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May 2016-Victory in Faith

The foundation of every Christian's walk is faith, and all victory in life stems from it. This issue addresses concerns such as why prayers aren't being answered, why do bad things happen and where is God in the midst of it, are we walking in faith, or doing things on our own strength, whose voice am I hearing: God, Satan or my own, and many more. Interviews include: Marianne Evans (author, Then and Now), Ali Husnain (author, The Cost: My Life on a Terrorist Hit List), Band of Christ, Tim Cleary (The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance, Video Game), Jennifer Kennedy Dean (author, Synced), Tom Gilson (author, Critical Conversations: a Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens) and Kent Williamson (Movie, By War & By God)

The foundation of every Christian's walk is faith, and all victory in life stems from it.
This issue addresses concerns such as why prayers aren't being answered, why do bad things happen and where is God in the midst of it, are we walking in faith, or doing things on our own strength, whose voice am I hearing: God, Satan or my own, and many more.
Interviews include: Marianne Evans (author, Then and Now), Ali Husnain (author, The Cost: My Life on a Terrorist Hit List), Band of Christ, Tim Cleary (The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance, Video Game), Jennifer Kennedy Dean (author, Synced), Tom Gilson (author, Critical Conversations: a Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens) and Kent Williamson (Movie, By War & By God)

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The Cost: My Life<br />

on a terrorist Hit<br />

List<br />

Interview with Ali Husna<strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2016</strong><br />

ARE YOU WALKING IN<br />

<strong>Faith</strong><br />

OR YOUR<br />

Own Strength?<br />

Please let my<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> Supercharged!<br />

Tapp<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to<br />

Supernatural<br />

<strong>Faith</strong><br />

prayers be<br />

Answered!<br />

What to do while<br />

wait<strong>in</strong>g<br />

HELPING FAMILIES LIVE VICTORIOUSLY IN CHRIST


Contents<br />

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.........72<br />

God’s Word says He will never<br />

leave nor forsake you. God is<br />

there through your tears right<br />

beside you. Learn what the<br />

Bible says <strong>in</strong> times of sorrow.<br />

Features<br />

ACTIVATE YOUR FAITH.......14<br />

Activat<strong>in</strong>g your faith requires<br />

action on the believer’s part.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>d out how to get the results<br />

you are look<strong>in</strong>g for.<br />

FAITH OR FOOLISHNESS...22<br />

Learn how to distiguish between<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> faith, or when prayers<br />

are be<strong>in</strong>g said <strong>in</strong> va<strong>in</strong>.<br />

DISCERNING BETWEEN GOD,<br />

SATAN AND YOU..................27<br />

Who’s voice are you hear<strong>in</strong>g?<br />

Discover how to discern between<br />

the three.<br />

FAITH TESTED......................30<br />

Learn how to pass your faith test<br />

and move on to victory.<br />

PLEASE LET MY PRAYERS BE<br />

ANSWERED..........................41<br />

Uncover solutions and reasons<br />

for unanswered prayer.<br />

COMFORT IN THE MIDST OF<br />

TRAGEDY..............................62<br />

Learn how to fi nd God’s peace<br />

<strong>in</strong> the midst of tragedy.<br />

GIVE ME STRENGTH...........66<br />

Strength from God beg<strong>in</strong>s when<br />

we feel like we can’t go on. It’s<br />

just a prayer away.<br />

SPECIAL GIFT FROM GOD...69<br />

What is the gift of faith, and how<br />

can a believer use it? Learn<br />

how to recognize the gift of faith<br />

<strong>in</strong> action.<br />

SUPERNATURAL FAITH......77<br />

Some situations require<br />

supernatural faith <strong>in</strong> order to see<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs move. Discover how God<br />

builds up our faith so that we can<br />

overcome any obsticle.<br />

FOUNDATION OF FAITH......81<br />

It is important for every believer<br />

to have a fi rm foundation of faith.<br />

Discover why it is so crutial.<br />

WHAT IS FAITH.....................07<br />

This article both def<strong>in</strong>es faith,<br />

and gives <strong>in</strong>sight <strong>in</strong>to the importance<br />

of walk<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> it.<br />

GOD’S DELAYS ARE NOT<br />

ALWAYS DENIALS................48<br />

God’s promises are always yes<br />

and amen.<br />

FAITH TO MOVE<br />

MOUNTAINS.........................84<br />

Learn how to take down every<br />

mounta<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> life with faith.


AUTHORITY O V E R<br />

DEMONS..........................88<br />

Knowledge alone won’t get rid of<br />

them, However, faith sure will!<br />

Interviews<br />

THEN AND NOW...................10<br />

Interview with Marianne Evans<br />

THE COST: MY LIFE ON A<br />

TERRORIST HIT LIST............18<br />

Interview with Ali Husna<strong>in</strong><br />

MUSIC SPOTLIGHT..............36<br />

Interview with Band of Christ<br />

THE AETHERLIGHT:.............44<br />

Interview with Tim Cleary<br />

SYNCED................................54<br />

Interview with Jennifer Kennedy<br />

Dean<br />

CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS:<br />

A CHRISTIAN PARENTS’<br />

GUIDE TO DISCUSSING<br />

HOMOSEXUALITY WITH<br />

TEENS.................................110<br />

Interview with Tom Gilson<br />

BY WAR & BY GOD............117<br />

Interview with Kent Williamson<br />

GOT PRAYER?......................94<br />

Discussion of what can prevent<br />

God from hear<strong>in</strong>g our earnest<br />

prayers.<br />

THE CHEQUE’S IN THE MAIL.98<br />

The <strong>in</strong>famous cheque may only<br />

arrive once. The rest is up to<br />

you!<br />

IS YOUR FAITH BEATING OR<br />

FLATLINED.........................102<br />

Uncover that passion for God<br />

aga<strong>in</strong> with this article!<br />

FAITH OR OWN<br />

STRENGTH........................106<br />

If what you are go<strong>in</strong>g seems like<br />

work, you may be do<strong>in</strong>g it on<br />

your own.<br />

MAINTAINING A SPIRIT OF<br />

PEACE.................................114<br />

The calm <strong>in</strong> the midst of any<br />

storm is possible. Rega<strong>in</strong> yours!


EDITORIAL<br />

PUBLISHER<br />

Michelle Danko<br />

mcdanko@eyeworship.org<br />

ASSISTANT PUBLISHER<br />

Vernita Simmons (Interviews)<br />

vsimmons@eyeworship.org<br />

Kathy Smith (Features)<br />

kathy.smith@eyeworship.org<br />

Natasha Gboleeweefaa (Reviews)<br />

ngboleeweefaa@eyeworship.org<br />

Roslyn Ashford (Bus<strong>in</strong>ess & Leadership)<br />

rashford@eyeworship.org<br />

EDITOR<br />

Jill K<strong>in</strong>g<br />

jillk<strong>in</strong>g@eyeworship.org<br />

Matt Poe<br />

mattpoe@eyeworship.org<br />

SALES<br />

Mark M. Danko<br />

mmdanko@faithfilledfamily.com<br />

IMAGES:<br />

COVER PHOTO<br />

Kostia@AdobeStock.com<br />

PHOTOGRAPHERS<br />

Szakaly, Stuart Miles, Adam 121, Zurijeta, shock, Kozzi, Gregory21,,<br />

Madhorse, Mast3r, David Castillo Dom<strong>in</strong>ici, Sergey Nivens, Krasyuk,<br />

adamr, coka, AnonioGravante, HalfPo<strong>in</strong>t, mdilsiz, Natika, Elnur,<br />

Ronnachai, PiedmontPhoto, Lasse, arosoft, ShipFactory, ArTDi,<br />

danr13, and Tristan 3D @ Kozzi.com<br />

MonkeyBus<strong>in</strong>ess, daniilantiq2010, gustavofrazao and spass @<br />

AdobeStock.com<br />

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND FEEDBACK:<br />

For subscriptions or feedback, please visit our website at :<br />

www.faithfi lledfamily.comI<strong>in</strong>fo@faithfi lledfamily.com<br />

© <strong>Faith</strong> Filled Family Magaz<strong>in</strong>e, November Edition, Yumpu <strong>2016</strong><br />

All material is strictly copyright and all rights reserved. Reproduction<br />

<strong>in</strong> whole or <strong>in</strong> part without the written permission of <strong>Faith</strong> Filled<br />

Family is expressly forbidden.


Publisher’s Letter<br />

This issue centers around the topic of faith, and why it is<br />

such an important foundation for every believer.<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> arrives the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and<br />

Savior, because it is by faith that we are saved. However,<br />

if we do not activate our faith, and if we do not grow it,<br />

then we will be tossed to and fro when the enemy comes<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st us. The end result will be that we will not walk <strong>in</strong><br />

the victory, nor the dest<strong>in</strong>y that God had planned for us<br />

because all of these th<strong>in</strong>gs require faith as a foundation.<br />

This edition of <strong>Faith</strong> Filled Family will teach you how to<br />

activate your faith, how to take your authority, how to<br />

overcome Satan, how to ga<strong>in</strong> strength and peace over<br />

your life, and, what faith and walk<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> it is all about.<br />

I hope your faith grows as a result of read<strong>in</strong>g this issue<br />

and that you cont<strong>in</strong>ue to walk <strong>in</strong> victory always.<br />

Be Blessed,<br />

Michelle Danko<br />

Publisher<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> Filled Family Magaz<strong>in</strong>e


WHAT IS....<br />

Learn<strong>in</strong>g About <strong>Faith</strong> From Peter<br />

By Katie Hamilton<br />

One of my favorite quotes is by<br />

Dr. Mart<strong>in</strong> Luther K<strong>in</strong>g, Jr. He<br />

once said, “<strong>Faith</strong> is tak<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

fi rst step even when you don’t<br />

see the whole staircase.” I love<br />

this quote because it provides a<br />

clear picture of what faith looks<br />

like. It’s trust<strong>in</strong>g that the next<br />

step of a staircase is there, even<br />

when you can’t see it.<br />

I can easily visualize that image<br />

<strong>in</strong> my bra<strong>in</strong>, and it’s helped me<br />

to understand the concept of<br />

faith a little better, especially<br />

when I’m right <strong>in</strong> the middle of<br />

a serious trial. In a world fi lled<br />

with bad news and bad circumstances,<br />

it is so easy to lose faith<br />

that th<strong>in</strong>gs will get better. So,<br />

how can we live a life of faith <strong>in</strong><br />

God, like He wants us to live?<br />

To understand how to live a life<br />

of faith, we have to fi rst understand<br />

what faith is. God must<br />

have known that we would have<br />

trouble comprehend<strong>in</strong>g the idea<br />

of faith, because He provided a<br />

defi nition for it <strong>in</strong> the Bible. In<br />

Hebrews 11:1, it says, “Now faith<br />

is the substance of th<strong>in</strong>gs hoped<br />

for, the evidence of th<strong>in</strong>gs not<br />

seen” (KJV).<br />

When I read that verse, two key<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs stick out to me. I imme-


diately notice the words “th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

hoped for” and “th<strong>in</strong>gs not seen.”<br />

In other words, the explanation<br />

of faith is two-fold.<br />

First, it is trust<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> God with the<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs we hope for. That means<br />

trust<strong>in</strong>g that God’s plans are<br />

best, even if it doesn’t seem like<br />

it at the time, because only He<br />

knows the entirety of what’s <strong>in</strong><br />

store for us. Even if the th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

we hope for do not happen when<br />

or how we want them to happen,<br />

we have to trust that God is <strong>in</strong><br />

control, and He knows what is<br />

best.<br />

Second, faith means trust<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

God with th<strong>in</strong>gs we can’t see. We<br />

can’t actually see God <strong>in</strong> the way<br />

the disciples could when they<br />

walked with Jesus. But, hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

faith means trust<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Him<br />

despite this. We can’t always<br />

see a reasonable or viable solution<br />

to all of our problems, but we<br />

can trust that God will take care<br />

of us anyway, simply because<br />

He loves us that much. Not only<br />

does faith require us to trust God<br />

with the th<strong>in</strong>gs we hope for, but it<br />

also requires us to trust Him with<br />

the th<strong>in</strong>gs we can’t see.<br />

Once we understand what faith<br />

is, we can better understand<br />

how to apply it more consistently<br />

<strong>in</strong> our own lives. Personally, the<br />

best way I learn someth<strong>in</strong>g is by<br />

see<strong>in</strong>g an example of it. That’s<br />

why I’m so grateful that God fi lled<br />

the Bible with stories of people<br />

who dealt with the same issues<br />

that we deal with today. Though<br />

there might be slight variations<br />

between their stories and ours<br />

(I mean after all, I’ve never been<br />

thrown <strong>in</strong> a real lion’s den), the<br />

core problems they faced and<br />

lessons they learned are still<br />

completely relevant to our lives<br />

as modern Christians.<br />

So, I th<strong>in</strong>k the best way to look at<br />

how to live a life of faith is to study<br />

an example from the Bible. Let’s<br />

take a look at one of my favorite<br />

stories from the Bible that<br />

shows the importance of trust<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God with th<strong>in</strong>gs we hope for and<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs we can’t see: when Peter<br />

walked on water with Jesus.<br />

I love Peter. I love how completely<br />

human he is. Throughout<br />

the Bible, he tries over and<br />

over to show his total devotion<br />

to Jesus. But, over and over he<br />

screws up. He gets ahead of<br />

himself, he doesn’t th<strong>in</strong>k before<br />

he speaks, and he even denied<br />

know<strong>in</strong>g Jesus out of fear on the<br />

night that Jesus was crucifi ed. I<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k one reason that Jesus must<br />

have chosen Peter specifi cally<br />

to be a disciple is because He<br />

knew how much people would<br />

be able to relate to him.<br />

The story we’re go<strong>in</strong>g to focus on<br />

is found <strong>in</strong> Matthew 14:23-31. It<br />

takes place right after Jesus had<br />

just performed one of His most<br />

famous miracles, feed<strong>in</strong>g 5,000<br />

people with only fi ve loaves of<br />

bread and two fi sh. The Bible<br />

says <strong>in</strong> verse 23, “And when he<br />

had sent the multitudes away,<br />

he went up <strong>in</strong>to a mounta<strong>in</strong> apart<br />

to pray: and when the even<strong>in</strong>g<br />

was come, he was there alone”<br />

(KJV). He wanted some time<br />

to pray follow<strong>in</strong>g His <strong>in</strong>credible<br />

miracle, so He sent His disciples<br />

away <strong>in</strong> a ship with <strong>in</strong>structions<br />

to meet Him on the other side of<br />

the water.<br />

The Bible says that the disciples’<br />

ship was caught <strong>in</strong> the middle of<br />

a storm at sea dur<strong>in</strong>g the night<br />

(verse 24). I’ve never been on<br />

a ship caught <strong>in</strong> a storm, but I<br />

know it had to have been terrify<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Imag<strong>in</strong>e the disciples’ fear;<br />

they must have thought they<br />

were go<strong>in</strong>g to die.<br />

But, imag<strong>in</strong>e how their fear<br />

must have changed to complete<br />

terror when they looked across<br />

the rag<strong>in</strong>g sea to see someone<br />

walk<strong>in</strong>g on the water. What they<br />

didn’t realize at fi rst was that the<br />

person walk<strong>in</strong>g towards them on<br />

the water was Jesus. The Bible<br />

describes it like this: “And <strong>in</strong> the<br />

fourth watch of the night Jesus<br />

went unto them, walk<strong>in</strong>g on the<br />

sea. And when the disciples<br />

saw him walk<strong>in</strong>g on the sea,<br />

they were troubled, say<strong>in</strong>g, ‘It is<br />

a spirit’; and they cried out for<br />

fear” (Matthew 14:25-26 KJV).<br />

Can you blame them? They literally<br />

thought they had seen a<br />

ghost. In their eyes, if the storm<br />

didn’t kill them, this ghost surely<br />

would. Immediately, though,<br />

Jesus put their fears to rest. He<br />

told them, “Be of good cheer; it is<br />

I; be not afraid,” (Matthew 14:27<br />

KJV).<br />

Now, <strong>in</strong> spite of Jesus’s assurance<br />

that they shouldn’t be<br />

afraid, good ol’ Peter opened<br />

his mouth and put the Lord to<br />

the test. He wanted to see if it<br />

really was Jesus walk<strong>in</strong>g on the<br />

water, or if the fear and fatigue<br />

had caused their m<strong>in</strong>ds to play<br />

tricks on them.<br />

Though Peter was try<strong>in</strong>g to test<br />

Jesus, it was Jesus who ended<br />

up test<strong>in</strong>g Peter and his faith.<br />

Here’s how the Bible describes<br />

it <strong>in</strong> Matthew 14:28-29a (KJV):<br />

“And Peter answered him and<br />

said, ‘Lord, if it be thou, bid me<br />

come unto thee on the water.’<br />

And he [Jesus] said, ‘Come.’”


Peter was caught. Jesus had<br />

just given him the opportunity<br />

to prove his faith. Peter had to<br />

make a choice. Would he trust<br />

Jesus and step out on the water,<br />

or stay <strong>in</strong> the boat where he was<br />

safe?<br />

The Bible says, “...And when<br />

Peter was come down out of the<br />

ship, he walked on the water, to<br />

go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29b).<br />

At that moment, Peter had to<br />

decide to have faith. He had to<br />

decide to trust Jesus both with<br />

the th<strong>in</strong>g he hoped for, be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

safely rescued, and with the<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g he couldn’t see, how he<br />

would be able to do what Jesus<br />

was ask<strong>in</strong>g him to do. Peter literally<br />

stepped out <strong>in</strong> faith and<br />

walked on water.<br />

How many times does that<br />

happen to us? How many times<br />

do we fi nd ourselves <strong>in</strong> Peter’s<br />

position? <strong>May</strong>be we’re not literally<br />

walk<strong>in</strong>g on water, but how<br />

many times has Jesus called us<br />

to act <strong>in</strong> faith, to trust Him with<br />

what we hope for and what we<br />

can’t see? How many times<br />

have we actually done it?<br />

More likely, we’re more familiar<br />

with the next emotion Peter<br />

felt: fear. Undoubtedly, we’ve<br />

run to it more than we have to<br />

Jesus. That is human nature.<br />

All of us have experienced fear,<br />

and Peter is no exception. In<br />

the Bible, it says, “But when he<br />

saw the w<strong>in</strong>d boisterous, he was<br />

afraid; and beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g to s<strong>in</strong>k,<br />

he cried, say<strong>in</strong>g, ‘Lord, save<br />

me.’ And immediately Jesus<br />

stretched forth his hand, and<br />

caught him, and said unto him,<br />

‘O thou of little faith, wherefore<br />

didst thou doubt?’” (Matthew<br />

14:30-31 KJV).<br />

The <strong>in</strong>stant Peter took his eyes<br />

off Jesus, the <strong>in</strong>stant he stopped<br />

trust<strong>in</strong>g Him, he began to s<strong>in</strong>k.<br />

But, the <strong>in</strong>stant he cried to Jesus<br />

for help, the <strong>in</strong>stant he put his<br />

trust back <strong>in</strong> Him, Jesus rescued<br />

him. Because Peter made<br />

the decision to trust God with<br />

what he hoped for and what he<br />

couldn’t see, he experienced a<br />

miracle.<br />

We, too, can experience a miracle<br />

when we make the same<br />

choice. No matter what the outcome<br />

of our circumstances is,<br />

we can rest <strong>in</strong> the promise that<br />

Jesus is control, and He has our<br />

hopes and dreams <strong>in</strong> His hands.<br />

Because He loves us, we can<br />

trust God with the th<strong>in</strong>gs we<br />

hope for by acknowledg<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

His plans are best.<br />

The Bible says <strong>in</strong> 2 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians<br />

4:17, “For our light affliction,<br />

which is but for a moment, worketh<br />

for us a far more exceed<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and eternal weight of glory…”<br />

(KJV). Even when our situation<br />

makes it seem like God is anyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

but <strong>in</strong> control, we have to<br />

realize that His plans our best<br />

because He sees the entire<br />

story, and He’s us<strong>in</strong>g this situation<br />

to br<strong>in</strong>g us closer to Him.<br />

Peter’s situation defi nitely wasn’t<br />

ideal when he realized that he<br />

was walk<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the middle of a<br />

wild storm, but when he acknowledged<br />

that God was <strong>in</strong> control,<br />

he was brought closer to Jesus<br />

and experienced His glory.<br />

We also have to trust God with<br />

the th<strong>in</strong>gs we can’t see. Later,<br />

<strong>in</strong> 2 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians 5:7, it says, “For<br />

we walk by faith, not by sight,”<br />

(KJV). We can’t see what God<br />

sees. We can’t see the solution<br />

to our problems, the path to our<br />

dreams, or the future of our families.<br />

That is why we have to trust<br />

God with what we can’t see.<br />

We have to trust that He will take<br />

care of us, even if we can’t see<br />

how, because we know that He<br />

loves us. Peter couldn’t understand<br />

how Jesus was go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

enable him to walk on water.<br />

He couldn’t see how it would<br />

work. But, he trusted <strong>in</strong> Jesus to<br />

take care of him, <strong>in</strong> spite of how<br />

impossible the situation seemed,<br />

and as a result, he was a part of<br />

a miracle.<br />

So, how can we live <strong>in</strong> faith?<br />

How can we “walk on water” with<br />

Jesus <strong>in</strong> whatever circumstances<br />

we face? We have to remember<br />

three th<strong>in</strong>gs. First, we have to<br />

trust that God is good. He is<br />

worthy to be trusted. In addition,<br />

we have to trust that He loves<br />

us. Because of that, He will take<br />

care of us. F<strong>in</strong>ally, we have to<br />

trust that His plans are best. He<br />

works out our circumstances for<br />

a greater story, but we just can’t<br />

see that story fully yet. If we can<br />

remember these th<strong>in</strong>gs, we, too,<br />

will be able live <strong>in</strong> faith and experience<br />

a miracle with Jesus.<br />

Katie Hamilton is a writer and<br />

high school English teacher from<br />

Arkansas. She enjoys shar<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the love of Jesus with others<br />

through her writ<strong>in</strong>g. In her free<br />

time, she likes to spend time with<br />

her husband, family, and puppy.


Then andNow<br />

MARIANNE<br />

EVANS<br />

“Then and Now” is nom<strong>in</strong>ated<br />

<strong>in</strong> the romance category for<br />

the Christian small publishers<br />

award. “Then and Now” promotes<br />

sexual purity Someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that is greatly needed<br />

to be discussed <strong>in</strong> our society<br />

today. This book is about<br />

love, fun, trials, and honor<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God. “Then and NOW” needs<br />

to be <strong>in</strong> every home. Marianne<br />

Evans has taken time to<br />

speak with us about her book<br />

that is ga<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g so much attention<br />

and praise.<br />

Can you tell us a little about<br />

yourself?<br />

I began writ<strong>in</strong>g Christ-centered<br />

romance and fi ction about six<br />

years ago when I won a writ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

contest sponsored by my<br />

publisher, Pelican Book Group.<br />

Twenty-fi ve books later, I haven’t<br />

looked back. Writ<strong>in</strong>g about love,<br />

explor<strong>in</strong>g the circumstances that<br />

can drive a couple to fi nd one<br />

another, and even push them<br />

apart at times, makes the journey<br />

such fun, and different every<br />

day. Honor<strong>in</strong>g God with the gifts<br />

He’s given me is a bless<strong>in</strong>g I<br />

don’t take for granted. I love to<br />

celebrate love.<br />

Without giv<strong>in</strong>g the book away,<br />

can you tell us what it is<br />

about?<br />

Aiden Balfour, the hero of the<br />

story, has always craved stability,<br />

<strong>in</strong>dependence and security.<br />

He’s led a rocky life but always<br />

treasured his summers <strong>in</strong> Northern<br />

Michigan with his best summertime<br />

friend, Olivia Masters.<br />

Olivia is dedicated to preserv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the life she’s known and always<br />

treasured at her grandparent’s<br />

home high on a bluff overlook<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the prist<strong>in</strong>e waters of Avalon.<br />

With their bless<strong>in</strong>g, she’s turned<br />

the expansive piece of property<br />

<strong>in</strong>to a qua<strong>in</strong>t, restful bed<br />

and breakfast. But developers<br />

are circl<strong>in</strong>g—and they’re led by<br />

none other than Aiden Balfour.<br />

Now an ambitious bus<strong>in</strong>essman,<br />

he’s determ<strong>in</strong>ed to turn the<br />

lake <strong>in</strong>to a tourist mecca. A successful<br />

bus<strong>in</strong>ess owner, Olivia is<br />

equally determ<strong>in</strong>ed to stop him...<br />

no matter what his hold on her<br />

heart.<br />

Who is the targeted audience<br />

for the book “Then and Now?”<br />

Typically books like Then and<br />

Now are targeted for women, but<br />

I hope the universal message of<br />

self-exploration and fi nd<strong>in</strong>g love


will appeal to everyone. The<br />

characters are younger, <strong>in</strong> their<br />

mid- to late-twenties, but aga<strong>in</strong>,<br />

I believe the journey taken by<br />

Aiden and Olivia will resonate<br />

with people of all ages.<br />

Did you have th<strong>in</strong>gs or people<br />

that <strong>in</strong>spired the writ<strong>in</strong>g of the<br />

book?<br />

Avalon is a place that truly<br />

exists. The city of Hillman, and<br />

Lake Avalon, are located toward<br />

the tip of the state of Michigan.<br />

My grandparents owned a<br />

place just like the one I describe<br />

and use as the sett<strong>in</strong>g for the<br />

story. Avalon is idyllic, full of<br />

p<strong>in</strong>e scented air, pure, spr<strong>in</strong>gfed<br />

water of sparkl<strong>in</strong>g blue and<br />

hik<strong>in</strong>g trails. I loved br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g this<br />

place of my heart to life <strong>in</strong> the<br />

pages of Then and Now.<br />

How and why did you pick the<br />

title “Then and Now?”<br />

The title came to me straight<br />

away because the story arc follows<br />

the transformation of the<br />

hero and hero<strong>in</strong>e between their<br />

youth and adulthood. A lot of<br />

life happens between ‘Then and<br />

Now’ and I like to th<strong>in</strong>k this story<br />

follows that truth to a full circle.<br />

Why did you feel the importance<br />

to write on abst<strong>in</strong>ence?<br />

Then and Now is the second<br />

book I’ve written that features<br />

a hero and hero<strong>in</strong>e practic<strong>in</strong>g<br />

abst<strong>in</strong>ence before marriage, and<br />

I have a third <strong>in</strong> the edit<strong>in</strong>g process<br />

with my publisher. I believe<br />

<strong>in</strong> the passion and butterfl ies<br />

of fall<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> love, but there’s a<br />

deeper, richer beauty to follow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God’s plan, and Word, and<br />

embrac<strong>in</strong>g what I like to call ‘the<br />

thrill of the wait.’ I want younger<br />

readers <strong>in</strong> particular to understand<br />

there’s excitement and<br />

tummy-t<strong>in</strong>gles to the process of<br />

fall<strong>in</strong>g love, not just the consummation.<br />

As a writ<strong>in</strong>g missionary,<br />

I felt that’s a<br />

theme that<br />

just begs to be<br />

explored.<br />

“Then and Now,” is a nom<strong>in</strong>ee<br />

<strong>in</strong> the romance category<br />

for the Christian Small Publisher’s<br />

Book of the Year<br />

award, what is that like for<br />

you as a writer?<br />

It’s a thrill! I’m delighted the<br />

readers/book store owners<br />

who judge the contest have<br />

seen fi t to give Then and Now<br />

this honor. F<strong>in</strong>al contest results<br />

will be announced <strong>in</strong> mid-April.<br />

The acknowledgment is wonderful,<br />

but it’s all about spread<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God’s message.<br />

Are you work<strong>in</strong>g on any<br />

more books now or foresee<br />

any <strong>in</strong> the future?


My next book, Forgiveness,<br />

releases later this year. I also<br />

have a novella titled Nobody’s<br />

Baby But M<strong>in</strong>e, releas<strong>in</strong>g soon<br />

as part of an anthology I’ve created<br />

with three other authors.<br />

Then, there’s The Fairytale<br />

which will release soon as<br />

part of the Pure Amore l<strong>in</strong>e of<br />

romances (much like Then and<br />

Now). Beyond that, I’m craft<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a three-book series, The Fishermen<br />

of Antioch. I’m delighted<br />

to be commissioned by Pelican<br />

Book Group for these stories,<br />

and look forward to cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g<br />

our relationship!<br />

How can the book “Then and<br />

Now” be purchased?<br />

Currently, all twelve of the Pure<br />

Amore books are available <strong>in</strong> a<br />

bundle direct from Pelican Book<br />

Group, either <strong>in</strong> e-book, paperback<br />

or a combo at www.pelicanbookgroup.com.<br />

I believe you will receive a bless<strong>in</strong>g<br />

from the book just as I did.<br />

Grab a book for you friends, mom<br />

and daughter. I would also like to<br />

thank Marianne Evans for tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

time out of her busy schedule to<br />

speak with <strong>Faith</strong> Filled Family<br />

Magaz<strong>in</strong>e. We wish you the very<br />

best!


ACTIVATE<br />

Your<br />

<strong>Faith</strong><br />

By Vernita Simmons<br />

Each Christian has been given a<br />

degree of faith. (Romans 12:3).<br />

And we need it daily to function<br />

<strong>in</strong> a world plagued by the decay<br />

of s<strong>in</strong>. We need it daily to handle<br />

our day to day rout<strong>in</strong>e. We need<br />

it daily to believe, even when<br />

our life seems to be fall<strong>in</strong>g apart<br />

and there’s no relief <strong>in</strong> sight.<br />

So, before we get deep <strong>in</strong>to<br />

this topic, let’s defi ne what faith<br />

is. And accord<strong>in</strong>g to Hebrews<br />

11:1 – FAITH Is: Now faith is the<br />

assurance (title deed, confi rmation)<br />

of th<strong>in</strong>gs hoped for (div<strong>in</strong>ely<br />

guaranteed), and the evidence<br />

of th<strong>in</strong>gs not seen [the conviction<br />

of their reality-faith comprehends<br />

as fact what cannot<br />

be experienced by the physical<br />

senses].<br />

Strong’s Lexicon 1680: elpis<br />

el-peace’ – to anticipate, (usually<br />

with pleasure); expectation<br />

(abstractly or concretely) or confi<br />

dence:- faith (1)<br />

4100: pisteuo pits-yoo’-o: to<br />

have faith (<strong>in</strong>, upon, or with<br />

respect to, a person or th<strong>in</strong>g),<br />

by implication, to entrust one’s<br />

spiritual well-be<strong>in</strong>g to Christ);<br />

believer(er), commit (to trust),<br />

put <strong>in</strong> trust with (2)<br />

We all know how easy it is to<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> faith <strong>in</strong> God when life<br />

is good and problems are m<strong>in</strong>imum<br />

and easy to resolve. But,<br />

to keep that type of a momentum<br />

can be challeng<strong>in</strong>g for most,<br />

when hardships are <strong>in</strong>surmount-


able. How does one activate<br />

their faith when you’re endur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

unrelent<strong>in</strong>g trials which dra<strong>in</strong>s<br />

you of your peace?.....Drowns<br />

you <strong>in</strong> sorrow and despair? And<br />

leave you with feel<strong>in</strong>gs of hopelessness<br />

and powerlessness?<br />

How does one carry on with such<br />

burdens l<strong>in</strong>ger<strong>in</strong>g with no signs<br />

of change <strong>in</strong> the foreseeable<br />

future? Well, Beloved… My best<br />

answer to these heart ponder<strong>in</strong>g<br />

questions is simple: No matter<br />

what circumstance <strong>in</strong>vade our<br />

life, we have and always shall<br />

have an astonish<strong>in</strong>g history with<br />

God. Let’s face it! This is not the<br />

fi rst time we’ve had to fi ght the<br />

good fi ght of faith. And guess<br />

what?...... As unpleasant as this<br />

may sound; it want be the last<br />

time, neither. So, hav<strong>in</strong>g said<br />

all that, here is what I do to activate<br />

my faith and hopefully, it will<br />

work for you.<br />

1) Pray without ceas<strong>in</strong>g (I Thessalonians<br />

5:16-18 ESV) ~ Dear<br />

One ~ There is one th<strong>in</strong>g I’ve<br />

come to realize and recognize<br />

to be true, prayer does change<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs for the better. Hence,<br />

when your patience is wear<strong>in</strong>g<br />

th<strong>in</strong> and you fi nd yourself<br />

enterta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g those negative<br />

thoughts. Before you know, it’s<br />

half a year and the situation has<br />

escalated and now you’re weary<br />

<strong>in</strong> well do<strong>in</strong>g. This is why you<br />

may have to cont<strong>in</strong>ue <strong>in</strong> prayer<br />

without ceas<strong>in</strong>g. (I Thess. 5:17-<br />

18) – (Excerpt from my upcom<strong>in</strong>g<br />

book: Neat’s Collection Of<br />

Prayers). Prayer is a channel<br />

between you and God, giv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

you exclusive access to Him<br />

24/7/365 with no drop calls, no<br />

busy signals, no one say<strong>in</strong>g you<br />

have dialed a wrong number,<br />

no plac<strong>in</strong>g you on hold, no sur<br />

charges, no one tak<strong>in</strong>g a message<br />

which never gets to Jesus,<br />

no mach<strong>in</strong>e request<strong>in</strong>g you to<br />

press number 1 or whatever<br />

before you’re directed to God…..<br />

No!......Your earnest Prayers to<br />

God gets His immediate attention.<br />

Trust me, your prayers<br />

will never get lost <strong>in</strong> traffi c. And<br />

Jesus’ answer is never late… It’s<br />

always on His exact precise time<br />

schedule.<br />

2) Give God Thanks ~ In the<br />

midst of all the pa<strong>in</strong> and sorrow,<br />

I opted to give thanks unto the<br />

Lord. And yes, sometimes, I<br />

became frustrated and even<br />

angry. But, I discovered that<br />

there’s someth<strong>in</strong>g beautiful and<br />

tranquil when we take a moment<br />

to thank God. So, I use these<br />

grand opportunities to boast of<br />

the goodness of God as I went<br />

thru diffi cult times. You see - Its<br />

sweet <strong>in</strong>cense com<strong>in</strong>g before<br />

His throne of grace and God<br />

can’t resist such earnest and<br />

s<strong>in</strong>cere gratitude. He will move<br />

that mounta<strong>in</strong> and cast it <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

depth of the sea.<br />

3) I apply Praise and Worship ~<br />

as a weapon of mass destruction<br />

to combat the schemes of the<br />

enemy. Ultimately, I am anticipat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

an extraord<strong>in</strong>ary outcome<br />

because I have total confi dence<br />

<strong>in</strong> God to go beyond the norm.<br />

Thus, I worship the Lord with<br />

my whole heart and passion for<br />

Christ and lov<strong>in</strong>g Him with your<br />

whole heart, m<strong>in</strong>d, soul, strength<br />

and might. (Duet. 6:4; Mark<br />

12:30; Luke 40:27). Now, praise<br />

is easy because it’s celebrat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for what God has done <strong>in</strong> your<br />

life. However, worship is a sacrifi<br />

ce due to be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> “the wait<strong>in</strong>g<br />

room” for delivery to come<br />

forth. You don’t know when or<br />

how, and neither how long. But,<br />

you have to place your spiritual<br />

well-be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to the hands of God<br />

and trust Him, while wait<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

great expectation.<br />

Thus, worship is a time of <strong>in</strong>timacy<br />

between you and the Lord.<br />

It synched your heart with His<br />

heart and keep you forever close<br />

to Him. It br<strong>in</strong>gs pace to your<br />

m<strong>in</strong>d, enabl<strong>in</strong>g you to wait without<br />

grumbl<strong>in</strong>g and compla<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g.<br />

It helps you to stand still and see<br />

the salvation of the Lord.<br />

4) I Wrote My History Report<br />

I’ve ga<strong>in</strong>ed with the Lord ~ I literally<br />

made a list of some of the<br />

toughest and darkest times I’ve<br />

endured and recorded the awesome<br />

outcome. Then, as time<br />

would prevent itself, I utilized<br />

such glorious testimonials to<br />

boast of my magnificent Savior.<br />

For example, several years ago,<br />

I had returned home from visit<strong>in</strong>g<br />

my parents dur<strong>in</strong>g my summer<br />

vacation. Now, before I left, I<br />

had paid off a credit card I was<br />

<strong>in</strong>debted to. Add to this, I knew it<br />

would be a month before I would<br />

receive my fi rst pay check, due,<br />

to the fact that I was a Substitute<br />

Teacher.<br />

When I arrived home, I checked<br />

my mail and guess what?...<br />

You’re not go<strong>in</strong>g to believe<br />

this…… There was a check<br />

from the credit card company <strong>in</strong><br />

the amount of…. Wait for it!....<br />

$400.00, and to this day, I have<br />

no idea why they sent it to me<br />

and nor did I attempt to <strong>in</strong>quiry<br />

about it. And no!..I hadn’t overpaid<br />

them!.......As far as I was<br />

concerned, I left know<strong>in</strong>g God<br />

would make a way out of no way<br />

and He did! Now that’s unshakeable,<br />

unequivocally, it makes no<br />

sense how God will come thru -


faith <strong>in</strong> God.<br />

5) I encouraged myself <strong>in</strong> the Lord<br />

~ As an Indie Author, (self-published)<br />

– I know what it is like to<br />

become frustrated and seriously<br />

discouraged when attempt<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

promote your book. Obviously, if<br />

I don’t advertise and market my<br />

book, no one will know I have a<br />

book published. And I diligently<br />

put <strong>in</strong> the hours and foot work to<br />

get the word out about my book.<br />

Whether thru social media, word<br />

of mouth, contact<strong>in</strong>g Leaders of<br />

church I’m affl icted with, creat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

my own PR Kit, etc; However, it’s<br />

dis - heart<strong>in</strong>g when the results<br />

of my efforts doesn’t turn out <strong>in</strong><br />

more sales. But, guess what? I<br />

encouraged myself <strong>in</strong> the Lord.<br />

I’m not giv<strong>in</strong>g up because I’m<br />

not a quitter. Though, I want be<br />

us<strong>in</strong>g social media as an outlet<br />

to do such, as often as I have <strong>in</strong><br />

the past.<br />

The Lord has given me a new<br />

plan and I’m confi dent, one day,<br />

my sales are go<strong>in</strong>g to sky rocket.<br />

And here is an <strong>in</strong>spir<strong>in</strong>g accolade<br />

from one of my greatest<br />

admirers; Lisa Castracane: “Her<br />

teach<strong>in</strong>gs rem<strong>in</strong>ds me of TD<br />

Jakes of the Potter House, tell<strong>in</strong>g<br />

people to get ready for their<br />

break through or Joel Osteen<br />

who says; “if God has put a<br />

period on someth<strong>in</strong>g don’t put a<br />

question mark on it, but accept<br />

the bless<strong>in</strong>g.” All I can say is:<br />

If you love T.D. Jakes and Joel<br />

Osteen’s books, you’ll go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

love my book(s)! And to the few<br />

who has purchased my book, I<br />

am forever grateful to you for the<br />

reviews and encouragement. I<br />

certa<strong>in</strong>ly, couldn’t accomplish<br />

this without you.<br />

These are only a few means<br />

<strong>in</strong> which you can activate your<br />

faith. Because faith is what you<br />

hope for. It hasn’t manifested<br />

and neither do you know when<br />

the answer is com<strong>in</strong>g. Dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

such times, you can either compla<strong>in</strong>,<br />

become overwhelmed<br />

with doubt and fear or take<br />

authority over such spirits and<br />

make up your m<strong>in</strong>d that if God<br />

did it before He will come thru<br />

aga<strong>in</strong> and aga<strong>in</strong>. Moreover, the<br />

more you activate your faith the<br />

deeper your relationship with the<br />

Lord becomes and you grow to<br />

trust Him more.<br />

Discuss how we can<br />

strengthen faith as a believer<br />

so that we can overcome<br />

obstacles.<br />

I just love this second part. One<br />

of the greatest means thru which<br />

faith can be strengthen is by<br />

proclaim<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>in</strong>fallible word<br />

of God over your life daily. It is<br />

pert<strong>in</strong>ent that you saturate yourself<br />

<strong>in</strong> the word habitually. When<br />

the enemy hear the word of God<br />

from a “show ‘nough” child of<br />

God, that demon began to shake<br />

and tremble. This is why it’s<br />

impert<strong>in</strong>ent not to respond to the<br />

adversary <strong>in</strong> your carnal nature<br />

- (your fl esh). For those who are<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g accord<strong>in</strong>g to the fl esh set<br />

their m<strong>in</strong>ds on the th<strong>in</strong>gs of the<br />

fl esh [which gratify the body], but<br />

those who are liv<strong>in</strong>g accord<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

the spirit [set their m<strong>in</strong>ds on] the<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs of the spirit [His will and<br />

purpose] Romans 8:5 AMP).<br />

When the devil fl ash fear and<br />

the worst case scenario with<strong>in</strong><br />

your m<strong>in</strong>d, you must stand your<br />

ground and resist the temptation<br />

to <strong>in</strong>dulge <strong>in</strong> such heart wrench<strong>in</strong>g<br />

thoughts. I challenge you to<br />

do like David did when the devil<br />

ramps and rage as what he will<br />

do to you. You can shout aloud:<br />

I come to you <strong>in</strong> the name of<br />

the Lord of hosts, the God of<br />

the armies of Israel, whom you<br />

have taunted. (I Samuel 17:43-<br />

45 AMP).<br />

Every day, I arm myself <strong>in</strong> my<br />

awesome spiritual warfare attire.<br />

Put on the full armor of God [for<br />

His precepts are like the splendid<br />

armor of a heavily-armed<br />

solider], so that you may be<br />

able to [successfully], stand up<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st all the schemes and<br />

the stories and the deceit of the<br />

devil. (Eph. 6:10-18) Yes!...I am<br />

armed and dangerous and ready<br />

to thrust the enemy through with<br />

the sword of the spirit. I trust the<br />

Lord no matter what. I know God<br />

is faithful and His word is true.<br />

I choose to believe every promise<br />

<strong>in</strong> His word and I refuse to<br />

be controlled by how I feel. I<br />

dictate to my circumstances<br />

and I chooses to be content.<br />

Come…..Follow Me on this l<strong>in</strong>k<br />

to my website and read My 15<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> Filled Proclamations which<br />

can encourage, <strong>in</strong>spire and<br />

empower you throughout your<br />

day to br<strong>in</strong>g you <strong>in</strong>to the presence<br />

of God. JUST CLICK ON<br />

Neat’s Bio, scroll down to Inspirational<br />

Read<strong>in</strong>gs: Undoubtedly,<br />

you will be blessed and happy<br />

that you did! http://vsworshiper7.<br />

wix.com/godwordsmyvoice87<br />

God loves you and guess<br />

what?...........I do too!


