Category: FAMILY

Written by Andrea Stephens

I’d been on mission trips before, but this one was different.

Having recently been given the opportunity to write a column in Focus On The Family’s BRIO Magazine for teen girls, I was invited to be part of their annual mission trip. That year they were headed to Costa Rica. Hmmmm. Sharing the gospel, leading a team of eager young women who loved Jesus, and getting to experience a different culture—I was in!

The plan was to have the girls, coming from all over the U.S., meet in Miami for several days of training. Then on chartered planes, all 250 of us would fly to San Jose,
(I thought organizing 250 excited teenager girls sounded like the challenge of a lifetime until several years later when the group had grown to 850!). Right after the early morning breakfast buffet, the girls were divided into twelve teams and taught choreography to a powerful 25-minute drama presentation of the gospel called Spellbound. They also had daily sessions of language learning and the opportunity to fine-tune their personal testimony of God’s work in their lives which they would be sharing at their various ministry sites around San Jose.

My main assignment while in Miami was to encourage my team during rehearsals, make sure everyone had called home at least once, help finalize costumes, and practice Spanish phrases. The days were long and rushed but worth every second once we touched down on Costa Rician soil, ready to tell others of the love of God and saving grace of Jesus. I was excited that these precious girls were about to be obedient to Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). Each morning I led team devotions, then getting on our knees, we asked the Lord to lead us, guide us, and grant us favor as we presented the drama at parks, schools, and open market squares. We asked the Holy Spirit to be at work in the hearts of those watching the drama and, in our hearts, as well.

Each night, at the close of an adventure filled day, all the teams gathered together to share stories and to thank the Lord for all He was doing. The worship offered during these times was very genuine. Coupled with my private morning devo time, I began to experience a stirring deep inside of me—an unsettled feeling that I had felt before. Call it a yearning, a feeling of discontent, a touch of heart ache. Being on a mission trip where I was able to spend extra time in the Word and prayer drew my attention to the stirring. At home, with the busyness of life, it is both easier and necessary to push down the thoughts and feelings that are trying to rise to the surface; the very things that the Holy Spirit is wanting to use to get our attention about something. Well, this was one of my somethings. So, I asked the Lord to explain this to me. And he did.

His answer came the next afternoon. We returned from ministry a little early so the teams had free-time until dinner. Ah! I welcomed the extra time to recharge alone in my room. I had been reading in the Psalms, so I picked up my Bible to continue looking into these/this collection of thoughts and prayers as expressed through their author, King David.
I was reading Psalm 63 when I got it. This Psalm talks about seeking God, thirsting for Him, and yearning for Him. Seeking, thirsting, yearning. Another word to express how David was feeling is the word longing. David was longing for God. This is when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to what was really stirring around deep inside of me. I was feeling what I was feeling because I was actually…homesick. Homesick?

The idea took me by surprise.

Yet it explained the days when I felt out of sorts, not quite comfortable whether I’m at work, in line at Starbucks, rushing through Walmart or reheating leftovers for dinner. I knew this was more than just needing a long soak in a hot tub with lavender scented bath salts. It would easily be mislabeled as loneliness or interpreted as depression. But those words did not accurately describe what I felt. These were times when it feels like something is missing and I just long for more. Now I understood. I was longing for my heavenly home. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not talking about an eerie death wish. I’m talking about a deep longing to be in that place where we, as believers and children of God, will experience belonging, satisfaction, wholeness, total acceptance, and of course, a love like no other.
When we have developed an intimate personal relationship with Jesus—the kind that goes beyond Sunday morning casual Christianity—our longing for home makes total sense. Girlfriend let’s do a quick review: We have been transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Yes, out of the Dominion of Satan into the Kingdom of God. We have become new creations—made new in our spirit which now houses the Holy Spirit, which now makes us children of the most High, ever-present, ever-loving Father! Right now we are citizens of Heaven, our real home. We are God’s ambassadors here on this earth from that moment on. We are on assignment, getting our orders from headquarters, fulfilling God’s purpose for us to love others and tell them about Jesus. (Colossians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Philippians 3:20, 2 Corinthians 5:20, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 16:15).

So this longing in me was not a bad thing, it was a good thing; not a negative feeling, but a positive one. Have you felt the longing? Perhaps you chalked it up to PMS or your biorhythms being off or a general dissatisfaction with life. If so, knowing it is a desire to be more deeply connected with your Heavenly Father is very freeing. And very good.
So what do we do to help satisfy the longing until the day our Heavenly Father calls us home? We spend more time in the Word, pray without ceasing, surround ourselves with worship music, serve Him by serving others, fellowship with other believers—all things that help us keep our hearts and minds set on Jesus so that we will have peace for our longing. And we choose to rejoice in the Lord always and give thanks in everything (Philippians 4:6-9). Yes, I have learned to be content and grateful for the stirring inside of me. It is confirmation that I am connected to my Heavenly Father and that my longing will one day be fulfilled when I live in my heavenly home where I will spend eternity.

None of this would be possible without the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf by going to the cross. He willingly chose to die a painful criminal’s death in order to break the power of sin and death, to pay the penalty I could never pay for myself, to provide the beautiful gifts of salvation, forgiveness and grace, and to open the door for me to be in direct relationship with my Father-God. Because of God’s incredible love, He would have done all of this just for me. But He didn’t. He did it for you, too.

This month as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection let’s also rejoice that we experience a sense of longing every now and then.

Let it be a reminder that because we have accepted Jesus into our lives as Savior and Lord, we are now the children of God. Our culture teaches that we are all God’s children yet the scripture is clear that Jesus gives us the right to become children of God. We are all God’s creations, yet we become His children through Jesus. (John 1:12). In God’s selected timing, we are children who will one day be home where that longing will be turned into fullness of joy. (Psalm 16: 11).

Written By Teresa Goodnight

We had a fair critique of the March magazine. “Some of the print fonts in the Community Spirit Magazine are very hard to read…I know my vision is not what is used to be (I am almost 70), but I enjoy reading the magazine.” Nancy Kopper. So, we told Nancy we would ABSOLUTELY get rid of the tiny fonts. We actually agreed with her when the print came out. We were so wrapped up in content that we just didn’t pay enough attention! Thanks again Nancy!!!

There are also some pretty neat things about the younger folks coming in with ideas and changes. For one, have you downloaded the “YouVersion Bible App” yet? It’s maybe the best app out there for your phones and iPads. Aside from having about every translation of the Bible available, the app will actually read you your Bible from your device.

