Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Prayertime




Dear God, Today I feel led to pray for Christians to stand up for their beliefs when confronted with moral issues. I pray that we will know when, where, and what to say and do to let our voices be heard. I pray that we will be involved in our communities, schools, governments as possible. I pray that we will have the courage and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to do what is right, what is biblical, and what honors you. Thank you for the guidelines you have given us through the Holy Bible. Thank you for the leaders you have provided to inspire, teach, and guide us. Thank you for all of your provisions and blessings. With love and appreciation I come to you, Father. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


[ Starting tomorrow, you will be musing over the Read Through the Old Testament in a year format - starting at the December 8 date. These daily musings will be the basis of a new book release coming in 2016. It is my prayer that you find them helpful. Pray as I am writing this daily devotional study.]




Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday Prayertime



Dear God, We all make mistakes, all humans that is. We all pay consequences, often not easy to deal with. Some mistakes affect our health, our jobs, our rights, our futures, our comfort, our ministries. They usually touch other people's lives, not just our own. All mistakes give opportunity for life-changing lessons. I pray for anyone and everyone who is spending time with your through this devotional, and for their family members, who have made mistakes and are facing the consequences. May the result be a life that is more dedicated to you, one that is pleasing to you, and a clarity of purpose and calling in the lives that are affected. I pray for mercy, grace, and help in any way needed. May you be glorified. May new ministries and opportunities for witness be evident...and may each one of us be yielded and in tune with your will. Please help us all to become what you have planned for us. Thank you, Father, for your work in our lives and for your protection and blessing. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.



Friday, December 5, 2014

Short Time - Today is the Day



2 Corinthians 6: 2 (ESV) - "Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

The last two musings were upon the time being short. Short until Christ's return for His church, and possibly short for America. We are looking for that glorious appearing of Jesus, but also being fearful that America will soon fall completely under the judging hand of God.

That is why as believers we need to be reignited with the commission that has been given to us - the commission from our Lord to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19 - 20 NASB).

If we truly caught the picture that time is short, if we truly cared about others, if we truly realized the need others have, if we truly realized that God has saved us to share with others - we would be praying, talking, and seeking to share the one true answer with everyone God places in our paths.

Today, ponder (but not for long) how you can make a difference in this "day of salvation" for someone else. Why did I say "but not for long?" Ponder and then GO!




Thursday, December 4, 2014

Short Time - American Warning



1 Peter 4:17 (NLT) - "For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?"

Yesterday, I mused over Christ's soon return. It is my belief that I will be alive when He comes to take His saints home. However, there is no guarantee that America will still be here when He comes.

Growing up I often wondered why there is no mention of America in the end time prophecies. Where does this nation fit into the picture of the study of last days. Lately, as I study and watch the unveiling events around us, I am beginning to believe that America may not be on the scene as America.

God is a patient, loving God - but He does have His limits. Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:17 (NLT) - "For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?" Now I know that this is written directly to the saints, and particularly Jesus' church. But, we can glean from this that if God is going to judge those who are in the family of Believers, He will judge those who reject Him also. As we look at the way things have been going in this country since the 1950's, we see a gradual decline away from the God of the Bible. We have changed morality (according to us), we have removed God from our secular (by the way, the concept of a divided religious/secular world is man-made, not Scriptural at all) lives, we have come to the point where we see bad as good and good as bad.

The move to a one-world religion is rapidly taking place in America. We do this under the stance of tolerance and plurality. But, we need to open our eyes and see that the only religious belief that is not tolerated is Christianity.

Today, ponder over the what is happening in the world - and particularly America - when it comes to belief systems. And muse over God's warning of bringing judgment upon those who claim to be His. I pray that it may not be too late for America to return to the God of our fathers. I pray that our children and grandchildren will have to freedom to worship the one true God.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Time is Short - His Return



1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NLT) - "For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night."
Revelation 22:20 (NLT) - "He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"

It seems like the many devotions, studies, and reading I have been doing over the past couple of weeks all deal with the soon return of Jesus Christ. You might say that this is a strange topic to muse over in the Christmas season. Yet, His return is prophesied the same as His first Coming to Earth.

If you are watching for the signs of His return, we can see that everything man says needs to be in place - is. Howbeit, the return to take His people out before the Tribulation (yes, I am Pre-Trib, Pre- Millennial) does not require any signs. In fact, many scholars believe that even Paul was anticipating the soon return of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:17, he speaks of "we who are alive" apparently including himself in this statement). 

Peter in his first letter (chapter 3 verse 3) says, "I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires." There are those who say it has been over 2000 years since Jesus walked on this earth. If He was coming back, He already would have done so. 2000+ years is hardly soon. Yet, in God's economy of time, the Bible states that "But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day." (2 Peter 3:8 NLT). So, one could be safe to say in God's economy, it has only been a little over 2 days since He went away.

Even considering the time that has elapsed here on earth, each day we live brings us one day closer to His return. Each day is a day of Grace for someone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to share with all we can - because the time is short - and we have a commission to fulfill.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - Intercession


Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should."

This is the last part of the Spiritual warfare Provisions by God. We have the belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, sword, and prayer. we have been challenged to stay alert - to persevere. The final piece is of the provision is intercession. We are called to intercede for others in our prayers. This seems so out of place - the other pieces focus on our needs - but God knows that if all of His soldiers put on the full armor - and they are interceding for each other - the victory is assured. 

