I am a certified fitness instructor and have been teaching group fitness classes for over 22 years. I am also a board certified holistic health counselor with a degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I am 48 years old with a 25 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. My husband Chris and I have been married for 28 years. I have been a member of the Church of Christ my entire life as well as my mother, father and both sets of grandparents. I am the owner of a local food service based business and currently teach conditioning classes here in the Edmond area. I have been a strict vegetarian for many years but I will walk 10 miles barefoot in the snow for a good piece of chocolate! ;)
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What Would Our Reaction Be?
Many of us attend congregations where members’ various needs are brought publicly before the church. At times there are prayer requests. Other times, families in crisis bring their financial burdens before the church, having nowhere else to turn for assistance.
I often feel the tug of the Holy Spirit during those moments and an ache in the pit of my stomach. These are human beings, God’s precious creation, and my need to help is compelling.
What would our reaction be if Jesus himself walked down the aisle, stood in front of His people, and proclaimed His own neediness?
Would we even know it was Him?
If we did recognize Him, would we all wonder what possibly the Son of God might need from us?
Are We Benevolent or Judgmental?
The topic of benevolence in the church is one thing, but benevolence to strangers seems to be a real hot-button issue with Christians today.
- We are inundated with homeless people at every street light and corner.
- We come face to face with some sort of cardboard sign at least once a week. If you live in a big enough city, a stranger with a need might even approach you directly.
- What to do in that split second, what to do with that uncomfortable opportunity, what to say or not to say…sometimes you only have the length of a red light to make your judgment call.
How often do we find ourselves passing judgment on someone? Have we ever said these words to ourselves?
- If that man can stand out there all day in the scorching heat, surely he can get a job.
- This is just one of those scams, all these corner people working together to swindle honest people out of their hard-earned money.
- If I give them money, they are just going to turn around and buy alcohol or drugs.
- She is wearing nice clothes and those shoes don’t look like a poor person’s shoes, so I am going to pass.
As the Bible clearly tells us, God chose individual, unique spiritual gifts to give each of us. Benevolence happens to be one of mine, and He also chose this specific gift for my father.
Learning Benevolence from my Father
I could never tell all of the many things I have seen my father do to help total strangers. However, I can tell you that his complete lack of judgment in each situation leaves me in awe and constantly striving toward that same goal.
Breakfast at Denny’s
Once, our family was eating breakfast at a local Denny’s. After we paid and were heading to the car we realized my dad was no longer behind us. We found him sitting on the curb next to a very fragrant homeless man with a bicycle. My dad talked with the man, then patted him on the back and started walking toward us. He asked us to find something to do for a few minutes because he was still a little hungry and wanted another breakfast. He then took the man inside, ordered him a huge meal, and sat with him while he ate.
Another time, near Christmas, my dad came home and asked my sister and me to gather some of our very best toys. He said that someone else could really use them. We bought a Christmas tree at a nearby tree lot, tied it to the roof of our car, and headed to a stranger’s home.
When we arrived, a young girl and a grade-school-aged boy answered the door and invited us in. The small house had nothing that looked like Christmas to my sister and me. My dad brought in the tree and some much-needed decorations as the kids’ mother came around the corner. My sister and I were startled to see that the mother’s arm was amputated just below the shoulder, but my dad hugged her and acted as if he never noticed. We put up the tree, left some of our toys, and my dad gave the mother some “secret” money to buy some things for her kids for Christmas.
Over the years, my dad helped many people.
The people and their needs were never the same–but my dad’s attitude and enthusiasm always remained constant.
I think of the very few times that my earthly father has been in need and I can promise you that on those few occasions I have moved heaven and earth to help him! Why? Because for me he is the giver, he is the need-meeter, he is the symbol of hope and love to the people he helps so when it is his turn to be in need, I run to his aid.
Helping Others as if it were Jesus
Now, let’s go back to our church service with our Lord standing front and center proclaiming His neediness.
