Tuesday, 30 December 2008

WHY WERE THE WISE MEN CALLED WISE

Matthew 2:1-121.

THEY SOUGHT GOD FIRSTMatthew 2:1-2

2. THEY DID NOT ALLOW THE ENEMY TO DISTRACT THEM FROM THEIR PURPOSE -Matthew 2:8 Matthew 2:12
3. THEY GAVE THEIR BEST TO GODMatthew 2:11

The three gifts of the Magi had a prophetic meaning: gold, the gift for a king; incense, the gift for a priest; and myrrh, a burial ointment as a gift for one who would die.

The first mentioned gift was gold. Gold was the usual offering presented to kings by their subjects, or those wanting to pay respect. When the Magi presented gold, they were honoring Jesus with the very best that they possessed, and they were also recognizing that Jesus was King.

The second gift brought out of the boxes by the Magi was frankincense. Frankincense is a very costly and fragrant gum distilled from a tree that is found in Persia, India and Arabia, as well as the East Indies. Frankincense is highly fragrant when burned, and was, therefore, used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. - Exodus 30:7,8

The primary lesson from frankincense is that our worship is to be pleasing to God.

The last gift brought by the Magi was Myrrh. Myrrh is an aromatic gum produced from a thorn-bush that grew in Arabia and Ethiopia, and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. This thorny tree, called "balsamodendron myrrha", is similar to the acacia. It grows from eight to ten feet high, and is thorny. When it oozes from the wounded shrub, myrrh is a pale yellow color at first, but as it hardens, it changes to dark red or even black color.
Myrrh then is brought as a gift to acknowledge the human suffering that Jesus partook of when He came into our world.

DURING THIS TIME OF HAVING DONE SO MUCH FOR OTHERS, SO MANY PRESENTS BOUGHT, I WONDER WHAT YOU HAVE GIVEN THE KING?

HOW MUCH TIME HAVE YOU SPENT WITH HIM AND WHAT GIFT WITHIN YOURSELF WILL YOU GIVE HIM?
GO TO THE THRONE ROOM I IMPLORE YOU KNEEL BEFORE HIM TELL HIM HOW MUCH YOU LOVE HIM AND BE ALL YOU WERE CALLED TO BE THIS COMING YEAR!!

LOVE AND HUGS
SHARMAINE

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

GOD GIVEN DREAMS


God-given Dreams of the Heart
By Rebekah Montgomery

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a desire to share the Good News. Because of this, some of my earliest childhood memories are of “playing church.”
My sister Ruth and I would dress up our cats and dogs in doll clothes, sit them on little red wooden chairs, then present flannel graph Bible stories and lead them in singing.

But we weren’t playing. We were serious. The Great Commission had instructed us to “preach the Gospel to every creature,” which included cats and dogs, of course. We loved our cats and dogs. We never knew when one of them would be called to meet their Maker.
Occasionally, a member of our congregation would make a break for it, but from past bitter experience, they knew escape was futile. Mostly they sat through our services with resignation.


Their lasse faire attitude proved good training for me: As a speaker, I am sometimes greeted with similar trapped expressions on audience members’ faces.
At the end of each church session, Ruth and I would lead many verses of Just As I Am and extend an “invitation.” We felt this was vitally important and conducted them with great earnestness. We didn’t want any cat or dog to fry for an eternity in hell because we had cut short the invitation to play Barbie or ride bikes. Our theology may have been skewed, but our hearts were in the right place.

The longer we urged them toward repentance and salvation, the more verses we sang, the sorrier the animals looked. When we finally had the closing prayer, some of them seemed to bow their heads, so we were encouraged that some had repented.

Examples to Follow

As an adult, I wholeheartedly wanted to serve God. I didn’t suppose God would ever open up a ministry for me. After all, I was a woman, and according to the lights of many, women were not supposed to do anything in the church except cook the food for potluck dinners and clean up afterwards. My parents didn’t subscribe to this interpretation of the scriptures, but so many did that I realized if I were to exercise the gifts God had given me, I would be the target of a great deal of criticism.

Little by little, God showed me in the scriptures exactly what He had called women to do. He showed me Mary who washed the feet of Jesus. And Martha who served Jesus food at first century potlucks. Then there was Mary Magdalene and others who supplied Jesus with financial help. Deborah led, inspired, and judged. Miriam led music. Dorcas clothed widows and orphans.


Lydia networked. Pricilla instructed Paul. The woman at the well evangelized her village. Jesus didn’t consign these women to work only in the nursery and hold babies: He reserved that extra special job for Himself.

But most of all, God pointed out to me the women who stood at the foot of the cross and bore witness of His crucifixion. These were the women who hastily prepared His body for burial then assembled the spices to return on Sunday to do a proper job of it. They were the first to realize that the tomb was empty.

These were the women Jesus told to tell Peter and the disciples that He was risen — and that was precisely the job I felt called to do: To tell the world that Christ was risen.
I concluded if He had called me to a ministry within the church, He would open the doors for me so others would recognize my call, too — which is exactly what has happened.

The discovery of God’s call on my life has been a joyous adventure. He has allowed me to share the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection in a variety of ways, from Bible school for underprivileged inner-city children to wealthy, upper crust matrons, from seminary-trained pastors to illiterate Haitians, from babies to senior citizens.

If He Asks You, He’ll Show You How


Pursue the dream God has placed within your heart. And don’t be afraid or hold back.
I

f God asks you to build an ark, He’ll give you the measurements.
If He asks you to fish for men, He’ll give you the bait.
If He asks you to get out of the boat and walk on water, He’ll show you the technique.
If He asks you to pick up your bed and walk, He’ll give you a hand to help you up.
If He asks you to pray, He’ll teach you how.
If He asks you to love your neighbor, He’ll give you love.
If He asks you to go to a new land, He’ll give you the map. © Rebekah Montgomery 2008

MARRIAGE ADVICE


Angie’s Marriage Column

Marriage question: What do you do when your husband says he wants a close relationship, but continually has a negative attitude and is quick to become angry? I am just so discouraged!

Marriage guidance: I can certainly understand your feelings. When someone says they want to be close with their spouse but then behave just the opposite, anyone would get discouraged. It seems your husband is in contradiction to his own feelings. You’re not going to know why your husband has a negative attitude until you guys come together and communicate yourselves with one another.

Many times couples think they are communicating just fine but when they accuse, blame, use negative emotions, name-call, or tell their spouse “how they are feeling” or “what they are going to do” that is not communicating properly and nothing in the marriage ever gets resolved. Most couples communicate incorrectly and that is why resentment and all kinds of negative feelings get in the way of coming to a resolve.

We should always consider the feelings of our spouse during verbal communication; the reason for this is simple. For two-way communication to work both sides need to feel comfortable and trust the person they are communicating with. If one person is getting their feelings rejected or shot down by the other every time they speak, they will shut down. This will cause discouragement and frustration in marriage.

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver”. (Proverbs 25:11)

Did you know that many couples never learn the proper ways of communicating with one another and they lose touch with the person they married – intimacy is gone and the marriage is in ruins. Then couples wonder what happened. Productive communication takes more than asking “why” or telling your spouse “what they did wrong” or “what you want” from them. Communication begins with listening to what they have to say.

“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin”. (Proverbs 13:3) “Let your conversation be always full of grave, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. (Colossians 4:6)

What does our spouse want? Have you ever thought about that? Have we even asked? We’re so used to wanting our own needs met, that we forget that maybe our spouse has needs to. We must put ourselves in our spouse’s shoes once in awhile, otherwise what is the use of getting married if not to support one another through the difficult times. Here is a VERY true saying: Couples don’t know the person they married because they don’t communicate!

“For out of the overflow of the heart (attitude) the mouth speaks”. (Matthew 12:34)

Right now, you’re discouraged about what is happening in your marriage. What about your husband? He is probably discouraged too. Maybe you can help your husband to become encouraged and he can help you become encouraged. You’re married – that is what marriage is all about – working and growing together in the Lord.

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification”. (Romans 14:19)

Marriage (between a man and a woman) belongs to God – Don’t let satan get a hold of it!