You see, we need each other in the battle. Going at it alone is dangerous in the least and deadly at most. By interceding, we must be intimately enjoined so that we know the needs of others, and they know our needs. We often think of this as accountability groups. We hold each other accountable, and also encourage and strengthen one another. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (HCSB) reminds us - "And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken."

Today, consider if you have at least one other person who is praying for you. And, make it a part of your day to pray for others and their specific needs.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provision - Stay Alert



Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should."

Paul challenges his readers to remain alert. Alert means to be ready, watching so that a calamitous tragedy doesn't overtake us. So we pray, asking God to help us be on guard against sin, so we overcome the schemes of the devil, and no one takes us captive through philosophy and empty deception (Ephesians 6:11; Colossians 2:8).

We need to focus our prayers on several areas of life to stay alert. Here are some suggestions:
Luke 22:40, 46 tells us to pray so that we don't enter into temptation.
Acts 20:29-31a calls us to pray that false teachers and false doctrines don't overtake us.
1 Corinthians 16:13 challenges us to pray that we remain strong and steadfast in the faith.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 says to pray that we remain sober, and don't spiritually fall sleep.
1 Peter 5:18 warns us to pray that we're alert, watching for Satan, his schemes, and his deceptions.
And in Matthew 25:13 we are to pray that we're alert, watching for Christ's coming.

Because we're serious about our struggle against the forces of darkness and wickedness, we pray about our spiritual fight. And as a result, we stay alert.

Today, ponder over how you can stay alert in the battle. That you do not fall into the deceptions of the Evil One.





Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Prayertime



Dear God, Please give me a vision for what You want to do through me, for the role You want me to have in the local ministry of my church, and for the ministry You want to work through me in daily life. Please help me to keep my eyes upon You, not upon other people, things, or circumstances. May Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' name, Amen.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Prayertime



Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Thank you, Jesus, for your obedience to the Father. Thank you, God, for Your loving sacrifice. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for Your comforting guidance. Life is so much more with the hope I have in You, Lord. I am so glad that you have provided the way for me to have eternal life in Your presence--in a place where there will be no more tears and no more suffering; a place where there will be unimaginable joy, praise, worship, and peace. I praise You for Who You are and for what You have done. In Jesus name, Amen.



Friday, November 28, 2014

The Real Black Friday



Today is called "Black Friday" in the commercial world. It is the day that businesses seek to see their ledgers show in the black instead of the red. They seek to see how much they can sell to kick start their Christmas sales. Businesses seek to lure as many people into their stores by extravagant sales. Yet, over 2,000 years ago the real Black Friday happened.

It happened in an obscure part of the world, a tiny country under Roman domination. It happened to an obscure, itinerant Rabbi, who spoke such truth and lived so profound a life - that men could not accept Him. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in Israel was taken out and crucified upon a cruel Roman Cross. The Creator of the Universe was killed by His own created beings. Man, involved with jealousy, greed, pride, cowardice, fear, and a love for the darkness instead of the light took the perfect, sinless Son of God out to Golgotha and nailed Him to a cross. They watched as the life-blood of Jesus poured out. And then, this lifeblood spilled out became the very sacrifice for each of us. His blood shed on that Cross became the means that bought us back from this broken world. It was the "red" blood that was the positive side of the ledger that day.

Consider, that on this day the world wants to turn the red into black - while God in His kingdom turned what was black into red. Are you trusting the shed blood of Christ? Muse over what the cross means to you today - on this "Black Friday."



Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Reminder





Today, as we pause to remember all the great and marvelous blessings that God has given to us, let us turn to His Word, and read the great Psalm 100 - a Psalm of Thanksgiving. Take some time today - and focus your thoughts upon the One who is worthy of all thanks, the One who is worthy of our praise. We are blessed, not because of ourselves, but because of Him.



Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - Power of Prayer



Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should."

Barnes' Notes comments, "No matter how complete the armour; no matter how skilled we may be in the science of war; no matter how courageous we may be, we may be certain that without prayer we shall be defeated. God alone can give the victory; and when the Christian soldier goes forth armed completely for the spiritual conflict, if he looks to God by prayer, he may be sure of a triumph" (Heritage Edition, Vol. 12, p. 133).

If we equip ourselves with God's armor, we must also be determined to keep a steady line of connection with Him. He is the commander of His spiritual army, and He alone knows how to lead it to victory.

Along with praying for others, it is vital to also pray for ourselves. Our lives are filled with reminders that we can't make it on our own. When we become self-confident, we are most open to the wiles of our enemy. It would be inconceivable to refrain from asking God for the help we so desperately require. We should be sure to keep God's servants in our prayers—and not only His ministers, but all His people. We are in this battle together, and prayer is one of the most effective ways we can support each other, care for each other and fulfill the God-inspired command given to us in Philippians 2:4.

The question to muse over today is that our God stands ready to provide us with the strength, wisdom and courage we need to stand against our enemy, but He wants us first to come before Him and ask for it. Will we?




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - The Sword of the Spirit


Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should."

We are going to complete our study of the provisions that God has made for us in the realm of Spiritual Warfare. Today and tomorrow we are going to muse over the two offensive items that God provides, and after Thanksgiving, we will consider two other important aspects of our Provisions.

The Roman gladius has become known as "the sword that conquered the world." The gladius in close range combat made it a fearsome tool in the hand of a skilled Roman warrior. When sharpened, its dual edges wreaked havoc on unarmored foes, while its tapered point could pierce through even heavy metal armor. A Roman infantryman would go into battle armed with more than just his gladius. He would also have a dagger (pugio), several one-time use spears (pila) and lead-weighted darts (plumbatae), but the sword was his main means of attack. The sword is the only weapon Paul lists as part of the Christian arsenal.