We may think of it in hypothetical terms but according to Jesus himself it is NOT. Matthew 25 starting in verse 45 (NlV) clearly states:
And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”
I know what some of you are thinking and it’s an OLD argument. When Jesus states “brothers and sisters” we take that as only Christians and Christ-followers.
Scripture Speaks to Us All
As convenient as that might be and more comfortable for us, it simply is not true. Let’s ask Jesus what He means and HE will clear things up. Verse 44 says:
“Then they will reply, Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?”
This scripture is all encompassing and speaks to all mankind.
Just like my father did, next time you come face to face with a cardboard sign or a dirty, smelly person you would rather not help, try to see them through the goodness of Christ.
See Christ Himself in need.
Run to His aid as fast as you can!
- He stopped in a crowd and touched a sister and healed her.
- He noticed when others were hungry and fed them.
- He wiped a tear from a sister’s eye and His own when His best friend lay in a grave.
- He touched ten diseased men with healing, knowing only one would be grateful.
- He looked a humiliated, desperate, sinful sister in the eye and defended her without condemnation.
- And then He opened His arms and gave us His life.
How could we not run to meet His every need?
Putting Words into Action
I am very passionate about helping others, but it’s also a subject I work on. Keeping my heart and mind right while meeting the needs of strangers is anything but simple!
A few weeks ago I was heading to work. I noticed a woman standing at the on-ramp with a sign. I was going the opposite direction so I said to myself, “When I go home, if she is still there, I will stop and see what she needs.” Of course, my meeting ran long and she was gone. The next day I saw her again. This time a man in a suit was talking with her and handing her a card of some type.
I thought maybe that was a good sign and she might be getting some assistance. I hoped he was able to help her because I didn’t want her to have to stand out in the 100-degree heat all day.
Determining to Help
At the end of the day, my heart melted when I saw that she was still at the on-ramp. Quickly, I drove home and told my husband that I wanted us to head back over there with some food and see what we could do.
I pulled up to an old gas station and walked to where she was standing. I told her that I brought a bag of groceries in case that might help in any way.
She practically jumped into my arms, wrapping both of her arms tightly around my neck. She said that they had broken down and were just trying to get enough gas money to get back home to Colorado. I asked her where her car was and she said it was in the gas station parking lot. I told her to walk back with me and we would fill her car up.
The Ground Shifted
As we walked behind the station, the scariest van I have ever seen came into view with two equally scary-looking men inside.
We had brought our puppy with us. Worried that the puppy would overheat, I grabbed her out of the car. That’s when the ground shifted under my feet.
She turned and saw the puppy and said, “Oh! Would you please let my kids pet your puppy?” KIDS??? I said “sure” as we walked toward the van. Two boys and a little girl, heads sopping wet with sweat, squealed delightedly as the puppy licked their faces.
One of the men even started talking in a cute voice and got a couple of licks. As they were finishing up on the gas I walked back and put the puppy in the car. The lady followed me with an old, cover-less book in her hand. After giving me a third huge hug, she said the book was one of her favorite things. She had read it cover to cover many times but begged me to take it. That she was willing to part with such a treasured possession almost broke my heart!
Lesson learned for me!
It looked like just another dirty, sweaty person with a sign but underneath was a desperate mother with three children baking in an old, filthy van for three days just needing someone to see past her and see the real her, the JESUS her!
Have you ever been in a position where you had to set aside your judgments to help someone?
Be encouraged by these posts as well!
Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of three - two boys and a girl (the girl being squished right in the middle). After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home homeschool mom living life on her little 1 1/2 acre homestead raising chickens, two goats and a small garden. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
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To understand Him is to understand hope. To understand His gift of mercy is to understand His gift of grace. To understand our continued state of rescue is to understand our place of refuge.
Lately, nothing soothes my heart and mind more than the moments where I find myself sitting still and abiding with my Lord. There, I draw comfort and strength. I focus on Him and who He is as Father, Son, and Spirit. In the place of full abiding is where I can breathe Him in, refreshing and perfectly good.
Abide in His refuge.