I listened to Daniel in the car just this week in fact! You can listen to God’s word while you work out, while you take a nice walk, while you sit in a lovely park taking in the lovely scenery God created.

Nancy—That’s our little tip for you since you were so kind to give a tip to us! Thanks again for speaking up. It may not have felt like much, but God used you to help inspire a whole article—and hopefully many others who read it!

We had a fair critique of the March magazine. “Some of the print fonts in the Community Spirit Magazine are very hard to read…I know my vision is not what is used to be (I am almost 70), but I enjoy reading the magazine.” Nancy Kopper. So, we told Nancy we would ABSOLUTELY get rid of the tiny fonts. We actually agreed with her when the print came out. We were so wrapped up in content that we just didn’t pay enough attention! Thanks again Nancy!!!

Nancy’s suggestion actually made me think about the plights of aging. It’s a bit overwhelming at times. My husband and I sit around trying to figure out who feels the oldest somedays. I’m always certain he wins. I don’t fight hard for that victory. We’re still hanging around in our forties. We hope those battles continue until we’re old enough to not hear each other complaining.

In all seriousness, aging has its challenges in every arena. Our bodies don’t want to work like they used to work—or rather, like we are used to them working. Stairs. Driving. Networked thermostats. We’re all facing change at a rapid pace in most every aspect of our lives. DVRs. Computers. Tiny cell phones. Ugh. Just as soon as I have one device down—someone brings out a new one. When my mom’s credit union switched to a new computer system, she wanted to retire right then and there. She stuck it out. Figured it out, but wow. If you could have heard the complaints along the way. She just felt too old to learn something new. She wasn’t of course, but the changes these days are so rapid—it feels like everyone is out to make life a little more difficult rather than easier. Wouldn’t it just be nice if a few things stayed the same?

The one place where we feel we should get to see a little consistency is in our churches. However, with the drive to reach Millennials, even there, we sometimes just don’t feel like we fit as we did before either. I’m sure I could get a big amen out of the crowd if I were on a podium and mentioned new styles of worship, new younger leadership and pastors in skinny jeans (who in the WORLD invented those things?). So how do you adjust even in the one area you grew to love at your church home?
Embrace and encourage it. Yep. I know. You were hoping with all of my heartfelt sympathy I might go in a different direction. The thing is—YOU are needed in your church. YOU are a Biblically trained, disciple of Christ, who has been fed and nurtured for possibly decades. The church ABSOLUTELY needs seniors to invest back in the next generations. A couple I know started a Life.Group, where they mentor younger couples. They embraced the change, modified, and took on a needed role in a much younger church community. My mom? She’s now retired and greeting at Sunday morning and Monday evening services at Life.Church. She hosts the same door week over week using her God-given ability to carry on a loving conversation with a wall. She still steers clear of the computers when possible.

At a Tulsa Women’s Fellowship luncheon, Kim Pence, President said, “Ted Robertson gave us some advice for the group. He said to do x, y, and z. If you know him, he’s not the kind of guy you can say no to easily.” Why? Because he’s a known Christian leader in the Tulsa community with incredible wisdom and ideas based on experience. Our community is hungry for those leaders to step up and share their ideas and insight. He knows how to help ministries succeed. He’s done it so many times.

Where else can you step in? You likely also know how to make sure the changes stay true to the Bible. Let me say very clearly, by NO MEANS should any adaptation cause any altering of what the Bible says or changing our stance on anything in the Bible. Be the strength and wisdom younger leaders need to make sure your church modifies but stays true to God’s word. That kind of wisdom and leadership is absolutely necessary as newer generations come into the mix. Discipleship itself isn’t some kind of new idea—Jesus kinda started that in the Bible. Pouring into the next generation is a critical piece of building the church on solid ground.

Churches have to adapt for the next generation, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the pillars of the church (that’s YOU!). Step up and step in. Your wisdom, prayers, financial resources, ideas and everything you’ve been doing for possibly decades–God used your talents to bring the church where it is and He absolutely wants to use you to help lead in where it is going.

There are also some pretty neat things about the younger folks coming in with ideas and changes. For one, have you downloaded the “YouVersion Bible App” yet? It’s maybe the best app out there for your phones and iPads. Aside from having about every translation of the Bible available, the app will actually read you your Bible from your device.

Here’s how:
Go to the app store on your phone.
Search for YouVersion. (BTW—there’s YouVersion for kids
and it’s FANTASTIC).
Click to download it.
Click the app.
Click Read.
Click Versions at the top in the middle.
Pick a version with a sound sign beside it.
Press play at the bottom of the screen.

I listened to Daniel in the car just this week in fact! You can listen to God’s word while you work out, while you take a nice walk, while you sit in a lovely park taking in the lovely scenery God created.

Nancy—That’s our little tip for you since you were so kind to give a tip to us! Thanks again for speaking up. It may not have felt like much, but God used you to help inspire a whole article—and hopefully many others who read it!


Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville
visitingangels.com/greencountry

Best. Summer. Ever. | Kanakuk Camps

Kanakuk Kamps began in 1926 with a group of boys from Texas trekking to the Ozarks for eight weeks of character and confidence building alongside great Christian role models. Today, Kanakuk is one of the nation’s largest Christian, athletic summer camps. Each year, Kanakuk serves more than 16,000 boys and girls, ages 6-18, with five overnight summer camps in Branson and Lampe, Missouri, plus a traveling day camp called KampOut! that brings summer fun to churches and schools across the nation. Each term is specifically designed to serve a particular age group, ranging from one-week opportunities to one-month stays. Kanakuk also serves entire families through its family Kamp, K-Kauai, located in Branson, Missouri, welcoming more than 2,500 Kampers each summer. Finally, unique to other summer camp destinations, Kanakuk offers two specialty Kamps: Scuba Kamp, and Worldview Kamp, a one-week addition to a traditional term for ages 16-18.

The mission of Kanakuk Ministries is to equip next generation leaders. We do this through life-changing experiences, Godly relationships and spiritual training. Kanakuk provides Kampers the opportunity to play, train, laugh and learn in a safe and spiritually encouraging environment. Kanakuk also allows Kampers the chance to explore more than 70 athletic endeavors and activities that are central to the Kamp experience. Water sports, canoeing, kayaking, tennis, soccer, archery, basketball, lacrosse, mountain biking – the possibilities truly are endless and help to

fill Kampers’ summer days with new skills, healthy mindsets and memories that far outlast their time at Kamp.