You guys are both pulling further way from each other because of your attitude. He wants to get close with you, but for some reason that’s not happening. I don’t know what is coming between the two of you, but one or both of you need to do something about it, and that means you need to communicate. Scripture tells us that we are to build each other up in our communication with one another.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. (Ephesians 4:29)

The best thing you can do at this point is to resolve this issue before more resentment sets in and you guys cave in under temptation. Let your husband know that you feel discouraged about not being close anymore. Tell him you would like to work on becoming more intimate with him and ask him “how he thinks” you two can do that? Don’t tell him that you don't have a close relationship because he is angry and negative; let him figure that out on his own. Just do your part, building him up while you do it. That way, he can’t shut down on you, and he will be more likely to express his feelings too.

Husbands like to shut down with their wives. And the reason is some of us wives aren’t talking (communicating)! We’re usually nagging, yelling, ridiculing, blaming, arguing and or complaining. But that is not going to help the issue get resolved, is it. No!

A woman finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23)

The truth of the matter is you can only do your part in the marriage, that means you can’t feel for your husband you can’t take over his responsibilities in the marriage for him, or tell him what his responsibilities are. He must be ready to fulfill his own responsibilities just as you need to fulfill your own responsibilities. This is how husband and wife fulfill one another’s needs by doing what is right in the Lord and taking care of the duties and obligations that God imparted them with in the marriage. Do you see how that works? This is why it is so important to keep God ALWAYS at the forefront of the marriage. If we base our marriage upon things of the world will have a worldly marriage but when we base our marriage upon things of God we will have a Godly marriage and that is the way marriage is designed.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord Forgave you”. (Colossians 3:13)

Get encouraged by reading scriptures and applying them into your life. Don’t worry about what your husband is or is not doing – just do what you can for the marriage, which is acting on your responsibilities and always keeping Christ at the top of your priority list.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Monday, 15 December 2008

THANK YOU

TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO HAVE VISITED ME THIS YEAR ON MY BLOG PAGE .....MAY YOU BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED, MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU MAY HE CAUSE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU!!

HUGS

SHARMAINE

Monday, 1 December 2008

HOW TO DEAL WITH ISSUES


How to Deal With Your IssuesDr. Betty R. Price
Proverbs 4:20-27 gives us some very sound advice if we want to move ahead with God:
20 My son [that includes daughters], give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence [that is careful effort, perseverance], for out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead and your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.According to these verses, how we deal with the issues or challenges that face us in life come from our hearts.
In Matthew 15:18-19, Jesus gives us more information about the issues that come from the heart:
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.


Jesus is telling us that any time we are involved in fornication and adultery, and all the other things He listed in Matthew, they come out of the heart. That is why you have to protect your heart, in order to keep those things from getting in there.

Luke 6:45 says: For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. It is up to us as Christians to keep all the ugly things out of our hearts and to protect our hearts with all diligence by right thinking and right action. So many people bring the types of things listed in Matthew from the world right into their Christian life because they have never been told that they do not have to keep those things in their hearts and they don't have to do them.


Many Believers don't really know how to take the Word and drive these things out of their hearts.

You might be wondering where the heart is. We know it is on the inside of us. There are many views about where the heart is. There are some who say the heart is where the spirit and the soul meet. This theory witnesses with my spirit. The Bible indicates that the spirit man is the heart of man. The heart and the soul go together. You can only separate them to talk about them, but they go together. When a person gets born again, he or she is supposed to take his or her born-again spirit--the new man--and renew the new man's mind by the Word of God. The renewed mind is a part of his heart and is the soul and spirit combined. It now exercises control over the old man--the soul that used to control the heart.

How do issues get into the heart?

These negative issues enter the heart through thoughts, ideas, and suggestions that are planted by Satan and also by the eye (what we see), the ear gates (what we hear), and by the mind (the things we experience and dwell on). Some of the other issues of the heart we also deal with, in addition to the ones Jesus talked about in Matthew are: sicknesses, bad relationships, rejection, promiscuity, hurts, depression, abuse, low self-esteem, loneliness, lying, jealousy, envy, gossip, bitterness, guilt, malice, lack of peace, lack of finances, worry, fear, overweight, racism, prejudices, and unforgiveness. The list goes on and on. We can't cover every issue, but there is a principle that leads to victory over every one of them: you cannot get victory over your issues or live the Christian life victoriously without the Word of God. You can take this same principle and deal with whatever issues you may be facing. There are still too many churches today that do not teach the uncompromising Word of God. Believers who attend these churches are usually up and down in their Christian walk. They may get emotionalized every week, but they are not taught to be overcomers. That is why they live in and out of sin, committing fornication and adultery, and doing all the other junk we covered earlier. Even when they are in church, they may be planning how they are going to meet their girlfriend or boyfriend and have sex that night. They may shout and fall out every Sunday morning in church, even after having a sexual affair that Saturday night before.

They are what we call carnal Christians, and basically they live that way because they don't know they can do better. They do not have enough Word in them. They will never have peace in their lives because they can't continue to live that kind of life and be prosperous or victorious in the kingdom of God. If you are caught in such a trap, the only way to escape and find peace is to find out what the Word says about your situation, and then do what it says. What does the Word say about fornication? What does it say about adultery? You are going to have to refuse to go down to the level of how you feel, and make up your mind that you are going to do what the Bible says to do.

This devotional was excerpted from Dr. Betty's book entitled, Wisdom From Above, Volume 1

Sunday, 23 November 2008

What To Do in Times of Trouble Bishop Keith Butler

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15 (KJV)

Do you know what time it is? It is time to give God thanks because He is your Deliverer! In the time of trouble, you have to abound in thanksgiving to God. Thank Him for protection. Thank Him for provision. Thank Him for your food. Thank Him for your job. Thank the Father whether or not it looks like things are working. When you do, you release His ability and power.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16 it says, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not s een: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (KJV)

We have no need to faint and no need to fear. When we are in Christ, we don't gauge our future by what the stock market does. We don't gauge our future by what the news reporters say. We gauge our standing in this life by the word of God which lives and abides forever.
So I'm telling you today, don't look at all the things you are reading in the newspaper. Instead look to God. You may not see God, but you know He's there. You know He makes a way for you. So begin to thank Him for doing it right now.

In 2 Thessalonians 1:6 it says "it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you." In other words, God is going to trouble your trouble. In 2 Thessalonians 2:2 it says, "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand ."

So, know what time it is and don't be troubled. Don't be frightened. Don't be full of fear. God is pleased by our thanksgiving, and He will move in our situation. It is time now to thank God for delivering us by His mighty power!
Scripture References: 2 Thessalonians 1:6; Acts 16:25-26

Bishop Keith A. Butler is the founder and pastor of Word of Faith International Christian Center in Southfield, MI, and Word of Faith Christian Center in San Antonio, TX. Bishop Butler ministers extensively in churches, conferences, and seminars throughout the U.S. and abroad with an emphasis on instruction and no-nonsense, practical application of God's Word.
It's Better Not To Know Better Steven Furtick

My youngest son Graham lets me throw him up in the air so high that he almost goes through the ceiling. He loves it. He just turned 1 about a month ago.
His older brother Elijah used to let me do the same thing. He's 3 now, and he doesn't like it so much any more. It scares him. Didn't used to scare him, but my wife Holly says now that he's more aware of his surroundings, being thrown in the air freaks him out. I guess that's understandable.

Sometimes our awareness of our surroundings can take the naiveté out of our faith in God. When I first came to Christ, it was like I was letting Him throw me up in the air as high as He could (or would, more like it), and it never crossed my mind that this was dangerous.

It never crossed my mind that He might drop me.

If He prompted me to speak out for Him, I spoke up. If He urged me to give something to Him, I gave. If He wanted me to give up something for Him, I gave it up.

Then came mortgage payments, adult responsibilities and the like. Now I'm more aware of my surroundings. And it's a little more unnerving to get thrown up in the air.
It didn't frighten me at all when I didn't know any better...and sometimes I think it's better not to know any better.

As a child of God, and even more so as a leader, I don't ever want to become so aware of my surroundings that I stop innately trusting God because it's dangerous.
Not that we should stay in a state of perpetual childhood. It's good to grow up, to exercise wisdom, and to analyze the risks.

But when it comes time to jump, never let your awareness of your surroundings be the final factor when deciding how high to go and how much to trust.
As you finish this year strong, find confidence in the strength of the one who caught you the last time, and who is positioned to catch you again.

