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Join Dr. Stanley on an exciting adventure cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska. Sail aboard the luxurious MS Zaandam of Holland America Line for seven days, enjoying top-notch gospel music, Bible study, and entertainment as you take in the beauty that is Alaska. Experience awe-inspiring views of fjords and glaciers while relaxing in an atmosphere of worship, praise, and fellowship with Dr. Stanley and his guests.

Rese Rve youR spot t o da y !


visit www.templetontours.com, or call 800-334-2630 for more information. This photo taken from the Oregon coast reminds me that there are times when the path God gives you and me to travel will seem rocky and fraught with danger. You wont know where the Enemy is hiding or from which direction the trouble will emerge. In those times, you need to remember that your help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will [not] slumber . . . The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul (Ps. 121:23, 7).

on the cover

features
by c h a r l e s

M A R C H

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When We are persecuted


f.

s ta n l e y

if you knew thered be a good result from bad circumstances, would that make them easier to endure?

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the poWer of one


K a y m a r s h a l l

s t r o m

You can change the worldjust keep an eye open to the needs around you and an ear open for Gods call.

make God your top priority this month with the help of these devotions from Dr. stanleys sermons.

early light

32
26 family room
Another Kind of Grief
b y c y n t h i a Z a h m s i e g f r i e d

18 solving problems
b y n i c o l e

departments
Coming Up for Air
b r a d d o c K b r o m l e y

childhood sexual abuse is damaging, isolating, and far too common, yet it need not choke the life out of those afflicted by it.

mourningits a painful journey that often starts before terminal illness claims a loved one.

22 by faith
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28 strong in spirit
b y d e b o r a h

Taking the Pink Slip


s h e r r i

Coming to the End of Yourself


b a t e

l a n g t o n

How far would you go to help a friend who was losing his job?

as much as we like feeling self-sufficient, our helplessness lets God demonstrate His power on our behalf.

IN TOUCH MINISTRIES INC., P.O. Box 7900, Atlanta, GA 30357 IN TOUCH MINISTRIES OF CANADA, Box 4900, Markham, Ontario L3R 6G9 NEW ZEALAND OFFICE, Box 33-1260 Takapuna, Auckland 1332 0-800-446868 www.intouch.org All prices are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. E-mail magazine-related comments to magazine@intouch.org. For Customer Care, call 800-789-1473 MondayFriday, 8 a.m. 8 p.m. (et). For Canadian telephone orders, call 800-323-3747. To discontinue receiving this magazine, or to report receiving multiple issues, call 800-789-1473, or e-mail customercare@intouch.org. Please include your name and address.
In Touch magazine, MARCH 2010, Vol. 33 No. 3. 2010; all rights reserved. No unsolicited manuscripts accepted. Printed in the USA.
In Touch magazine is neither responsible nor liable for any part of the production or distribution of international editions, whether translated or in English, unless the edition has been licensed and authorized by the governing staff of the domestic In Touch magazine. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise notated or quoted from a secondary source, are from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update. Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1994. Quotations marked NIV are from the New International Version, International Bible Society 1973, 1978, 1984.

Step Into the Story

A Publication of

to the Glory of God

Dr. Charles F. Stanley


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irst Baptist Church of Atlanta invites you to become an eyewitness to Jesus lifefrom the miracles He performed to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. For more information and to order tickets, call 770-234-8400 or visit www.atlantapassionplay.org.

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Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus died in my place, paying the sin-debt I owed, and then rose from the dead. I receive Him as my personal Savior and surrender control of my life to You. Please show me how to live for You, walk with You, and know You better each day. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
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a word from Charles F. Stanley

Humility

>> The Right Attitude

Peter had to lay down his personal desires and selfishness.

How would you respond if someone accused you of something you didnt do? What if you were fired from your job or shunned by your church for actions you never committed? Or perhaps simply misjudged by your peers? What attitude should Christians take when confronted with situations like these? The apostle Paul knew a lot about being misunderstood. He writes, Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Jesus chose to become a suffering servant so that we could have eternal life. This was Gods plan for Him. However, Peter could not understand the Messiahs selfless behavior, so he fought against it. He protested, God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happened to You! (Matt. 16:22). The fishermans pride stood in the way of his understanding and led him to a very different response than Christ desired. Get behind Me, Satan! was Jesus immediate responseone that struck at the core of Peters problem. Gods truth always hits the mark. Peters pride and desire to see Jesus become a reigning earthly king had surfaced, and the Lord knew He had to address the issue head-on. You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on Gods interests, but mans (v. 23). Do you have the right attitude when it comes to following Christ? Peter had to lay down his personal desires and selfishness. Paul had to surrender his way and forego his claim to a respectable position in society. Humility in the life of the believer is the mark of greatnessnot because you shine when you are humbled, but because when you submit to Gods will, He shines through you. Perhaps you are faced with a difficult situation but dont understand why God has chosen that avenue for you. Allow Him to use this time in your life to teach you how to be humble. Peter did just this. And he discovered that once humility accomplishes its perfect work, God will exalt us at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6). Blessing follows the obedience of a humbled heart.