More information about Kanakuk can be found at www.kanakuksummer.com.

In addition to traditional summer camp terms, KampOut! brings the exciting experience of Kanakuk to communities around the nation. KampOut! offers five days of faith-based, non-stop excitement to children in kindergarten through 5th grade. Kampers will have a blast flying down our zipline, scaling the climbing wall, bouncing in the inflatables and laughing at staffers’ entertaining skits, while also seeing and hearing that God is a caring Father and wonderful Creator who loves them and desires for them to love others. KampOut! provides a perfect introduction to summer camp for younger children while also sharing the heartbeat and ministry behind Kanakuk. Throughout the week, attendees will grow in courage and confidence, while fostering relationships with others in their community.

This summer, KampOut! will make three Tulsa-area stops in partnership with local churches. These locations include Metro Christian Academy, Redeemer Church, and Harvard Avenue Christian Church.

For more information including pricing and arrival details, or to enroll for KampOut!, visit www.cometokamp.com

Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” – Ephesians 6:14, 15 

“WHAT IS TRUTH?”

For ages, human philosophers have pursued answers to life’s biggest questions.  Thankfully, a degree in philosophy isn’t required to find explanations for most, as the scriptures provide satisfying answers to all such questions.  Let me give you an example. 

Contained in the inspired words, we find a conversation that Christ was having with Pontius Pilate during his trial, just before his death.  Let’s pick up the conversation at John 18:37 (NIV), where Jesus says to Pilate, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.”  Pilate then responds to Jesus in verse 38 with a question, “What is truth?”

This is a powerful question.  It is a question that affects all humans who have ever lived, are living, or will live in the future.  Using Christ’s statement in verse 37, he tells us that the truth was the reason he came to Earth.  Because of Christ’s statement, the answer to Pilate’s question is central to the Christian faith.  If you were standing in front of Pilate, how would you have answered his question?

Interestingly, Jesus did not answer Pilate’s question after he asked it.  But, prior to his arrest and trial, he did provide the answer in a prayer that he was offering to his Father.  Praying for his disciples, notice what Jesus requested, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV).  He gave a plain, uncomplicated answer to a question that many find (or try to make) complicated.  God’s word is the truth, the source of truth.  If any doctrine or theology is not in agreement with God’s word, it simply is not truth.

Christ’s statement should help solidify in our minds the importance of God’s word.  Now that we understand what truth is, why is it a component of our spiritual armor?  How does it protect us?

TRUTH AS A BELT

Just as a literal belt is firm around our waist, encompassing our body, so should be our reliance upon God’s word.  It should shape our thoughts, our beliefs and finally our actions.  Psalms 119:105 (NIV) reminds us of the help God’s word can give us in our daily lives.  The psalmist states, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  The world has become a ‘gray’ place, where good and bad have become subjective.  However, with the truth of God’s word lighting our way, it becomes clear what a Christian’s stance should be on matters debated in the world.

Along these lines, 1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 (NLT) gives us this advice as well, “but test everything that is said.  Hold on to what is good.  Stay away from every kind of evil.”  The Bible tells us we need to sort through all we hear to filter out what is good or evil.  Christians encounter opinions expressed as truth every day.  Do we just accept these or do we test them out?  How can we test them if we are unfamiliar with God’s truth contained in scripture?  If we just accept them and then share them with others, we are simply spreading those untested concepts.

Even when it came to Paul’s teaching, a group of first century believers did not accept them on face value.  Acts tells us that they “examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11) If the words of a prominent apostle were put to the test, how fitting an example for us to use today with opinions coming from all directions.  The Bible should be central in our lives, examined by us every day.  It should be our litmus test to prove if what we hear is true.

This leads well into our next component of spiritual armor.  How does truth play a part in having our feet fitted with readiness of the gospel of peace?

A SOLDIER’S BOOTS

Let’s go back to Jesus words from John 18:37 (NIV).  Jesus stated that he came into the world to testify to the truth.  He reinforces this again in Mark 1:38 (NIV), “Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.”

When we think of what Jesus did while on earth several thoughts may come to mind – he healed the sick, raised the dead and gave his life as a ransom sacrifice.  But, using his own words, these are not the reasons (the primary reason) he came to Earth.  What did Jesus spend most of his time doing?  Preaching.  Teaching.  Testifying to the truth.   He shared it with disregard to his own needs with anyone who would listen to the lifesaving message of The Good News.

As soldiers in God’s army, our testimony to the truth is part of our warfare as well.  Just as a pair of boots helps ready us to run into an battle, our knowledge of truth readies us to proactively preach it or reactively defend it.   Paul reminds us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” (1 Peter 3:15) Notice he stated – ALWAYS BE PREPARED.  Readiness, willingness to stand up and testify–what better way to wage spiritual warfare than to testify to the truth, provide a defense and show others the truths Satan attempts to hide.

The same question from above applies here as well.  How can we give testimony?  How can we provide an answer to anyone who asks us?  If we ourselves are not familiar with God word we hinder our ability to do these things.  The study of God’s word must be a central part of our lives for us to be capable and ready to provide such a defense.

As a test to our readiness to defend our hope, ask yourselves if you could use the Bible to answer these questions:

Who is God?

What are his primary attributes?

What is the Holy Spirit?

Who is Jesus Christ?

Why did Jesus Christ have to die?

There are obviously other questions important to our faith, but a comprehending these fundamentals gauges our readiness to do what He has called us to do.

CONCLUSION

For those who have been following the Call to Arms series, we can see that there is a continuing thread in these articles:

●In January, we learned how God’s word serves as our sword.

●Last month, we discerned that the study of His word strengthens our faith to use it as a shield.

●This month we see that inspired word is the source of truth to test out thoughts, ideas and objections to our faith.  Further, a working knowledge of this truth equips us with “boots,” to share the Gospel and defend those truths with a response. 

●In April, we will conclude how the truth of God’s word helps forge us a helmet of salvation and a breastplate of righteousness to protect our minds and hearts.

God’s word – The Bible – is ‘the metal’ from which all the components of our armor get their strength.  Without this ingredient in our daily lives our armor will not be able to stand up as well to the battles we face.  When we think about its critical role, I wonder, are we giving the study of God’s word the real attention it deserves? 

I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 

@omegaleagueman


Written by Andrea Stephens

My puffy brown parka is being moved to the back of the closet. My gloves—the red, the lime, and the black ones—await their turned to be tucked away in a drawer.  My boots, which are all black except for the chocolate and ivory imitation snake-skin cowboy boots that I had to buy once I moved back to Oklahoma, are being returned to the big suitcase that stores them during the warmer months (my creative way of dealing with small closets).