God's Word is truth, plain and simple. We can have perfect confidence in the fact that His words are accurate, true and unerring. When followed, they guide us without fail in the paths that we need to walk. We can be destroyed by lack of the knowledge of God (Hosea 4:6), but we will be blessed if we hear and keep the Word of God (Luke 11:28). And the knowledge is not just for us. We are to be ready to answer others who ask us (1 Peter 3:15).

Paul only lists one weapon because we only need one weapon: There is no enemy the Word of God, coupled with His Spirit, cannot defeat. And so, armed only with our sword, we step out to fight our enemies head-on. The struggle is real. It is immediate, and it is in front of us. Our future in God's Kingdom is on the line, and we take up the battle so that we may hold fast to the future He has promised us.

Today, muse over the truth of this offensive weapon that God has provided us. Consider that with the armor in place, and with this weapon in our hand - we have the victory. Why? Because the battle belongs to the Lord.





Monday, November 24, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - Helmet of Salvation



Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation...."

After that short break looking at Operation Christmas Child, we are back to continue our look at the provisions for our Spiritual Warfare that God has provide. Belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, and now the Helmet of Salvation.

The Roman helmet, like helmets today, protected the head from the attacks of the enemy. There is some evidence to suggest that the Romans had special ceremonial helmets used in parades that denoted rank and standing.

Paul speaks of this being a helmet of salvation. what is Salvation? Salvation basically means to be saved or delivered from something (see examples in Exodus 14:13 and Micah 7:6-8). In the New Testament, as we will see, it is generally used to refer to deliverance from the eternal death penalty of sin and deliverance into God's Kingdom. Every human being has thought and acted in ways that are abominable to God. Sin is so vile to God that it requires the death penalty. God's justice requires that penalty. But God's loving mercy provided the most incredible substitute. Jesus Christ, our Creator, was willing to die in our place! To be saved, we need a Savior.

It is important to understand that salvation cannot be earned. It is a gift from God and not something we can obtain through the right actions, thus obligating God to give it to us. Still, repentance (abhorring our sins and seeking God's forgiveness and help to obey His laws), faith, accepting Christ's sacrifice and coming to the knowledge of the truth are all steps in accepting the free gift. In no way do these efforts make up for our sins that caused the death of our Creator and Savior!

Our enemy hates that we have chosen this path and will stop at nothing to destroy us because of it. Just as the helmet protects the vital but vulnerable head from otherwise fatal blows, the hope of salvation can protect our thoughts from our enemy's attacks and temptations to disobey God. Without the helmet of salvation, we will be unprotected from the "cares of this world" that bombard our thoughts and feelings. Imagine not knowing what the future ultimately holds. The worries and problems produced by living in this world would overwhelm us! With the helmet securely fastened, we can have the same confidence that Paul did that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). We understand that it doesn't matter what happens to us now. No matter what trials we face, we know that at the end of it all waits God's Kingdom and an eternity of His perfect reign—and what could be better than that?

We are each individually responsible for whether or not we choose to accept the invitation into God's Kingdom and then to stay on the path of obedience with His help. A good checklist for progress is Paul's description of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Today,ponder on how well you are wearing this helmet - this provision for the spiritual warfare going on around you.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Prayertime



Dear God, I worship you and lift up my praise to you, my Creator and Sustainer. Thank you for showing me the things that bind me on this earth. Open my eyes that I may always be mindful of what may hold me in bondage. Help me to resist the things I should. Help me to steer clear of hazards and to draw strength from your Holy Spirit when temptations are enticing me. Please help me to break free...and to experience total freedom in you. Thank you, my gracious God. In the name of my Savior I pray. Amen.



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday Prayertime


Dear God, Your Word tells me to "Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jer. 33:3). I'm coming to You now, and asking for a closer fellowship with You. I want to know You more; to desire You more; to be an obedient follower and do Your will. I am waiting, listening and watching...yielded to Your will. Bless me Lord, that I may be a blessing to You and to the people around me. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.



Friday, November 21, 2014

Operation Christmas Child - The Power of a Simple Gift


Today, as we draw this week to a close - let me share with you a story from a young boy in Guatemala. Next Monday we will return to our study of Spiritual Warfare. 

“I live in a very poor neighborhood and many times I don’t have the school items that I require at school. I always wanted to have a special pencil with removable leads. I prayed to God for one and some friends at my school laughed at me because I said I prayed for one. However, when I was invited to participate in a special celebration in a Christian church at my village, they gave me a gift where I got school supplies. Among them were two of the special pencils I always wanted to have. Now I’m happy that I have the opportunity to study the Bible lessons and I’m learning a lot from what our teacher explains. I have learned that God cares for me. These lessons came to our village because God is good. Thank you for sending to us these lessons.” - Roberto, 12-years-old*

From this, we gain some insight into the impact that we can have - through the power of a simple gift.






Thursday, November 20, 2014

Operation Christmas Child Stories


From the Operation Christmas Child Website* I want to share this story. God uses Operation Christmas Child to touch the lives of Philippine children living in dire conditions.

It smells so strongly of trash and cow dung at the big garbage dump outside of Manila that most people hold handkerchiefs to their noses to block some of the smell. No one wants to visit this area. Muck swallows shoes, leaving people barefoot in the smelly mess.

And yet there are people who live and work here.