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our response makes all the difference


C H A R L E S F . S T A N L E y

We all want to be respected, accepted, and loved. No one really enjoys conflict, especially when it involves being personally and unfairly attacked. But our reality is that we live in a world with two opposing forces good and evilso conflict shouldnt come as a surprise to us. The apostle Paul was speaking from experience when he wrote to Timothy, a younger pastor he was mentoring, that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus plainly told His disciples, If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:20). Often, its when were trying to obey Gods leading that we face persecution at work or schoolfrom bosses, teachers, neighbors, peers, or even fellow church members. At times the source of the attack can catch us off guard: someone we thought was our dear friend may suddenly turn around and become our enemy. How would God have us respond to something so painful? Ive met people who have truly been persecuted for righteousness sake in a way that awes and inspires me. Over the years, God has taught me how to deal with this kind of thing. Every pastor has to at some point. A year after I came to Atlanta as an associate pastor for First Baptist, the head pastor resigned under enormous pressure from a group that wanted him to leave. I watched this happen and soon realized they wanted to do the same thing to me. They claimed I didnt have the experience or skill to administrate this fellowshipand my preaching was getting under their skin. They wanted a social club, not a church. The group wanted me gone, so they accused me of everything imaginable and tried to win anyone they could to their side. They would take people on the committee to dinner and lobby against methey convinced 21 of the 40 to vote me out. People who once had told me they loved me stopped speaking to me. My heart broke. Day after day, Id get on my knees in my prayer room and tell the Lord how

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desperately I needed Him. I knew He had called me to be at this church, but I felt as if I was in a losing battle. I would say, God, from what I see, theres just no way for me to be the pastor of this church. But in the midst of the conflictthrough my hurt and confusionHe showed me how He wanted me to respond to the persecution. I learned five things that changed everything. 1. View whatever comes your way as something God is going to use for his greater purposes (Rom. 8:28). This keeps you from becoming bitter, hostile, or vengeful. When the Lord allows people to touch your life, see them as an instrumenteven if they cause you great painbecause He has something bigger in mind thats completely different from their intent toward you. They are not in control; God is in control. I remember Him saying clearly, I am engineering all your circumstances for My glory and your good. Youre going to have to trust Me. Dont try to figure it out. Dont fight. Dont defend yourself. Just trust Me. Those words mean so much to me even now, because no matter what Ive faced since then, He has always been the same trustworthy, loving Father. Things got very difficult during that time of conflict. At one point, during a churchbusiness meeting, a man who was part of the core opposition group came up to give a speech about the damage I was doing to First Baptist Atlanta. When he was through, he hauled off and backhanded me in the jaw. A dear lady sitting there bolted from her seat and said, How dare you hit my pastor! Amazingly, it didnt even faze me because I had just read Isaiah 54:17: No weapon that is formed against you will prosper. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened, because it revealed how out of control the people who hated me were. While there was more opposition to deal with later, that particular group was gone just ten days later.
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march 2010 In Touch

2. Keep your focus on the Lord, no matter what. If you dont, youre going to react. When you stay focused on God, the things Satan uses to paralyze you will lose their power to distract. You will no longer listen to the accusing or false voices around you. In Isaiah 41:10, God reassures us: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you. Satan amplifies everything that looks like opposition. He wants you to think the situation is worse than it is. Thats why God wants you to focus your mind and heart on Him. Every Sunday when Id come to church, I knew there were about 300 people who wanted to get rid of me. One morning, someone filled the entire sanctuary with leaflets speaking against me. So Id go straight into the prayer room, get on my face, cry out to God, and set my focus on Him. As strange as it sounds, when I would walk back out into the sanctuary, I felt as if everybody just loved me. All the animosity was blotted out by the Fathers love; no matter what my attackers in that group said or did, I felt no resentment or fear. The Lord completely covered me. One Sunday, I came to the morning service with no sermon. Id planned out the message for the evening service, but when I began an outline for this one, I sensed God telling me to throw it in the trash and just focus on Him. So there I was with absolutely nothing prepared, and all my enemies were sitting there waiting for me to trip up. I opened my Bible and it fell open to Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. I stepped back and for 40 minutes the words poured out of me like a torrential stream. It was as if the Holy Spirit just took over. When I gave the invitation at the end, there were people leaving and others coming down the aisle to get saved or join the church. Later, my opposition accused me of dropping an atomic bomb