Interview with<br />

Ali Husna<strong>in</strong> based on<br />

actual events<br />

By Robyn Shelbourne<br />

“There aren’t many<br />

people who can say they<br />

were on a terroristf t<br />

“hit list” at the age of<br />

17, but that is one place<br />

Ali Husna<strong>in</strong> found himself.“<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> Filled Family Magaz<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong>terviewed Ali Husna<strong>in</strong><br />

to get his story about his new book “The Cost”.<br />

Zondervan released “The Cost – My Life On A<br />

Terrorist Hit List” by Ali Husna<strong>in</strong> and J. Chester<br />

on March 8, <strong>2016</strong>(Pr<strong>in</strong>t ISBN: 9780310344865,<br />

MSRP: $24.99, Format: Hardcover, 256 pages).<br />

In the <strong>in</strong>terview Ali gave me a brief glimpse <strong>in</strong>to<br />

his book and what we could expect out of it. It<br />

took my breath away and lifted me up just to be<br />

<strong>in</strong> his presence. I want to share with you all of his<br />

words.<br />

There aren’t many people who can say they were<br />

on a terrorist “hit list” at the age of 17, but that<br />

is one place Ali Husna<strong>in</strong> found himself. Born <strong>in</strong><br />

Pakistan, <strong>in</strong>to a prom<strong>in</strong>ent Shia Muslim family; his<br />

life began with wealth and a high rank<strong>in</strong>g social<br />

status. He had everyth<strong>in</strong>g a boy could ever dream


The Cost:<br />

My Life On A Terrorist Hit List<br />

consider that normal, typical,<br />

family life, but all of that would<br />

soon change.<br />

Christianity and Jesus were not<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs that Ali’s family, friends,<br />

or society openly accepted. In<br />

fact, be<strong>in</strong>g a Christian <strong>in</strong> Pakistan<br />

was dangerous and someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that brought shame to your<br />

entire family. It was only through<br />

visit<strong>in</strong>g his grandmother and<br />

great aunt <strong>in</strong> England that he<br />

was <strong>in</strong>troduced to the concept<br />

Ali realized his great aunt was a Christian.<br />

He was angry at first. Questions followed.<br />

He prayed to Allah, ask<strong>in</strong>g him “Why, if he<br />

was so powerful, would he not allow Christianity<br />

<strong>in</strong> Pakistan?”<br />

of, until he met God. Some say<br />

when you fi nd God life becomes<br />

easier, but when Ali found God;<br />

that’s where his struggle began.<br />

To understand how Ali made<br />

it onto that list, we must travel<br />

back <strong>in</strong> time to get a glimpse of<br />

the decision that would change<br />

the course of his life forever.<br />

Ali’s childhood was, <strong>in</strong> many<br />

ways, like any childhood most<br />

of us can relate to. His mom<br />

and dad divorced when he was<br />

young, and he lived with his<br />

mom, step dad, two sisters, and<br />

one step brother. Struggles<br />

after the divorce were there, but<br />

life was overall good. His family<br />

was wealthy and prom<strong>in</strong>ent<br />

enough to have servants <strong>in</strong> their<br />

home for whatever they needed,<br />

even Ali. One of the best memories<br />

he recalls is: each summer<br />

break his family would get three<br />

months off. For two weeks<br />

dur<strong>in</strong>g that time they would go<br />

up north <strong>in</strong> the mounta<strong>in</strong>s. They<br />

sang songs <strong>in</strong> the car, reached<br />

the top of the mounta<strong>in</strong>, looked<br />

out to see different th<strong>in</strong>gs, and<br />

they stayed <strong>in</strong> a hotel. We would<br />

of Jesus Christ and Christianity.<br />

Upon his arrival, Ali realized his<br />

great aunt was a Christian. He<br />

was angry at fi rst. Questions followed.<br />

He prayed to Allah, ask<strong>in</strong>g<br />

him “Why, if he was so powerful,<br />

would he not allow Christianity <strong>in</strong><br />

Pakistan?” He prayed and asked<br />

why they could not believe <strong>in</strong><br />

Jesus and why there was shame<br />

there. He wanted to know who<br />

the true God was, Mohammed<br />

or Jesus. So, he began study<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the Bible and attended church.<br />

Ali felt God’s presence there.<br />

He talked with the pastor, tell-


<strong>in</strong>g him he wanted to see Jesus<br />

Christ. And, <strong>in</strong> a dream, that’s<br />

exactly what happened. He<br />

recalls see<strong>in</strong>g a bright light and<br />

someone stand<strong>in</strong>g there speak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to him. The voice said: “My<br />

son, you wanted to see me, and<br />

I am here. If you obey me, I will<br />

give you eternal life and forgive<br />

your s<strong>in</strong>s.” That was his fi rst<br />

experience with Christ. Ali woke<br />

from his dream cry<strong>in</strong>g, th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

he was go<strong>in</strong>g to die. He knew<br />

that this was real, and that made<br />

him stronger. Through more and<br />

more dreams, his relationship<br />

with Christ grew.<br />

Ali went back to Pakistan with a<br />

softer, more humble heart that<br />

now belonged to Christ. Though<br />

he didn’t immediately tell anyone<br />

that he had converted, his<br />

mother began to recognize a difference<br />

<strong>in</strong> him. Where he once<br />

yelled at his sisters and servants,<br />

he began to do his own laundry<br />

and iron his own shirts. Ali had<br />

more rights as an older child,<br />

and he had grown older <strong>in</strong> age<br />

so his mother assumed that was<br />

the reason beh<strong>in</strong>d his sudden<br />

change. This pleased her. His<br />

father became more <strong>in</strong>terested<br />

<strong>in</strong> his studies, and also did not<br />

question his new demeanor. Ali<br />

quit go<strong>in</strong>g to mosque as often<br />

and when his mother asked him<br />

about it, he said he wanted to<br />

become a more humble Muslim.<br />

He was afraid to tell people he<br />

was a Christian.<br />

Ali told his friend what happened<br />

while he was <strong>in</strong> England, that he<br />

saw Jesus Christ. His friend told<br />

his father who was a member<br />

of a fundamentalist group. The<br />

group discussed the matter at<br />

hand, and the next day they<br />

came to Ali’s school. His friend<br />

asked Ali to come outside with<br />

him, where the group attacked<br />

him. He had no clue why they<br />

were attack<strong>in</strong>g him. A man<br />

stabbed him with a knife, and<br />

he lost consciousness. He was<br />

16. The next th<strong>in</strong>g he knew he<br />

was wak<strong>in</strong>g up <strong>in</strong> a hospital bed.<br />

Ali became a target because his<br />

family was prom<strong>in</strong>ent. Everyone<br />

knew Ali and his family. A normal<br />

converted Christian could have<br />

moved to another city and been<br />

fi ne, but Ali’s family and his conversion<br />

were <strong>in</strong> the newspapers<br />

<strong>in</strong> Pakistan. Noth<strong>in</strong>g was normal<br />

about his situation, and this<br />

made life for Ali very unsafe. The<br />

group attacked his home, forc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

him to move to a new city with<br />

another one of his aunts. He was<br />

not able to hide from them even<br />

<strong>in</strong> a new city. They found him<br />

and attacked his home, <strong>in</strong>jur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

his aunt that later died due to her<br />

<strong>in</strong>juries. Ali escaped once aga<strong>in</strong>,<br />

and lived <strong>in</strong> another city for a few<br />

months. It was there he applied<br />

for a visa and went to London.<br />

His safety still rema<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong> jeopardy.<br />

Three years ago there was<br />

a phone call threaten<strong>in</strong>g his and<br />

his aunt’s safety. He moved,<br />

once aga<strong>in</strong>, for a year and a half<br />

and then was ultimately able to<br />

return.<br />

Through all of his trials and<br />

struggles, Ali still wants to return<br />

to Pakistan and open a medical<br />

facility to support the poor of<br />

his city. He wants to be able to<br />

provide medic<strong>in</strong>e and treatment<br />

while giv<strong>in</strong>g someth<strong>in</strong>g back to<br />

the people <strong>in</strong> Pakistan. They<br />

might be surprised and th<strong>in</strong>k:<br />

“We took everyth<strong>in</strong>g away from<br />

this guy, but he still comes back<br />

and blesses us.” Ali says that<br />

it is not him but God who gave<br />

him this testimony and the heart<br />

to forgive because God forgave<br />

him. He understands that<br />

return<strong>in</strong>g to his city, he could be<br />

killed; but he knows that God will<br />

protect him. He does fear for his<br />

family, though. He wonders how<br />

they will react to him and is afraid<br />

they will be harmed because<br />

of his return. He doesn’t want<br />

to hurt them <strong>in</strong> any way, but he<br />

knows this is someth<strong>in</strong>g he has<br />

to do for God.<br />

What can we do as Christians<br />

to help? We can read his book,<br />

“The Cost”, be encouraged, keep<br />

our faith, and know that people<br />

<strong>in</strong> the US and UK are privileged.<br />

Reach out to Muslims, and pray<br />

for them. When try<strong>in</strong>g to spread<br />

the word, share your story, and<br />

come to them <strong>in</strong> love. Christianity<br />

is a story of love. Act how<br />

the Bible teaches you to act.<br />

Becom<strong>in</strong>g the Bible is a powerful<br />

tool of evangelism <strong>in</strong> Ali’s eyes.<br />

He wants to be a friend and<br />

brother, spend time with and will<br />

pray for all his Muslim friends.<br />

Honesty is very important. He<br />

says that God has given him an<br />

opportunity to share his story<br />

through his own personal struggles.<br />

Because of this he wants<br />

to go back to Pakistan and share<br />

the message with his friends<br />

and family that his God is a great<br />

God. He wants to say: “I love<br />

you, and God has given me the<br />

power to forgive. Our God forgives,<br />

and we have to forgive as<br />

well.” I made mistakes, but God<br />

still forgave and loves me. He<br />

wants people to be encouraged<br />

through their hard times. When<br />

he became a Christian th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

became harder and harder<br />

for him <strong>in</strong>stead of easier. “It is<br />

always worth it, though. God is<br />

powerful. Keep turn<strong>in</strong>g to God,<br />

no matter the diffi culties you


face. God has a plan for everyone.”<br />

Here is a little more <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

on the authors of “The Cost”:<br />

Ali Husna<strong>in</strong> (name changed for<br />

security reasons) is a young Pakistani<br />

refugee evangelist liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

the United K<strong>in</strong>gdom. Ali plans to<br />

return to Pakistan, despite the<br />

fatwa issued aga<strong>in</strong>st him, with<br />

the conviction that God is call<strong>in</strong>g<br />

him to build a medical facility<br />

<strong>in</strong> his hometown and preach<br />

the gospel to the very men who<br />

tried to kill him as a teenager. Ali<br />

plans to return <strong>in</strong> 2018.<br />

J. Chester (name changed for<br />

security reasons) is a writer<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> England. He has written<br />

widely on <strong>in</strong>ternational development,<br />

social justice and has<br />

a keen <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g new<br />

stories to western readers.<br />

This is a book you will want to<br />

purchase to fi ll <strong>in</strong> the blanks and<br />

get the rest of Ali’s story. He has<br />

such a powerful testimony to<br />

share with anyone from any type<br />

of background who might be<br />

struggl<strong>in</strong>g, try<strong>in</strong>g to fi nd their purpose<br />

<strong>in</strong> life, or look<strong>in</strong>g for God.<br />

His words are so uplift<strong>in</strong>g, and<br />

we could all benefi t from know<strong>in</strong>g<br />

there are people out there<br />

just like Ali. You can get “The<br />

Cost” here: http://www.zondervan.com/the-cost<br />

or learn a little<br />

more about Ali here: https://thecost.squarespace.com/home.<br />

A special thank you goes out to<br />

Ali Husna<strong>in</strong> for spend<strong>in</strong>g part of<br />

his day lett<strong>in</strong>g me <strong>in</strong>terview him.<br />

It was a true bless<strong>in</strong>g. I want to<br />

also give a shout out to Heidi<br />

McDow from A. Larry Ross Communications,<br />

who facilitated the<br />

<strong>in</strong>terview. Here is their website<br />

for you to check out also: http://<br />

To Purchase on Christian<br />

Bookstore, Please Click here<br />

To Purchase on Amazon.com,<br />

Please Click here


By Charla<strong>in</strong>e Mart<strong>in</strong><br />

Along the Maumee<br />

River south of Toledo,<br />

Ohio are some very<br />

expensive homes l<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the<br />

river front. On one side of the<br />

river occasionally a home will<br />

disappear, a victim of erosion.<br />

Yellow caution tape appeared <strong>in</strong><br />

its place. The homes surviv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

erosion are set back farther away<br />

from the river edge or up on the<br />

hill across the street also hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a fantastic view of the river. Why<br />

did some home succumb to the<br />

river’s erosive effects and others<br />

did not? Those that fell were<br />

not solidly anchored. The home<br />

owners wanted to be close to<br />

the scenic river view from their<br />

back w<strong>in</strong>dows. They neglected<br />

warn<strong>in</strong>gs that the fl ood pla<strong>in</strong> was<br />

already show<strong>in</strong>g erosion wear<br />

caus<strong>in</strong>g the topsoil to slip out<br />

from under the structure, known<br />

as underm<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. (Bruner, 1970)<br />

This is still a problem today.<br />

Those who were wise stayed<br />

back from the fl ood pla<strong>in</strong> where<br />

the ground was solid.<br />

This situation is a great visual<br />

illustration for a parable Jesus<br />

told. Many of us grew up <strong>in</strong><br />

church learn<strong>in</strong>g the song, “The<br />

Wise Man Built His House<br />

Upon the Rock.” As adults,<br />

we’ve read about the wise and<br />

foolish builders from Matthew<br />

7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49 <strong>in</strong><br />

our devotions or Sunday School<br />

lessons. Do we ponder this<br />

passage when we must make<br />

an important decision? Our faith<br />

can be underm<strong>in</strong>ed by build<strong>in</strong>g<br />

our proverbial house on the<br />

sand, ready to collapse at the<br />

slightest gusts from life. Mak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

wise decisions requires us to<br />

know the character of God while<br />

recogniz<strong>in</strong>g His voice through<br />

His Word, the Holy Spirit, and<br />

other Christians.<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g Contrasts<br />

All we have to do is look at<br />

headl<strong>in</strong>es <strong>in</strong> the news to see<br />

the results of foolish liv<strong>in</strong>g: Hulk<br />

Hogan had sex with someone<br />

else’s wife then discovered it was<br />

on video posted on the <strong>in</strong>ternet<br />

(Hogan, 2014). His shameful<br />

act was exposed to the world.<br />

Follow<strong>in</strong>g Joseph’s example<br />

from Genesis could have helped<br />

him avoid such an embarrass<strong>in</strong>g<br />

revelation. What about a godly<br />

elderly couple celebrat<strong>in</strong>g their<br />

50th wedd<strong>in</strong>g anniversary? It<br />

might appear <strong>in</strong> feel-good posts<br />

on Facebook but rarely does<br />

it get a prom<strong>in</strong>ent spot <strong>in</strong> the<br />

news. The lead pastor of the<br />

Seoul Korean mega church,<br />

the Yoido Full Gospel Church,<br />

embezzled $12 million <strong>in</strong> 2014


<strong>Faith</strong><br />

Or<br />

Foolishness?


7 Pr<strong>in</strong>ciples for Liv<strong>in</strong>g by <strong>Faith</strong><br />

1. What does God have to say<br />

about our issue or dilemma?<br />

Do<strong>in</strong>g a daily dig <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

Bible for nuggets of wisdom is<br />

the best way to start our day<br />

(Psalm119:115). We often skim<br />

the surface for tidbits of comfort<br />

<strong>in</strong>stead of m<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g deep for the<br />

wealth of truth conta<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong>side.<br />

It is not always comfortable, yet<br />

it is very important. When we<br />

need to fi nd someth<strong>in</strong>g particular<br />

<strong>in</strong> the Bible, it will br<strong>in</strong>g light <strong>in</strong>to<br />

the situation.<br />

2. God does not contradict<br />

Himself. If you want to do<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g, but it goes aga<strong>in</strong>st<br />

God’s Word, then it would be<br />

foolish to cont<strong>in</strong>ue that direction.<br />

The timeless pr<strong>in</strong>ciples you<br />

have learned from your Bible<br />

study and devotional time you<br />

can confi dently put <strong>in</strong>to practice<br />

(2 Timothy 2:15,19, Proverbs<br />

3:5-6). You can trust God’s<br />

<strong>in</strong>struction.<br />

3. Look to godly role models<br />

and consider the outcome of<br />

their decisions (1 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians<br />

11:1). Exam<strong>in</strong>e the lives of<br />

Bible greats for examples of<br />

wise liv<strong>in</strong>g, remember<strong>in</strong>g they<br />

were not perfect. What are they<br />

commended for? What were the<br />

results of their s<strong>in</strong>ful areas of<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g? F<strong>in</strong>d a mentor who loves<br />

the Lord and lives out God’s<br />

Word daily. How is God bless<strong>in</strong>g<br />

him or her? What are they do<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that is seen as wise by other<br />

Christians? What are the results<br />

of their faithful obedience?<br />

4. Pray about important decisions<br />

(Philippians 4:6). Mak<strong>in</strong>g hasty,<br />

rash decisions without thought<br />

and prayer will result <strong>in</strong> disaster<br />

every time. Joshua made this<br />

mistake by enter<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to a<br />

treaty with the Gibeonites who<br />

fooled him <strong>in</strong>to believ<strong>in</strong>g they<br />

had travelled <strong>in</strong> from far away<br />

(Joshua 9) Listen for the still<br />

small voice of the Holy Spirit on<br />

your issue (1 K<strong>in</strong>gs 19:11-13).<br />

5. Learn from past mistakes<br />

(James 1:21-25). What were<br />

the results of go<strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>st<br />

wise counsel? Accord<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

one Christian Ethics professor<br />

at a Christian college, “If your<br />

decisions were published <strong>in</strong> the<br />

news, would you be embarrassed<br />

and ashamed for your friends<br />

and family to read about it?”<br />

6. Compare the lives of Christians<br />

versus non-Christians deal<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with similar issues (Psalm 1).<br />

Watch those <strong>in</strong> the news who<br />

are do<strong>in</strong>g well compared to the<br />

lives of those who are not. Note<br />

the differences to fi nd out what<br />

each one did and the outcome of<br />

such decisions.<br />

7. Remember to set the right<br />

example for the next generation.<br />

Be careful to avoid sett<strong>in</strong>g up a<br />

stumbl<strong>in</strong>g block for your children<br />

and their friends (Matthew 18:6).<br />

Often times, we can see our<br />

behavior and words mirrored<br />

by them. When we see or hear<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g undesirable, it’s time<br />

to make a personal assessment<br />

and change course (Romans<br />

12:3). Also, let them know<br />

when God has blessed you <strong>in</strong> a<br />

decision so they learn how God<br />

works <strong>in</strong> our time.<br />

from funds belong<strong>in</strong>g to the<br />

church. Although he did not go<br />

to prison, he was required to pay<br />

a $4.7 million fi ne (Reed, 2014).<br />

It was reported that his son was<br />

probably part of the reason for the<br />

pastor’s disgrace. This Christian<br />

leader caved to temptation by<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g a foolish choice rather<br />

follow God’s command to not<br />

steal from Leviticus 19:11. But<br />

what about a Christian corporate<br />

leader who built up his company<br />

by sav<strong>in</strong>g millions of dollars<br />

through avoid<strong>in</strong>g a bad deal?<br />

Rarely do we see such ethical<br />

bus<strong>in</strong>ess practices held up <strong>in</strong><br />

high esteem. People love a juicy<br />

morsel of s<strong>in</strong>ful liv<strong>in</strong>g to devour.<br />

Foolish liv<strong>in</strong>g draws unsavory<br />

attention. It underm<strong>in</strong>es the<br />

security of one’s life.<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g Examples of Rock Solid<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g this life <strong>in</strong> a world that<br />

operates contrary to God’s<br />

Word is very challeng<strong>in</strong>g. Men<br />

and women of faith face such<br />

challenges through prayer,<br />

Bible study, and trust<strong>in</strong>g God<br />

for the results. Such people are<br />

wonderful role models for us.<br />

There are many examples<br />

of Christians who have<br />

led an exemplary life. One<br />

ord<strong>in</strong>ary Christian man, an<br />

executive director of a YMCA<br />

<strong>in</strong> Northeastern Ohio, sets an<br />

example for those who know him.<br />

Jim was unusual for his position<br />

because he rarely wore a suit and<br />

tie for his workday unless he had<br />

a special meet<strong>in</strong>g that required<br />

one. His mode of dress was<br />

athletic wear. He was frequently<br />

seen putt<strong>in</strong>g toilet paper <strong>in</strong> the<br />

restroom, clean<strong>in</strong>g up spills,<br />

shovel<strong>in</strong>g snow, and stock<strong>in</strong>g


the pop mach<strong>in</strong>es. When he<br />

needed to ask questions from<br />

one of the class <strong>in</strong>structors, he<br />

either waited until the <strong>in</strong>structor<br />

was fi nished with class or he did<br />

the exercise movements as he<br />

spoke with them. He was also<br />

known to help with children’s<br />

swim lessons or basketball<br />

league when there were not<br />

enough <strong>in</strong>structors available.<br />

His extraord<strong>in</strong>ary example<br />

helped young adults advance<br />

<strong>in</strong>to leadership. He was unusual<br />

because he lived faithfully to the<br />

Lord, not cav<strong>in</strong>g to the power<br />

and control of leadership nor<br />

tak<strong>in</strong>g advantage of the people<br />

under his care.<br />

Not all decisions Christians<br />

make have an ethical or moral<br />

basis. In fact, act<strong>in</strong>g on faith goes<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st conventional wisdom<br />

with amaz<strong>in</strong>g outcomes. What<br />

the world, or even many other<br />

Christians would normally do<br />

given unusual circumstances, is<br />

not always the way God wants<br />

to us live. He acts <strong>in</strong> response to<br />

our faith. We can learn so much<br />

from faithful Christians we know.<br />

Carmen Liccardello, known<br />

simply as “Carmen” <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Christian music world, has<br />

different story of liv<strong>in</strong>g by rock<br />

solid faith versus foolish liv<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

He is well-known for his Addicted<br />

to Jesus album released <strong>in</strong><br />

1993, among many others that<br />

topped Christian music charts.<br />

In February of 2013, Carmen<br />

announced offi cially and on<br />

Facebook he was diagnosed<br />

with multiple myeloma, a cancer<br />

that attacks the bone marrow.<br />

He was given three to four<br />

years to live. Carmen endured<br />

very aggressive chemotherapy<br />

treatments and bone marrow<br />

transplants. Instead of gett<strong>in</strong>g<br />

his affairs <strong>in</strong> order, plann<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

die, he chose to follow the Lord’s<br />

call on his life by cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

m<strong>in</strong>ister through music. God<br />

was not done with him. He was<br />

still supposed to reach people<br />

for Jesus through the amaz<strong>in</strong>g<br />

concerts he has long been known<br />

for. He kicked of a Kickstarter<br />

campaign <strong>in</strong> March of 2013 to<br />

raise funds for his “No Plan B”<br />

tour. As a result of Carmen’s<br />

faithful obedience to the Lord,<br />

he has been declared “cancer<br />

free” by his doctors. Carmen<br />

cont<strong>in</strong>ues to m<strong>in</strong>ister through his<br />

music today (Carment (s<strong>in</strong>ger),<br />

<strong>2016</strong>) (Menzie, 2015)<br />

Godly Parent<strong>in</strong>g Sets a<br />

Foundation of Wisdom<br />

If you were blessed with<br />

Christian parents, you already<br />

have a fantastic foundation of<br />

faith. They have <strong>in</strong>vested years<br />

of build<strong>in</strong>g that foundation by<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g an example of how to live<br />

wisely. They have also taught<br />

you what God’s word says about<br />

a number of topics for daily life.<br />

Mom and Dad have prayed over<br />

you and with you more often<br />

than you can count. Th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g of<br />

what they have already taught<br />

you gives you an edge <strong>in</strong> life<br />

(Proverbs 1:8). However, it is<br />

no guarantee you will always do<br />

what you learned. There seems<br />

to be a bit of rebel <strong>in</strong> us that<br />

makes us not want to do what<br />

they said. It’s easy to cave <strong>in</strong>to<br />

our rebellious nature. That path<br />

leads to destruction (Proverbs<br />

14:12, Matthew 7:13). It is<br />

important to follow the <strong>in</strong>struction<br />

of wise, godly parents.<br />

There are many of us who grew<br />

up <strong>in</strong> non-Christian homes,<br />

though. We have several<br />

examples of how not to live. The<br />

diffi culty is learn<strong>in</strong>g what God<br />

says about certa<strong>in</strong> situations and<br />

fi gur<strong>in</strong>g out how apply it to our<br />

life situations so we can beg<strong>in</strong><br />

do<strong>in</strong>g the right th<strong>in</strong>g. Our family<br />

members who are lost will likely<br />

to poke fun at us for liv<strong>in</strong>g by<br />

faith because “the message of<br />

the cross is foolishness to those<br />

who are perish<strong>in</strong>g, but to us who<br />

are be<strong>in</strong>g saved it is the power of<br />

God.” (1 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians 1:18 NIV)<br />

They know what buttons to push.<br />

It is tempt<strong>in</strong>g to cave <strong>in</strong> to keep<br />

peace <strong>in</strong> the family, but at what<br />

cost? There are plenty of godly<br />

people whose example will help<br />

us live a life of faith.<br />

We are also build<strong>in</strong>g a foundation<br />

for our children, then later our<br />

grandchildren. We want to help<br />

them have the valuable wisdom<br />

for liv<strong>in</strong>g by faith when they<br />

become adults. They watch us,<br />

learn from us, and eventually<br />

imitate us. When we make<br />

mistakes, it’s important for them<br />

to know we messed up, why<br />

it was wrong, and what we are<br />

do<strong>in</strong>g to make th<strong>in</strong>gs right. Let<br />

us set the right example for them<br />

now.<br />

As believers <strong>in</strong> Christ, we belong<br />

to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus.<br />

“Jesus said, “My sheep listen<br />

to my voice; I know them, and<br />

they follow me.” (John 10:27). To<br />

those who are evil, He says, “But<br />

you do not believe, because you<br />

are not of My sheep, as I said to<br />

you. My sheep hear My voice,<br />

and I know them, and they follow<br />

Me. And I give them eternal life,<br />

and they shall never perish;<br />

neither shall anyone snatch them<br />

out of My hand” (John 10:26-28).<br />

It takes time to get to know our<br />

Lord’s voice, but once we do, we<br />

will never forget. Our decisions


made by faith will not always be<br />

popular, but they will be right.<br />

We will often fi nd ourselves<br />

walk<strong>in</strong>g alone on a narrow<br />

path (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus<br />

is the Chief Cornerstone that<br />

sets our house straight when<br />

we follow Him <strong>in</strong> His teach<strong>in</strong>g<br />

(Acts 4:10-12). We can be sure<br />

God will never lead us wrong. Our<br />

house will be set properly upon<br />

the Rock, our fi rm foundation.<br />

Although the storms of life come,<br />

we will stand strong.<br />

Charla<strong>in</strong>e Mart<strong>in</strong> is a freelance<br />

writer, personal tra<strong>in</strong>er and<br />

owner of Totally Fit 4 Life www.<br />

totallyfi t4life.net. She lives <strong>in</strong><br />

the Thumb of Michigan with<br />

her husband. Charla<strong>in</strong>e has<br />

three great adult children who<br />

are married and fi ve active<br />

grandchildren.


DISCERNING BETWEEN<br />

GOD, SATAN<br />

& YOU<br />

By Gabrielle M Elisco<br />

Have you ever heard someone<br />

say the words, “God told me..”<br />

then fi nish their statement with<br />

detailed, strategic, well-thoughtour<br />

plans that the Lord has given<br />

them? Have you ever wondered,<br />

“Why can’t I hear God like that?”<br />

Years ago, I would often be<br />

caught <strong>in</strong> a conversation with<br />

fellow Christians and would<br />

stumble across many topics<br />

such as these. I would th<strong>in</strong>k to<br />

myself, “What do they mean<br />

God told them? How did they<br />

hear Him? What does He sound<br />

like?” I would actually grow<br />

quite frustrated at my <strong>in</strong>ability to<br />

hear from Him. Was I not good<br />

enough?<br />

I am sure you have felt this way<br />

at some time or another. Wonder<strong>in</strong>g<br />

where God is or why,<br />

or maybe even how, you could<br />

possibly hear from Him. Before<br />

exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g your ears, let me<br />

encourage you to observe your<br />

eyes and your hands, fi rst. What<br />

does that have to do with hear<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God? Well, my brothers<br />

and sisters <strong>in</strong> Christ, absolutely<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Throughout my impatient journey<br />

as to hear<strong>in</strong>g the voice of<br />

the Lord, I considered what He<br />

might actually say. How would<br />

I know what God would say?<br />

What types of th<strong>in</strong>gs does He<br />

actually speak of? Then, it hit<br />

me. I had to turn to His word.<br />

This is exactly where your eyes<br />

and you hands serve their pivotal<br />

purpose: you need to grab<br />

your bible, fi x your eyes, and get<br />

<strong>in</strong>to the word of God.<br />

As I read through countless<br />

verses which <strong>in</strong>dicated abundant<br />

words the Lord had to say, I paid<br />

attention to what He advised His<br />

people to do. For more depth<br />

<strong>in</strong>sight, the gospels, Matthew,<br />

Mark, Luke, and John, illustrate<br />

the liv<strong>in</strong>g words of Jesus Christ<br />

which <strong>in</strong>clude counsel, advice,<br />

heal<strong>in</strong>g, prayer, and even more.<br />

Once I familiarized myself with<br />

the voice of God, I began to fi nd<br />

myself apply<strong>in</strong>g it to my practical<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g. Those scriptures would<br />

come <strong>in</strong>to my m<strong>in</strong>d and I began<br />

to th<strong>in</strong>k, “Ah ha! The voice of the<br />

Lord.” The more I grew <strong>in</strong> the<br />

word, the more I was able to recognize<br />

my Shepherd’s voice.


Know<strong>in</strong>g the word of the Lord is<br />

essential <strong>in</strong> hear<strong>in</strong>g His voice,<br />

though that is only just the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

There are three steps I like<br />

to consider <strong>in</strong> hear<strong>in</strong>g the voice<br />

of the Lord. First, we must call<br />

unto Him. Second, and the hardest<br />

step, we must wait on Him.<br />

Lastly, once hear<strong>in</strong>g His voice,<br />

we must actually listen to Him.<br />

Jeremiah 33: 3 states, “Call to<br />

me and I will answer you, and will<br />

tell you great and hidden th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

that you have not known.” Call to<br />

Me. There is no ritual, no special<br />

prayer, noth<strong>in</strong>g expect a simple<br />

call unto our Lord, and He will<br />

answer. We need to understand<br />

as Christians that our God is not<br />

a cold hearted God. You may<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k, well of course not, I knew<br />

that. Yet how often do we perceive<br />

God to not answer our calls<br />

or our prayers simply because<br />

we do not agree with His ways?<br />

If we call to Him, though, He will<br />

answer.<br />

As for the second step, which<br />

is the most diffi cult, it is important<br />

to wait on the Lord. Psalm<br />

27:14 says “Wait patiently for<br />

the LORD. Be brave and courageous.<br />

Yes, wait patiently for<br />

the LORD.” I used to place our<br />

<strong>in</strong>fi nite Lord with<strong>in</strong> a timeframe<br />

and pray, “Lord, if this is what I<br />

am supposed to do, show me<br />

today!” Then I would become<br />

frustrated and believe He wasn’t<br />

listen<strong>in</strong>g or didn’t care when I<br />

had not heard from Him. Now<br />

I have learned to pray, “Lord,<br />

show me the way to go.” And <strong>in</strong><br />

His time, not m<strong>in</strong>e, He is faithful<br />

to answer.<br />

Lastly, upon hear<strong>in</strong>g the word of<br />

the Lord, we must be as eager<br />

to listen to His <strong>in</strong>structions as we<br />

are to hear them. Many of times,<br />

when God tells us what we are<br />

to do, it is not easy nor does it<br />

make sense. Our job, out of faith<br />

<strong>in</strong> Him, is to trust <strong>in</strong> His ways and<br />

listen to that still voice. Our God<br />

promises, “I will <strong>in</strong>struct you and<br />

teach you <strong>in</strong> the way you should<br />

go; I will counsel you with my eye<br />

upon you. Be not like a horse or<br />

a mule, without understand<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

which must be curbed with bit<br />

and bridle, or it will not stay near<br />

you” (Psalm 32:8-9).<br />

When Jesus left this earth to<br />

return home to our Father, He<br />

left us with the Holy Spirit.<br />

“If you love me, keep my commands.<br />

And I will ask the Father,<br />

and he will give you another<br />

advocate to help you and be<br />

with you forever— he Spirit of<br />

truth. The world cannot accept<br />

him, because it neither sees him<br />

nor knows him. But you know<br />

him, for he lives with you and<br />

will be <strong>in</strong> you. I will not leave you<br />

as orphans; I will come to you.<br />

Before long, the world will not<br />

see me anymore, but you will<br />

see me. Because I live, you also<br />

will live. On that day you will realize<br />

that I am <strong>in</strong> my Father, and<br />

you are <strong>in</strong> me, and I am <strong>in</strong> you.<br />

Whoever has my commands and<br />

keeps them is the one who loves<br />

me. The one who loves me will<br />

be loved by my Father, and I too<br />

will love them and show myself<br />

to them” John 14:15-31<br />

When you become born aga<strong>in</strong><br />

and <strong>in</strong>vite Him to live <strong>in</strong>side<br />

of your mak<strong>in</strong>g your heart His<br />

home, he <strong>in</strong>fi ltrates your entire<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g and serves as your spiritual<br />

compass.<br />

Here is the key. After cont<strong>in</strong>ually<br />

learn<strong>in</strong>g the word of the Lord,<br />

and actively persist<strong>in</strong>g on call<strong>in</strong>g<br />

upon Him, wait<strong>in</strong>g on Him, and<br />

listen<strong>in</strong>g to Him, we are able to<br />

much more easily discern His<br />

voice. The voice of the Lord<br />

will always, always be <strong>in</strong> alliance<br />

with the scriptures. If you<br />

hear a voice tell<strong>in</strong>g you to alter<br />

the paperwork a little bit, its just<br />

a slight alteration; it’s not God.<br />

For His word declares we are to<br />

speak of truth (Proverbs 12:22).<br />

Or maybe you hear a prompt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with<strong>in</strong> you encourag<strong>in</strong>g you<br />

to seek revenge on that terrible<br />

person that hurt you so deeply.<br />

Also not of the Lord, for the word<br />

encourages us to let vengeance<br />

be the Lord’s and not our own<br />

(Romans 12:19). Know that<br />

those voices, though seem<strong>in</strong>gly<br />

sensible at times, if they do not<br />

align with the word of God, they<br />

are not from God, no matter how<br />

appeal<strong>in</strong>g they may look. God’s<br />

word br<strong>in</strong>gs life, encouragement,<br />

fruitfulness, not anyth<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

will br<strong>in</strong>g harm to ourselves or<br />

another. Those voices are rather<br />

that of the enemy or of our own<br />

self-seek<strong>in</strong>g fl eshly desire.<br />

The next time you feel an aris<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with<strong>in</strong> your spirit to say or do<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g, stop and discern if it<br />

aligns with the Spirit of the Lord.<br />

When He is your guide, you can<br />

not go wrong. It may feel uneasy,<br />

it may not even make much<br />

sense to you, but He will never<br />

lead you <strong>in</strong> a way that does not<br />

align with His God-given dest<strong>in</strong>y<br />

He has purposed for your life.<br />

Gabrielle Elisco is a Foster<br />

Care Social worker from western<br />

Pennsylvania. She received<br />

a Bachelor of Arts <strong>in</strong> Sociology<br />

from Westm<strong>in</strong>ster College. Her<br />

passion is to write about the love<br />

of her life, Jesus Christ.


