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Posts tagged ‘New International Version’

New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Church.

It’s that time of year again.

We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future and spend more time with family.

We make resolutions because we want to bring change to bear on our circumstances.  We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. And the top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three poles: money, health and family.

But what would a set of New Year’s resolutions look like for you and your church, your role as a leader, or simply as someone who wants to live a life of strategic Kingdom investment?

Though many more could be added, here are 15 to consider:

1.         Pray more.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD … ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 4:6, NIV).

2.         Invest in my spiritual gift(s).

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress (I Timothy 4:14-15, NIV).

3.         Get more intentional about evangelism.

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (I Corinthians 9:22, NIV).

4.         Care for myself spiritually.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12, NIV).

5.         Make the tough decisions I know are best.

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:22-24, NIV).

6.         Confront debilitating patterns of sin.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV).

7.         Do the hard work needed to build community.

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over (Matthew 18:15, NIV).

8.         Keep in touch with contemporary culture.

From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders. … All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take (I Chronicles 12:32, NLT).

9.         Quit comparing myself to other Christians, other leaders and other churches.

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”

Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You — follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” (John 21:20-23, Msg)

10.        Read more.

Timothy, please come as soon as you can. … When you come, be sure to … bring my books … (II Timothy 4:9,13 NLT)

11.        Prioritize my family.

A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, … attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? (I Timothy 3:2-5, Msg)

12.        Refuse to use ministry to satisfy my personal ambition.

Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not (Jeremiah 45:5, NIV).

13.        Love people, not just crowds.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love (I Corinthians 13:1-3, Msg).

14.        Be more open to change.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

15.        Stay focused on the vision.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47, NIV).

James Emery White

Finding God’s Grace for the Unlovable.

woman in poverty

In an hour, I leave for a school Christmas program, and I know at least two of my Spanish students have solos. I can hardly wait to hear them sing.

Because life is more than Spanish and I need to always remember my 45 minutes with nouns and verbs and conjugations is only a little bit of who they are. Some of them aren’t so good at pronouncing words correctly, but they can shoot a three-pointer with ease.

They ride horses. They play guitars and flutes and pianos. They paint and draw cartoons and make computer graphics. People are more than we see of them in a day.

“It’s leaning,” my husband said. “The Christmas tree is leaning.”

“Not from here,” I said.

He was looking from a different place in the room than I was. Trees and people look differently from one angle than they do from another.

Which is why we need to remember our husband isn’t just the man who leaves his cup in the living room. He’s also the man who spends eight hours at work every day, doing hero kind of stuff, like earning mortgage money.

And our kids aren’t just the ones who can step over their wet towels 50 times and never pick them up. They’re also the ones being brave at public school and trying to love Jesus in the middle of exploding F-bombs and teenage drama.

Those people of yours? When is the last time you saw them in a different setting and appreciated who they are in all those hours when you aren’t with them?

Paul says, “Bear with each other” (Col. 3:13, NIV). One way we can bear with each other is to look at the person’s whole life and not just the angle we see day in and day out.

So I put on snow boots to watch my students sing, and tomorrow I will love them more because I have pulled back to enjoy a panoramic view of who God has shaped them to be.


Christy Fitzwater is the author of A Study of Psalm 25: Seven Actions to Take When Life Gets Hard. She is a blogger, pastor’s wife and mom of two teenagers and resides in Montana. for more information about her ministry.  

Joseph: Showers in the Desert.

Walk with Christ
What type of pain are you willing to endure for Christ? (Lightstock)

I’ve noticed in my life that even during the long, hard years, God was always there. I see the same thing in Joseph’s story. And I believe it will be true for you as well.

The Lord will encourage you in big and little ways—a kind word at work that cheers you up, a special time in prayer or reading your Bible, a friend who asks you to lunch with no agenda, warm times with your family. In those special moments, you will sense His goodness or will be reminded that He hasn’t forgotten you. These times may feel too brief. But they’re real—like a cloud bursting open in the desert that makes flowers bloom in the least likely places.