Who He is completely captures me. Though I should want to recoil in shame, I am nonetheless drawn into His presence fully aware of the grace and mercy covering me. The very essence of my continued rescue is found in those moments when I rest in Him, and the exceptional standard of hope that is found in Him is given during these moments. Words from the Psalmist come to mind as I recall the image of refuge, a refuge found in those moments of abiding.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Abide in His Dwelling Place
The Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies. It is a place to where I move beyond seeking escape. It is a place where I can come to Him and it is intimate, beautiful, and holy. Holding fast to Jesus, I can enter His presence with reverence and with rest. This combination of feelings produces an attitude which depicts the place of His dwelling. Here grace envelops me all the more, so wherever sin has tempted and tried…sin finds full defeat.
Abide in the Rescuer
Through the God-Son, there is no manner of sin that was not defeated through His perfection, through His death, and through His resurrection. So, in all the ways fleshly desires hound us and in all the way sin’s aroma seeks to draw us in, we can hold fast to the knowledge of a Rescuer who felt the same temptations and conquered them. His accomplishments over–not just the very nature of sin, but as well as its enticing, tempting ways–are a victory we can claim. This continued state of rescue is what heals, strengthens, humbles, and produces an immense sense of awe.
“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Abide in Jesus
Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel the heaviness of struggle. Perhaps you empathize with Paul when he said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” There is hope. For the believer, hold firmly to Him. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence you have as one who has been redeemed by, and through, Jesus Christ. He is our help and our refuge in time of need, in time of temptation and struggle. His grace binds us to Him completely. Hold on to that and find rest in Him. While on this side of heaven we are not free from temptation, but we are free from its chains–through Christ alone. Abide in Him, for in Christ our holiness is found.
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I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
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“Can you come pick me up? I had to take the truck to the shop.”
I did not want to hear those words right as I was putting my daughter down for her nap! Apparently, my poor husband had been taking care of car troubles all morning. I thought it was a normal day, with my husband at work, I hadn’t been looking at my phone.
Feeding the Flame of Doubt
Driving to pick him up, I felt my mood on the decrease as I thought about what these truck problems might cost. We’ve got enough, but money is still tight right now. The last thing we needed was to spend our financial cushion. I felt like crying. Later that day I did.
My insecurities set in.
“You are such a loser…if you had taken a real job after college you wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“You aren’t smart enough to have a real job. You don’t have enough talent.”
Naturally, like any good wife, I texted my wallowings to my husband. To which he replied, “It’ll be okay…we have God.”
Hmmm…I know, I know. We have God. Why don’t I feel okay though? Why isn’t that enough for me right now?
God had an answer for me.
Feeding the Flame of the Lord’s Altar
While my daughter was napping, I opened up my Leviticus study and the highlighted verse for the day was Leviticus 6:12:
“The fire on the altar must burn continually; it must not be allowed to go out. The priests are to feed wood to the fire every morning…”
The altar was holy. It was a direct path to the presence of God and communication with him. The aromas burnt on this altar were for God and pleasing to him. I find it so fascinating that God instructed the fire to burn continually. God was the one who started the fire to begin with. Leviticus 9:4 says,
“Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.”
God’s instructions were that the fire on the altar be only the fire from God. The altar offerings were important–they were a means to salvation–and they could only be made with God’s help. This fire on the altar was a symbol of God’s power and presence in the lives of the Israelites and a reminder of their constant need for Him.
This fire didn’t stay burning on its own though. The priests had to feed it each morning with wood so that it would not go out.
Feeding the Flame of Faith
That morning when everything seemed to be going wrong for me I had not fed my fire. That whole week, actually, I had not fed my fire. I don’t mean the literal fire on the altar mentioned in Leviticus, but you know what fire I’m talking about. The Spirit and the passion that lives inside of us when we accept Christ. The Spirit of Christ which cleanses us and makes us holy. Yes, that fire. Perhaps that fire needs to be fed often too. Perhaps that is a flame that should not burn out.