<strong>Faith</strong> Tested<br />

Will you Pass?<br />

By Brenda Stapleton<br />

I<br />

remember vividly, as a child, star<strong>in</strong>g at<br />

a small, framed picture kept <strong>in</strong> the hall at my<br />

grandmother’s house. The picture depicted two<br />

children cross<strong>in</strong>g a broken bridge. Beh<strong>in</strong>d them, a<br />

guardian angel hovers; patiently, watch<strong>in</strong>g should<br />

the children falter. I would smile as I would pass<br />

the picture. Most people would assume from the<br />

smile on my face, I could have a feel<strong>in</strong>g of security,<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g that angel was also with me. Instead,<br />

I had a feel<strong>in</strong>g of someth<strong>in</strong>g so much bigger. Not<br />

that the angel wasn’t provid<strong>in</strong>g a light, and as a<br />

guide for the children, she was right by their side.<br />

My feel<strong>in</strong>g, was of know<strong>in</strong>g someone had sent<br />

that angel. And oh, that feel<strong>in</strong>g gave me so mucheveryth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

How can you expla<strong>in</strong> at a tender age,<br />

what all you feel, when you fi rst realize the truth <strong>in</strong><br />

the word- <strong>in</strong> God’s words, such as <strong>in</strong> the Chapter<br />

and Verse <strong>in</strong> the follow<strong>in</strong>g ~<br />

JOHN 11:40<br />

“Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that,<br />

if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the<br />

glory of God?”<br />

To th<strong>in</strong>k of God, and all of HIS glory wait<strong>in</strong>g for<br />

me. No, as a child, I would not th<strong>in</strong>k that way, but


as an adult? How awesome it is to know someone<br />

loves me enough to give me the opportunity<br />

to say, “I CHOOSE YOU!”<br />

Everyone goes through troublesome times <strong>in</strong> their<br />

lives. As youngl<strong>in</strong>gs, we do not consider this as<br />

trials. As young adults, we are so busy with life,<br />

we consider it, but we come to the edge of faith so<br />

often, we don’t really want to ask that question, but<br />

it is there. “WHY?” “Why am I go<strong>in</strong>g through this?”<br />

Th<strong>in</strong>k back to the fi rst time <strong>in</strong> your adult life, when<br />

you called out to God for help. Now, th<strong>in</strong>k back to<br />

the fi rst time <strong>in</strong> your adult life you called out to God<br />

<strong>in</strong> praise. Which came fi rst, and which came more<br />

than once? Let’s go back to the word for a m<strong>in</strong>ute~<br />

1 PETER 1:7<br />

“That the trial of your faith, be<strong>in</strong>g much more precious<br />

than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried<br />

with fi re might be found unto praise and honour<br />

and glory at the appear<strong>in</strong>g of Jesus Christ:”<br />

JEREMIAH 17:7<br />

“‘Blessed is the man that trusteth <strong>in</strong> the LORD,<br />

and whose hope the LORD is.”<br />

PHILIPPIANS 4:10


“And my God will meet all your<br />

needs accord<strong>in</strong>g to the riches of<br />

his glory <strong>in</strong> Christ Jesus”<br />

All three verses from the Bible<br />

are say<strong>in</strong>g the same th<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

repeatedly. God is promis<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

meet your needs. “God will meet<br />

your needs?” Do you believe it?<br />

“Trust <strong>in</strong> the Lord, and you shall<br />

be blessed.” Do you know the<br />

word of the Lord, and do you<br />

bathe <strong>in</strong> it to learn more? “The<br />

trial of your faith, more precious<br />

than gold, will be found when<br />

you appear before Christ.” Wow!<br />

What a thought! None of these<br />

say, “Well, you are on your own!”<br />

“Hope you fair, well?” Instead, the<br />

Bible tells us that every promise<br />

has a condition. The more you<br />

trust God, the more God meets<br />

the needs <strong>in</strong> your life.<br />

If you are th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g, “I thought<br />

God loved me unconditionally?”<br />

No, but don’t we? Why shouldn’t<br />

we? We are taught this from<br />

small children, and it is emphasized<br />

as adults. As a parent,<br />

don’t you love your children<br />

unconditionally? I would say,<br />

“Yes, I do.” So, you and God can<br />

love the same, unconditionally?<br />

You have the ability to love, to<br />

sacrifi ce your children, such as<br />

the Lord? I am not equal to God.<br />

So, do I love my children unconditionally,<br />

or does HE not love us<br />

unconditionally. I would say, HE<br />

loves me, yes; but God also has<br />

the ability to make sacrifi ces I<br />

am unwill<strong>in</strong>g to make. Therefore,<br />

if conditions aren’t met, God is<br />

will<strong>in</strong>g to “conditionally” allow<br />

me, or you for that matter, to be<br />

lost.<br />

When I say a condition, don’t<br />

let me discourage you. Let’s go<br />

back to 1 Peter 1:7. What I mean<br />

by a condition is, consider the<br />

word, situation? Remember the<br />

verse says…<br />

“These trials will show that your<br />

faith is genu<strong>in</strong>e. It is be<strong>in</strong>g tested<br />

as fi re tests and purifi es gold.”<br />

Therefore, the Bible tells us that<br />

with every situation that arises <strong>in</strong><br />

your life, there is also a promise,<br />

or a condition you must meet<br />

to with that promise - you have<br />

to trust him. The condition- the<br />

promise – <strong>in</strong> any situation that<br />

arises, to consider the test at<br />

hand, consider what God has<br />

told you. These situations, are<br />

referred to as trials, and through<br />

these, faith is built <strong>in</strong> God. Without<br />

faith <strong>in</strong> God, what happens?<br />

Do you receive the greatest gift<br />

of all from God? We’ll talk more<br />

about that later.<br />

Have you been through one<br />

of God’s faith-build<strong>in</strong>g trials?<br />

Dur<strong>in</strong>g a morn<strong>in</strong>g Bible Study<br />

class, we discussed trials and<br />

faith. The group leader described<br />

two common trials that God<br />

uses to test our faith. Have you<br />

gone through one of these trials,<br />

and if so, did the trial leave you<br />

with an opportunity to develop<br />

your faith further? I asked my<br />

sixteen-year-old daughter this<br />

same question, and she said<br />

she had felt <strong>in</strong>stances <strong>in</strong> her life<br />

thus far, where certa<strong>in</strong> situations<br />

had transpired, mak<strong>in</strong>g her feel<br />

more conscientious about the<br />

decisions she has had to make<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ce then. These she felt were<br />

the result of what we learned as<br />

“The Pressure Test”.<br />

The pressure test is when situations<br />

are based on your ability to<br />

handle stress <strong>in</strong> your life. When<br />

stress arises, what do you do?<br />

Do you handle the stress by your<br />

own capabilities and past skills<br />

developed from experience, or<br />

perhaps you give it all to God?<br />

PSALM 50:15<br />

“Call on me <strong>in</strong> the day of trouble;<br />

I will deliver you, and you will<br />

honor me”.<br />

My daughter said there were<br />

times she had felt pressure from<br />

teachers, pressure from friends,<br />

from the Pr<strong>in</strong>cipal at her school,<br />

from coaches, and even yes,<br />

from me. As a teenager, she did<br />

not feel she should question the<br />

pressure of anyone other than<br />

her friends. Adults such as teachers<br />

and coaches, sometimes she<br />

felt uncomfortable with not be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

able to address her concerns,<br />

and the Pr<strong>in</strong>cipal at her school,<br />

most of all she felt pressure.<br />

However, when I asked her if<br />

she prayed about the pressures<br />

she felt, her response was, “No,<br />

I th<strong>in</strong>k God is too busy to worry<br />

about stuff like that.”<br />

As a mother, I felt a bit worried,<br />

as I thought she should be able<br />

to go to God about anyth<strong>in</strong>g. Yet<br />

when asked about it, she th<strong>in</strong>ks<br />

God is too busy? I did not just<br />

let this go, and as I pursued it,<br />

I found there were th<strong>in</strong>gs, I, too<br />

were unaware of. Why? She<br />

thought, I was too busy as well.<br />

Dur<strong>in</strong>g trials and tests <strong>in</strong> my own<br />

child’s life, she failed the pressure<br />

test.<br />

The pressure test was one test<br />

the group discussed, the other<br />

test was called “the People test”.<br />

This test uses the people <strong>in</strong> your<br />

life to develop your faith. We all<br />

have family and friends. Some<br />

are nuclear, some are extended,<br />

some are church family and


friends, some are school family<br />

and friends, some are work<br />

family and friends, and I th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

you see how this goes. The<br />

more activities and such you are<br />

<strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong>, the larger your community<br />

of family and friends you<br />

have. All of them are <strong>in</strong> your life<br />

for a reason, and God uses them<br />

to help you. I have been told,<br />

sometimes God will remove all of<br />

those people to have you agree<br />

with the worst critic <strong>in</strong> your lifethe<br />

one person who gives you<br />

the most trouble, and the one<br />

person who you need the most<br />

when the decision to get through<br />

these tests occur. That personis<br />

you, and me. For when my<br />

daughter failed the pressure<br />

test, we talked about before, I<br />

failed the people test. I failed<br />

to be <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> the school, <strong>in</strong><br />

the family, <strong>in</strong> the time when my<br />

daughter needed to have me<br />

available to discuss the people<br />

<strong>in</strong> her life, and <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>e.<br />

<strong>May</strong>be you have had diffi culty<br />

<strong>in</strong> your life with a marriage, with<br />

children, or with a career? We all<br />

face disappo<strong>in</strong>tments and there<br />

are many times we feel we are<br />

overcome with problems <strong>in</strong> our<br />

lives, and fewer answers are<br />

present when we look for them.<br />

Does this mean we do not have<br />

faith? Does this mean we do<br />

not trust <strong>in</strong> God? Sometimes,<br />

we get upset and pressured to<br />

reach a solution. We then look<br />

to a family of church friends and<br />

church members. Other times,<br />

we may just reach out to our personal<br />

friends and family, or we<br />

may try to handle the situation<br />

ourselves. Every time you make<br />

a decision to fi nd a solution, you<br />

are mak<strong>in</strong>g a spiritual and courageous<br />

answer. This answer, is<br />

made as a result of the test of<br />

faith. The person who makes it?<br />

Well, we already talked about<br />

who that is. The questions now,<br />

is how?<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> is tested dur<strong>in</strong>g confl ict.<br />

Your confi dence <strong>in</strong> Jesus and<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g HE has promised you<br />

is challenged. So how do we all<br />

overcome these challenges?<br />

HEBREWS 13:5-6<br />

“ Let your conversation be without<br />

covetousness; and be content<br />

with such th<strong>in</strong>gs as ye have:<br />

for he hath said, I will never<br />

leave thee, nor forsake thee; So<br />

that we may boldly say, The Lord<br />

is my helper, and I will not fear<br />

what man shall do unto me.<br />

“I will not fear what man shall do<br />

unto me.”<br />

What proof <strong>in</strong> these words, to<br />

hold and believe steadfastly<br />

amongst the challenges of faith<br />

<strong>in</strong> life! To know no matter what<br />

comes our way, God is for us.<br />

Do you have a challenge aga<strong>in</strong>st<br />

your faith right now? Are you<br />

unsure if you are strong enough<br />

to handle it? Let’s once aga<strong>in</strong>,<br />

remember the word of God,<br />

and remember that every challenge<br />

strengthens your faith for<br />

the next one. You will cont<strong>in</strong>ually<br />

work through them, and you will<br />

not be alone. There will be one<br />

after another, and they will not<br />

come at any perfect time. Just<br />

know that challenges you will<br />

strengthen your faith, right up<br />

until the po<strong>in</strong>t of our own physical<br />

death, which is <strong>in</strong> fact, the last<br />

and greatest test of faith. <strong>Faith</strong><br />

is trust <strong>in</strong> God. <strong>Faith</strong> is absolute<br />

and it can never be forsaken.<br />

So why do we fear, faith? Why do<br />

we fear, trust? Are there times,<br />

we will wonder, “Can I take anymore?”<br />

Is it fear that keeps us<br />

from believ<strong>in</strong>g everyth<strong>in</strong>g we<br />

have been taught? Remember<br />

what Jonah did. In the belly of the<br />

whale, he believed. He remembered,<br />

and if you have faith and<br />

trust the Lord, know<strong>in</strong>g HE is<br />

with you? You are not alone, and<br />

even when you are tired and can<br />

fi ght no more, you can “just be”.<br />

And sometimes, that is greater,<br />

that is better, that is more precious<br />

than anyth<strong>in</strong>g else.<br />

PSALMS 46:10<br />

“Be still, and know that I am<br />

God: I will be exalted among the<br />

heathen, I will be exalted <strong>in</strong> the<br />

earth.”<br />

So many people talk to others<br />

about the problems they have<br />

<strong>in</strong> their daily lives. We are<br />

approach<strong>in</strong>g Tax Season now,<br />

and many people will be talk<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about problems they have<br />

with fi nances. They will tell each<br />

other their sorrows, and how<br />

their lives, their families and<br />

careers will now be affected by<br />

their fi nances. I wonder, just<br />

how many of those have tithed?<br />

I hear many people say, I don’t<br />

go to a church or I haven’t found<br />

a church, so I wonder, why not<br />

tithe to St. Jude’s Children’s<br />

Hospital? Why not tithe to the<br />

any of these organizations? If<br />

you do not have a church home,<br />

then tithe to an organization who<br />

reaches out to others, and helps<br />

support missionaries?<br />

2ND CORINTHIANS 9:7<br />

“Every man accord<strong>in</strong>g as he purposeth<br />

<strong>in</strong> his heart, [so let him<br />

give]; not grudg<strong>in</strong>gly, or of necessity:<br />

for God loveth a cheerful<br />

giver.”<br />

Be cheerful and give freely, as


God loves givers. F<strong>in</strong>d a Godly<br />

organization if you do not have<br />

a church to tithe to, and tithe to<br />

those <strong>in</strong> need, so you are giv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

unto those <strong>in</strong> need. Just as God<br />

rewards those who give, you will<br />

tithe, and your life will refl ect HIS<br />

bless<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> your life.<br />

LUKE 6:38<br />

“Give, and it shall be given unto<br />

you; good measure, pressed<br />

down, and shaken together, and<br />

runn<strong>in</strong>g over, shall men give <strong>in</strong>to<br />

your bosom. For with the same<br />

measure that ye mete withal it<br />

shall be measured to you aga<strong>in</strong>.”<br />

Are you focused <strong>in</strong> your life now,<br />

or do you feel as you are constantly<br />

on the edge of faith? Do<br />

you feel as if you are constantly<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g pushed over one hurdle<br />

after another?<br />

This could be the pressure of<br />

the test, or it could be the people<br />

test. <strong>May</strong>be the Study Group<br />

was correct, <strong>in</strong> these two types<br />

of tests, or is there another?<br />

ROMANS 1:9<br />

“For there<strong>in</strong> is the righteousness<br />

of God revealed from faith<br />

to faith: as it is written, The just<br />

shall live by faith.”<br />

Romans reads …”it is written the<br />

just shall live by faith.”<br />

I have also heard, those who<br />

live by faith are just and righteous<br />

<strong>in</strong> the eyes of God. Does<br />

that mean they are never challenged?<br />

Absolutely, NOT! Whatever<br />

is not done <strong>in</strong> faith by the<br />

righteous, is s<strong>in</strong>. Those who s<strong>in</strong><br />

outside of faith, do so <strong>in</strong> fear,<br />

which is also not of faith. The law<br />

is not of faith, and can never be<br />

justifi ed by faith. Only the faith<br />

through Jesus Christ can be justifi<br />

ed, as this faith br<strong>in</strong>gs us back<br />

to HIM.<br />

2ND CORINTHIANS 5:5-9<br />

“Now he that hath wrought us<br />

for the self same th<strong>in</strong>g [is] God,<br />

who also hath given unto us the<br />

earnest of the Spirit. Therefore<br />

[we are] always confident, know<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that, whilst we are at home<br />

<strong>in</strong> the body, we are absent from<br />

the Lord: (For we walk by faith,<br />

not by sight) 8We are confi dent,<br />

[I say], and will<strong>in</strong>g rather to be<br />

absent from the body, and to be<br />

present with the Lord. Wherefore<br />

we labour, that, whether present<br />

or absent, we may be accepted<br />

of him.”<br />

“For we walk by faith, not by<br />

sight.”<br />

God has a plan for each of us. As<br />

we are born <strong>in</strong>to this world and<br />

we stumble as babies, we are<br />

born, not by sight, but to reach<br />

out to others. We reach out <strong>in</strong><br />

faith, as it is all we know. It is<br />

our nature to learn faith, even as<br />

children. As we grow and learn<br />

about God, we realize it is God<br />

who gives is what is needed.<br />

From our very fi rst prayer, we<br />

learn…<br />

MATTHEW 6:11<br />

“Give us this day, our daily<br />

bread.”<br />

We want our daily bread, don’t<br />

we? And if you love bread,<br />

and I sure do, then every day<br />

when your plate is made, it<br />

isn’t complete without a slice<br />

of it. Sometimes, I want a slice<br />

of white bread, and sometimes<br />

it is wheat. Sometimes, I meet<br />

my family at Outback Steakhouse,<br />

and we get these little<br />

loaves of bread, and they keep<br />

them com<strong>in</strong>g, because I get my<br />

daily dose of oven-lov<strong>in</strong>g from<br />

my dad. His mother, my sweet<br />

grandmother Nolia Stapleton<br />

had bread at every meal. My<br />

grandpa Earl, would tease her<br />

because she would sometimes<br />

be so busy with the six other<br />

courses, the bread would be<br />

the last th<strong>in</strong>g com<strong>in</strong>g out, and<br />

she would burn it. She served<br />

it anyway. And to hear them too<br />

fuss amongst each other so lov<strong>in</strong>gly,<br />

would have my older sister<br />

and I <strong>in</strong> stitches.<br />

These two people were very<br />

<strong>in</strong>fl uential <strong>in</strong> my life as a child,<br />

but they have been even more so<br />

<strong>in</strong> my adult life. They have been<br />

gone from this life for many years<br />

now. My grandfather passed<br />

<strong>in</strong> 1984, and my grandmother<br />

<strong>in</strong> 2000, but their <strong>in</strong>fluence has<br />

grown stronger, the older I have<br />

gotten. Especially when it comes<br />

to my understand<strong>in</strong>g of faith, and<br />

how essential faith and works<br />

are to a life with Christ. For without<br />

it– without the unselfi shness<br />

of the heart, and without faith<br />

driven by work<strong>in</strong>g for God, faith<br />

can not grow, and God’s grace<br />

cannot spill forth onto a heart.<br />

Grace changes everyth<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and grace is everyth<strong>in</strong>g. Grace<br />

changes souls of faith who work<br />

to be saved.<br />

1 CORINTHIANS 15:10<br />

“But by the grace of God I am<br />

what I am: and his grace which<br />

was bestowed upon me was<br />

not <strong>in</strong> va<strong>in</strong>; but I laboured more<br />

abundantly than they all: yet not<br />

I, but the grace of God which<br />

was with me. “<br />

Grace changes s<strong>in</strong>ners <strong>in</strong>to<br />

souls who work to know the


Lord, who yearn to feel the love<br />

of God, and who come to know<br />

the sacrifi ce of God. Once a<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ner and a Christian become<br />

acqua<strong>in</strong>ted with the grace of<br />

God, they will both work for<br />

HIM. Yes, I said, they will both<br />

work for HIM, for the result is the<br />

same. Until works are done by<br />

either or both through faith, then<br />

the works are considered works<br />

of s<strong>in</strong>. Neither is any more for<br />

God, without faith. The church<br />

goer and the murderer are one<br />

<strong>in</strong> the same, until faith and works<br />

are one <strong>in</strong> the same. Until that<br />

person, regardless of status <strong>in</strong><br />

society, walks onto the edge of<br />

faith, and realizes by grace he<br />

has been saved, and not by any<br />

other measure of his own, his<br />

attendance at church, his accordance<br />

as a pillar <strong>in</strong> society or his<br />

love for others will only keep him<br />

connected through faith.<br />

Grace fl ows through faith, the<br />

way blood fl ows through our<br />

ve<strong>in</strong>s, and grace transforms<br />

our lives. Grace does change<br />

us. To recall the strengths of<br />

my own works, I felt worthless,<br />

tired, and never so lost. For with<br />

the strengths, I also felt the failures.<br />

In Christ, we receive God’s<br />

grace through our faith and we<br />

become HIS work of art to do His<br />

good works. God has saved us<br />

to serve and to receive HIS love<br />

and grace. This grace can not be<br />

earned or rewarded.<br />

Ephesians 2:8-10<br />

“For by grace you have been<br />

saved through faith, and that not<br />

of yourselves; it is the gift of God,<br />

not of works, lest anyone should<br />

boast. For we are His workmanship,<br />

created <strong>in</strong> Christ Jesus for<br />

good works, which God prepared<br />

beforehand that we should walk<br />

<strong>in</strong> them.”<br />

Grace is truly, amaz<strong>in</strong>g and the<br />

works for faith, makes us feel,<br />

alive! I have never felt more<br />

alive, than stand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the light of<br />

the Lord. It rem<strong>in</strong>ds me of stand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> the hallway, and watch<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the light over those children <strong>in</strong><br />

the picture. I remember vividly<br />

ask<strong>in</strong>g my grandfather, “Papaw,<br />

where is that light com<strong>in</strong>g from?”<br />

He asked which light I meant.<br />

I asked him once aga<strong>in</strong>, “That<br />

light that is com<strong>in</strong>g from beh<strong>in</strong>d<br />

the angel <strong>in</strong> that picture.” He just<br />

laughed, and said, “You’re so<br />

smart.” It’s com<strong>in</strong>g from heaven,<br />

where we will all be at some<br />

day, walk<strong>in</strong>g the streets of gold.<br />

I just smiled, and asked, “Is it the<br />

gold that makes it light up?” He<br />

smiled and said, “Naw, baby that<br />

is God smil<strong>in</strong>g down on us, and<br />

one day when I am gone, that<br />

will be me smil<strong>in</strong>g down on you.”<br />

I still remember that after all of<br />

these years. I have yearned to<br />

live by the beach for all of my<br />

days and my family still th<strong>in</strong>ks I<br />

am crazy. They say, “You always<br />

say that.” They don’t realize<br />

every time the sun sh<strong>in</strong>es down<br />

on me; the bright light from the<br />

sky, is a rem<strong>in</strong>der of those gone<br />

ahead, especially my grandfather,<br />

smil<strong>in</strong>g down from heaven.<br />

It may not be much to them, but<br />

it is everyth<strong>in</strong>g to me. It is the<br />

light sh<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g beh<strong>in</strong>d the angel <strong>in</strong><br />

a similar picture, that now hangs<br />

on the wall <strong>in</strong> my hall as it did <strong>in</strong>


MUSIC SPOTLIGHT<br />

Body of Christ<br />

By:<br />

Saviela Edwards Thorne<br />

The highly anticipated compilation<br />

album “Let’s Go In” was<br />

released on April 8th, <strong>2016</strong>! It<br />

features Nathan Mellix of Charlotte,<br />

North Carol<strong>in</strong>a, Michael<br />

Durant of Brooklyn, New York<br />

and Nicole White of Myrtle<br />

Beach, South Carol<strong>in</strong>a. BOC<br />

Music hosted an album release<br />

concert was held on Friday,<br />

April 8, <strong>2016</strong> at Ground Zero<br />

<strong>in</strong> Myrtle Beach, South Carol<strong>in</strong>a.<br />

With over 530 people <strong>in</strong><br />

attendance from all over the US,<br />

this concert was defi nitely one<br />

that many will never forget. I<br />

was there to witness this amaz<strong>in</strong>g<br />

concert and I must say this<br />

group has so much to offer to the<br />

Christian Industry. The album is<br />

full of praise and worship with<br />

a very diverse feel! They are a<br />

breath of fresh air with all new<br />

music its one set to impress!<br />

I had an opportunity to sit down<br />

with a few members of the Christian<br />

Rap side of the BOC record<br />

label, who actually performed<br />

that day: Myles “P” Payton,<br />

Corddaro “CORD” Brown and<br />

Cedric “Well Ced” White and DJ<br />

Larry J (Larry Thorne Jr.)


Tell us a little about BOC and<br />

how it was formed.<br />

Well Ced: BOC stands for Body<br />

of Christ. It started out as a vision<br />

and thought. We felt <strong>in</strong> our spirit<br />

that we were hear<strong>in</strong>g from the<br />

Lord and desired to br<strong>in</strong>g Christian<br />

music <strong>in</strong>to the <strong>in</strong>dustry that<br />

we could relate to. God allowed<br />

us to meet and network with a<br />

lot of people and as a result we<br />

started to come together. God<br />

formed this and God gets all the<br />

glory.<br />

Tonight, April 8, <strong>2016</strong>, is the<br />

release of the Lets Go In Album<br />

and You will also be perform<strong>in</strong>g<br />

songs from your album, Delayed<br />

but not Denied that was recently<br />

released as well. Tell us what<br />

the story beh<strong>in</strong>d both albums.<br />

CORD: Delayed but Not Denied<br />

was released <strong>in</strong> Feb, <strong>2016</strong> this<br />

project was a refl ection of our<br />

year <strong>in</strong> 2015. It was a rough<br />

year for us as we experienced<br />

alot throughout that year. We<br />

obta<strong>in</strong>ed a distribution deal with<br />

Sony Red that went sour. We<br />

also had several deaths with<strong>in</strong><br />

our families. But God rema<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

faithful through it all as we<br />

stayed on the course. We were<br />

able to come up with the album,<br />

Delayed but Not Denied and it<br />

has been a success. We were<br />

able to tell our whole story of<br />

what happened with the distribution<br />

deal and the deaths with<strong>in</strong><br />

our families and the test<strong>in</strong>g of<br />

our faith through the trials.<br />

Myles P: Let’s Go In a compilation<br />

CD with music from Nicole<br />

White, Nathan Melix and Michael<br />

Durant It doesn’t matter where<br />

you are and what your situation<br />

is, you can always worship the<br />

Lord. It’s just pure worship.<br />

Nicole White is actually the<br />

wife of Well Ced and Nathan<br />

Mellix is his brother <strong>in</strong> law and<br />

Michael Durant is your best<br />

friend. So what is it like work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and produc<strong>in</strong>g music with<br />

your family?<br />

Well Ced: That’s a great question.<br />

There are great times and<br />

then there are diffi cult times. The


eality is we are build<strong>in</strong>g a relationship<br />

so we understand each<br />

other when times get rocky. You<br />

confront with an <strong>in</strong>tent to reconcile.<br />

We are confront<strong>in</strong>g situation<br />

and tak<strong>in</strong>g constructive<br />

criticism but the end goal is to<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g together the most professional<br />

and most ano<strong>in</strong>ted project<br />

to glorify God.<br />

Well Ced, How do you balance<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g a husband and father<br />

of 3, and be<strong>in</strong>g CEO of your<br />

own record label with 2 different<br />

genres of music (Christian<br />

Rap and Praise and Worship)?<br />

Well Ced: Its actually very easy,<br />

I like everyth<strong>in</strong>g I am do<strong>in</strong>g. Its<br />

time consum<strong>in</strong>g but we enjoy<br />

the fact that we get to come<br />

together and that we have<br />

known each other for years.<br />

Myles P is my fi rst cous<strong>in</strong> and<br />

Cord and myself go way back.<br />

Nicole, Nathan and Michael, we<br />

have all been work<strong>in</strong>g together<br />

for a long time so we understand<br />

each one another. The relationships<br />

we build allow us to work<br />

well together. They build relationships<br />

on their side and we<br />

build relationships on our Christian<br />

Rap side and we all come<br />

together and make it happen.<br />

It’s a lot to balance but God gets<br />

all the glory and he gives me the<br />

strength.<br />

Any Last Thoughts you would<br />

like to share with our readers?<br />

CORD: God is about to move<br />

<strong>in</strong> a mighty way. We are glad to<br />

be <strong>in</strong> this platform aga<strong>in</strong> with my<br />

brothers to worship the Lord and<br />

know<strong>in</strong>g everyth<strong>in</strong>g is genu<strong>in</strong>e.<br />

Myles P: I just want to take this<br />

time to give a shout out to my<br />

fi rst cous<strong>in</strong> and mentor without<br />

him, none of this would be possible.<br />

It’s a bless<strong>in</strong>g and I am<br />

just overwhelmed to see all this<br />

and to be a part of this.<br />

Well Ced: God is good I want to<br />

thank the Lord, my parents and<br />

my pastor they have all poured<br />

<strong>in</strong>to me and to <strong>in</strong>to us. It has truly<br />

been a bless<strong>in</strong>g to have everyone<br />

come together from all over<br />

and support us. The Bible says<br />

when men dwell together <strong>in</strong> unity<br />

God commands a bless<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

only God can do. God Bless<br />

you all! BOC for Life –AGTG (All<br />

Glory to God)<br />

Let’s Go In Album – Lead S<strong>in</strong>gers<br />

Exclusive Interview<br />

Nicole White, Nathan Mellix and<br />

Michael Durant<br />

http://youtu.be/jVHsuIcFd04<br />

Special thanks to the BOC family<br />

and friends and especially to the<br />

back ground concert s<strong>in</strong>gers:<br />

CaTia Mack, Stephanie Mack,<br />

Kerese Clarke, Meagan Bunner,<br />

Meshun Crosby and Kev<strong>in</strong><br />

Slusser and the show stopp<strong>in</strong>g<br />

band members: Sonny Fordham<br />

on keyboard, Trystan Simmons<br />

on keyboard, Tyrese Gillard on<br />

drums, Carols Gillard on bass,<br />

Brent Lee on Acoustic guitar and<br />

Seth Freeze on Lead guitar. This<br />

group made the night magical.<br />

Both albums, Let’s Go <strong>in</strong> and<br />

Delayed but Not Denied are now<br />

available for purchase on iTunes,<br />

GooglePlay, & Spotify. Hard<br />

copies are available at www.<br />

boc-music.com. You can also<br />

connect with them on Facebook:<br />

BOC-Music, Instagram: BOC_<br />

MUSIC Twitter: BOC-Music and<br />

YouTube: TheBOCMusic<br />

iTunes:<br />

https://itun.es/us/96mpbb<br />

Google Play:<br />

https://play.google.com/store/<br />

music/album/Nicole_White_<br />

Michael_Durant_Nathan_<br />

Mellix_Let_s_Go?id=Btddnvfb3<br />

v42iublzrutprjwcmm&hl=en<br />

To Purchase “Let’s Go In”,<br />

Click Here


PLEASE...<br />

Let My Prayers be Answered!<br />

By Cather<strong>in</strong>e Spada<br />

As we seek to follow Christ while liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> this<br />

world we are constantly be<strong>in</strong>g challenged. It<br />

is a cont<strong>in</strong>ual battle aga<strong>in</strong>st fl esh and spirit,<br />

one of surrender<strong>in</strong>g our own will <strong>in</strong>to the hands of<br />

our Heavenly Father. We can experience this tension<br />

<strong>in</strong> an even greater capacity when we feel that<br />

our prayers are go<strong>in</strong>g unanswered.<br />

This struggle is eased by the greatness of our<br />

faith, yet to a degree the diffi culty never evades<br />

us, it rem<strong>in</strong>ds us daily, that to walk with Christ is<br />

to deny ourselves by tak<strong>in</strong>g up our cross and follow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

him (Matthew 6:24). It allows us remember<br />

the promise of eternal life.<br />

So often our prayer life can ebb and fl ow between<br />

the sorrowful cross and a sense of resurrected<br />

joy. We may offer thanksgiv<strong>in</strong>g and place our<br />

petitions before the Lord, trust<strong>in</strong>g by faith that<br />

He does hear us, “And we know that <strong>in</strong> all th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

God works for the good of those who love him,<br />

who have been called accord<strong>in</strong>g to his purpose<br />

“(Romans 8:28). In the thick of our diffi culty, <strong>in</strong> the<br />

moments of fog and cloud<strong>in</strong>ess of unanswered<br />

prayers do we still believe this? When our prayers<br />

seem unanswered are we too chalk ourselves up<br />

as not be<strong>in</strong>g faithful enough? Of not be<strong>in</strong>g a “good<br />

Christian”?<br />

This seem<strong>in</strong>g desolation is a time for us to reaffi rm<br />

our Father’s will and our trust <strong>in</strong> God. It is a time<br />

for us to look <strong>in</strong>to ourselves and surrender even<br />

more to the will of the Lord. To have the words<br />

“Thy will be done” prayed with authenticity we<br />

need to know what it is to wrestle with our own will.


Sometimes, it may seem that the<br />

very th<strong>in</strong>g we desire most is not<br />

answered. We must recognize<br />

that while we are pass<strong>in</strong>g judgment<br />

on God and the fruitfulness<br />

of our prayers we may <strong>in</strong>deed<br />

miss the bless<strong>in</strong>g, the grace,<br />

and the answered prayer before<br />

us. Especially <strong>in</strong> moments of suffer<strong>in</strong>g<br />

we battle with accept<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that God’s permitt<strong>in</strong>g will and His<br />

answer to us is not the one that<br />

we may have asked for. In these<br />

times, as believers, we must<br />

hope and trust that whatever it<br />

is we are go<strong>in</strong>g through we are<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g provided for. Paul rem<strong>in</strong>ds<br />

us <strong>in</strong> his letter to the Romans<br />

that we are to “be joyful <strong>in</strong> hope,<br />

patient <strong>in</strong> affl iction, faithful <strong>in</strong><br />

prayer” (Romans 12:12).<br />

To love God is to embrace what<br />

He gives and what he permits to<br />

happen to us with love. These<br />

moments of affliction along the<br />

journey allow us to build virtue.<br />

They allow for us to recognize<br />

our need for growth, for purifi -<br />

cation, for more love, and ultimately<br />

show us how much more<br />

we need Christ.<br />

Our Lord did not promise us<br />

a fl ight from the human reality<br />

of life and disappo<strong>in</strong>tments,<br />

He offers us a profound way<br />

of liv<strong>in</strong>g with<strong>in</strong> it. The choice is<br />

ours. Through the gift of faith we<br />

are given a supernatural gift to<br />

embrace the physical reality of<br />

this world. Much of what we face<br />

is seem<strong>in</strong>gly unbearable and<br />

often confus<strong>in</strong>g to understand.<br />

The strength to carry our burdens,<br />

to accept what we may not<br />

comprehend, and to embrace<br />

all th<strong>in</strong>gs comes from a relationship<br />

with Jesus Christ. This fi rst<br />

requires love, faith, and prayer.<br />

As we spend time <strong>in</strong> prayer with<br />

our Lord and our brothers and<br />

sisters <strong>in</strong> Christ, we quickly come<br />

to realize that the path toward<br />

hol<strong>in</strong>ess was not a leisure fi lled<br />

Sunday afternoon, but a journey<br />

fi lled with unimag<strong>in</strong>able tribulation.<br />

Let us leave our prayers <strong>in</strong> the<br />

hands of the Lord and trust fully<br />

<strong>in</strong> His answer. Let us not pray<br />

with the <strong>in</strong>tent of our own wants<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g fulfi lled, but rather let our<br />

prayers be known to the Lord<br />

and give Him full control.<br />

Consistently pray with an open<br />

heart and be assured that every<br />

prayer is <strong>in</strong>deed fruitful, even<br />

if an answer is not seen right<br />

away; even if it is not an answer<br />

you hoped for. Let us learn to<br />

cont<strong>in</strong>ually turn to God <strong>in</strong> prayer,<br />

rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> hope, and fi nd comfort<br />

<strong>in</strong> His Word and promise(s)<br />

to us. “For I know the plans I<br />

have for you,” declares the Lord,<br />

“plans to prosper you and not to<br />

harm you, plans to give you hope<br />

and a future.” (Jeremiah 11:29)<br />

Cather<strong>in</strong>e Spada is a Public<br />

Middle School educator and<br />

is currently lov<strong>in</strong>g her new role<br />

as a full-time mom. She enjoys<br />

giv<strong>in</strong>g presentations and shar<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the beauty of the faith. Cather<strong>in</strong>e<br />

resides outside of Toronto with<br />

her husband and beautiful baby<br />

girl.


THE<br />

Aetherlight<br />

Chronicles of the<br />

Resistance<br />

By Vernita Simmons<br />

Welcome Worldbuilder Tim Cleary of Scarlet<br />

City Studios, it is a delight to have you take<br />

time from your busy schedule to be <strong>in</strong>terviewed<br />

for <strong>Faith</strong> Filled Family. Now, Scarlet City Studios<br />

was established <strong>in</strong> 2012 to br<strong>in</strong>g about change<br />

<strong>in</strong> people lives and culture through storytell<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

There is an offi ce <strong>in</strong> both Auckland, NZ and Nashville,<br />

TN, USA. The team also consists of Carl<br />

Becker, Paul Abrahams and Brook Warner. And<br />

a host of designers, consultants, adm<strong>in</strong>istrators,<br />

artists, writers and developers.<br />

Now, you have been writ<strong>in</strong>g all your life which<br />

started when you forged your report card at the<br />

tender age of 7. And I agree, as a former Substitute<br />

Teacher, that it does take much skill (Laugh<strong>in</strong>g).<br />

And you were captured by the power of C. S.<br />

Lewis’s Narnia work.<br />

Now, tell us more about you. Who is Tim Cleary<br />

and what role did you play <strong>in</strong> the design of<br />

the game? What <strong>in</strong>spired you to be part of this<br />

majestic creation?<br />

We’re all storytellers, I just happened to have<br />

been practic<strong>in</strong>g a long time! And I’d like to take<br />

this opportunity to apologize to all of my teachers!<br />

I grew up <strong>in</strong> church—can’t say I was truly captured<br />

by the stories there. I was more excited about the<br />

stories that came out of ma<strong>in</strong>stream culture like<br />

Rob<strong>in</strong> Hood, etc. However after experienc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Narnia—I discovered without realiz<strong>in</strong>g it, allegory.<br />

I started see<strong>in</strong>g the characteristics of Jesus runn<strong>in</strong>g<br />

through many of culture’s stories.<br />

As a youth pastor, I further embraced Story and the


assets to another not for profi t. In an <strong>in</strong>credibly<br />

brave move, they chose to iterate Kids <strong>in</strong> the 21st<br />

century are onl<strong>in</strong>e. They are play<strong>in</strong>g games. They<br />

are engag<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> community through games, be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

enterta<strong>in</strong>ed through games and even, dare I say<br />

it, learn<strong>in</strong>g through games. Who’d have thought!!!<br />

I see that it’s created for “tweens.” Tell us,<br />

exactly what spiritual lessons will be learned?<br />

And how is this game different from secular<br />

games?<br />

Tweens need an epic story to live their life out<br />

of. Humanity is motivated by causes, and when<br />

we are not liv<strong>in</strong>g for a cause, we usually fi nd ourselves<br />

b<strong>in</strong>ge eat<strong>in</strong>g or watch<strong>in</strong>g Netfl ix for hours<br />

at a time.<br />

context of contemporary culture—often preach<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out of the top 40 hits on the radio.<br />

Eventually however, God drew me <strong>in</strong>to the story<br />

of Scarlet City - where I serve as Worldbuilder.<br />

Creat<strong>in</strong>g the world, characters, locations and<br />

meta-story that form the basel<strong>in</strong>e for the artists,<br />

game designers and developers to iterate and<br />

create upon.<br />

Memory verses aren’t epic stories to live out of—<br />

neither are bit pieces of stories taken from the<br />

Bible, and these are often used out of context.<br />

What tweens need to realize is that they’ve been<br />

freed <strong>in</strong> a galaxy disrupt<strong>in</strong>g, time splitt<strong>in</strong>g encounter<br />

with God and are <strong>in</strong>vited to live out of that<br />

story. A story that sees God create—Humanity<br />

rebel and God, <strong>in</strong> His rich mercy save humanity<br />

once aga<strong>in</strong>, sacrifi c<strong>in</strong>g His son. And if that wasn’t<br />

enough, God asks them to jo<strong>in</strong> His family and be<br />

His redemptive agents on earth.<br />

The spiritual lessons learnt will be to acknowl-<br />

Give us some details about Scarlet City Studios<br />

and the brilliant team that forged this<br />

company. How did it become <strong>in</strong>to existence<br />

and how long has the team been creat<strong>in</strong>g such<br />

<strong>in</strong>spirational games?<br />

It all began 70+ years ago as a trust committed to<br />

us<strong>in</strong>g the postal system to reach kids, especially<br />

those <strong>in</strong> rural communities with the Gospel. It<br />

served New Zealand and the world through wars,<br />

economics booms and downturns. However, <strong>in</strong><br />

the 21st century mail has become somewhat antiquated.<br />

Kids no longer play between the letterbox and the<br />

front door--they now play onl<strong>in</strong>e, and so the trust<br />

was faced with the need to iterate or sell up their


edge that story, know it and align your life with it <strong>in</strong><br />

a way that lives out a resistance both <strong>in</strong> the game<br />

and here on earth.<br />

Now, the game is centered <strong>in</strong> the city of Aethasia.<br />

Tell us about the world of Aethasia. In what<br />

way is it similar to The Chronicles of Narnia?<br />

In Narnia, there are Fawns and Centaurs and<br />

magical trees… What type of characters will<br />

the tween expect to see?<br />

Aethasia is a fantastical Victorian steampunk<br />

world - which feels, I guess a little more familiar<br />

than the Fauns and Naiads of Narnia. Everyone<br />

is human unless they’re clockwork robots, and it’s<br />

a snapshot <strong>in</strong> history be<strong>in</strong>g Victorian. Only difference<br />

is that the power source of steam has been<br />

taken to the extreme. Airships rule the skies, and<br />

steam powers almost everyth<strong>in</strong>g! It’s quirky, fun,<br />

and doesn’t take itself too seriously as a world.<br />

Expla<strong>in</strong> the role of the Resistance Academy <strong>in</strong><br />

relation to teach<strong>in</strong>g biblical pr<strong>in</strong>ciples to our<br />

youth? How can they <strong>in</strong>corporate such <strong>in</strong>to<br />

their daily lives?<br />

The Resistance Academy App will make the connections<br />

for Families between the biblical narrative<br />

and the experience the players have been hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

through the Aethasian story with<strong>in</strong> the game. It is<br />

full of learn<strong>in</strong>g eng<strong>in</strong>es and other engag<strong>in</strong>g tools,<br />

all <strong>in</strong>centivized through the game to excite a love<br />

for the Scriptures <strong>in</strong> players!<br />

When does the game launch? How can parents<br />

purchase these games for their tweens?<br />

Is this a game that parents can engage <strong>in</strong> play<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with their children?<br />

The game launches on the 3rd of <strong>May</strong> with Episode<br />

#1: The Birth of the Resistance be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

released. We want parents to be <strong>in</strong>volved! They<br />

will get regular emails regard<strong>in</strong>g what players are<br />

up to <strong>in</strong> the game and how that l<strong>in</strong>ks to the story<br />

of Scripture. Swell as this, we have a YouVersion<br />

read<strong>in</strong>g plan that parents can do <strong>in</strong> tandem with<br />

their kids <strong>in</strong> order to engage on an even deeper<br />

level. As a parent myself, I am pretty excited<br />

about it! Simply head to www.theaetherlight.com<br />

and purchase Episode #1, or fi nd us on the App<br />

Store or Google Play.<br />

Contact me at tim@theaetherlight.com.<br />

Thank you so much Tim Cleary for tak<strong>in</strong>g time<br />

from your schedule to be <strong>in</strong>terviewed by <strong>Faith</strong><br />

Filled Family Magaz<strong>in</strong>e. It was a delight speak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to you. Your courtesy and professionalism is<br />

greatly appreciated. And I highly recommend the<br />

adventurous game, The Aetherlight – Chronicles<br />

of the Resistance which will provide a spiritual<br />

means through which the “tweens” learn that they<br />

can jo<strong>in</strong> the family of God and be His redemptive<br />

agents on earth. And a shout- out to Maureen<br />

Hoganson for facilitat<strong>in</strong>g this <strong>in</strong>terview and<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g sure everyth<strong>in</strong>g needed was provided<br />

and executed on time. God bless the work of your<br />

hands and Tim and the entire team at Scarlet City<br />

Studios.<br />

Vernita “Neat” Simmons ~ Author of “Captur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

The Spirit Of God’s Word with Vernita.” God’s<br />

Word ~ My Voice to encourage, <strong>in</strong>spire and<br />

empower others that they’re valuable and greatness<br />

lies with<strong>in</strong>, their past is over. God created<br />

them to THRIVE! Vernita resides <strong>in</strong> southwest<br />

Florida with her daughter and three grandchildren<br />

who keeps her vibrant and exuberant.<br />

Website: http://vsworshiper7.wix.com/godwordsmyvoice87<br />

Vernita’sBookStore:http://vssorshiper7.wix.com/<br />

godwordsmyvoice87#!onl<strong>in</strong>e-store-/pub2j/<br />

Facebook Page: www.Facebook.com/gloriousworshiper78<br />

How can you and any team member be contacted?


