Moving Past Our Circumstances by Sonya

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Our circumstances should not dictate how we should live. I have found that we use our circumstances for a lot of excuses for things and how we act. I believe that is a lie from Satan telling us that they make us who we are. If we believe that lie we become a victim of our circumstances. God’s intent is not for us to be held down by our past, pain and suffering.  God wants to bear fruit through those times and allow us to grow through our circumstances.

Many people that are single parents, in bad marriages, fighting sickness and disease, have surrounded me and as I look at those people I feel they have a great reason to have a negative outlook on life. They can’t help maybe that their spouse does not love or the father that left the mom to parent the kids alone or that sickness they are fighting. They didn’t ask for this lifestyle but what I think is amazing is the kind of person that rises above that and says I won’t let that dictate how I am going to live.  They put their eyes on heaven and towards God instead.

My aunt is a living example of this; she fought breast cancer last year as she was diagnosed with stage 4. She had every reason to give up and feel sorry for herself but she chose to witness to others for the glory of God. In her pain, my aunt was speaking the Gospel to others when she would go in to the hospital for her cancer treatments. My aunt showed love, joy, peace and that God is God of miracles and hope for the world. She chose to look past her circumstances and focus on the eternal prize, heaven.  She chose to seek God and not her own needs.  God healed her five months later when she was in remission and no signs of cancer, Praise God. Words cannot describe the kind of faith she has, which can move mountains.

That is the kind of faith we should desire to have and that we’ll be able look beyond our circumstances and towards the Almighty Father! My aunt has inspired me to believe that God can use all my circumstances good and bad for eternal purposes. This life is not for us but all for HIM.  We should live to give Him honor and praise and let God define who we are in our circumstances. “Therefore we do not lose heart…for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen (our current trouble) is temporary, but what is unseen (the glory that awaits us) is eternal.” 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18

Tidings of Comfort and Joy by Trish

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(Photo: Big Stock Photo)

“Tidings of comfort and joy” a line pulled from a famous Christmas carol rings familiar among the popular songs highlighted during the holiday season.

This simple yet profound statement signifies to the fact that good news has come…Christ has come.

I know that 2013 has been a rough year with significant loss for many people. During this holiday season, I would like to take a moment to encourage you that in the midst of your heartache, your loss and your pain, there is still good news to be celebrated and that is Christ the King has come. Not only has Christ come but also He’s with you to stay.  He’ll never leave you or forsake you.

I often tell myself and others that no matter what I go through in life and no matter the whirlwind of emotions that come with such seasons, “God can handle my feelings”. In times of sorrow, we often times deny ourselves the benefit of truly embracing His comfort to the fullest by denying our frailty. But God knows, He sees and He understands. He longs to heal what we so desperately try to cover and maintain on our own.

Whatever you’re facing this Christmas season; if it’s the loss of a loved one, the loss of job, a relationship or perhaps the loss of your personal sense of direction, know that there was a King born to be your Savior and you do not have to carry these burdens anymore. Present your life to Him and all that you are, you’ll in turn receive salvation, the hope of a new day, healing and restoration- the benefits are far too great to number. It’s quite the exchange and more than worth it.

Allow His presence to be your comfort and His joy to be your strength! This Christmas receive the best gift ever given, the gift our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Debbie Downer by Bombi

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(Photo: Big Stock Photo)

Have you ever found yourself meeting a new group of people, and everyone is introducing themselves to you, and many want to give you the scoop about who’s-who? Maybe at some point someone feels the need to pull you to the side and point out the “Debbie-Downer” of the group as they warn, “We don’t always invite her to hang around. Watch out for her, you don’t want her to drag you down.”

If you’re like many people, you’re thankful you’ve been warned and feel somehow spared from doom. But if you‘re like me, you take an extra second to think, “Why would she be that much of a downer? What happened to her to get her there? Will her life ever get any better if everyone simply avoids her so they don’t have to deal with her life perspectives, or her reality?” Maybe you don’t identify with “Debbie Downer” but I believe we all have a little Debbie Downer in us. We might not always be her, but there are times when we are like her and if you’re like me, there was a time when you were her.