The Lord is the One who your job is to


with my sermon. All I could think was, Blame God! That sermon He gave me galvanized the people who supported me. If I hadnt set my mind on the Lord week after week back in the prayer room, that would not have happened. I could not have done it; I would have been scared to death to walk out there with no sermon. 3. completely rely upon Gods strength. Conflict, persecution, and spiritual warfare can drain your physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. You wake up thinking about the situation. You go to bed thinking about it. Your enemies know you have weaknesses, so theyre looking for the first little sign of fear. And when they see it, theyll come after you like a herd of stampeding cattle. You may be perfectly right in what youre standing for. But extreme pressure can cause you to doubt the Lords strength in your life. Thats when the Enemy starts to harass you by saying, Hes not going to protect you. Youre on your own! You have to resist that kind of thinking and throw yourself on the strength of God. At this point in my life, I felt I didnt have anybody but the Lord. I didnt know who my friends were because they seemed to change every week. But God taught me that I was absolutely, helplessly dependent upon Him, and there wasnt anything I could do but rely on His strength.

fights the battle; stand firm.


In Psalm 28:7, King David acknowledges the Lord as the only source of his strength and the only defense needed in the face of vicious attack. Again, in Psalm 61:2-4, this battle-hardened warrior eloquently expresses complete dependence: From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. 4. Recognize that youre fighting a spiritual battle. Its important for you to understand the nature of the battle youre in. Take inventory and ask yourself these questions: Does this battle have any effect upon the work of God? Am I in the place where the Lord wants me, doing the job He wants me to do? Is my stand scriptural, and am I actually doing something God has called me to? Or is my main objective based more on my personal opinion or preference? Whats at stake if I

leave the fight or stay in itif I win or lose? How will others be affected by my response to this persecution? . . . by its ultimate outcome? Am I going to be glorified in thisor will all glory go to God? Sometimes winning doesnt mean running somebody else out. Rather, its being able to endure and keep moving without defending yourself, blasting someone else, or seeking vengeance. Oftentimes, winning is just standing firm (even silently when necessary) so that Gods witness is strengthened. Paul told fellow believers, Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:10-12). He didnt say, Launch an attack on your enemies!; he said Stand firm. The Lord is the One who fights the battle; your job is to stand firm. Of course, you should be careful not to manipulate circumstances. But if youre truly in the place where God has called you, then dont give upno matter what. Before we had radar and other communications technology, sailors had little or no warning as to when a storm was coming. But when severe weather came upon them, they would tie themselves to the mast of the ship so the waves that engulfed the deck wouldnt wash them overboard. This is a perfect example of what God wants us to do in the midst of a spiritual battle. When were attached firmly to Him, determined to be unmoved until the storm subsides, we develop such oneness with

Him that He has complete freedom to act as He pleases. We dont have to be afraid. Instead, we rely on the Lord, believing that Hes actually up to something fantastic. And remember, we dont have to fight by ourselves. God says, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5 nkjv). 5. Expect to be victorious. We can expect to win every battle God allows in our livesbecause of His ultimate sovereignty, not because of our strength, our wisdom, or our experience. Since our heavenly Father is sovereign, He has everything in perfect control. If you choose to believe that youre a victim of people and circumstances, you are really saying that they have more control over your life than God does. But if youre walking obediently with the Lord, whatever He allows will eventually be for your good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). When Paul wrote, We are more than conquerors, he was implying that when we come out of the battle, we have more than we did going in (Rom. 8:37). We now have a greater understanding of God, His grace, and His ways, knowing that nothing can change His omnipotence, His absolute wisdom, or His love (vv. 26-39). When you reach that conclusion and truly believe it, you become fully free. If you believe Hes sovereign and have committed yourself to Him, what is there to worry about? Nothing can touch us except what He allows. Thats why we can expect to win, even if a worldly perspective assumes were defeated. The world says to manipulate circumstances or run away. But our responsibility is simply to obey and trust our wonderful, loving, sovereign Father to take care of us.

See the big picture. In this four-part series, Dr. Stanley explains how a deep relationship with Christ helps us see the big picture and our place in it. In Step with God u4-CD Set |$14 U.S.
u4-DVD Set | $30 U.S.

See order form or visit www.intouch.org.

a
15-minute Bible study

the law

>> The Tutor That Leads Us to Christ


ExODUS 20:1-17

As believers in Christ, we have a rich Judeo-Christian heritage which includes the law, Gods standard of right and wrong. Throughout history, many have pursued righteousness by trying to obey the commandments, but none have succeeded. If we examine the law, we can discover why salvation is by faith, not by works. God and the Law: uGiven by God (Ex. 31:18; 32:15-16) uWas a conditional covenant between God and the people of Israel (Ex. 19:3-8) uRevealed the character and will of God (Ps. 19:7-11)

Salvation is by faith, not by works.