Steven Furtick is Pastor of Elevation Church, located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Under his passionate leadership, Elevation Church was named one of the 10 fastest growing churches in America. A devoted husband and father of two, you can find Steven blogging at www.stevenfurtick.com
Closing Well - Dave Burchett

For twenty year-five years I have directed Texas Rangers baseball. And all of those seasons have taught me a valuable spiritual lesson from the National Pastime. I have learned how important it is to be a good closer.

In baseball parlance the closer is the pitcher who comes into the game in the last inning to protect the lead and finish off the win. It all comes down to the closer. If he does well the collective efforts of eight position players and the pitchers that proceeded will have a happy ending. If the closer fails all of that effort is wasted. There is nothing more demoralizing than playing a great game for eight innings and seeing it all blow-up in the last one. So what is the spiritual lesson learned from a baseball closer?

Closing out well is critical as a follower of Christ. I am praying and seeking to be a good closer in my faith walk with Jesus. Sadly that is not a given. Many great men of the Bible did not finish well. They allowed the efforts of many around them to end in frustration and anguish because they did not close well. The honest portrayal of human success and failing is something I love about God’s Word. It is one important aspect that makes the Bible unique and real.

The successes and failures are equally displayed. Men with great stories still managed to not close well. Examples? How about the story of Saul? How sad to hear words like this at the end of your journey.

“How foolish!" Samuel exclaimed. "You have disobeyed the command of the LORD your God. Had you obeyed, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the LORD's command." (1 Sam 13, NLT)

Imagine when the prophet came to Eli and proclaimed this dire message. What a kick in the spiritual gut this must have been.

"Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The terrible things you are doing cannot continue! I had promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me."
I would be willing to imagine that Saul and Eli were planning on closing well. They had moments of great leadership and fellowship with God. But they couldn’t close. You know that Saul’s story ended in madness. The results for Levi’s sons were horrific. His family needed a man who could start well, stay strong, and close it out with integrity and faith.

I want to finish strong. I want to close this journey with an effort that honors the One who was willing to finish for me. Paul understood athletics. Sports can be a good metaphor for life and he knew that well. At the end of my life race I have a couple of options that I could hear.
a) You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. (Gal 5)
b) You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4)
I choose b) for the words I want to hear.

I pray that I will close well.


Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. For more information on Dave, log onto www.daveburchett.com

Friday, 7 November 2008

FIELD OF BROKEN DREAMS


There are times when the world turns dark and we have nowhere to turn but to the creator! The only hope we have is Jesus. If you have ever felt like the poem below, I implore you turn your eyes, your hope on Jesus. He will NEVER forsake you He will NEVER leave you, He is the begining and the end.


I HAVE A FIELD OF BROKEN DREAMS

A HARVEST OF SHATTERED HOPE THAT LIES SCATTERED UPON THE GROUND.


WHEN I WALK THROUGH MY FIELD OF BROKEN DREAMS

AND EXAMINE THE HOPELESSNESS

I HAVE TO TIPTOE THROUGH THE BROKENESS OF MY LIFE

HOW DESPERATE HOW DESPERATE AND THEN....

I SCREAM AND SCREAM IN SILENT SURRENDER

AND GIVE THEM UP ON THE ALTER OF MY EGO.


COME AND LOOK

COME AND SEE

BUT, STEP CAREFULY NOW

WALK SOFTLY

THE RAZOR SHARP SHARDS

OF EVERY BROKEN DREAM

CAN DESTROY YOU

CAN KILL YOU


LOOK AT MY SOUL

IT IS BLEEDING

IT IS DEAD!


Sharmaine Anna Dobson

Copyright International Library





Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Quote for the Day

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."

Hans Hofmann

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Psalm 23


Psalm 23:
The Lord is my Shepherd = That's Relationship!

I shall not want = Thats supply

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures = That's Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters = That's Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul = That's Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness = That's Guidance!

For His name sake = That's Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death = That's Testing!

I will fear no evil = That's Protection!

For Thou art with me = That's Faithfulness!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me = That's Discipline!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies = That's Hope!

Thou annointest my head with oil = That's Consecration!

My cup runneth over = That's Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life = That's Blessing !

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord = That's Security!

Forever = That's Eternity!


With love always

CHANGED FROMINSIDE OUT

Changed from the Inside Out....... When you believe in Christ, Christ works a miracle in you. You are permanently purified andempowered by God himself. The message of Jesus to the religious person is simple: It’s notwhat you do. It’s what I do. I have moved in. And in time you can say with Paul, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).If I’m born again, why do I fall so often?

Why did you fall so often after your first birth? Did you exit the womb wearing cross-trainers?

Did you do the two-step on the day of your delivery? Of course not. And when you started towalk, you fell more than you stood. Should we expect anything different from our spiritual walk?But I fall so often, I question my salvation. Again, we return to your first birth. Didn’t you stumble as you were learning to walk? And when you stumbled, did you question the validity ofyour physical birth?

Did you, as a one-year-old fresh flopped on the floor, shake your headand think, I have fallen again. I must not be human?Of course not. The stumbles of a toddler do not invalidate the act of birth. And the stumblesof a Christian do not annul/ end his spiritual birth.Do you understand what God has done? He has deposited a Christ seed in you. As it grows, youwill change. It’s not that sin has no more presence in your life, but rather that sin has nomore power over your life.

Temptation will pester you, but temptation will not master
you. (Romans 6 v 12-14)

What hope this brings!Hear this. It’s not up to you! Within you abides a budding power.

Trust him!Think of it this way. Suppose you, for most of your life, have had a heart condition. Yourfrail pumper restricts your activities. Each morning at work when the healthy employees takethe stairs, you wait for the elevator. But then comes the transplant. A healthy heart is laced within you. After recovery, you turn to work and encounter the flight of stairs—the same flight of stairs you earlier avoided.

By habit, you start for the elevator. But then you remember. You aren’t the same person. You have a new heart. Within you dwells a new power.Do you live like the old person or the new? Do you count yourself as having a new heart or old? You have a choice to make.

You might say, “I can’t climb stairs; I’m too weak.” Does your choice negate the presenceof a new heart? Dismiss the work of the surgeon? No. Choosing the elevator would suggest only one fact—you haven’t learned to trust your new power. It takes time. But at some point you’ve got to try those stairs. You’ve got to test thenew ticker. You’ve got to experiment with the new you. For if you don’t, you will runout of steam.Religious rule keeping can sap your strength.

It’s endless. There is always another class to attend, Sabbath to obey. No prison is as endless as the prison of perfection. Her inmates find work but never find peace. How could they? They never knowwhen they are finished.Christ, however, gifts you with a finished work. He fulfilled the law for you. Bid farewell to the burden of religion.

Gone is the fear that having done everything, you might not have done enough. You climb the stairs, not by your strength, but his. God pledges to help those who stop trying to help themselves.“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of ChristJesus” (Phil. 1:6.) God will change you from the inside out.

Have a blessed day
His Love and mine

Thank you Louise!!!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Which Road Will You Walk On Today?


Dear Friends

It is the most glorious day.

On days like today it is easy to look around us and have an abundant heart, a heart filled with praise and gratitude, a time of rejoicing in what we have been given.

What happens when the storm clouds gather and the road ahead looks dark and troublesome? Do we take the time to see the little miracles around us? Do we understand that even surviving the storm is evidence of God's goodness and mercy towards us.

What about the protection we have during the storm? I read somewhere that wonderment strengthens humility and from that grows love!

I have grown tired of arrogant preachers and arrogant Christians who have somehow transcended beyond amazing grace! I long for (and am really privleged to have 2 women like this in my life) people who have weathered the storm and still are grateful, people who have washed the feet of Jesus with their tears and love much because they know they are forgiven much.

Today if you have a judgemental or critical spirit, put it aside, spend time with Jesus, explain your struggles and ask Him to heal you from this place this terrible disease of arrogance and receive the sweet anointing of gratitude and love that will flood your soul.

Remember Jesus and I love you
When we have this gift how often do we stop and look around us for those little everyday mi

Saturday, 18 October 2008

BOYS DAY OUT





My son decided to take his nephew (my 2 year old grandson) out for an hour ....this was the result!!!!

HELLO!!!!


How very wonderful to be speaking to you again....I have missed you so much!!!


