is healthy, if it propels you to success. But don’t let your discontentment (with your job, income, or family situation) keep you from feeling content with the process of reaching achievement.

Your ability to be content in the middle of your the pursuit of success will launch you far ahead of most. Financially speaking, you’ll be able to lay a firm solid-rock foundation for your future and have an overflow of money.

God’s way seems to take time. Contentment in the midst of this is the ingredient that will get you to where you need to be.

So, what are you thankful for?

A Lesson from the Recession: Getting back to the basics

Article by Jonathan Milligan

I am not a big fan of watching TV commercials. In fact, commercials are the reason I love to record programs so that I can watch my favorite shows in almost half the time. However, lately I have been drawn to the AllState commercials talking about the need for Americans to go “back to the basics.” I actually commend them for speaking to the heart of where most Americans live today. In an age where our attention is dominated by the latest infomercials, innovative products and automobile advertisements (that somehow come across 3 times louder), it is refreshing to be reminded about how people were still happy before all these things came to be.

Generations are shaped by certain major events that happen in their lifetime. The Builder generation (those born between 1920-1950) were shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and rural lifestyles. They are known for being frugal, loyal, patriotic and hard workers. Isn’t it interesting that much of the financial advice that we covet today is sound advice offered by our Grandparents? If my generation is guilty of anything, it is guilty of trying to acquire the same financial status in a few short years that took our Grandparents a lifetime to build.

My sincere hope is that we will not forget the lessons we have learned over the last two years from this recession. Things will eventually pick back up (they always seem to do), but this recession will leave us with two important questions:

* Will we be any different?
* Will it be business as usual?

My new passion in life is to firmly embed in my memory the value of saving, investing wisely, making good money choices, and living a frugal life. Isn’t that what being a good steward really is supposed to be anyways? Isn’t it all God’s to begin with?

May each of us never forget that our happiness is not tied to a house, a car, season tickets, the expensive vacations, or brand name clothing. True happiness is found in the simple things in life that we pass over each day.

As I sat around the kitchen table last evening and played Monopoly with my family, I had a big smile on my face because there was no place in the world that I would rather want to be. I leave you with the principles shared in the AllState commercial…

May we never forget:

* That who is around your TV for the big game is more important than how big it is
* That the most memorable vacations can easily happen 10 feet from your front door (playing in the yard with your kids)
* Cars are not for showing for how far we have come, but for taking us where we want to go.
* The truth is that the best things in life do not cost much at all.

When You Don't Feel Valued

If you do not feel valued, you will have feelings of loneliness. Knowing you are important to people strengthens you and strengthens the ties you have with them. We encourage you to find your value in Christ first, and He will show you your worth through the godly love of other people.

"It's only when you learn who you are in Christ," says Lauren, "the total acceptance the Lord has of you, the unconditional love He gives to you, and what you are worth to Him, that you fully realize what a valued person you are. You can't get that from anywhere else. You can't get that from your mate."

Read the Bible to learn how much God loves you and what His purpose is for your life.

Bonnie Keen says, "I didn't always feel like He loved me. I didn't always feel like I was somebody who was going to succeed again and have two strong legs to stand on. But the Bible told me who I was. If I kept going back there for my definition of who I was, that could be counted on. It was a choice I made. I didn't feel it emotionally all the time."

Any demeaning thoughts you have had about yourself need to be given to Christ. He will dispose of your harmful thoughts as you embrace the new life He has for you.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When You Feel Isolated

Both physical and emotional isolation contribute to loneliness.

Dr. Les Carter says, "People often think of a lonely person as someone in a dark room staring off into the corner somewhere. Sure enough, that would represent loneliness, but it's much more than that. The easiest way to identify a person who is struggling with loneliness is to listen for that one phrase, 'Nobody seems to understand.' When a person is feeling that emotion of loneliness, there is a feeling of isolation and a sense of separateness in his or her relationships. It's as though there is a huge gap between that person and others, and they can't seem to find a way to cross it."

