12/16/09

An Irish Toast

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

12/14/09

Should A Christian Put Up A Christmas Tree?



Have you ever met a Christian who refused to display a Christmas tree in his house because he believed it to be a pagan tradition? I have. The use of the trees does have pagan roots, but Gary DeMar shares with us here why it is OK to display them:

Just because pagans might have used trees to worship their gods does not mean that we can’t use them to teach us something about God who has given us the “indescribable gift” of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9:15). The Christmas tree is an evergreen that reminds us that we have “eternal life” in Jesus Christ (John 6:40). The shape of the tree reminds us that we are “born from above” (John 3:3). The needles on the branches remind us that Jesus was “pierced through for our transgression” (Isa. 53:5). The lights hung on the tree remind us that Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12) and through Him we are to be “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). The objects we hang on the tree remind us that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Instead of condemning the setting up of the Christmas tree as some practice brought into our homes from the pagan cold, it should remind us that God promises us “the right to the tree of life” (Rev. 22:14). If the Bible tells us “to go to the ant . . . to observe her ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6), certainly we can learn similar things from God’s other good creations, even trees.

Article: http://samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/should-a-christian-put-up-a-christmas-tree/

12/13/09

VOM–USA Prayer Update for December 11, 2009

The Voice of the Martyrs USA: www.persecution.com
“On his knees the believer is invincible.” C H Spurgeon
As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Romans 10:11

SOMALIA — Christian Martyred — Compass News Direct

Matthew 5: 6-10
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Members of the extremist Islamic group al Shabaab, executed 23-year-old Christian convert, Mumin Abdikarim Yusuf, and his body was discovered in Mogadishu's Yaqshid district, according to Compass Direct News. On Oct. 28, al Shababb members detained Yusuf and searched his home for Christian materials, after a 15-year-old Muslim boy accused Yusuf of trying to convert him to Christianity. While interrogating Yusuf about other Somali Christians, the extremists knocked out all of Yusuf's front teeth and broke several of his fingers. They then shot him twice in the head and dumped his body on an empty residential street. Since it is unknown whether Yusuf revealed information about other Christians while he was tortured, the underground Christians who knew him have relocated for their safety. Yusuf's Muslim family members are also in danger, as extremists have accused them of failing to report his conversion. The Voice of the Martyrs supports persecuted Christians through a project to assist evangelists and encourage converts from Islam. Pray for all those mourning the death of this brother in the Lord. Pray for safety for the relocated believers. Pray that Yusuf's faithful witness will be a testimony to his Muslim family members and that they will turn to Jesus for their salvation.

INDIA — Three Churches Attacked in Tamil Nadu — VOM Sources

Romans 12:14
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Three church buildings in India’s Southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, were attacked, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. On Nov. 29, a bomb exploded at a church in Thammathukonam, badly damaging the building's wall. Later that day, a statue of St. Francis Xavier church was desecrated by extremists in Konamkade while the local congregation was preparing for an Advent procession. Meanwhile, the next day, a group of Hindu extremists broke the windows of a church building in Sulur and threw stones inside. A bag containing a container of petrol, a diesel can and cotton scraps was later found, suggesting that the attackers intended to set the building on fire. Pray that Christians in Tamil Nadu will not give in to fear over these attacks but continue to be bold witnesses for Jesus. Pray that the perpetrators of this violence will be brought to justice.

KAZAKSTAN — Update: Christian Facing Deportation Again — Forum 18 News

2 Timothy 3: 10-12
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

A German-born believer who was recently prosecuted in Akmola Region, Kazakhstan for taking part in religious worship without state registration is again facing deportation, according to Forum 18 News. In October, Viktor Leven successfully appealed the deportation order, but the Regional Court reinstated the deportation on Nov. 26. Leven stated he may be forced to leave the country at any time. Pray that Leven will not be deported and separated from his wife and six children, the youngest of who is just three weeks old. Pray for endurance for other believers facing similar challenges in Kazakhstan.

Add the PrisonerAlert.com application on Facebook by visiting http://apps.facebook.com/prisoneralert/

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

12/12/09

Jesus Foretells the Future

Matthew 24, also Mark 13 (NLT)

1 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. 2 But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?[a]”

4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.[b] 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations[c] will hear it; and then the end will come.

15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[d] standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) 16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. 22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.

23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man[e] comes. 28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.[f]

29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[g]

30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.[h] 31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world[i]—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

32 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation[j] will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.[k] Only the Father knows.

37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

45 “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 46 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 47 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 48 But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ 49 and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 50 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, 51 and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

12/11/09

A Much-needed Gift of Peace

By Charles F. Stanley
www.intouch.org
Bible Study: Because Christ Came
Sermon: The Prince Of Peace

Once, before a speaking engagement, a staff member and I were sharing a meal at a restaurant on the West Coast. The young woman waiting on us appeared to be in her twenties. During the meal, I posed this question to her: “If you could ask God for anything, what would it be?”

Without any hesitation she said, “I’d ask for peace.” A big tear made its way down her face as she told us about the death of her beloved grandmother a few days before.

In sharing her story, she explained that no one in her family believed in God, and neither did she. Our waitress had not consciously rejected the Lord—she had never heard about Him. All she knew was the deep restlessness within her. The young lady had no understanding about how to resolve that inner turmoil, or even what lay at its root. Like many people, she went from day to day without having much purpose or meaning in her life.

This woman represents so many people in our society today. They might not describe the emptiness they feel as a lack of peace. Some would use the words, “I am so lonely.” Others might say, “If only my spouse would love me more, I’d be happy.” Or, “If only I could be successful in my career . . . ” But these are all variations of the same theme: “There is something wrong. I am not happy. I have no peace. What is wrong with me?”

Our society bombards us with messages that supposedly answer this question. If only you were thinner . . . dressed better . . . drove a Jaguar . . . lived in a nicer house . . . made more money . . . The list goes on and on. But none of the “answers” proposed by society can permanently or satisfactorily provide what we desperately crave.

The young waitress had it correct. Most of us feel strongly that we need something more, and the all-encompassing word that describes it well is peace. But you will never experience such tranquility in this life until your relationship with the Lord is right.

A Friendship with Your Creator

The God who controls all things—and who is present in your life whether you acknowledge Him or not—is a God of peace. He designed this world with a plan in mind, and it includes you!

The Lord created humans so they would have a relationship with Him that is characterized by love—His loving them and their loving Him. And through His presence, He would protect and provide for mankind. Only through close friendship with the Creator can anyone receive deep, lasting, abiding peace. This idea is unique to Judeo-Christian thought.

What people sense as “loneliness,” “a deep void,” or “purposelessness” is a type of signal—or indicator—that God has built into man. It is a programmed message that we need Him. Through it, the Designer tells His creation, “Without Me, you will never feel complete. I am the only One who can satisfy your deepest longings. I will be the source of your peace.”

Sudden tragedy or personal loss can show us our need for help, comfort, and guidance. And it is at such a point of need that our kind and loving God often reveals how to know Him in a personal way.

How We can Have Peace with God

Jesus came into our world to live and die as one of us. He was both God and human at the same time—an amazing truth. As a sinless man, Jesus was killed because the religious leaders of His day felt threatened by His claims to be the Savior of the world.

His death wasn’t the end, however. After three days, He was resurrected by the power of God, triumphing over death. Before returning to His Father in heaven (Mark 16:19), Jesus promised the disciples that His presence would remain with them, and He would give them peace (Matt. 28:20; John 20:19).

God wants all of us to ask for His mercy, confess our sins, and trust Him for salvation—that’s the essence of His plan for you and me. It is also the fundamental requirement for experiencing His wonderful, continuous gift of peace.

When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and take control of our lives, He bridges the gap between God and man. Through Him, we have forgiveness (no more shame or guilt because of the past) and the assurance of His presence in our lives. Moreover, we have the opportunity to experience abiding peace—the gift promised to those who follow the Lord.

Adapted from “Finding Peace: God’s Promise of Life Free from Regret, Anxiety, and Fear” (2003).

12/8/09

Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

To Remember: Our God is an awesome God

Matthew 17:19-20 "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast it out?' He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."