Yes, it is time to shed the winter outerwear and prepare for the spring months.  I look forward to leaving the winter days behind and enjoying longer days of sunlight, warm breezes, and the first sighting of purple crocus and yellow daffodils. (I love that God programmed these two flowers to be among the first to bloom. Purple and yellow are opposites on the color wheel.  When placed together, they create a strong visual pop that is energizing to our senses.  Our Father knew we would need a little pop at this point in our lives.)

Are you looking forward to this change of seasons?  Perhaps you are so busy with the things of life that you aren’t especially tuned into the shifting of seasons.  Or maybe you are one of the thousands of women who are emotionally moved by the grey skies and leafless trees.  Women are especially sensitive to seasonal changes, meaning that the unpleasant weather happening around us can greatly affect what is happening inside of us.  Shorter days, cloudy skies, freezing rain, cold winds—can contribute to felling down, sadness, lack of motivation, and even sensing distance from God.

The official name for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but in layman’s terms it is having a bad case of the blues!  An ongoing dose of blah.  Of course, there are other things that can land us in the blues like never-ending laundry, figuring out dinner again, a newborn that refuses to nurse, an argument with a friend, being laid off, so many possibilities.  Ugh.  Life can just be hard, right? 

The good news for us is the truth that this is one of the very reasons Jesus came to earth.  On that pivotal day in the temple when Jesus stood and read from the scroll, the text announced His purpose which included setting free the oppressed, downtrodden, heavy-hearted, and well, just plain blue!  (Luke 4:18 – 19).  Jesus came Himself to rescue us from the everyday blues.

Stephen S. ILardi, PhD, researcher and author of The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs, has developed a clinically-proven program he calls Therapeutic Lifestyle Change or TLC.  When applied, people successfully come out of the blues. 

ILardi shares that TLC has lots of benefits.  Not only do you boost your feel-good potential, you might also experience “weight loss, increased energy, lower blood pressure, improved cardiac health, better immune function, reduced inflammation, greater mental clarification, enhanced sense of well-being.”  Those are awesome side effects!

So, let’s take a look.  Here are his six suggestions, along with a few of my own (I’m quite experienced with battling the blues).

1.  Eat to Beat the Blues.  While increasing fruits and veggies combined with cutting back on all things sugar is highly important, so is eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, chia and flaxseeds.  This benefits your brain as well as your body.  Dr. ILardi recommends taking an Omega-3 supplement with a 2:1 ration of EPA:DHA. (Check with your doctor before taking any new supplement).

2.  Get moving.  Physical exercise releases your body’s natural feel-good hormone called endorphins.  If you are not used to exercising, start with simple heel lifts and marching in place, then a brisk walk outside or at the indoor mall.  Work up to brisk walking, biking (outdoor or stationary), pilates, or whatever you will enjoy.

3.  Get lost in a healthy activity. Doing something that keeps your mind occupied on down days will help lift your mood.  Try working a puzzle or a word search game, playing solitaire, baking something to share with a neighbor or reading the latest Karen Kingsbury novel.

4.  Soak up the rays.  Sunlight exposure is a definite blues blaster. There are special sun lamps available that are helpful during the cold dark days.  Try creating more light around your house—flip on some switches, open the curtains.  Light some candles and enjoy their warm glow.  While you sit near a window, think about the super sunny days of summer that will be here soon.            

5.  Be with people—especially other believers.  Social interaction can lift your morale (being alone and isolated can lend itself to feeling blue).  Do what works for you—invite friends over, visit family members, go to the movies, join a gym, volunteer at your church or a local non-profit.  Even window shopping at the mall at least gets you out and about—just beware of using a spending spree to help yourself feel better.                        

6.  Get the right amount of sleep. Deep sleep is needed for our minds and bodies to stay balanced. So, do your best to get the recommended 8 hours per night. However, if you are finding that your favorite activity on grey days is staying in bed all day, we need to talk!

7.  Scripture says to take your thoughts captive—yes, cuff them, lock them in jail, and throw away the key!  (2 Corinthians 10:5) Then we need to change or redirect our down ways of thinking. King David, a famous Old Testament personality, identified with feeling down and with choosing to refocus his attention.  In Psalm 42:11 (NLT) he recognized that he felt down in the dumps, that he didn’t understand it, “Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?”  But then he encouraged himself in the Lord when he said, “I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”  David not only had a case of the blues, he was trying hard to understand it.  Ever been there?  Redirecting your thoughts and using positive self-talk will help.  Putting your hope in God is also key.  Hope is confident expectation of what God is going to do.

8.  Read, Pray and Praise.  These are the three most important keys to overcoming the blues.  God’s Word is spirit and life.  It is alive and active.  Reading the scriptures early in the morning can set the tone for the remainder of the day.  Prayer does the same thing.  Talking to God about how you feel, what you are going through, what you need will lighten your heart as you choose to trust Him.  Listen quietly for His response which usually comes in a still, small, voice.  Add praise—the best blues buster ever.  Whether you love traditional hymns, modern worship music, or a combo of both, make praise part of your daily routine.  Sing, dance, kneel, raise your hands, just do it.

9.  Hahahahaha!  Do or watch something that makes you laugh.  There is scientific proof that laughter helps people heal physically and emotionally. Even scripture says that a joyful heart is like medicine to your overall well-being (Proverbs 17:22).  So, what makes you laugh?  Get more of it!

This is a practical approach to getting out of the winter blahs.  It helps lift and helps prevent the blues.  TLC has physical and psychological benefits for everyone!  Simply put, getting out of the blues is about taking care of yourself.  Often times women put themselves last on the care list with husband, kids, job, errands, etc. coming first.  You need some TLC as well.  A little Therapeutic Lifestyle Change will not only be good for you but for those you care for.  You’ve heard the expression put your own oxygen mask on first.  This is not only important in the case of cabin pressure change on an airplane but for you as well.  It is necessary for your role as women to take time for yourself; to grab bits of time that come open during our week to workout, meet a friend for coffee, attend bible study or prayer group, take a nap, drink a protein smoothie, even a 20-minute chair massage at the mall—one of my favorite self-care treats.  You are worth it and those you care for think so, too.