Marie shares, "I shut myself off from people. I stopped answering my phone. I created my loneliness. It wasn't that I didn't have friends but that I didn't want people around. I didn't know how to be a friend at that moment because I just couldn't handle other human beings; I didn't want them around. I needed them, though—finally figured that out."

Your physical isolation may be by choice, but it is contributing to deeper problems of loneliness. In order to fill the gap you feel between you and other people, you have to get out and interact with them. You will still feel lonely, and you will be tempted to stay at home and not bother, but that gap will eventually close if you persevere.

"I am like an owl in the desert, like a lonely owl in a far-off wilderness. I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof" (Psalm 102:6-7 NLT).

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Ache of Loneliness

You are home alone and you long for companionship. You are out with friends, surrounded by people who love you, yet you ache with loneliness. This emotion is deep, and it is difficult for other people to understand. Sometimes people in your church may not understand because they see that you are surrounded by a loving church family. While it is crucial to let yourself be loved by church and family members, the loss of a spouse brings a loneliness that can only be healed through a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

"There were times," says Cheryl, "especially in the evening after I put my children down to bed, when I was home by myself, and I remember sitting on my sofa just wishing that someone was there to put his arms around me and just to hold me and to love me. And I thought, This is the way it's always going to be."

Danny shares: "I was so lonely. The house was so quiet after my wife left with the children. It's amazing how the quietness can be so loud. I didn't want to be in that house."

During the next few weeks, you will learn that there are complex reasons behind loneliness. You will look at some effective ways to deal with your loneliness as well as mistakes to avoid when you're feeling lonely.

"And now how lonely—bereft, abandoned! The once famous city, the once happy city" (Jeremiah 49:25 Msg).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fewer Periods of Depression

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" (Psalm 13:2).

You probably cried out, at one point, the same question as the psalmist above, feeling that your depression would never end. But as time has been moving along, perhaps now your depression is lessening and a sense of normalcy is returning to your life.

When Nancy began attending a divorce recovery support group, her new friends noticed that she never smiled and never showed any emotions. Nancy says, "I was just cold. I was dead inside."

As time moved on, Nancy began to realize that she, too, was moving forward through her depression. She says, "I can remember sitting in a meeting one night and finally laughing. Somebody said to me, 'Wow, you have teeth.' I hadn't smiled for so long."

Mike Klumpp offers a suggestion to help you move out of depression one moment at a time: "I had a game I used to play with myself. In the midst of my depression, when I was down and out about my marriage and my situation, I would look for a pretty color. Then I would focus on that color and enjoy it. In every moment, there is something simple that you can enjoy."

"Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!" (Nehemiah 8:10 NLT).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More Suggestions for Overcoming Depression

Here are some practical suggestions from people who have experienced divorce and from Christian professionals:

Dr. Archibald Hart says, "Support groups help to hold you accountable. They don't feed your self-pity. They force you to face reality. They provide a place where you can share what you're feeling without having to put on a false mask."

Cindy shares, "I started exercising a lot. Taking care of myself really helped."

Joyce says, "I would put on a praise and worship tape. The Lord used that music to soothe the pain."

Rob Eagar says it helped him to get out and see friends, travel, and go to sporting events.

"You need a good diet," says Dr. Archibald Hart. "Eat right. Avoid junk food, sugars, and caffeine; they can play havoc with your emotions."

Cindy says, "I started volunteering in the schools. I got outside of myself, and that really helped. I volunteer for a rape crisis center, teaching children about personal safety."

"Turn to the Lord," advises Dr. Robert Abarno. "Ask the Lord to forgive you. Be honest with the Lord. Spend time in prayer, in Bible study, and worship. Spend time with a prayer partner and with other Christians."

"If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures" (Exodus 18:23 NLT).

What is it that you have in your hands?