I suppose you will be wondering why I have been away from my post? Well...I had an "episode" in the church kitchen!!!! What episode, well I felt a blinding pain flash through my head and next thing I knew I fell down on to the floor.


It is always important to commend people and I really commend the folk in the emergency room at the Christchurch Hospital. They were efficient, kind and really wonderful. I stayed in hospital for a week and the diagnosis was either a flash migraine or a TIA...I'll take the flash migraine!!!


Speaking to my brother Dave Goosen tonight I joked about "The Lord MAKES me lie down" so often that is true. We rush from pillar to post and so often to be "Mary" to sit at the feet of the Master and just receive.


Thank you to all of my precious sisters and brothers who prayed for me and to everyone:


YOU ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!!!


Hugs


Sharmaine

Monday, 29 September 2008

THE NEED FOR MINISTRY RELATIONSHIPS

The Need for Ministry Relationships
By Cheri Stevenson Cheri Stevenson is the associate youth pastor at Central Assembly, Springfield, Missouri.


As ministers, we often focus on investing in others to the point of ignoring our own needs.
I had an exciting day a few weeks ago. It was one of those days where everything clicked for me. I had a few big breakthroughs, and during my drive home, I could barely contain myself thinking about the day's events. Then I got home and realized no one was else was there. I paced back and forth from my kitchen to my bedroom. I was anxious and confused; something was bothering me. It took me a minute to put my finger on it, and then I realized what it was. I had no one to tell about my day.

Why is it that we have such a strong need for relationships, for people to tell about our day Scripture tells us that God's character is knit into each one of us. "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13, NIV). At the time of our conception, there was more knit into us than our hair and eye color. At that moment, a desire for relationships was also created in us by a Creator who himself desires strong relationships with His created ones. We need for those around us to love and care for us. We desire to have friends who, when we have an exciting or a rough day, are there to hear about it. We are created with the desire to live with close family and friends.

Psalm 139 continues to say, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful" (verse 14). Many times we forget to stop and praise God for our need for relationships that He instilled in us. It is very easy for us as strong women in ministry to neglect this need in our own lives. It is much easier for us to give and to take care of others, and even feel guilty for having the need for significant relationships ourselves.

Recently, I had an incredible and life-changing opportunity to be a part of an experience called The Cadre. The Cadre is a youth pastor mentoring program with well-known youth pastor Jeanne Mayo, founder and president of Youth Source Ministries and director of Oxygen Youth and Young Adult Outreach. Through The Cadre, I not only had the privilege to learn up-close from one of the greatest youth pastors in the nation, but I also formed friendships with other women serving in youth ministry that I will value for a lifetime.

I have known God's calling on my life since I was a senior in high school. However, I have always questioned if it was really my calling or when I get married it would become just my husband's calling. I think God knew how desperately I needed to know that it was possible for a woman to be a wife, mother, and a minister, and to do them all well. Through my experience with The Cadre, I have found the importance of having someone in my life who is a few steps ahead of me and who can help shed some light on the journey I am beginning. Before The Cadre I didn't realize how much I need women in my life who understand what it is like to be in ministry.

Relational Pitfalls of Women in Ministry

Life is relationships; the rest is just details. These eight words say it all.
As I have talked with other women in full-time ministry, I have found three common relational pitfalls that most of us can relate to.

1. Feeling isolated by the sense that no one else can relate or understand. In the past it was easy for me to isolate myself and end up with the feeling that I didn't have "true"; friends. When I first started in ministry, it felt helpful to distinguish between my two sets of friends. I had friends who were connected to my ministry and friends who were not. It felt comforting that I had friends who I wasn't "Pastor Cheri" around, but simply "Cheri." Now I've come to realize that my need for this came from the desire to be loved for who I am, and not just for what I do.

2. Constantly giving relationally to others but not receiving any relational investment from others. As women, we give so effortlessly through relationships that it seems only natural that we would also need to replenish ourselves through relationships. But as ministers, we often focus on investing in others to the point of ignoring our own needs.

3. The uneasiness of having no "true" friends; longing for friends that we feel safe enough with to be real with. I'm sure many of you, like me, have had moments that you just so desperately needed someone to understand you. I need a friend who won’t look differently at me because I'm not "perfect" or even close to perfect. Someone whom I can vent to when I need someone to listen and not react. Someone who understands why I care so much about the people to whom I pastor. Who understands how miserable it is to watch someone I've personally invested in make wrong choices in his or her life. That's why I need the friendships of other women in ministry.

Forming Friendships with Women in Ministry
But how do we avoid the pitfalls and find those relationships? You can start with the following steps.

1. Pray and determine what it is that you are looking for in a friendship. Pray that God will bring the right women into your life. Ask God to help you to discern what void you need to fill with these relationships. For me, I realized my need for peers who were involved in and passionate about my area of ministry. For you, it might be a need for friendships with women your age, or who are also balancing being a wife, a mother, and minister. Whatever your needs, begin by defining what they are and speaking to God about them.

2. Begin looking. It may be that you need to look at other churches in your town, or at churches outside your town. For a valuable relationship with another woman in ministry, it is worth an hour's drive to be able to meet for coffee and conversation. If the person you find is farther away, there are many avenues of communication that make it possible for intimate and lasting friendships, even over long distances. For some of us, it might be as simple as rekindling an old friendship, someone you grew up or went to college with.

3. Build your friendship on authenticity and safety. Begin with the foundations of authenticity and safety in your friendships. When we feel safe, our hearts open and intimacy takes place. As women, one of our heart's desires is to be open and connected. The best way for that to take place is to form a friendship where you can be yourself. It needs to be a relationship where you are not protecting your image or trying to get people to accept and like you. It should be a friendship that makes you feel loved and accepted no matter what. We have to be willing to be real, touchable, and vulnerable.

4. Commit to staying in touch. Life is relationships; the rest is just details. These eight words say it all. If we cannot stop to care about the significant relationships in our lives, we will lose so much. We have to fight the tendency to allow all the other details and busyness in our lives to win out, and be committed to the friendships that will energize us so that we can continue to minister to others.

Conclusion
I remember as a little girl riding with my dad in the car. As he drove, I chattered on and on about my day. (I'm sure I was filling him in on every single detail). With as much love and patience as my dad could muster, he said to me, "Cheri, you know it's okay just to be quiet sometimes."
I replied, "I know, but I just have so much to tell you!" And without taking a breath, I continued telling him all about my day.
Though men may never understand, women do recognize the need for someone to really listen to the details. We need for someone to truly hear what we are experiencing. It is no different for us because we are serving in ministry. Now, the only difference is that we have to become far more strategic and committed to forming and keeping relationships with those in our lives who really listen and understand.

DOUBLE LIFE



the truth behind the smile
by Jenifer Peterson


Sunday had dawned crisp and clear that sunny, December morning. Behind the closed door of the bathroom, however, I was in for a storm. Waves of nausea and dizziness threatened to drown me while a fierce headache took residence behind my eyes.

"You can't do this, it's a terrible idea. Nobody is going to understand. You will be sorry."
The voice was clamoring in my head as I struggled to get ready for church. I had to get myself dressed, makeup on, and hair done so that I also could get my two children fed, cleaned, and dressed and out the door in time for the morning service. "What were you thinking? Are you crazy? You can't do this, you can't..."

As I pushed myself up from the floor, the nausea having knocked me to my knees a third time that morning, my heart pounded and I cried out, "Get away from me Satan, I am doing this and you won't stop me! Lord, help me!"

My husband had already left for church as usual, before the sun came up. It was up to me to get myself and the children there on time. This was not just a typical Sunday morning, however. In the service this day my husband and I were going to stand before the congregation where he had served as youth pastor for eight years and announce that we were taking a leave of absence. We also planned to share some painful, not-so-pretty truth about our lives.

I fully realized I was under direct attack from the Enemy to prevent me from doing this. To be perfectly honest, there was a part of me that wanted to crawl back into bed and hide under the covers. However, Satan was not going to win this one! Jesus Christ was getting the victory on this December morning! It was time to take off my mask and reveal the truth behind the smile. My life was spiraling downward in a dangerous cycle of depression and alcohol abuse.