God’s Delays<br />

Are Not Always Denials<br />

By Julie Merr<strong>in</strong><br />

A teenager stands <strong>in</strong> front of a<br />

vend<strong>in</strong>g mach<strong>in</strong>e. He looks over<br />

the selection of junk foodvand<br />

fi nally settles on the item he<br />

wants. He slips four quarters<br />

<strong>in</strong>to the slot. He punches <strong>in</strong> D5<br />

to make his selection and…<br />

Voila!... his snack drops to the<br />

bottom of the mach<strong>in</strong>e ready to<br />

assuage his hunger.<br />

Wouldn’t it be nice if answers<br />

to prayer came so easily? We<br />

decide on someth<strong>in</strong>g we want,<br />

punch <strong>in</strong> the right code and…<br />

Voila!...the answer we desire<br />

appears almost <strong>in</strong>stantly.<br />

Of course, life seldom works<br />

that way. We know that from<br />

experience. Sometimes, we can<br />

identify why our prayers were<br />

not answered <strong>in</strong> our way <strong>in</strong> our<br />

time. Other times, the answer is<br />

a bit more elusive.<br />

Why is it that some of our prayers<br />

seem to go unanswered? Why<br />

are some answers delayed?<br />

Perhaps most important of all,<br />

what are we as believers to do<br />

while <strong>in</strong> wait<strong>in</strong>g mode?<br />

Let’s look briefl y at a few of the<br />

common, most easily understood<br />

reasons that prayers might go<br />

unanswered.<br />

Reasons with<strong>in</strong> us<br />

As human be<strong>in</strong>gs, we don’t like<br />

to admit that sometimes, th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

go wrong because we messed<br />

up. Thus, when someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

isn’t work<strong>in</strong>g out as we want<br />

it to, we might choose to look<br />

at everyth<strong>in</strong>g else but our own<br />

actions to fi nd the culprit.<br />

In truth, though, sometimes, we<br />

ourselves are the cause of the<br />

delay. It is a no-bra<strong>in</strong>er, perhaps,<br />

that willful, outright s<strong>in</strong> on our part<br />

can h<strong>in</strong>der answers to prayer. It<br />

is not diffi cult to understand that<br />

a man who is hav<strong>in</strong>g an affair<br />

cannot expect his prayers for a<br />

more peaceful life at home to be<br />

answered. A woman struggl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with obesity can pray that God


will help her be more healthy,<br />

but as long as she cont<strong>in</strong>ues to<br />

<strong>in</strong>dulge her daily super-sized hot<br />

fudge sundae habit, answers to<br />

her prayer will be slow <strong>in</strong> com<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

There are other, less obvious<br />

ways we can sabotage answers<br />

to our prayers. For one th<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

Peter tells us that our attitudes<br />

toward others can h<strong>in</strong>der our<br />

prayers. This is what he says <strong>in</strong><br />

1 Peter 3:7.<br />

“Husbands, <strong>in</strong> the same way<br />

be considerate as you live with<br />

your wives, and treat them with<br />

respect as the weaker partner<br />

and as heirs with you of the<br />

gracious gift of life, so that<br />

noth<strong>in</strong>g will h<strong>in</strong>der your prayers.”<br />

This <strong>in</strong>struction was given to<br />

husbands <strong>in</strong> regards to their<br />

treatment of their wives, but<br />

the pr<strong>in</strong>ciple applies to all<br />

relationships.<br />

Jesus Himself tells us this <strong>in</strong><br />

Matthew 5:23-25 (NIV).<br />

“Therefore, if you are offer<strong>in</strong>g<br />

your gift at the altar and there<br />

remember that your brother or<br />

sister has someth<strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>st<br />

you, 24 leave your gift there <strong>in</strong><br />

front of the altar. First go and be<br />

reconciled to them; then come<br />

and offer your gift.<br />

True, this is talk<strong>in</strong>g about br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g<br />

our gift to God more than about<br />

prayer, but as br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g the gift<br />

is one side of a relationship<br />

between people and God, it is<br />

not a far stretch see that when<br />

relations with our brothers and<br />

sisters are disturbed, so is our<br />

relationship with God, the only<br />

One Who can answer prayer.<br />

Jesus tells us to reconcile broken<br />

relationships fi rst and come to<br />

Him with a clear heart. So yes,<br />

unforgiveness toward another,<br />

or fail<strong>in</strong>g to deal with areas<br />

where we have offended others<br />

can h<strong>in</strong>der our prayers.<br />

Of course, unbelief can h<strong>in</strong>der,<br />

delay, even outright deny us the<br />

answers God may have <strong>in</strong>tended<br />

for us. We can see this clearly <strong>in</strong><br />

the case of the Israelites after<br />

they left Egypt. You can read<br />

the account <strong>in</strong> Numbers 13 and<br />

14 of the twelve spies sent <strong>in</strong>to<br />

the land of Canaan. Ten of them<br />

brought back a bad report. Oh,<br />

the land was good, but they<br />

couldn’t possibly lay claim to it.<br />

Only two of the twelve looked<br />

at God and put their trust <strong>in</strong><br />

His promises. The people went<br />

along with the unbeliev<strong>in</strong>g spies<br />

and lost their chance to enter<br />

the Promised Land themselves.<br />

Their children had to wait forty<br />

years to see the answer to their<br />

prayers.<br />

Sometimes, answers to our<br />

prayers do not come because<br />

what we are ask<strong>in</strong>g is outside of<br />

God’s will.<br />

James 4:3 says “When you ask,<br />

you do not receive, because you<br />

ask with wrong motives, that you<br />

may spend what you get on your<br />

pleasures.”<br />

In John 14:12-14, Jesus tells us<br />

that the key to be<strong>in</strong>g guaranteed<br />

answers to our prayers is to ask<br />

<strong>in</strong> His name.<br />

“Very truly I tell you, whoever<br />

believes <strong>in</strong> me will do the works<br />

I have been do<strong>in</strong>g, and they<br />

will do even greater th<strong>in</strong>gs than<br />

these, because I am go<strong>in</strong>g to the<br />

Father. 13 And I will do whatever<br />

you ask <strong>in</strong> my name, so that the<br />

Father may be glorified <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Son. 14 You may ask me for<br />

anyth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> my name, and I will<br />

do it.”<br />

This ask<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Jesus’s name<br />

means far more than add<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

tag l<strong>in</strong>e “In Jesus’s name, Amen”<br />

to our prayers. It means tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

time <strong>in</strong> relationship with Jesus,<br />

even as Jesus took time <strong>in</strong><br />

relationship with His Father so<br />

He knew…really knew…what<br />

His Father’s will was. Often,<br />

our prayers are not answered<br />

because we are ask<strong>in</strong>g merely<br />

for what we want rather than<br />

what God wants.<br />

These are just a few examples<br />

of how we can br<strong>in</strong>g about<br />

delays to answered prayer. Not<br />

all delays, however, are brought<br />

about by our own actions.<br />

Sometimes, we are absolutely<br />

clear that the direction we are<br />

head<strong>in</strong>g is with<strong>in</strong> God’s will. We<br />

have exam<strong>in</strong>ed our hearts and<br />

we are certa<strong>in</strong> that no willful s<strong>in</strong><br />

is <strong>in</strong> the way. We are will<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

follow wherever God leads, and<br />

yet we are mystifi ed by the delay<br />

<strong>in</strong> answered prayer.<br />

Incomprehensible delays<br />

Let’s look at a couple biblical<br />

examples of people who were<br />

<strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e with God’s plan. They<br />

had a desire to go where God<br />

led them, yet found themselves<br />

delayed for reasons they did not<br />

understand.<br />

Consider Moses. He had<br />

experienced his soul-shak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

encounter with God at the burn<strong>in</strong>g<br />

bush. After much wrestl<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

fear over his own <strong>in</strong>adequacies,<br />

he came away with a heart


that was surrendered to God’s<br />

will and purpose. He had been<br />

promised that God would set His<br />

people free from slavery, and<br />

that God was go<strong>in</strong>g to use him,<br />

of all people, to accomplish this.<br />

Lay<strong>in</strong>g hold of this promise, he<br />

set out to carry out God’s plan.<br />

Moses met up with his brother<br />

Aaron and, at God’s <strong>in</strong>struction,<br />

they approached Pharaoh and<br />

set forth God’s demand. “LET MY<br />

PEOPLE GO!” Perhaps Moses<br />

expected the ground to shake<br />

and lightn<strong>in</strong>g to fl ash. Perhaps<br />

he thought Pharaoh would fall<br />

on his face <strong>in</strong> submission and<br />

give the command to allow<br />

the slaves to go free. None of<br />

those th<strong>in</strong>gs happened. Instead,<br />

Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.<br />

Far from walk<strong>in</strong>g free that day,<br />

the Hebrew slaves found their<br />

workload <strong>in</strong>creased to the po<strong>in</strong>t<br />

it was impossible to accomplish.<br />

It is not hard to imag<strong>in</strong>e Moses<br />

and Aaron’s grief, dismay, and<br />

confusion as they left Pharaoh’s<br />

palace that day. The suffer<strong>in</strong>g<br />

of their people was greatly<br />

<strong>in</strong>creased that day, and to all<br />

appearances, it was Moses’s<br />

fault. Why was God’s answer<br />

delayed? Moses did not know.<br />

Yet he believed. You can fi nd<br />

the account of these events<br />

and what followed <strong>in</strong> the Old<br />

Testament book of Exodus.<br />

In the New Testament. the<br />

Apostle Paul and his co-worker<br />

Silas journeyed toward Asia <strong>in</strong><br />

obedience to Jesus’s command<br />

to “go and make disciples of<br />

all nations, baptiz<strong>in</strong>g them <strong>in</strong><br />

the name of the Father and of<br />

the Son and of the Holy Spirit,<br />

and teach<strong>in</strong>g them to obey<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g I have commanded<br />

you. And surely I am with you<br />

always, to the very end of the<br />

age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)<br />

They had committed themselves<br />

to the commission Jesus had<br />

given His followers. They<br />

believed His promise that He<br />

would always be with them.<br />

They looked beyond Jerusalem<br />

and Judea to the ends of the<br />

earth. They had a passion to<br />

make disciples of all nations.<br />

They were on track with God,<br />

and their hearts were right. Yet,<br />

the plans they made to go <strong>in</strong>to<br />

Asia were delayed.<br />

In Acts 16:6-7 (NIV), we read:<br />

Paul and his companions<br />

traveled throughout the region<br />

of Phrygia and Galatia, hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

been kept by the Holy Spirit<br />

from preach<strong>in</strong>g the word <strong>in</strong> the<br />

prov<strong>in</strong>ce of Asia. 7 When they<br />

came to the border of Mysia,<br />

they tried to enter Bithynia, but<br />

the Spirit of Jesus would not<br />

allow them to.<br />

They must have wondered<br />

why. At least, they must have<br />

wondered until God opened up<br />

another door of opportunity <strong>in</strong><br />

Macedonia – a door they would<br />

not have been able to go through<br />

so readily had they already gone<br />

to one of the other areas that<br />

had been <strong>in</strong> their plan.<br />

We have looked at two biblical<br />

examples, but there are others.<br />

In fact, the entire Old Testament<br />

looks forward to the ultimate<br />

promise of the com<strong>in</strong>g of Jesus.<br />

Some of the Old Testament<br />

characters lived faithfully for<br />

God. Others did not. Yet, even<br />

the faithful ones had to wait<br />

for their prayers for the com<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Messiah, Jesus, to be answered.<br />

I our time, we still experience<br />

times when our prayers are<br />

delayed, and we are puzzled to<br />

understand why. That delay may<br />

not have the biblical proportion<br />

of the Exodus account. It may<br />

not have the far-reach<strong>in</strong>g<br />

implications of Paul’s missionary<br />

journeys. The pr<strong>in</strong>ciple, however,<br />

is still the same.<br />

I have experienced this k<strong>in</strong>d of<br />

delay several times <strong>in</strong> my life.<br />

One was when I was prepar<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

launch <strong>in</strong>to m<strong>in</strong>istry <strong>in</strong> Southeast<br />

Asia. I had to raise my own<br />

support. A certa<strong>in</strong> amount had<br />

been pledged, and then pledges<br />

stopped far short of the projected<br />

budget. What was go<strong>in</strong>g on? I<br />

was certa<strong>in</strong> God had called me<br />

to leave my home and go to<br />

that new location. Why did the<br />

needed pledges not come <strong>in</strong>? To<br />

make a long story short, I ended<br />

up go<strong>in</strong>g to Southeast Asia at<br />

80% of a cut budget…and found<br />

that what God had provided was<br />

more than enough. My prayers<br />

were answered. They were not<br />

answered <strong>in</strong> the time or manner<br />

I expected, but <strong>in</strong> a way that was<br />

far better.<br />

The adoption of my daughter was<br />

another example of a time when<br />

I was certa<strong>in</strong> I was follow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God’s plan <strong>in</strong> choos<strong>in</strong>g to adopt<br />

her. Yet it took nearly two years<br />

before I saw the answer to prayer<br />

and held the adoption decree. It<br />

was two years dur<strong>in</strong>g which the<br />

question was almost constantly<br />

on my m<strong>in</strong>d. “Why God? Why<br />

is this so hard? Why hasn’t it<br />

happened yet? Why?”<br />

Why the delay?


The fact of the matter is that<br />

we may not always know why.<br />

We may not ever know why<br />

this side of heaven. God is<br />

under no obligation to tell us the<br />

reasons why He doesn’t give His<br />

promised answer as quickly as<br />

we would like, or <strong>in</strong> the way we<br />

expect.<br />

Even so, we can see <strong>in</strong> a number<br />

of biblical examples a few of the<br />

reasons.<br />

In Galatians 4:4a, we read “But<br />

when the set time had fully come,<br />

God sent his Son,..” (NIV) There<br />

was a time chosen by God when<br />

He was ready to set <strong>in</strong> motion<br />

His plan of send<strong>in</strong>g Jesus <strong>in</strong>to<br />

the world. Many generations<br />

had come and gone s<strong>in</strong>ce the<br />

promise of the Messiah was fi rst<br />

given. Dur<strong>in</strong>g that time, many<br />

people had failed to even look<br />

expectantly for the fulfillment of<br />

the promise. Others, though, did<br />

anticipate the Messiah’s com<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and kept <strong>in</strong> step with the program.<br />

This doesn’t mean they were<br />

perfect, but their hearts were <strong>in</strong><br />

tune with the plan. You can read<br />

about some of them <strong>in</strong> the <strong>Faith</strong><br />

Hall of Fame found <strong>in</strong> Hebrews<br />

11. As they found, sometimes<br />

the desired answer awaits the<br />

right time.<br />

Sometimes, there is a delay <strong>in</strong><br />

the ultimate answer because<br />

there is someth<strong>in</strong>g God wants<br />

us to learn along the way. The<br />

Hebrew slaves had lived for<br />

generations among a nation<br />

that did not worship the God<br />

of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.<br />

They saw idols every day –<br />

idols that represented gods<br />

that supposedly had control<br />

over various aspects of life. As<br />

they awaited their freedom from<br />

slavery, they witnessed the ten<br />

plagues that devastated the land<br />

of Egypt. They witnessed God’s<br />

power over all those little “gods”,<br />

as well as His ability to protect<br />

His own people. This was a vital<br />

lesson for them to learn before<br />

they ventured out of Egypt <strong>in</strong>to<br />

freedom for the fi rst time <strong>in</strong><br />

generations.<br />

From the two examples <strong>in</strong><br />

my own life, as I awaited the<br />

ultimate promised answer<br />

to prayer, I learned much<br />

about God’s provision, about<br />

perseverance, about trust, and<br />

about ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g a respectful<br />

attitude <strong>in</strong> the face of opposition.<br />

These lessons, I might not have<br />

learned so well if the answer had<br />

come swiftly.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ally, the delay might come<br />

because God has a greater<br />

purpose <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d. Consider<br />

the account of the rais<strong>in</strong>g of<br />

Lazarus <strong>in</strong> John 11. Mary and<br />

Martha, the sisters of Lazarus<br />

had sent word to Jesus that their<br />

brother was sick. In a sense, this<br />

send<strong>in</strong>g word to Jesus was a<br />

k<strong>in</strong>d of prayer. Jesus did not go<br />

to his friend right away. In fact,<br />

he waited for two days until he<br />

knew Lazarus was dead. Then<br />

he made the journey to Bethany.<br />

Note the words of Jesus to his<br />

disciples.<br />

“This sickness will not end <strong>in</strong><br />

death. No, it is for God’s glory so<br />

that God’s Son may be glorifi ed<br />

through it…. “Lazarus is dead,<br />

and for your sake I am glad I<br />

was not there, so that you may<br />

believe. But let us go to him.”<br />

John 11:4, 14b-15(NIV)<br />

God had a greater purpose. Mary,<br />

Martha, Lazarus, and those who<br />

witnessed Lazarus com<strong>in</strong>g out of<br />

the tomb alive were privileged to<br />

see the fulfi llment of that greater<br />

purpose. We may not always<br />

see the purpose <strong>in</strong> the delays<br />

we experience, but we can rest<br />

assured that God can.<br />

Then there is the ultimate<br />

example of the bigger plan.<br />

Consider Jesus Himself, pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> the Garden of Gethsemane.<br />

He knows the cross is ahead<br />

of him. He knows that the<br />

fulfi llment of the plan made <strong>in</strong><br />

heaven to br<strong>in</strong>g lost people back<br />

to God h<strong>in</strong>ges on him endur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the cross. As God, He knows<br />

what must be done. As a man,<br />

the prospect of such terrible<br />

suffer<strong>in</strong>g is horrify<strong>in</strong>g. We fi nd<br />

this account <strong>in</strong> Matthew 26:39,<br />

42. In agony, Jesus prays, “My<br />

Father, if it is possible, may this<br />

cup be taken from me. Yet not as<br />

I will, but as you will.” After fi nd<strong>in</strong>g<br />

his disciples sleep<strong>in</strong>g, Jesus<br />

goes back to his place of prayer<br />

and makes this commitment,<br />

“My Father, if it is not possible for<br />

this cup to be taken away unless<br />

I dr<strong>in</strong>k it, may your will be done.”<br />

Jesus did not only experience a<br />

delay <strong>in</strong> the hoped-for answer.<br />

The answer He received was a<br />

gentle, “No Son.” And Jesus, with<br />

his heart and will <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e with His<br />

Father’s will, went to the cross<br />

to accomplish God’s greater<br />

purpose. He did not expend time<br />

ask<strong>in</strong>g “Why?”<br />

The Greater Question – Not<br />

“Why?” but “What?”<br />

So what are we to do when<br />

answers to our prayers are<br />

delayed? In light of the fact that<br />

none of us are perfect, it is wise<br />

to give serious consideration to<br />

the possibility that there may be


someth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> our own actions,<br />

attitudes or motivations that<br />

need to be brought back <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e<br />

with God. If we ask the Holy<br />

Spirit to reveal any such th<strong>in</strong>gs,<br />

He will. This is the fi rst “What?”<br />

What <strong>in</strong> my own life needs to be<br />

brought <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e so my prayers are<br />

not h<strong>in</strong>dered?<br />

If, however, the Holy Spirit does<br />

not reveal any fault <strong>in</strong> us, and we<br />

can say with a clear conscience<br />

that we are liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e with<br />

God’s will, we can ask the<br />

second “What?” What do You<br />

want me to learn as I await Your<br />

answer? Ask the question, and<br />

commit yourself to learn<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

lesson well.<br />

Always remember that <strong>in</strong> times<br />

such as these, when answers<br />

to prayer appear to be delayed,<br />

you will be <strong>in</strong> the middle of a<br />

battle. This is the third “What?”<br />

What preparations do I need to<br />

make as I wait? Spiritual armor<br />

is a necessity.<br />

Therefore put on the full armor of<br />

God, so that when the day of evil<br />

comes, you may be able to stand<br />

your ground, and after you have<br />

done everyth<strong>in</strong>g, to stand. Stand<br />

fi rm then, with the belt of truth<br />

buckled around your waist, with<br />

the breastplate of righteousness<br />

<strong>in</strong> place, and with your feet fi tted<br />

with the read<strong>in</strong>ess that comes<br />

from the gospel of peace. In<br />

addition to all this, take up the<br />

shield of faith, with which you can<br />

ext<strong>in</strong>guish all the fl am<strong>in</strong>g arrows<br />

of the evil one. Take the helmet<br />

of salvation and the sword of the<br />

Spirit, which is the word of God.<br />

Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV)<br />

If you know that you are saved,<br />

that you are liv<strong>in</strong>g a righteous<br />

life, that you are ready to move<br />

out <strong>in</strong> obedience to God, and<br />

you have all this fi rmly buckled<br />

about you with an understand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

of the truth, then you are ready.<br />

You are ready to take up the<br />

shield of faith and the sword of<br />

the Spirit, and fi ght the battle as<br />

long as it takes.<br />

Then, there is fi nal “What?” What<br />

is Your greater purpose <strong>in</strong> this<br />

delay, Lord? I may not ever see it<br />

<strong>in</strong> my lifetime, but help me, Lord,<br />

to stand fi rm on your promise<br />

even when I do not understand.<br />

Help me, Father, so after I have<br />

done everyth<strong>in</strong>g, that I will still


nced<br />

ew with<br />

nnedy Dean<br />

By Clive McLaren<br />

Jennifer Kennedy Dean with<br />

her late husband Wayne<br />

Dean formed The Pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Life Foundation http://www.pray<strong>in</strong>glife.org/<br />

<strong>in</strong> 1990 to provide a<br />

m<strong>in</strong>istry framework for the message<br />

they felt called to <strong>in</strong>vest<br />

their lives <strong>in</strong> and want<strong>in</strong>g to offer<br />

resources to the body of Christ<br />

to help develop mature <strong>in</strong>tercessors.<br />

She is the Executive Director of<br />

PLF and a respected author of<br />

numerous books, studies, and<br />

magaz<strong>in</strong>e articles specializ<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

prayer and spiritual growth. Her<br />

book, ‘Heart’s Cry’, has been<br />

named National Day of Prayer’s<br />

recommended resource. Her<br />

book, ‘Live a Pray<strong>in</strong>g Life®’, and<br />

has been called a fl agship work<br />

on prayer.<br />

Widely recognized as an unusually<br />

gifted communicator of the<br />

deep truths of God’s Word, Jennifer<br />

speaks all over the world<br />

call<strong>in</strong>g God’s people to discover<br />

the difference between “a prayer<br />

life” and “a pray<strong>in</strong>g life.”<br />

Jennifer was widowed <strong>in</strong> 2005<br />

after 26 years of marriage to<br />

Wayne Dean, her partner both<br />

<strong>in</strong> life and m<strong>in</strong>istry. They are the<br />

parents of three grown sons.<br />

Jennifer makes her home <strong>in</strong><br />

Marion, Kentucky.<br />

Jennifer is National Prayer<br />

Director and board member for<br />

Christian Women <strong>in</strong> Media, Kentucky<br />

State Director for United<br />

States National Prayer Council,<br />

a member of Advanced Writers<br />

and Speakers Association, and<br />

a member of America’s National<br />

Prayer Committee (National Day<br />

of Prayer), and an advisory board<br />

member for Women’s Prayer<br />

International. She is also host of<br />

The Pray<strong>in</strong>g Life M<strong>in</strong>ute and the<br />

podcast Pray<strong>in</strong>g Life Live.<br />

As I read ‘Synced’ I realised this<br />

book was full of biblical wisdom<br />

and practical applications many<br />

of us need to reth<strong>in</strong>k our attitudes<br />

to pray<strong>in</strong>g. Us<strong>in</strong>g Jesus<br />

as the best person to learn from<br />

with the way He spent real time<br />

with His Dad, listened to and<br />

worshipped Him, then went out<br />

and did what He knew would<br />

honor God, I was challenged<br />

to see prayer as so much more<br />

than I have <strong>in</strong> the past. Jennifer<br />

responds to my questions<br />

the way she writes; full of faith<br />

and clarity, I hope you enjoy her<br />

answers as much as I do.


What do you mean by “liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

synced”?<br />

On earth, Jesus lived a lived a<br />

life so attuned to the Father that it<br />

can only be described as liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

sync. The secret to Jesus’ life of<br />

power lies <strong>in</strong> this: His heart was<br />

perfectly synced to the Father’s.<br />

He had neither action nor <strong>in</strong>terest<br />

that was separate from the<br />

Father’s. “The Son can do noth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

by himself; he can do only<br />

what he sees his Father do<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

because whatever the Father<br />

does the Son also does. For the<br />

Father loves the Son and shows<br />

him all he does” (John 5:19–20).<br />

I noticed an echo of language<br />

between Jesus’ description of<br />

His relationship to the Father,<br />

and His relationship to us, His<br />

disciples. I am conv<strong>in</strong>ced that<br />

Jesus is tell<strong>in</strong>g us that we can<br />

lived synced to His heart just as<br />

He lived synced to the Father’s<br />

heart.<br />

Jesus’ Relationship to the<br />

Father Our Relationship to<br />

Jesus:<br />

“The Son can do noth<strong>in</strong>g by himself”<br />

(John 5:19)<br />

“Apart from me you can do noth<strong>in</strong>g”<br />

(John 15:5)<br />

“The Father … shows him all he<br />

does” (John 5:20)<br />

“I . . . will . . . show myself to him”<br />

(John 14:21)<br />

“I am <strong>in</strong> the Father, and . .<br />

. the Father is <strong>in</strong> me” (John<br />

14:10)<br />

“If a man rema<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong> me and I <strong>in</strong><br />

him” (John 15:5)<br />

“The Son may br<strong>in</strong>g glory to the<br />

Father” (John 14:13)<br />

“Glory has come to me through<br />

them” (John 17:10)<br />

“Just as the Father knows me<br />

and I know the Father” (John<br />

10:15)<br />

“I know my sheep and my sheep<br />

know me” (John 10:14)<br />

When you are liv<strong>in</strong>g synced,<br />

you just fi nd yourself <strong>in</strong> the right<br />

place at the right time with the<br />

right resources. You fi nd yourself<br />

walk<strong>in</strong>g out that which God has<br />

assigned and prepared you to<br />

do. (Ephesians 2:10) God’s will<br />

fi nds you as you go.<br />

How has your life and m<strong>in</strong>istry<br />

experience taught you the<br />

importance of liv<strong>in</strong>g synced?<br />

Life is all about be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the fl ow<br />

of God’s power and provision.<br />

That’s how we live <strong>in</strong> that state<br />

of soul rest Jesus promises.<br />

“Come to Me, all who are weary<br />

and heavy-laden, and I will give<br />

you rest. Take My yoke upon<br />

you and learn from Me, for I am<br />

gentle and humble <strong>in</strong> heart, and<br />

you will fi nd rest for your souls”<br />

(Matthew 11:28-29 NASB).<br />

Jesus promises that when we<br />

learn from Him, when we learn<br />

His secret for liv<strong>in</strong>g synced, we<br />

will have learned to live at rest.<br />

When you know that the heart of<br />

Jesus is communicat<strong>in</strong>g directly<br />

to your heart, you don’t have to<br />

stra<strong>in</strong> and worry and wonder if<br />

you’re where you are supposed<br />

to be. Liv<strong>in</strong>g synced means that<br />

m<strong>in</strong>istry is just His expression<br />

through you. Life is His activity <strong>in</strong><br />

your circumstances.<br />

The spiritual realm is as much<br />

part of our daily liv<strong>in</strong>g as is the<br />

material realm. Because of<br />

the <strong>in</strong>dwell<strong>in</strong>g, present Jesus,<br />

we have immediate and direct<br />

access to the spiritual realm<br />

and all the power and provision<br />

it holds. Jesus is the open door<br />

from earth to heaven. When we<br />

lived synced to Him, heaven’s<br />

power is available for earth’s circumstances.


You have published numerous<br />

books, devotionals and blogs<br />

about prayer; how is this one<br />

different from your previous<br />

writ<strong>in</strong>gs?<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ce the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g of my m<strong>in</strong>istry,<br />

for several decades now,<br />

I have been learn<strong>in</strong>g and then<br />

teach<strong>in</strong>g about the difference<br />

between a prayer life and a pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

life. My foundational message<br />

has been, and cont<strong>in</strong>ues to<br />

be, how to live a pray<strong>in</strong>g life®.<br />

How to live <strong>in</strong> the fl ow of God’s<br />

power and provision and to see<br />

His work unfold as you walk out<br />

your life. It is the grid through<br />

which I have come to view life.<br />

It has been so transformative for<br />

me that I have spent all my adult<br />

life shar<strong>in</strong>g the concept with<br />

others. I still remember when the<br />

phrase came to me and recalibrated<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> my understand<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Not “have a prayer<br />

life,” but “live a pray<strong>in</strong>g life.”<br />

The concept of liv<strong>in</strong>g synced is<br />

another way to understand how<br />

to live a pray<strong>in</strong>g life. The idea is<br />

to see the connection between<br />

prayer and power. In my own<br />

life, as I replaced the thought<br />

of say<strong>in</strong>g prayers—sandwich<strong>in</strong>g<br />

words between “Dear God”<br />

and “Amen”—with the awareness<br />

of be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the fl ow of His<br />

power and provision. I expanded<br />

my defi nition of prayer so that it<br />

<strong>in</strong>cludes the cont<strong>in</strong>ual <strong>in</strong>teraction<br />

between the material and<br />

the spiritual realm—sometimes<br />

articulated, but often simply an<br />

<strong>in</strong>articulate fl ow between His<br />

heart and m<strong>in</strong>e.<br />

A pray<strong>in</strong>g life, then, is fl ow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

cont<strong>in</strong>ually. Prayer is an ongo<strong>in</strong>g<br />

pursuit. Rather than start, stop,<br />

pick up where you left off, you<br />

just learn to live with your heart<br />

synced to His. Yet this pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

life is undergirded and nourished<br />

by daily times of concentrated<br />

prayer. That’s when you<br />

make yourself available to Him<br />

without distraction so that He<br />

can download the content of<br />

His heart <strong>in</strong>to yours and your<br />

hearts can be synchronized.<br />

I wouldn’t say this is different<br />

from my other books, but it is<br />

an expansion of the message. I<br />

keep learn<strong>in</strong>g more about how<br />

a pray<strong>in</strong>g life works, and this<br />

book cont<strong>in</strong>ues to unpack the<br />

great adventure of liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> a<br />

dynamic, excit<strong>in</strong>g relationship<br />

with the liv<strong>in</strong>g, present, <strong>in</strong>dwell<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

present-tense Jesus.<br />

The way preachers exhort us to<br />

live a Christian life quot<strong>in</strong>g various<br />

scriptures; it seems that to<br />

‘be perfect as God is perfect’ is<br />

well above the standard many<br />

of us believe we are capable<br />

of achiev<strong>in</strong>g. So <strong>in</strong> read<strong>in</strong>g<br />

‘Synced’ we are challenged<br />

to have a much more radical<br />

approach to liv<strong>in</strong>g our Christian<br />

life. How then do we re-align<br />

our understand<strong>in</strong>g of do<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God’s will?<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g synced has to do with<br />

meet<strong>in</strong>g the goal, not by harder<br />

work but rather by deeper surrender.<br />

As we sync our hearts<br />

to the <strong>in</strong>dwell<strong>in</strong>g Jesus, He<br />

lives out His life through us<br />

and expresses Himself through<br />

our personalities <strong>in</strong> our circumstances.<br />

Jesus, <strong>in</strong> Matthew 5:48, is<br />

quot<strong>in</strong>g from Leviticus 19:2,<br />

and other places where God<br />

issues the same command.<br />

“Be perfect, therefore, as your<br />

heavenly Father is perfect.” The<br />

Greek word <strong>in</strong> the New Testament<br />

manuscripts is a word<br />

that means to be complete or to<br />

reach the fullness designed for<br />

you. The Hebrew word means to<br />

be set apart for God’s purposes.<br />

So, be perfect does not have to<br />

do solely, or even primarily, with<br />

behaviors. Rather it has to do<br />

with <strong>in</strong>ner attitudes that produce<br />

behaviors. You become holy, or<br />

perfect, by sync<strong>in</strong>g your heart to<br />

the heart of Jesus.<br />

What orig<strong>in</strong>ates <strong>in</strong> the Old Testament<br />

as a command, transitions<br />

<strong>in</strong> the covenant of grace -- <strong>in</strong><br />

which Jesus Himself lives <strong>in</strong> us<br />

-- to a promise. “I promise, you<br />

shall be holy (perfect) because<br />

I am holy (perfect) and I live <strong>in</strong><br />

you and am reshap<strong>in</strong>g you from<br />

the <strong>in</strong>side.”<br />

You say that Jesus’ disciples<br />

recognized a direct correlation<br />

between His life of power and<br />

His life of prayer. What did that<br />

prompt them to ask Him, and<br />

did they become more synced<br />

because of Jesus’ answer?<br />

A pray<strong>in</strong>g life is a life lived on<br />

earth <strong>in</strong> the power of heaven.<br />

The earthly life of Jesus demonstrates<br />

this paradox. The Son of<br />

Man lived every earthly moment<br />

<strong>in</strong> the power from on high. He<br />

lived a pray<strong>in</strong>g life. In Him,<br />

through Him, heaven <strong>in</strong>vaded<br />

earth. His obedient pray<strong>in</strong>g life<br />

was the conduit through which<br />

heaven’s power changed earth’s<br />

circumstances. He lived and<br />

moved and had His be<strong>in</strong>g (Acts<br />

17:28) <strong>in</strong> the atmosphere of<br />

the spiritual realm, though He<br />

walked out His life as a man<br />

tethered to earth just like we<br />

are. From the heavenly realms,


He drew His energy and power,<br />

accessed wisdom and <strong>in</strong>sight,<br />

secured peace and joy. He lived<br />

out of heaven’s resources for<br />

the daily demands of earth’s circumstances.<br />

He lived <strong>in</strong> the fl ow<br />

of God’s power and provision.<br />

The disciples saw this up close.<br />

They knew plenty of formulaic<br />

prayers to say, but they wanted<br />

to know what was different about<br />

Jesus’ pray<strong>in</strong>g that manifested<br />

itself <strong>in</strong> His liv<strong>in</strong>g. They wanted<br />

to know how to pray like He<br />

prayed. His model prayer with<br />

its <strong>in</strong>dex prayers, or its prayer<br />

outl<strong>in</strong>e, showed them the gamut<br />

of the topics for prayer, and<br />

noth<strong>in</strong>g of life is left out. Every<br />

need—physical, spiritual, or<br />

social—is covered.<br />

We know the disciples took His<br />

teach<strong>in</strong>g to heart. As the Holy<br />

Spirit came to impart Jesus’ life<br />

to them from the <strong>in</strong>side, like the<br />

v<strong>in</strong>e’s life through the branch,<br />

they kept learn<strong>in</strong>g to live a pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

life. They <strong>in</strong>creased <strong>in</strong> their<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g of how to pray<br />

like He prays. We, also, are <strong>in</strong><br />

that school of prayer. The more<br />

we grow <strong>in</strong> prayer by experienc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

prayer’s effects, the more we<br />

know immediately when we are<br />

not liv<strong>in</strong>g synced. The Holy Spirit<br />

is right there to nudge and cajole<br />

and woo us back <strong>in</strong>to sync with<br />

His heart.<br />

The classic book on prayer<br />

‘Practic<strong>in</strong>g the presence of<br />

God’ by Brother Lawrence,<br />

describes how the author<br />

developed the discipl<strong>in</strong>e of<br />

‘pray<strong>in</strong>g at all times’ which<br />

radically changed his perception<br />

of God and <strong>in</strong> enabl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

him to be aware of God’s presence<br />

every day. But it seems<br />

that whilst a few ‘special’ men<br />

and women are able to do this,<br />

form<strong>in</strong>g such a deep connection<br />

with God is not possible<br />

with our busy Western lifestyle,<br />

is this true, but if not<br />

why is that?<br />

That book is one of the books<br />

that helped shape my th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

on prayer early on. That k<strong>in</strong>d of<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g is the basis for<br />

a pray<strong>in</strong>g life, for liv<strong>in</strong>g synced.<br />

That is exactly how God planned<br />

that we should live. It is not a life<br />

reserved for certa<strong>in</strong> people, but<br />

for all followers. If you th<strong>in</strong>k of<br />

prayer as say<strong>in</strong>g words <strong>in</strong> God’s<br />

direction, then it will be impossible,<br />

but if you realize that it is<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g with your heart wide open<br />

toward God, then you will fi nd<br />

the key.<br />

If a pray<strong>in</strong>g life is a life open to<br />

God, and if we beg<strong>in</strong> to live with<br />

our spiritual senses alert to the<br />

spiritual realm, it will require a<br />

fully devoted heart. Does it sound<br />

as if God is call<strong>in</strong>g upon you to<br />

live a cloistered life, oblivious to<br />

the many practical demands of<br />

day-to-day liv<strong>in</strong>g? A pray<strong>in</strong>g life<br />

requires no such th<strong>in</strong>g! With the<br />

Holy Spirit as your guide, you will<br />

discover a deeper level of liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and respond<strong>in</strong>g. You are always<br />

<strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g and feel<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

aren’t you? You will learn to<br />

make God the focal po<strong>in</strong>t of your<br />

unceas<strong>in</strong>g thought processes<br />

and fi nd yourself <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong><br />

unceas<strong>in</strong>g prayer. It will become<br />

your soul’s habit to turn every<br />

thought toward God.<br />

Your m<strong>in</strong>d is an amaz<strong>in</strong>g creation.<br />

It functions effi ciently on<br />

many levels at once. It is the ultimate<br />

multitask<strong>in</strong>g software. At<br />

one time you may be driv<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

car, remember<strong>in</strong>g directions, carry<strong>in</strong>g<br />

on a conversation, reta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

a grocery list <strong>in</strong> your memory,<br />

observ<strong>in</strong>g the time, and on and<br />

on and on. There are mental processes<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g on that you are not<br />

even aware of. Consider this:<br />

At one of those levels, prayer<br />

is always go<strong>in</strong>g on. This is true<br />

because the Spirit of Christ lives<br />

<strong>in</strong> you and He is always pray<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Sometimes, prayer is at the<br />

most conscious and aware level<br />

of thought. Other times it is down<br />

a level or two. Once I realized<br />

that, it became easier and more<br />

natural for me to switch back and<br />

forth — to br<strong>in</strong>g prayer back to<br />

the higher awareness level more<br />

often and more spontaneously.<br />

Expla<strong>in</strong> what you mean by<br />

“the <strong>in</strong>timacy of our.”<br />

In unpack<strong>in</strong>g the Lord’s Prayer<br />

as the anchor po<strong>in</strong>ts for liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

synced, I got caught up <strong>in</strong> the<br />

word “our.” Much has been written<br />

about the <strong>in</strong>clusiveness of<br />

teach<strong>in</strong>g our Father, and I agree<br />

that is signifi cant. But I wanted<br />

to camp on another aspect of<br />

“our”. Remember that Jesus is<br />

teach<strong>in</strong>g you and me to say “our<br />

Father.” Who’s <strong>in</strong>cluded <strong>in</strong> the<br />

‘our’? Jesus. Jesus is <strong>in</strong>vit<strong>in</strong>g<br />

us <strong>in</strong>to His very own relationship<br />

with the Father. He’s say<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

“My Father and your Father. Our<br />

Father.” He is br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g us <strong>in</strong>to<br />

His circle.<br />

What’s His is yours. He has<br />

opened heaven’s coffers and<br />

made the riches and power of<br />

the spiritual realm available to<br />

us just as His fi rst disciples saw<br />

heaven’s resources available to<br />

Jesus as He walked out life on<br />

earth as a man.<br />

Not only does the <strong>in</strong>timacy of our<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g you <strong>in</strong>to possession of His


esources, but it also br<strong>in</strong>gs you<br />

<strong>in</strong>to the unique communion that<br />

is the experience of the Godhead.<br />

You are pulled <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

circle of love and fellowship that<br />

exists among the Father, Son<br />

and Spirit.<br />

In John 17:23, Jesus says, “:<br />

“Then the world will know that<br />

you sent me and have loved<br />

them just as you have loved<br />

me...” The Father loves you<br />

and me the same way He loves<br />

Jesus. Our Father, says Jesus.<br />

How do we hallow His Name?<br />

To hallow the name of God<br />

<strong>in</strong>volves more than simply to<br />

say it reverently and not to use<br />

it <strong>in</strong> base ways. It has to do with<br />

more than say<strong>in</strong>g the name. It<br />

primarily has to do with liv<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

name. This petition is an urgent<br />

plea that God would hallow His<br />

own name; that He would cause<br />

His name to be set apart and<br />

treated reverently by the way<br />

He reveals Himself through His<br />

people. We—His people—are<br />

His self-revelation. He tells His<br />

story through our stories. It has<br />

always been so. The stories <strong>in</strong><br />

Scripture are not stories about<br />

people, but rather stories about<br />

God as He reveals Himself <strong>in</strong> the<br />

lives of people. God is always<br />

the ma<strong>in</strong> character, and every<br />

story’s purpose is to reveal God’s<br />

nature and His action <strong>in</strong> the lives<br />

of His people.<br />

Jesus lived synced to the heart of<br />

the Father, and so revealed the<br />

Father on earth. Jesus offered<br />

His every-m<strong>in</strong>ute-of-the-daylife<br />

as the sett<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> which the<br />

Father could hallow His name.<br />

Jesus said this to His disciples:<br />

“Don’t you believe that I am <strong>in</strong><br />

the Father, and that the Father<br />

is <strong>in</strong> me? The words I say to you<br />

are not just my own. Rather, it is<br />

the Father, liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> me, who is<br />

do<strong>in</strong>g his work. Believe me when<br />

I say that I am <strong>in</strong> the Father<br />

and the Father is <strong>in</strong> me; or at<br />

least believe on the evidence<br />

of the miracles themselves”<br />

(John 14:10-11). He made the<br />

case time and aga<strong>in</strong> that the<br />

works the Father accomplished<br />

through Him were evidence of<br />

the Father. Jesus was not br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the spotlight to bear on Himself,<br />

but <strong>in</strong>stead was reveal<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the Father. Jesus, synced to the<br />

Father, was the vehicle through<br />

whom the Father worked <strong>in</strong> the<br />

world. Through Jesus, the Father<br />

hallowed His name.<br />

That’s how it looks to live synced.<br />

Available to Jesus like Jesus<br />

was available to the Father. The<br />

whole tone of your life will be<br />

Him. He will act through you <strong>in</strong><br />

ways that can’t be accomplished<br />

by your best efforts or your own<br />

abilities. By Jesus’ life through<br />

us, the Father will hallow His<br />

name.<br />

In liv<strong>in</strong>g synced, why is it<br />

important to be <strong>in</strong> His will?<br />

His will for your life, and <strong>in</strong> every<br />

moment or every situation, is part<br />

of a bigger plan. You can’t isolate<br />

situations and live circumstance<br />

by circumstance. God’s will is<br />

cohesive and is fl ow<strong>in</strong>g from<br />

one event to the next. Life’s happen<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

are not random, but are<br />

strategically arranged and His<br />

will is ty<strong>in</strong>g them all together <strong>in</strong>to<br />

a comprehensive whole. Liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

synced will put you smack-dab<br />

<strong>in</strong> the middle of what God has<br />

arranged and prepared for you.<br />

Those assignments will show up<br />

<strong>in</strong> your life without you seek<strong>in</strong>g<br />

them out.<br />

When Jesus’ assignments found<br />

Him, they were prepared and set<br />

up <strong>in</strong> advance. They didn’t come<br />

too early <strong>in</strong> His m<strong>in</strong>istry, or too<br />

late. Notice how Jesus seemed<br />

to be able to speak great wisdom<br />

and depth off-the-cuff, on the<br />

spur of the moment. Don’t you<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k that is because He had<br />

given great thought <strong>in</strong> prayer to<br />

these th<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> advance? Not<br />

only are His assignments prepared<br />

for Him, but also He is<br />

prepared for His assignments.<br />

It is the same with us. Synced to<br />

Jesus, He will never call us <strong>in</strong>to<br />

a moment for which He has not<br />

prepared us, and prepared for<br />

us. Our response to His call <strong>in</strong><br />

that moment will fl ow naturally.<br />

We won’t have to sweat and<br />

struggle and anguish. All the<br />

pieces come together and dovetail<br />

<strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>stant and we allow<br />

Him to hallow His name through<br />

us. These assignments are only<br />

occasionally big and dramatic.<br />

Usually, it is just the everyday<br />

<strong>in</strong>teractions and events as we<br />

live our lives <strong>in</strong> fairly rout<strong>in</strong>e<br />

ways. We are always on call.<br />

Do you th<strong>in</strong>k that when we say<br />

‘Your will be done’ if we knew<br />

this was actually go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

happen <strong>in</strong> our lives, we might<br />

not want to allow Him to really<br />

take complete control of our<br />

lives?<br />

I th<strong>in</strong>k that if we knew the whole<br />

picture, we would embrace it<br />

every time. If we just knew a<br />

piece of the journey—if we just<br />

had a sliver of the view—we<br />

might draw back. But if we could<br />

see it all the way to the end, we<br />

could see the end from beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g—have<br />

a God’s eye view—<br />

we would rush to surrender.