- a guest post from Garry Mullen

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” – 2 Kings 4:2

Have you noticed we always seem to have an insatiable appetite for more? What we want is just around the corner. If we only had …. then we could be better at what we do. If we just had … more

I had a great talk with a good friend this week. We talked a little about that. In the days when I worked as a bi-vocational pastor, the dream was always that when the day came that I could have a bigger office, or a better computer, or less interruptions, that would be the day when things would be better. Then I would be able to do the job that I needed to do. The reality was something quite different. If I couldn’t get the job done where I was – it didn’t matter what things I might have or how my situation might change. I needed to learn how to get the job done right where I was. If I could do it there, I would be able to do it when I was able to have the things that I thought that I needed.

It is interesting that Elijah doesn’t ask the widow what she wanted – but rather what it was that she already had. God gives us a vision that is not dependant on us achieving more. It is dependant on our being willing to chase after the vision we possess with what we have in our hands.

We don’t need more. We need what we have – and the creativity to use it for the creator we serve. So, what is it that you have in your hands?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shariff & O'Toole Reunite for "One Night With The King"

Two cinema legends, both of whom worked together in the classic "Lawrence of Arabia", are re-teaming for a whole new project. The "One Night With The King" cast includes such notable talent as John Rhys-Davies as Mordecai and John Noble as Prince Admantha. Both actors starred in the blockbuster trilogy "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers," and "Return of the King." The film also features veteran actor Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Jr. in the lead role of Hegai.

"One Night With The King" chronicles the life of the young Jewish girl, Hadassah, who goes on to become the Biblical Esther, the Queen of Persia (400-322 B.C.), who saves the Jewish nation from annihilation at the hands of its arch enemy while winning the heart of the fiercely handsome King Xerxes, played by Luke Goss, 36 ("Charlie" 2004 ,Blade II," 2002; "The Man" 2005).

Watch it with a friend Saturday January 16 at 7 p.m.

January 14 DivorceCare returns

What’s Happening to Me? 7pm

Welcome Ayla Silvi Austin

Ayla Silvi Austin
was born Monday morning.

All (including the grandparents) are fine!

ENC A Cappella Choir to perform at Carnegie Hall

Eastern Nazarene College's (ENC) A Cappella Choir soon will accomplish a feat of which many professional musicians only dream when the 50-member group performs at New York City's legendary Carnegie Hall.

ENC's choir will join several other choral groups from across the U.S. January 18 in performing a special tribute concert in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Selections to be performed include Handel's "Zadok the Priest" and Mozart's "Mass in C Major."

"The Carnegie experience is very special for our ENC students who hail from many states and countries and are pursuing a variety of majors," said Choir Director Timothy Shetler, who noted that while in New York the choir will also perform at several area churches. "Music and ministry bring our diverse backgrounds together in this special January tour to New York - a tour which celebrates the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr."

Founded in 1938, ENC's A Cappella Choir has toured the world, with members performing in such locations as Austria, Germany, Romania, and at Boston's own Jordan Hall. The choir's next international tour is scheduled for January 2011, when the group's honors ensemble, the ENC Chamber Singers, will perform throughout Scandinavia.

What Role Does Jesus Have in Your Healing?

"It's only through Jesus that we can truly be healed of the hurt, and it's only through His Word that we can be enabled to go on," says Priscilla.

Bonnie Keen says, "I didn't know God could go that deep into the darkness. I knew that I could praise Him in the light. I began to praise him in the dark. In many ways my depression further cemented the grace of Christ into my heart and the understanding of our human condition and the understanding of how bad pain can beat us up. I felt that Christ kept saying, 'This is why I came. I came for those moments you need to know more than ever how loved you are.'"

Roy explains, "What Satan meant for evil, God will turn to good in your life and in the lives of others around you as you come to understand and know God through His Son Jesus Christ. Until you experience the grace of Christ, you're not going to give yourself grace, and it is going to be hard to extend grace to other people. Yet it's that grace that brings healing."