Who or what is this “Debbie Downer” in simplest form? More often than not, she’s the one who keeps it real. Maybe when you ask someone who’s having a bad day, how their day is going, they might give you the pat answer of “good”. Not Debbie. No she’ll tell you she’s sore, tired, and cold because well, she is. Maybe others put a smile on most of the time, but Debbie smiles only when she really feels she has a reason to smile, which might not be that often. She might not be very excited about life. She doesn’t always have great news to tell. She’s probably not had a great year, or even decade. She’s not full of sunshine, but hey, she’s honest.

If you think about it, the Bible has a host of its own “Debbie Downers”, or at least these folks had some downer times. There was a whole book dedicated to sadness in Lamentations. How about the prophet Jeremiah who was dubbed “The Weeping prophet”? He was the one who had to be the bearer of perilous and devastating news. Hanging with him during that time might not have been the most uplifting experience. There was also Noah who spent the majority of his adult life building an ark that would save his and his family’s lives, and the earth’s animals, while the rest of the people would drown to death in a massive flood. Talk about heavy.

How about King David, a.k.a. “A man after God’s own heart”? He spent a good portion of his life babysitting sheep followed by years hiding in caves and running for his life while documenting his harsh reality in the Book of Psalms. He wrote things like: “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.” Ps 6:6-7 (NIV). I’m sure he wasn’t trying to be a bummer, he was simply telling the truth about his life and situations and his reality at the moment.  There are other Debbie Downers not mentioned here, but you get my drift.

So here’s the thing, there are many opportunities to become, meet, avoid, or befriend the Debbie Downer. The next time you’re tempted to judge and avoid her, remember that we all have had our moments whether we choose to reveal them or not. Catch anyone during a dry and harsh season and you may see Debbie Downer in them, even just a wee bit. Thank God He still loves us right where we are. Regardless of what role we find ourselves in at the moment, God still has plans for us that lead upward and not down. It’s true, bad things happen. Sometimes they keep happening, but so do good plans. When God makes His promises and plans about us, He’s sure to keep them. Yes, God has AMAZING plans beyond the scope of our Debbie Downers! These are the plans that we will live to tell of and God will get the glory.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Big Bad Bully by Kenika

 

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(Photo: Big Stock Photo)

Although the concept eludes us daily, and gets away from us monthly or even yearly, it is really simple actually.  God is not a bully.  In this digital age bullying is at an all time high. I remember when I was in school, a bully was someone you only had to worry about accosting you at recess, lunch, in between classes, on the bus or walk home.  But today, thanks to social media, bullying can follow you into your home and over the course of your weekend.  Bullies can create networks with other bullies designed to attack a person’s character. According to Webster dictionary a bully is, “One habitually cruel to others who are weaker.”

For as much as I would like to think I understand and comprehend, there is a whole lot more that I do not.  It is a real struggle mustering up the courage to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that God is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).   However, while scratching my head about what I don’t understand, I am settled in my heart about what I do comprehend.  God is not habitually cruel to others who are weaker, but is loving and kind to those who don’t deserve it.  Again, God is not a bully.  Times do get tough and it can seem impossible to find your way, but He is not beating up on you, He is perfecting you.  Psalm 138:8a “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;” 

God doesn’t go to bed every night like we do, but imagine that He does.  When we wake up in the morning we usually have an agenda for our day. This can be written out, or simply expectations in our mind, routine or otherwise. We have plans to bathe, eat, get dressed, go to work, school, take care of the kids, or relax. Whatever it is, we typically have a daily agenda.  If God woke up every single day I know of two things that are definitely on His agenda, one is perfecting everything that concerns me, and the other is making all things work together for my good. He isn’t thinking of ways to harm me, or to belittle me, bully me, hold me back, destroy me or even to distract me.  His sole agenda is to work all bad for my good, and perfect good and bad things that concern me.

Sometimes I can get in the habit of griping and complaining about my life, my choices, things that were out of my control, and again all that I do not understand, but when I began to grasp that God was not being ugly with me, but rather helping me to navigate this thing called life, it freed me from viewing Him as someone who is against me. When I read that He is constantly in perfection mode, I was released from feeling as if I had to have an answer for everything.  I was able to rest with the concept of a loving God who doesn’t have television, social media, or long conversations on His daily tab, but rather a plan to work everything out to benefit me.