Note:  If you or a loved one is experiencing a severe case of the blues, it might be clinical depression.  Reach out to your family doctor and to a Christian therapist for help.  Depression is treatable with various therapies, possible medication, and lots of TLC!

If you are in need of a therapist, we do recommend Christian Family Institute www.christianfamilyinsitute.com at 918.745.0095 or Counseling Services of Tulsa www.counselingservicesoftulsa.com at 918.574.2722.  Let them know Community Spirit sent you!


Written by Teresa Goodnight

With tears running down my cheeks, I heard the cancer specialist explain there was nothing we could do for my grandmother last year. I watched her face, as she didn’t quite understand what he was saying. I held her hand. My mother asked questions that I tuned out, as the only information that mattered was that my grandmother’s days were short In number. We walked downstairs to sit outside, while my mother went to get the car. My grandmother asked me what the doctor had meant. “Is there anything they can do?” she asked.

I tried to avoid the conversation. I didn’t want to say it. She pressed me again. So, I answered. She held my trembling hand in her fragile thinning hand and assured me it was ok. She then told me that the world was getting further and further from God. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus came back before anything happened. The one thing she assured me of, which I already knew, was that if Jesus didn’t come back first, she would beat me to heaven. We lost my grandmother a few weeks later. 

A month after she passed, my mother handed me her Bible. It may be one of the most meaningful things I ever received. I didn’t even know I wanted it. It was full of bookmarkers I had given her, the gift note in my handwriting to Josephine Rhyne, when we gave it to her Christmas of 1993. It had a postcard I sent her from Cannes in 1999. There were notes here and there, underlined texts, and passages of importance written on papers folded between the pages. 

I treasure every little one of them.

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you…for God has not given you a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:5-7 NLV.

My grandmother’s legacy was not one of fortune or fame, but one of faith in God. She made her share of mistakes, triumphs, and sacrifices. She scolded me when I was frustrated with my mom or my sisters. She reminded me to forgive as I had been forgiven. She taught me every Christian makes mistakes—ones they regret, confess, and are forgiven for by God. In our last lucid conversation, she told me to go pay attention to my husband, because she always valued relationships in the family and reminded me to cherish the incredible men I had been given in my grandfather, father and my husband. Her advice was stern when needed but laced with love and beautiful grace all the same.

Goodness. I do miss her. I remember sneaking into “big church” lying with my head or my feet across her and my mom. Oh, if I could go back to those days and soak it all in just a little longer. But truth is—I did soak it in. We soaked it in. Her faith was passed on to my mother. They both passed it to me. I will pass it to my daughter. It will be passed from generation to generation. 

So many people spend hours on their wills, outlining every precious thing they own and selecting who will receive what. It’s a thoughtful process and I’m sure filled with love. However, what my grandmother left for my mother, for me, for my sisters, and her grandchildren and all of her family that we cherish was her living, breathing faith in God. It is a legacy impacting us all for eternity. There is no amount of money and no treasure as great, as the treasure of God her legacy helped plant in my heart. 

Think hard about the legacy you are leaving behind. Whether intentional or by chance, we are all leaving one. At Community Spirit, we pray yours will be one making an eternal impact on those you love for generations to come. #GoDoBe

Quotes to Chew On:

“The greatest legacy you can pass on to your children and grandchildren is not your money or the other material things you have accumulated in life. The greatest legacy you can pass on to them is the legacy of your character and your faith.” Billy Graham, Nearing Home p. 119

“Wise counsel to the younger is the duty of the aged.” Unknown

“Young people are very sensitive to hypocrisy; if they sense it in us, they will dismiss our pretenses and pay no attention to our advice…if they can sense our faith is sincere and our love is authentic, then they will respect us and take us seriously (even when they know we are not perfect.).” Billy Graham, Nearing Home p. 121

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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Written by Teresa Goodnight

Isn’t it funny how a well-played game is still best remembered for the plays in the fourth quarter? You play well to get there, but man—when that ball goes over the line in the final seconds for the victory, it’s just a moment. It’s all you talk about the next day.  Eventually you get around to what led there—which was dedication and hard work, but that play feels like a defining moment.  If you don’t execute on it—it’s also one of those haunting lost moments of opportunity.

Dr. Henry Migliore likes to reference his life as somewhere between the fourth quarter and overtime. Just a year ago, the doctors were calling in his family to say their goodbyes.  Today, he met me at the Village Inn, because I wanted to understand how at 78, I’ve observed him living with such purpose and building his legacy.  Everywhere I go—he’s there.  Everyone I meet, he knows.  Even while at Mend Medical Clinic and Pregnancy Resource Center one day, I happened to mention talking with Henry.  Forrest Cowan said “I know him.  He showed up here wanting a desk one day. I wondered who he was. I started looking back through our history as an organization and his name was everywhere.  I got the guy a desk to use.” 

I’ve only known Henry a few months, but from what I’ve experienced, he’s kind of everywhere in everything.  He has this purposeful desire to listen to God’s spirit and to move where he’s led.  It’s so intentional.  However, with Henry, getting to the conversation you intend takes a little navigation.  

Let me explain.  Before sitting down for breakfast, he ran into two former students, who were excited to see their former professor (and also kind enough to buy our lunch!).  Then, after a brief chat with those gentlemen, the conversation led us to another with our lovely waitress.  We started discussing her spiritual battles with fear and anxiety.  Before long, we’d invited her to church.  It was as if we were longtime friends, exchanging numbers while discussing Henry’s love for pancakes.  A few minutes later, the woman sitting behind Henry said, “I almost jumped in the middle of your conversation. I loved it.  It was so easy for you to invite her to church.” We discussed her church and her heart for adoption and fostering ministries.

In just about an hour, I felt engaged with much of the restaurant, both staff and guests.  I think that’s just what happens when you are with Henry. His love for the Lord and people is infectious.  His willingness to listen to the slightest nudge from the Holy Spirit lands him in places not originally on his radar. He exudes the love of Christ and genuinely wants to impact people everywhere he goes. Make no mistake, it’s not an accident though.  Henry is incredibly INTENTIONAL.  He sets his mind on things above, opens his heart with his eyes and ears, and charts the course daily knowing full well the Spirit of the Lord might nudge him on a few rabbit trails prepared in advance for him to do.   And, he does all of this with severe migraines, lower strength, and a general malaise taking its toll.  Henry said, “I just adjust my plan based on my new circumstances and head on as far down the road as I can travel.” 