Our human nature is based in sin, sorrow, and death. But Christ came to earth to save us from that darkness. He brought abundant life into the world, which is available to all people through Him. God's gift of grace is free to all who desire a personal relationship with Him. He accepts you just as you are. Come to Him with a sincere heart.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It’s Orthodox CHRISTmas today

A hair over 20 centuries ago, the angels appeared to shepherds and proclaimed that the Savior is born. The poor guys tending the sheep were scared at first, but the splendor of angelic song inspired them, and the fear vanished.

“Let’s go and see!” they happily cried out and ran toward their dream-come-true.

What would we do these days if an angel would show up and proclaim such news to us?

“Wait, wait, wait. You said a baby in a manger? Uh… you really mean, a MANGER? A baby? We were waiting for a strong and mighty Savior with a capital S. Oh well, let’s go, see this baby.”

Or maybe we won’t even go see the baby. “Wait, I still have to talk to Santa and unwrap my presents. I have given a list of gifts that I needed. And the dinner is almost ready, so… yeah. I’ll be right there… tomorrow.”

It seems that we frequently confuse disappointment with disillusionment. Disappointment is when something or someone does not fulfill the role we have assigned it or them. Disillusionment, however, is when we discard an illusion that does not align with the truth.

David D’Andre, Facebook Status

We like our illusions so much that we start believing them ourselves. Of course, when the illusion is shattered, we get upset. However, when the illusion is shattered, we also see the truth behind the figments of our imagination.

For many people during Jesus’ time and for many people ever since, illusions about His identity and mission was the way of life.

Seems like everyone had a nice and pretty box made specially for this occasion. The Present, however, did not fit any of the boxes prepared.

Perhaps, Joseph thought that his son (albeit not really his) would be a good carpenter… If Jesus was a carpenter before 30 we do not know, yet if he was, did he “shudder each time his hammer struck a nail?”

Maybe Mary held the idea of her baby becoming the next ruler… He is a ruler, yet of another Kingdom.

The disciples and followers wanted him to lead a war to overthrow Romans… A spiritual war was on long before then and He won it before it began.

People in centuries after his life wanted him to the weapon of peace (with their definition of peace, which was far from God’s Shalom)… God’s way won.

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked his disciples once. The question still stands even nowadays when we seemingly know the entire story, yet we miss the mark.

We might question God’s ways, but we have to admit – He thought it through.

And as we celebrate the birth of the baby, let’s not forget who that was lying in a manger wrapped in a blanket.

Giving more than 10%

a guest post from ChristianPF

In my life I have noticed that God regularly pushes me to give a little bit more than I think I am able to. I guess that is the whole point – He is stretching me to see if I am going to depend on my own ability or put my faith in His ability to provide for what He is asking me to do.

I have been giving 10% of my income for almost a decade now and have witnessed God’s faithfulness as we gave. There have been good times and times when things were really tight and I hung onto Philippians 4:19 – but in all of it I can confidently say that God was faithful.

Giving more in 2010

After spending some time in prayer recently I got some direction that we are to step up our giving to a higher level this year. 10% has been great, but this year I feel God calling us to give beyond the 10%. And like usual, it is a little bit of a step of faith. But you know, I have been here before. After you walk with God for a while, you start to notice that God really seems to enjoy having us step out in faith. After all, without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6).

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little timid about taking the leap, but every time I take steps like this I get to witness God do some pretty cool things. I am expecting nothing less in 2010.

Anyone else sensing a call to give more this year?

Get Moving

"You need to recognize that God created you for a purpose," says Dr. Robert Abarno. "Get up out of bed. Start to function. Function is essential to dealing with depression. You can get up out of bed. You can move around. You can make contact. You can talk to your pastor or someone else in the church. You can go to a Christian counselor."

Here is a suggestion by Dr. Archibald Hart: "Set up a contract with someone to whom you can be accountable. Find a friend who will agree to call you at 6:30 in the morning to remind you 'It's time to get going.'