Think of it like this: When God sends you on a mission, He will also send His favor. Look at the strong connection between God’s favor to Joseph and the mystery-shrouded mission God sent him on:

  • “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered” (Gen. 39:2, NIV).
  • “When … the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor” (vv. 3-4).
  • “The Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor” (v. 21).
  • “The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (v. 23).
  • “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Gen. 45:5).
  • “God sent me ahead of you” (v. 7).
  • “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (v. 8).

The simple truth is that we can endure almost any amount of pain if we believe it has a purpose.

Chuck Colson told a story in Kingdoms in Conflict about some prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. Every day they were forced to fill wheelbarrows with sand and push them from one end of the prison yard to the other, then empty them. The next day they put the sand back in the wheelbarrows, pushed them back to where they started the day before, and emptied them again.

This went on day after day. The prisoners started going crazy. One man collapsed and began to sob uncontrollably. Another man ran into the electric fence and was electrocuted. Why? It was because there was no purpose in his ordeal. It was a form of torture.

You may be enduring something right now that makes no sense to you. It feels like torture. But God has given us the story of Joseph to show us that He never deals with us like those guards in the concentration camp. God always has a higher purpose, a greater good for our lives. And in the midst of even the toughest circumstances, He is at work, not just in the circumstances themselves, but in us—shaping us as His sons to be more usable and beautiful for Him.

The preceding is an excerpt from Patrick Morley’s book How God Makes Men, Multnomah, 2013.


Voluntary Thanksgiving.

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:21

Recommended Reading
Psalm 107:8, 15, 31 (,%2015,%2031&version=NKJV)

The American Pilgrims weren’t the first to give thanks with a meal: “The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning” (Leviticus 7:15, NIV 1984). Due to the lack of refrigeration, the “fellowship offering of thanksgiving” had to be offered and eaten on the same day. Today we enjoy leftovers for several days after!

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( )

The Israelites did not restrict their expressions of thanksgiving to one day. “Thank offerings” could be offered at any time as a type of “fellowship offering” (Leviticus 3; 7:11-34), one of the five categories of Old Testament sacrifices (the others were burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings). A fellowship offering was a voluntary offering. When offered for the purpose of thanksgiving, it included not only an animal sacrifice but various breads to be consumed as a meal.

Voluntary  is the key word. We are free at any time to thank God for His goodness and wonderful works: “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

God’s giving deserves our thanksgiving.

Romans 15-16

By David Jeremiah.

Why a Man Gives a Woman His Heart.

man holding heart
(© elenaleonova
Amazingly, a man’s hunger for respect is more right-on than I ever realized. At work, my husband receives kudos for a job well done. His paycheck and bonuses verify his skill and dedication. John also works hard to provide for and protect his family.
Respecting John is admiring his work, hischaracter and his care. It’s telling him I appreciate these things and admire him for the man he is. It’s not talking bad about him to my friends or even behind closed doors. It’s “talking him up” at home and in front of others and not second-guessing his ideas. It’s honoring his opinions and decisions (which is tough, especially when my opinion differs!).
Basically, it’s my job as a wife to go against society and their “liberated thinking” and figure out how to respect my husband unconditionally and honor him.
But what does respect have to do with lifetime commitment? Everything. After all, why would a woman want to stick with a man she can’t respect? And why would a man want to stay around when he is treated as the one messing up all the time? (Marriage is more than this, of course. We made acovenant before God, and God has called us to commit for life. But just think how we can transform ourmarriages and our generation when we strive to follow this principle.)
Of course, God always knew what we’re just starting to understand. Check out Ephesians 5:33: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (NIV).
Yet unconditional respect, it seems, is something that generations of women have forgotten how to do.
It’s not that we wives purposefully set out to sabotage our marriages, but this is what lack of respect does. We tell our husbands we want them to be spiritual leaders and the head of the house, but then we make all the decisions or question the decisions they do make. (Ouch! I’ve done this too many times to count.)
If we’re going to strive for “forever,” we need to think of the ways we can make this thing last. This is part of the work and the planning. A good question to ask is: How can I show my husband the respect he desires?
In an effort to show my respect, I try to remind John I believe in his capabilities, take time to understand his point of view and affirm his accomplishments. John appreciates it when I stop what I’m doing to give him a pat on the back when he’s manicured the front lawn, cleaned the garage or built a set of bookshelves. When I first started doing it, I felt like a mom talking to a 3-year-old: “Great job, honey.” But from his smile, I quickly learned he was energized by my praise.
The amazing thing is that when you do look for ways to show respect and you do work at it, your needs are met too. Because your husband is getting what he needs, he pours out his love in return.
Emerson Eggerichs, in his book Love and Respect, calls this the Energizing Cycle: “Her love motivates his respect. His respect motivates her love.” I can confess: Being in this cycle is indeed energizing … and fun!
So why is respect still a foreign word even to those of us who know its power? This is a hard one, since many times we weren’t raised seeing it lived. To put it in a more culture-friendly term, another word forrespect is admiration. And this is how defines them both:
Respect: -noun. Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.
Admiration: -noun. A feeling of wonder, pleasure or approval.
What would a man give for a wife who respects and admires him? I’ve seen this lived out … his whole heart.