Henry has so much history at 78—it’s difficult to think about how to capture the essence of such a legacy in a magazine article.  He’s a record setting athlete, a former Dean of Business at Oral Roberts University (ORU), an accredited author with over 17 books published in 7 languages, and a strategic consultant.  He has recommendations and accolades from past students and clients singing his praises for his business strategy and guidance.  Above all these things, or rather intertwined into all of these things, he is a man intentionally and passionately following after God.    

I asked Henry about a moment when he felt everything changed for him.  What was that big pivotal decision?  Henry said it came in 1970 after a 7-year stint with Continental Can.  To get there, he took me back a bit in the story.  “I became part of an executive training program at Continental.  There were 200 of us in the room.  They started the session explaining they only needed a hundred”, said Henry.  He continued, “They said ‘We’re either gonna get rid of you or you won’t be able to stand the pressure.’”  Henry followed, “Coming out of the military and college athletics, I was conditioned for stress and knew how to endure.  So, I became the youngest key manufacturing manager in a top 50 corporation at the time. I dealt with union groups and some of the toughest mob groups in Chicago.”  

Henry’s story continued.  At 30, they wanted to send him to New York to be the youngest Vice President in the corporation. He had a big expense account, a big career and a nice salary. But, in 1970, Henry said “My mother, on her little typewriter, wrote me a letter and said ‘You know they are opening a university right in Tulsa called ORU.  You have a master’s degree.  Wouldn’t it be fun if you would move home?”  So what Henry did was not unlike what many of us have done to ward off mom’s pleas.  Henry said, “I sat down in front of my old typewriter and sent them a 7-year old resume with my bad typing and my 2.29 GPA.” Henry quipped, “I never thought more about it except that they would write back and reject me.  Then, I could make a copy and send it to my mother.”  Henry and I both laughed a little about the persistence of a mother.  

Henry continued, “Then 3 days later, Harold Paul called me and started a dialogue. He called every 2-3 days to pray with me.”  Henry continued the conversations, as he enjoyed them, but had no intention of taking the position.  Henry said, “He then told me he wanted me to fly out and possibly join the faculty.  I told him my parents lived close to the University and I would fly out to meet him, but I was honest.  I told him straight out that I wasn’t going to accept the position, but it would be nice to see my parents.”  Henry went on, “The meeting went fine and he offered me the position, but it wasn’t for a few nights later back at home that it hit me.  It was about 2 am and I whispered to Mari ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ She immediately said ‘Yes.’ Then he said ‘We’ve gotta go to ORU.’”  Henry chuckled a bit as it seems a bit ridiculous to most when you say it out loud.  He took a 50% pay cut, lost his giant expense account, lost his seemingly guaranteed success path with corporate America and followed God’s spirit in his heart.

Over 40 years later, Henry has no regrets.  Henry offered, “You never really know what would have happened.  Think of something big like that I might have been spared from 9/11?” Then Henry said, “What I do know is if I had taken a 45-minute train back and forth to work daily, I would’ve missed out on time with my kids. I would’ve probably made more money, but after seeing how the Lord has guided our lives from 1970 until the minute we’re sitting here, it was the right choice.” 

Henry came from a Christian home, which really gave him a leg up on his journey with Christ.  His mother and father raised him in church faithfully.  Then when he was 13 their pastor, Cecil Bolding, started working alongside of him at his parents Western Auto store.  Henry said he gained valuable wisdom from his pastor and friend.  It really was a mentorship in the workplace, offering Henry even greater exposure to the things of Christ.  It’s such a great reminder of the investment we need to make in future generations.  The impact of those interactions can transfer from generation to generation.    

May 13 of 2018, Henry said “EMSA fired an alert to family and friends and people are coming into see us in the ER.  They had given up and thought I was gone. His granddaughter in law, a charge nurse at St. Francis, made a suggestion and suddenly, the game was going into overtime.”  Henry spoke boldly, “The Lord must’ve needed me for something else.  I just believe that.  I’d love to be the old Henry full of energy going to chamber meetings, being impressive but I can barely function some days.” Henry said, “I’m hoping my legacy will be that people see I kept moving for the Lord even when it was a struggle.” 

Henry told me that things he now copes with are as simple as that he forgets where he’s going.  He said, “If I’m familiar with something I can do it.  I did a book signing at Barnes and Noble with a great turnout. I’m sitting there though struggling to even get up.” Henry went on, “The Lord just keeps opening doors up. I go through them—just slower than I used to move.  I’d like to think that whatever your story is about me—it is one that encourages others to think about their legacy and to keep going in the direction God has for them.  There’s still time.  Whatever quarter of life they are in—whatever their struggles, there’s still an impact they can make for Christ.” 

Henry says it best himself.  “My life is dedicated to living a life of integrity with devotion to my Heavenly Father.  I want to be the best family man possible–to be dedicated to my dear wife Mari of 54 years, my 3 children Theresa, Roscoe and Daniel and my 7 incredibly special grandchildren.”  Henry said he would want his obituary to reflect that “Henry just hung in there, was giving everything away until the Lord decided he had no more to give.”  He continued, “We’re all going to experience difficulties.  The real story will be how did each person navigate those steps through the 4th quarter of their life (whatever age that will be) to keep doing what God had for them to do.”  

Every one of us leaves a legacy.  There will be a story of our lives, our character, our choices. Henry reminds us all that purposefully seeking to leave a legacy for Christ, expanding that into whatever form it takes needs to be a priority. He’s a prime example of continuing that purpose into the 4th quarter—and will one day leave a life with very few regrets.  “It’s a life full of roads you didn’t see coming,” says Henry “but true fulfillment comes when we are ready to follow God’s whisper towards His purpose.”

Henry spends his 4th quarter, which he sometimes jokingly calls his overtime period, sharing these values with everyone he meets.  He follows Christ with passion and fervor with headaches that would leave most of us lying on our beds in a bit of despair.  He doesn’t want to waste one minute of what God has given him doing less than what God has called him to do. For me, that makes him more than a man of purposeful legacy.  It moves him into the category of a very rare modern-day hero.

Dr. Migliore has a book “A Biblical Approach to Life Planning” that you can grab a copy of on his website for $14.99. www.hmigliore.com

Email Dr. Migliore at hmigliore@aol.com and he will give you a link to his book.

https://youtu.be/1-xePO107IA Video for his 4th Quarter Redefined the Legacy Continues book.