When you discover the great<br />

truth that prayer activates the<br />

specifi c will of God <strong>in</strong> a situation,<br />

the thought will be restful only if<br />

you have moved to the place of<br />

will<strong>in</strong>g the will of God. Often we<br />

can have an underly<strong>in</strong>g sense<br />

that God’s will is someth<strong>in</strong>g we<br />

have to bear up under or settle<br />

for.<br />

God’s will, we th<strong>in</strong>k, is<br />

diffi cult and oppressive.<br />

In Romans 12:2, Paul<br />

described God’s will<br />

with three words: good,<br />

pleas<strong>in</strong>g, and perfect.<br />

Greek words used might<br />

be translated “benefi<br />

cial,” “br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g pleasure,”<br />

and “a perfect fi t.”<br />

Only when you come<br />

to know God through<br />

experience—when you<br />

have put His will to the<br />

test and have fi rsthand<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g that it is<br />

good—can you fi nd rest<br />

and peace <strong>in</strong> the thought<br />

of His will be<strong>in</strong>g done.<br />

But the secret to experienc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God this way<br />

is that you fi rst have to<br />

obey Him and surrender<br />

to Him <strong>in</strong> order to put His<br />

will to the test. You have<br />

to take the one step <strong>in</strong><br />

front of you. You have to<br />

abandon the old familiar<br />

fl esh-ways.<br />

Many Christians have at times<br />

lived <strong>in</strong> sync with Jesus and<br />

thereby experienced joy and<br />

peace; yet most of the time<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d enter<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to that place of<br />

a deeply prayerful life is like<br />

try<strong>in</strong>g to catch the w<strong>in</strong>d. What<br />

obstacles do you suggest get<br />

<strong>in</strong> the way of a believer walk<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with Jesus rather than<br />

seem<strong>in</strong>gly try<strong>in</strong>g to catch up<br />

with Him?<br />

I th<strong>in</strong>k the ma<strong>in</strong> obstacle is th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

it all depends on you. Or, not<br />

believ<strong>in</strong>g that a connected life<br />

is realistic. We don’t realize that<br />

God has designed our bra<strong>in</strong>s so<br />

that we can live synced because<br />

He has designed our bra<strong>in</strong>s<br />

to operate effi ciently on many<br />

levels at one time. Or we th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

that prayer is only happen<strong>in</strong>g<br />

when we are say<strong>in</strong>g words <strong>in</strong><br />

sentences with nouns and verbs<br />

and modifi ers.<br />

You need to realize how completely<br />

Jesus has given Himself<br />

to you so that He is fully available<br />

to you and can accomplish<br />

<strong>in</strong> you what He requires of you.<br />

You just have to ask, “Jesus,<br />

teach me what it means to live<br />

synced to you,” and He will do it.<br />

What is the tie-<strong>in</strong> between<br />

“Your k<strong>in</strong>gdom come” and<br />

‘Your will be done”?<br />

“Your k<strong>in</strong>gdom come, your will be<br />

done, on earth as it is <strong>in</strong><br />

heaven” (Matthew 6:10).<br />

These three l<strong>in</strong>es are all<br />

one petition. “Your k<strong>in</strong>gdom<br />

come” and “your<br />

will be done” and “on<br />

earth as it is <strong>in</strong> heaven’<br />

are three ways of say<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the same th<strong>in</strong>g. This is<br />

a common Hebrew literary<br />

device. Each phrase<br />

adds to the fullness of<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g, but they<br />

are say<strong>in</strong>g the same<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> different ways. It<br />

<strong>in</strong>forms us that the k<strong>in</strong>gdom<br />

of God is present<br />

where the will of God<br />

is done. Where the will<br />

of God is done, heaven<br />

has <strong>in</strong>vaded earth and<br />

the k<strong>in</strong>gdom is present.<br />

The k<strong>in</strong>gdom is not<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g only for the<br />

future, but is present<br />

right now. When we<br />

exam<strong>in</strong>ed the heavenly<br />

realms, and saw the<br />

Scripture says the heavenly<br />

realms are available<br />

as our present-tense<br />

reality, we beg<strong>in</strong> to see the k<strong>in</strong>gdom.<br />

The k<strong>in</strong>gdom of God – or<br />

k<strong>in</strong>gdom of heaven—is the spiritual<br />

dimension of our day-to-day<br />

experience, and it is where the<br />

power is.<br />

How does the idea of manna<br />

correlate with the petition to<br />

give us today our daily bread?<br />

Prayer is <strong>in</strong>tended to access


all the provision that God has<br />

for us, and that <strong>in</strong>cludes our<br />

physical needs. But the way He<br />

prays this petition gives us much<br />

<strong>in</strong>sight <strong>in</strong>to what it means to live<br />

synced to Jesus’ heart the way<br />

He lived synced to the Father’s<br />

heart.<br />

God created us so that we have<br />

needs. He could have designed<br />

us to be self-suffi cient. He could<br />

have made us so that, for example<br />

like the turtle, we carry shelter<br />

around with us as part of our<br />

makeup. But He made us with<br />

needs. He created us with needs<br />

so that those needs would be<br />

entry po<strong>in</strong>ts for Him. Our needs<br />

are to drive us to His supply.<br />

God is very focused on keep<strong>in</strong>g<br />

us present <strong>in</strong> the moment we are<br />

<strong>in</strong>, <strong>in</strong>stead of worry<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

future. That’s where fear gets<br />

a foothold. When we try to live<br />

tomorrow today, what God wants<br />

to do today gets lost <strong>in</strong> the haze<br />

of an unknowable tomorrow.<br />

When Rabbi Jesus spoke to His<br />

Jewish listeners and taught them<br />

to pray for daily bread, what do<br />

you th<strong>in</strong>k came to m<strong>in</strong>d? Manna.<br />

Manna was central to their<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g of God’s special<br />

work <strong>in</strong> their lives.<br />

Manna was characterized as<br />

“bread (provision) from heaven.”<br />

It was heaven’s supply <strong>in</strong> earth’s<br />

circumstances. The second<br />

dist<strong>in</strong>guish<strong>in</strong>g characteristic of<br />

manna was that it was enough<br />

for today. Any Israelite who tried<br />

to secure tomorrow’s manna<br />

today, found that it spoiled and<br />

became useless. God is tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

His people <strong>in</strong> His ways. You will<br />

have what you need when you<br />

need it. It is a trust issue. You<br />

can live <strong>in</strong> anxiety, or you live<br />

at rest. You can know by faith<br />

what you can’t see with your<br />

eyes. In some areas of your life,<br />

for example, fi nances, health or<br />

emotional strength; God is provid<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for you us<strong>in</strong>g the manna<br />

method. Then somewhere <strong>in</strong><br />

your life, you are learn<strong>in</strong>g great<br />

and valuable lessons as God<br />

teaches you by manna.<br />

Why is forgiv<strong>in</strong>g essential to<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g synced?<br />

When we experience forgiveness,<br />

then we are more disposed<br />

to forgive. Receiv<strong>in</strong>g forgiveness<br />

is the benefi t we ga<strong>in</strong> from His<br />

death on the cross. We are forgiven<br />

freely and joyfully for every<br />

s<strong>in</strong> of every k<strong>in</strong>d. In response,<br />

we are to forgive everybody<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Every act of obedience is a step<br />

toward greater freedom. Jesus<br />

said, “When you stand pray<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

if you hold anyth<strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>st<br />

anyone, forgive him” (Mark 11:<br />

25). This is a diffi cult th<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

obey because our s<strong>in</strong>ful nature—<br />

our spiritual genetics-- predisposes<br />

us to hold a grudge or<br />

exact revenge. The command to<br />

forgive everyone for everyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

opposes our human nature.<br />

This command to forgive seems<br />

like a heavy burden to bear. It<br />

seems too much to ask. Until you<br />

realize two th<strong>in</strong>gs. First, it is for<br />

your benefi t. You are not meant<br />

to carry anger and bitterness.<br />

You will break down under its<br />

heft. Second, Jesus will forgive<br />

through you.<br />

Remember, not harder try<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

but deeper surrender.<br />

Refus<strong>in</strong>g to forgive means that<br />

you have chosen your hurt or<br />

anger over the heal<strong>in</strong>g Jesus<br />

offers. You have relegated Him<br />

to a corner of your life <strong>in</strong>stead of<br />

welcom<strong>in</strong>g Him <strong>in</strong>to every area.<br />

You must be <strong>in</strong> the process of<br />

forgiv<strong>in</strong>g—and often it is a process—to<br />

fully experience all He<br />

longs for you to know.<br />

And f<strong>in</strong>ally is your book go<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to be made available as series<br />

of discipleship tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g?<br />

We will soon have available a<br />

set of on l<strong>in</strong>e teach<strong>in</strong>g videos<br />

and downloadable discussion<br />

guides. You will know when this<br />

is available by be<strong>in</strong>g on our quarterly<br />

email newsletter which you<br />

will fi nd at www.pray<strong>in</strong>glife.org.<br />

When it is fi rst released, there<br />

will be a short w<strong>in</strong>dow dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

which you can get it for free and<br />

we will announce that through<br />

the newsletter.<br />

Thank you to Jennifer Kennedy<br />

Dean for such comprehensive<br />

and gracious answers, which<br />

<strong>in</strong> themselves are a generous<br />

sample of what to expect from<br />

‘Synced’. For our readers who<br />

need to break through shallow<br />

prayer-times and who desire<br />

to walk with Jesus rather than<br />

follow him from a safe distance;<br />

I recommend read<strong>in</strong>g ‘Synced’<br />

then apply<strong>in</strong>g its truths <strong>in</strong> pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

life.<br />

To Purchase Synced,<br />

Please Click Here


Whether you are a believer look<strong>in</strong>g to decorate your iPhone, iPad, wireless<br />

keyboard or mouse for bus<strong>in</strong>ess, or desir<strong>in</strong>g messages of faith for personal<br />

use, Believetek has someth<strong>in</strong>g for you!<br />

Visit us onl<strong>in</strong>e at www.believetek.com


Comfort<br />

IN THE MIDST OF<br />

Tragedy<br />

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR<br />

FAITH?<br />

By Julie B. Cosgrove<br />

It always seems to happen. We<br />

fi rst hear of a horrid tragedy on<br />

the even<strong>in</strong>g news. It may be a<br />

natural disaster or yet another<br />

suicidal gunman gone amuck.<br />

Death and destruction, doom<br />

and gloom. Then, a day or two<br />

later the “miracle stories” start to<br />

surface on social media and perhaps<br />

as a sidebar right before<br />

a commercial on the nightly<br />

news program. Neighbors go<strong>in</strong>g<br />

beyond the norm to help, a live<br />

person or puppy found <strong>in</strong> the<br />

rubble, a testimony stat<strong>in</strong>g how<br />

m<strong>in</strong>utes before the disaster a<br />

person’s car stalled so they<br />

didn’t drive <strong>in</strong>to the moment of<br />

devastation. Then we smile and<br />

say, “Ah, God was there after<br />

all.”<br />

Our faith blares back that of<br />

course He was. God is everywhere,<br />

omnipresent, <strong>in</strong> the midst<br />

of good and bad. God is our<br />

refuge and strength, an everpresent<br />

help <strong>in</strong> trouble. (Psalm<br />

46:1) However, when you are the<br />

one <strong>in</strong> the midst of the trouble,<br />

that idea is not quite as comprehensible.<br />

Doubt creeps <strong>in</strong>. Why?<br />

Perhaps, like me, you have<br />

heard it said that fear freezes<br />

faith. When someth<strong>in</strong>g unexpectedly<br />

horrid happens, fear is<br />

our fi rst <strong>in</strong>st<strong>in</strong>ct, is it not? Confusion,<br />

anger, disbelief, and<br />

fi nally acceptance come later.<br />

But the fi rst reaction <strong>in</strong>volves<br />

our hearts pound<strong>in</strong>g out of our<br />

chests, our breath<strong>in</strong>g becom<strong>in</strong>g<br />

shallower, perhaps a wooz<strong>in</strong>ess<br />

com<strong>in</strong>g over us. Our m<strong>in</strong>ds<br />

cannot accept what our senses<br />

are report<strong>in</strong>g. All appears surreal,<br />

out of time, fuzzed. F<strong>in</strong>ally<br />

we bl<strong>in</strong>k, the bra<strong>in</strong> kicks <strong>in</strong> and<br />

the desire to fi ght or fl ight takes<br />

over.<br />

After my husband died suddenly<br />

<strong>in</strong> the shower as he got<br />

ready for work, my world spun.<br />

I recall bits and pieces, snippets<br />

of conversations, but mostly my<br />

bra<strong>in</strong> blocked a good portion of<br />

the follow<strong>in</strong>g days, week, even<br />

month. I don’t recall ever pray<strong>in</strong>g—that<br />

would have been too<br />

deep and I wanted to stay on the<br />

surface where I could go through


the motions. It was the only way I could cope, get<br />

through the funeral, and deal with the fi nality of it<br />

all.<br />

Y<br />

et, look<strong>in</strong>g back, I felt carried on others’ prayers.<br />

People’s love and concerns literally fl oated me<br />

through the events. I have little doubt God was<br />

there each and every moment. He was present <strong>in</strong><br />

my sister who dropped her life to hold my hand<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ce she had gone through the same th<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

year prior. It was my niece who cleaned up the<br />

mess the EMS left beh<strong>in</strong>d and moved my toiletries<br />

to the guest bath because she knew I couldn’t<br />

walk <strong>in</strong>to the master bath yet. It was my brother,<br />

the attorney, handl<strong>in</strong>g pro bono all the legal stuff I<br />

couldn’t beg<strong>in</strong> to comprehend. My son who fl ew <strong>in</strong><br />

and made all the calls to distant friends and relatives<br />

so I didn’t have to do it. Church members<br />

who held my hands and prayed at the hospital<br />

while my husband was declared legally dead and<br />

the mach<strong>in</strong>es were unplugged. Tender smiles that<br />

greeted me and a dear lady who sat next to me<br />

the fi rst time I walked <strong>in</strong>to worship without him by<br />

my side. It was the casseroles I couldn’t stomach<br />

and the neighbor who mowed my lawn when I<br />

didn’t even notice the grass had grown up to my<br />

calves. And, most amaz<strong>in</strong>gly orchestrated of all<br />

was the fact, <strong>in</strong> the very short time we’d lived <strong>in</strong><br />

that city, widows had become my closest friends.<br />

They formed a safety net for me, ready to catch<br />

me before any of us knew my personal tragedy<br />

would hit.<br />

Yes, God was there. He prepared me. He held<br />

me together. He rema<strong>in</strong>ed with me. I just couldn’t<br />

“see” Him at the time.<br />

Some people blame God when tragedy happens,<br />

or at least become angry that He did not <strong>in</strong>tervene<br />

to prevent it. When the nonsensical slaps us <strong>in</strong> the<br />

face, we have to po<strong>in</strong>t the fi nger to someth<strong>in</strong>g or<br />

someone <strong>in</strong> order to try and absorb the shock. God,<br />

who often is already <strong>in</strong>comprehensible, seems the<br />

likely target.<br />

Here is the good news—He can handle it. Jesus<br />

told us <strong>in</strong> Matthew 11:28 to let Him take our burdens<br />

so He can provide us rest. I Peter 5:7 rem<strong>in</strong>ds<br />

us to cast all of our anxieties on our Savior. And<br />

that is the key. God wants us to act. Because He<br />

has granted us free will, we must be the ones to<br />

hand it over, lay it at the foot of the cross, and back<br />

off. Christ stands there with hands open, ready to<br />

receive our troubles, hurts, questions and anger. It<br />

is up to us to give them to Him.<br />

When your m<strong>in</strong>d is muddled and you are trudg<strong>in</strong>g<br />

through what feels like mental molasses, giv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

your worries to God is a diffi cult th<strong>in</strong>g to remember<br />

to do. Instead, we either cl<strong>in</strong>g to the situation as<br />

we try to make sense of it, or we shove it as far<br />

from us as possible, refus<strong>in</strong>g to accept it as reality.<br />

Before we can possible hand it over to our Lord to<br />

handle, we have to do four th<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

1. First, we must acknowledge it is beyond our<br />

capability.<br />

2. We must be cognitive enough to be able to act.<br />

When fear or tragedy freezes us <strong>in</strong> our place, often<br />

all we can do is blankly stare as if <strong>in</strong> zombie mode.<br />

3. We must have the embedded faith to seek out<br />

God—to turn our eyes upon Jesus, as the old<br />

hymn states—even when we can’t feel His presence.<br />

4. F<strong>in</strong>ally we need to take note, and often do <strong>in</strong><br />

h<strong>in</strong>dsight, of the ways our Lord reveals Himself—<br />

through others’ k<strong>in</strong>dness, through a verse <strong>in</strong> a<br />

song, through a cherished memory which warms<br />

the coldness of the situation, through a passage<br />

<strong>in</strong> Scripture. Perhaps we feel a celestial hug <strong>in</strong> the<br />

middle of the night when the tears come.<br />

When someone you know faces an unexpla<strong>in</strong>able<br />

tragedy, pray for them, and if possible, with them.<br />

It is hard to be sensitive to the presence of hol<strong>in</strong>ess<br />

when one’s world is diffi cult to make sense<br />

of at the moment. Be their spiritual eyes and guide<br />

them, po<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g out ways God is present even<br />

though they are walk<strong>in</strong>g through an emotional fog.<br />

It may not s<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> immediately, but <strong>in</strong> retrospect,<br />

they will see you were right.<br />

And if you face someth<strong>in</strong>g horrendous—and odds<br />

are you will because we live <strong>in</strong> a fallen world—<br />

know that, even though it is probably beyond your<br />

immediate comprehension, God is <strong>in</strong>deed work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

His purpose out. Recall the times you saw evidence<br />

of His actions “beh<strong>in</strong>d the scenes” of others’<br />

lives and believe He is do<strong>in</strong>g the same for you. It<br />

is often easier to witness God mov<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> another’s<br />

life. It is harder to see when it happens to us.


Life happens, and due to our s<strong>in</strong>ful, broken world,<br />

God stands by and lets horrible th<strong>in</strong>gs occur. If He<br />

didn’t we’d all be puppets on a str<strong>in</strong>g. He grants us<br />

the freedom to accept or reject Him. He grants that<br />

to everyone else as well. That doesn’t mean God<br />

doesn’t see, hurt for us, or not desire to guide us<br />

through the hard times. Like a watchful parent, He<br />

hovers close by, ready with the hugs and Band-<br />

Aids when we sk<strong>in</strong> our knees due to our own carelessness.<br />

He is also there when life is unfair with<br />

arms outstretched to comfort us.<br />

Before tragedy hits, build up your spiritual batteries.<br />

We keep our cell phones plugged <strong>in</strong> so they<br />

don’t run down. Do the same with your faith walk.<br />

Stay <strong>in</strong> the Word even though you are on top of the<br />

world and all is wonderful. Be cognitive of others’<br />

needs and m<strong>in</strong>ster to them <strong>in</strong> their times of need<br />

and help them see Jesus <strong>in</strong> it. Write down ways<br />

God has shown Himself to you, and to them, so<br />

when you cannot detect Him, you can turn to the<br />

evidence and reassure yourself of His love.<br />

Psalm 85:13 tells us Righteousness goes before<br />

him and prepares the way for his steps. Believe<br />

that. You may not see around the bend, but our<br />

precious Lord is already there—<strong>in</strong> the aftermath<br />

of a tornado, as the bullets whiz by a schoolroom,<br />

even as the water <strong>in</strong> a shower gushes while your<br />

soul mate lies unresponsive on the tile fl oor.


Give me<br />

STRENGTH<br />

By Toni Troxell<br />

You’ve just worked a twelvehour<br />

shift. All you want to do is<br />

go home and collapse. However,<br />

the laundry, kids and d<strong>in</strong>ner<br />

demands your time. You’ve<br />

been putt<strong>in</strong>g off all that work<br />

on the house and it is scream<strong>in</strong>g<br />

your name every time you<br />

enter the drive way. Balanc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

home, work, m<strong>in</strong>istry and fun<br />

time can get out of whack at<br />

times. Leav<strong>in</strong>g you stung out<br />

and wore out to say the lease.<br />

Hav<strong>in</strong>g our strength renewed is<br />

a daily process and there is a<br />

place where that strength is supplied,<br />

the hand of God. He can<br />

strengthen the feeblest of arms<br />

and give strength to the weary.<br />

At just the right time God can<br />

lift us from our weary place and<br />

give strength we never knew we<br />

had. Here we will discuss a way<br />

<strong>in</strong> which we can lift our hearts to<br />

the heart of God and renew our<br />

strength on a daily basis.<br />

Like runn<strong>in</strong>g a marathon, you<br />

have to tra<strong>in</strong> yourself to make it<br />

to the fi nish l<strong>in</strong>e. When you fi rst<br />

beg<strong>in</strong> to tra<strong>in</strong> you can walk away<br />

exhausted. Your feet cry out,<br />

your legs are on fi re and all you<br />

want to do is fi nd a place to collapse.<br />

However, given time and<br />

the proper tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g you beg<strong>in</strong> to<br />

see that you can run further and<br />

further. One mile, two miles and<br />

after months of tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g you fi nd<br />

yourself mov<strong>in</strong>g faster and more<br />

deliberate. Your one mile has<br />

turned <strong>in</strong>to fi ve. And you actually<br />

fi nd yourself stronger than ever<br />

before. Spiritual strength is much<br />

like physical strength, with the<br />

proper breath<strong>in</strong>g, exercise and<br />

self-discipl<strong>in</strong>e you can move further<br />

each time.


For example, look at Paul <strong>in</strong><br />

the New Testament, 2 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians<br />

12:9. Paul <strong>in</strong> the middle<br />

of tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g others to be spiritually<br />

fi t he himself fi nds himself<br />

battl<strong>in</strong>g a problem. In the<br />

scripture Paul refers to his<br />

problem as a thorn. Paul was<br />

weary, exhausted from the<br />

battle this thorn had brought.<br />

In his exhausted state Paul<br />

cries out to God to remove the<br />

troublesome thorn. Not once or<br />

twice but three times Paul cries<br />

out. God’s response may not<br />

have been the response Paul<br />

desired, however the answer<br />

was perfect. 2 Cor<strong>in</strong>thian 12:9,<br />

10 “9 And He said to me, “My<br />

grace is suffi cient for you, for<br />

My strength is made perfect<br />

<strong>in</strong> weakness.” Therefore, most<br />

gladly I will rather boast <strong>in</strong> my<br />

<strong>in</strong>fi rmities, that the power of<br />

Christ may rest upon me. 10<br />

Therefore I take pleasure <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>fi rmities, <strong>in</strong> reproaches, <strong>in</strong><br />

needs, <strong>in</strong> persecutions, <strong>in</strong> distresses,<br />

for Christ’s sake. For<br />

when I am weak, then I am<br />

strong” (NKJV). Paul learned<br />

how important it is to rely on<br />

God’s strength. Did you get<br />

what Paul did he cried out to<br />

God. There are times when we<br />

are exhausted not only physically<br />

but spiritually and emotionally.<br />

You may be wonder<strong>in</strong>g”<br />

so what do I do when I am so<br />

exhausted I feel as if I cannot<br />

go on”. Like Paul the Psalmist<br />

shares this answer found <strong>in</strong> the


ook of Psalms. “The righteous<br />

cry out, and the Lord hears,<br />

and delivers them out of all their<br />

troubles.18 The Lord is near to<br />

those who have a broken heart,<br />

and saves such as have a contrite<br />

spirit.19 Many are the affl ictions<br />

of the righteous, But the<br />

Lord delivers him out of them all”<br />

(Psalm 34:17-19).<br />

Prayer! In verse 17 we see “The<br />

righteous cry out…” Those who<br />

know the Lord Jesus Christ as<br />

their Savior are the righteous.<br />

The result of our prayer is that<br />

God hears. When we are at a<br />

place where we simply cannot go<br />

on we cry out to God as Paul did<br />

<strong>in</strong> 2 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians and the Psalmist<br />

<strong>in</strong> Psalms. When we cry out<br />

<strong>in</strong> our weakness God hears and<br />

<strong>in</strong> turn we receive through God’s<br />

Holy Spirit strength. And through<br />

this strength we can do anyth<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

“I can do all th<strong>in</strong>gs through<br />

Christ who strengthens me”<br />

(Philippians 4:13). As mentioned<br />

before you come home from<br />

work exhausted, and you reason<br />

“where will I get the strength to<br />

do all this”. I work <strong>in</strong> retail and<br />

I am on my feet sometimes 13<br />

hours <strong>in</strong> a day. By the time I get<br />

home I can hardly move. Yet the<br />

cats are wait<strong>in</strong>g to be fed, the<br />

husband is wait<strong>in</strong>g to be fed and<br />

I am ready for bed. I have found<br />

myself on many an occasion<br />

whisper<strong>in</strong>g “Father please give<br />

me the strength to do all that<br />

needs to be done” it never fails.<br />

A few m<strong>in</strong>utes later, I am ready<br />

to go. As we turn to God for the<br />

strength to get through each day,<br />

God empowers us to not only<br />

perform the task <strong>in</strong> front of us<br />

but also to cont<strong>in</strong>ue beyond our<br />

own capacity. Renewed strength<br />

is a daily process. As we read<br />

through God’s word and daily<br />

reach out to God through prayer<br />

He renews and strengthens us<br />

spiritually. As we eat properly,<br />

get the proper rest and exercise<br />

our bodies respond and we<br />

get stronger. Like the marathon<br />

runner we talked about, a daily<br />

time of fi ll<strong>in</strong>g up on the word of<br />

God can offer renew strength.<br />

It’s like this, as we breathe out<br />

a prayer for needed strength<br />

God hears and strengthens us.<br />

As we exhale our prayer He<br />

breathes back <strong>in</strong>to us strength.<br />

Do you feel exhausted and<br />

ready to throw <strong>in</strong> the towel? Are<br />

you runn<strong>in</strong>g on empty? Is your<br />

strength all but gone? Fill up, <strong>in</strong><br />

and with the presence of God.<br />

Talk to the one who can offer<br />

endless strength. Trust Him to<br />

strengthen you. Share with Him<br />

how you feel and ask for His<br />

help. He gives a strength like no<br />

other, that lifts and lasts like no<br />

other. Be strengthen through a<br />

whisper. Romans 5:6 “For when<br />

we were still without strength,<br />

<strong>in</strong> due time Christ died for the<br />

ungodly”. God knows we need


A Special<br />

GIFT FROM GOD<br />

By Don Ford<br />

“Now FAITH is the substance of th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

hoped for, the evidence of th<strong>in</strong>gs not seen.”<br />

Hebrews 11:1<br />

Learn<strong>in</strong>g what faith really is seems to be the<br />

key for most believers. I remember when I<br />

came face to face with a need for faith. I<br />

attended college on faith. But I would fi nd<br />

out what real faith was.<br />

When we are down on our luck or a serious


situation hits us, we must<br />

call on FAITH. That same<br />

faith comes out of prayer<br />

and believ<strong>in</strong>g we are be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

heard, and so it is. <strong>Faith</strong><br />

is discovered <strong>in</strong> a hidden<br />

place. I know I have found<br />

it there.<br />

I remember return<strong>in</strong>g home<br />

from classes, and I met my<br />

wife at the door of our place.<br />

She rem<strong>in</strong>ded me that there<br />

was no food <strong>in</strong> the house.<br />

“There is a can of this and a<br />

can of that, but not enough<br />

to make a meal.”<br />

She wondered what we<br />

should do about it. Instead<br />

of apply<strong>in</strong>g faith, I suggested<br />

that we could go<br />

next door, s<strong>in</strong>ce everyone<br />

was a Christian around the<br />

school. “We could go there<br />

and ask for help and when<br />

they needed help, we could<br />

then be there for them when<br />

they needed it.”<br />

My wife assured me that<br />

that didn’t feel like faith. She<br />

said: “I th<strong>in</strong>k we should just<br />

pray and ask for help from<br />

God.” She then went ahead<br />

and prepared the table for<br />

d<strong>in</strong>ner by plac<strong>in</strong>g places<br />

and cups <strong>in</strong> place, like the<br />

answer had already taken<br />

place.<br />

WE THEN APPLIED THE<br />

POWER OF TWO<br />

We then prayed together,<br />

and suddenly there came<br />

a knock on the door. The<br />

head of the Bible Literature<br />

Department of Houghton<br />

College <strong>in</strong> Houghton, N.Y.<br />

stood <strong>in</strong> the doorway. She<br />

had a tall bag of food steam<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out of the top of it. As<br />

she handed it to me, I stood<br />

there stunned. We had just<br />

prayed, and here she was.<br />

I thought this was too soon,<br />

take it back! :-}<br />

I stood there dumbfounded,<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ce the moment we had<br />

fi nished pray<strong>in</strong>g, there came<br />

that knock; more importantly<br />

- the ANSWER.<br />

FAITH then was seen <strong>in</strong> an<br />

action (Sett<strong>in</strong>g the table -<br />

or ‘prepar<strong>in</strong>g for ra<strong>in</strong>’ so to<br />

speak.) God moved on our<br />

visible action of putt<strong>in</strong>g our<br />

trust <strong>in</strong> Him to provide what<br />

we had hoped for - a meal.<br />

We needed to go deeper to<br />

understand why she chose<br />

our place. We then went<br />

over to see these folks and<br />

thank them for their k<strong>in</strong>dness<br />

and generosity. I also<br />

had to know why they chose<br />

us, with hundreds of other<br />

folks liv<strong>in</strong>g between us and<br />

them. Why us <strong>in</strong> particular.<br />

We exchanged hugs and<br />

I asked the all important<br />

question: Why us?<br />

She shared that they had<br />

just fi nished hav<strong>in</strong>g their<br />

meal, and she began putt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the left over food away. She<br />

had never heard God speak<br />

before. He spoke to her <strong>in</strong><br />

a still small voice, “Take that<br />

food over to the Fords.” She<br />

knew it was God’s voice,<br />

(My sheep know my voice.)<br />

Then she obeyed him.<br />

This is only one example<br />

of <strong>Faith</strong>. Our faith actually<br />

moved God to <strong>in</strong>clude<br />

others <strong>in</strong> this bless<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Here are more thoughts on<br />

the need to jo<strong>in</strong> hands and<br />

agree <strong>in</strong> prayer with another<br />

believer for God’s best <strong>in</strong><br />

our lives and world.<br />

“Life is dark along the shadows<br />

of our lives.” D. G. Ford<br />

We will never be shed of the<br />

evil that encompasses us,<br />

and that lies <strong>in</strong> wait for us to<br />

make a mistake. Two th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

will help us on our way. Stay<br />

close to God by stay<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

his Word, and fi nd a close<br />

friend who will agree to pray<br />

for you. It only stands to<br />

reason you must pray for<br />

the friend as well.<br />

As Pastor Mike Blankenship<br />

puts it: “Let me encourage<br />

you today to seek for<br />

someone qualifi ed to stand<br />

with you <strong>in</strong> agreement for<br />

whatever you are believ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for today. Encourage<br />

one another <strong>in</strong> the Lord and<br />

lift each other cont<strong>in</strong>ually!<br />

Jesus sent the disciples out<br />

two by two. You would do<br />

well to follow His pattern.<br />

The results will astound you!<br />

“When two people agree<br />

together it will super charge<br />

their faith. One puts a thousand<br />

to fl ight and two put<br />

ten thousand to fl ight. As<br />

you can see, it goes to the<br />

tenth power when there is<br />

total agreement! The books<br />

of Acts describes the power<br />

of agreement <strong>in</strong> the upper<br />

room. The presence of God<br />

shook the build<strong>in</strong>g when<br />

they were <strong>in</strong> one accord!<br />

One of the reasons the


enemy fi ghts the family so<br />

hard is he understands the<br />

power of two!”<br />

One great promise, and<br />

there are many, is Matthew<br />

18:19 K<strong>in</strong>g James Version<br />

(KJV): 19 Aga<strong>in</strong> I say unto<br />

you, That if two of you shall<br />

agree on earth as touch<strong>in</strong>g<br />

any th<strong>in</strong>g that they shall<br />

ask, it shall be done for<br />

them of my Father which is<br />

<strong>in</strong> heaven.<br />

https:// www.biblegateway.<br />

com/passage/?search=Ma<br />

tthew+18%3A19&version=<br />

KJV<br />

Amos 3:3, K<strong>in</strong>g James Version<br />

(KJV) “Can two walk<br />

together, except they be<br />

agreed?”<br />

This is the other side of<br />

the equation. God is no<br />

respecter of persons,<br />

so this could be any two<br />

people that know God and<br />

follow him. The solution to<br />

this world’s problems could<br />

be tackled if we all pair up<br />

and beg<strong>in</strong> to pray. START<br />

TODAY. F<strong>in</strong>d that someone<br />

to partner with, and then<br />

watch your world be turned<br />

upside down for our God.<br />

Have great expectations for<br />

what God will do!<br />

So, remember that we<br />

can’t rub just any two sticks<br />

together to get a spark and<br />

see God’s fi re fall on lives.<br />

It doesn’t have to be your<br />

marriage partner, it could<br />

just be a close friend. Now,<br />

pray together, and let God<br />

do the rest. He waits to hear<br />

from us. Matthew 7:7-8,<br />

K<strong>in</strong>g James Version (KJV)<br />

“Ask, and it shall be given<br />

you; seek, and ye shall<br />

fi nd; knock, and it shall be<br />

opened unto you: For every<br />

one that asketh receiveth;<br />

and he that seeketh fi ndeth;<br />

and to him that knocketh it<br />

shall be opened.”<br />

This is not a deep dark<br />

secret, but I’ll guess not<br />

many have availed themselves<br />

of this; God’s special<br />

provision. Make a difference<br />

<strong>in</strong> your world, but don’t<br />

try and do it on your own.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>d the one you can partner<br />

with, and br<strong>in</strong>g order<br />

out of chaos <strong>in</strong> this troubled<br />

world. Then let FAITH arise<br />

and God’s enemies be scattered!<br />

K<strong>in</strong>g James Bible<br />

Psalm 68:1<br />

“To the chief Musician, A<br />

Psalm or Song of David. Let


You Are Never<br />

Alone<br />

By Danielle Foisy<br />

There are two times that we feel like God isn’t there. The fi rst is<br />

when we have turned away from him. The second is when God<br />

pull’s back to see how we react and cope without him. It’s best<br />

described as God’s test to see how serious we are when we say<br />

to him that we trust him completely. Are we still able to follow him<br />

when we don’t feel his presence? Here is the problem: We as<br />

humans succumb to our ‘feel<strong>in</strong>gs.’ God does not leave us, but<br />

there are certa<strong>in</strong>ly times we ‘feel’ like he has. This is part of the<br />

enemy’s tactic; he prey’s on our feel<strong>in</strong>gs because that is where we<br />

are vulnerable and able to be swayed.<br />

First, we will look at when the distance comes from us and our<br />

actions. God says ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ so when<br />

you feel an absence from God, who has left who? It’s very black<br />

and white. He promises to never leave us, so when we are try<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to fi nd out why we are feel<strong>in</strong>g the distance, we need to turn the<br />

perspective around and look with<strong>in</strong>. We need to look at ourselves,<br />

what are we do<strong>in</strong>g, how are we behav<strong>in</strong>g, how are we spend<strong>in</strong>g our<br />

time, how much effort are we putt<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to our relationship with God.<br />

The bible says ‘The Lord has hidden himself from his people, but<br />

I trust him and place my hope <strong>in</strong> him’ Isaiah 8:17. In the midst of<br />

sorrow is probably the hardest time to ‘feel’ like God is there. In his<br />

book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says ‘the deepest level<br />

of worship is prais<strong>in</strong>g God <strong>in</strong> spite of pa<strong>in</strong>, thank<strong>in</strong>g God dur<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

trial, trust<strong>in</strong>g him when tempted, surrender<strong>in</strong>g while suffer<strong>in</strong>g, and<br />

lov<strong>in</strong>g him when he seems distant. Many emotions come up when<br />

we feel like God is not with us, especially <strong>in</strong> times of suffer<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Anger, Hurt, Abandonment, Fear, Lonel<strong>in</strong>ess, and Worry.<br />

We are not the only people who struggle with this. Even David


felt this way. ‘ Lord why are you<br />

stand<strong>in</strong>g aloof and far away?<br />

Why do you hide when I need<br />

you the most? Why have your<br />

forsaken me? Why do you<br />

rema<strong>in</strong> so distant? Why do you<br />

ignore my cries for help? Why<br />

have you abandoned me? Job is<br />

another example of someone <strong>in</strong><br />

the bible that goes through times<br />

of not ‘feel<strong>in</strong>g’ God’s presence.<br />

God is Real, no matter how I feel<br />

Here comes the diffi cult part;<br />

when we are go<strong>in</strong>g through a<br />

trail, through suffer<strong>in</strong>g, through<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g so diffi cult that our<br />

world is fall<strong>in</strong>g apart, When it<br />

may be diffi cult to get through<br />

an hour, let alone a day. Those<br />

are moments where distance<br />

from God becomes apart of the<br />

situation very quickly if we are<br />

not careful. The enemy can get<br />

a foothold <strong>in</strong> these situations<br />

so quickly it is like a bl<strong>in</strong>k of an<br />

eye to us. We have to remember,<br />

he is an opportunist and<br />

will attack at our most vulnerable<br />

moments, and he does not<br />

wait for our permission. The fi rst<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g to remember when someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

diffi cult happens <strong>in</strong> our life<br />

is that it is normal as humans to<br />

feel the feel<strong>in</strong>gs we are feel<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

that it is okay to allow ourselves<br />

to walk through these feel<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

but to keep <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d we have 2<br />

choices. The fi rst is to allow the<br />

enemy to ga<strong>in</strong> a foothold <strong>in</strong> the<br />

situation, to allow the situation to<br />

destroy you and overtake your<br />

life, and walk away from the God<br />

who loves you even despite the<br />

circumstances occurr<strong>in</strong>g. The<br />

second is to allow yourself to<br />

walk through the diffi cult storm<br />

and understand the battle you<br />

are <strong>in</strong>. To fi ght back, not lett<strong>in</strong>g<br />

yourself be a soldier who has<br />

thrown <strong>in</strong> the towel, but a soldier<br />

who has put his armour on to<br />

protect yourself from the enemy.<br />

Also to learn and grow where<br />

God is teach<strong>in</strong>g. From my own<br />

trials. I have learned that there<br />

is always a lesson and a purpose<br />

<strong>in</strong> whatever you are experienc<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

God does not waste<br />

one tear your shed, and he is<br />

always putt<strong>in</strong>g th<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> place<br />

to hold you through the storm,<br />

even when we don’t feel it. The<br />

other part of trails to remember<br />

is a lot of times, you don’t see<br />

the big picture while <strong>in</strong> the midst<br />

of it. In the middle of the storm,<br />

the waves are high and strong.<br />

It is not always that easy to see<br />

the purpose, the lessons or the<br />

bigger picture while <strong>in</strong> the middle<br />

of it. Cast<strong>in</strong>g Crowns wrote a<br />

beautiful song that helped me<br />

through a really diffi cult battle I<br />

endured. In one part is said ‘If<br />

your eyes are on the storm you’ll<br />

wonder if I love you still. If your<br />

eyes are on me, you’ll know that<br />

I always have and I always will’<br />

It really got me when I heard<br />

that because it showed me that<br />

we have a choice, and its not an<br />

easy choice. We can decide to<br />

focus on the negative, the storm,<br />

the situation OR we can focus<br />

on God, his promise, his track<br />

record, and his purpose. I can<br />

tell you, that once we change<br />

our m<strong>in</strong>d-frame about the situation,<br />

we start to see God work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a lot faster then if we allow<br />

ourselves to be engulfed by<br />

the terribleness of the situation.<br />

Someth<strong>in</strong>g that really helped<br />

me once I started to change<br />

my th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g was look<strong>in</strong>g at what<br />

the bible says about suffer<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and it actually encouraged and<br />

strengthen me and even made<br />

me feel important that I would be<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g through someth<strong>in</strong>g diffi cult<br />

because God had a bigger plan.<br />

Romans 5:3-5<br />

More than that, we rejoice <strong>in</strong><br />

our suffer<strong>in</strong>gs, know<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

suffer<strong>in</strong>g produces endurance,<br />

and endurance produces character,<br />

and character produces<br />

hope, and hope does not put us<br />

to shame, because God’s love<br />

has been poured <strong>in</strong>to our hearts<br />

through the Holy Spirit who has<br />

been given to us.<br />

James 1:2-4<br />

Count it all joy, my brothers,<br />

when you meet trials of various<br />

k<strong>in</strong>ds, for you know that the test<strong>in</strong>g<br />

of your faith produces steadfastness.<br />

And let steadfastness<br />

have its full effect, that you may<br />

be perfect and complete, lack<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> noth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Isaiah 43:2<br />

When you pass through the<br />

waters, I will be with you; and<br />

through the rivers, they shall not<br />

overwhelm you; when you walk<br />

through fi re you shall not be<br />

burned, and the fl ame shall not<br />

consume you.<br />

A good practice when we are<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g through a trial and feel<br />

alone from God’s presence is to<br />

test our behaviors and actions<br />

through a funnel to determ<strong>in</strong>e<br />

where our hearts are <strong>in</strong> the<br />

midst of it. How is your time<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g spent? Are you prioritiz<strong>in</strong>g<br />

other th<strong>in</strong>gs above your relationship<br />

with him? Are you spend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

time, and I mean real time,<br />

<strong>in</strong> prayer and <strong>in</strong> his word? I fi nd<br />

sometimes I feel like I am spend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

time with the Lord when<br />

really I am just go<strong>in</strong>g through the<br />

motions.<br />

First and foremost we can be


assured that God is always<br />

there because he said it and<br />

promised it. He says ‘I will never<br />

leave you; I will never abandon<br />

you’ Hebrews 13:5. If we look<br />

at Gods track record, it’s stellar<br />

and he has never lied so<br />

that should be enough. Unfortunately<br />

we live <strong>in</strong> a fallen world<br />

where it’s not that simple. Satan<br />

has <strong>in</strong>fl uence <strong>in</strong> our m<strong>in</strong>ds, feel<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

and emotions so we battle<br />

doubt and uncerta<strong>in</strong>ty especially<br />

<strong>in</strong> the midst of a storm. I get that<br />

if you lost someone close to you<br />

or are go<strong>in</strong>g through someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

heartbreak<strong>in</strong>g like a divorce it<br />

doesn’t feel that easy. The truth<br />

is it isn’t. You need to compartmentalize<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs. One side is<br />

the feel<strong>in</strong>gs, let yourself grieve<br />

and feel the sorrow. The other<br />

side is be<strong>in</strong>g productive and<br />

walk through it with a savior and<br />

master that has the ability to<br />

help you through it. So how can<br />

we combat these feel<strong>in</strong>gs? Lets<br />

take a closer look.<br />

Worship him <strong>in</strong> the deepest way.<br />

Back to Rick Warren he says:<br />

When you feel abandoned by<br />

God, yet cont<strong>in</strong>ue to trust him <strong>in</strong><br />

spite of your feel<strong>in</strong>gs; you worship<br />

him <strong>in</strong> the deepest way.<br />

This will not be that simple. You<br />

are combat<strong>in</strong>g the enemy <strong>in</strong> a<br />

way that you need to take so<br />

seriously. You have to imag<strong>in</strong>e<br />

a real war that you are <strong>in</strong>. The<br />

spiritual war you are experienc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

is as real as the one’s that<br />

exist here on earth. You need<br />

to armor yourself, protect your<br />

soul, m<strong>in</strong>d and body like you<br />

are a soldier <strong>in</strong> that earthy war.<br />

I have experienced and seen<br />

Satan’s attacks and they are<br />

personal, vicious and detrimental<br />

and can take you down if you<br />

allow yourself to give <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

enemy’s attack.<br />

Pray<br />

I understand that there are<br />

lots of emotions and feel<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

<strong>in</strong>volved when there is suffer<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Sometimes those feel<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

are even anger and resentment<br />

towards God for whatever<br />

the circumstance is. God can<br />

handle that if we are br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g<br />

it to him. Even br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g anger<br />

to the cross is okay, he would<br />

rather that then silence. I don’t<br />

mean simple little ‘Please help<br />

me God I’m suffer<strong>in</strong>g’ prayers. I<br />

did those for years and they got<br />

me nowhere. I mean freverently,<br />

with the broken heart you have<br />

com<strong>in</strong>g to the cross and wholeheartedly<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g your battle<br />

to him. One battle we endured<br />

as a family, I got to the po<strong>in</strong>t<br />

where I created a prayer room<br />

<strong>in</strong> our home because it was that<br />

serious. I needed a quiet and<br />

special room where I cried out,<br />

yelled at, and got <strong>in</strong>to one-on-on<br />

<strong>in</strong>timate prayer with my Lord to<br />

help me walk through the battle<br />

because on my own I was gett<strong>in</strong>g<br />

no where. God knows what<br />

we are go<strong>in</strong>g through, he doesn’t<br />

need to be fi lled <strong>in</strong> but he needs<br />

our heart’s to be <strong>in</strong> the right<br />

place to be apart of the solution.<br />

He needs us to be open to hear<br />

what he is say<strong>in</strong>g, to be will<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to do what he is ask<strong>in</strong>g us to do<br />

and sometimes even sacrifi ce<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs so that we can be closer<br />

to him.<br />

Inner Strength<br />

As I was writ<strong>in</strong>g this article, our<br />

Pastor did a sermon on <strong>in</strong>ner<br />

strength and the concept fi ts so<br />

well with go<strong>in</strong>g through diffi cult<br />

times and be<strong>in</strong>g reassured God<br />

is with you, even when it feels<br />

like he isn’t. The verse to look at<br />

for <strong>in</strong>ner strength is Ephesians<br />

3:14-21<br />

For this reason I kneel before<br />

the Father, from whom every<br />

family[ <strong>in</strong> heaven and on earth<br />

derives its name. I pray that<br />

out of his glorious riches he<br />

may strengthen you with power<br />

through his Spirit <strong>in</strong> your <strong>in</strong>ner<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g, so that Christ may dwell<br />

<strong>in</strong> your hearts through faith. And<br />

I pray that you, be<strong>in</strong>g rooted<br />

and established <strong>in</strong> love, may<br />

have power, together with all the<br />

Lord’s holy people, to grasp how<br />

wide and long and high and deep<br />

is the love of Christ, and to know<br />

this love that surpasses knowledge—that<br />

you may be fi lled to<br />

the measure of all the fullness of<br />

God. Now to him who is able to<br />

do immeasurably more than all<br />

we ask or imag<strong>in</strong>e, accord<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

his power that is at work with<strong>in</strong><br />

us, to him be glory <strong>in</strong> the church<br />

and <strong>in</strong> Christ Jesus throughout<br />

all generations, for ever and<br />

ever! Amen.<br />

It is so important to listen to what<br />

Paul is say<strong>in</strong>g as he guides us so<br />

that we develop an <strong>in</strong>ner strength<br />

that can hold us through some<br />

of life toughest storms. When<br />

I read this, the parts that stand<br />

out are ‘be<strong>in</strong>g rooted and established<br />

<strong>in</strong> love may have power,<br />

together with all the Lord’s holy<br />

people, to grasp how wide and<br />

long and high and deep is the<br />

love of Christ’ By be<strong>in</strong>g rooted<br />

and established <strong>in</strong> his love is the<br />

key to hav<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>in</strong>ner strength<br />

God gives us to withstand the<br />

storms. To fully understand<br />

the lengths, heights, depths<br />

and widths of God’s love is the<br />

answer to hav<strong>in</strong>g the confi dence<br />

that God is with us no matter if<br />

we ‘feel’ him or not.