These people are lower-class Filipinos. They collect bottles and other pieces of trash to sell. Their houses sit right on the edge of the dump site and are made of trash. While most people crinkle their noses and want to leave, the dump people smile and laugh while the brown concoction on the ground squishes deeper in between their toes.

The children in this area are quiet but happy. Boys run shirtless through small patches of grass with a soccer ball. Girls watch and giggle in their crisp, white school blouses and plaid skirts. They’ve just finished a day of school and walked home under the hot and sticky June sun.

Today, the smiles are a little wider. On the walk home, the children cradle Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes underneath their elbows.

This was a special day at school, a day of surprises. Although the teachers had tried to keep it a secret, the children had found out that they would receive gifts, and they were excited. Before she received her shoe box, 8-year-old Joy listed the things she wanted.

“School supplies … slippers … a pencil case … a pencil … anything that can be used for writing … and shoes.”

She paused between each item as if she was afraid to say that she wanted more than one thing. Only after being prompted did she continue her list.

Nine-year-old Ralph slowly listed what he wanted, too.

“School supplies, school bag, a T-shirt, shoes and socks.”

All of these are simple things that most American children take for granted. But in impoverished areas like this one, school supplies and basic clothing make a huge difference.

“Education is the only way out,” said Marlin, pastor of the church that arranged the shoe box distribution at the school. “OCC will make a difference for them.”

With new school supplies, the children will have more opportunities in class. But the shoe boxes don’t just offer physical items to make life better for children. The gifts also present an opportunity to learn about the Gospel.

That’s exactly what Ralph did. When he accepted his gift, he also accepted Christ. As he kicks a soccer ball to a friend, his smile isn’t just because of his new toys. Now he has found God’s love.

Ralph and his friends were offered “The Greatest Gift of All” booklet with their gifts, which explains the story of Christ and salvation through Him. Ralph said he is excited to learn more about Jesus. He is blessed because his mother is also a Christian, and she taught him about Christ even before he believed.

Joy also received the booklet, but she didn’t look at it as soon as she received it. She said she wanted to look at it later. When she reads “The Greatest Gift of All,” there is hope that she too will find Christ’s love.

At the end of the day, the smiling faces at the dump pick up their last bottles and throw them into bags. Then they walk the short distance to their houses.

Children have finished playing soccer and are helping to prepare the evening meal. Over dinner, they will talk about their day at school. Parents will see every gift in the shoe boxes, and they, too, will hear about how Jesus loves them.

* http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/occ-impact/

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

OCC - The Story of Simple Gifts



In an excerpt from his new book, Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts,Franklin Graham talks about the beginnings of what has become a worldwide ministry that has delivered over 100 million shoeboxes to children in over 130 countries.

BIG TROUBLE, BIG TASK, BIG THANKS

Days before Thanksgiving my secretary came through the door with a look on her face that I knew very well. “Do you remember that man from Britain that called you back in the summer asking for shoeboxes? He’s on the phone asking when you’ll be sending them—he’s leaving for Bosnia soon,” she stated with an air of “You’re in big trouble!” I had forgotten about it and now the Christmas season was fast approaching.

I picked up the phone. “Mr. Graham, how many shoeboxes have you collected?” I couldn’t let him down. His cause was worthy, so I said, “David, we’re working on it; I’ll get back to you.” He was thrilled and I was, well, in trouble.

“We’ve got to collect some shoeboxes—fast!” I said. We threw some ideas around and then called Ross Rhoads, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. As always, Ross was glad to help and said, “Tell me what to do.”

“Get a shoebox and fill it with some little toys for kids—maybe some toothpaste and a toothbrush, a hair brush, and sock,” I suggested. “Take it to the pulpit on Sunday and show your congregation. Ask if they will help us collect shoebox gifts for the kids in Bosnia. And by the way, tell them to put a note inside with their picture so the child will know who the box is from—maybe some of the kids will write back.” Ross enthusiastically agreed. Then I called Sean Campbell, our executive director in Canada. “Sean, see what kind of response you can get from a church up there.”

I hung up and forgot about it again, until a few days after Thanksgiving. My secretary walked into my office and announced a call from Ross with that “you’re in trouble” look on her face. “Ross needs to talk to you.”

Picking up the phone, I heard his voice filled with troubled excitement. “Franklin, you’ve got to send someone down here to pick up all of these shoeboxes!”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, we’ve got shoeboxes stacked up in the gym, in the foyer, and in Sunday school rooms—they’re in the way.”

“So you’ve really been able to collect a few hundred boxes?” I asked.

“A few hundred?” Ross answered. “How about eleven thousand!” I was stunned. Ross had a big church, but eleven thousand in two weeks? He said, “Franklin, this is obviously something the Lord has blessed.”

Reflecting years later, Ross said, “All I did that Sunday morning was to show the congregation a shoebox Carol had packed and asked them to do the same. That afternoon, a member of the church with the Bible Broadcast Network (BBN) interviewed me and gave me the chance to tell about the project. We did not solicit for boxes nor was the church address given. Over the next several days, however, people began bringing shoeboxes to the church and deliveries were made daily by the post office and courier services. The church was known for ‘sending help,’ but
‘receiving’ was not something we were set up for.”

I said a great big thank you to Ross and then placed a call to David and reported the big news. Immediately, I sent my projects director (now vice president of projects and government relations) Kenney Isaacs to Charlotte to assess the situation. He called and said, “Franklin, you’re not going to believe this. People are really excited!”

This response was so overwhelming that Ross suggested I come on Sunday, December 12, to preach and thank the congregation.