I was leading a double life that only a very few of my closest friends even had a clue about—my secret struggle with alcohol, my ongoing battle with anxiety and depression, thoughts that became so dark at times I even thought about taking my own life. In the weeks leading up to this moment, I had been arrested for drunk driving, spent a night in jail, and lost my driver's license. You might say I was in the pit of despair. In a rare moment of clarity, God had shown me the first step in His plan of restoring the situation; I had to confess my sin to the congregation. As a couple, we had to admit that we needed support and prayers from our church family. My husband needed to take a break from the youth ministry and minister to his first and most important calling—his family.

My husband and I had finally come to the understanding that our life was completely out of balance and out of control. On my husband's part, he had sacrificed time with family to build a vibrant and thriving youth ministry. To deal with my growing sense of isolation and feeling abandoned by him, I had turned to alcohol. In the evenings and weekends when he was off ministering to students, I would nurse my self-pity and loneliness with a bottle of wine. As time went on, I found myself growing more and more dependent on the numbing, anesthetic effect alcohol had on the feelings of bitterness and resentment I was beginning to harbor towards my husband.

My mantra became, "Church gets the best of him, the kids and I get the rest of him."
At the same time, I would show up at church Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings wearing my "everything is fine" disguise. I sang in the choir. I would help out as a youth sponsor at different times. I even started a small group for stay-at-home moms, which met regularly for five years! The ever-growing gap between my public life and my private life was eating me alive inside.

When I would allow myself to think about the hypocrisy of this existence, I was flooded with feelings of guilt, shame, and disgust. Keeping up with what I saw as my double life was exhausting physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I so desperately wanted to stop using alcohol to deal with the difficulties of life. I knew I was living in sin and allowing alcohol to become an idol in my life. I knew this sin was getting in the way of the kind of intimate friendship Jesus wanted with me. Ultimately, I knew that this would lead to death and destruction. Yet, I continued to allow this stronghold to entice and entangle me (James 1:14-15). I had shared bits and pieces of these struggles with a few women in my moms' group, but always left out the "gory" details. I was keeping too many secrets, and they were keeping me in bondage to mental anguish and addiction. I read somewhere, a long time ago, "you are only as sick as your secrets." That is so true! My secret was about to be revealed...

I battled through the morning, through my physical and emotional weakness. I knew that God was providing me with a way to end this madness or, at least, to start correcting the course I was on. I had to get out the door and make it to church that December morning. Satan had too much at stake; he wasn't giving up without a fight. However, somewhere in me I clung to the promise of Psalm 8:6 that put Satan where he belongs—under my feet!
I held on tightly to my legacy in Christ, my anointing as His beloved daughter. I had to get up in front of that congregation. God was calling me out of the darkness. I had to step into the light.

That winter Sunday morning, I poured my heart and soul out in front of the people my husband and I were called to serve. As the words spilled from my mouth, I could feel a supernatural cleansing occurring within my heart. Like an open wound it hurt, it stung and burned, but I continued to go deeper. I confessed my sins of addiction, and the legal trouble I was in as a result of poor choices. I revealed my spirit of bitterness, anger, and depression. My husband admitted that he often had pursued ministry goals and success at the expense of his family. He announced that he would be temporarily stepping away from his role as youth pastor so that he could lead his family with no distractions. As we stopped speaking, there was a heavy silence in the sanctuary.

The lead pastor stood up and invited anyone to come forward who wanted to lay hands on my husband and me in a time of prayer. Within seconds, members of our congregation were on their feet and coming forward to lay their hands on us and to pray for us. My husband and I were seated with our heads bowed, but we could feel the warmth and weight of many hands touching us as prayers started rising up around us. Men and women, young and old, spontaneously spoke their petitions on our behalf. Later we would be told that nobody was left sitting in the pews. Every person in the church that day came forward, each one laying hands on the person in front of them in a human chain that ended with my husband and me receiving the power of the Holy Spirit through their touch.

Four years later I keep that Sunday morning close in my mind. It was through that experience that I learned an important lesson on community, confession, and restoration. First, we are designed to live in community and to share life with other people. Isolation is dangerous and will squelch the joy from your life. Second, confession is a necessary part of living in community. It may involve risk, it may be painful, but it is necessary to begin the healing process (James 5:16). Sometimes the deepest, darkest part of oneself is what needs to be uncovered in order to produce true, authentic community.

Everyone has a story! Finally, God has the power and desire to restore any life, any sinful situation. On my journey that gift of restoration could only be received once I embraced the community I was in and I practiced the discipline of confession. Only then was I able to receive the beginning of true and lasting healing in my life!!

HOW DOES ONE TAKE THE MASK OFF?

Can you identify with the author of this poignant article? The desire to stop hiding in and from pain is a God-given desire. The tricky part for many people is how to begin to come out of hiding. Following are some steps and resources that can help get you started on this sacred journey.

Tell God the extent of your pain. Expose your secrets to Him. If verbal prayer is difficult, write it out. God knows it all, loves you unreservedly; sharing this with Him is an act of trust and worship. This step fosters self-understanding and assists us as we go to others with our pain.

Choose another person to share your pain and struggle with. Prayerfully consider the best person for this! It ought to be a person who is loving, empathetic, able to keep a confidence, and non-controlling.

If you are unable to find the person described above, think outside the box. Are there churches or other Christian organizations that have a reputation for competent, compassionate care? If so, place a call and explore some options.

Consult some of the national resources below if you are unable to find help in your area.
Keep in mind that confession to an entire congregation is not always necessary, and may not be wise, depending on the health of the congregation and church leadership. Those first people who walk with you can help determine the best path, if needed, for more public confession. Much damage has been done in the name of "confession" when done unnecessarily or with people who are unable to receive a courageous confession.

During the process, remain open to avenues God places in front of you for healing. Professional therapy, medication, sabbatical, and deep spiritual friendships can all work together on your journey to freedom.National ResourcesAmerican Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) — www.aacc.netOpen Hearts Ministry — openhearts.gospelcom.net/Celebrate Recovery — www.celebraterecovery.com
Jenny HeckmanM.S. in Marriage and Family Counseling
Jenifer Peterson serves alongside her husband in student ministries in Holland, Mich. Additionally, she is a trained Pastoral Care Specialist. Jenifer and her husband have been married for 16 years and have two children.

DEAR FRIENDS

THERE IS ALSO:
www.harbourhouse.co.nz

OPRAH

You may not know her as well as you think.
by Stuart Briscoe

Also read:• Are You Good To Go?Double Life

Atlantic Monthly in a recent article asked today's "20-somethings" questions about the Ten Commandments. On average they didn't know more than two of them, but they didn't like "Honor Thy Father and Mother" or "Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy," and they said they preferred "Thou Shalt Not Drink and Drive" and "Thou Shalt Love the Environment." When asked if they thought a revision would be a good idea and, if so, who should oversee the revision, the resounding answer was—Oprah Winfrey.

Now if you have spent the last 20 years in hiding somewhere you may not be familiar with Oprah, so let me bring you up to date. She was born a little more than fifty years ago to unmarried teenage parents in a poverty stricken part of Mississippi. Poor, black, and female, her opportunities in life were limited. Raised by her grandmother, she attended church regularly and participated in church activities with great poise and ability. Uponreturning to live with her mother in Milwaukee, Wis., however, her teenage years were wild and full of abuse. Her father, who lived elsewhere, stepped in, imposed a rigid discipline including schoolwork and regular reading, and Oprah began to blossom.

At 19, she burst into the media world. In a remarkably short time, The Oprah Winfrey Show was breaking records in the tough Chicago market. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, she is probably the highest paid entertainer in the business; her abilities as producer, performer, writer, promoter, and philanthropist are legendary. TIME magazine listed her in 2006 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Her television program, voted the number one talk show for more than 20 consecutive seasons, reaches 46 million people weekly and is released in 134 foreign countries, while her magazine, XM Radio show, and website reach millions more, not to mention her book club that only has to mention a book to send sales rocketing over one million. Oprah is a huge success in her wide and varied fields of endeavor!