When I feed my flame, I’m reminded of God’s power and of his loving grace. I remember that “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) Then, when troubles come my way I don’t have to listen to the devil whisper insecurities in my ear. I won’t be overcome with worry and frustration. Because I have God.
If you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior then you have God, too. Having God means that we see the big picture. We see that we’ve overcome all obstacles already through the blood of Christ. Christ has prepared a way for us to eternal life with God, and that, my sweet friend, is what matters most in this life.
Once I fed my fire that day and was reminded of God’s power and grace, my attitude changed. I began to see all the ways God had provided for us. I was grateful we had the money to pay the car shop and our bills! We had good cars to drive, and all of our needs were met. Things were going to be just fine. (And they were!)
A Flickering Flame or a Roaring Fire?
When we forget to feed our flame, we’ll hold only a small flicker and we’ll forget the power we have in Christ. We must feed our fire daily, every morning, so that it will not run out!
When you wake up each morning, acknowledge our God! Make time to study His word so that you can learn more about Him. Feed your flame! Let God set your heart on fire and may it burn brighter and brighter over time.
I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.
I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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When It’s Just Too Much
The tears keep coming today and at first I couldn’t figure out why.
I’m trying not to be frustrated.
It’s just one of those days where I come to God and say,
“I can’t figure it out. I can’t think straight. My mind is going in all different directions and then it feel like I can’t think at all….”
Then my mind wanders and I can’t even seem to finish a prayer.
Trying to focus and get my mind to think clearly, I open my Bible.
I read varying passages from the books of the Bible that have been gaining my attention lately: James, I Samuel and Philippians.
I’ve been singing a song based on Philippians 3:10 to my children lately:
“I want to know Christ and the power of his rising.
Share in his suffering conform to his death.
When I pour out my life to be filled with his Spirit,.
Joy follows suffering and life follows death.”
As this song echoed in my mind and God’s powerful Word worked it’s way into my heavy heart, I realized I was overcome with sadness with all that is going on in the world right now.
Why? Why are people being mistreated, being killed, taken advantage of and used for the purpose of others. Between processing what’s happening in Venezuela, what happened in Charlottesville, birth and life not being valued, situations going on in my friends’ lives, and so many other things….my heart just hurts for this world. My heart hungers for God’s justice and for God to save so many from this torture and heartache.
It’s cliche but this world needs Jesus!
When I finally realized what was bothering me, all I wanted to do was run and pray. I decided I couldn’t leave the kids home alone, so I went and let out some energy by picking the weeds that had overtaken our patio.
It was the perfect time to pick weeds because it has been raining for two days. In an hour, thanks to the down pouring of rain, I was able to pick all the weeds that had over taken the area.
I couldn’t believe how many weeds there were and how big some had become. It’s been almost 3 months since I’d picked any weeds so it made logical sense that they had gotten so big and unruly. As I uprooted them, I realized something that these weeds and this world have in common.
What Weeds & the World Have in Common
If we, as people, nip problems in the bud when they are small, they won’t get overgrown and out of hand. We have let many of these things happen because we haven’t taken a united stand against them. We need to allow the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, given to each one of us as followers of Christ, to work in our lives so that we can tame the weeds of this world and pull them out by their roots!
We do this by going out to all the world (our neighbors, our coworkers, those God put’s in our paths) and disciplining them, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey Christ’s words (Matthew 28:19-20). As they grow in their faith and obedience to the Lord, the weeds will be picked out of their lives as they are continually being picked out of ours. Then they will continue the cycle.
Using the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
We as a body of believers (and I’m speaking to myself here) are often more content praising God from our pews and in our Bible studies than praising Him in front of others and sharing how God has changed our lives.
If your heart has been hurting because of the events going on in this world, take heart! Jesus warned us there would be struggles but he also promised us His Spirit, which would allow us to do great things while living on this earth.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus, John 16:33
This sky was God showing off his beauty as I finished picking the last of the weeds.
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.
Jesus John 14:12
It’s Time to Take a Stand
If your looking to making a difference this is the first step. Reach out to others and share Christ. Pray about how you can get involved in whatever is tugging at your heart the most and get involved.