HYPHENATED BY THE TURN OF THE CENTURY

That was twenty years ago. Two decades have passed—hyphenated by the turn of the century. Not every generation experiences living from one millennium to another. We have now surpassed that milestone and have come into the second decade of the twenty-first century, marking one hundred million shoebox gifts collected and delivered, representing an even larger number who have heard God’s message. When I look back on this project—Operation Christmas Child (OCC)—I think of the Scripture that says, “Oh, what God has done!” (Num. 23:23)

The Lord has blessed this outreach in numbers—monumental numbers. But more important, He has blessed it by changing hearts, one at a time. And in the twentieth year of Operation Christmas Child, we delivered the one hundred millionth shoebox!

There are miles of smiles that tell stories about changed lives, miles of oceans away. But it all started with:

One phone call
One request
One shoebox
One church
And one message about the Christmas Child
For one heart at a time
We pray that the heartbeat of the Gospel will stir the hearts of hundreds of millions more.

Come with us on this journey as we tell you about one profound truth that changes one life at a time.

Excerpted from Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts (B&H Publishing, 2013).



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

OCC - The Back Story



Matthew 19:14 (NKJV) - Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The concept of Operation Christmas Child began on October 10,1990, when Dave and Jill Cooke of Wrexham, Wales were watching a broadcast on Romanian orphanages. They asked the question: How can we help the real victims, the children, who live in these situations day after day? They knew they could not stop the wars, but they could offer something – the gift of love. Together, they filled a convoy of nine trucks with medical supplies, food, clothing and Christmas gifts for children, and headed into Romania, which had recently been devastated by war. This was the beginning of the world’s largest children’s Christmas program. In 1993, Franklin Graham, International President of Samaritan’s Purse, adopted Operation Christmas Child. Since then, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been delivered to hurting children in more than 135 countries.

Since we were introduced to this ministry, my wife and I have felt our hearts challenged to help reach out to children over the world who may never hear the good news about Jesus without someone taking it to them. Helping them to discover a loving God by receiving a gift from a loving Christian is a blessing that cannot be resisted. Over the years working with Montrose Christian School and the Child Development Center in Rockville, MD. we have been blessed to see many boxes collected and delivered. Moving to North Carolina we have been able to continue this work with Christ the Cornerstone Academy and New Hope Baptist Church in Laurinburg. Working as the Collection center for the area, my wife has been able to continue to to help reach the children.

If you haven't been a part - now is the time to get involved. Go to  http://operationchristmaschild.org and find out how to pack a shoebox and where to take it in your area.

Muse over the truth of Christ's great work, and how you could be a part of this great opportunity.



Monday, November 17, 2014

OCC - Shoeboxes of Joy



Matthew 19:14 (NKJV) - Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

This is National Collection week for Operation Christmas Child - a branch of Samaritan's Purse. The world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, Operation Christmas Child, uses gift-filled shoeboxes to share God’s love in a tangible way with needy children around the world. Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected and delivered more than 113 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in over 150 countries through Operation Christmas Child.

In 2014, Samaritan’s Purse hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 10 million children through the Operation Christmas Child project. Shoebox gifts are collected in the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. More than 500,000 volunteers worldwide, with more than 100,000 of those in the United States, are involved in collecting, shipping, and distributing shoebox gifts. Samaritan’s Purse will deliver the gifts to children in more than 100 countries on six continents. More than 2.8 million children have participated in The Greatest Journey, the 12-lesson discipleship program created by Samaritan’s Purse for children who receive Operation Christmas Child gift boxes. The Greatest Journey is one of the largest discipleship programs in the world, implemented through a global church network to help children know and follow Jesus Christ.

This week I will share about this wonderful outreach for the Kingdom reaching children with the good news of Jesus Christ. For many years my wife and I have taken an active part - from packing a shoebox to collecting to encouraging others to be a part. Reaching a young person can help to shape and change the world.

Today, spend some time praying for this collection week. Pray for those packing boxes, transporting boxes, and for those who will receive these boxes.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Prayertime



I praise you, O Lord, for your awesome and holy being. I thank you for the life you have given me. I appreciate the beautiful blessings you have provided in the earth around me and the simple, but important, things of life. Thank you for family--my birth family, my extended family, my family of the church. Please forgive me of taking them for granted sometimes, and help me to always show my appreciation and love to them. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for answering my prayers in the way that you know is best. Thank you for always being here for me. With all my love, in the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Prayertime



God, I have to make decisions every day of life. Some are big decisions; others are simple decisions. Please help me not to presume I know everything, but to come to you in faith. Show me who would be a good counselor to keep me accountable and help open my eyes when making weighty decisions. I pray that you will give me wisdom and direction...and spiritual discernment to know what is the right decision. God, thank you for being the great Counselor, for loving me, and for correcting the mistakes I sometimes make. Bless You, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.



Friday, November 14, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - Shield of Faith



Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation...."

Belt, breastplate, shoes - when do we get to the Sword? Have patience, it is coming. Right now, God is teaching us about the defensive provisions. Today we will muse over the Shield of Faith. Up to this point we have considered the provisions that we wear. The shield is different. Paul tells us that the shield is something we must take up, something we are required to raise. Just strapping it to our arm won't do any good at all if we don't make the effort to hold it aloft and use it.
The Roman shield—the scutum—was not the standard shield most picture in their minds upon hearing the word. It was instead a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss). The scutum was an impressive line of defense. Because of its sheer size (some were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide), soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies. Because of its slight curve, it was able to deflect attacks without transferring the full force of the assault to the man holding the shield. Because of its boss, it was able to deflect even the more vicious blows and function in a limited offensive capacity as a means of knocking an opponent backwards.