But a strange thing has been happening to Oprah. Over a period of years, she has developed a warm friendship with Marianne Williamson, author of a book called A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles." This "course" was purportedly scribed years previously by Dr. Helen Schucman through a process of inner dictation by a "voice" she identified as coming from Jesus. Williamson became a regular on Oprah's show and gradually the talk turned more and more to the material contained in the Course in Miracles until it was recently announced that the course would be taught on the Oprah & Friends XM Radio Channel in daily segments for 365 days throughout 2008. This course being made available to millions of people in the U.S. and around the world announces clearly on its web page, "Even though the language of the course is that of traditional Christianity, it expresses a non-sectarian, non-denominational spirituality. A Course in Miracles therefore is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion." Non-sectarian and non-denominational it certainly is, but is it non-Christian too? Judge for yourself.

The course literature states, "The course can be summed up this way: Nothing real can be threatened, Nothing unreal exists, Herein lies the peace of God. Among other things, the course teaches that "The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself," "God's Name is holy, but no holier than yours. To call upon His Name is to call upon your own," and "There is no sin."
If that leaves you a little mystified, you're not alone, but a quick perusal of the 365 lessons reveals that the object of the course is mind training leading to thought reversal, which means unthinking everything you've thought and believed thus far, and embracing what the course teaches. And what does it teach as it uses biblical terminology and totally reinterprets the terms to mean on occasion the opposite to the original biblical meaning?

It rehashes elements of first and second century Gnosticism, teaches New Age emphases, overtly rejects the fundamentals of the Christian faith concerning Christ as Savior and Lord and the meaning and means of salvation, redefines the work of the Holy Spirit, and remains ominously silent on fundamental subjects like sin and repentance. Oprah seems to have embraced all of this and is now actively propagating it. Capitalizing on her enviable reputation, marshalling her vast resources, and mobilizing her undeniable communication skills, she has enthusiastically committed herself to an endeavor that Williamson claims is not only the key "to changing one's personal life" but is the "key to changing the world."

Should there be any remaining doubt about what has happened to Oprah, an incident on A New Earth web seminar on March 3, 2008 sheds interesting light. A caller, noting Oprah's emphasis on New Age teaching, asked her why she has departed from the Christianity of her Mississippi youth. Oprah candidly answered that she began to get out of the box of biblical doctrine in her late twenties when her pastor was preaching the characteristics of God. When he said that "The Lord, thy God is a jealous God," she turned away from Him, thinking that if He was jealous of her (a total misunderstanding!) she had no desire to follow Him.

Tragic as this misunderstanding and its aftermath for Oprah undoubtedly are, the fallout from her missionary zeal to take her new message (she calls it "my greatest purpose and calling") to the world cannot be measured.

Why am I bringing this to your attention? Because at the same time I was becoming aware of this dramatically significant event taking place under our very noses, I met some women who were Oprah fans and who clearly had no understanding of what she was teaching. At that time I was teaching from Paul's second letter to Timothy, a letter containing the warnings of an aged apostle to a young pastor concerning dangerous trends he should expect in his day. It is clear the apostle was addressing following generations, such as ours, too.

One of the trends he talked about focused on the work of false teachers who, coming from a Christian background and claiming to have received special enlightenment, "worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women," (now don't jump ship yet, we all struggle with having the strength and will to make right choices) "who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth" (2 Tim. 3: 6-7).

OUCH!! We need to be aware of those around us who are confused yet hungering to know, but are unwilling to call truth, truth. All of the adjectives describing women in this passage—in other versions "gullible women" is used—are very displeasing to our intellectual palates. Paul actually used the term "little women" which probably meant women who were vulnerable because of moral and intellectual shortcomings.

Another unflattering label, but the point is that deception abounds and many women were the targets of the teachers and their attractive but dangerously wrong message in the first century and they are the ones who in my view are vulnerable today.
We should ask ourselves some pertinent questions here. Are there any women watching television each afternoon who are so inadequately versed in biblical truth that they are very vulnerable to well-produced expertly presented alternative views? Yes! Are many of them "loaded down" with depression and guilt even if they do not relate their problems to sin, either theirs or someone else's? Do they know they're burdened? Yes! Are they being fed a regular diet of moral relativity on the soaps that confuses them about desire and longing and its satisfaction? Yes! Are they eager to learn about spirituality that doesn't lead to the truth of life in the Spirit, the essence of biblical spirituality? Yes!

Here's the crux of the issue. Millions of women (the vast majority of Oprah's listeners are women) are being introduced to a spirituality that uses the language of Christianity but intentionally neuters the truth of that language—a spirituality that is at fundamental odds with the historic biblical faith. The gospel of our Lord Jesus is being misrepresented and women are being misinformed and misled. And the women of the church need to be aware and concerned. So what can they do? First, Christian women should pray for Oprah. Sadly, I have never met Oprah, but one can only admire what she has achieved and applaud many aspects of her life. However, we must fear for her spiritual well-being and be concerned about her vast influence.
Secondly, the women of the church should acquaint themselves with the mind altering that is taking place in the lives of many of their relatives, associates, and friends and redouble their efforts to provide loving, caring, informed, neighborly ministry to many of their gender who are eagerly learning without acknowledging the truth.

Oprah's magazine is called O. Its title reminds me to say "O Oprah!" with a genuine heartfelt concern for her and the women she is influencing.

Oprah's Spiritual Mentors

Through her talk show, Oprah has launched many New Age authors into super-stardom. As a result, she is pushing her New Age philosophy into tens of millions of households across the globe every week. Over 2,000,000 people from 139 countries have participated in her recent web-based seminar featuring Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth—Awakening Your Life's Purpose. Oprah's most significant role is increasingly becoming that of spiritual leader to millions of women. Here are some of her mentors featured on her media outlets.

Eckhart TOLLEMinistry: Worldwide teaching of his New Age philosophy. His books are published in over 30 languages and his teachings are distributed via books, videos, CDs, online learning intensives, and talk, retreat, intensive, and teacher series.Books: A New Earth—Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, The Power of Now, Practicing the Power of Now, Stillness Speaks, and Stillness Amidst the World.Teaching: His religious philosophy is a combination of Buddhist and Islamic thought, with some measure of what he calls "Christianity" (a few New Testament verses misapplied and quotes from Jesus and others in the Bible are sprinkled throughout his books in an attempt to show that this philosophy is consistent with "true Christianity"). He has said, "When challenges come, as they always do, make it a habit to go within at once and focus as much as you can on the inner energy field of your body."

Marianne WILLIAMSON (also referred to in the article)Ministry: Leads the Church of Today in Warren, Michigan, one of the largest "New Thought" churches.Books: Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles" (1992).Teaching: Reinterprets Christian doctrines within a New Age framework. For example, "Christ" refers to the common thread of divine love within every human mind.

Gary ZUKAVMinistry: The Seat of the Soul Institute—dedicated to assisting individuals in the alignment of the personality with the soul—the creation of authentic power.Books: The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979): An Overview of the New Physics, The Seat of the Soul (1989), Soul Stories (2000), The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness (2002), and The Mind of the Soul: Responsible Choice (2003).Teaching: That we should dwell in the company of our non-physical teachers and guides (spirit guides). Teaches the alignment of the personality with the soul.

Deepak CHOPRAMinistry: The Chopra Center for Well Being in La Jolla, California.Books: The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering (2001).Teaching: An enlightened human consciousness can heal the body, based on Hindu principles.Source: Compiled from the above individual's websites.

Stuart Briscoe is a minister-at-large at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wis., serving ministry couples and missionaries around the world. He and his wife, Jill, have three grown children and 13 grandchildren.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tuning In to Your Husband’s Needs

Written by Kenneth Sanderfer
from HomeLife
source: LifeWay
David grabs a quick lunch. Although he's off the clock, his mind is still working. What if I don't finish that project on time? I know the boss is edgy.

I really need to talk to Suzanne, but I don't have time. It bugs her when I cut the conversation short or she senses I'm distracted.

The weatherman's predicting rain tonight. The kids' soccer game will be cancelled. I need to call Suzanne and see how that changes our evening.

I promised to help with the new outreach program at the church tomorrow night. How am I going to do that and get everything else done?

Work. Marriage. Family. Ministry. David fears he'll never get any of it right.


The Heart of the MatterIs it possible for you to understand what your husband is feeling and to support him as he fights to balance work, marriage, family, and ministry? The answer is yes, and it may not be as complicated as you think. Look no further than your own heart.

Sure, men and women are different, but after many years of counseling married couples, I believe husbands and wives are more alike than not. This is especially true when it comes to relational needs.