Luke 17:5-6 "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' The Lord replied. 'If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.'"

Jesus gave His disciples the ability to heal people of all sorts of diseases, to prove to men that their message came from God. One man brought a demon-possessed child to the disciples. They should have been able to cast out the demon, but they could not. When Jesus cast out the demon, they asked Him why they had failed. He answered that they didn't have enough faith. If they had faith the size of a mustard seed, they could do anything.

A mustard seed is very, very tiny. (Show one if you can). But once planted, it grows into a plant large enough to provide a valuable food and shelter for animals. Jesus said a little faith can have incredible results. Who were the disciples to have faith in? God. And is there anything God can't do? No. Were the disciples actually causing the miracles, or God? God was. The disciples thought casting out a demon was too hard for them. Of course it was. They in themselves didn't have that ability. But can God cast out a demon? Of course. Can God do anything we ask of Him? Absolutely. So when we doubt, we are doubting God's ability. That is an insult to Him.

We don't need a lot of faith - just as much as a mustard seed - to provoke great results - because our God is an awesome God! We must believe in Him and not worry about what we can or can't do. God will not ask us to do more than we can. He wants us to be willing to do His work. He'll provide the rest. James says (5:16-18) "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest."

Will God do everything we ask of Him? Probably not - because we don't always know best and He does. Jesus taught us to pray "Not my will but yours be done." Luke 22:42. God wants what is best for us and will provide it, sometimes against our (misdirected) wishes. James says in 4:3 "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures." He also warns that a doubter will not receive his request: "James 1:6-8 "But ask in faith, nothing doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord." Does any of this negate God's ability to do anything? No, He is all powerful.

12/6/09

Psalm 91, oh yh you know what i'm talkin' bout

Psalm 91 (Amplified Version AMP)

1HE WHO dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

3For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

5You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,

6Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

7A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.

8Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

9Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

12They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Christian symbolism of the 12 Days Of Christmas

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

http://www.carols.org.uk/the_twelve_days_of_christmas.htm

12/5/09

How Does God's Grace Work?

1. Grace releases supernatural strength to keep going in the midst of pain, suffering, and loss. The Holy Spirit helps us face adversity.
2. Grace ignites determination to keep going.
3. Grace reminds us that God is always with us.
4. Grace points us toward the Father’s goal in allowing trials. We can be content knowing we are in the center of His will.
5. Grace reminds us that God uses trials to strengthen our faith and deepen intimacy with Him.
6. Grace assures us that the Lord sets limitations on what can happen to His children.
7. Grace gives us faith to believe God will transform tough times into something good.

When you feel discouraged and weary, take heart. Your heavenly Father still cares about you. As you remain in close fellowship with Him, God will give you the ability to tackle life’s challenges with divine peace and joy. That’s the power of sustaining grace.

The Riches Of Grace

By Charles F. Stanley
Bible Study: Living By Grace
Sermon: Sustaining Grace

An elderly couple lived modestly for years on their small farm. And though the land was not the best, they always had enough to survive. Eventually they sold the farm to a developer. Working on a hunch, the new owner decided to drill and discovered a supply of oil worth millions of dollars. For years, the couple had lived on untold wealth and never knew what they were missing.

Sadly, that story illustrates how many believers live–unaware of the vast riches they possess in Jesus Christ by grace. Think about what happens the moment a person trusts Him as Savior: that brand-new Christian is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, and from then on has within him the divine Comforter/Guide/Teacher. Salvation also brings justification (full forgiveness) and sanctification (the process of growing in Christ’s likeness).

In Jesus, every believer has an infinite treasury of wisdom, knowledge, and all good things. Do you need strength? The all–powerful God grants energy for any task. Do you lack wisdom? He provides discernment and insight to cut through the fog of confusion. Are you searching for contentment? Divine peace is beyond human understanding.

In Christ, we lack nothing. By grace, His immeasurable love and power are available for every trial, decision, and challenge. Our capacity to experience and enjoy these riches grows as we learn more about our heavenly Father.

The riches of divine grace are eternal. Money can’t buy them, and death can’t take them away. We are redeemed, reconciled, and freed from the law. No longer are we orphans; instead, we’ve been adopted into God’s family—beloved children of the heavenly Father, sealed and set apart for Him (Eph. 4:30). So why do we choose to live like paupers?

Someone might say, “That sounds pretty good, but I don’t feel rich.” We’re talking about wonderful, abundant spiritual blessings, not material prosperity. Feeling rich has nothing to do with our treasure in Christ, which is secure in the One we belong to—and He will never change.

The Bible says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). This is the great exchange, and it’s the way we partake of His riches.

An obvious question comes to mind: If we are so rich and the Lord is so great, why do Christians suffer? Second Corinthians 12:9 promises that God’s grace is sufficient for us and that His strength is made perfect in weakness. The apostle Paul learned there was something far more important to him than reengineered circumstances. He had discovered the sufficiency of God’s grace.

Once when I spoke to a group of ministers, I asked how many of them wanted to know God the way Paul did. Every pastor raised his hand. Then I asked how many were willing to be stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, left for dead, and afflicted in all the ways the apostle suffered. No one raised his hand.

I understand the hesitancy. No one enjoys pain and hurt. But we prove the Lord’s immeasurable grace as we endure dreadful heartache.

The apostle Peter explained how God bestows His abounding resources: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:2-3). Today, you can embrace the fullness of grace and live the abundant life your Lord has planned.

Adapted from Charles F. Stanley’s “Handbook for Christian Living” (1996) and “Into His Presence” (2000).

http://www.intouch.org/site/c.cnKBIPNuEoG/b.5630269/k.EC9F/The_Riches_of_Grace.htm

12/3/09

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Amplified Bible)

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action),

17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

12/2/09

How is Christianity Any Different Than Other Religions?

How is Christianity Any Different Than Other Religions?
By Steven Halter
Staff Writer

CBN.com – A crucial distinctive about Christianity is that God cared enough about humankind to reach down and compassionately provide a way for us to be in a right relationship with Him. In other religions, people vainly attempt to reach God and earn their own salvation by doing good deeds and by refraining from bad behavior.

The problem for those people is that no one can ever be good enough to earn his own salvation. In other words, no one can ever reach God through his own efforts. That is why God made a way for us by sending His Son Jesus to live a holy and sinless life and suffer the payment for our sins. In this way, if we believe in Jesus and choose to follow Him, we are forgiven by God and given new life.

Another critical difference is that in Christianity people can truly have genuine assurance of their salvation. They can be certain that they are going to heaven because their salvation is anchored in what Jesus already did for them. As a result, Christians have peace in their hearts about where they will go when their lives on earth are finished.

In other faiths, people cannot be assured that they will go to heaven because they can never know if they have done enough good works to earn God’s favor or forgiveness. They have to continually try to earn their salvation—even until their last day and dying breath. They cannot experience the restful assurance that God gives those who trust in Jesus Christ.

Do You Want a Relationship with God?

If you want this kind of relationship with God, pray this prayer right now:

Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you took the pain of the cross to give me new life. I ask you to come into my life and to give me your peace and joy. I confess that I am a sinner -- that I have gone my own way and have done wrong. Please forgive me for my sins. I receive you now as my Lord and Savior. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to follow you and to serve you all my life. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, you are now a child of God. The things of your old life have passed away and He has made all things new.

We want to join you in celebrating your new life. Please send us an e-mail to let us know that you prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior. Or you can call our Prayer Counseling Center at (800) 759-0700. A caring friend is available to talk with you and send you some resources to help you begin your walk with the Lord.

http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/evangelism/Halter_ChristianityDifferent.aspx?option=print

11/29/09

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.]
Amen.
It feels like something very important is missing when there is a week that I miss church. There is a strong feeling of love, faith, joy and protection there; there's a strong presence of the Holy Spirit. My body doesn't feel like it; my flesh wants me to stay away, but the Spirit doesn't. The Bible says, "The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," and also says, "Greater is He that is in you then he that is in the world."

11/28/09

Why did the Three Wise Men give gifts of gold, frankincense & myrhh to baby Jesus? They did it on purpose. Those were gifts that you gave to a king.

