Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Crisis Is Here…What Do You Do?

by Sylvia Gaston

Many people find themselves suddenly in the midst of some messy things, ranging from annoying inconveniences to full-blown crises. It’s not a question of ‘if’ you will find yourself there, but ‘when’.

What does a crisis look like? Here are a few examples:
  •         Your car breaks down or is stolen
  •         You lose your job or your financial situation is dire
  •         You receive bad health news
  •        Your child gets in trouble
  •         A loved one dies or is very ill
  •         Your spouse behaves badly . . . or worse
  •        You find yourself a victim of a crime or interpersonal attack

The list can go on and on. What do you do when you find yourself in such a situation?  How do you think you will respond when a crisis rears it’s ugly head?

There is a saying, “When a person is squeezed, you see what they’re really made of by what comes out”. This means that who you really are is revealed in the toughest of times when you are put to the test, or squeezed.

If you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. If you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, we know what will come out. What comes out of you when you are really squeezed?

People respond to crisis in a variety of ways: anger, withdrawal, fear, blame, questioning of their faith, self-medication, depression, to name a few. I narrow it down to two ways: you either crumble or you battle.

Crumbling is certainly the easiest. It takes no effort whatsoever. You merely succumb to the effects of the emergency, allowing the consequences to sweep you away in its path. However, that relinquishes all control and leaves you a victim. It doesn’t do anything in the way of developing your character, wisdom, or maturity. It sure doesn’t help you set an example or teach those around you, such as children or grandchildren, about how to respond appropriately in their own lives.

If you have a relationship with God, you already have a solid foundation upon which to do battle. God inspired an entire book of instructions and promises upon which to stand. It’s called the Bible. If you have chosen to follow Jesus, you have His Holy Spirit authority to take command and become victorious over your circumstances! Yet, many of us, either don’t know that or under-utilize that authority and wisdom.

When I meet with people in crisis, I pray with them and try to point them to God, who has all power and authority. I try to put resources in their hands to use as tools in their current battle.
I happen to have a Bible that has a great concordance in the back of it. A concordance is an alphabetical listing of words or topics in the Book. It lists a part of the sentence the word is used in to guide you to the right Scripture. You then look up those verses and, if they fit, begin to use them to guide you.

Many of us need to broaden our knowledge of what God says about the challenges of life and do battle in a spiritual way, rather than an emotional one. We need to take charge of our crisis and begin DECLARING what God says about us, Himself, and what is true!!

I challenge you to try this approach next time. It won’t make the crisis go away and sometimes it’s a daily, hourly, or minute-by-minute challenge. But, relying on God’s promises and declaring them over your life will carry you through your next big challenge in a more victorious and empowering way. It will also deepen your relationship with the most important Influencer of your life!

If you don’t know or follow Jesus, then that’s your first step. You don’t even have to go to a church to begin a relationship with Him. A simple prayer begins the most significant journey of your human life.

A – Ask God to forgive you of your sins. (The Bible states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. –Romans 3:23)

B – Believe that Jesus died for all of our sins. (This is an unearned gift, giving us forgiveness and direct access to God through prayer and His Holy Spirit. – 1 Peter 3:18)

C – Choose to follow Jesus. (Matthew 11:29 tells us to accept Jesus’ teaching and learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart. And we will find rest for ourselves.)

A crisis WILL come. Will you crumble or do battle, relying on our Creator and Father in heaven?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

I Believe In God

by Tim Howard

Everyone believes a multitude of things but some beliefs like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are pure fantasy. While some believe in the fake, fraudulent and false, others believe in things that are real, genuine and true.

I believe in miracles. I believe that our future has not yet been written. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love unless we put up a wall and YES, I believe in God! In a living God who actively works among us – Difficult to prove in a scientific manner – yet nonetheless true!

The phrase “I Believe In God,” can mean many things and just saying that phrase doesn’t mean you believe in the true God who’s revealed in the Bible.

The Bible distinguishes between many ‘gods’ and the ‘God of all gods.’  Within the 66 books included in the Bible, there is a myriad of people mentioned who chose not to embrace the true God found in scriptures. Time and again they are found to be in search of other gods. Why? Why do we as well, seek other gods?

