Can you help a brother?

I’m guilty of something.

I’m guilty of being selfish. And blind.

Statistics from my region of the state tell me that there are needy people all around. A recent study showed that 1 in 7 people in our area are in need of food. And to make matters worse, 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry every night.

I don’t see it in my church, my office or among my friends. But I’m obviously not looking hard enough.

We are commanded to help others- to assist our brothers and sisters in times of need. But if we aren’t seeking them out, we can go about our days with blinders on.

“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭15:7-8‬

But there are ways to create a new sense of awareness. Call your church office to inquire about families with food insecurities. Local food pantries are always looking for donations of food or cash. Elementary, middle or high schools can use your help with backpack programs.

We need to engage to fight hunger in our communities. God commands it.

My prayer this week is to seek out those around me who need help. I want to be more aware of opportunities to financially help others who are struggling.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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You gotta have friends

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My grandfather once told me that you could count your “true” friends on one hand…and possibly have fingers left over.

He may be right.

How many true friends do we have? Those that we can count on during the truly hard times.  Those that will put everything else aside and focus on our needs.

I was studying Mark chapter 2 earlier this week.  It contained an interesting story about friendship.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2: 1-5

It’s an incredible scene.  There was a paralyzed man who had four friends who cared about him so much- they carried him to see Jesus.  And when they couldn’t get their paralyzed friend near Jesus, they dug a hole in the roof above Jesus and lowered him down.

Now that’s friendship.

We’ve got many examples of how to be a true friend in the Bible.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.  Proverbs 17:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:12

My prayer this week is that I become aware of ways that I can serve others. I am often preoccupied with my own challenges and obstacles, and I don’t take the time to minister to others in need of friendship. I pray that God helps me with this…and that I can be an encouragement to others.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Survive and Advance

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I’m sitting in Indiana this morning, awaiting my favorite college team’s game in the finals of our conference basketball tournament.  It’s March Madness for us- and for everyone else who loves and follows college basketball.

You know the mantra…”survive and advance.”  It’s not always about winning pretty. You just need to win and advance to the next round.

Isn’t that what life as a believer is like?

We have seasons of life when work, illness, family strife or economic stress weighs us down. The pressure can be overwhelming at times.

But our God is a God of comfort. There’s blessed assurance that we are God’s children- and He is always watching over us.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50

My prayer this week is to remember that our God is an ever present source of comfort. I only need to seek peace through Him.

We can survive and advance.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

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Pet Peeves

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A student recently interviewed me for a class project. The questions focused on “pet peeves”…those behaviors or traits that tend to get under your skin.

I have a couple.  First, I don’t like it when folks remind me how busy they are…or how hard they are working. In this case, actions speak louder than words, right?

And I also frown when people bring problems to the table, but offer no possible solutions.

Jesus talked about bad behaviors often in the New Testament.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23

We often think of sins categorically.  You know..you have the “big ones” that people can easily detect and are widely socially unacceptable. Then there are the “little ones” that are under the surface and not so evident…pride, deceit, lust and greed.

But God knows…and there is no category to sin in His eyes.  We know God’s pet peeves.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

My prayer this week is to acknowledge the sin in my life and focus on making modifications in my behavior. I want to be pure from within.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Hidden Actions

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When my daughter was a little girl, she would often hide her face when she got in trouble. If she covered her eyes and couldn’t see us- how could we possibly see her?  It was cute…and made it tough to discipline her!

I’m really no different, however. I often have that same sentiment when there’s sin in my life. I try to hide it deep inside…containing it in my innermost thoughts. If no one can see my struggle- maybe it’s not a distraction or something that I need to address.

But God knows.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.  Luke 12:2-3

He knows of my sin. He knows my innermost thoughts.

For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. Mark 4:22

But God is faithful and forgiving.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

My prayer this week is to have the strength to address secret sin….to truly deal with those thoughts and actions that are keeping me from a closer walk with Jesus. Thoughts of anger, pride and selfishness.

Jesus wants to heal me. And thank God for this grace that flows so abundantly!

Please let me know how I may pray for you this week.

God bless.

 

 

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How many “likes” did I get?

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“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus‬ ‭26:1‬ ‭

We recently hosted a speaker at my workplace that talked about mental health and wellness issues. She informed us that one of the prevailing crisises in the mental health world is the false reality that social media creates.

Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Facebook.  And the pressure to create the image of a “perfect” life.

Perfect kids. Perfect spouse. Perfect lifestyle. Popularity.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing our experiences with others, it can become an issue for our own mental health when we start comparing the “virtual lives” of others with our own flawed, broken lives.  Comparison- it’s been said- is the thief of joy.

She spoke of another issue with the wellness pitfalls of social media…and that we can use it to create idols of ourselves.

What? Idols of ourselves?

When we go beyond sharing and move toward logging how many “followers” we have….how many “likes” we get on a certain posting…how many “shares” we receive from a particular photo….we are in danger of building an idol of ourselves.

This hit my squarely in the chest. I use social media to promote my workplace and region, but I often catch myself trying to say the “right” thing or following how many responses I receive on my posts.

My prayer this week is that I look at social media at what it truly is: a platform for sharing a message or to stay connected with others. And I will also pray that I use it for good…and not be consumed with the pitfalls associated with self-promotion and vanity. I want to let the Lord’s love and grace radiate through my words, thoughts and images.

Please let me know how I may pray for you, too.

God bless you.

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New Year, same old Broken Me

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According to a recent study, 80% of New Year’s resolutions have failed by the second week of February.

That’s now.

That’s sobering.

We’ve all done it one time or another.  Pledge to lose 5 pounds. Save more money. Better manage our time.  Spend more time with our family.

And the statistics say that by the sixth week of the year- we’ve already abandoned our attempts to better ourselves or start fresh. We quit trying.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Fortunately, God’s love for us never fails.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

There’s the promise of eternal life for the sinner.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24

There is a never-ending source of grace for each of us.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.  Romans 6:14

This week my prayer will be to stay focused on Jesus when life’s obstacles enter my path…and to stay encouraged when I have the desire to lose hope.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

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