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville
visitingangels.com/greencountry


Written by Teresa Goodnight

Mary Williams isn’t consciously building a legacy, as much as she is living as a modern-day creator of change. She’s been paving the way for racial integration for as long as she can remember, holding positions across Tulsa enabling her to focus on her mission. She’s a woman of been doing it so long that it’s just the essence of her beautiful character. She has a way of making you feel so incredibly special—even when you are trying to focus on the amazing life she lives. 

Like many women with those special gifts, she somehow makes you feel as if you have known her all of your life. You just want to share things with her. Our conversation travelled all over the place. She laughed that we had to be careful whenever we talked, as a few minutes could turn into a few hours. I felt special that it might be just with me, but I knew Mary had that effervescent presence with everyone she met.

With her B.A. Degree from Oral Roberts University, Mary is a board member of Greenwood Chamber of Commerce helping to bridge gaps within our city. Mary has been the first, or only African American in positions around the city. She was the first African American to serve as Vice President of the Tulsa Chapter of the Association of Desk & Derrick Clubs, where they promote education around the oil industry. Mary is also a motivated women’s leader, mentor, speaker, writer and more.

Mary has played the role of a successful political campaign adviser, while also implementing the first monthly political community forums for a diverse candidate in North Tulsa. Mary also is the Director for the citywide “Juneteenth on Historic Greenwood,” an event focused on sharing “heritage, history and hope.” We could list event after event, organization after organization where Mary has been leading the way for diversification and change. 

Her overall mission is to help others find their purpose and reach their God-given destiny through her Color Me True Workshops she now puts on around the city. These sessions focus on personal and professional growth of the attendees. It’s really an empowerment program fostering identity of purpose and multicultural awareness. 

Mary said, “The Color Me True Workshop Program is designed to fit a wide variety of audiences. It provides steps for participants to find their purpose, build self-esteem and take possession of the path God has for them.” Mary continued, “Color Me True workshops have a proven successful track record after years of programming on the high school and collegiate levels, professional and doctoral levels, as well as special workshops for middle school and upper elementary school ages.”

Mary’s next project is dear to her heart. She’s working with Dr. Libby Adjei, the superintendent of Langston Hughes Academy for Arts and Technology. It’s a charter school in North Tulsa threatened with losing its battle to remain open. Mary is working with Dr. Adjei trying to save the school by offering a program about building self-esteem, establishing a cotillion for the students. She wants to teach men how to treat women, how to treat other men, and how to treat themselves. She wants to do the same for women. Mary said, “If we can learn to treat each other with respect and to respect ourselves, we can accomplish so many things we need in life.” 

Mary is a licensed minister and noted as a community servant who believes in the power of prayer. Prayer walking in the community is one of her favorite activities. She simply walks and prays on whatever God brings to mind. Sometimes she starts the walk with things on her heart, others she prays for people and places she sees along the journey. This amazing focus on time with the Lord is part of what creates such a peaceful spirit in her. She just exudes love all over the place. You just want to be around her and catch some of that love she’s throwing around so freely. I have to think that’s a bit of a picture of what being around Jesus was like—and isn’t He our role model for daily living? Mary is simply right on track following in the footsteps of her savior. 

Mary said, “When I leave this life, I hope what is left behind me — the work that I’ve given, the work I’ve served — has helped improve someone else’s life.” Mary continued, “It’s a spiritual thing. I get a sense of filling a spiritual part of me, a most important part of me when I help people find their God-given destiny.” I don’t think she has to leave anywhere to know she improved someone’s life. Like most she encounters, mine was improved just in the small time I spent with her.

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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Color Me True Destiny Programs Word Study: True Meekness

Written by Mary L. Williams

What is the true meaning of Meekness? For many who follow today’s standards for success, meekness is an attribute that may leave you on the marginal sidelines of life. Yet, Jesus said in Matthew 5:3 (ESV) that the meek will inherit the earth. But, how? Was Jesus only referring to the millennial kingdom? 

Viewing Jesus as a Biblical model, meekness is wisdom and power in demonstration without being harsh or clamorous. It is composure under pressure and silence when others should speak. Meekness is a key attribute of a good listener with confident self-esteem. Many people confuse meekness with weakness. Au contraire mon ami! Weakness allows abuse of power to control the mind, will and emotions out of fear and false humility. Meekness, however, expresses itself with confident composure to do what is right in the face of opposition! Meekness is inherent in the divine nature of a born-again believer. (Reference Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus describes Himself as meek and He certainly was, yet he did not allow the hypocrites, Pharisees, and wicked people to control Him. A person who practices meekness does not allow the adversary to steal the gifts God has given to him or to distract him from their God-given purpose. 

As with most things in life, beware! There is a counterfeit. False meekness pretends to be soft and subtle through use of manipulation tactics and domination behind the scenes. False meekness masquerades in fear and discontent. False meekness plants soft nuggets of discord without being out-front and forthright. Open and honest discourse is not a preference for the person who hides behind the deceptive curtain of masked false meekness.

One may ask what is the difference between humility and meekness? Humility is an inner response of the heart and mind. True humility esteems others higher than oneself with unconditional positive regard. Meekness guides and protects the reactions of a humble heart with the infinite timing of wisdom. Meekness is the outer response of sincere humility.

Therefore, success can be gained on earth through a meek and quiet spirit when the Divine Holy Spirit is in control. There is NO FEAR in true meekness. Meekness is more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus!

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” – Ephesians 6:16

A BATTLE WITH FAITH

By the time I was twenty-one, I strayed to a path that led me far from God. I couldn’t tell you how long it had been since I had been to a church, read the bible or said a prayer. I was addicted to multiple drugs and had a heavy smoking habit. I had no job, no way to feed myself, and no way to pay for next month’s rent. To make matters worse, at the end of the previous month, my roommate told me he was moving in with his girlfriend. I would have to figure out how to pay for the apartment on my own. As it got closer to the end of the month, I knew I was going to be evicted. Negativity and darkness grew in my mind. The depression, intensified by withdrawals, was so severe that I would run a razor blade across my body believing it kept my mind focused. I carry those scars on my arm to this day.

This path wasn’t what I wanted. It never was. I kept asking myself how I had become so bad and so lost. But there was nothing in my power I felt I could do about it. It became frightening, as I did not know how to fight what was happening in my mind. I felt alone and helpless.  

One afternoon that mental battle reached an apex. I told myself I strayed too far and there was no way back. There would be no forgiveness, because I knew better, yet chose to do bad things. I began to tell myself there was no help, that I had been forgotten. I started to give in to the idea that there was no reason to fight as I would not be able to change. But amid the mental chaos and darkness, there was another thought that echoed in my mind.