Maybe it’s because we want a god who will do what we want when we want it and how we want it. Possibly we want a god who will tolerate our sin, ignore our behavior and allow no consequences. Could it be that we desire a god who will protect us from all the bad and provide us with only the good?  When the true God doesn’t yield to our demands – Off we go… In search of a god we desire to find.

When you make God into what you want Him to be, you create an idol and serve another ‘god.’ You break the 2nd and 3rd commandments and do yourself harm. Psalms 96:5 says: …” all the gods of the peoples are idols but the Lord made the heavens.”

Today we see many who have combined fragments of Christianity, Buddhism, New Age, plus a number of notions derived from personal experience to create an image that bears little resemblance to the God in the Bible. Even many modern churchgoers derive their understanding of God as much from popular culture as from the Scriptures.

That’s a major problem because no other god can rescue, deliver, heal, help or save you. Only Jesus who is the revelation of God to mankind can do these things. When we serve, worship, seek after or allow some ‘god’ to become our first priority, things break down. Jesus came to preach the good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, free people who are captive to addictions, find those who are lost and help those who are hurting. He is God in the human form. He and He alone is able to save.

We don’t live in a god-less nation. We live in a god filled nation! Many gods rule our land so be cautious when someone says “I Believe In God,”. It may not mean what you think – Then again, it may!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

What Are You Passing On?

by Candace Cortez

I am a Navy Brat. We moved to Lemoore because of my Dad’s orders to NAS Lemoore. They have recently been redeployed and are now living in Florida. It’s been about 2 years since they have lived here and it has not been my favorite thing living away from my family. During a long visit this past month, I noticed many things about both my parents that I had not realized before. Little gestures, or sounds that I had missed during our time apart. Taking notice of these habits, I was shocked to see some of those same tendencies in myself. I know, I know! There are a dozen clich├ęs out there about being the product of our parents and becoming your mother that just flashed through my head. I know I picked up my work ethic, my creativity, and my ability to listen to my parents. I suppose I just hadn’t noticed how many other things they had passed onto me. And now, my husband and I are currently passing certain things on to our children. Some things on accident, while others with specific intentionality.

In scripture, I recently read in Judges 2 about an entire generation who did not pass on the story of their faith in God to the next generation. I have been wondering about this since I read that passage. I wonder what kept the story from being heard. Maybe it wasn’t articulated well. Maybe the outside culture was louder and more convincing than the message of their parents. Maybe the parents were afraid of controlling their children’s belief’s so they watered down their passion and faith. Maybe the generation before had stopped living their faith in their real lives and allowed it to become predominantly ceremonial. Maybe they hadn’t figured out how to include their own children in the process when the miracles hadn’t happened for them. The maybe’s are endless.

Maybe we are doing the same.

I do not want to miss out on passing on the fire of my faith to those younger (either in age or in belief) than myself. God gave EVERYTHING to make sure the way for us to Him was possible. He gave His Son to die. To make sure people know that, most of the time, we just have to have some conversations. 

You may not have children. Or your children may be grown. Or you may not have a good relationship with your children. Or you may be a “child” yourself! But we are all called to raise up the next generation. Part of knowing how to show love and your love for Jesus to someone else means you may need to know who that someone else is. A conversation with the understanding of acceptance and love goes much further than those that are shrouded in person-less agenda. Here are a couple bits of data collected by *Barna on their research report on Generation Z, the generation of young people currently in Elementary, Middle, and High School.

    Teens 13-18 years old are twice as likely as adults to say they are atheist (13% vs. 6%).
    About half of Gen Z is non-white.
    Half say happiness is their ultimate goal in life. For 43%, happiness equals financial  success.
    More than half of teens use screen media 4 or more hours per day. One quarter report they look at screens 8 or more hours on an average day.
    One-third reports being bullied online.

This is just the most basic snapshot. If you want to pass on something important to
someone, you may want to consider getting to know that someone. I hope I pass on more than my laugh to my little ones. I am praying daily that they catch more than even a value of hard work. My prayer is that they, and their generation with them, falls in love with Jesus in a way that is real, and life-changing. Be a part of making disciples in this generation! Get to know a person younger than yourself, and pass on one of the most important gifts you can ever give: the story of why you believe. 

*Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation by Barna in partnership with 360 Institute