Effects of the Law: uReveals and arouses sin (Rom. 7:7-14) uDeclares all men guilty before God (Rom. 3:10-20) uPlaces those who do not obey under Questions for reflection a curse (Gal. 3:10) 1. after studying the standard of Gods uJustifies no one (Gal. 2:16) law, what words would you use to christ and the Law: describe the father? What can you uCame to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17-20) learn about christs character, based on uExplained and expanded the requireall that He has done to bridge the chasm ments of the law (Matt. 5:21-48) between you and God? uObeyed the law perfectly and never 2. Have you been trying to be good sinned (Heb. 4:14-15; 2 Cor. 5:21) enough for God instead of living in the uBore its curse in our place (Gal. 3:11-14) goodness of christ through the power uRedeemed those under the law and of the spirit? made them sons and heirs (Gal. 4:1-7) 3. How can you live in the grace of christ without turning your freedom into an Believers and the Law: opportunity for the flesh (Gal. 5:13)? uLed to Christ by the law, which is a tutor (Gal. 3:22-29) uNo longer under the old covenant, which has been replaced by a new covenant in Christs blood (Matt. 26:27-28; Heb. 9:11-15) uHave died to the law and live for Christ (Gal. 2:19-21) uJustified by faith in Christ (Rom. 3:21-31) uNo longer under its condemnation (Rom. 8:1-4) uUnder grace, not law (Rom. 6:14-16) uNot to return to living under the law (Gal. 5:1-18)
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power
of

Dr. B. E. Vijayam proves that a single person can have a great impact on poverty.

One
the

The little boy peered over the edge

of his familys rough-hewn cart as a bull labored to pull it across the vast south Indian countryside from one remote village to another. The sight was the same as the day before, and the day before that: starving village people, beggars staggering along the road, and bonded servants oppressed and always hungrycarrying crushing loads or toiling endless hours in the fields under harsh taskmasters.

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Why does God make so many poor people? Vijayam asked his evangelist father, once the bishop of the church in South India. No answer could satisfy the child. Surrounded by poverty, injustice, and the devastating consequences of caste discrimination, Vijayam continually felt the question burning in his heart as he grew up. When he was a teenager, the problem of injustice tormented him so intensely that Vijayam turned away from God and embraced atheism. So when Marxist leaders marched into Indian schools, railing against the government for its failure to help the poorand against the church for piously focusing on religion and politics while people starvedVijayam defied his family and joined the Communist Party. Still, his father insisted that was no excuse for him to skip daily family devotions. And Vijayam complied, figuring that any opportunity to argue and point out weaknesses in Christian beliefs was worth the trouble. But one evening, Vijayams father read

Colossians 2:13-14: When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Then he looked straight at his youngest child with the hardened heart and said, You cannot realize you are a sinner. But Jesus took away the consequence of your sins when He nailed the certificate of death on the cross. Suddenly it all became shockingly clear to Vijayam. Communism was his way of trying to change society without giving up his own sin. His answer to the deep poverty in India was to liquidate the oppressors. But that would never work, for he could never change other people. The result would simply be other oppressors replacing the ruthless landlords. Only Jesus Christ could change hearts. Only Jesus could bring about a new order based on justice and human equality. Its one thing to have a heart for the poor; its another matter to actually do something of substance. So many people exist in desperate circumstances. The poor

saving for life


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From author kay Marshall Strom: I sit on the concrete floor of the Womens Bank in a small Indian village, its board members clustered around me. Two years ago, their low-caste community was impoverished. Now theyre running a bank, a newly opened school, and a profitable dairy with a herd of 20 cows. This is just one of the many successes of MERIBA, the self-help organization started by Dr. Vijayam. We had to save one rupee every week, one woman explains. At first we said, Save money? What does that even mean? In a village where a days pay scarcely buys enough rice to feed a family, a concept like saving isnt an easy sell. But we wanted a better life for our children, the woman says. So every day we ate less. We were always hungry, but by the end of the week we had our rupees to save. A woman in a bright blue sari pointed to the woman beside her. Devi learned to read. Then the landlord could not cheat us anymore. With a loan from MERIBA, the women bought their first two dairy cows. We took turns gathering grass from the side of the road to feed them,
In Touch

march 2010

are everywhere. Throngs of abandoned children; village after village of impoverished families; masses of destitute men and women so hopeless that death seems their only escape. What difference can one person possibly make? A meal may calm a few hunger pangs, but for how many? And for how long? Vijayam finished school at the top of his district, and three of his older brothers took on extra work to send him to college. Eventually, he earned a Ph.D. in technical geology, became a Fulbright scholar, and received Indias highest science accolades. After significant fieldwork, he settled into an illustrious career as a university professor. Vijayam was now an activist scientist with the heart of an evangelist, and his childhood question had changed: What can I do to help the masses of the poor? Dr. Vijayam came to firmly believe that what he had been giventechnology could be offered as their bridge of hope. At his prodding, other Indian scientists also ventured outside the protected halls of academia to help him bring technology to the disadvantaged and oppressed. The results have been stunning. There is now clean water for villages where such a luxury was never before imagined. Agricultural innovation has brought new enterprise opportunities for the poorest of the poor, such as grafted mango trees that grow no higher than a womans reach but bear four times the normal yield of fruit. Animals specially adapted for local dairy farming have been made available.