Life is not easy, fair or manageable<br />

at many moments <strong>in</strong> life.<br />

We serve a God who loves us,<br />

protects us but also allows us to<br />

walk through th<strong>in</strong>gs so we learn<br />

to rely on him for our strength.<br />

He promises to never leave us<br />

or forsake us, but sometimes we<br />

turn our backs and try and control<br />

it all on our own. If we look at<br />

what God tells us <strong>in</strong> the bible it is<br />

very clear that no matter if we feel<br />

him or not, he is with us. There<br />

are different reasons on why we<br />

feel the distance, sometimes it’s<br />

our own do<strong>in</strong>g and sometimes it’s<br />

God do<strong>in</strong>g someth<strong>in</strong>g to teach<br />

and mold us to be more like him.<br />

If you are go<strong>in</strong>g through a storm<br />

where you are not feel<strong>in</strong>g God<br />

with you, pour <strong>in</strong>to his word like<br />

you never have before and seek<br />

him. If you are seek<strong>in</strong>g him, he<br />

will be there and he will show<br />

you why the ‘feel<strong>in</strong>g’ of distance<br />

has not been there. The last<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g I will leave you with if you<br />

are <strong>in</strong> the middle of the storm;<br />

allow yourself to be held by God.<br />

Don’t worry about always be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

strong, let your God wrap his<br />

arms around you and hold you<br />

<strong>in</strong> the hard moments. Be open<br />

to the people and circumstances<br />

he will put <strong>in</strong> your path to allow<br />

that hold<strong>in</strong>g to extend <strong>in</strong>to tangible<br />

ways of see<strong>in</strong>g it happen<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

He is always with you, don’t<br />

follow what the world says and<br />

go based on your feel<strong>in</strong>gs; they<br />

will deceive you <strong>in</strong>stead trust <strong>in</strong><br />

God’s word and his promise that<br />

he is always with you.<br />

My name is Danielle Foisy, I am a<br />

wife, mom and blogger. I love to<br />

learn God’s lessons through life<br />

and fi nd his purpose <strong>in</strong> all I do.<br />

I write weekly for my blog about<br />

those experiences at www.thestruggleis.com


Supernatural<br />

By Nichel Hilman<br />

<strong>Faith</strong><br />

“If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed,” the woman thought.<br />

She had an assurance, a confi dence, a know<strong>in</strong>g that it would<br />

happen just as she believed. So the woman touched Jesus’ cloak<br />

and immediately her bleed<strong>in</strong>g stopped. She felt with<strong>in</strong> her body that<br />

she was fi nally free from her suffer<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

In our m<strong>in</strong>ds we may envision the woman stra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>st the<br />

crowd, her fears, aga<strong>in</strong>st unbelief and with the tip of her fi ngers,<br />

touched Jesus. But <strong>in</strong> truth, it<br />

was not the woman’s fi ngers that<br />

touched Jesus, it was her faith.<br />

Her faith, like a key, unlocked<br />

and released power from God to<br />

heal her affl iction. Jesus’ statement,<br />

“Somebody touched Me,<br />

for I perceived power go<strong>in</strong>g out<br />

from Me,” seem<strong>in</strong>gly reveals that<br />

the disbursement of power from<br />

Him was automatic. It was as if<br />

He could not resist allow<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

power to be released from Him.<br />

Jesus then told the woman that<br />

it was her faith that healed her.<br />

The woman experienced supernatural<br />

heal<strong>in</strong>g as a result of<br />

her faith. Her story illustrates<br />

a clear example of how faith<br />

appropriated the power of God<br />

for a supernatural heal<strong>in</strong>g. Many<br />

times throughout the Gospels<br />

Jesus suggested to His followers<br />

and subsequently to us that faith<br />

is the div<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong>strument for physical<br />

as well as spiritual heal<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

He made statements such as:<br />

“Daughter, your faith has made<br />

you well (Mark 5:34); go your<br />

way, your faith has made you<br />

well (Mark 10:52); your faith has<br />

saved you, go <strong>in</strong> peace (Luke<br />

7:50); and receive your sight,<br />

your faith has made you well”<br />

(Luke 18:42). He was seem<strong>in</strong>gly<br />

stat<strong>in</strong>g that the faith that each of<br />

these <strong>in</strong>dividuals possessed and<br />

exhibited, was the active agent<br />

<strong>in</strong> their heal<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

In order to activate the supernatural<br />

to <strong>in</strong>tervene <strong>in</strong> our situations,<br />

our faith must not waver. Instead<br />

it must be solid to a degree that<br />

it even surpasses believ<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

reaches to a level of know<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Because, God does not reward


fear or doubt. Certa<strong>in</strong>ly, God can<br />

act supernaturally <strong>in</strong> any situation<br />

and without any expression<br />

of faith from us. He has done so<br />

many times throughout history<br />

and as a result of His mercy.<br />

However, He has equipped us to<br />

help ourselves to some degree<br />

by exercis<strong>in</strong>g the faith He has<br />

given us. <strong>Faith</strong> is an attribute of<br />

our spirits and is the enabl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

power that God has given to<br />

each <strong>in</strong>dividual. Each person<br />

was given a measure of faith<br />

(Romans 12:3) and it would be<br />

impossible to believe <strong>in</strong> anyone<br />

or anyth<strong>in</strong>g without it. It would be<br />

diffi cult to ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> a life <strong>in</strong> our<br />

bodies and <strong>in</strong> this world if we<br />

did not exercise some degree<br />

of faith. All <strong>in</strong>teractions we have<br />

with people and th<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> this<br />

world require us to demonstrate<br />

some level of trust. It is only by<br />

faith that we can even accept<br />

the notion that the earth will cont<strong>in</strong>ue<br />

to hold its position <strong>in</strong> the<br />

universe and will cont<strong>in</strong>ue to<br />

susta<strong>in</strong> our existence.<br />

Undoubtedly without faith or the<br />

strength of faith, the supernatural<br />

is unatta<strong>in</strong>able to us. <strong>Faith</strong><br />

is the only way to activate the<br />

supernatural. God has given us<br />

certa<strong>in</strong> powers over the physical<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs of the world. We see the<br />

manifestations of these powers<br />

through all the miraculous <strong>in</strong>ventions<br />

<strong>in</strong> the world and various<br />

medical enablement. Humanity<br />

as a whole has learned to work<br />

with the various laws of the universe<br />

to improve our physical<br />

circumstances. For the natural<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs of the world we do use<br />

natural knowledge, skills, and<br />

“universal faith” (not spiritual) to<br />

further our existence. However,<br />

for the supernatural th<strong>in</strong>gs we<br />

must use spiritual understand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and empowerment given to<br />

us through the Holy Spirit, one of<br />

which is faith.<br />

God is Spirit. It would be unproductive<br />

to attempt to relate to<br />

God through physical means as<br />

we do with each other. Instead,<br />

God prefers for those who seek<br />

Him to <strong>in</strong>teract with Him <strong>in</strong> spirit<br />

and <strong>in</strong> truth (John 4:24). In<br />

other words, He desires for us<br />

to approach Him spiritually—<br />

through faith and truth, both<br />

of which are equipped <strong>in</strong> us<br />

through the Holy Spirit. As a matter-of-fact,<br />

God is look<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

listen<strong>in</strong>g to our hearts for these<br />

qualities, rather than listen<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to the sounds of our voices or<br />

exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g our body languages<br />

(1 Samuel 16:7). The Holy Spirit<br />

works to restore a Christian’s<br />

faith to God’s <strong>in</strong>tended potency<br />

and He leads us to God’s truth so<br />

that we are equipped to access<br />

the realm of the spirit where God<br />

is and to do the eternal work of<br />

His K<strong>in</strong>gdom.<br />

Some Christians futilely pray<br />

<strong>in</strong> an attempt to appropriate<br />

K<strong>in</strong>gdom benefi ts. They petition<br />

God to <strong>in</strong>tervene <strong>in</strong> their<br />

situations and then nullify their<br />

requests with doubt-fi lled statements.<br />

They pray to God with<br />

doubt and unbelief <strong>in</strong> their<br />

hearts. They neglect the necessity<br />

to also deploy their faith.<br />

Prayer is important and when it<br />

is accompanied with faith, it is<br />

a powerful tool. However, faith<br />

is actually more important than<br />

prayer because it is impossible<br />

to please God without faith and<br />

prayers are impotent without<br />

faith. Those who come to God<br />

must believe that He exists, and<br />

that He rewards those who persistently<br />

seek Him (Hebrews<br />

11:6). We must seek Him <strong>in</strong> faith,<br />

with no doubt<strong>in</strong>g. God likens a<br />

person who doubts, to a wave of<br />

the sea driven and tossed by the<br />

w<strong>in</strong>d. The person who doubts<br />

should not suppose that he or<br />

she will receive anyth<strong>in</strong>g from<br />

the Lord (James 1:6-8).<br />

The Unknown Christian stated<br />

this about prayer <strong>in</strong> The Kneel<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Christian, “We must not conceive<br />

of prayer as overcom<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God’s reluctance, but as lay<strong>in</strong>g<br />

hold of his highest will<strong>in</strong>gness.”<br />

We often become apprehensive<br />

about whether God will help us<br />

resolve our problems, especially<br />

when the answers to our petitions<br />

seem delayed. But consider<br />

this, God created angels<br />

with certa<strong>in</strong> powers. Angels<br />

have great strength, knowledge,<br />

wisdom, and power over natural<br />

and supernatural environments.<br />

Angels are aware of their powers<br />

and act with<strong>in</strong> them <strong>in</strong> obedience<br />

to God and accord<strong>in</strong>g to His will.<br />

I imag<strong>in</strong>e that they do not cry<br />

out to God on a consistent basis<br />

or <strong>in</strong> doubt ask<strong>in</strong>g God to <strong>in</strong>tervene<br />

<strong>in</strong>to circumstances that He<br />

has already empowered them<br />

to overcome. Mank<strong>in</strong>d, specifi -<br />

cally Christians, similarly have<br />

empowerment from God through<br />

their faith, however unbelief<br />

neutralizes that power. We consistently<br />

cry out to God for His<br />

div<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong>tervention <strong>in</strong>to our various<br />

situations never exercis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the power that God has given us<br />

to prevail through faith. It may<br />

be that resolution to our problems<br />

may sometime be delayed<br />

because God may be wait<strong>in</strong>g for<br />

us to exercise faith. <strong>Faith</strong> is such<br />

a powerful tool for us that the<br />

Bible tells us that with it we can<br />

move mounta<strong>in</strong>s. More importantly,<br />

we are able to ext<strong>in</strong>guish


or overcome all the <strong>in</strong>jurious tactics<br />

of the wicked one with faith<br />

(Ephesians 6:16).<br />

I have a plaque <strong>in</strong> my home that I<br />

found at a Hobby Lobby store. It<br />

serves as a confi rmation of what<br />

I believed the Holy Spirit spoke<br />

to my heart one day. It states,<br />

“<strong>Faith</strong> is not believ<strong>in</strong>g that God<br />

can, it is know<strong>in</strong>g that He will.”<br />

In the story about the woman<br />

who was supernaturally healed<br />

by her faith, the woman knew<br />

she would be healed if she just<br />

touched Jesus’ cloak. There was<br />

no doubt <strong>in</strong> her m<strong>in</strong>d. We can<br />

learn from her story that the k<strong>in</strong>d<br />

of faith that activates the supernatural<br />

goes beyond believ<strong>in</strong>g, it<br />

is know<strong>in</strong>g. It is complete confi -<br />

dence <strong>in</strong> God. A person comes<br />

to the po<strong>in</strong>t of know<strong>in</strong>g through<br />

the work of the Holy Spirit. The<br />

woman came to this assurance<br />

when she heard a “word” about<br />

Jesus and decided to believe<br />

what she heard. She then demonstrated<br />

what she believed by<br />

her actions. The Bible tells us<br />

that faith comes by hear<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

Word of God (Romans 10:17).<br />

We can certa<strong>in</strong>ly emulate this<br />

woman of faith by search<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

scriptures to fi nd God’s promises<br />

and what God’s will is <strong>in</strong> any<br />

situation. Then we can pray with<br />

certa<strong>in</strong>ty, know<strong>in</strong>g that what we<br />

pray for is accord<strong>in</strong>g to God’s<br />

will. Like the woman, we can<br />

deliberately touch God with our<br />

faith. <strong>Faith</strong> is the only way corporeal<br />

be<strong>in</strong>gs, such as mank<strong>in</strong>d,<br />

can touch a Holy God who is<br />

spirit. And, if we can touch God<br />

through faith, we can def<strong>in</strong>itely<br />

hold onto Him through faith <strong>in</strong><br />

His promises.<br />

The enemy has been work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

so diligently from the Garden<br />

of Eden until today to underm<strong>in</strong>e<br />

our trust <strong>in</strong> God. I believe<br />

he does this because he knows<br />

the power that God has given<br />

us over him and his tactics<br />

through faith. However, due<br />

to s<strong>in</strong> our power through faith<br />

<strong>in</strong> God became weakened—<br />

became dead faith. Jesus came<br />

and restored that power by<br />

deliver<strong>in</strong>g us from unbelief and<br />

s<strong>in</strong>-fi lled works. God restored<br />

power to us through the Holy<br />

Spirit as a result of Jesus’ work.<br />

We receive the necessary faith<br />

to believe and become saved<br />

through the power and work of<br />

the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit<br />

works through the hear<strong>in</strong>g of the<br />

Word of God to grow faith <strong>in</strong> us<br />

(Romans 10:17). Through the<br />

Holy Spirit all those who believe<br />

<strong>in</strong> Christ may be empowered to<br />

act with<strong>in</strong> the supernatural.<br />

It is pert<strong>in</strong>ent at this po<strong>in</strong>t that we<br />

share an understand<strong>in</strong>g about<br />

the attributes of faith <strong>in</strong> order to<br />

appreciate its function. <strong>Faith</strong> is<br />

described as the substance of<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs hoped for, the evidence<br />

of th<strong>in</strong>gs not seen (Hebrews<br />

11:1). Exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the description<br />

closely we fi nd the message<br />

that is be<strong>in</strong>g communicated. In<br />

essences the passage is stat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that believ<strong>in</strong>g is the actual matter<br />

or physical consistency of a th<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and that which causes the manifestation<br />

of th<strong>in</strong>gs that are not<br />

seen. There are different consistency<br />

of faith among believ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals as well as among<br />

unbeliev<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dividuals and the<br />

strength of power exuded by it.<br />

But, it is the same Spirit who distributes<br />

to each <strong>in</strong>dividual as He<br />

chooses.<br />

The Bible tells us that faith is a<br />

fruit and can be given as a gift of<br />

the Spirit (Galatians 5:22; 1 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians<br />

12:9). <strong>Faith</strong> is a product<br />

or a fruit produced by the Holy<br />

Spirit. Therefore, faith and the<br />

Holy Spirit are one and the same<br />

and this is the reason why faith<br />

can be so powerful. Additionally,<br />

as a gift, faith may be given as<br />

a special dispensation to certa<strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals by the Holy Spirit.<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> that is given as a gift of the<br />

Spirit surpasses even “spiritual<br />

faith” (the k<strong>in</strong>d believers possess)<br />

to the level of know<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

It is “supernatural faith” and it<br />

is usually given to benefi t the<br />

Church. Individuals gifted with<br />

such a faith have spiritual sight,<br />

hear<strong>in</strong>g, knowledge, wisdom,<br />

and understand<strong>in</strong>g. Examples<br />

of the special dispensation of<br />

supernatural faith by the Holy<br />

Spirit can be observed through<br />

the lives of various <strong>in</strong>dividuals<br />

throughout the Scriptures, especially<br />

through the life of Jesus<br />

and the lives of the prophets.<br />

Pastor Kenneth Copeland <strong>in</strong><br />

a message on faith, identifi ed<br />

what I termed “supernatural<br />

faith” as the “God k<strong>in</strong>d of faith.”<br />

He described, “The God k<strong>in</strong>d of<br />

faith operates <strong>in</strong> the realm of the<br />

spirit. It takes hold of the Word<br />

of God <strong>in</strong> the unseen realm and<br />

br<strong>in</strong>gs that Word to pass <strong>in</strong> the<br />

natural world. That is the k<strong>in</strong>d of<br />

faith God used to br<strong>in</strong>g this earth<br />

<strong>in</strong>to existence. It’s a powerful<br />

force. And when it fl ows from the<br />

hearts and mouths of believers,<br />

real spiritual faith changes natural<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs.”<br />

The story of Elisha shows us this<br />

k<strong>in</strong>d of faith or power <strong>in</strong> action.<br />

Elisha received a double portion<br />

of the Spirit that rested upon<br />

Elijah. Elijah, by the empowerment<br />

of the Holy Spirit, did


<strong>in</strong>credible miracles. But with a<br />

double portion of the Holy Spirit,<br />

Elisha possessed even more<br />

power and did more miracles<br />

than Elijah (2 K<strong>in</strong>gs 2:9). The<br />

same power that worked <strong>in</strong> Elijah<br />

and Elisha, was the same power<br />

that created the universe.<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> is the creative force of the<br />

universe. All Christians have the<br />

potential of all that power dwell<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with<strong>in</strong> them through the Holy<br />

Spirit. As the creative force of<br />

the universe, the Holy Spirit<br />

created everyth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the world<br />

that God willed to create. He<br />

is also the power of our faith.<br />

Jesus encouraged us through<br />

the scriptures that it pleases the<br />

Father to meet our every need.<br />

God’s provision to meet our<br />

every need is the Holy Spirit.<br />

He promises to commission the<br />

Holy Spirit to give us what we<br />

ask, help us fi nd what we seek,<br />

and open doors on our behalf<br />

(Matthew 7:7-12). God will not<br />

reward our trust <strong>in</strong> Him with evil.<br />

When Jesus’ disciples asked<br />

Him to <strong>in</strong>crease their faith, Jesus<br />

told them that if they had faith as<br />

a mustard seed, the mulberry<br />

tree would obey them (Luke<br />

17:6). He repeated to them that<br />

they only needed faith as a mustard<br />

seed when they also asked<br />

Him why they could not cast out<br />

a demon (Matthew 17:20). Most<br />

understand these passages to<br />

say that we only need a mustard<br />

seed size faith for the miraculous<br />

to happen. While this may be<br />

true, other attributes of the mustard<br />

seed is just as important to<br />

note. Mustard seeds are alive,<br />

able to grow plants that reach<br />

great heights, and they can produce<br />

fruits. Our faith should possess<br />

the same characteristics of<br />

a mustard seed. <strong>Faith</strong> should be<br />

alive and be able to grow and<br />

produce. As Jesus expla<strong>in</strong>ed to<br />

His disciples, their unbelief was<br />

the reason their efforts to cast<br />

out the demon was unsuccessful.<br />

Unbelief is evidence of dead<br />

faith. Unbelief and doubt will<br />

render our attempts to activate<br />

the supernatural, <strong>in</strong>effective.<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> can be <strong>in</strong>creased but it<br />

does so as we submit to the Holy<br />

Spirit. As we sow to the Spirit we<br />

will reap more of the Spirit. Stephen<br />

was described as a man<br />

full of faith and power. The power<br />

that Stephen exhibited was proportionate<br />

to his level of faith. He<br />

was full with faith and so he was<br />

also full of power. As a result of<br />

his great faith and power he was<br />

able to activate the supernatural<br />

and he did great miracles (Acts<br />

6:8).<br />

Tenacity of faith is the proper<br />

posture for a Christian, particularly<br />

when answers seem<br />

delayed. Accord<strong>in</strong>g to Edward<br />

Bounds <strong>in</strong> his book Necessity<br />

of Prayer, “<strong>Faith</strong> does not grow<br />

disheartened because prayer<br />

is not immediately honoured; it<br />

takes God at His Word, and lets<br />

Him take what time He chooses<br />

<strong>in</strong> fulfi ll<strong>in</strong>g His purposes, and <strong>in</strong><br />

carry<strong>in</strong>g on His work.”<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> is the key that unlocks<br />

the power of God. With that<br />

key noth<strong>in</strong>g is impossible to us.<br />

Jesus said, “If you can believe,<br />

all th<strong>in</strong>gs are possible to him<br />

who believes” (Mark 9:23). He<br />

also stated that “noth<strong>in</strong>g will be<br />

impossible for you” who have<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g faith (Matthew 17:20).<br />

These statements are similar to<br />

the statement, “For with God all<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs are possible” (Mark 10:<br />

27). When we believe God we<br />

are united with Him and have<br />

access to <strong>in</strong>f<strong>in</strong>ite possibilities<br />

and <strong>in</strong>fi nite power.<br />

Biography<br />

Nichel Hilman lives <strong>in</strong> Cibolo,<br />

Texas. She loves God and strives<br />

to demonstrate that through<br />

lov<strong>in</strong>g others. She has been wife<br />

to Celsio for twenty-seven years.<br />

And, she is a mother to Misha<br />

Mariah, Nicholas Stewart, and<br />

Jonathon James.


Foundation of <strong>Faith</strong><br />

Why is develop<strong>in</strong>g faith important to your walk?<br />

By Margo McKenzie<br />

I have never seen Jesus Christ. I have never<br />

talked to the disciples or had an encounter with<br />

the Apostle Paul, Timothy or any other of the<br />

gospel greats. I have never peered <strong>in</strong>to a microscope<br />

to fi nd proof of the gospel story. By logic<br />

and reason<strong>in</strong>g, I have not been able to deduce<br />

that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ.<br />

When I was old enough to walk, my mother woke<br />

me up at 9:30 every Sunday morn<strong>in</strong>g to get ready<br />

for church. I ate the weekly prunes and pancakes,<br />

and waited for my father to return from his<br />

midnight duty as a police offi cer and drive me to<br />

church.<br />

I started with the 11 o’clock service and listened<br />

as one church leader opened the service <strong>in</strong><br />

prayer, another read a scripture, a third preached<br />

a fi fteen-m<strong>in</strong>ute sermon, and yet another, closed<br />

with prayer. After an hour break, I went to Sunday<br />

School where the teacher gave us record book<br />

credit as each student recited the assigned verses.<br />

My favorites were Psalms 1:1-10; 23 and John 14:<br />

1-10. Then we read, listened and answered questions<br />

about another bible story.<br />

I believed everyth<strong>in</strong>g I was taught. When I was<br />

thirteen, I attended an over-night Christian camp.<br />

Dur<strong>in</strong>g the last night of camp service, the preacher<br />

asked a question that I could not answer. “If Jesus<br />

returns while you’re on your way back to your dorm,<br />

are you ready to meet him?” I had never actually<br />

asked Jesus to come <strong>in</strong>to my life, but the prospect<br />

of be<strong>in</strong>g left beh<strong>in</strong>d at a campground <strong>in</strong> the hills<br />

of Pennsylvania or abandoned <strong>in</strong> the woods was<br />

enough to scare this thirteen year-old <strong>in</strong>to heaven,<br />

so I stayed beh<strong>in</strong>d so that someone could expla<strong>in</strong><br />

to me how to be saved.<br />

When I became a little older, I attended the young<br />

people’s meet<strong>in</strong>g on Sunday even<strong>in</strong>gs. I cont<strong>in</strong>ued<br />

to study God’s word, asked to be baptized and


egan tak<strong>in</strong>g communion when I was a junior <strong>in</strong><br />

high school. I found refuge <strong>in</strong> hymns, scripture<br />

and the family of Christians I found <strong>in</strong> my church.<br />

The Christian life was everyth<strong>in</strong>g I expected.<br />

Then I began to pay more attention to what I was<br />

hear<strong>in</strong>g about Jesus and read<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the Bible. I<br />

began to fi nd <strong>in</strong>consistencies and asked questions<br />

<strong>in</strong> Sunday School. Many were not fond of this<br />

new phase of my faith. I wanted to understand the<br />

Bible and this Christian life <strong>in</strong>to which I was born<br />

and then re-born. The questions mounted <strong>in</strong> college<br />

where I found the Christian community was<br />

more receptive, so I was more will<strong>in</strong>g to hang <strong>in</strong><br />

there.<br />

Ever s<strong>in</strong>ce college, my life has been a cycle of<br />

hear<strong>in</strong>g, believ<strong>in</strong>g, liv<strong>in</strong>g and question<strong>in</strong>g, doubt<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

hear<strong>in</strong>g, believ<strong>in</strong>g, liv<strong>in</strong>g, question<strong>in</strong>g, doubt<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

hear<strong>in</strong>g. . . I rely on this verse up to today:<br />

“<strong>Faith</strong> comes by hear<strong>in</strong>g and hear<strong>in</strong>g the word of<br />

God.” This has been my Christian journey, a life<br />

of question<strong>in</strong>g and mov<strong>in</strong>g on <strong>in</strong> faith.<br />

In a New York Times article, columnist William<br />

Irv<strong>in</strong> noted this quote about faith:<br />

“The Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote that<br />

faith “is a decision, a judgment that is fully and<br />

deliberately taken <strong>in</strong> the light of a truth that cannot<br />

be proven — it is not merely the acceptance of a<br />

decision that has been made by somebody else.”<br />

(“God is a Question Not an Answer,” March 26,<br />

<strong>2016</strong>, http://goo.gl/y8Hkfn)<br />

Out of respect for the speaker, one listens as she<br />

or he shares God’s word. The next step is up to<br />

the listener. She or he makes a decision to either<br />

accept or reject the message. Those who do<br />

accept what is said, do so through one act only:<br />

faith.<br />

Even when we question what God is do<strong>in</strong>g, our<br />

questions are an act of faith. How could we question<br />

what God is do<strong>in</strong>g if we don’t believe he exists?<br />

Whatever our degree of faith, God can work with<br />

us. All we need is mustard-seed faith, the t<strong>in</strong>iest<br />

seed, I’m told. God takes it from there. And so<br />

must we because “faith without works is dead.”<br />

(James 2:14 KJV) What good is a dead faith? From<br />

a foundation of faith, we move on <strong>in</strong> the Christian<br />

live. We show our faith by the th<strong>in</strong>gs that we do<br />

and the places we go. “Without faith, it is impossible<br />

to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)<br />

After mak<strong>in</strong>g a decision to live the Christian life,<br />

Christians make a decision to <strong>in</strong>terpret their lives<br />

through the lens of faith. In different circumstances<br />

that we encounter we want to know what Jesus<br />

would do. What would Jesus say? What would he<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k? How does he want us to live? We want to<br />

walk as a Christian should.<br />

We search for these answers by pray<strong>in</strong>g, read<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the bible, listen<strong>in</strong>g to a song or a sermon, read<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a spiritual book. As we live, we pay attention<br />

to all that is happen<strong>in</strong>g around us as we search<br />

for an answers to our dilemmas. A fi rm command<strong>in</strong>g<br />

verse or sermon with its accompany<strong>in</strong>g peace<br />

enters with<strong>in</strong>, and, by faith, we accept it as com<strong>in</strong>g<br />

from God himself.<br />

Sometimes we <strong>in</strong>terpret correctly, and sometimes<br />

we do not. As we fi ne-tune our faith, grow deeper<br />

and wiser, we learn to strengthen our faith muscles<br />

to discern whether a response is actually from<br />

God or of God.<br />

When we fall, <strong>in</strong> faith, we ask for forgiveness, and,<br />

by faith, we believe that we are forgiven. By faith,<br />

we ask God for direction <strong>in</strong> our lives and pray for<br />

protection for our family. By faith, we ask God to<br />

lead and direct the pastor of our church, and, by<br />

faith, we use our gifts to serve the Christian community.<br />

Every day, we Christians make a decision to do<br />

our best to follow Jesus’s guidance for liv<strong>in</strong>g so<br />

that we live our best life—as Jesus would defi ne it.<br />

This, too, is a faith decision.<br />

Scientists are amazed at how perfectly our bodies<br />

systems work. Astronauts are humbled by the<br />

magnifi cence of the heavens. But, of course, that’s<br />

not proof of Christ dy<strong>in</strong>g for the s<strong>in</strong>s of the world.<br />

By reason<strong>in</strong>g, no one can prove that God is or that<br />

the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. Without<br />

proof, we accept the claims of the Bible from<br />

Genesis through Revelation-- by faith.<br />

After that, for me, the Christian experience talks


on a more personal nature. I beg<strong>in</strong> to ask God for<br />

what I need and rely on what he has already promised,<br />

and when I look at my life, I can only say that<br />

he has been faithful.<br />

Ms. Clara <strong>in</strong> the movie “War Room” set aside a<br />

closet <strong>in</strong> her house for prayer only. On little sheets<br />

of paper, she posted her prayer requests on the<br />

walls. In the same way she posted God’s promises<br />

as refl ected <strong>in</strong> various scriptures she treasured.<br />

Her personal experience with God was<br />

proof enough of his power and presence <strong>in</strong> her<br />

life, and all she could do was share her experience<br />

with Elizabeth Jordan, her broker who listened to<br />

what Ms. Clara had to say and started a war room<br />

of her own. This movie depicts a rivet<strong>in</strong>g story of<br />

the power of prayer <strong>in</strong> both their lives.<br />

I have a spreadsheet that itemizes my requests to<br />

God and his answers. Is this proof? It’s enough<br />

for me. I don’t speak <strong>in</strong> tongues. I have never<br />

heard Gods voice, yet he is still my choice.<br />

My <strong>Faith</strong>: A L<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> A Cha<strong>in</strong><br />

Believers shared the story of Jesus with others<br />

who chose to believe. They, <strong>in</strong> turn, shared the<br />

story of Jesus with me, and, without proof, I chose<br />

to believe. I cont<strong>in</strong>ue the cha<strong>in</strong> by shar<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

story of Jesus with others, encourag<strong>in</strong>g them to<br />

follow the Christian path. I am a l<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> a cha<strong>in</strong> of<br />

faith that, I pray, cont<strong>in</strong>ues to replicate.<br />

Some people may th<strong>in</strong>k they are follow<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

Christian lifestyle by “be<strong>in</strong>g good” They seek to<br />

tell the truth and do everyth<strong>in</strong>g ethical hop<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

earns them a spot <strong>in</strong> the k<strong>in</strong>gdom of heaven. But<br />

our goodness is not good enough. This type of<br />

faith is a faith <strong>in</strong> self. It doesn’t rise to God’s standards<br />

of excellence.<br />

The only way to the Christ is by faith <strong>in</strong> the work<br />

that Christ has already done. The only way to stay<br />

connected to Christ is through faith. We of the<br />

faith have to keep the faith and share it. Like DNA<br />

replication, we pass on the code of Christ necessary<br />

(the gospel story) for the build<strong>in</strong>g of the Christian<br />

family. God himself connects the l<strong>in</strong>ks.<br />

God Is a Question, Not an Ans wer”<br />

http://goo.gl/y8Hkfn<br />

By WILLIAM IRWIN date published New York<br />

Times MARCH 26, <strong>2016</strong> 2:30 PM


“Truly I tell you, if you have fa<br />

mustard seed, you can say to<br />

‘Move from here to there,’ a<br />

Noth<strong>in</strong>g will be impossible fo


<strong>Faith</strong> to Move<br />

Mounta<strong>in</strong>s<br />

ith as small as a<br />

this mounta<strong>in</strong>,<br />

d it will move.<br />

r you.”<br />

By Chris Benton<br />

There are several steps to hav<strong>in</strong>g the faith<br />

to move mounta<strong>in</strong>s. You don’t just jump<br />

out on faith and move big mounta<strong>in</strong>s but<br />

you build to those bigger moments by apply<strong>in</strong>g<br />

faith to smaller moments. The steps are; fi rst<br />

steps, baby steps, bigger steps, giant steps and<br />

impossible steps. I believe that if you look at your<br />

life and anyth<strong>in</strong>g that you have accomplished, you<br />

have already gone through these steps. <strong>May</strong>be<br />

you didn’t reach some of the steps because you<br />

quit before them, but if you had success then you<br />

went through most of these. The bigger the success<br />

the more of these 5 steps you went through.<br />

Always remember, your whole life is built around<br />

tak<strong>in</strong>g one step and then tak<strong>in</strong>g another! <strong>Faith</strong> is<br />

always <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> tak<strong>in</strong>g these steps!<br />

I believe lead to a faith that can move mounta<strong>in</strong>s:<br />

First Steps: This has to be the most important part<br />

because without stepp<strong>in</strong>g out on faith and tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

those fi rst steps, you will never reach where God<br />

is call<strong>in</strong>g you. Sadly, this is the part that many<br />

people never do and it’s part of the reason why<br />

many people don’t go where they know <strong>in</strong> their<br />

heart God called them to go.<br />

What does God say about faith?<br />

Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so<br />

little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small<br />

as a mustard seed, you can say to this mounta<strong>in</strong>,<br />

‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Noth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

will be impossible for you.”<br />

But the question is how do you build to believ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

impossible faith? Here are several steps that


Does it take faith? Of course it does, because<br />

many times you are stepp<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to the unknown<br />

and that’s hard for us. Our lives have been tra<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

to only take steps where we will know the result.<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> says to take steps even when you don’t know<br />

because God is on your side. When God calls, you<br />

have to JUMP! You have to take that fi rst step and<br />

go for it. As they say, “A journey of a thousand<br />

miles beg<strong>in</strong>s with the fi rst step.”<br />

Baby Steps: Once you have taken those dreaded<br />

fi rst steps and realize that it didn’t kill you, now you<br />

are on your way. You can start tak<strong>in</strong>g baby steps<br />

because daily baby steps are always better than<br />

giant steps that you take once <strong>in</strong> a while. Tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

steps daily needs to become a lifestyle towards<br />

what you have been called to do. The more you<br />

take these baby steps, the more you results you<br />

will start to see.<br />

Th<strong>in</strong>k about it this way, would you want a penny<br />

doubled every day for 30 days or a million dollars?<br />

If you said a million dollars(giant step) then<br />

you would lose a lot of money because the right<br />

answer is a penny doubled every day (baby steps).<br />

Sometime just do that math on a calculator and<br />

you will see what you gave up by tak<strong>in</strong>g the giant<br />

step <strong>in</strong>stead of the baby steps.<br />

Bigger Steps: The more you take those baby<br />

steps, the bigger they become and now you are on<br />

to the next step of this process. This is where you<br />

are start<strong>in</strong>g to see some th<strong>in</strong>gs really happen<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> your life. This is where people’s heads are start<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to turn, because a lot of times through those<br />

fi rst two steps, people may look at you like you are<br />

crazy. At this po<strong>in</strong>t, some people will come around<br />

and say that maybe you are right on this. Others<br />

will still call you crazy for where you are go<strong>in</strong>g. It’s<br />

just a part of life.<br />

When people get to this step, this is where many<br />

crash because at this po<strong>in</strong>t life has probably gotten<br />

comfortable. More money is start<strong>in</strong>g to come <strong>in</strong>.<br />

The th<strong>in</strong>gs they are do<strong>in</strong>g are gett<strong>in</strong>g results and<br />

life seems to be go<strong>in</strong>g their way. This step is where<br />

people can easily get way too comfortable because<br />

of what’s happen<strong>in</strong>g. How many times do you see<br />

someone start mak<strong>in</strong>g more money than they are<br />

used to and then stop do<strong>in</strong>g what got them there <strong>in</strong><br />

the fi rst place. It happens a lot and then they lose<br />

sight of where God was call<strong>in</strong>g them to go.<br />

II believe there are two ma<strong>in</strong> roadblocks that stop<br />

people from God’s call<strong>in</strong>g. They are: tak<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

uncomfortable fi rst step towards where God called<br />

you to go and lett<strong>in</strong>g life get too comfortable. Both<br />

of those are roadblocks that you have to overcome.<br />

Giant Steps: If you get beyond the roadblock of<br />

comfort then you start to reach giant steps. This is<br />

where people start tell<strong>in</strong>g you that you were lucky,<br />

but they didn’t see all of those times you cried<br />

wonder<strong>in</strong>g if you would ever reach God’s call<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for your life. This is where when you look back it<br />

will just amaze you. You will know <strong>in</strong> your heart<br />

the only way for you to be here <strong>in</strong> this moment is<br />

because of God. There is no other way.<br />

These steps are now becom<strong>in</strong>g so much easier and<br />

now your vision for your life has started expand<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

<strong>May</strong>be at the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g you wanted to reach<br />

a few thousand people, but now you can see one<br />

day reach<strong>in</strong>g millions. You are tak<strong>in</strong>g the biggest<br />

steps of faith <strong>in</strong> your life and it just feels right. You<br />

are reach<strong>in</strong>g for bigger and greater th<strong>in</strong>gs, but this<br />

is not the last step. There is one more to go and if<br />

you are faithful <strong>in</strong> the long-run, you will get to the<br />

last step.<br />

Impossible Steps: You have gone through all of<br />

the steps and you made it to this po<strong>in</strong>t. I have to be<br />

honest, very few people get to this po<strong>in</strong>t. The ones<br />

that do, many change their whole generation like<br />

the late Mart<strong>in</strong> Luther K<strong>in</strong>g, Jr., Rosa Parks, John<br />

F. Kennedy, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. I can go on<br />

and on. There are so many people <strong>in</strong> our lifetime<br />

that changed the way we see th<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