11/26/09

It's cruel to punish an innocent person;and a shame to not give mercy when you've been given mercy yourself.(ref. Proverbs17:26 & Matt18:33)

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

Hi. I haven't written much on my blog this month because I've been Tweeting so much. But, I wanted to say "Happy Thanksgiving" to everyone. There is always something to be thankful for, even if you're alone. I remember, 2004 was the worst year of my life. I was pretty much alone for Thanksgiving and I ate macaroni & cheese instead of the traditional festival meal. I said that I wasn't thankful for anything since I truly believed that I was living a cursed life and that it couldn't get any worse. Therefore, I saw no point in celebrating Thanksgiving. I was a very depressed, angry young woman at the time. Flash forward to 2009: I am very thankful. I've had a lot of ups and downs this year. But, I am thankful for all the blessings, the people in my life and the good that people do. I do notice all these things everyday and I don't take it for granted. So thank you all and happy Thanksgiving.

11/24/09

A Good List To Live By

The most destructive habit…………………………. Worry

The greatest joy………………………………………… Giving

The greatest loss……………………………………….. Self-respect

The most satisfying work……………………………. Helping Others

The ugliest personality trait……………………….. Selfishness

The greatest problem to overcome………………..Fear

The most effective sleeping pill…………………… Peace of mind

The most powerful force in life……………..……… Love

The most dangerous outcast………………..……… A Gossip

The worst thing to be without……………………… Hope

The deadliest weapon………………………..………. The Tongue

The two most power-filled words…………..……. “I can”

The greatest asset………………………….…………. Faith

The most beautiful attire…………………………… A Smile

The most prized possession……………………….. Integrity

The most powerful channel of communication..Prayer

The most contagious spirit…………………………. Enthusiasm

Our greatest teacher …………………….………………Experience

And always remember:

To the world, YOU might be one person; but to one person, Me, you might be the world; and to you, YOU are the one

Copyright © 2009 Recovery Is Sexy.com All rights reserved.

11/22/09

Some Marriage-Based, Biblical-Based Articles

Devotional: Communication and Conflict
We are called to be attentive to one another in marriage, to stop and listen and to learn about each other.
from Mary Pierce

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

As men and women our differences go beyond the obvious physical ones. We think differently, we respond differently, different things catch our hearts. However, we are too-often inclined to ignore that fact and plow through life with our own perceptions of how others should live and respond. The harvest of that kind of mentality can be misunderstanding, resentment, and alienation.

We are called to be attentive to one another in marriage, to stop and listen and to learn about each other. We must be willing to ask; we must be willing to reveal. Much can be learned about one another by how we live, but there are also things that words can give life and understanding to.

Conflict is inevitable, and often it is through conflict that we come in touch with the deep places and real meanings of our feelings. It is often only through times of discord that we can identify and offer the deepest content of our hearts. What we must remember in these moments is that our spouse is not the enemy. It sounds odd perhaps, but couples often come at each other from that very stance. In that place where little listening occurs, painful and damaging words are spoken, and anger isolates.

Consider James’ words, what a compelling picture of relationship. When we look at one another in marriage, when we realize that this is just the person we need to help us become who God has made us to be, then our hearts are more likely to respond in attentive tenderness.

Father, you communicated your love to us by sending Jesus to live and die for us. You bring us together in marriage, we who are so very different, and you call us to communicate with one another the very love we receive from you. Teach us, Father, how to do that in a way that honors each other and glorifies You.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: External Relationships
When we choose to live our married life according to the design God has for us, it can be amazing.
from Mary Pierce

‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ Matthew 19:4-6

These words show us that marriage is the act of bringing two individuals together, uniting them, and making them one flesh. It is totally a “Godthing,” nothing we could ever do on our own.

When we choose to live our married life according to the design God has for us, it can be amazing. However, when we choose to try to remain separate and insist on being connected with others in the same way we were before marriage, it’s a lot like running a three-legged race connected to two different people; it’s not going to be pretty!

The image of being joined brings with it a sense of husband and wife bonded primary to one another. It’s not necessarily a call to preclude relationships with friends or family, though it may be. Above all it is the call for us to consider life and choices with the one to whom God has joined us.

From being made one in Christ and seeking his design for our life, we can discern prayerfully which relationships bring life to our marriage and which ones seek to separate us from one another, or from God. Furthermore, it is not discernment reserved exclusively for the beginning of marriage. A relationship that was life-giving early in our marriage may change and need to be relinquished, or a relationship we pulled away from in order to establish who we were as a couple may become a place to which we can return.

Father, this union is of your making and reflects your heart. Give us wisdom and delight as we let your love join us together. Let us not consider what we are leaving but rather what we are stepping into with one another and with you.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Facing Adversity
The reality of the presence of adversity in life is a given.
from Mary Pierce

But now, this is what the Lord says–He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk though the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:1-2

The reality of the presence of adversity in life is a given. Some Christian teaching mistakenly proclaims that this life of faith somehow entitles us to a smooth and painless ride through life, and that if we’re not traveling first class it’s only because we don’t have enough faith.

Consider Isaiah’s words: When you pass through the waters . . . when you pass through the rivers . . . when you walk through the fire. In addition remember what is written in Psalm 23: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. None of that sounds like adversity has been avoided. However, in each of these places we are promised by the Lord, I will be with you.

The question that begs to be asked at this point is: Which is a greater reality, the intensity of a trial or the presence of the Lord with us in that trial? This question sometimes cannot be answered until we have stood in the midst of the rising waters and experienced Him with us. It is then that the knowing moves from head to heart and the impact of the adversity lessens in the magnitude of God’s presence.

Father please help us to craft our marriage in the reality of your words in Ecclesiastes 4:‘Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ Let us let You be our third strand, Lord; weave us in your strength that we might be held in your hope, no matter the storm.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Love and Respect
To assume that our ability to love another person has its source in our own hearts carries with it the potential to be embarrassing, painful, or dangerous.
from Mary Pierce

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

To misjudge the source of something can be embarrassing-- as in incorrectly guessing the sender of an anonymous love letter. It can also be painful–as in having the wrong tooth filled. Finally, it can even be dangerous–as in repairing a gas leak by soldering the pipe just shy of where the actual crack is.

To assume that our ability to love another person has its source in our own hearts carries with it the potential to be embarrassing, painful, or dangerous. We love because He first loved us. While early in marriage the depth of our love may seem to thrive in the abundant delight and overflow of our own hearts, a day may come when finding a drop of love or respect in our heart for our spouse will feel impossible. Where does that leave us?

It leaves us with the call to look at Jesus –God made flesh and came among us. He is the One from whom love begins; He is the One from whom we are given both access to love and patterns with which to offer love.

Consider Jesus washing his disciples’ feet; consider Him willingly and sinlessly going to the cross for our sins. This is what draws us out of ourselves and into the heart of Love, this place where his mercy meets our unworthiness and still, He loves us.

Standing in that place of watching Jesus, the call becomes both clear and accessible. It is then that we are to be willing to lay down our own rights and pour out that same love to the one with whom God has joined us together in covenant.

Father you love us abundantly and you love us well. Draw us into a posture of attentiveness, that we might see You loving us and learn to, long to, love and respect one another with that same purity, passion, and delight. Lord that we not seek to draw love from our limited wells but rather from the unlimited depths of You.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Marriage in Crisis
It is rare that a marriage hits a crisis point as the result of one move of one person.
from Mary Pierce

‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. ’Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:12-13

Whether the elements that batter your heart come from someone else suddenly ripping apart your roof of protection, or from your own tearing off of those tiles, there is a helplessness that comes from exposure. That same helplessness often renders us unable to see how to even navigate the storm, let alone cause it to subside.

It is rare that a marriage hits a crisis point as the result of one move of one person. The dance of a marriage is not a dance of one. Intentional or unintentional, malicious or thoughtless, planned or impulsive, both partners are continually making moves and taking steps that either add to the beauty of the dance or choreograph chaos.

When we are at the point of crisis-- analysis of moves, assigning blame, or demanding change are generally without effect. When the roof has been removed, there is one place to go for covering, to the Lord.

While returning to the Lord rather than facing into the circumstances may feel counterintuitive, it is the covering of His grace, compassion, patience, and love that steadies us and gives us wisdom and hope.