And micro-enterprise programs specifically geared to people with no access to land have turned life around for many families. Through self-help groups, Dr. Vijayam and his wife Mary introduced a savings programa new concept to people used to living from one handful of rice to the next. They also offered literacy classes to empower those whose parents could not afford to send them to school when they were young. And they exhorted villagers to unite and peaceably demand that their lawful rights be respected. For countless people, this meant a way out of the spiral of despair. It meant hope for a future. It is wonderful to help the poor, Dr. Vijayams aged father said to him. But I must ask you: What are you doing for evangelism? On September 30, 1993the great high day of the Hindu festival of Ganeshidols of the elephant-headed god of wisdom and prosperity were paraded through the streets, then down to the Ganges River and on into the holy waters. The celebration lasted into the night, at which time the festivities were accompanied by an endless crackle of firecrackers. Suddenly, a major earthquake tore through the district least prone to tremors, and in less than a minutes time, thirty thousand people were dead. Followers of Ganesh were beside themselves with horror. It was widespread famine that had driven them to seek the favor of the god in the first placedesperation for a new beginning, a frantic search for good fortune. Over the next few months, 18 more

another woman explains. The children of the village grew healthy on the milk. What was left, they sold. The profit? We used it to start this bank, so we could make loans to other women like us. We charged only a small interest, but everyone paid the money back, so we made more money. Thats how we could start the school. I ask, How will your childrens lives be different because of what you have done? People tell us we are untouchable, worthless, said Devi. They look at us and they see no one. But our childrenpeople look at them and see real people. Our children have a future.
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into the hardest corners . . .

culture, and language, then 40 percent of them are located in that one country alone! With his fathers words in his heart, Dr. Vijayam started a school for Indian evangelists, uniquely adapted to take the gospel to the unreached corners of India. During an intensive year-long program, men and women are trained in theology and armed with Indian methods of communication, such as music and drama. In a poor country like India, ministers must support themselves. This arrangement not only allows them to be self-sufficient, but also facilitates teaching others by example. It was a perfect opportunity for Dr. Vijayam to harness scientific technology for Gods kingdom. Today, each graduated evangelistcalled a Master Traineris equipped with a technology-enabled job. More from kay Marshall Strom: First came a little boys question: Amit set out toward home with every Why did God make so many poor intention of breaking the law. people? Then a young mans convicIn Orissahis home state in Indiaan antition: What can I do to help the masses conversion law makes it illegal to influence of the poor? And finally, a fathers another person to change religions. But there challenge: What are you doing for are dark places there, he says. Someone evangelism? The result is a swath of must tell the desperate people in the villages Vijayams country forever changed, and there is hope in Jesus Christ and that they do a movement that is altering its future. not need to live in terror of evil spirits. And what of the questions that press Fear and terror are ways of life in that on our hearts, yours and mine? What forbidding area, a fact Amit knows only too of the challenges we encounter in our well. Where I live, the church was bombed, and the houses of all the Christians were own worlds? If one man can accomburned, he says. Christians ran to the plish so much in such a challenging mountains to hide. It is very difficult to give place and circumstance, imagine what the gospel to people who live in terror. each of us can do in the privileged Amit has been hit with rocks, and his life positions where God has placed us. has been threatened. But the people are desperate, and they are hungry, and in entire Be challenged by this moving account of how villages, not one person can read or write. I Dr. Vijayams burden for am going to them with a technology that will the poor made a huge help them grow crops so they can support impact for the kingdom their families. It will help their lives and earn of God. me the right to show them spiritual answers. In the Presence of the Poor uSoftcover | $12 (U.S.) Amit set out with every intention of obeying the call in his life: The gospel will be preached in the whole world . . .

earthquakes hit in unexpected places around the world. Right at that time, Dr. Vijayams Bible reading led him to Luke 21:11: And there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines. It was happening before his eyes. Then in Matthew 24:14 he read, This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Preached to all nations? Of the worlds almost 12,000 people groups, close to 5,000 are in India. If nations are based on race,

building wisely

t
B y

using a charitable lead trust


GE ORGE M . H ILLER ,

>> Benefitting Ministry and Family


JD, LLM, MBA, CFP

charitable lead trusts (clts) can ultimately reduce the amount of taxes due on an estate.