So, Paul calls this the Shield of Faith. If faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," then this has far-reaching implications. Substance is tangible, and evidence is solid proof. Faith is, by definition, not some hazy emotion without any grounding in reality. It is the irrefutable truth. It is real. The Shield of Faith is a real provision to deflect the enemy and protect us from harm. What are some things the shield does?

A shield guards. While a physical shield protects us physically, faith can protect our spiritual lives even in the middle of physical trials. A shield deflects. Satan is always hurling his fiery darts of fear, doubt and worry in our direction, but the only time they can hit us is when we let our shield of faith down—when we stop believing that God is in control; that He is working everything out for our good; that whatever happens is for the ultimate best of everyone involved, however little it seems to be that way. A shield is the first line of defense. While the rest of our armor helps protect us from Satan's onslaught. A shield can incapacitate. The boss (the metal knob in the middle) on the Roman shields allowed soldiers to give their enemies a stun-inducing shove that would allow them to follow through with an attack. Our faith in God can also give Satan a good shove backwards and give us a chance to fight back by doing God's will and work. Because God tells us that faith cannot just be in our minds, it must produce actions—works of obedience and service (James 2:20).

When the Roman army joined its shields together, it became an almost unstoppable force. And if we in God's Church join our shields—that is, strengthen each other with our faith, building up and serving within the Body as we are able—we will become an unstoppable force able to take on any challenge.

Today, consider if you are using your Shield? Are you joining with others to make a difference in the world today.






Thursday, November 13, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - Shoes of the Gospel of Peace



Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation...."

Shoes. How is this important. I would again start with the Sword, but God directs Paul to the Belt, the Breastplate, and now --- shoes. I wear shoes, but why are they important in this setting? Shoes allow us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.

The gospel of the Kingdom, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of peace—these are some of descriptions attached to the word gospel in the New Testament. Do all these different qualifiers mean that there are multiple gospels set forth in the Bible? No. The Greek word translated gospel—euaggelion—simply means "good news." This raises a question: The good news of what? The first description used in the Gospels also summarizes all the others: The gospel of the Kingdom. The good news of the Kingdom of God includes the good news about Jesus Christ the King, His grace (unmerited pardon) and His plan of salvation for all mankind. This plan gives us peace now, and will bring peace to the whole world! Believers are sent to announce the good news of God's Kingdom, which will spread His way of peace around the whole world. Having our shoes on, we are ready to move, to spread these glad tidings to others.

The sandals of the Roman soldier "often were fitted with nails, or armed with spikes, to make the hold firm in the ground" (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible). God's good news and our mission—our marching orders—to preach it serve as our firm foundation. When we truly allow ourselves to take comfort in the good news promised by God, there is nothing from outside ourselves that can trouble our hearts or give us reason to be afraid. Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33), and so we have nothing to fear from it.

Today, stop and muse over the shoes you have on. Not your physical - but your spiritual shoes. Do you know personally the good news of the peace of God? Have you become a born-again believer? With the proper preparation, we can spread the news to a lost and dying world. Check your shoes - and then get into the battle.




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - Breastplate of Righteousness


Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation...."

Yesterday we discussed the Belt of Truth that God provides for us in the Spiritual warfare that surrounds us. Today, Paul calls us to put on another vital piece of defensive equipment - the Breastplate of Righteousness.

The breastplate was a central part of the Roman soldier's armor—it provided protection for the torso, which contains vital organs like the heart, lungs and so on. Without a breastplate, a soldier would be asking for death, as any attack could instantly become fatal. With a sturdy breastplate, the very same attacks become ineffective and useless, as blows glance off the armor.

To be righteous is to do what is right in God's eyes. God's commandments are righteousness. In contrast, lawlessness is sin, and sin is the opposite of righteousness. So to be righteous is to obey God's laws of love. So now we know what the breastplate of righteousness is. Paul gives us the command to "take up the whole armor of God"—the obvious question is, "How?"

An in-depth concordance study of all the scriptures concerning righteousness (there are 301 in the New King James Version!) reveals that servants of God in the Bible who had righteousness all had it because they followed God's way. Though it may seem a sweeping statement, it is through a continuing and dedicated adherence to both the letter and spirit of God's law that we can defend ourselves with His righteousness. Once we have put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must be sure not to remove it. Ezekiel 33:13 shows that wearing righteousness is not a one-time event; rather, it requires a lifetime of action.

Today, let us ponder the  importance of keeping our Breastplate in place. What laws of God do you find yourself most likely to compromise? We can't expect the breastplate to stay securely fastened unless we remain true to His commands. Once you identify your weaker areas, resolve to keep from compromising in them. Pick one area and pay special attention to it. When you do compromise, what prompts this compromise? Is it because of certain conditions, environments, company, etc.? Use this information to decrease your chances of being tempted to compromise, starting today!



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions - Belt of Truth


Ephesians 6:14 - 17 (NKJV) - " Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation...."

Let us briefly look at each of the provisions that God has provided. Paul begins with the belt of truth. Why the belt? I might have chosen the mighty Sword to start, but there is logic behind what God discloses.

The belt—known as the cingulum or balteus—played a crucial role in the effectiveness of a soldier's armor. It was the belt that held the scabbard, without which there would be no place to put a sword. Imagine an overzealous soldier, fired up and charging out into battle—but without his belt, and consequently without a weapon! In addition, the Nelson Study Bible says from the belt "hung strips of leather to protect the lower body." The Matthew Henry Commentary says the belt "girds on [secures] all the other pieces of our armor." Truth should cleave to us as a belt cleaves to our body.