Now is not the time to be afraid or to sit back and be overcome by this world. It’s time to take a stand and take action.
Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
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What did God create you for?
Have you ever stopped to think about all the things that God did not intend for us in this life? I feel like some days I am constantly reminded of these things. Many evenings I will sit down and reflect back over my day. What were my general feelings today? What went right, and what didn’t? Did I get things done? And what did I put off or forget to do? What habits do I need to start to make me feel more successful? And on and on and on…
God gives us a full range of emotions to experience life to its very fullest. In my mind I can be the most fulfilled if I’m feeling generally more positive than negative. That’s my personal preference. Some people are like a piece of metal. When the heat is on they just bend and change to fit the temperature. Some people are more like a piece of paper and they just burn up. I’d like to think that I’m somewhere in the middle. As a result of my military upbringing, I am a pretty flexible person, regardless of my personality. However, having children and running my own household presents pressures and challenges that at times threaten to burn me up and leave behind a little pile of ashes.
Perseverance, not Exhaustion and Defeat
James 1:4 says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Sometimes it seems as though perseverance for the sake of perseverance alone is the only thing I’ve got left. But God does not want us to feel downtrodden and hopeless. It is not His will for us to be exhausted and defeated by the day.
I love this whole chapter of Isaiah. The Lord is really encouraging His people and giving them comfort. God knows that our journey here on earth will not be easy. There are going to be bad days and tantrums. There is going to be spilled milk on the carpet and sand in their hair, dirty dishes and floors and toilets. I often dwell on and worry about these things and that was never God’s intent. God created me for more than my to-do list!
Letting Go and Letting God
I’m going to make a list for myself of what I am intentionally going to try and let go. Perhaps, this list will be helpful to you as well.
This week I will work to let go of the following:
- Distress over my housekeeping imperfections
- Incessant worrying about my children’s (insert your worry here)
- Frustration at other people because of (for me it’s their driving!)
- Jealousy over someone else’s blessings, calling, or opportunities
- Fixation with my idea of how everything should be
Considering I’m going to work on these for the next week, it’s a pretty long list; however, these are the things that God has revealed to me recently. Some of these things are issues I grapple with frequently while others are rather infrequent. I feel that each of these are relevant to God’s will for my life, and that these things are holding me back from other things God has for me in my life.
I pledge this week to work towards laying these concerns at the feet of Jesus and clothing myself in things that are pure, holy, and right.
Here are my really great reasons to work on this list. I’d like to make more room for these things!
Will you take this pledge with me?
If you’d like to, please share your list with us so we can be praying along with you about what God can take from you to make more room for Him!
Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
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When you’re in a dark place and it’s hard to find your way out, what do you do? You feel lost and alone, unnoticed and under the radar. You are shuffled and jostled about, people walking past you, even talking to you, but not really seeing you. Not really knowing you.
Are you there? Are you in that dark place?
Your best friend may not see your inner heart. Your preacher may not. Even your mom or your husband or your kids may not. You might be drowning and no one sends out the lifeboat.
But there is Someone who does.
He sees the struggles and the tears. He sees the heartache and the loneliness. You can’t fool him–he knows exactly how wonderful you are and how awful you can be too.
But those voices whisper in your heart.
Why would He care about me?
He can’t really love me that much. After all, he knows exactly what I have done!
Why bother? I know I can’t do it.
Friend, let me whisper to your heart as well.
Psalm 9:10 says,
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Consider Romans 8:32, which says,
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
When you’re feeling low and in that dark place, read these verses from 1 John 3:
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
It’s true. We don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness. That’s the true meaning of grace: we get what we don’t deserve. He give us forgiveness and not punishment. We get a second chance and not death. We get salvation and not condemnation.
But God is amazing like that. He is greater than us, loves us more than we could possibly imagine, and gave up his son–before I even committed to serving Him.
That thought should humble me, motivate me, and comfort me, all at the same time. It is the lifeline you can cling to when you’re in that dark place. And it can be what helps pull you back into the light.