Tom has a large estate subject to considerable taxes at his death. When he requested advice on how to leave less to the government and more to ministry and family, his attorney recommended establishing a Charitable Lead Trust (CLT). This type of trust would allow Tom to continue charitable giving and also benefit his family in a way that reduced estate taxes. A Charitable Lead Trust is typically established to last for a certain term, such as ten years. During this term, yearly payments are made to designated charities. At the end of the time period, the CLT is terminated and any remaining trust assets are passed to family members. This planned gift can reduce estate taxes at death and can also lower the amount of gift taxes on property transferred to children or other family members. Tom established a CLT and funded it with $600,000. The CLT provided that $42,000 per year would be paid to a charity of his choice for ten years. At the end of that period, the trust would terminate and any remaining trust property would be distributed to his children. Because they do not receive their gift until after the ten years, the tax law allows for the value of the gift to be discounted. Tom thinks that the trust investments can be managed to earn seven percent over the life of the CLT, thus maintaining the principal and allowing payments to charity to be covered by investment gains and income. The plan is that his specified charities will receive $42,000 yearly for one decade and then his children will receive about $600,000 or more at the end. The In Touch Foundation transfer tax on the value of the gift to Toms children foundation@intouch.org will be based on the present value of the remainder or call 800-967-2200 interest (less than $250,000) instead of on the projected $600,000 or more that the children hope to receive in ten years. This ultimately reduces the amount of taxes due on the estate. Tom has exercised wise financial stewardship in supporting Gods work and providing for his family through a CLT. If you would like to know more about a CLT or other planned gift opportunities, please contact In Touch Foundation at 800-967-2200.
This article is not intended to provide specific legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should seek the advice of qualified professionals in planning for your familys future.

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Learning to thrive after childhood sexual abuse B y N I C O L E B R A D D O C k

B R O M L E y

Think of your deepest, darkest secret. The one that makes your palms sweaty and stomach churn when you imagine admitting it in public. The one you intend to carry to your grave, if it doesnt kill you first. Too many of you are thinking of childhood sexual abuse. The statistics are horrifying. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one out of every three women and one out of every six men have been sexually violated, and America is home to an estimated 39 million survivors. Childhood sexual abuse shatters many areas of a victims life. But for most survivors, the more obvious results of injury dont even compare to the relational damage that can last far into adulthood. Whether it was a one-time exploitation or long-term trauma, the effects impact relationships for a lifetime.

trapped in silence Healthy bonds with other people are what get us to a

deeper level of healing. But as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I understand the fears and anxieties that come with trying to build close friendships. My stepfather molested me for nearly a decade until, at age 14, I finally found the courage to tell my mom. Unlike many survivors Ive met, I was fortunate to have a mother who believed me and did everything she could to protect me and seek justice. But a week after I broke the silence, my stepfather committed suicide. In one sense, I was free; I would no longer face his debasement. I could bury the past right along with him. But the wounds he left on me didnt heal; they just festered quietly. On the outside, I looked like the perfect girl who had it all together: straight-A student, star athlete, homecoming queen. Yet on the inside, I was dying. I felt dirty, damaged, and alone, and was afraid of what people would think of me if they knew the truth. I deeply feared close relationships and struggled to trust anyoneespecially men. I now know I was not alone in this struggle. So many storiesall unique and yet painfully similarattest to this fact: u Molested by his uncle, Parker never felt he could talk about what happened or how it affected him. Although he desperately wanted his parents to notice what was happening and help him survive, he bottled up all his anger toward his abuser, himself, and his mom and dad. Isolated by pain and loathing, he vowed never to trust or love againor get close enough for anyone to love him. u Stacy was abused by a cousin and eventually went to her grandmother for help. But the woman didnt want to ruin the family name and demanded that she never mention it again. So Stacy grew up believing the lie that what her cousin did was her fault, and that she was worthless, undeserving of love, and good only for sex. Based on those misbeliefs, she fell into a cycle of one promiscuous relationship after another. u Jennifers school principal chose not to believe her when she reported
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being raped by the gym teacher, a highly successful and influential coach in the community. So Jennifer grew up believing that she wasnt important enough to be listened to or protected. As a result, she isolated herself from others and tried to drown her pain in alcohol and drugs. I can relate to these stories because I was also there for a season of my life. It wasnt that I isolated myself outwardly. In fact, I

God wants us to lean on each other as we seek

need to connect with the people who can support us, we withdraw, clam up, and try to go it alone. Safe and healthy friendships are the very breath of life that can help us survive hardship; in isolating ourselves, we take a step backward from the path to recovery. In my own experience, sexual abuse had the greatest impact on my relationships with my parents, friends, mentors, spouse, church, and God. At the same time, it was these connections that, when I was open to them, helped me vanquish the past. I call the compassionate people in a survivors life a circle of inspiration.

was quite the social butterfly. But inwardly, I wasnt willing to let others know me too deeply and would never soften my heart enough to have an emotional relationship of any kind. I was a tough girl who would never let herself cry or be vulnerable. After all, I couldnt give anyone an open door to bring more pain or betrayal into my life. I thought that if I could wall off my heart from others, no one could get close enough to hurt me. Putting on a mask of toughness, perfectionism, and people-pleasing compulsion seemed to be the only way to conquer my fears and stay safe. But in the end, I found that this approach only fueled my fears and prevented me from finding the life of freedom and the healthy relationships I longed for.