But the biggest life changer was Jesus Christ. In<br />

only 33 years of his life and <strong>in</strong> only 3 years of his<br />

m<strong>in</strong>istry, he changed everyth<strong>in</strong>g. Now if anyone<br />

made it to impossible steps, it was Jesus. No<br />

Christian can doubt that and many people of other<br />

religions even realize the impact that he made<br />

throughout the world. He was an impossible stepper,<br />

but it took him 30 years to build up before he<br />

went out with his m<strong>in</strong>istry even though he knew<br />

what God called. He knew he was supposed to die<br />

for us all on that cross.<br />

What are you will<strong>in</strong>g to do for God today? It isn’t


about tak<strong>in</strong>g those impossible steps yet, it is about<br />

tak<strong>in</strong>g those fi rst steps. The very fi rst step you<br />

need to take is either gett<strong>in</strong>g saved or rededicat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

your life back to God if you have been off track.<br />

Ask God to come <strong>in</strong>to your life and tell you that<br />

you have s<strong>in</strong>ned so you realize you need Christ<br />

and accept Christ 100% <strong>in</strong>to your heart. Ask him to<br />

lead you through the steps you need to take along<br />

your journey <strong>in</strong> life.<br />

If you need to come back to Christ then ask him<br />

back <strong>in</strong>to your heart. Let him know that you have<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ned too and you are rededicat<strong>in</strong>g your life back<br />

to him. Ask him to help you see th<strong>in</strong>gs through his<br />

eyes for your life because when his desires for you<br />

become your desires then noth<strong>in</strong>g can stop you!<br />

Now from this po<strong>in</strong>t stay fully surrendered to God.<br />

You will be able to say although I went through<br />

heartache, I also went through many triumphs <strong>in</strong><br />

this life because I started with my fi rst steps of<br />

faith and kept mov<strong>in</strong>g forward!<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g a God-Inspired Life,<br />

Chris Benton<br />

Facebook: @TheChrisBenton<br />

Twitter: @TheChrisBenton.com<br />

Web: TheChrisBenton.com<br />

I am Chris Benton. I run a Christian Blog and am<br />

launch<strong>in</strong>g a marriage m<strong>in</strong>istry because God’s purpose<br />

for m<strong>in</strong>e and my wife’s life is to help marriages.<br />

I have been writ<strong>in</strong>g for several years now<br />

and have found a great passion <strong>in</strong> writ<strong>in</strong>g, so<br />

because of that I am writ<strong>in</strong>g a book on my 19 years<br />

of addiction that I fi nally walked away from over 8<br />

years ago! I have also started creat<strong>in</strong>g short video


Authority Over Demons Requires<br />

<strong>Faith</strong>, Boldness, and<br />

Knowledge of God’s<br />

Written<br />

Word<br />

By Paul Ahnert<br />

Demonic activity is often a taboo subject<br />

<strong>in</strong> Christian circles. Fear or ignorance<br />

on the topic of demonism, may cause<br />

believers to suffer needlessly from oppression<br />

or the <strong>in</strong>fl uence of evil spiritual forces. Believers<br />

should be careful to not blame every s<strong>in</strong><br />

or problem on the devil, however, the Church<br />

must recognize demonic activity as someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

real and know that believers can have <strong>in</strong>dividual<br />

victory over such activity. Concern<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the demonic, there is little balance <strong>in</strong> Christiandom,<br />

<strong>in</strong> more ma<strong>in</strong>stream churches, the<br />

dark side of spiritual forces are generally<br />

ignored or denied, while <strong>in</strong> deliverance type<br />

churches , there are those who see a demon<br />

beh<strong>in</strong>d every bush, so to speak, blam<strong>in</strong>g<br />

even mundane s<strong>in</strong>s and problems on specifi c<br />

demons. At the risk of giv<strong>in</strong>g too much credit<br />

to the forces of evil, the topic of demonic activity<br />

must be addressed by the Church. Jesus<br />

and the Apostles confronted demons head on<br />

and gave victory to the victims of possession<br />

and oppression.<br />

DEMONIC ACTIVITY IS ON THE RISE<br />

WORLDWIDE<br />

With demonic activity on the rise around the<br />

world, the Christian Church, now, more than<br />

ever, must be vigilant and equipped to deal


with the supernatural. As s<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong><br />

the world <strong>in</strong>creases, supernatural<br />

manifestations of evil also<br />

<strong>in</strong>crease. Dozens of television<br />

programs feature ghost hunters<br />

or ghost encounters, reports of<br />

UFO activity are found <strong>in</strong> ma<strong>in</strong>stream<br />

news reports, and stories<br />

of possession and exorcism<br />

are the th<strong>in</strong>gs of headl<strong>in</strong>es <strong>in</strong><br />

reputable news sources. Overt<br />

demonic activity, once, someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

only encountered by missionaries<br />

<strong>in</strong> the most pagan of<br />

lands of the Near East has come<br />

to the western world. H<strong>in</strong>du<br />

based New Age philosophy and<br />

practice has opened the door to<br />

unprecedented spiritual oppression<br />

and <strong>in</strong>fluence. In 2015,<br />

National Public Radio did a story<br />

about the need for more Exorcists<br />

<strong>in</strong> the Philipp<strong>in</strong>es. In January of<br />

<strong>2016</strong>, Yahoo news reported that<br />

an Exorcist was needed on the<br />

set of the fi lm Conjur<strong>in</strong>g 2, as<br />

paranormal disruptions plagued<br />

the fi lm<strong>in</strong>g of the fi rst movie <strong>in</strong><br />

the series. The Christian world<br />

is not immune from practices<br />

that <strong>in</strong>vite evil spirits as some<br />

churches are implement<strong>in</strong>g<br />

guided imagery as a counsel<strong>in</strong>g<br />

technique and events such as<br />

church sponsored Yoga classes<br />

are <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly common.<br />

DEMONIC ACTIVITY IN THE<br />

TIME OF JESUS<br />

Perhaps the most well know<br />

story of a demonic manifestation<br />

is the account of Christ cast<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out Legion. Luke 8:26-33 tells<br />

us of Jesus enter<strong>in</strong>g the coun-


try of the Gerasenes where<br />

He encountered a man liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

among the tombs possessed<br />

by many demons. The demons<br />

actually confessed Christ dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the encounter: Luke 8:28 When<br />

he saw Jesus, he cried out<br />

and fell down before him and<br />

said with a loud voice, “What<br />

have you to do with me, Jesus,<br />

Son of the Most High God? I<br />

beg you, do not torment me.”<br />

Jesus, hav<strong>in</strong>g been asked by<br />

the demons to not send them<br />

to the pit, cast them <strong>in</strong>to a herd<br />

of pigs, free<strong>in</strong>g the man from<br />

his suffer<strong>in</strong>g. Jesus demonstrated,<br />

<strong>in</strong> likewise manner,<br />

numerous times, His authority<br />

over evil spirits. That authority<br />

was passed on to the Apostles,<br />

as well. Luke 9:1-2 And he<br />

called the twelve together and<br />

gave them power and authority<br />

over all demons and to cure<br />

diseases, and he sent them<br />

out to proclaim the k<strong>in</strong>gdom of<br />

God and to heal. As believers,<br />

<strong>in</strong>dwelt by the Holy Spirit, we<br />

have access to the same power<br />

and authority that was given to<br />

the Apostles. Along with all gifts<br />

and empowerments given by<br />

God, obedience to His word and<br />

faithfulness to our savior is the<br />

key to overcom<strong>in</strong>g the forces of<br />

darkness <strong>in</strong> our lives.<br />

MODERN DAY OPPRESSION<br />

IN THE CHURCH<br />

It must be understood that<br />

believers <strong>in</strong> Christ cannot be<br />

possessed by unclean spirits.<br />

2 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians 6:15-16 states,<br />

What harmony has Christ with<br />

Belial, or what has a believer <strong>in</strong><br />

common with an unbeliever? Or<br />

what agreement has the temple<br />

of God with idols? For we are<br />

the temple of the liv<strong>in</strong>g God; just<br />

as God said, “I will dwell <strong>in</strong> them<br />

and walk among them; and I will<br />

be their God, and they shall be<br />

My people” Be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dwelt by the<br />

Holy Spirit, it is impossible for the<br />

body of a believer to be <strong>in</strong>habited<br />

by an unclean spirit. 1 John<br />

4:4 Little children, you are from<br />

God and have overcome them,<br />

for he who is <strong>in</strong> you is greater<br />

than he who is <strong>in</strong> the world.<br />

Clearly, the Apostle John designates<br />

the believer as hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God with<strong>in</strong> and evil be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the<br />

world, thus, outside the believer.<br />

Though a believer cannot be<br />

<strong>in</strong>dwelt by evil, a Christian can<br />

be oppressed and/or <strong>in</strong>fl uenced<br />

by an unclean spirit. Rex(not<br />

his real name) found himself<br />

bedeviled by an evil spirit pretend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to be God Himself. Rex<br />

prayed for an external evidence<br />

that God was real, an evidence<br />

beyond what he found <strong>in</strong> scripture.<br />

A voice began to speak to<br />

Rex and led him to actual scripture,<br />

<strong>in</strong> an attempt to destroy his<br />

faith. This ly<strong>in</strong>g spirit conv<strong>in</strong>ced<br />

Rex that he had lost his salvation.<br />

Jesus warned us aga<strong>in</strong>st<br />

seek<strong>in</strong>g external evidence:<br />

Luke 16:31 He said to him, ‘If<br />

they do not hear Moses and the<br />

Prophets, neither will they be<br />

conv<strong>in</strong>ced if someone should<br />

rise from the dead.” While this<br />

is an extreme case, it serves to<br />

demonstrate that believers are<br />

not exempt from supernatural<br />

attack. Rex has s<strong>in</strong>ce recognized<br />

the ly<strong>in</strong>g nature of this evil<br />

spirit, and is now secure <strong>in</strong> his<br />

salvation, but the process that<br />

led to this realization was agoniz<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Certa<strong>in</strong> behaviors and<br />

practices should be avoided by<br />

believers as they <strong>in</strong>vite supernatural<br />

manifestations that are<br />

dangerous and destructive.<br />

PRACTICES THAT LEAD TO<br />

DEMONIC ACTIVITY<br />

Generally, demonic activity<br />

does not manifest unbidden.<br />

There are certa<strong>in</strong> behaviors<br />

and activities that hep create an<br />

atmosphere conducive to manifestation.<br />

Sorcery and witchcraft<br />

are obvious practices that present<br />

an open <strong>in</strong>vitation to evil spirits.<br />

Spiritualism, such as New<br />

Age or or Eastern Mysticism, is<br />

also a catalyst for provid<strong>in</strong>g an<br />

open door to dark supernatural<br />

forces. Amaz<strong>in</strong>gly, <strong>in</strong>terest and<br />

activity hav<strong>in</strong>g to do with UFOlogy<br />

has also been l<strong>in</strong>ked to evil<br />

spirit activity. Witchcraft, spiritualism<br />

and UFOlogy are certa<strong>in</strong>ly<br />

not the only th<strong>in</strong>gs that lead to<br />

demonic attack, oppression and<br />

possession, they are, however,<br />

the most prevalent.<br />

Witchcraft and sorcery are easily<br />

identifi ed with the powers of<br />

darkness, believers should have<br />

no association with such practices.<br />

Galatians 5:19-21Now the<br />

works of the fl esh are evident:<br />

sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,<br />

idolatry, sorcery, enmity,<br />

strife, jealousy, fi ts of anger,<br />

rivalries, dissensions, divisions,<br />

envy, drunkenness, orgies, and<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs like these. I warn you,<br />

as I warned you before, that<br />

those who do such th<strong>in</strong>gs will<br />

not <strong>in</strong>herit the k<strong>in</strong>gdom of God.<br />

Sorcery is listed, by the Apostle<br />

Paul, as among the most<br />

destructive s<strong>in</strong>s. Many Christian<br />

homes have opened the door<br />

to the glorifi cation of witchcraft<br />

through the Harry Potter series<br />

of books and fi lms, expos<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong>nocent children to someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

scripture explicitly condemns. It<br />

must also be noted, the root for<br />

witchcraft, Pharmakea, is the


word from which we get pharmacy.<br />

Illicit drug use, open<strong>in</strong>g<br />

ones consciousness up to outside<br />

<strong>in</strong>fl uence, would be considered<br />

a form of sorcery and<br />

is a very dangerous practice,<br />

spiritually speak<strong>in</strong>g. It is not a<br />

co<strong>in</strong>cidence many liquor stores<br />

advertise W<strong>in</strong>e and Spirits, and<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g high on drugs is referred<br />

to as be<strong>in</strong>g under the <strong>in</strong>fl uence.<br />

Witchcraft, sorcery, illicit drug<br />

and alcohol use are all activities<br />

specifi cally named as th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

Christ followers should shun.<br />

Spiritualism or Eastern New Age<br />

practice has permeated western<br />

culture, thanks <strong>in</strong> part to<br />

the Rock and Roll drug culture<br />

of the 1960’s. The Beatles, for<br />

<strong>in</strong>stance, <strong>in</strong>troduced millions of<br />

Western teenagers to H<strong>in</strong>duism<br />

and Eastern concepts of spirituality,<br />

such as Karma, re<strong>in</strong>carnation,<br />

and pantheism (the idea<br />

that God is all and <strong>in</strong> all). H<strong>in</strong>duism,<br />

with it’s worship and veneration<br />

of multiple gods, makes<br />

direct contact with evil. 1 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians<br />

10:20 No, I imply that<br />

what pagans sacrifi ce they offer<br />

to demons and not to God. I do<br />

not want you to be participants<br />

with demons. Along with these<br />

overt practices, come less obviously<br />

evil practices. Yoga, for<br />

example, is spiritually dangerous<br />

and l<strong>in</strong>ked to demonic activity,<br />

yet has been embraced by<br />

society to the po<strong>in</strong>t of fi nd<strong>in</strong>g it’s<br />

way <strong>in</strong>to churches. Marketed<br />

as healthy stretch<strong>in</strong>g exercises,<br />

Yoga has a dark spiritual component<br />

that cannot be denied.<br />

Yoga’s ma<strong>in</strong> objective is to tap<br />

<strong>in</strong>to or release the Kundal<strong>in</strong>i<br />

power located at the base of<br />

the sp<strong>in</strong>e. The Kundal<strong>in</strong>i is purported<br />

to br<strong>in</strong>g spiritual enlightenment.<br />

The Kundal<strong>in</strong>i is known<br />

by Yogic adherents, as a serpent<br />

spirit which lays coiled up at<br />

the base of the sp<strong>in</strong>e. That this<br />

practice has found it’s way <strong>in</strong>to,<br />

supposedly, Christian churches<br />

is m<strong>in</strong>d numb<strong>in</strong>g. These practices<br />

and others, such as guided<br />

imagery, make direct contact<br />

with dark spirits, which we are<br />

commanded aga<strong>in</strong>st. 1 Timothy<br />

4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says<br />

that <strong>in</strong> later times some will fall<br />

away from the faith, pay<strong>in</strong>g attention<br />

to deceitful spirits and doctr<strong>in</strong>es<br />

of demons. Paul equates<br />

spiritism with fall<strong>in</strong>g away from<br />

faith. Eastern practice is anathema<br />

to proper Christian thought<br />

and practice and has no place <strong>in</strong><br />

the life of a believer, as it leads<br />

directly to the empowerment of<br />

dark spiritual forces.<br />

Perhaps the least obvious practice<br />

that leads to demonic activity<br />

is <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> UFOs. The groundbreak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

book Alien Encounters:<br />

The Secret Beh<strong>in</strong>d UFO Phenomenon<br />

by Chuck Missler and<br />

Mark Eastman, details the direct<br />

connection between UFOs and<br />

the demonic. S<strong>in</strong>ce Missler and<br />

Eastman published this work,<br />

numerous books by Christian<br />

authors have come forward<br />

present<strong>in</strong>g the same claims.<br />

Time and aga<strong>in</strong>, researchers<br />

have found direct correlation to<br />

UFO sight<strong>in</strong>gs and experiences<br />

l<strong>in</strong>ked to supernatural activity,<br />

often coupled with the practices<br />

listed here <strong>in</strong> the preced<strong>in</strong>g<br />

paragraphs. Missler, Eastman<br />

and others demonstrate how,<br />

what many believe to be visitors<br />

from other planets, are, <strong>in</strong> reality,<br />

extra-dimensional be<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

bent on br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g harm to mank<strong>in</strong>d.<br />

On page 181 of his book<br />

Transformation, author and self<br />

described UFO abductee Whitley<br />

Strieber says this about his<br />

encounter with supposed aliens,<br />

“I felt an absolutely <strong>in</strong>describable<br />

sense of menace. It was hell on<br />

earth to be there(<strong>in</strong> the presence<br />

of the entities), and yet I couldn’t<br />

move, couldn’t cry out, couldn’t<br />

get away. I’d lay as still as death,<br />

suffer<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>ner agonies, whatever<br />

was there seemed so monstrously<br />

ugly, so fi lthy and dark<br />

ad s<strong>in</strong>ister. Of course they were<br />

demons, they had to be, and<br />

they were here and I couldn’t<br />

get away “ Whatever one th<strong>in</strong>ks<br />

about Strieber and his claims<br />

of alien abduction, it cannot be<br />

denied that his experiences have<br />

led him to believe that the be<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

with whom he came <strong>in</strong> contact<br />

were demonic <strong>in</strong> nature. The<br />

only conclusion we can make is<br />

that <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> UFOs and aliens<br />

br<strong>in</strong>gs the believer <strong>in</strong>to spiritual<br />

danger, allow<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>fl uences and<br />

associations that open pathways<br />

to the demonic.<br />

THE BELEIVERS ROLE AND<br />

RESPONSE<br />

For the believer, demonic danger<br />

generally comes <strong>in</strong> the form of<br />

oppression and subtle attacks<br />

on the word of God and faith.<br />

In extreme cases, oppression<br />

can manifest itself <strong>in</strong>to a serious<br />

problem that requires deliverance<br />

through prayer and fast<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and even direct confrontation<br />

with the evil spirit. The average<br />

believer, however, will experience<br />

subtle demonic activity <strong>in</strong><br />

his life as a matter of course, as<br />

we all enter <strong>in</strong>to times of temptation<br />

and doubt. Jesus was<br />

tempted <strong>in</strong> the wilderness and<br />

stood His ground, quot<strong>in</strong>g scripture<br />

to defend aga<strong>in</strong>st attack.<br />

John the Baptist suffered from<br />

doubt as he sat <strong>in</strong> Herod’s prison


ut sought his answers directly<br />

from Jesus for reassurance. We<br />

are not alone and we are not left<br />

to fend for ourselves aga<strong>in</strong>st the<br />

forces of darkness. We have<br />

the power of the Holy Spirit, we<br />

have the Sword of Spirit which is<br />

the Word of God and we have a<br />

direct l<strong>in</strong>e of communication to<br />

our Father <strong>in</strong> Heaven. We have<br />

the full power of God <strong>in</strong> His Tr<strong>in</strong>ity.<br />

The Father - God over us, the<br />

Word(Jesus) – God with us, and<br />

the Holy Spirit – God <strong>in</strong> us. We<br />

are not to be given over to fear 2<br />

Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a<br />

spirit not of fear but of power and<br />

love and self-control. Romans<br />

8:37 No, <strong>in</strong> all these th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

we are more than conquerors<br />

through him who loved us.<br />

To truly recognize evil <strong>in</strong> our<br />

lives we must know truth.<br />

Demonic oppression, attack and<br />

even possession is deception<br />

designed to destroy God’s most<br />

precious creation, man. Society<br />

has been deceived <strong>in</strong>to believ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> ghosts and aliens and to even<br />

accept such th<strong>in</strong>gs as benefi cial.<br />

Society has been deceived <strong>in</strong>to<br />

believ<strong>in</strong>g God is irrelevant and<br />

man is the measure of all th<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

Society has been deceived <strong>in</strong>to<br />

believ<strong>in</strong>g witchcraft, sorcery,<br />

Ouija boards and séances are<br />

harmless fun. As believers, we<br />

do not need to know about specifi<br />

c evil practices, we need to<br />

know God’s word. The believer<br />

is commanded to know scripture,<br />

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your<br />

best to present yourself to God<br />

as one approved, a worker who<br />

has no need to be ashamed,<br />

rightly handl<strong>in</strong>g the word of truth.<br />

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture<br />

is breathed out by God and profitable<br />

for teach<strong>in</strong>g, for reproof,<br />

for correction, and for tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

righteousness, that the man of<br />

God may be complete, equipped<br />

for every good work. The idea,<br />

is that we are so familiar with<br />

what is true and from God that<br />

we are able to recognize evil by<br />

the very fact that it is not truth.<br />

Philippians 4:8 F<strong>in</strong>ally, brothers,<br />

whatever is true, whatever<br />

is honorable, whatever is just,<br />

whatever is pure, whatever is<br />

lovely, whatever is commendable,<br />

if there is any excellence,<br />

if there is anyth<strong>in</strong>g worthy of<br />

praise, th<strong>in</strong>k about these th<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

It is essential that the Christ follower<br />

is acqua<strong>in</strong>ted with Christ.<br />

By avoid<strong>in</strong>g the evil practices<br />

outl<strong>in</strong>ed above, believers can<br />

remove the threat of overt<br />

demonic affl iction. Consequently,<br />

by the nature of our salvation,<br />

we have become enemies<br />

of the forces of darkness whose<br />

desire is too destroy mank<strong>in</strong>d.<br />

The Bible tells us that friendship<br />

with the world is enmity with God<br />

and the converse is also true.<br />

The greatest defense aga<strong>in</strong>st<br />

demonic <strong>in</strong>fl uence and activity is<br />

a right relationship with God. As<br />

a believer submits to the authority<br />

of Jesus Christ and lives a<br />

life of obedience to His word,<br />

victory over s<strong>in</strong> and temptation<br />

becomes the natural result. As<br />

stated earlier, we are not to live<br />

<strong>in</strong> fear of our enemy, Jesus has<br />

already defeated Satan. We are<br />

more than conquerers!<br />

Paul Ahnert is a freelance writer<br />

and author of an <strong>in</strong>ternationally<br />

read blog:<br />

www.ahnertthoughts.blogspot.<br />

com Paul lives <strong>in</strong> Knoxville TN<br />

with his wife and children and is


Give the “Gift” of <strong>Faith</strong>Box


Got Prayer?<br />

What To Do When Prayers Go<br />

Unanswered<br />

By John Lysaught<br />

John 15:7 (NIV): “If you rema<strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong> me and my words rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong><br />

you, ask whatever you wish, and<br />

it will be done for you.”<br />

I’ve read this verse before. I’m<br />

sure you have to or have been<br />

told by someone what it says.<br />

You pray and pray but most of<br />

the time it seems you don’t get<br />

an answer. When your prayers<br />

aren’t answered, it makes you<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k you’re not a strong Christian<br />

because the verse says if His<br />

words rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> me… it will be<br />

done. Humph. You may th<strong>in</strong>k if<br />

the Word of God, the Scriptures,<br />

are the <strong>in</strong>fallible words from God,<br />

what the heck? Why aren’t your<br />

prayers be<strong>in</strong>g answered? What<br />

did you do to deserve silence<br />

regard<strong>in</strong>g prayers? Prayed for<br />

fi nancial peace but are <strong>in</strong> fi nancial<br />

doom? I’m with you. Prayed<br />

for good health only to be diagnosed<br />

with some ailment? I hear<br />

you. This can go on and on,<br />

but the po<strong>in</strong>t is you may pray<br />

for someth<strong>in</strong>g but don’t receive<br />

any response. Some people<br />

get prayers answered and you<br />

seem<strong>in</strong>gly never do. Why is this?<br />

What is go<strong>in</strong>g on? Does God<br />

play favorites while toy<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

others? Let’s stop right here for<br />

a moment and look at this verse<br />

a little more closely. Look at the


context of this verse <strong>in</strong> light of<br />

what preceded this verse about<br />

prayer.<br />

This verse stems from the discussion<br />

Jesus had regard<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Him be<strong>in</strong>g the v<strong>in</strong>e and His followers<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g the branch <strong>in</strong> the<br />

v<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong> Chapter 15. Jesus says<br />

verses 5:8,<br />

I am the v<strong>in</strong>e; you are the<br />

branches. If you rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> me<br />

and I <strong>in</strong> you, you will bear much<br />

fruit; apart from me you can do<br />

noth<strong>in</strong>g. If you do not rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong><br />

me, you are like a branch that is<br />

thrown away and withers; such<br />

branches are picked up, thrown<br />

<strong>in</strong>to the fi re and burned. If you<br />

rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> me and my words<br />

rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> you, ask whatever you<br />

wish, and it will be done for you.<br />

This is to my Father’s glory, that<br />

you bear much fruit, show<strong>in</strong>g<br />

yourselves to be my disciples.<br />

In light of this, these verses are<br />

<strong>in</strong> relation to the fruit we bear and<br />

how pray<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> relation to our<br />

fruit will be answered. This passage<br />

is not about what we want<br />

other than produc<strong>in</strong>g fruit. But<br />

this doesn’t dim<strong>in</strong>ish the fact that<br />

sometimes it seems prayers are<br />

not answered. We still face this<br />

dilemma of our prayers to God<br />

and what we receive <strong>in</strong> response<br />

is not up to par with our wants<br />

and desires of our requests.<br />

As I’m penn<strong>in</strong>g this, I can’t help<br />

but look back at my prayer<br />

life and refl ect. I pondered the<br />

prayers that were answered and<br />

the prayers that have not been<br />

answered [yet]. What is the<br />

reason for this? Honestly, I don’t<br />

have the answer, but I can speculate<br />

for those not hav<strong>in</strong>g prayers<br />

answered based on what the<br />

Bible says. When I was <strong>in</strong> the<br />

U.S. Army, as an offi cer, I had<br />

to make decisions and answer<br />

questions about various th<strong>in</strong>gs. I<br />

was told once that when I didn’t<br />

make a decision or didn’t provide<br />

an answer. that not giv<strong>in</strong>g an<br />

answer was an answer. Not gett<strong>in</strong>g<br />

an answer is not necessarily<br />

not be<strong>in</strong>g heard but sometimes<br />

no answer is the answer. Does<br />

this mean God is say<strong>in</strong>g yes or<br />

no? I don’t know, I’m not God.<br />

Yet <strong>in</strong> my m<strong>in</strong>d when I don’t get<br />

an answer, when I get noth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

but silence, that is my answer.<br />

This is a hard concept to th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

about but to me, silence isn’t<br />

good or bad, it’s just silence. In<br />

His silence, I have to trust there<br />

is a reason beyond my comprehension<br />

of why there is no<br />

response. I would rather have a<br />

big NO though. I can understand<br />

“no” but it is the unspoken that is<br />

hard to deal with. I believe part<br />

of this silence is God’s way of<br />

teach<strong>in</strong>g us patience and trust.<br />

Patience is diffi cult for us. In<br />

our modern world, we get most<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong>stantly. Texts, emails,


packages delivered <strong>in</strong> a few<br />

days, fast food, etc. Our concept<br />

of what patience means is about<br />

as long as the tip of our nose. We<br />

want th<strong>in</strong>gs now, not later. If we<br />

have to wait for someth<strong>in</strong>g, we<br />

usually don’t want it or don’t try<br />

and go somewhere else for what<br />

we want. This attitude seeps<br />

<strong>in</strong>to our relationship with God.<br />

We pray and expect a response<br />

right away. We want to know<br />

now, not later. We pray <strong>in</strong> ways<br />

that require an answer from<br />

God quickly. We forget that God<br />

works on His timel<strong>in</strong>e, not ours.<br />

What we want now, God may not<br />

answer for months or years. His<br />

silence is not bad, it’s just when<br />

we pray <strong>in</strong> the moment we feel<br />

we need a quick response. We<br />

must have patience that when<br />

He hears our prayers, He will<br />

answer when the time is right for<br />

us. When we pray for immediate<br />

answers and hear silence, it’s<br />

<strong>in</strong> our m<strong>in</strong>d that if God doesn’t<br />

say anyth<strong>in</strong>g He either didn’t<br />

hear us or doesn’t care. When<br />

it seems like God is go<strong>in</strong>g to wait<br />

to answer our prayers <strong>in</strong>stead of<br />

when we want Him too, we want<br />

Him to tell us our prayers will be<br />

answered <strong>in</strong> such or such a time<br />

so we can plan ahead to be ready<br />

to hear Him. Yet He doesn’t tell<br />

us when He will answer prayers<br />

and when we don’t hear anyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

when we want to hear someth<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

we tend to get frustrated.<br />

When this happens we pray and<br />

pray about the same th<strong>in</strong>g, th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the more we pray about the<br />

same th<strong>in</strong>g, the more likely our<br />

prayers will be heard above the<br />

noise of the crowd. We will then<br />

be likely to give up on our hope<br />

of our prayers be<strong>in</strong>g answered<br />

and lose hope <strong>in</strong> God. Patience<br />

is a virtue is a true statement.<br />

If we trust God will answer our<br />

prayers, we must also be patient<br />

to wait on His answer. I learned<br />

this lesson and s<strong>in</strong>ce have<br />

become trust<strong>in</strong>g and patient <strong>in</strong><br />

wait<strong>in</strong>g for God to answer.<br />

A prayer of m<strong>in</strong>e was answered a<br />

little over four years after I prayed<br />

and heard noth<strong>in</strong>g but silence.<br />

To make a long story short, I<br />

was <strong>in</strong> the Army, seven years<br />

<strong>in</strong>. The Holy Spirit, very loudly<br />

and clearly, put it on my heart to<br />

resign my commission and leave<br />

the army. I didn’t listen to him<br />

at fi rst, but as time went by the<br />

Holy Spirit’s voice got louder <strong>in</strong><br />

my heart and m<strong>in</strong>d. Even though<br />

I was scared of the unknown, I<br />

prayed to God very earnestly of<br />

why I was be<strong>in</strong>g urged to leave<br />

the service. I heard noth<strong>in</strong>g. Not<br />

a peep or anyth<strong>in</strong>g. I decided to<br />

put my trust <strong>in</strong> the Lord, stepped<br />

out <strong>in</strong> faith and resigned. No<br />

job, no money but I got back<br />

on my feet after a while. About<br />

four years later, I had mostly<br />

forgot about my prayer of why<br />

He wanted me to leave the army<br />

because life was go<strong>in</strong>g good for<br />

me and my family. Then someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out of the blue occurred<br />

and when it did, I immediately<br />

knew that it was the answer to<br />

my prayer years earlier of why<br />

He wanted me out of the army.<br />

How amaz<strong>in</strong>g God is! He didn’t<br />

forget about me. He heard my<br />

prayer and answered it- on His<br />

timel<strong>in</strong>e, not m<strong>in</strong>e. He put me<br />

where I needed to be and when<br />

I needed to be for His response.<br />

Why do I say this? Because there<br />

are people who pray and seem<strong>in</strong>gly<br />

never get their prayers<br />

answered. We need not give up<br />

on God, we must be patient but<br />

also need to learn to trust God.<br />

Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust <strong>in</strong><br />

Him with all our heart and not<br />

to rely on our own understand<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

When we trust God, we are<br />

putt<strong>in</strong>g our lives <strong>in</strong> His hands to<br />

do what He knows is best for us.<br />

You don’t have to know the Bible<br />

verbatim. You don’t need to be<br />

a Christian for a set amount of<br />

time. You don’t have to stout <strong>in</strong><br />

your actions or thoughts every<br />

moment of your life to pray.<br />

Shoot, we are all human and<br />

mess up more than we’d like<br />

to admit. What I’m try<strong>in</strong>g to tell<br />

you is you can be just you, seek<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God and your relationship<br />

with Him, not try<strong>in</strong>g to be perfect.<br />

Trust<strong>in</strong>g God can be a leap<br />

of faith for a new or seasoned<br />

Christian. Giv<strong>in</strong>g everyth<strong>in</strong>g over<br />

to God can be diffi cult. Some<br />

areas of our lives are easy for<br />

us to give our trust to God and<br />

<strong>in</strong> others areas we are scared<br />

because we feel if they are diffi -<br />

cult for us to deal with then it will<br />

also be too hard for God.<br />

Trust<strong>in</strong>g God is ak<strong>in</strong> to hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

patience with Him. We need to<br />

trust that God will answer our<br />

prayers accord<strong>in</strong>g to His will. In<br />

the past, I wasn’t a great manager<br />

of money- I’ll admit that.<br />

Better than some, but worse than<br />

others. When I’ve been <strong>in</strong> fi nancial<br />

dire straits, I’ve prayed for<br />

God to bail me out. He has never<br />

bailed me out like I wanted Him<br />

to, but He answered my prayer<br />

nonetheless. My money troubles<br />

didn’t magically go away, but my<br />

prayers were answered through<br />

Him allow<strong>in</strong>g me to go through<br />

my tribulation to learn how to<br />

better manage myself fi nancially.<br />

When I apply what I learned, my<br />

fi nances got better. Then I pray<br />

aga<strong>in</strong> for someth<strong>in</strong>g else and<br />

He answers me <strong>in</strong> His own way<br />

whether it is wisdom, learn<strong>in</strong>g<br />

from failures, or other th<strong>in</strong>gs.


You may say that is a stretch or it<br />

is means to justify the ends when<br />

prayers are answered <strong>in</strong> other<br />

ways than what I wanted, but it<br />

isn’t. God answers prayer differently<br />

for each person. There isn’t<br />

some cookie cutter response for<br />

our prayers. There is no standard<br />

l<strong>in</strong>e for everyone. Each one<br />

of us is unique and the answers<br />

to our prayers are custom fi tted<br />

to each of us.<br />

You may say that is me and<br />

good for me, but not for you. You<br />

tell yourself your prayers never<br />

get answered. But really, do they<br />

not? We want answers now but<br />

have you looked back after some<br />

time and seen that your prayer<br />

was answered? <strong>May</strong>be not the<br />

way you wanted but answered<br />

nonetheless? Did your prayers<br />

get answered <strong>in</strong> God’s way and<br />

not yours? For <strong>in</strong>stance, maybe<br />

you have an ailment that doesn’t<br />

go away, that you aren’t healed<br />

from. You pray over and over<br />

aga<strong>in</strong> for heal<strong>in</strong>g but it doesn’t<br />

come. But someth<strong>in</strong>g else<br />

changes <strong>in</strong>stead, maybe you<br />

are better able to endure than<br />

before. When we don’t get what<br />

we want we must remember that<br />

we can’t question God’s will. His<br />

will for you may not be heal<strong>in</strong>g but<br />

endurance or some other reason<br />

not revealed yet. I have multiple<br />

health problems that cause a lot<br />

of pa<strong>in</strong> and fatigue. I’ve prayed<br />

for heal<strong>in</strong>g but, like some of you,<br />

I am not healed. I’ve accepted<br />

that I probably won’t be healed<br />

and am rem<strong>in</strong>ded of the Apostle<br />

Paul’s ailment that he ask three<br />

times for God to heal him, but<br />

God told Paul His grace was<br />

enough and His power is made<br />

perfect <strong>in</strong> weakness (2 Cor<strong>in</strong>thians<br />

12:7-10). So <strong>in</strong>stead pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for heal<strong>in</strong>g, I pray for the<br />

strength to endure my suffer<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

By do<strong>in</strong>g so, my prayer has been<br />

answered. I can endure now<br />

better than I was able to before.<br />

Not only this, but be<strong>in</strong>g able to<br />

endure brought me closer to<br />

God because I learned to endure<br />

by lean<strong>in</strong>g on God’s love and<br />

strength and not my own or the<br />

world’s. Also from my ailments,<br />

God has given me a heart for<br />

people with illnesses. When<br />

they feel hopeless and abandoned<br />

by God, I can give them<br />

comfort and talk to them about<br />

God and what He offers for those<br />

<strong>in</strong> pa<strong>in</strong> and suffer<strong>in</strong>g. Is it possible<br />

that you may be pray<strong>in</strong>g for<br />

the wrong th<strong>in</strong>g? <strong>May</strong>be <strong>in</strong>stead<br />

of pray<strong>in</strong>g that God bail you out<br />

of debt, you should pray He help<br />

you manage your budget better.<br />

Instead of pray<strong>in</strong>g for the heal<strong>in</strong>g<br />

you have not received, pray for<br />

the ability to get through it.<br />

We are told by the Bible to pray<br />

unceas<strong>in</strong>gly <strong>in</strong> 1 Thessalonian<br />

5:17. Does this mean you’re on<br />

your knees all day or <strong>in</strong> deep<br />

thought of God all day? No,<br />

but God can always be on your<br />

m<strong>in</strong>d. We all day dream or our<br />

thoughts drift from this or that<br />

throughout the day. Tra<strong>in</strong> yourself<br />

when your m<strong>in</strong>d beg<strong>in</strong>s to<br />

drift, to drift to the th<strong>in</strong>gs of God.<br />

Give Him praise, thank Him for<br />

what He has done <strong>in</strong> your life,<br />

and ask for guidance from Himbasically,<br />

talk to Him. There<br />

should be times when you do<br />

focus strictly on God. In Matthew<br />

6:6, Jesus tells us to go <strong>in</strong>to our<br />

rooms and pray <strong>in</strong> secret. Some<br />

people call this their prayer time<br />

or prayer closet. Whatever you<br />

call it, the theme is the samehav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

quiet and un<strong>in</strong>terrupted<br />

time with God. Yes, we all have<br />

busy lives but I’m sure there are<br />

times <strong>in</strong> the morn<strong>in</strong>g or even<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to spend exclusively with God.<br />

<strong>May</strong>be gett<strong>in</strong>g up a little bit earlier<br />

is best for you. Me, I’m not a<br />

morn<strong>in</strong>g person until after a lot<br />

of coffee so my time is at night<br />

before I go to bed. I like to read<br />

the Bible and ponder His words.<br />

Then I worship, praise, and ask<br />

for help or guidance <strong>in</strong> areas of<br />

my life where I’m weak or need<br />

wisdom from Him. When I start<br />

the day, I give a quick prayer<br />

that His will be done <strong>in</strong> me that<br />

day and talk to Him throughout<br />

the day. When you’re pray<strong>in</strong>g<br />

though, don’t just go through<br />

the motions. Pray earnestly with<br />

your heart and soul to God. God<br />

doesn’t want you to pray to Him<br />

for the purpose of pray<strong>in</strong>g out of<br />

obligation. He wants us to pray<br />

from our hearts. He wants us to<br />

rely on Him through prayer so we<br />

can learn to trust Him, recieve<br />

His wisdom and His guidance <strong>in</strong><br />

all areas of our lives.<br />

If you don’t th<strong>in</strong>k your prayers are<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g answered, relook those<br />

thoughts. Just because God<br />

didn’t answer you the way you<br />

wanted or has not answered you<br />

yet doesn’t mean He didn’t hear<br />

you. God is with you always.<br />

God answers prayers <strong>in</strong> His own<br />

ways and on His own timel<strong>in</strong>e.<br />

We must be patient and trust<br />

that God hears all of our prayers<br />

and will answer them. When you<br />

pray, keep your heart and ears<br />

open. God’s answer may be a<br />

shout or a whisper. Regardless<br />

of, listen for Him. Listen to your<br />

heart and you will hear Him. God<br />

Bless.


The Cheque is <strong>in</strong> the Mail<br />

Does God Reward Those That Have <strong>Faith</strong> But No Action?<br />

By Chris Benton<br />

believe one of the most misguided<br />

beliefs of Christians<br />

is the notion that we can just<br />

have faith and do noth<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

still watch what you want come<br />

<strong>in</strong>to fruition. How many times<br />

do you see people at sit home<br />

say<strong>in</strong>g God will lead them out of<br />

their situation, but all they do is<br />

sit there? This is not how God<br />

works. We have to meet him <strong>in</strong><br />

order to activate faith. It is faith<br />

with action that changes everyth<strong>in</strong>g!<br />

James 2:20 But do you want to<br />

know, O foolish man, that faith<br />

without works is dead?<br />

That verse pretty much says it<br />

all. Yes, we have to have faith<br />

but without works it is dead.<br />

Imag<strong>in</strong>e say<strong>in</strong>g you need a job<br />

and you are pray<strong>in</strong>g every e day


But do you want to know, O foolish<br />

man, that faith without works is dead?<br />

James 2:20<br />

that God will send you that job. If<br />

all you do is pray but never leave<br />

your home, will that job come<br />

to you? The odds are that you<br />

will not get a job because th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

don’t just come.<br />

God wants us to do what we can<br />

do with our actions and then he<br />

will step <strong>in</strong> and do what we can’t.<br />

This is the way it happened all<br />

throughout the Bible. No matter<br />

what part you read, you fi gure<br />

out that when miracles happened,<br />

there was always some<br />

k<strong>in</strong>d of action mixed with faith<br />

that led to that miracle.<br />

Why do people believe this? I<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k sometimes we can get a<br />

little lazy and just want th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

to happen without much effort.<br />

Noth<strong>in</strong>g worthwhile happens<br />

without action. Yes, you can<br />

see great th<strong>in</strong>gs happen <strong>in</strong> your<br />

life but the action always has to<br />

come fi rst! Sometimes we get<br />

so comfortable with the way life<br />

is that we just use our faith as<br />

a comfort meter. Many feel if<br />

they believe and if God wants<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g to happen then it will<br />

happen, but if it doesn’t happen<br />

then that just means God is not<br />

for what was believed.<br />

That is such false th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

because you can’t believe your<br />

way to any k<strong>in</strong>d of success. Yes,<br />

we have to believe. That is so<br />

important because if you take<br />

action but don’t believe then you<br />

will sabotage what you are try<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to do without realiz<strong>in</strong>g it.<br />

Another reason is because<br />

some of the prosperity preach<strong>in</strong>g<br />

teaches this. First, I am not<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st preach<strong>in</strong>g prosperity as<br />

I understand that God can bless<br />

us as his children. I get that, but<br />

when some of these preachers<br />

mix truth with some twist<strong>in</strong>g of<br />

truth then we have a problem.<br />

Many Christians are guided the<br />

wrong way with wrong beliefs.<br />

We must not just listen to<br />

preachers, but also study the<br />

Word for ourselves too. We must<br />

ask God for the wisdom to discern<br />

truth from half-truths. Many<br />

of these preachers are teach<strong>in</strong>g<br />

truth from the Bible but they are<br />

misrepresent<strong>in</strong>g how that truth is<br />

supposed to be <strong>in</strong>terpreted. That<br />

is where the problem beg<strong>in</strong>s.<br />

I believe that God wants to do<br />

the impossible through us as<br />

long as we take the fi rst steps<br />

which means action. We can’t<br />

just sit around. If we want that<br />

job then we have to pray and<br />

believe, but then go look for that<br />

job. If we want that promotion at<br />

work we can’t just believe but<br />

also go above and beyond the<br />

work that is required and the<br />

promotion will come. We can’t<br />

just lay around believ<strong>in</strong>g that our<br />

future will work out because God<br />

will take care of us. We have to<br />

also put the action beh<strong>in</strong>d do<strong>in</strong>g<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g for our future while<br />

God blesses us.<br />

God wants to meet you where<br />

you are but you can’t expect him<br />

to do it all. He expects you to do<br />

your part because without that<br />

you aren’t really activat<strong>in</strong>g faith.<br />

You are just liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> a fantasy<br />

land that God has no part <strong>in</strong>.<br />

Th<strong>in</strong>k about this, will you reward<br />

your child if he does noth<strong>in</strong>g?<br />

Why not? Because it will ru<strong>in</strong><br />

your child for the future. This<br />

is the same reason God is not<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g to reward you for not tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

action. He knows it will ru<strong>in</strong> you<br />

if you get someth<strong>in</strong>g for noth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

This isn’t say<strong>in</strong>g that sometimes<br />

a need may happen and someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

comes your way. Yes, God<br />

will br<strong>in</strong>g th<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> that mannerner<br />

but the truth is, if you don’t take<br />

action noth<strong>in</strong>g comes your way.<br />

Even with com<strong>in</strong>g to Christ, you<br />

have to take action towards that.<br />

You have to accept Christ <strong>in</strong>to<br />

your heart which is an action.<br />

You have to repent ent which is an<br />

action. You have to act <strong>in</strong> orderr<br />

to receive. That is how everyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

works. The more action<br />

you take, the more chances you<br />

give God to bless you.<br />

Have you ever noticed that it<br />

seems like the harder you work<br />

on someth<strong>in</strong>g the luckier you<br />

seem to get? People around<br />

you don’t see the hard work you<br />

are putt<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>. They only see the<br />

results side of th<strong>in</strong>gs. They look<br />

at this as he is be<strong>in</strong>g blessed left<br />

and right for not do<strong>in</strong>g much, but<br />

you know the truth. You know<br />

that you have put <strong>in</strong> your time!