In Joel we see the call to come to Him with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. If the storm within us, the brokenness and repentance, is not commensurate to the storm without, we are unlikely to know or to seek the shelter we need.

Father, sometimes I want to fight, sometimes I want to fix everything, sometimes I just want to run away. Give me the wisdom and the strength to run to You, You who stand in the midst of the storm with me. Give me a heart that is willing to repent and be instructed, and give me the grace to trust your heart.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Military Marriages
We so long to find or to create certainty in our lives. There is but one certainty in life, and that is the presence of our loving God.
from Mary Pierce

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. Matthew 1:18-19

Mary and Joseph most likely began their engagement with normal dreams and expectations for their life together. All of us in our time of engagement spend time dreaming of our future; there is no reason to believe that Mary and Joseph were any different.

Two angel visits later, the future of this young couple became anything but the life they could have imagined. How many of us have been awakened out of our dreams only to find that what we thought was certain was nowhere to be found?

We so long to find or to create certainty in our lives. There is but one certainty in life, and that is the presence of our loving God, sealed with his words in Joshua 1:5: I will never leave you nor forsake you.

When we feel as though we’re drowning in the turmoil and upheaval of our lives, God encourages us and puts us with others who know the journey. Consider what he did for Mary and Joseph to help them to navigate the journey. He put them in a community of men and women with hearts for God. He gathered Mary in the midst of others who loved Jesus and were drawn to Him and the Father through Him. On the cross Jesus gave John and Mary to one another as mother and son and Mary lived in John’s house.

No matter the size or duration of the challenges before us, God is faithful to his promise, and He simply never leaves us.

Such a promise, loving Father, a promise that we need in the uncertainty of our lives. Help us to yield our hearts to your hope, and find our courage lodged in your love.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Sex and Intimacy
To yield to one another sexually in marriage is to step into God-created intimacy.
from Mary Pierce

My lover is mine and I am his. Song of Songs 2:16

These are words of belonging, words that for an engaged couple can generate tender imagining and anticipation of what life together will be. Lived out by a married couple, these words can hold together in intimacy what much of the world seems to determined to break apart. Intimacy in marriage, sexual and otherwise, was created by God and is to be fought for, delighted in, and fiercely guarded.

To yield to one another sexually in marriage is to step into God-created intimacy that takes us out of ourselves and into places where the walls can crumble and we can be tenderly vulnerable and real. There is peace and expansiveness of heart that come with this intimacy; one that offers such glorious contrast to the confusion and momentum of the world.

We must be willing to fight for intimacy in our marriages and to fiercely guard it. We fight for it by being attentive to each other’s hearts; by yielding to God in a way that allows us to more easily yield to one another. We guard it by be intentional, considering what pulls us from intimacy and stepping away from those places, considering what brings us life and stepping deliberately into those places.

My lover is mine and I am his; we long to belong. Marriage, as a coming together before God, offers a sense of belonging that mirrors our belonging to the Father. While the vulnerability that intimacy brings is sometimes hard or scary to step into, it is such a wonderfully holy place that God gives us, a place of delighting in one another that echoes of the Father’s delight in us.

Father, forgive me the places where, although I long to belong, I rebel under your covering. Forgive me the places where I choose not to yield. Let me delight so much in You that I can delight in the one you have given me in marriage, that together we might be Yours.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Spiritual Foundations
Spiritual intimacy between a husband and wife provides a safe covering.
from Mary Pierce

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:17-18

Intimacy in a marriage is birthed in more ways and to greater depth than we often imagine. Spiritual intimacy between a husband and wife provides a safe covering, but also more than a covering. Coming together as a couple before God brings us to a place of access to the power and passion we need to live in this world–not just survive, but thrive.

Consider Isaiah’s words as he describes how the righteous will live: in peace, quietness, confidence, security, undisturbed places of rest. What a counter cultural image! Each of these is a heart posture before it becomes a reality. And when as husband and wife we stand together in that heart posture, God crafts this reality in our lives. It doesn’t mean there aren’t storms or struggles, but this is how we’re able to live well and carry hope in the midst of whatever life holds.

As might be expected, because of the power it can hold, spiritual intimacy is fiercely opposed. Many couples get lost in feeling uncomfortable praying aloud together, or they slip into comparing, she’s more spiritual than I am; I can’t pray as well as he can, often giving up and yielding to what feels comfortable, but results in spiritual impotence.

Corporate prayer, engaging with scripture together, worshiping together, all are primary resources for building spiritual foundations as a couple. It’s not about finding a formula, but being willing to answer the call to enter in and remain intentional in the building of our spiritual life together.

Father, Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but that You have come that we may have life and have it to the full. Please don’t let our pride or insecurities stop us from coming together before you with worshipful and attentive hearts. We want your life, in fullness not in fractions.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Starting Out
When couples mistakenly look to each other as the sole source of encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion, life becomes complicated.
from Mary Pierce

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2

We are given a truly beautiful picture of marriage in this scripture: being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. It’s a glorious tapestry to imagine, especially as a couple begins their life together, but it’s also an imagining that can be wrought with questions like how to even begin to weave such glory.

What we need to know is that we are not called to do the weaving; we are called to yield to the Father so that we can be woven together by Him.

Look at the first part of this scripture and consider what each person has the potential to bring into a marriage out of the overflow of their relationship with Jesus: encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion. What an amazing description of what we long for in marriage. It is from that springboard in which a couple is able to discover the rhythm of their life and love together.

When couples mistakenly look to each other as the sole source of encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion, life becomes complicated. We are called to offer these things to each other, but if our source is not Jesus, we will be quickly depleted of these gifts and will harbor resentment and feelings of inadequacy in our relationship.

Let us first encourage one another in our personal relationship with Jesus, and then let Him craft our corporate relationship with Him, and we will watch with humility and awe as He begins to weave us together in Him.

Lord God, the colors of your heart are stunning. Take those colors and weave us into a tapestry of your design. As a couple, let us yield to You and trust that You will cover us in your love. That in our lives and love You are glorified.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Devotional: Time and Money
As with everything in our lives, our ability to live in the fullness that God has for us has all to do with our focus.
from Mary Pierce

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 4:12-13

As with everything in our lives, our ability to live in the fullness that God has for us has all to do with our focus. The world tells us that we must concentrate on things, money, success, and on protecting all that we are able to attain–no matter the cost. The world tells us the insidious lie that who we are and what we have is never enough.

In Deuteronomy 6:5 we discover where God tells us to put our focus: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. In its counter-cultural way, this command seems to totally ignore our earthly needs. The tug to manage our lives, our time and our money is strong; after all, if we don’t, who will?!

We are called to be good stewards of all that we are given. That stewardship is lived out in recognizing God as the source of all good gifts, taking those gifts–whether meager or much– giving thanks, and then offering those gifts in response to his prompting in our hearts.

When a couple can come to a place of letting the Lord manage their lives rather than letting their lives manage them, there comes a deep and accurate sense of having enough. In need or in plenty, rushed or relaxed, hungry or well fed, through Him and in Him we find that Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1Timothy 6:6

Father, the world is so loud as it clamors for our hearts. It is the noise of confusion that lures us out of living in You as we frantically attempt to manage each moment. Give us the grace to focus on your Glory and to know how to be content, no matter what.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Help Your Marriage Thrive
Marriage was created by God to be a reflection of the goodness, mercy and unity of the Godhead. Marriage done right gives the world a glimpse of what our Creator looks and acts like.
by Mary Pierce

Jean and I were married August 24, 1986. We started with a bang – with lots of travel, the thrill of being newlyweds, and the dreams of spending a lifetime together. While I cannot pinpoint with any accuracy the date when we reached rock bottom, the dark clouds moved in sometime during our second year of marriage. I remember that night all too well. I had stepped into the bathroom to brush my teeth as we readied ourselves for bed. When I jumped into bed, Jean was sobbing. Unsure what had provoked such deep, heart-felt tears, I asked, "What's wrong?"