Scripture sheds light on this. Jesus never let culture, gender, or race get in the way of meeting the needs of those He encountered. He never allowed outside stuff to distract Him from the divine reality that, at the center of our being, we all are alike. Jesus always spoke directly to the common place, the heart. And He always spoke to the heart in love.

Jesus exemplifies a term used in counseling called empathic attunement. It's the act of leaving the comfort of one's existence with the purpose of entering the experience of another. Envision someone's hand turning a radio knob so it moves from its resting place through the static to another station. To be empathically attuned to your husband, you must momentarily leave the music of your choice to tune in to the music of his choice.

The sole purpose is to understand what life is like for him. It's not about what you would be experiencing if you were juggling work, marriage, family, and ministry. It's about what your husband is experiencing at work, in your marriage, in your family, and in ministry. When Suzanne turns to David and lets him know she's tuned in to the music of his day and validates his struggle, he will feel understood and authenticated. This is speaking directly to the heart of the matter.


Medicine for His SoulWords of validation and affirmation aren't really hard to come up with: "I was thinking today about how difficult it must be for you to balance all you do. I really appreciate the sacrifices you make for me and the children." This statement likely will reach your husband's heart. The clear message of understanding translates into "I care." Marriage is all about being emotionally available to each other.

Words of affirmation not only calm the static in his life, they connect you to each other. Are these words really all that different from what you, as a wife, would like to hear?


A Bond of StrengthLong-term studies about why marriages succeed or fail indicate what successful marriages share: a strong emotional bond. Emotional bonds develop in relationships that provide a safe haven — a place where a husband and a wife know they are a priority, where there is contact and connection, and where both partners can turn to each other in a vulnerable way. Sounds surprisingly similar to the relational model Jesus exemplified, doesn't it?

If it's true that, at the heart level, husbands and wives need the same things, then how do you cross through layers of outside differences that can impede the journey to your husband's heart? How do you meet his needs? Consider the following.

Acquire 20/20 vision. Many times spouses develop an eye for the negative. You can see negatives clearly from 20 feet away. The challenge is to acquire an eye for the positive. You might have to strain at first, but with practice, you may be surprised by how fast positive 20/20 vision can change your view of your husband — and, in turn, how he views you.

Improve your hearing. Acquire an ear for information that will lead directly to your husband's heart. Think about it. What are some subtle messages you receive from him on a routine basis? What requests has he made in the past but now has given up on?

Tuning in to your husband's spoken (and unspoken) needs — and then meeting them — is living your love out loud.

Amplify your voice. This may sound contradictory, but if you want to meet your husband's needs, it's imperative that you clearly and loudly express your needs — and shoot straight. There's nothing more satisfying than when both spouses actively meet each other's needs.

Are you tuned in to your husband's needs? If not, today is a great day to turn the knob and listen to the music of his heart.

Kenneth Sanderfer is a marriage and family therapist in Nashville, Tenn.

Hugs

Sharmaine

Sunday, 27 July 2008

PEARL OF GREAT PRICE

So many women have asked me the significance of our banner of the woman with one tear signified by a pearl running down her face...well where do I begin....

Firstly every human being is so very precious to God....every soul is a PEARL OF GREAT PRICE, but somehow every tear we cry in the still of the night is so valuable to our Lord, He keeps every tear as precious before Him.

It is so important to hear Him calling you in the still of the night to hear His voice as it impels you, as it urges you, to come, just as you are, to come and have sweet fellowship with Him.

He is not interested in the techniques you would use to pray, or how politically correct you want everything to be, He just wants intimacy with you, (in to me you see, and in to you I see). He wants you to tell Him your fears, share your triumphs, share your doubts...He wants you to talk to Him, really talk to Him.

You see, when God sent Jesus, He never sent His favourite Son to die for you, He never sent one of His Sons to die for you my precious friend He sent His ONLY BELOVED Son to die for you....Jesus was the Pearl of Great Price and so are you.

Have an awesome week,

In friendship and love

Sharmaine

Sunday, 8 June 2008

WORTHLESS NO MORE


Worthless No More!
By Jackie Casey

“You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” Isaiah 62:3 (NIV)
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

“You are absolutely worthless! You can’t do anything right!” It seemed that everyone in the entire neighborhood overheard her shrill, piercing voice and waited for my response. I could feel my face flush with embarrassment as all heads and eyes turned in my direction. I let out a nervous giggle and muttered, “Oh well at least I’m cute.” I thought a little comic relief would soften my mother’s ever present anger, and the tension of the moment. Well, that’s what I got for thinking! Boy was I wrong. My mother screamed, “You’re not even cute! You are a useless human being!” Then she turned and proceeded to pull up all the plants I had just bought and planted in the garden and tossed them in a nearby garbage can set aside for weeds – all because I “dared” to take a chance to surprise my mother. Once again, all eyes were on me as I prayed for the ground under my feet to open and swallow me up whole. I smiled back at the watching eyes, apologized for the disruption of their day, and silently went into the house to clean up.

This scenario was one that was typical in life with my mother, and being her daughter required me to be gracious and merciful and forgiving no matter how uncomfortable the situation might be. Towards the end of her life, my mother became increasingly difficult to please. However, the Lord allowed me to see my mother through His eyes over and over again which truly softened my heart and my mind towards her. During her last year, I found myself as her caretaker and boy oh boy did the Lord work on creating a new Jackie. You see, my mother had suffered an entire lifetime from emotional problems (thus her frequent outbursts of uncontrollable anger), but when she suffered a major stroke, the stroke exacerbated her emotional frailties. Oftentimes, she would curse at me and try to hit me with objects while I was trying to bathe or clothe her. If the same situation had occurred five years earlier, my reaction would have been radically different. I would have completely fallen apart and broken into uncontrollable crying, for I would have believed her words and placed them on my shoulders like a wet and heavy blanket … wearing them for all to see.

Perhaps some of you can relate to the fact that I’ve spent much of my life looking to people to validate my self-worth, relying on their words as truth and not relying on the words of truth from my Heavenly Father. Friends, I’m here to tell you that looking to people for validation and self-worth has been exhausting and fruitless. Perhaps it’s my increasing age, or maybe my spiritual maturity is catching up with my age. Whatever the reason, I’ve discovered it is better to walk in the confidence of my value in Christ, than worry about other people’s opinions. Being secure in my Father’s love for me and finding my worth in the pages of His Bible equips me to let situations like these “roll off my back.”

I wonder how many others struggle with self-worth and value? I use to be a charter member of the “secret sisterhood of low self esteem.” In fact, I probably invented the secret handshake. Friends, if you’re still a member of that secret sisterhood (or brotherhood), let me encourage you to resign. Being a member only brings you heartache, heartburn, and ulcers. When I took the time to discover God’s truth about how valuable His children really are, I resigned and stepped instead into the glorious light of self-worth and value in Christ. You can too – and that’s a promise!!!

Dear Lord, I’m grateful to be Your daughter (son) and to experience the benefits of finding my worth and value in You, my King. Help me to encourage others to do the same. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

· Begin to record Scripture verses that confirm your true value and worth.
· Choose a different verse and meditate on it each week.

Reflections:

· Who can I encourage to find their value and worth through God’s Word?

Power Verses:

· John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
· Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

10 Important Educational Activities for Preschoolers

Amelia Harper
source: CW

1. Teach them to say the alphabet.
One of the best ways to do this is by using the old "Alphabet Song." I like to add my own touch to make it more special. (It would never fly in a classroom these days, but that is the beauty of homeschooling.) My kids loved this version:
A-B-C-D-E-F-G. H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P, Q-R-S, T-U-V, W-X, Y and Z;
Now I know my abc's; can I have a hug now, please?

2. Recognize a few letters of the alphabet.
Use games and simply point out letters everywhere you go. Children love to learn the letters in their own names.

3. Let your children see you read, and read to them often.
As you read, put your fingers under the words sometimes. This helps children understand the concept of reading from left to right and also helps them learn to associate words on the page with words that you say.
Don't worry if they are not actually reading yet, but if they do pick up a few words, pause and let them read them. When my children learn simple words such as a, an, the, and God, we let them "help" read a verse at devotions. The use of Rebus books is a great way to introduce pre-reading as well. In the text of rebus books, little pictures function in place of certain words (like a picture of a cat instead of a cat). Even nonreaders can "help read" these books. Ask the librarian in your library's children's department to show you where they are. The most important thing is to help them develop the love of reading.