The world we live in teaches that truth is what we make it—that good and bad are relative and that there are no absolutes, only equally valid opinions. But the Bible teaches that truth is God's Word—that good and bad are defined by Him and that there are eternal and unchangeable absolutes, uninfluenced by opinions.

Today, ponder over this belt that God provides for us to put on. A belt encompasses the waist. Does our conviction to the truth encompass us? As the above scripture notes, truth must be bound around us and written on our hearts—our conviction must reach beyond an outward show.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Spiritual Warfare Provisions



Ephesians 6: 10 - 13 (NKJV) - "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

A number of years ago, Frank Peritti had a couple of books - This Present Darkness  and Piercing the Darkness - that was a fictional reminder of the Spiritual Warfare that is waging around us. Paul, in our verse today drives home the point that this warfare is real - and deadly. However, God does not leave us totally helpless in this fight. He has made provisions for us to be able to stand in the the day of evil. I don't know what you think, but I believe we are living in very evil times. It may be that we are in the end of the ages - approaching the Rapture of God's people and the doorstep into the Tribulation.

However, until that time comes, God wants us to be prepared to stand and fight the good fight of faith. And to help us to be the best we can be for Him, He provides what Paul calls the whole armor of God. Paul also refers to parts of this armor in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. In this passage to the saints gathered at Ephesus, he tells them that they need to put on (an action that we are called to do) the panoplia (whole or complete armor). This is both the defensive and offensive provision of God.

we are in a cosmic battle of the ages, not against men but the spiritual forces behind them. Paul describes them as principalities and powers (considered to be the highest hierarchy in the angelic realm), rulers of darkness of this age (kosmokratores - world-rulers) the evil powers directing behind the scenes the world powers, and the very spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly realm (a clear reference to demonic forces, the fallen angels of Scripture).

Paul wants us to be clothed in the armor or provision of Jesus Christ. He is the victor, and the only way that we can be victorious in this battle is by being clothed in His righteousness. The only way to enter into the foray is to have received the covering of Christ's Blood, to have received Him as your Savior and Lord.

Today, muse over the relationship that you have with Jesus. Can you remember a time that you realized you were separated from God, believed and trusted Christ to remove and forgive your sin, and you placed your trust in Him to be your Lord. If not, it is not to late to do that today.



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Prayertime


I praise You Lord, for Who You are; the Alpha, Omega, Beginning and the End, Savior and Lord, You're my best friend; Creator of all. Thank You for being my best friend forever. Thank You for being my heavenly Father, always present and always there for me. Thank You for being my sustainer and protector. And thank You for saving me and setting me upon the solid Rock--Jesus. In His name I pray. Amen.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday Prayertime


God, I come to you seeking your face, searching for answers so I can do something about the problems. There is so much turmoil in the world. There have been so many disasters, many beyond man's control. I pray that You will broaden the minds the people affected by each incident and open their eyes to see what you want them to learn. And I pray that they will respond in the right way. I know that you sometimes allow pressures in my life to bring attention to an issue you want me to take care of too. I pray today, that you as my Loving Father will make known anything that stands in the way of fellowship between you and I. I want to turn from any wrongdoing, and "step up to the plate" to do the right thing, no matter how great or how simple it may seem. I praise you for who you are, for all you do, and for the fellowship we share through prayer. In Jesus' name, Amen.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Financial Burnout Restoration



"He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.' For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place...." Mark 6:31-32 (HCSB)

As we are looking at the epidemic of burnout in today's clime, we have sought ways from Dr. Richard Swenson's book Margin on how we can restore balance in our lives. we have mused over Emotional, Physical, and Time restoration, and today we will ponder Financial restoration. Again, Dr. Swenson lists 16 prescriptions, we will consider a couple of them.

We need to be people who are moving counter to our culture - the one that teaches us to spend and get. We need to learn to live within our harvest, in other words - make do with what we have. This is not easy, nor popular today. Consider all the ads designed to make us feel that we need the latest whatever to live a happy life. we have to discipline our desires and redefine what we see as needs.

So, what can we do? First we must either/or increase our income or decrease our spending. If we can't increase our income, we must "bite the bullet" and decrease our spending. This causes us to make a budget - and then stick to it. I have OCD tendencies and when I set up something like this I become very structured to do it - it is a compulsion. As a TV character Monk used to say - "It is a blessing and a curse." Budget in savings, discard use of credit cards, resist the impulses when watching TV or shopping. Consider the usefulness of what you are seeking to spend money on.

Most importantly, put the Kingdom first. We need to give tithes and offerings to God through His church and other Kingdom related enterprises. Matthew 6:33, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount reminds us to "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you."

Today, ponder over the needs you have in the financial realm, and then consider how you can gain control over these. When our finances are in balance, we reduce the possibility of burnout or restore our personal balance in life.


* Material used this week is from Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Published by NavPress:Colorado Springs CO. 1992



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time Burnout Restoration



"He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.' For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place...." Mark 6:31-32 (HCSB)

As we are looking at the epidemic of burnout in today's clime, we have sought ways from Dr. Richard Swenson's book Margin on how we can restore balance in our lives. we have mused over Emotional and Physical restoration, and today we will ponder Time restoration.