Brushing away the tears, she said, "I just don't think you should stay married to me." While we got off to a wonderful start, all was not rosy. I'll be the first to say that married life is hard work. Both of us had things in our past that threatened to derail us from staying together. As she spoke, it was clear Jean was wrestling with depression, as well as a lack of self-confidence that she'd be a good mother once we started having children.

Of course, I had some of the same questions of my own, you know, whether or not I'd be a good dad especially since I didn't have a solid example to follow. Although I loved my father, he was unreliable. He was a chronic gambler, an alcoholic who threatened to harm my mom with a hammer, and he was suicidal at one point in his life. He divorced my mother when I was just a child. Like I said, I didn't learn the first thing about how to love, cherish, or provide for a spouse from him.

Lying next to my wife that night in bed, I said, "Jean, it seems to me that there are only two options for us, because divorce is not an option. We can do marriage one of two ways: happily or unhappily." I added, "With all of the stuff that's gone on in my life, I'd much rather do this happily." That bedrock of commitment sparked a desire in us to get Christian counseling.

With help, we were ultimately able to untangle the difficulties in our background that kept us from winning at our marriage. As a result of seeking a marriage counselor back then, our relationship today is stronger than ever. We've been married twenty-two years and I can say with certainty that God has blessed us in ways we never dreamed. I'll also be the first to admit we've still got our work cut out for us.

What couple doesn't?

I'm not surprised that, among the score of reasons people contact Focus on the Family, marriage-related issues are consistently in the Top Ten. Thousands call or write seeking a lifeline for their marriage. With the spark of romance long gone, feeling isolated and perhaps betrayed, they're desperate and ready to call it quits.

Others wonder whether there's more to marriage than the day-to-day business of parenting and raising kids. They desire insight on how to nurture the physical and emotional side of their friendship with their mate. Having a peaceful, satisfying marriage is important. Who doesn't need to be wanted, accepted, and cherished? These longings are both normal and admirable. Indeed, learning how to communicate more successfully with your spouse and discovering how to respect and romance your mate are important components of a great marriage.

At the same time, we at Focus on the Family believe there's another, often overlooked, foundational dimension. I'm talking about God's viewpoint. After all, marriage was created by God to be a reflection of the goodness, mercy, and unity of the Godhead. Marriage done right gives the world a glimpse of what our Creator looks and acts like.

Which is why I'm thrilled to tell you about the Focus on Marriage™ Simulcast Conference, February 28, 2009. Throughout the U.S. and Canada, five hundred churches will host this live, day-long event. Featuring biblical insight into marriage from Beth Moore, Gary Smalley, John Trent, Gary Thomas, and our very own Del Tackett, it's one marriage seminar you won't want to miss. Why?

We believe that when you learn to see your marriage through the eyes of God, you'll discover the divine purpose He had in mind when He brought you and your spouse together. In turn, you'll experience deepened feelings, better communication, and a rekindling of the romance you once shared. I'll be on hand and look forward to learning alongside of the more than 28,000 couples who have registered to date. For more details and to register, click here or call us at 1-800-AFAMILY.

I hope you can join us!
Copyright © 2009, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Teen-Fueled Tension
Making marriage work as your kids move into adolescence
by Mary Pierce

Just when we thought we'd been married long enough to figure out a few things, my husband, Ben, and I woke up with teenagers in our home. As we entered the turbulent teen years, we were forced to deal with a growing number of crises fueled by our three daughters' rising estrogen levels.

Ben and I struggled to stay on the same team, and sometimes we found ourselves on opposite sides. That's what happened one evening as we argued about teaching our oldest daughter how to drive.

My husband had already given her a few lessons in a large parking lot. I thought she was ready for a new challenge, so I let her try her fledgling skills on the back roads. When I told Ben about our little adventure—including our near accident at an intersection—he wasn't pleased.

"What do you mean, you took her on the back roads?" he fumed. "And you almost got hit?"

I defended my decision. "I thought she could handle the car well enough. I just forgot that she wasn't used to road signs and other vehicles yet."

Ben's anger was sparked by his fatherly concern. Working as an EMT and firefighter, he'd seen his share of road fatalities. But I felt he was challenging my parenting skills. Instead of steering the discussion in a positive direction, I wanted to prove I was right.

As the argument escalated, I realized we had once again squared off against each other instead of tackling the issue together. After our emotions cooled, we both acknowledged that we needed to take steps to protect our marriage during the turbulent teen years.
New reasons to argue

Parenting teens provides a new set of conflicts for couples: debates over discipline, respect, privileges, responsibilities, media choices and dating boundaries. Then there are the driving escapades, the increased financial stress, and of course, the delicate dance of holding on and letting go.

Knowing that the kids will soon leave home also can turn parents against each other as they evaluate what's been done correctly—and what hasn't. When my oldest was a senior in high school, I found myself fluctuating between grieving and longing for the day she'd be gone. Most of my concentration and emotions were spent on my kids; it was no wonder that marital tension reached an all-time high during the teen years.
Mounting pressure

Beyond the normal dramas of adolescence, however, teen rebellion creates even greater pressure on a marriage. John Trent, founder of the Center for Strong Families, compares this pressure to pumping air into a balloon without any kind of release. "If couples are experiencing a prodigal kid," Trent says, "then there's tremendous emotion being pumped into the system. It feels like every day is an explosion."

Whether couples are dealing with typical teen issues or outright rebellion, Trent recommends that they take a few moments in their day to ease the building pressure by asking God for the love, patience and kindness that will sustain them through new conflicts. "It's really important to off-load [the stress] to Somebody with really big shoulders, and then we're ready to at least start over from a position of strength," Trent says.
The power of small changes

Trent says the small changes we make in our relationships can pay big dividends in the long run. He describes how he and his wife, Cindy, approached the teen years in their home. John and Cindy asked themselves, What are some small things we can start doing now that will strengthen our relationship?

They resolved to set aside an hour and a half each week to take inventory of their relationship. They would sit at the food court of a mall (a public place where they would not be prone to argue) and talk about family issues—marriage, parenting, whatever the week's challenge. Time away allowed them to work on the small things in their marriage and their family so they would have strength for the big things. It also assured their kids that Mom and Dad were carving out time to nurture a lasting relationship.
Staying connected

Ben and I explored the small changes we could make to strengthen our marriage. We committed to talk openly about parenting issues. We also purposed to stay open-minded and seek counsel when we couldn't agree on how best to deal with the pressure in our home.

To build a sense of camaraderie and connection, we researched hobbies that we could share, and we agreed to count our blessings so that gratitude would keep our hearts entwined.

But more than anything else, the best defenses for our marriage have been forgiveness, accountability, prayer and the Word. They have supplied the grace we need to survive any teen crisis.

I realize more than ever that seasons come and go in our lives and the stress of today will be the wisdom of tomorrow. That wisdom includes trusting a heavenly Father to care for our teens, even as Ben and I hold tight to each other.

This article first appeared in the June/July 2009 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2009, Pam Woody. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Devotional: Communication and Conflict

We are called to be attentive to one another in marriage, to stop and listen and to learn about each other.
from Mary Pierce

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

As men and women our differences go beyond the obvious physical ones. We think differently, we respond differently, different things catch our hearts. However, we are too-often inclined to ignore that fact and plow through life with our own perceptions of how others should live and respond. The harvest of that kind of mentality can be misunderstanding, resentment, and alienation.

We are called to be attentive to one another in marriage, to stop and listen and to learn about each other. We must be willing to ask; we must be willing to reveal. Much can be learned about one another by how we live, but there are also things that words can give life and understanding to.

Conflict is inevitable, and often it is through conflict that we come in touch with the deep places and real meanings of our feelings. It is often only through times of discord that we can identify and offer the deepest content of our hearts. What we must remember in these moments is that our spouse is not the enemy. It sounds odd perhaps, but couples often come at each other from that very stance. In that place where little listening occurs, painful and damaging words are spoken, and anger isolates.

Consider James’ words, what a compelling picture of relationship. When we look at one another in marriage, when we realize that this is just the person we need to help us become who God has made us to be, then our hearts are more likely to respond in attentive tenderness.

Father, you communicated your love to us by sending Jesus to live and die for us. You bring us together in marriage, we who are so very different, and you call us to communicate with one another the very love we receive from you. Teach us, Father, how to do that in a way that honors each other and glorifies You.

Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Devotional: External Relationships

When we choose to live our married life according to the design God has for us, it can be amazing.
from Mary Pierce

‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ Matthew 19:4-6

These words show us that marriage is the act of bringing two individuals together, uniting them, and making them one flesh. It is totally a “Godthing,” nothing we could ever do on our own.

When we choose to live our married life according to the design God has for us, it can be amazing. However, when we choose to try to remain separate and insist on being connected with others in the same way we were before marriage, it’s a lot like running a three-legged race connected to two different people; it’s not going to be pretty!

The image of being joined brings with it a sense of husband and wife bonded primary to one another. It’s not necessarily a call to preclude relationships with friends or family, though it may be. Above all it is the call for us to consider life and choices with the one to whom God has joined us.

From being made one in Christ and seeking his design for our life, we can discern prayerfully which relationships bring life to our marriage and which ones seek to separate us from one another, or from God. Furthermore, it is not discernment reserved exclusively for the beginning of marriage. A relationship that was life-giving early in our marriage may change and need to be relinquished, or a relationship we pulled away from in order to establish who we were as a couple may become a place to which we can return.

Father, this union is of your making and reflects your heart. Give us wisdom and delight as we let your love join us together. Let us not consider what we are leaving but rather what we are stepping into with one another and with you.

Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Talking Turkey

Jell-O Frisbees. Lumpy gravy. Blackened turkey. No matter. What matters is that we gather together, with gratitude to God for His love and for the blessing of each other.
by Mary Pierce

The locusts — as my husband affectionately calls our extended family — were on their way to our house for Thanksgiving. We host Thanksgiving every year, gathering together for a time of love and bonding. Every year another culinary disaster looms, threatening to distract us from what really matters.

That year, 22 locusts were headed our way, and the turkey refused to thaw. I spent the morning giving it cold-water baths. (OK, I cheated just a little and gave it a spritz or two of warm water.) Then, trying the nuclear thawing option, I realized it's impossible to wedge a 20-pound turkey into an 8-pound microwave.

"Why don't we just eat later?" my rational mate proposed. I shuddered to think of 22 hungry locusts having to wait for dinner, so I hustled to prepare the side dishes: sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn — and Jell-O, of course.

The ability to make Jell-O is a gift. I'm not good at Jell-O. I envy women who effortlessly concoct crystalline mounds of jiggling glory. After measuring, heating, stirring and chilling as directed, I held my breath as I turned the plastic mold upside down onto a plate. I gave it a gentle shake, straining to hear, just this once, the satisfying plop of a well-turned Jell-O.

I lifted the mold, and — slurp! shoop! — a shimmering mound landed on the plate. Perfect! For a moment. Then it began to flatten. And flatten. And flatten.

"It's a Jell-O Frisbee," my husband said.

Shortly thereafter, the last of the locusts arrived as I was basting the buzzard. But a miscalculation shot hot grease all over the oven. The smoke alarm blasted, the teakettle screamed and the potatoes boiled over at the same time. I swished a dish towel under the smoke detector, trying to clear the air while hollering for my husband to find the stepstool and disconnect the battery until the smoke cleared.

In that moment of noise and laughter — the wonderful chaos of family and life — I realized once again what was important. Thanksgiving is not about perfection; it's about people — people who share the ups and downs of life and still love you.

For 15 Thanksgivings in a row, we've been blessed as we've gathered to eat, laugh and talk — young, old and in-between, family, friends and foreigners. One year my niece told her then-fiance that part of their marriage "deal" would be coming to our house every Thanksgiving.

Last year they couldn't come, spending Thanksgiving in neonatal intensive care with their premature son. This year they'll bring Jonah, robust and healthy, for his first Thanksgiving with the clan.

And we'll reminisce about past culinary disasters, like the time the stuffing had mystery bits in it. "Are they walnuts? Almonds?" After dinner I noticed a chunk of my rubber scraper was missing. Oops.

Grandma, who remembers yesteryear better than yesterday, will tell us about the time she baked a turkey with the bag of innards still inside.

Jell-O Frisbees. Lumpy gravy. Blackened turkey. No matter — they're the stuff of laughter and memories. What matters is that we gather together, with gratitude to God for His love and for the blessing of each other.

We express our gratitude as we hold hands and pray. With our shared amen, we have a moment of quiet. Then, someone always says, "Hey, this is the same thing we had last year!"

Yes, it's the same thing every year: noise and laughter, remembrance and blessing. We say goodbye to some, hello to others. We celebrate our blessings together, and we'll do it again and again for as many years as God allows.

This article first appeared in the November, 2005 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2005, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.

Desire & Temptation

By Charles F. Stanley
from www.intouch.org
all rights reserved

People often walk into my office with a story that ends something like this: “Why would God give me such a strong desire to __________ if He didn’t want me to fulfill it?” The argument sounds convincing. What kind of God gives His creatures desires they are not allowed to fulfill? But that’s the wrong question. Instead, they should ask, “When in God’s perfect timing can I fulfill my desires?” or “How would He want me to fulfill my desires?”

A couple visited me a number of years ago for premarital counseling. I soon learned that they had been sleeping together. Both defended their actions by explaining the strength of their attraction for each other. “God understands,” they said. “He allowed us to feel this way.”

I turned to the young man and said, “What are you going to do when you meet a woman at work and feel a strong physical attraction? Are you going to use the same rationale: If God didn’t want me to meet this need, He wouldn’t have let me feel this way?”

We forget that, although the Father created us to desire certain things, Satan has the ability to manipulate and misdirect those feelings. That is the essence of temptation. The Devil wants us to fulfill God-given desires in the quickest and easiest way—in other words, sinfully.

Satan’s Aim

All our basic desires are ultimately from the Lord—He gave us longings and needs in order to demonstrate our dependence on Him and to enhance our relationships with one another. Only when distorted do such needs become negative in our lives. Satan sets out to twist our yearning for love into lust, our longing for respect into pride, and our hope for success into greed.

Consider, for example, the natural God-given need to eat. As a result of the Enemy’s distortion, some people destroy their bodies by overeating or consuming the wrong things; others starve themselves for fear of being overweight.

Of all the gifts the Lord gave humanity, sex is probably the one Satan abuses the most. One of its God-ordained purposes is to make possible a unique relationship between man and woman. Sexual intimacy is a gift from the Creator. But the prevailing mindset concerning sex today is from Satan. God’s standard is: One man for one woman, for life; physical intimacy is designed exclusively for the marriage relationship. According to the Devil, however, it’s: Any man for any woman until you are ready for someone else; sex is the relationship. God is not against sex any more than He is against food, love, or success. But He opposes the gratification of any desire outside the confines He has lovingly designated.

Anxious for nothing?

Satan is quick to offer a substitute for God’s best, knowing that the alternatives he offers will not truly satisfy. If the Enemy can steal your focus, it’s likely that you will completely miss out on the Father’s blessings.

Think about: girls who compromise their morals in order to be “held”; boys and men who are trapped in pornography; and alcoholics and addicts who seek to escape problems rather than face them. All have a legitimate need, but instead of turning to the Lord and His solutions, they choose what was easy or quick.

God does not want you to live a life of frustration and anxiety. The apostle Paul wrote:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).

The interesting thing about this passage is that God does not promise to meet your needs immediately or even to give you what you ask for. What He guarantees is His peace—that is, inner strength to endure until your desires and needs are fulfilled. It will surpass “all comprehension” because the world will look at you and say, “How can you go without ___________?”

My son was 30 before he married. His non-believing friends used to ask, “Andy, what do you do about sex?” He would respond, “I wait!” They were amazed and could not imagine being “that old” and sexually inactive. The ironic thing was that he was far less frustrated than they were. And so it will always be for those who wait on the Lord to meet their needs His way.

By opting for the Lord’s peace rather than Satan’s substitute, you can be assured that when it’s time for God to meet your particular need, you will be ready. This principle applies to everything from finding the right marriage partner to gathering the money you need to pay the rent. Our heavenly Father knows His children’s needs and desires (Matt. 7:11).You and I can trust our incredible God to provide for us––at just the right time.