Tricia Goyer has written more than 35 books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and nonfiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts, Thriving Family, Proverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine.

Dara’s Wall.

During her childhood, Dara saw enough pain and abuse to last a lifetime. In response, she built a protective wall around her heart. But “The Wall” kept out the love and acceptance she so desperately needed. When Dara turned to God and began to read his Word, her wall began to crumble as God’s unfailing love tumbled in.

Dara’s true story is one of many uniquely featured testimonies from you, the members and visitors of this site. Each story reveals a life transformed by Christian faith. If your relationship with God has made a significant difference in your life, we would like to hear about it. Submit your testimony by filling out this Submission Form. To receive weekly messages of hope and encouragement from real-life stories of changed lives, sign up for eTestimonies.

Dara’s Wall

Watching my mother be abused emotionally by my father to a point which eventually brought her to a near-death suicide attempt, led me to internalize my feelings. I put them behind “The Wall” I had built around my heart. My father was and still is, the angriest, most controlling and domineering individual I’ve ever known. I literally felt my mother’s pain, yet I attempted to shut myself off from it by physically plugging my ears and running from any and all confrontation.

I became a person who always wanted to please others; to be the best at everything I attempted. I simply refused to pursue anything unless I was reasonably certain I could obtain perfection. So as you might surmise, my endeavors became very limited. To receive love and acceptance, I felt I had to be “doing something” to obtain it.

Internalizing My Pain

During my childhood I was sexually abused by the son of a family friend. My father excused it away saying, “Boys will be boys.” This caused me to further internalize my pain. I came to the realization that voicing it did not bring resolution, nor did it bring love and approval. Because of “The Wall,” I waited years to share the abuse and my subsequent pain with anyone.

I have known God since I was a child through the faithful example of my mother. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 12 and have since had a strong personal relationship with Him. Yet I resisted letting even Him into the depths of my heart. “The Wall” I had built by that time was thickly layered and nearly impossible to penetrate.

I had a fear of letting my feelings be seen, so although I never stopped talking to the Lord every day, I continued to keep Him and everyone else on the outside of “The Wall.” I know within my heart that the Lord was watching and waiting for me to turn to Him and lay everything at His feet. Yet, even still I could not break through “The Wall” I had erected around my heart.

Finally, almost 4 years ago, after losing two strong spiritual examples, my mother and my mother-in-law, who both passed away at relatively young ages, and after moving 600 miles from anyone I knew, and after having repeated thoughts of suicide, I turned to God, somewhat as a last alternative.

Reading the Word of God

I began to read the Word of God daily and allow the Lord to speak to me through it. I could not believe how relevant it was to what I was going through in my life. I began to devour the Word, as Matthew 4:4 says, “…It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (NIV)

I began to keep a journal and that allowed “The Wall” around my heart to begin to crumble. The Lord was faithful everyday to speak to me and to reassure me of his unfailing love and affirmation. He released His purpose in my life and I began without reservation to live to please him, and not everyone else.

The Lord became the “Counselor” I so desperately needed and, believe it or not, I was anxious to go to therapy! He became my comforter, my refuge and my source of strength in every circumstance. I came to the revelation that I didn’t have to “do things” to obtain his unconditional love and acceptance.