e a i n g. h l

out of hiding Trust and open, honest communication are the basis of all healthy relationships. But when life gets difficult, survivors of childhood sexual abuse often stop communicating. Just when we most
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Because they care, they inspire us, breathing new life into us by encouraging us to let go of dysfunctional coping mechanisms and embrace new ones. By surrounding us, they create a protected space where we can become all that God intended for us to be. We desperately need such a circle. Its our habitat for healinga place of mutual speaking and listening, learning and teaching, supporting and being supported, giving and receiving unconditional love. Its where we can share our story, build intimacy, and learn healthy communication. We cant do this alone. God wants us to lean on each other as we seek healing. We need each other. We need community. We need friends with whom we can talk about our day-to-day struggles. Yes, its frightening to think of laying out all of our junk and our burdens for others to see, but well never find true freedom if we keep all that inside and try to deal with it on our own. To break free, we must be willing to

pursue authenticity. We have to remove our masks, come out of hiding, disentangle ourselves from the addictions we may have used to replace relationships, and learn how to tell others the truth about what weve been through.

learning to breathe It will take a lot of fortitude to begin seeking your own circle of inspiration. Abused children are told time and again to hide their greatest pain. Even if you are an adult survivor, your mind may still be telling you to hush. I understand that. But I also understand some other things that can help you overcome your fear. First, consider that courage isnt the absence of fear; its the willingness to act in the face of fear. Its what enables you to tell your story despite your fear. Second, consider how telling your story to someone you trust can aid in rebuilding your life and establishing healthy connections with others. Doing so will help you: uValidate your feelings and experience. uUnderstand your innocence and your abusers guilt. uRealize youre not alone. uOpen up to others so they can comfort and encourage you. uExperience healthy emotions and honest relationships. uRestore your trust. uAffirm your self-worth. uBecome a source of comfort and encouragement for others.
A survivor named Elissa wrote, Ive been blown away by how telling my story brings people closer together. As much as I trusted the women in my Bible study group, I was terrified to tell them my story. At the same time, there was a nagging in my mind that just wouldnt leave me alone. It kept bugging me to tell the secrets rotting deep inside my heart for 37 years. I thought that revealing these terrible truths

would destroy me, but God had other plans. Once I told those trusted friends my story, something miraculous happened: others started telling their stories. Speaking out is the first step toward coming to terms with the pastand toward breaking its power over your life. The fact that your suffering was kept in the dark in the first place was part of the wrong done to you. Find someone you trust who will listen. If you need to, write your story down first and read it. And then, as you grow in strength, tell your story again. When a skeleton in your closetespecially one imposed on youcomes into the light, it loses its power over you. You deserve to be whole, safe, and in fruitful relationships. Remember that the past you have endured is not who you are it is something done to you that doesnt have to define you for the rest of your life. And if youve never been a victim, chances are you know someone who has. People holding in a lot of private pain walk by us every day, and it would give them great relief to talk about it with a friend who will really listen. We all have baggage in our lives, and many of us are just waiting for a person who cares enough to reach out and provide us a safe place where we can set down our burdens and talk it out. We can profoundly impact the lives of others when we each refuse to turn our eyes and hearts away from themand choose to be a part of their journey forward. May the silence be broken.
Those who have endured sexual abuse can attest to its impact on relationships. Breathe serves as a helpful tool for survivors and those who love them. Breathe: Finding Freedom to Thrive in Relationships uSoftcover | $12 (U.S.)
See order form or visit www.intouch.org.

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taking the

Things didnt look good at work for Ralph Hanahan. In late summer 2008, the state of South Carolinahis employer for 22 yearsstruggled with budget problems. All agencies would be cutting expenses, and some might reduce their workforce. The one in which Ralph served three years as a computer tech, Governors School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, was a likely candidate for cutbacks. Over the next few weeks, Ralph and his wife Jenny discussed how a layoff would impact them. Things would be tough, Ralph recalls. The national economy had begun a severe downturn. Layoffs were in the news almost nightly. Jenny worked as a real estate agent but was bringing home little because of the housing market slump. Despite these realities, Ralph and Jenny came to the same conclusion: If the choice of a layoff came down between his co-worker Mike Camp and him,

Pink SliP
Ralph should be the one to go. Sounds strange, doesnt it? Especially since Ralph had seniority over Mike in the state system and was within seven years of retiring. But Mike and Ralph had become close friends. Plus, Ralph was in his mid-fifties with a grown son; Mike was just forty years old and married with four young children between the ages of six and ten. The youngest, Aaron, was severely autistic, Ralph explains. He had been making remarkable progress in therapy. Jenny and I felt that we couldnt just stand by and let a layoff end a salary and medical benefits the Camps needed.