“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him.” 

I couldn’t remember exactly why I knew that. But it had that ring of truth and provided a calming effect on my mind. It made me ask myself – if He wouldn’t forget the works I had once done, then how could He forget me? Even though I had turned from Him, I wanted to believe that He was still there. After all those years and a mountain of sin on my shoulders, I had retained a grain of faith. Though small, it was powerful enough to defend me against the attack my mind was under.  

With my feeble faith, I fell to my knees in the middle of an empty apartment. Through tears I said my first prayer in years. I apologized for what I had done and admitted that I needed help. If it was true that I was not forgotten, I begged Him to please send someone to help me.  No sooner than the word ‘amen’ left my lips, there was a knock on my front door…

FAITH DEFINED

I would rank faith as the most important piece of our armor next to our swords. Understanding what faith is and its importance in our relationship with God will help us understand how it can be used as a shield.

Let’s start with the question – what is faith?  Faith has been defined by many as belief, or confidence.  It is the conviction that what we say we believe in is true and real. To illustrate, you turn on your TV and see a weatherman reporting on a hurricane approaching. He is describing the incoming storm as a category 4 and that you should expect heavy rains and strong winds. He is warning everyone to get out of the path of this storm while time remains. You step outside and look to the horizon, but you cannot see any storm. Does this mean that the hurricane is not really coming? On the contrary, you have confidence the hurricane is approaching because of what the weather report said.  Similarly, Paul said this when speaking about faith, “Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1). It is through our faith that we believe in God. As our faith grows, we then come to believe truths about God. We can have confidence in such truths as: 

  • He loves us – 1 John 4:16
  • We are individually important to Him – Matt. 10:29-31
  • He will never leave us or forsake us – Duet. 31:6
  • That He wants us to succeed – Jer. 29:11

Armed with confidence, we can use those truths to defend against lies, fear or worry that my come into our lives – the “flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Another common arrow is doubt, the opposite of faith. The writer James warns us that “The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6). Without faith we run the risk of being tossed about by believing anything or being paralyzed by fear. This will cause us to doubt ourselves and even God himself.

There is an event in the Bible that helps us see firsthand what doubt and fear can do to the strongest of Christ’s followers. In Matthew 14, we read the familiar scriptures of Peter stepping out of the boat to walk across the water to Jesus. Peter became afraid, taking his eyes off of Jesus, and began to sink. Jesus asked him one simple question, “You of little faith…why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31). Peter’s lack of faith allowed fear to come in. Fear lead to doubt which led to trouble.

Because of the danger doubt can pose to a Christian, Paul admonishes us to “throw off…the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1). The sin he speaks of is a lack of faith which leads to the introduction of doubt. It can be one of the most fatal conditions for a Christian to experience. Our faith is what reassures us and convinces us to keep moving and to keep fighting, regardless of what our enemy may say about us. It shields us against doubt, fear and worry.

FAITH – ITS IMPORTANCE

This leads well into our next question – how important is faith? Faith acts as a great motivator in our lives.  Once we come to believe something, that belief should result in an action. Let’s use the example of the hurricane from earlier. Our confidence that the hurricane is coming causes us to act – to pack up our family and to get out of the way of the storm. If we don’t believe the hurricane is coming, why act? Applying this to our lives, God is a God of action. He expects his people to be people of action (Matt. 25:14-30). It will be impossible for us to be active in God if we do not first have faith in God and who He is. This would include the spiritual defense of our families and ourselves. How important and powerful this makes even the smallest of faiths (Luke 17:6).  

Paul helps us understand the connection between faith and action in Hebrews 11. He mentions many examples:

  • Abel sacrificed
  • Noah preached
  • Abraham went
  • Sarah gave birth

Abel’s faith made his sacrifice acceptable to God. Noah spent many years building the ark. Do you think doubt ever entered his mind? Perhaps, but his faith overcame his doubt. Sarah thought she was too old to give birth to a son, but her faith gave her confidence until she realized the promise. It convinced her that what God promised was true. It was their faith that led to their actions.

Accordingly, Paul states in the same chapter, “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6). We must have faith in order to stand firm and to do in God. Our faith is what keeps us strong, secure and ready for action.

FAITH – A FAMILY AFFAIR

Our individual faith as men, as husbands and as fathers is essential. Seeing how effective the faith of a single individual can be, imagine the defense we can muster if our entire family was a faith filled army.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he likely had in mind the armor that a Roman foot soldier would employ. A shield was a mainstay of that armor. Roman soldiers were proficient in the use of their shields, both individually and as a group. When their enemy would start firing arrows at them, the soldiers would close ranks and join their shields together. The soldiers on the outside of the formation would form walls with their shields. The soldiers in the middle of the formation would raise their shields above their heads to protect the rest against airborne attacks. This formation (called the testudo formation) was formidable and difficult to defeat.

Similarly, the combined faith of all members of our family can be difficult to penetrate. As family heads, part of our responsibility is to help our families grow in their faith of God.  How can we help our families grow in their faith? Some common ways would be:

Pray together as a family. As you pray as a family, you will experience God answering your prayers together and your family’s trust and confidence in God will grow. Trust replaces doubt.

Have a family study schedule together. It doesn’t have to be a formal reading of bible verses. Make it fun. Play a Bible-based game that teaches them events in the Bible or tell them stories.  Let them see how other people’s faith kept them strong. Tailor your study habits to your children’s age and interests.

Do not give up the habit of meeting together with our extended family. Regular attendance at worship is important to keep our faith strong. Remember, others faith can act as a protection for us as well.

Conclusion

…when I opened the door, a man was standing there. He was involved in a door to door ministry in the apartment complex, bringing the good news to people in the community. Interestingly, the man that was standing there knew me. We had not seen each other or spoken for several years. But he knew who I was. He knew where I came from. He knew the works that I had once done in God.

I believe that seeing a familiar face, having a friend stand beside me, was part of God’s plan to help me. It strengthened me for the battles that had not yet begun – to overcome addiction and rebuild my life. This person’s knowledge of my past allowed him to help me break free from my present and step into my future.

All of this began with a small amount of faith. That faith helped battle thoughts. That battle resulted in a prayer. That prayer, offered through faith, changed the direction of my life.  

Take up your shields men! Do not doubt or fear. Strike with your swords and defend with your faith.

What battles has your shield of faith or your swords of the spirit helped you fight? I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories.

man2man@omegaleague.com

@omegaleagueman