Now I turn to the Lord, most of the time, without hesitation. I open his Word daily and he is faithful to speak to me no matter the time or situation. I prayerfully seek his guidance in all my decisions. My life is definitely not a bed of roses, but I am able to handle all adversity by praying, reading God’s Word and journaling. I no longer allow my feelings to be put behind “The Wall.”

Just as the wall around Jericho came tumbling down, so did “The Wall” around my heart. I now exist to fulfill this verse of Scripture:

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (NIV)

By Dara Bennett

4 Ways to Respond to Your Husband’s Porn Addiction.

man on computer

Your husband‘s addiction to pornography has just been discovered. The aftermath of this betrayal leaves every precious memory grimy and tainted. You muse back on your wedding night. Was he thinking of someporn star as he touched you? When you were working to conceive a baby together by night, what had he been conceiving with his computer monitor by day?

Your dreams are shattered. You despise him for how his sexual addiction makes you see him, and you’re panicked by how it makes you see yourself.

You’re tempted to think, I knew he never had eyes only for me, but I never dreamed it could go this far. I feel so ugly now. And when he isn’t quick to repent, who can blame you when you icily sneer, “Just get lost with that cuddly computer of yours and have fun.”

Head spinning, heart breaking, you cry in desperate prayer: “Can I ever trust my husband again? My whole marriage is a mirage! Where are You, Lord?”

God is right beside you. Sure, it may appear that He has taken His hand off of your marriage, but your husband’s sin has been in God’s sights for some time—a sin that has been washing out your spiritual protection and threatening to flood your children’s lives with generational sin—in spite of how well your husband’s been hiding the evidence. But now God’s blown your husband’s cover, a sure sign of God’s active role in your marriage.

God wants you to take an active role, too, and the first step in rebuilding trust with your husband is to trust God enough to find His heart for your husband in this mess. God wants restoration.

God’s Heart for Men Who Struggle 

Recently, my husband, Fred, and I knelt in intercession as he prepared to challenge a large group of pastors to deeper sexual purity. Without warning, Fred suddenly broke into deep sobs. Moments later, he walked out and spoke with a grace and power I had never seen in him before.

Later, he recounted, “I wasn’t sure I had the right attitude, so I prayed, ‘Lord, I want Your heart as I speak to these men today. As many as half of these guys have been checking out the porn, and You know how that frustrates me to no end. But Lord, I don’t want to speak out of my feelings. Can You let me feel Your feelings toward them today?’

“Instantly, the Lord laid His emotions inside my chest. I burst into tears and felt as though my heart would explode. Then, about three minutes later, it stopped as quickly as it began. Quietly, the Lord whispered, ‘There. Now you know how I ache for My cherished pastors, in spite of their sin. Speak to them from that aching place in My heart.'”

God wants you to minister to your husband in that same grace and power, and He can give you His heart for your husband as easily as He gave Fred His heart for the pastors. God wants His heart reigning inside of you, enabling you to see beyond your husband’s sin and into the brokenness behind it all.

I speak from personal experience. Even when Fred’s temper and sexual sin were ripping up our home, I could see value in him beyond his sin. He had put me first in so many ways in our relationship, and it made me willing to want to go an extra mile for him.

I could also see the dysfunctional pain and confusion still trailing him from his broken childhood home. I saw that he had never had one completely faithful person in his entire life. I decided to become that first person.

There was another reason I chose restoration over divorce. God loves restoration for the same reason He hates divorce: the children. He knows how hard it is to raise godly children in the wake of divorce, and He knows that the message of salvation passes down to them most easily when the parents are one.

Speaking of husbands and wives through His prophet Malachi, God says: “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they’re His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God” (Mal. 2:15-16, NIV).

In light of all this, I knew I had no right to think of myself first in our marital troubles. I had to think of the kids before I thought of myself and, so, I had to see Fred and the marriage before myself, too. The same is true for you.

Granted, your marriage may now be in shambles, and what lies ahead might even be worse. But God’s call on your life still remains—to build a marriage that pictures Christ‘s relationship to the church.

Is Divorce Ever an Option?