"If you can keep up the exercise, keep your physical activity up, keep your involvement going, you can get over the depression much more effectively. Having a friend whom you can be accountable to can help."
It's time to function again. You can do it. With God's help, you will do just fine.

"Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That's all I ever think about, and I am depressed. Then I remember something that fills me with hope. The LORD's kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. Deep in my heart I say, 'The LORD is all I need; I can depend on him!'" (Lamentations 3:19-24 CEV).


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Here's an important suggestion for dealing with depression: Learn to relax.
"Relaxation is the antidote for so many things, particularly stress," says Dr. Archibald Hart. "Depression is very, very stressful. Recent research has shown that 50 percent of people who are depressed have enlarged adrenal glands, which means that their bodies are responding with a lot of adrenalin as if it were a real emergency. Relaxation can help to lower that stress. If your stress level is lower, you can cope better. If you can cope better, you can handle your depressions better and get over them sooner and bring the healing that God has in mind for you."

Here are some steps to help you relax:

* Approach God first.
* Breathe deeply—in through your nose and out through your mouth.
* Read the Bible out loud, slowly. Focus only on the words you are saying.
* Go back and read the same passage again.
* Imagine your burdens are actual weights on the surface of your body. Gently shake them off.
* Pray that God's Spirit will fill you and surround you with peace and strength.

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Linux Helps Me Live a Stress-Free Life

a guest post from Fr. Stephen Cuyos

Most of my day is spent in front of the computer. Thus a perfectly functioning machine is of vital importance to me. I do not want to worry about viruses and spyware. I do not want to have to defrag my hard disk every now and then or reboot every time I install a new application. I do not want to worry about some malicious software or hacker gaining control of my computer. Since I multitask all the time, I do not want to be limited to a single workspace. In short, I want a computer that is secure and gives me what I need.

Thankfully there is an operating system that gives me the security and ease-of-use that I need. My laptop currently runs Ubuntu 9.10, a wildly popular Linux distribution. I’ve been using Linux since 2004 and I can say that this free operating system helps me enjoy a stress-free life. And it’s because:

1. Linux makes me forget about viruses.
2. Linux allows me to update my system and all my applications with a single click.
3. Linux allows me to give copies of the OS for free
4. If I need to install an application I do not have to scour the web for it. In my Ubuntu-powered machine, all I have to do is run the Ubuntu Software Center
5. Linux allows me to use multiple workspaces. Great for multitasking
6. Linux comes pre-loaded with an office suite, media player, graphics programs, and many other essential applications
7. When I need help, the Linux online community will never forsake me

If you want to know more how Linux can make your life easier and why is it better than Windows or Mac, please go to

Step Over Your Feelings

Sometimes in depression, you need to step over your feelings. When new circumstances arise that cause you to feel bad, you might need to let the new bad feeling go. You don't need to add fuel to every negative feeling that shows itself. Set that feeling aside, and immediately step over the top of it to get beyond it.

Dr. Archibald Hart gives an example of a situation that may arise and cause you to feel bad: "You are divorced and have limited resources. Your child comes to you and says he would like a new jacket. All the other kids have new jackets. You know you can't give your child a new jacket, so you feel guilty. You feel guilty because you have to say no.

"Your child walks away from you. He may be momentarily disappointed, but otherwise he's happy. He's not going to complain about it; he understands the situation. Yet you feel like you are a terrible person. You have to step over that feeling. You can't let that feeling determine what you do. There are times in depression, whether it is guilt or sometimes sadness itself, when you have to say to yourself, 'I'm just going to ignore that feeling.'"

Every new development in your life does not need to add to your negativism or depression. Set limits. Be willing to stay within the limits physically and emotionally.

"Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me" (Psalm 119:133).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Live Within Limitations

Another help in dealing with depression is not to live beyond your physical, emotional, and spiritual limitations.

"It was hard to find limitations," says Bonnie Keen. "I thought that as a person of faith, I couldn't have any limitations. I had to be able to live with anything and everything. Finally I hit a wall where I realized, I can't do this. I remember saying to the Lord, 'I can't live like this anymore. I'm going have to make choices, and please forgive me if they are the wrong ones.'"