4. Teach the shapes and colors.
Shape puzzles are a great way to teach the shapes, such as circle, square, etc. Have your children identify shapes in daily life. Colors are even more fun. I know I will get mail for this, but here is a great way to teach basic colors. Get a bag of M&MS ® or other colored candies. Let your preschoolers eat the red ones if they pick them out correctly. Then look for the yellow ones, etc. Candy is a great motivator. Also, discuss names of colors as they use crayons. Older siblings are great at teaching this one.

5. Teach them to sort objects.
A great many sorting and matching games are out there, but you can do this in real life too. Let them help sort socks. As you unpack groceries, let your preschoolers sort the canned veggies from the canned fruit. Let them sort the M&MS® by color. (M&MS® are very educational!)

6. Teach them about spatial relationships.
This is a fancy way of saying to teach them concepts such as "over," "under," "in," and "out." An introduction to "opposites" often works well as you teach these concepts. Stuffed animals are great tools with which to teach this skill (e.g., Is Harvey Hare over or under Martha Mouse?).

7. Teach them to count to 10.
Again, you will have opportunities to do this every day. "How many plates are on the table? Let's count them!"

8. Help your preschoolers develop motor skills.
Throw balls; color with crayons and markers; cut with children's scissors. Many of these simple childhood activities build fine-motor skills that are essential when your child later learns to write.

9. Develop a good vocabulary and use it around your kids.
According to the Children's Defense Fund, by the time a child from a middle-class family enters first grade, he has a vocabulary of about 20,000 words. However, a child from a low-class family knows only about 5,000 words.1 The truth is, class should not matter. If your vocabulary is not large, expand it and talk to your child as you would an adult--within reason.

10. Use good grammar around your children.
Many children are handicapped educationally because they did not have good grammar models in the home. You will make the teaching of English so much easier if your child knows what proper grammar sounds like. If you are not sure yourself, then get a book on the topic and learn. Listen to good books on tape, and listen to intelligent, excellent media. You will soon get the hang of it, and your child will too.

Footnote:
1. <http://www.tcf.org/Publications/Education/UniversalPreschool.pdf>
Amelia Harper is a homeschooling mother of five and pastor's wife. She is the author of Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level students. She is also a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines. http://www.homescholarbooks.com. http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/MiddleEarthMom

5 STEPS TO OVERCOMING MINISTRY OBSTACLES

Ever notice that when God is blessing your ministry the most, troubles follow? Your church is growing, but you desperately need a new building. New people are coming to Christ, but you now need to disciple them. You're tackling some of the greatest evil giants of your community, and now they're starting to tackle back.

Maybe you're feeling like Joshua. As God was leading Israel into one of the greatest eras of its history – the conquest of the Promised Land – Joshua was chosen to lead the charge. Yet in the midst of this great time of success came one of the greatest challenges of his life. There were seven larger and stronger nations already there. If he was going to fulfill God's call on his life, he'd have a big obstacle to overcome first.

That's when God gave Joshua a five-point strategy for success that still works today.
Be clear in your direction.
In the first four verses of Joshua 1, God specifically outlines when and where Joshua is going. He knew exactly what God wanted him to do.

If you're going to be a leader that God can use, you must first be clear in your direction. I talk to pastors all the time who say, "I really don't know what I want in my ministry." They tend to just drift along. They don't know what they want for their church or family. When you ask them to tell you what their vision is for the church, they respond with something fuzzy and not specific.

We all need a goal, a dream. But those goals must be clear and specific. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. And the more specific you are in your direction, the more you'll find a magnetic pull that'll take you along.

Every time I've presented Saddleback with a specific goal, the church has responded in a big way. In 2002 when I challenged the church to start 3,000 small groups, it was a nearly impossible goal. I was as specific as I could be, and the church responded. We started more small groups than we ever had before. Two years later I challenged the church to feed every homeless person in Orange County. That's no small task. But Saddleback reached the goal once I made it specific. When you get specific, people get excited.

Be confident in your desires.

Once you know the direction that God wants you to take, you must have the confidence to move ahead. You can't doubt what God's called you to do. Doubt is the opposite of faith. The Bible says,

"Whatever is not of faith is sin."
Once you've set your goal the devil will get you to start questioning it. Is this really God's will? What if I'm wrong? Do I really deserve this? Am I just being selfish or prideful?
Evidently this was a real problem for Joshua. He lacked confidence. He felt inadequate in his leadership. Sound familiar? I've identified with Joshua many times. God had to keep giving Joshua a pep talk. Four times in Joshua 1, God says, "Be determined and confident."

Why? It isn't the obstacles that keep you in the desert. It's fear. Fear keeps you from being all that God wants you to be. It's fear that keeps your church from growing how God wants it to grow. You must be confident in your desires.
Be committed to your decisions.

Once you've started, don't look back. Joshua 1:9 says "Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." God says stick with it. To be a success in life, you must outlast your critics. An oak tree is a little nut that refused to give its ground. Commitment is a key to accomplishment. If you don't have commitment to your ministry, you'll never finish anything.

What are you committed to? What are you willing to die for? Many people in your church are afraid to commit to anything. They begin one job and when it gets tough, they switch to something else.

When high achievers make a decision, they die by it. You can't just jump across a canyon with several baby steps. You have to commit yourself to your goal. If you're going to cross a canyon, you've got to go for it with gusto. It won't work until you commit to making it work.

Be corrected by your defeats.
In chapter 1, verse 7, God tells Joshua, "Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the law. Don't turn from it to the right or to the left that you may be successful wherever you go." He tells Joshua not to get sidetracked. When you have a failure, get back on track. Let God's Word help you reorganize your ministry and your priorities. Mistakes are a part of life. You're not perfect. The pencil eraser industry was built on your mistakes. If there weren't such things as mistakes, we wouldn't have any need for erasers.

The difference between successful and non-successful people is not that successful people don't fail. They do. It's just that successful people learn from their failures. Corrections after defeats are the key to the future. Thomas Edison once said, "Don't call it a failure; call it an education." At Saddleback, our staff is highly educated! We've done more things that didn't work than did.

We're not afraid to admit it when we've made a mistake and to learn from it. The road to success is paved with failure. But we've learned from those failures.
Joshua did too. Remember the story of Ai, the little dinky town that the Israelites came upon after their great victory at Jericho. They'd just taken on the greatest, most fortified city in the land (Jericho) and God had given a tremendous victory. They were getting a little confident and cocky. Then they began to presume upon God's grace. When they had to take the little city of Ai, Joshua said, "Go out with a small battalion of troops." They went out and were absolutely wiped out. When the news came back to Joshua, he threw himself onto the ground and prayed. He asked God what happened.

God tells him to get up, dust himself off, and get the sin out of the camp. Don't just pray – do something. They later discovered that Achan had stolen three things even though God had said not to take plunder. Because he hid those things, his sin was causing the entire camp to suffer.
But Joshua had to discover the problem and take appropriate action. He learned by his defeats.
Be conscious of God's dependability.

God promises enormous benefits in his Word as we trust him and follow him. Joshua 1 is full of God's promises. He specifically promises Joshua four things:

Power: In verse 5 God says, "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses so I will be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you." God tells Joshua to trust him and he'll provide all of the power he could ever need.

Protection: He tells Joshua that nothing can harm him. In verse 5 he says, "I will never leave you or forsake you." He'll be with him always and protect him.

Prosperity: God says in verse 8 "Don't let the book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night. Be careful to obey everything written in it. Then you'll be prosperous and successful." Prosperity is being everything God wants you to be, having God's blessing your life, and using the talents he has given you. God guarantees that you'll have more than you need if you trust in him.

Presence: That's the best promise of all. In Joshua 1:9 God says, "I will be with you wherever you go." Many times I've felt lonely in ministry, but God always gives me a new sense of his presence when I trust him.

God wants you to have success in ministry. He may not define it the way you do, but he wants you to have his best. As a pastor or key leader in your church, he wants you to help lead people to tackle the great giants of your community. Follow these five principles and he'll give you everything you need to succeed.

BY RICK WARREN

BetweenYou and Me

BetweenYou and Me