Obviously, some men will never soften. When is the damage from his sexual sin irreparable? Is divorce ever an option?

Sure it is. Adultery always makes divorce an option, and if your husband will not repent and refuses to turn from an ongoing, regular porn habit, he is an adulterer.

But if you want a magical line between “reparable damage” and “irreparable damage” to trigger divorce proceedings for you, forget it. There is no line of irreparable damage in the distance somewhere; it lurks right at your door from the moment he refuses to repent. There is nowhere to hide.

Staying married surely isn’t safe. His sexual sin poses huge spiritual danger to the whole family, and compromises his spiritual protection over you. I was chased regularly in nightmares by Satan until Fred turned from his sexual sin. I haven’t had such a nightmare since.

There is also the generational sin we spoke of, as well as the ongoing danger that your sons and daughters will stumble upon his magazines, tapes and websites—the most common way young men fall into sexual bondage. Worst of all, your husband will not be the example your son needs to teach him that his Christian walk includes sexual purity. Cascading stages of irreparable damage begin to flow from the moment your husband refuses repentance.

Then why not divorce? Because divorce brings destructive cascades of its own. Statistics show that young men often turn to pornography in the wake of divorce to salve their emotional pain and to begin to explore their masculinity.

Furthermore, sexual addiction counselors find that divorce is no effective answer. Patrick Middleton, one such counselor in the Phoenix area, told me that he has seen very little evidence that divorce leads to consistently healthy results in families shattered by porn.

So whether you stay or go, his sexual sin will wreak its havoc and there are no easy options. But if you do choose to stay, it is time to take an active role in the battle, doing all you can to release the law of reaping and sowing into your husband’s life.

Perhaps your husband has paid little price for his sin in the past. Those days must end, so that he might come to his senses in the midst of the mess he has made.

A Helpmate Is an Active Role 

As wives, God has given us two roles to play in marriage. One role relates to submission, and the other involves our responsibility to be our husband’s helpmate. The trouble is that we too often play the wrong role in the face of sexual sin, submitting quietly in the messy tide of events, alternating between wringing our hands in worry and folding our hands to pray while we wait for our husbands to turn.

This is time to play the other role. You were created to help your husband from the beginning: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18).

The word helper comes from a Hebrew word in Genesis, which means “a help as his counterpart.” So what does a helper do? Fred likes to explain it this way: As a helper, a wife’s role is to help lift her husband—boost him, prod him, encourage him—to Christian greatness, or maturity in Christ.

What is the most effective way to help your husband? First, take steps toward your own healing. Then, confront your husband, telling him what a Christian wife expects of a mature, Christian husband in marriage and holding him accountable to become that very man. Then put these four key actions in motion:

1. Learn about the differences. When a sexually addicted husband is unrepentant, a wife begins to heal by learning the sexual differences between men and women. The real root of his sexual sin lies elsewhere. Once you understand that his problem is not about you, your beauty or sexiness, you can quickly recover your sense of worth and focus on restoration.

2. Develop spiritual disciplines. Prayer and Bible reading will allow the Lord to speak to your heart and keep a steady walk with Him. If you are to heal, you need a stronger prayer life than ever before.

You also need to develop a few close female relationships for support, insights and sharing your pain. Avoid male relationships like the plague…hold yourself emotionally separate from any other men and avoid discussing your dreams and desires with other men. Secular TV, movies and books can feed the discontent that you have in your life, so avoid them.

Also, do not overcommit your time. You have already been called to an important ministry in God—restoring your husband and marriage. Give it the time and energy that any great call deserves.

You do not need to add other ministries or time stresses to your life. Keep things pared down enough so that no matter what you are doing (raising kids, working at an outside job, volunteering) you still have the time and focus for the restoration process at home.

3. Reject hypervigilance. Perhaps a fear-motivated question is plaguing you: But what if he does it again? Reject fear. You naturally desire the safety that control can bring, but a hyper-vigilant focus upon his every move cannot deliver the safety you crave.

What you really need if you are to feel safe is a sense of your own self, your value in God, and the development of your own skills to communicate your pain and to set and enforce boundaries. Settle for nothing less than God’s picture of marriage.



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