"You can only do so much," says Dr. Jim A. Talley. "Your energy level is down. Your mental capacity is down. Your physical level is down. You have to lower your expectations of what you personally are able to do."

Mike Klumpp shares that men sometimes feel they should be able to handle anything that comes their way: "Men need to realize that they make mistakes like everyone else. They have good days and bad days. They have limitations like everyone else. Being a real man means coming to grips with reality and the responsibilities that come with your reality."

Be willing to set limits in your daily life. Sometimes you need to draw those boundaries right away as new circumstances occur. There are some things you cannot do on your own right now, some things you are physically unable to handle. Living within your own established boundaries will free you to be able to handle other things in your life without becoming overtaxed and overwhelmed.

"Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer. . . . I just let Christ take over!" (2 Corinthians 12:10 MSG).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Eliminate Untrue Beliefs

"I remember feeling very ugly, unlovable, undesirable as a woman, unsuccessful, a total washout as a human being, and a complete failure," admits Marie.

Dr. Archibald Hart suggests that you identify your underlying beliefs about yourself and eliminate the ones that are not true.

"Beneath many of your depressions is a belief," says Dr. Hart. "You may be thinking, Because I am divorced, I am not a worthwhile person. Because I am divorced, no one's really going to care for me or love me or respect me. Because I'm divorced, I'm a failure, and if I have one failure in my life, then my whole life is a failure. These are called irrational beliefs. They have no basis in reality, and they need to be challenged because if you don't challenge and deal with them, you will feed your depression by these faulty beliefs."

In the Bible, Satan is referred to as the "father of lies." He will whisper lies to you, hoping that you will begin to believe them. John 8:44 says:

"[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

You are a worthwhile, lovable, successful person because God created you in His perfect image. Live your life based on the truth of God's Word.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

Catch Negative Thoughts

Another important suggestion in overcoming depression is to catch your negative thoughts as they occur.

"Much of depression is fed, fueled, and maintained by excessive negative thinking: I don't think I can do this. I don't think this is going to work," says Dr. Archibald Hart. "You need to challenge those negative thoughts because they keep the depression going. In fact they don't just keep it going, they make it worse."

Second Corinthians 10:5 says: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

With every negative thought that comes into your head, practice that exercise. Picture yourself capturing the negative thought in your hands and demolishing it before you even have a chance to think about it. After you demolish it, picture yourself handing it quickly over to God. Then replace the negative thought with a positive one. Repeat this exercise as often as necessary. Make it a habit to catch those bad thoughts.

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse" (Philippians 4:8 Msg).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Accept Yourself As You Are

One step in managing your depression is to accept yourself as you are and to accept God's love.

"If you have thought of yourself solely as a wife or husband and you lose that," says Dr. Linda Mintle, "sometimes you don't even know who you are. You have to learn that you are more than just a relationship, . . . and you must ultimately define yourself in Christ. He delights in you; He has created you in a good way; His gifts are in you."

Marie shares, "I didn't feel so miserable. I didn't feel so lonely. I didn't feel ugly or worthless anymore. God had reminded me: 'I made you. I love you. My love for you doesn't have anything to do with your husband. I love you regardless of what has happened. Let me be your God.'"

Jeremiah 31:3 says that "The LORD appeared to us . . . saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'"

You don't need to clean yourself up to have a relationship with God. When Jesus came to earth, He spent His time loving, caring for, teaching, and healing those who were sick and hurting—physically, spiritually, and emotionally. He isn't looking for people who "have it all together" or who appear good and holy on the outside. He is looking for people who realize they cannot face life without Him. He wants you to come to Him just the way you are.

"Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners'" (Mark 2:17).

Thank you Lord that You have chosen me to be Your special child; that You have created me to be valuable, lovely, and talented in my own way; that You love me with an everlasting love. Amen.