Adapted from “Winning the War Within: Facing Trials, Temptations, and Inner Struggles” (1988).

The Messages You Send Yourself

by Charles Stanley
from www.intouch.org
all rights reserved

Do you feel good about yourself? The way you view yourself affects how you see God and how you react to the difficulties that come your way. Either your faults and failures will cause recurring pain and uneasiness, or peace and joy will characterize life because you feel secure in your relationship with the Father.

So how do you know whether you have a healthy or damaged view of yourself? One way to tell is by the words that flow through your mind and out of your mouth.

* In Matthew 12:34, where does Jesus say our words originate?

Remember, the Enemy targets your heart because that’s where he can do the most damage to you and to the kingdom of God. When your heart is scarred, there are certain messages that will continually play within you:

* I can’t do anything right.
* I’m a failure.
* I’m an ugly loser.
* I never get any recognition.
* I can’t see anything good about myself.
* I don’t deserve good things.
* I don’t belong.
* I’m a worthless nobody.

Do these words sound familiar? Such messages have a terrible effect on every area of your life.

* They make it difficult to develop good relationships because they keep you suspicious of others’ intentions. What’s more, they can cause you to isolate yourself for fear of rejection.
* They also hurt your professional life. You’ll have trouble making decisions and will be too afraid to take the appropriate, godly risks that could help you succeed.
* Additionally, they impact spiritual health by hindering intimacy with God. You will either consciously or subconsciously blame the Lord for creating you with the weaknesses you see within yourself. This produces distrust in your relationship with Him, which can cause you to limit His work in your life. This has the terrible consequence of preventing you from becoming everything you can be, as you push away the One who can make you truly secure.

These messages keep you feeling lonely, isolated, and unworthy. The only way to heal from their poison is to do exactly what you don’t want to do—stop clinging to them, and bring them out into the open, where you can see them for the lies they are.

Insecurity is a difficult thing to admit, because it involves confirming your worst fears about yourself. But by acknowledging to the Father that you entertain these thoughts, you open yourself to His loving care.

* Write out Ephesians 4:29.



In the verse above, Paul isn’t merely telling you not to curse, although that’s definitely part of it. The objectionable words he speaks of here are the rotten ones that reveal the ugliness in you. In fact, the term he uses for unwholesome can also mean putrefied. These are the feelings about yourself that are continually wounding and corrupting you.

Application:

By allowing messages like “I can’t do anything right” and “I’m a worthless nobody” to torment you, you’re not only hurting yourself; you’re also sinning against God. You must change the thoughts you think and allow the Lord to transform your mind and heart (Rom. 12:2). Open His Word, and let Him teach you the truth about your life. Embrace principles such as:

* I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (see Philippians 4:13).
* My success comes from trusting God (see Proverbs 16:3).
* I am God’s beloved child (see Ephesians 5:1).
* I am eternally secure in Jesus Christ (see John 10:28-29).
* I am wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14).
* God gives me good gifts out of His unconditional love for me (see James 1:17).
* I belong to God’s family and I am a co-heir with Christ (see Romans 8:17).
* Christ died for me so I will live for Him (see 2 Timothy 1:8-10).

God’s messages of love have the power to counteract harmful words that have been plaguing you. They can also help you have the confidence you need to face anything that comes along.

Spend the rest of your study time reading and meditating on Psalm 139.

Giving Thanks in Everything

by Charles F. Stanley
from www.intouch.org
all rights reserved

Giving ThanksWhy would God command us to thank Him regardless of the circumstances? The idea defies human logic.But then, the Lord rarely binds Himself to man-made rules. Scriptural principles serve specific purposes in the Christian’s life.Gratitude keeps us aware of God’s presence, which builds our trust and ultimately strengthens our witness.

We must realize that thankfulness is not based on emotions or a situation’s outcome. We can be grateful, even during trials, because the Lord has promised to work everything for our good. (Romans 8:28) That means He has a purpose for every experience,pleasant or difficult. A big problem stacked against our small resources sends us running to Him, thankful He has committed to work it to our benefit.

The believer’s part is to trust God will bring good from trials and to discover His plan, which gives further reason for thanking Him. Understanding His intentions renews our strength for facing difficult trials. Expressing gratefulness changes our attitude about God, ourselves, and our situations. Most people allow hurt and stress to form a pessimistic mindset, which negatively impacts every facet of their life. But believers have God’s Spirit working within to provide courage and a flow of thanksgiving.

When we demonstrate thankfulness in harsh circumstances, other people pay attention. Our coworkers, family, and friends will want for themselves the peace and energy we derive from a grateful relationship with the Lord.So whatever you experience today, go ahead and defy logic—praise God.

IFCJ: "Man Plans, God Laughs"

IFCJ: "Man Plans, God Laughs"
November 19, 2009

Dear Friend of Israel,

Around a thousand years ago, a new language emerged in Germany's Rhineland. An amalgam of German and Hebrew, the language, Yiddish, eventually became the remarkably expressive lingua franca of most European Jews and their descendants. As European Jews moved around the world, they brought the language with them. At the turn of the last century, New York City had dozens of Yiddish theatres and newspapers; great Yiddish writers like Sholom Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer were translated into English and their wit and character became a part of the American pantheon.

During the course of the 20th century, the use of Yiddish as a mother tongue diminished (many Yiddish-speaking communities were obliterated during the Holocaust) and, today, only a tiny percentage of world Jewry speaks it fluently. Its richness and vitality remain, nonetheless: Wonderful words like shlep, shlock, nosh, mensch, klutz, and even bagel live on in mainstream English. In the last few decades, scholars and many Jews have rediscovered the language, which is both beautiful and remarkably expressive.

Yiddish is particularly rich in proverbs, snappy sayings that sum up fundamental wisdom about life, often in a sly and humorous way. My dear friend George Hanus, a leader in the Chicago Jewish community whose writings have encouraged reforms in the funding and accessibility of Jewish education across the U.S., has edited a delightful and beautiful coffee table book, "Man Plans, God Laughs… And More Wisdom from Our Grandparents," which collects around 100 of these proverbs.

Each proverb is presented in English translation, Yiddish transliteration, and the original Yiddish, and accompanied by a stunning photo illustration. It’s a book that will touch you, amuse you, and make you think.

Proverbs, Hanus writes, are too often dismissed as clich├ęs, but the reality is that these sayings impart real wisdom: Ven a nar shvaygt, veyst men nisht tsi er iz narish tsi klug—"When a fool keeps quiet, you can't tell whether he is foolish or smart." Or Az es kumt a tseynveytik fargest men dem kopveytik—"When a toothache comes, you forget your headache." Or Di gor rayche zaynen di vos zaynen zat mit dos vos zey hobn—"The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have."

Hanus compiled this book to re-introduce Yiddish to the world, to provide a glimpse into a unique facet of Jewish culture, and to share with the world some of the short but enduring life lessons contained in these Yiddish proverbs. This is a big, gorgeous book that offers pithy bits of wisdom that shed light upon essential and unchanging aspects of human nature.

He is right that we too easily dismiss folk wisdom: Our modern infatuation with the new can cause us to dismiss the wisdom of the past—a critical (and very human) error. As one ancient repository of wisdom, the Bible, puts it, "Is there anything of which one can say, 'Look! This is something new'? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time." (Ecclesiastes 1:10) What Hanus calls the "basic inescapable features of the human condition" remain the same from generation to generation; when we focus exclusively on what is novel and unusual, rather than on what is timeless and enduring, we cut ourselves off from knowledge that is as relevant today as it was centuries ago.

That world of knowledge is beautifully on display in Man Plans, God Laughs. Whether you are Jewish or Christian, I know you will enjoy and be enriched by these moving and often whimsical photos—not to mention the timeless Jewish wisdom—found in this book. You can purchase a copy at your local bookstore or online here—it is a book that makes a perfect gift for Christmas or Hanukkah, and is one that you will pull off your shelf and revisit frequently.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President

Isaiah 58 Fast

IFCJ:
Join The Fellowship in our Isaiah 58 Fast on Sunday, December 13, 2009 as thousands of churches across America and the world fast with us in response to God's call to care for those Jews in the former Soviet Union who are needy, hungry and homeless.