Many people see only the end<br />

result of years of daily grunt<br />

work. They see the story but not<br />

the pa<strong>in</strong>. They see you after God<br />

has taken years to prune you.<br />

They see the light <strong>in</strong> you but fail<br />

to realize the darkness you went<br />

through. They see the diamond<br />

<strong>in</strong> you but forget that you once<br />

were a lump of coal! They see<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g great but can’t see<br />

the years of miserable events<br />

that happened <strong>in</strong> your life. They<br />

see the person you are today<br />

without th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about where<br />

you used to be!<br />

As we grow spiritually, we start<br />

to realize that, yes, it is good<br />

to listen and watch preachers<br />

preach. At the same time, we<br />

have to learn and take <strong>in</strong> what<br />

God wants us to take <strong>in</strong>. It is<br />

by our actions that our lives will<br />

change. We can’t just say poof<br />

and everyth<strong>in</strong>g comes to us, but<br />

<strong>in</strong> time through tak<strong>in</strong>g action<br />

everyday, we can eventually live<br />

the life that God called us to live!<br />

As God right now to give you the<br />

strength to take the actions necessary<br />

to walk <strong>in</strong> his call<strong>in</strong>g. Ask<br />

him to help you discern what you<br />

hear and read so that you know<br />

where to go from here. Ask him<br />

to help you not to stay <strong>in</strong> your<br />

comfort-zone so that you can<br />

become all that he called you to<br />

be!<br />

Now go out and take massive<br />

action and watch what God can<br />

and will do through you. He’s<br />

ready to take you to the next<br />

level if you allow him to. He’s<br />

ready to take you to places you<br />

only dreamed of, but fi rst you<br />

must activate faith by tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

action towards where God is<br />

call<strong>in</strong>g you to go!<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g a God-Inspired Life,<br />

Chris Benton<br />

Facebook: @TheChrisBenton<br />

Twitter: @TheChrisBenton.com<br />

Web: TheChrisBenton.com<br />

I am Chris Benton. I run a Christian<br />

Blog and am launch<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

marriage m<strong>in</strong>istry because God’s<br />

purpose for m<strong>in</strong>e and my wife’s<br />

life is to help marriages. I have<br />

been writ<strong>in</strong>g for several years<br />

now and have found a great<br />

passion <strong>in</strong> writ<strong>in</strong>g so because of<br />

that I am writ<strong>in</strong>g a book on my<br />

19 years of addiction that I fi nally<br />

walked away from over 8 years<br />

ago! I have also started creat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

short video messages too.


Beat<strong>in</strong>g or Flatl<strong>in</strong>ed?<br />

Does your faith have a strong or weak pulse?<br />

By Randy Williams


Today, we seem to have<br />

a symptom checker for<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>May</strong>be it’s<br />

the American do-ityourselfer<br />

attitude that<br />

drives it. Every good<br />

product manual comes<br />

with a troubleshoot<strong>in</strong>g<br />

section, a flow chart of<br />

common problems and how to<br />

resolve them. Our self-reliance<br />

seems to drive our curiosity and<br />

determ<strong>in</strong>ation to take care of it<br />

ourselves. WebMD came up<br />

fi rst when I Googled “self-diagnosis.”<br />

Followed by many articles<br />

warn<strong>in</strong>g of “self-diagnosis.”<br />

One problem not mentioned<br />

<strong>in</strong> any of the warn<strong>in</strong>g articles<br />

is, if you don’t know you have<br />

a problem, you’ll never consult<br />

one. Often times doctors<br />

catch th<strong>in</strong>gs early because of a<br />

checkup or rout<strong>in</strong>e lab work.<br />

I want to offer a spiritual symptom<br />

checker that you can use<br />

to check the strength, or presence,<br />

of faith. A word of caution:<br />

this is a self-symptom<br />

checker and can only be used<br />

by you, on you. This is not to


diagnose anyone else. You may<br />

ask another spiritual person to<br />

evaluate you if you like, but you<br />

may not diagnose anyone without<br />

their permission.<br />

Beliefs lead to action. Follow my<br />

logic for a m<strong>in</strong>ute. My basketball<br />

play<strong>in</strong>g son, and his friends,<br />

believe they can make a basket<br />

when they shoot the ball. Admittedly,<br />

football’s always been my<br />

sport of choice. I’ve never cared<br />

much for baseball or basketball<br />

until my son took up basketball.<br />

Up until then, I didn’t even<br />

know the rules, I just knew their<br />

shoes squeaked so loud on TV, I<br />

couldn’t hear what the announcers<br />

were say<strong>in</strong>g, and it always<br />

looked like they were foul<strong>in</strong>g<br />

each other. But, I discovered it’s<br />

a good sport for young men to<br />

burn their excessive energy, so<br />

I’m a fan now. They still look like<br />

they’re all foul<strong>in</strong>g each other, but<br />

I’ve discovered I enjoy<strong>in</strong>g watch<strong>in</strong>g<br />

people I know play the game.<br />

One th<strong>in</strong>g that shocked me, is<br />

fi nd<strong>in</strong>g out that a 30% shoot<strong>in</strong>g<br />

average was pretty good percentage.<br />

In the NBA closer to<br />

50%.<br />

Even with a low rate of success,<br />

they believe. Therefore, they do.<br />

For good reason they believe;<br />

they can make those shots.<br />

I’ve seen countless practices,<br />

with many more to come. This<br />

summer I’ll probably see plenty<br />

of tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g camps. You can tell<br />

the serious players from the<br />

ones who are just there because<br />

their parents dropped them off to<br />

give them someth<strong>in</strong>g to do. The<br />

serious ones play with <strong>in</strong>tensity.<br />

They listen to the coach. They<br />

ask questions. They practice the<br />

drills and try out new techniques.<br />

They l<strong>in</strong>ger around after the<br />

others have gone home. Some<br />

aren’t even naturally athletic, but<br />

they have a desire, at their core.<br />

They believe: <strong>in</strong> themselves,<br />

the team, the coach; their belief<br />

results <strong>in</strong> action.<br />

It’s really that way with anyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

isn’t it? We have to believe—<br />

just a little bit—before we do<br />

anyth<strong>in</strong>g. The pitch man on TV<br />

conv<strong>in</strong>ces us that glue will keep<br />

a boat from s<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g, so we order<br />

it. We believe that pillow will give<br />

us a better night sleep; so we<br />

order it. We believe our doctor,<br />

so we take the medic<strong>in</strong>e s/he<br />

recommends.<br />

When we put someth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to<br />

practice, if our belief is re<strong>in</strong>forced,<br />

we’ll do it aga<strong>in</strong>, and<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>. Some th<strong>in</strong>gs I believe <strong>in</strong><br />

I use without much thought. I’ve<br />

experienced the effect of gravity<br />

so often now, know my glass will<br />

fall off the edge of the table if I<br />

don’t make sure it’s fi rmly on a<br />

fl at surface. So, <strong>in</strong>st<strong>in</strong>ctively I put<br />

it <strong>in</strong> a secure spot.<br />

What do you believe <strong>in</strong>? Is it<br />

really fair to say, “your actions<br />

speak louder than words?” In<br />

every area of life, we say, “show<br />

me by do<strong>in</strong>g,” “put your money<br />

where your mouth is,” or someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

along that l<strong>in</strong>e.<br />

Yet somehow, when it comes to<br />

spiritual th<strong>in</strong>gs, we want to set<br />

logic aside, and substitute it with<br />

feel<strong>in</strong>gs only, or “I th<strong>in</strong>k so.” “I<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k; therefore, I am.”<br />

So, when you question your<br />

faith? Check your actions. Take<br />

a look at what you’re do<strong>in</strong>g. At<br />

tax time the church sends out<br />

their required charitable contributions<br />

statement. I really do<br />

give more than what’s recorded,<br />

because I often just place cash<br />

<strong>in</strong> the offer<strong>in</strong>g plate. I sometimes<br />

help someone without<br />

the church’s knowledge, give to<br />

other churches, and send money<br />

to other m<strong>in</strong>istries that aren’t<br />

refl ected where I normally go to<br />

church. I don’t want to be legalistic,<br />

and I don’t give <strong>in</strong> order to<br />

get—even the tax break—but it’s<br />

humbl<strong>in</strong>g to see that total on the<br />

contribution form nonetheless.<br />

So, what does it say about me?<br />

Does a big contribution mean I’m<br />

more saved than someone with<br />

a small one? Of course not. It<br />

doesn’t have anyth<strong>in</strong>g to do with<br />

salvation; nor does it have anyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to do with sacrifi ce (widows<br />

mite verse). It might reveal how<br />

important I really feel about the<br />

church’s m<strong>in</strong>istry. By tell<strong>in</strong>g me if<br />

I’m tith<strong>in</strong>g or not, it could say to<br />

me how much I really trust God<br />

to provide my needs, and if I’m<br />

giv<strong>in</strong>g from my abundance, or<br />

giv<strong>in</strong>g under compulsion.<br />

Beyond the logic, what does<br />

scripture say about faith and<br />

works? The fi rst passage that<br />

might come to m<strong>in</strong>d is from the<br />

New Testament book of James:<br />

“What good is it, my brothers,<br />

if someone says he has faith<br />

but does not have works? Can<br />

that faith save him? If a brother<br />

or sister is poorly clothed and<br />

lack<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> daily food, and one of<br />

you says to them, “Go <strong>in</strong> peace,<br />

be warmed and fi lled,” without<br />

giv<strong>in</strong>g them the th<strong>in</strong>gs needed<br />

for the body, what good is that?<br />

17 So also faith by itself, if it does<br />

not have works, is dead.” James<br />

2:14-17<br />

Works do not save us, our faith


does. What are works anyway? I<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k of it like this: everyth<strong>in</strong>g we<br />

say, and everyth<strong>in</strong>g we do that<br />

is consistent with Christ; consciously<br />

or not, that is works. We<br />

need to understand realize this,<br />

<strong>in</strong> order to understand the spiritual<br />

implications of them.<br />

Jesus said it most clearly <strong>in</strong> John<br />

15:1-17, by us<strong>in</strong>g an analogy of<br />

branches and the v<strong>in</strong>e. Believers,<br />

when we are saved, are<br />

engrafted <strong>in</strong>to the v<strong>in</strong>e (Christ).<br />

We ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> that health by tend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to ourselves: prayer, selfrefl<br />

ection, Bible study, more<br />

self-refl ection, prayer…<br />

A healthy branch doesn’t have<br />

to try to produce fruit, it can’t<br />

help it, it’s just what they do. But,<br />

at the same time, no branch is<br />

<strong>in</strong>dependent, or can bear fruit<br />

by itself. We must be engrafted;<br />

we cannot avoid produc<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Produc<strong>in</strong>g fruit is a branch’s<br />

purpose and nature. In fact, a<br />

branch that’s not bear<strong>in</strong>g fruit is<br />

worthless, pruned, or bundled<br />

up an burned with the brush.<br />

I like this image because the<br />

emphasis is on abid<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Christ.<br />

When you place the emphasis<br />

on be<strong>in</strong>g, rather than do<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

the byproduct is not where the<br />

attention goes.<br />

When we’re engrafted <strong>in</strong> Christ,<br />

His Spirit lives with<strong>in</strong> us. We<br />

become one with Him, and His<br />

Body, the Church. Philippians<br />

1:9-11 says:<br />

“And it is my prayer that your<br />

love may abound more and<br />

more, with knowledge and all<br />

discernment, so that you may<br />

approve what is excellent, and<br />

so be pure and blameless for<br />

the day of Christ, fi lled with the<br />

fruit of righteousness that comes<br />

through Jesus Christ, to the glory<br />

and praise of God.”<br />

Galatians 5:22-25 gives a snapshot<br />

of a Spirit fi lled life: “love,<br />

joy, peace, patience, k<strong>in</strong>dness,<br />

goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,<br />

self-control…”<br />

Ephesians 2:10 says we’ve been<br />

created for good works.<br />

Whether our faith is alive or<br />

dead can best by measured by<br />

the fruit produced <strong>in</strong> our lives. If<br />

the Holy Spirit is active, guid<strong>in</strong>g<br />

our thoughts—therefore behaviors—our<br />

faith is alive and well.<br />

Otherwise, it is dead. If it’s dead,<br />

why is it dead. Were we engrafted<br />

<strong>in</strong> the fi rst place? Have we failed<br />

to ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> the grafted area to<br />

produce a healthy branch.<br />

Ephesians chapter 2 makes<br />

it very clear that our works <strong>in</strong><br />

no way relates to our salvation<br />

because apart from Christ we<br />

are dead—and not capable of<br />

good works—after our salvation,<br />

we can perform good works. It’s<br />

expected that we will because<br />

our nature has changed. We are<br />

a refl ection of Christ, but these<br />

works come as an overfl ow of<br />

a changed heart. That’s how<br />

we are known by our fruits, or<br />

salt and light to the world. Good<br />

works apart from the Spirit liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

through us are as fi lthy rags<br />

(Isaiah 64:6). They are <strong>in</strong>suffi -<br />

cient, Jesus died and rose aga<strong>in</strong><br />

to do good works


<strong>Faith</strong> or Own Streng<br />

Which One Are You Operat<strong>in</strong>g In<br />

By Remaliah Evans<br />

Listen to what you are say<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and pay attention to what<br />

you are th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g. A telltale<br />

sign is if you are constantly<br />

say<strong>in</strong>g or th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g, “I’m tired”.<br />

Now you may be legitimately<br />

tired. The question is why are<br />

you tired? Are you tired because<br />

you are work<strong>in</strong>g long hours and<br />

loos<strong>in</strong>g sleep? Or do you feel<br />

dra<strong>in</strong>ed no matter how much<br />

sleep or rest you seem to get?<br />

I can work long hours for a period<br />

of time, however it is not healthy<br />

to work long hours and rema<strong>in</strong><br />

sleep deprived on an extended<br />

basis. For several years I kept<br />

two jobs and eventually I felt the<br />

Lord tell<strong>in</strong>g me to quit the second<br />

job. I did not quit my second<br />

job because I wanted the extra<br />

disposable <strong>in</strong>come. One day<br />

I fell asleep while driv<strong>in</strong>g and I<br />

crashed <strong>in</strong>to a road sign. Fortunately<br />

no one was hurt except<br />

my little Corolla.<br />

The Lord told me to quit my job<br />

because He knew I was not


th<br />

?<br />

sleep<strong>in</strong>g enough, and because<br />

quitt<strong>in</strong>g my job would require<br />

me to develop the discipl<strong>in</strong>e to<br />

budget and also trust Him to<br />

provide. Disclaimer: I am not<br />

<strong>in</strong>struct<strong>in</strong>g you quit your job. In<br />

my case I knew that God was<br />

tell<strong>in</strong>g me quit my second job<br />

and I was disobedient. Hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a second job was me operat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out of my own strength because<br />

one, I did not ask God if should<br />

take a second job, and two I<br />

never went to God and asked<br />

Him to help me fi nancially.<br />

It is not a far-fetched idea that<br />

God would provide for us. He<br />

provided for Jacob, Esther,<br />

Joseph, Daniel, Moses and the<br />

widow who nearly lost her sons.<br />

Many times we operate out of<br />

our own strength because we<br />

do not believe that God will help<br />

us <strong>in</strong> certa<strong>in</strong> areas of lives. But<br />

God is a good Father and like<br />

a good father He is concerned<br />

with every area of our lives.<br />

Yes, I was legitimately tired<br />

because I was work<strong>in</strong>g two jobs,<br />

however when I quit my second<br />

job I had time to sleep and I was<br />

no longer tired. I am a recover<strong>in</strong>g<br />

workaholic and I enjoy work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

because it is easier to work<br />

and accomplish work goals, than<br />

it is to deal with problems, character<br />

flaws, and develop mean<strong>in</strong>gful<br />

relationships. When I work<br />

excessively, I am operat<strong>in</strong>g out<br />

of my own strength. The Lord<br />

says to work as if I am work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

unto Him. There are times when<br />

God will <strong>in</strong>struct us to do works<br />

that require immense time and<br />

energy, however when we are<br />

act<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> obedience to Him, and<br />

when we are fully submitted to<br />

what He asks us to do, I fi nd that<br />

there is a grace to do the work.<br />

I have been blessed to help organize<br />

a few large events. Over<br />

four to six months, this <strong>in</strong>volves<br />

a myriad of emails, meet<strong>in</strong>gs,<br />

follow up calls, tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>gs, creat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

forms, and deal<strong>in</strong>g with a<br />

slew of vendors. While there<br />

are def<strong>in</strong>itely a few late nights,<br />

for the most part I do not realize<br />

how tired I am until after the<br />

event. Typically the day after the<br />

event I crash and I am <strong>in</strong> wonder<br />

at all that God allowed our team<br />

to accomplish. After one or two<br />

days of rest follow<strong>in</strong>g the event,<br />

I am refreshed and fully recovered.<br />

This is not adrenal<strong>in</strong>e, it is the<br />

grace of God that rests upon us<br />

when we are obedient. When<br />

we are obedient and seek Him<br />

fi rst, He is faithful to strengthen<br />

us. The word says seek fi rst the<br />

k<strong>in</strong>gdom of God and His righteousness<br />

and all these th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

will be added to us. The k<strong>in</strong>gdom<br />

of God is the rule and the reign of<br />

God, and righteousness is to be<br />

<strong>in</strong> right relationship with God. So<br />

when I seek fi rst the k<strong>in</strong>gdom of<br />

God and His righteousness I am<br />

say<strong>in</strong>g,” Lord, fi rst I seek You so<br />

that You so that You will rule and<br />

reign <strong>in</strong> my heart and <strong>in</strong> my life,<br />

I am submitted to You. Above all<br />

else, I want to be <strong>in</strong> right relationship<br />

with You.”<br />

When we do this, then all these<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs will be added to us. In<br />

read<strong>in</strong>g Matthew 6:31-33 we<br />

fi nd that the “th<strong>in</strong>gs” referred<br />

to are food, water, and cloth<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

<strong>in</strong> other words necessities.<br />

God’s strength and grace are<br />

also necessities because we are<br />

called to do life WITH Him.


Another sign that we are operat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out of our own strength is<br />

when we cont<strong>in</strong>uously say or<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k “I can’t do this.” When we<br />

say we cannot do someth<strong>in</strong>g we<br />

are likely operat<strong>in</strong>g out of own<br />

strength because we are rely<strong>in</strong>g<br />

solely on ourselves. First, we<br />

must believe His promises that<br />

the steps of the righteous are<br />

ordered by the Lord, and that<br />

Lord leads us along the path that<br />

is best for our life. Thus, wherever<br />

the Lord leads us is ultimately<br />

benefi cial. Second, regardless<br />

of what it feels like, God’s <strong>in</strong>tentions<br />

for us are always good. He<br />

does not set us up for failure and<br />

wait for our demise.<br />

To rely on God we need faith.<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> comes by hear<strong>in</strong>g and hear<strong>in</strong>g<br />

by the word of God. The word<br />

says that we can do all th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

though Christ who strengthens<br />

us. We must change our thought<br />

patterns and speech. Whenever<br />

we hear ourselves say or th<strong>in</strong>k “I<br />

can’t do this” we can immediately<br />

say out loud, “I can do all th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

through Christ who strengthens<br />

me.”<br />

I hate public speak<strong>in</strong>g; it is scary<br />

and nerve wrack<strong>in</strong>g. I become<br />

nervous and speak extremely<br />

fast, there are awkward pauses,<br />

and even more awkward end<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

I am on a team that shares<br />

a brief word of encouragement<br />

with my church about once per<br />

month. Every s<strong>in</strong>gle time I tell<br />

myself I can do all th<strong>in</strong>gs through<br />

Christ who strengthens me. As<br />

I tell myself this, I realize that<br />

I am not alone and that He is<br />

here to help me. It also rem<strong>in</strong>ds<br />

me that it is not about me, it is<br />

about what He wants to communicate<br />

through me. My motivation<br />

shifts from simply want<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to be a good public speaker; my<br />

m<strong>in</strong>dset shifts from performance<br />

to believ<strong>in</strong>g that God will use<br />

me to br<strong>in</strong>g encouragement and<br />

hope as I share His word. It is<br />

not magic. I did not declare, “I<br />

can do all th<strong>in</strong>gs thought Christ<br />

who strengthens me” and poof!<br />

I was suddenly a prolifi c public<br />

speaker. However over the past<br />

two years I have grown slightly<br />

more comfortable with public<br />

speak<strong>in</strong>g and I am improv<strong>in</strong>g as<br />

my confi dence rema<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong> Him<br />

and I ask Him to give me the<br />

words to speak.<br />

If we believe His word then we<br />

will speak, pray, and declare His<br />

word over our lives. Even when<br />

life does not work out the way<br />

we want, when we declare and<br />

believe His word, we are operat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> faith and we learn to focus<br />

on Him, and not our problems<br />

or disappo<strong>in</strong>tments. We learn<br />

to trust Him and His love for us<br />

despite tragedy and opposition.<br />

We learn to walk <strong>in</strong> faith and walk<br />

<strong>in</strong> His strength because try<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

do it on our own strength is madden<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

The hardest th<strong>in</strong>g I’ve been<br />

through was when my Mom<br />

died. I was an adult and she had<br />

been sick for several years, however<br />

her death was sudden and<br />

I was livid, confused, bitter, and<br />

for the fi rst time I felt like life just<br />

stopped for a while. I had never<br />

planned to live without my Mom.<br />

She was supposed to be at my<br />

wedd<strong>in</strong>g and hold my children,<br />

and she was supposed to be<br />

around when I threw her a huge<br />

60th birthday bash.<br />

After years of hold<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> my emotions,<br />

suddenly my emotions<br />

would no longer go ignored.<br />

And for many months follow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

my Mom’s death I had to keep<br />

choos<strong>in</strong>g to seek God for His<br />

strength and His direction. I went<br />

to God with my unforgiveness,<br />

rage, bitterness, and questions<br />

because I knew that there was<br />

no way that I could make it<br />

through such loss without Him.<br />

It was either go to Him for His<br />

strength, or be devoured by bitterness<br />

and sorrow. Dur<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

time I had faith <strong>in</strong> His promise<br />

that He would perfect that which<br />

concerns me…. and He did.<br />

How do we stop rely<strong>in</strong>g on ourselves<br />

and walk <strong>in</strong> faith? This is<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g that I am still learn<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to do. It happens as we choose<br />

to seek God and trust God one<br />

decision at a time. I started a<br />

new job as an adm<strong>in</strong>istrator a<br />

few months ago, after hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

been at my previous job for 10<br />

years. I went from be<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

person who tra<strong>in</strong>ed seasoned<br />

employees <strong>in</strong> my old position,<br />

to be be<strong>in</strong>g the new kid on the<br />

block <strong>in</strong> my current position. I<br />

am surrounded by people that<br />

are drastically more experienced<br />

and wiser than I am. Each day I<br />

am learn<strong>in</strong>g just how much I do<br />

not know and oftentimes I sit at<br />

my desk and ask God for help.<br />

I work with gracious people who<br />

tra<strong>in</strong> and guide me, yet there are<br />

certa<strong>in</strong> decisions that I make<br />

and am ultimately responsible<br />

for, such as build<strong>in</strong>g repairs.<br />

Historically, a downstairs area of<br />

the build<strong>in</strong>g experienced leaks<br />

dur<strong>in</strong>g heavy ra<strong>in</strong>s. In order to fi x<br />

this problem ra<strong>in</strong> water from the<br />

neighbor<strong>in</strong>g property needed to<br />

be diverted away from the build<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

In my efforts to solve the<br />

problem over a period of three<br />

months I met with a cement


contractor, two general contractors,<br />

a plumber, a roofer, and<br />

consulted with co-workers. They<br />

each offered a different solution<br />

and none of these solutions were<br />

cheap. Throughout this process,<br />

some days I was very stressed<br />

out and worried, especially when<br />

it ra<strong>in</strong>ed.<br />

These were<br />

the days that<br />

I was operat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out<br />

of my own<br />

strength,<br />

scrambl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to fi x<br />

the problem<br />

without<br />

seek<strong>in</strong>g<br />

God. Other<br />

days, I was<br />

at peace.<br />

These were<br />

days where<br />

I talked with<br />

God and<br />

prayed, the<br />

days that<br />

I gave the<br />

problem to<br />

God and<br />

trusted Him<br />

to be my<br />

ever-present<br />

Help.<br />

I wish I could<br />

say that<br />

everyday I<br />

trusted Him however that was<br />

not what happened. It seemed I<br />

only decided to trust Him when I<br />

was exasperated and when I felt<br />

I was out of options. Throughout<br />

the months I was vacillat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

between trust and fear. Yet, it<br />

always came down to a decision.<br />

The decision to believe His word<br />

and act accord<strong>in</strong>gly. Guess what<br />

happened? The owner of the<br />

neighbor<strong>in</strong>g property ended up<br />

build<strong>in</strong>g a dra<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> the problem<br />

area because they had experienced<br />

leaks as well. This solution<br />

did not cost my employer a<br />

penny!<br />

Now, I can be a bit pessimistic<br />

at times so when this occurred<br />

I was greatly relieved and I was<br />

also a bit miffed at God. Why did<br />

I have to spend the past three<br />

months work<strong>in</strong>g on this problem<br />

when all along He knew the<br />

neighbor would take care of it?<br />

The Lord showed me that dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the three months I ga<strong>in</strong>ed muchneeded<br />

knowledge about the<br />

build<strong>in</strong>g, and that I had to learn<br />

to trust Him because the problem<br />

was not solved right away.<br />

<strong>Faith</strong> without works is dead. I had<br />

faith <strong>in</strong> God to solve the problem,<br />

and the works were to not stress<br />

out when I received expensive<br />

estimates to fi x the leak or when<br />

it took much longer than anticipated<br />

to resolve the problem.<br />

The works<br />

were to keep<br />

pray<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

believ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that God<br />

would lead<br />

me to right<br />

contractor<br />

as I sought<br />

out referrals.<br />

We walk <strong>in</strong><br />

faith one<br />

decision,<br />

one step,<br />

and one<br />

moment at<br />

a time. And<br />

as we see<br />

God’s faithfulness,<br />

faith<br />

becomes a<br />

way of life<br />

because<br />

we discover<br />

that His<br />

word is true<br />

and that He<br />

is trustworthy.<br />

We walk<br />

<strong>in</strong> faith when<br />

we walk <strong>in</strong><br />

agreement with Him and His<br />

word.<br />

Bio: Remaliah Evans is an<br />

adm<strong>in</strong>istrator by day and writer<br />

by night. She enjoys encourag<strong>in</strong>g<br />

others, teach<strong>in</strong>g, serv<strong>in</strong>g on<br />

the Life Builder Sem<strong>in</strong>ars team,<br />

and shar<strong>in</strong>g cheesy jokes. http://<br />

lifebuildersem<strong>in</strong>ars.com


Critical Con<br />

A Christian Par<br />

Discuss<strong>in</strong>g H<br />

with T<br />

If you won’t discuss<br />

homosexuality with<br />

your childen, someone<br />

else’s values may be<br />

imparted to them.<br />

Can you afford to take<br />

that chance?<br />

By Micayla Greathouse<br />

Interview with Tom Gilson<br />

It is tough be<strong>in</strong>g a parent today,<br />

especially with the issue of<br />

homosexuality as such a prom<strong>in</strong>ent<br />

topic <strong>in</strong> the Western world.<br />

How are Christians supposed to<br />

handle this matter? What k<strong>in</strong>d<br />

of conversations should Christian<br />

parents be hav<strong>in</strong>g with their<br />

kids? What about political correctness?<br />

Author Tom Gilson addresses<br />

these questions and so much<br />

more <strong>in</strong> his book, Critical Conversations:<br />

A Christian Parents’<br />

Guide to Discuss<strong>in</strong>g Homosexuality<br />

with Teens. In this <strong>in</strong>terview<br />

with <strong>Faith</strong> Filled Family, Tom<br />

shares a bit more about his pur-


versations:<br />

ents’ Guide to<br />

mosexuality<br />

eens<br />

poses for writ<strong>in</strong>g the book, challenges<br />

he has faced, and the<br />

practicality <strong>in</strong> deal<strong>in</strong>g with this<br />

subject.<br />

What prompted you to write<br />

this book?<br />

Two streams came together.<br />

First, I really want to help people<br />

stay strong <strong>in</strong> the faith — especially<br />

young people. God is<br />

greater than any of us can imag<strong>in</strong>e,<br />

and too many are th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

of Him as less than real. This is<br />

especially true of youth.<br />

Second, through dialog<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

atheists and skeptics for years<br />

on my Th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g Christian blog<br />

(th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>gchristian.net), I’ve discovered<br />

that many people consider<br />

God and His word as<br />

irrelevant or even harmful and<br />

evil, especially when it comes to<br />

questions about homosexuality<br />

and same-sex marriage. Some<br />

people who believe this way<br />

are barrag<strong>in</strong>g Christians with<br />

charges such as, you’re haters,<br />

you’re <strong>in</strong>tolerant, you’re homophobic,<br />

you’re on the wrong<br />

side of history, and on and on


and on. They’re caus<strong>in</strong>g Christians<br />

to shr<strong>in</strong>k back <strong>in</strong> doubt and<br />

sometimes even to reject belief<br />

<strong>in</strong> Christ altogether.<br />

These questions have answers.<br />

There’s no need to doubt God’s<br />

reality and his surpass<strong>in</strong>g goodness.<br />

But people need to hear<br />

those answers. I wrote Critical<br />

Conversations to parents<br />

because I th<strong>in</strong>k they’re the most<br />

strategic route through which<br />

youth might be able to learn that<br />

God is really true and He is really<br />

good.<br />

Parents sometimes avoid<br />

address<strong>in</strong>g tough subjects such<br />

as homosexuality and gay marriage<br />

with their kids. Given how<br />

diffi cult it is to talk about, why<br />

would a parent even want to<br />

have these “critical conversations”?<br />

Parents sometimes avoid the<br />

subject because it’s as awkward<br />

as it could be, and it’s a contentious<br />

issue, often with one generation<br />

pitted aga<strong>in</strong>st another.<br />

Parents fear it will start out bad<br />

and get worse. Above all they’re<br />

not sure they have what it takes<br />

to expla<strong>in</strong> why they believe what<br />

they believe.<br />

There’s an awful lot at stake.<br />

Teens are typically suspicious of<br />

the way Christians treat LGBT<br />

people, and they see themselves<br />

as morally advanced on this<br />

topic, compared to their parents’<br />

generation. Tragically, for many<br />

this separates them from their<br />

own church, from their parents<br />

and most signifi cantly from belief<br />

<strong>in</strong> Christ himself. However, with<br />

proper equipp<strong>in</strong>g, these critical<br />

conversations can draw teens<br />

back <strong>in</strong>to closer relationship with<br />

their parents and give them new<br />

confi dence to stay connected<br />

with Christ and Christianity.<br />

How is the design of Critical<br />

Conversations different than<br />

other parent<strong>in</strong>g books?<br />

The book is written <strong>in</strong> three parts:<br />

1.Understand<strong>in</strong>g the issues<br />

(reasons for biblical morality and<br />

a brief social history of gay activism).<br />

2. Navigat<strong>in</strong>g the rocky relationships:<br />

how parents can help<br />

teens live <strong>in</strong> the real relationships<br />

they’ll fi nd themselves <strong>in</strong>.<br />

3. Practical help <strong>in</strong> handl<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

challenges.<br />

This third part is where the book<br />

is really unique. It lists more than<br />

two dozen anti-Christian challenges<br />

and expla<strong>in</strong>s briefly where<br />

these challenges go wrong. But<br />

that’s not all. If it were, it would<br />

be just another piece of <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

for parents to absorb.<br />

Instead with each one of these<br />

challenges I <strong>in</strong>clude “Conversation<br />

Coach<strong>in</strong>g,” advice for parents<br />

on specifi cally what they<br />

can say to their teens to help<br />

them deal with the challenge. It’s<br />

extremely parent-friendly and<br />

practical <strong>in</strong> that sense.<br />

What was the biggest challenge<br />

you faced <strong>in</strong> writ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

this?<br />

I had the book virtually fi nished<br />

last Spr<strong>in</strong>g, but the Supreme<br />

Court announced its <strong>in</strong>tention<br />

to render a decision on samesex<br />

marriage <strong>in</strong> June. My publisher<br />

at Kregel and I decided it<br />

would be best to wait and fi nish<br />

the book after the decision was<br />

announced, then deliver the fi nal<br />

manuscript soon after. There<br />

was a mad scramble to br<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

book up to speed, to refl ect the<br />

Court’s decision to allow samesex<br />

marriage.<br />

Christians are often pa<strong>in</strong>ted<br />

as be<strong>in</strong>g prejudiced and out of<br />

touch for their beliefs. Is there<br />

a way to speak truth about<br />

homosexuality without be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

perceived as hateful or homophobic?<br />

There are actually a couple of<br />

questions that come before that<br />

one. Can we speak out about it<br />

without actually be<strong>in</strong>g hateful or<br />

homophobic? The answer to that<br />

is yes, certa<strong>in</strong>ly. We disagree<br />

with LGBT advocates, sure. But<br />

that isn’t automatically hateful or<br />

phobic. If it were, then they would<br />

also be automatically hateful and<br />

phobic for disagree<strong>in</strong>g with us. I<br />

don’t th<strong>in</strong>k they th<strong>in</strong>k that’s true<br />

of ourselves, and I don’t th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

that’s usually true of them, either.<br />

The second question is whether<br />

we can speak out without be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

perceived as hateful or homophobic.<br />

I th<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> personal friendships<br />

we can often do this. In<br />

larger contexts, we’ll probably<br />

be perceived <strong>in</strong> all k<strong>in</strong>ds of bad<br />

ways, and the best th<strong>in</strong>g we<br />

can do about it is to make sure<br />

we’re liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Christian <strong>in</strong>tegrity<br />

no matter what people say<br />

about us. We can also make our<br />

case for our position respectfully,<br />

knowledgeably and with conviction.<br />

This book helps with that.<br />

Back to the orig<strong>in</strong>al question.<br />

Some Christians have unfortunately<br />

acted <strong>in</strong> hateful and<br />

homophobic ways. (I don’t usually<br />

like to use that term, but it<br />

does fi t sometimes.) That’s a<br />

matter for <strong>in</strong>creased knowledge<br />

and for repentance.


When writ<strong>in</strong>g, were you at all<br />

concerned by any potential<br />

opposition you might face<br />

from those who don’t agree<br />

with you?<br />

Yes. Early on my wife actually<br />

asked me not to write Critical<br />

Conversations. We prayed it<br />

through and came to agreement<br />

that somebody had to write a<br />

book like this, and we couldn’t<br />

discern any reason why I should<br />

let someone else bear that load<br />

(and also the privilege of stand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

strong for our great Savior)<br />

<strong>in</strong>stead. I still am concerned for<br />

the long run. My ma<strong>in</strong> concern<br />

has to do with my position be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

so readily identifi able if someday<br />

the opposition heats up even<br />

worse. God is good enough to<br />

handle that though.<br />

What was one of your favorite<br />

or most reward<strong>in</strong>g parts of<br />

writ<strong>in</strong>g this book?<br />

Send<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the completed manuscript!<br />

I enjoyed work<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

the Kregel team to get it ready,<br />

especially all their encouragement<br />

along the way.<br />

It was also gratify<strong>in</strong>g to have<br />

the opportunity to gather all my<br />

thoughts on this highly contentious<br />

issue <strong>in</strong>to one place. I<br />

was able to study the reasons<br />

beh<strong>in</strong>d the biblical view of marriage<br />

and morality and to know<br />

it’s really true and good <strong>in</strong> spite<br />

of others’ views on it. In the end,<br />

I was able to exam<strong>in</strong>e 27 different<br />

charges laid aga<strong>in</strong>st Christianity<br />

by pro-LGBT activists and<br />

show that God’s word and God’s<br />

way stands up solidly aga<strong>in</strong>st all<br />

of them. It was good to see how<br />

well all the parts come together<br />

so strongly.<br />

If you had to simplify your<br />

argument <strong>in</strong> support of biblical<br />

marriage <strong>in</strong>to a few sentences,<br />

what would they be?<br />

God gave us plenty of good<br />

reasons <strong>in</strong> both the Old and<br />

New Testament to know that he<br />

designed sex to be for a married<br />

couple, and that he designed<br />

marriage to be for a man and<br />

a woman. It’s <strong>in</strong> Leviticus, <strong>in</strong><br />

Jesus’ teach<strong>in</strong>g on marriage and<br />

all over the Paul<strong>in</strong>e epistles.<br />

Marriage between a man and a<br />

woman is good. It’s a comprehensive<br />

human good that supports<br />

the nurturance of children<br />

and the growth of strong communities.<br />

Because children come<br />

out of marriages (normally),<br />

marital love is an outward-look<strong>in</strong>g<br />

form of love, <strong>in</strong> contrast to<br />

the <strong>in</strong>ward-look<strong>in</strong>g and comparatively<br />

self-focused “just you and<br />

me, babe,” form of relationship<br />

found <strong>in</strong> non-marital sexual relationships,<br />

whether heterosexual<br />

or homosexual. Children thrive<br />

<strong>in</strong> homes with a mom and a dad.<br />

So there are both biblical and<br />

non-biblical (common experience)<br />

reasons work<strong>in</strong>g together<br />

to make the po<strong>in</strong>t.<br />

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<br />

You can fi nd out more about Critical<br />

Conversations by go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

www.criticalconversationsbook.<br />

com or on Twitter (@Thnkng-<br />

Christian).<br />

Tom Gilson is the Senior Editor<br />

and M<strong>in</strong>istry Coord<strong>in</strong>ator for the<br />

top conservative daily onl<strong>in</strong>e<br />

news and <strong>in</strong>sight website The<br />

Stream. A 36-year veteran of<br />

m<strong>in</strong>istry leadership with Cru,<br />

BreakPo<strong>in</strong>t and Ratio Christi,<br />

Gilson holds a Master’s degree<br />

<strong>in</strong> organizational psychology.<br />

He’s the author of Critical Conversations:<br />

A Christian Parents’<br />

Guide to Discuss<strong>in</strong>g Homosexuality<br />

with Teens. He lives with<br />

wife, Sara, <strong>in</strong> Lebanon, Ohio.<br />

They have two college-aged<br />

children.<br />

A special thanks to Tom Gilson<br />

for <strong>in</strong>terview<strong>in</strong>g with FFFM, and<br />

to Audra Jenn<strong>in</strong>gs and Christ<strong>in</strong>e<br />

Muller for coord<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>in</strong>terview.<br />

Bless<strong>in</strong>gs to you!<br />

To Purchase on<br />

Amazon.com,<br />

Please Click<br />

Here<br />

To Purchase on<br />

Christian Book.<br />

com, Please<br />

Click Here


Ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g a<br />

Spirit of Peace<br />

By Henry Miranda<br />

What are the effects of<br />

fear on our bodies?<br />

How does it wear us<br />

down, and how can we spiritually<br />

build ourselves up?<br />

Have you ever walked down a<br />

dark street by yourself? If you<br />

ever have, at one time or another<br />

you probably had the feel<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

someone may be follow<strong>in</strong>g you,<br />

or that someone may be try<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to rob you. It’s scary walk<strong>in</strong>g<br />

late at night alone. Nobody likes<br />

that feel<strong>in</strong>g of be<strong>in</strong>g alone and<br />

scared. Fear can be an awful<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g, but Fear can also prepare<br />

us to react to danger. Like<br />

all emotions, fear can be mild,<br />

medium, or <strong>in</strong>tense, depend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

on the situation and the person.<br />

A feel<strong>in</strong>g of fear can be brief or it<br />

can last longer. It is a basic survival<br />

mechanism that signals our<br />

bodies to respond to danger.<br />

Fear is a human emotion that is<br />

triggered by a perceived threat.<br />

It is programmed <strong>in</strong>to the nervous<br />

system and works like an<br />

<strong>in</strong>st<strong>in</strong>ct. From the time we’re<br />

<strong>in</strong>fants, we are equipped with the<br />

survival <strong>in</strong>st<strong>in</strong>cts necessary to<br />

respond with fear when we sense<br />

danger or feel unsafe. However,<br />

people who live <strong>in</strong> constant fear,<br />

whether from physical dangers<br />

<strong>in</strong> their environment or threats<br />

they perceive, can become <strong>in</strong>capacitated.<br />

However, liv<strong>in</strong>g under<br />

constant fear can weaken our<br />

immune system and can cause<br />

cardiovascular damage, gastro<strong>in</strong>test<strong>in</strong>al<br />

problems such as<br />

ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome,<br />

and decreased fertility.<br />

Other consequences of longterm<br />

fear <strong>in</strong>clude fatigue, cl<strong>in</strong>ical<br />

depression, accelerated age<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and even premature death.<br />

Feel<strong>in</strong>g afraid is very natural and<br />

can be helpful <strong>in</strong> some situations,<br />

but it can cause some serious<br />

damage if left unchecked. Fear<br />

can be like a warn<strong>in</strong>g, a signal<br />

that cautions us to be careful.