In his book, Dr. Swenson lists 16 prescriptions for restoring balance to our lives. And, once again I will just touch on a couple of these. A few of these can be considered a "duh" if we are honest. To regain balance we need to learn to say "no." We need to prune our time from trying to accomplish all things to setting true priorities - and then seeking to achieve these. It may mean we need to turn off the mind vacuum (television), it may mean we need to seek more simplicity, we need to expect the unexpected.

We often seek to attempt to much only to feel frustrated and a failure in our attempts. We need to develop a plan to not only do the right things, but to do the right things right. Don't compare yourself to someone else - Paul makes a good point about this in 2 Corinthians 10:12, where he states "For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding." Do what you are capable of doing.

Finally, if you are a Type A personality [like me], train yourself to create buffer zones and free time in your life. Learn to smile, listen to others as they speak, stand in the longer line, and generally force yourself to make room for slowing down. Be sure to use this time to ponder and thank God. One thing I am learning is to relish the journey as well as the destination. Am I there - no. Am I still working on it - yes.

Today, muse over the points given for emotional, physical, and time restoration in your life. Attempt to develop one new habit. It will be hard, but in the long run being restored from burnout will be one of the greatest releases and refreshments you will ever know.




* Material used this week is from Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Published by NavPress:Colorado Springs CO. 1992



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Physical Burnout Restoration


"He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.' For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place...." Mark 6:31-32 (HCSB)

As we are meditating over the need for restoration in a burned out life, we looked at emotional restoration. Today, Dr. Swenson encourages us in physical restoration. In his book, Margins, he lists 29 prescriptions that can help to relieve the stress and burn from our daily lives. Again, I will share just a couple. I encourage you to seek out a copy of this book to see all the ways that a person can be restored in burnout.

This is a hard one for most folks. In this area, we must take personal responsibility and learn to change our habits. We must value the importance of sleep and develop healthy sleeping patterns. A good way to help induce a good night's sleep is to add exercise to your daily regimen. 

To help restore physical balance we need to seek to fix our nutritional part of life. I have personally learned to watch and develop a healthier eating lifestyle. Decrease the amount of sugars, avoid overeating, and seek a balanced diet. This means a definite change in eating styles. A number of great websites are available to help you determine the proper percentages and sizes of meals. Your doctor will be more than glad to help you develop a healthy eating regimen. [I know, this is meddlin', but I have learned and have changed into a healthy eating lifestyle - it works].

Another balance is exercise. This helps with your general health and also with weight loss. Check with your doctor and develop a healthy exercise program. One of the very best is walking - just 10 minutes a couple of times a day can make a major difference in how you feel and look. In all these areas, be realistic - it took a long tome to get where you are, and it will take some time to see the difference in your life.

Muse over what changes you (or your friend) can make in these areas of emotional and physical margins to begin the restoration process from burnout. And, don't just think about them - apply what God is leading you to do.

* Material used this week is from Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Published by NavPress:Colorado Springs CO. 1992




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Emotional Burnout Restoration




"He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.' For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place...." Mark 6:31-32 (HCSB)

A good book dealing with restoring ourselves from burnout is by Richard Swenson. MD. called Margin.* He teaches that we need to find the space between our load and our limits. We need to put ourselves in God's hands and find out the space He desires for us to rest in Him. Today, let us muse over our emotional restoration.

In his book, Dr. Swenson lists 14 prescriptions, as he calls them, to take to restore this balance in life. I will mention a few, and I encourage you to seek out this book and read it if you are struggling with burnout in your personal life.

The first I would state is that we need friends. We need those whom we can go to for support. Sometimes this may mean that we need to reconcile with others. Having someone to connect with, talk with, seek encouragement from can help us through a troubling time.

We also need to follow Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 13:13 - "Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." We need to be rich in faith - "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 HCSB). We also need to hold fast to our hope - read what Paul says in Romans 5: 2-5 today. And, finally we need to grasp the truth of love. Love heals completely and as Paul admonished us in 1 COrinthians 13:13 above - "the greatest of these is love."

Muse over the truths developed in this short time today. How can you apply them to yourself? How can you help someone around you with these truths? 

* Material used this week is from Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Published by NavPress:Colorado Springs CO. 1992 



Monday, November 3, 2014

An Epidemic of Burnout




"He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.' For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place...." Mark 6:31-32 (HCSB)

Because of our culture's "pursuit of excellence," we have developed an epidemic of people who are burned out. Burnout is a stressful state characterized by physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, chronic fatigue and lethargy.* In 2007 nearly 54% of Americans fought with people close to them because of stress. 

Burnout is often felt by clergy, doctors, police, and others who work with people in the helping professions. People can put excessive demands upon those who are seeking to help - demands on their time, energy and resources. I have talked with caregivers who also are displaying symptoms of burnout. 

People in burnout can feel cynical and have a strong desire to escape from life. They can experience a false sense of failure, succumb to depression, and endure illnesses brought on by this stress. They can become hypercritical and experience negative feelings toward others.

Some steps that can be taken are: take control of your own schedule, learn to say "no," understand that God will never lead us into overwork, consciously slow down, and learn to set priorities in your life.

Ponder today, do you or someone you know exhibit some of the classic signs of burnout? Over the next couple of days we will talk about developing margins in our lives to help us restore the proper balance that God desires. Muse over your own situation, and pray that God will help you begin to balance out what He wants in your life. Meditate upon what Augustine of Hippo is quoted as saying -"You [God] have created us for Yourself, and our heart cannot be stilled until it finds it rest in You."



* From The Quick Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling by Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins. 2009. Baker Books:Grand Rapids, MI. page 54.




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