My Thanksgiving (Hollywood Connect)

I don’t feel thankful today. There, I said it. I’m not complaining here, it’s just that, as we approach Thanksgiving, that day that kicks off the long, downward glide into Christmas and the end of the year, I take a look around at my circumstances, root around in the ol’ emotional cellar, and… nope, I don’t feel thankful.

Now, I know that there is a lot to be thankful for in this world of mine, some wonderful things that are happening. In fact, there’s probably more than I am capable of seeing. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve got a lot on my plate, all of which I’d gladly trade for another belt size of turkey, mashed potatoes, and my mother’s secret recipe for stuffing. I glance around, and yep, there’s a lot to weigh me down. I still need to put together the details of the production program I’ll be running next year, handle fundraising for two organizations, come to terms with a close friend after that argument we just had, and figure out how I can get home for Christmas. I’m in an industry plagued by flagging productions, self-aggrandizement, rejection, and vice. Along with the geese, the economy has gone south. People are losing their jobs, their homes, and their loved ones. Friends are watching dreams die. It seems like so much around us is in complete disarray.

So let’s get it out on the table: I don’t feel very thankful right now. Maybe you don’t feel very thankful either. And yet…

Thank you, Lord.

You see, God didn’t call us to feel thankful in all circumstances; He called us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). He handed us the easier task of giving thanks, which is a good thing, because I don’t think that any of us is capable of feeling thankful all the time. This is a distinction that is especially important for us artists to understand, as we too often tend to let our emotions dictate our reality.

Actually, God created us to have it the other way around. In his book, Proust Was a Neuroscientist, author Jonah Lehrer notes, “[T]he mind can induce its own emotions.” Our recognition of reality, of that which is true, can determine our emotions. That is to say, giving thanks, whether we feel it or not, is the predecessor to feeling thankful.

If your world seems chaotic and painful right now, I’m in no way minimizing that fact. If I’m to be honest, I’ve got a bit of that going on myself. But now that we’ve got that all out in the open, let’s turn our faces to the Son, close our eyes, take a deep breath, and…

Thank you, Lord... thank you.

All my best,

Shun Lee
Director
Hollywood Connect
© 2009 All rights reserved.

Hollywood Prayer Network - November 2009 Newsletter

Dear HPN Pray-ers,

Welcome to our THANKSGIVING month of prayer. Our focus this month is on thanking God for all He is and gives and does for us. Let's remind those around us to be thankful to the Lord for His blessings, goodness and love! And thank YOU for praying with us!

SUMMARY:

* We praise God for the amazing 16 Hour Prayer Day
* Thank God for what He did at the American Film Market
* Thank God for Steve Turner and Bruce Wilkinson's visits
* Continue to pray for Carl Swenson as he battles cancer
* Continue to pray for the many unemployed in Hollywood
* Pray for John Travolta in his & his spiritual journey
* Pray for Christians to overcome spiritual battles
* Pray for writer Paul Haggis as he leaves Scientology
* Pray for Thanksgiving to focus on thanks to GOD here
* Pray for Skandar Keynes (Chronicles of Narnia's Edmund)
* Pray for the Chronicles of Narnia's cast and crew
* Pray with HPN member Gordon as he battles cancer
* Pray for Stephen Sanders' family & the 168 Film Project
* Pray for the growing Loui siana Film Industry


THANKS & PRAISE:

* We praise God for the amazing 16 Hour Prayer Day on Friday November 6th: United, it was so fabulous. Thank you to all who joined us for the largest corporate prayer gathering that we have had! It made an eternal difference and we felt God's presence in Hollywood that day and night!

* Thank God for what He did at the AFM (American Film Market) during Nov. 4 - 11. Gary Zethraeus led incredible prayer for all who were there in Santa Monica. They saw God the touching the hearts of filmmakers, distributers, and studio executives, all over the place. It was awesome!

* Thank God for the wonderful gatherings we had during the first week of Nov. with two friends who came here to pour their hearts into our community. Steve Turner ("Imagine" & "The Gospel According to The Beatles") and Bruce Wilkinson ("The Prayer of Jabez" & "You Were Born For This") were so inspiring and challenging to many of us.


UPDATES:

* Please continue to pray for our dear friend, Carl Swenson (writer/producer), as he battles for his life with cancer. We don't know God's plan for him, but we love Carl and know that he is in the palm of Jesus' hand. May He turn Carl's intense battle into something beautiful for Carl, his family, and all of his friends in Hollywood!

* Continue to pray for so many people in Hollywood who desperately need work. May they seek the Lord of all provision and protection and find fulfillment in Him. May we change our focus from just looking for work, to looking for Him. Let's thank the Lord for His provision.


PRAYER REQUESTS:

* Pray for John Travolta. He admitted for the first time publically that Jett, his son who died, was autistic. He kept quiet about his son's condition because of how the church of Scientology feels about diseases.

* Pray for the Christians in Media to have a healthy understanding of the intense spiritual battle here, so that Satan does not continue to have a foothold. Our greatest battles are against depression, isolation, discouragement, and division in the body. But with God, NOTHING is impossible.

* Academy award winning writer, Paul Haggis, ("Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash") just resigned from the Church of Scientology. Let's pray for his spiritual journey and his protection from any backlash from his very strong letter that was downloaded on to the blog of an ex-scientologist: http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/paul-haggis/

* Pray for the season of Thanksgiving to be a miraculous time of thanking GOD for all that we have in our country and our lives. May there be a movement of Christians here lifting up the true focus of the Thanksgiving Holiday so that people may see, maybe for the first time, that it's God whom we are thanking!


REQUESTS FROM OUR MEMBERS:

* Pray for Skandar Keynes (Chronicles of Narnia's Edmund). He's the son of Randal Keynes (whose book became the basis for "Creation" a movie that premiered in UK in Sept.) He is also a descendant of Charles Darwin. (2009 is Darwin year). Right now Skandar is in Australia filming Voyage of the Dawn Treader, thru Nov. Please pray for his salvation!

* Pray for the Chronicles of Narnia's former and current cast and crew: salvation of those who aren't Christians (pray for divine appointments!); everyone's health, safety, and wisdom. Pray especially for those in Australia filming Voyage of the Dawn Treader (through Nov.). Kelley

* "I was treated at M. D. Anderson again last week; I'll be cat scanned again in another 3 weeks. Please lift up the results, that the tumor, if not completely gone, will have at least shrunk even further. And I still ask prayer for paying performing opportunities. I'm in need of prayer for provision for medical bills." Gordon Williams

* Stephen Sanders, a great volunteer/producer for the 168 Film Project, has passed away through a hiking accident. We ask for prayers for love and support for his wife, Danica, and for his whole family as they struggle through this very difficult and unexpected time. John Ware

* "Please pray for the Louisiana Film Industry. Believers are becoming involved in our film industry here and are starting to encourage Film Professionals toward prayer and acts of faith. We are also making friends with many filmmakers of the Jewish faith, so we pray that more people will continue to welcome our Jewish friends as they come down South for film projects and not hurt or persecute them in any way." Suzanne Manthei


UPCOMING EVENTS IN HOLLYWOOD:

* Weekly Prayer continues every THURSDAY NIGHT in Hollywood. Join with us in person, or in prayer, as we gather to pray for one another, intercede for our industry and praise God for all He is doing here. For more information go to: http://www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org/content/prayer-hollywood

* For other upcoming events in our community, click on: http://www.hollywoodconnect.com


Thanks SO MUCH for your prayers. We thank the Lord for you and want to remind you that your prayers ARE making an eternal difference in our mission field, in our culture and in our world.

Thankfully,
Karen, Caren and Gloria

TIP OF THE MONTH:
Become Best Friends with the Assistant!:
http://www.philcooke.com/assistants

QUOTE OF THE MONTH:
"I'm just very selfish. If somebody doesn't like what I am, I don't hang around trying to win anybody's approval... I'm not a very good husband I'm not a good father. I'm a roamer. I think I'm a bit of a nihilist, really..." Anthony Hopkins, "Showbiz" (Sept. 16, 1996)

VERSE OF THE MONTH:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

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