Pr ayer a nd S c r i P tur e

As they prayed about the matter, Ralph and Jenny found guidance in the Scriptures: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends, Jesus said (John 15:13 niv). They related this verse to Ralphs job situation. I wouldnt

Ralph hanahan took ChRists woRds seRiouslyand laid down his livelihood foR his fRiend.
B y S H E R R I L A N G T O N

be literally laying down my life for Mike, but I did see my job as part of my life. I felt that God wanted me to lay it down for Mikes sake. The Hanahans also read this verse from Lukes gospel: Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it (17:33 niv). Most people protect themselves when hardship comes along. Could Jesus have been telling Ralph that self-sacrifice was the best way to preserve his life? Those scriptures, along with prayer, cemented the Hanahans decision. Ralph notified Governors School that if someone had to be eliminated, he would take the layoff for Mike. Gods peace held him and Jenny steady.

F in al wo rd

As weeks went by, the economy worsened, and the school began laying off some parttime, non-permanent staff. When Ralph

returned to work from a short vacation in October, rumors of more layoffs were circulating. Sure enough, the Friday before Thanksgiving break, Ralph was called to the human resources office and told that a job was being cut. Why dont you think about it over the weekend, the HR director suggested, referring to Ralphs offer to take the layoff for Mike. But I didnt need to think about it, Ralph remembers. My mind was made up. Ralph got home around 4:30 that afternoonearlier than usual. His wife took one look at him and knew instantly hed been let go. He wasnt sure how shed react. With the real estate meltdown, Jenny needed help with her personal bills, Ralph says. I knew this decision would financially hurt her as well as me. When Ralph explained the circumstances to Jenny, she told him, There isnt anything else you could have done. That relieved him. They both knew his taking the layoff
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God will not abandon his ChildRen; he will pRovide in his time and way if theyRe patient.
was the right thing to do and that God would provide for them somehow. knew things wouldnt be easy. But at the time of his layoff from the school, South Carolina ranked second in the nation for unemployment. Ralph filed applications online and fought discouragement when no work came through. To make things worse, Jenny didnt have one house sale during that time. We depended on the prayers of our family, friends, and concerned strangers, Ralph says. Thanks to them, we continued to thrive on Gods peace. Even on our hardest days, neither Jenny nor I regretted my taking the layoff for Mike. In April the Hanahans prayers were finally answered: Ralph was offered work from the state at a different agency, and then a second offer came at a higher salary. The job allowed him to reenter the states retirement system as well. He and Jenny knew this extra blessing came from God, since most state jobs were frozen at the time. Recently Ralph accepted a position as IT project manager for a technical college. His salary is close to what he was making at Governors School. Looking back, Ralph wonders how they survived financially during those five months without work. Except for small sums generously given by a friend and a one-time small gift from a well-meaning stranger, the Hanahans received no assistance from anyone. Through the comfort and providence of the Lord, they made it. Ralph also learned several lessons along the way. He learned how a couple supports each other during job loss. He learned that sometimes God uses a bad situation to teach what it means to do the right thing, that God is still in charge of the affairs of His people, and that He will not abandon His children; He will provide in His time and way if theyre patient.

n at i ona l e xPo S ur e

All this time, Ralph and Jenny thought the layoff was just between the Camps and them, but Mikes mother contacted Good Morning America about it. In December 2008, the whole story came out with Mikes family, Jenny, and Ralph on national TV the Camps way of saying thanks. But Ralph was surprised and embarrassed by all the attention. We hadnt intended for this to go any further than Mike and his family, he says. It saddened me for our nation, that what we did was considered a big deal. Not long ago, it would have been part of the American way, but now people saw it as newsworthy. Has compassion died in America? Maybe its declining, but my heart says that many others are doing similar things that arent being noticed. The Hanahans received numerous e-mail messages, blog posts, and well-wishes after that TV appearance. The comments ranged from My faith in humanity has been restored to You have shown us what a true Christian example is. Though grateful that others were inspired by what theyd seen or heard, Ralph agonized over why the spotlight should be on him and how he could focus all the praise on God. This led him to think of Jesus words: You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden . . . In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14,16 niv).

c h a l le n ge S a nd bleSSingS
The next few months of job searching proved tough. Ralph had been without work when their son was young, so he
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Rebeccas corner

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unstoppable!

>> Whats Holding you Back?

Paul continued spreading the gospel, both inside and beyond the walls of his jail cellfrom the guards and his fellow prisoners to the readers of his letters throughout the ages.

An influential business magnate once said, The most important characteristic for any entrepreneur is to be unstoppable. Once in motion, my team and I cannot be stopped. I was studying Pauls letter to the Philippians when it struck me how true this statement can be for a Christian. Paul was one of the most unstoppable entrepreneurs in history. His business? Sharing the gospel of the risen Christ. While all businesses and ministry endeavors face challenges, the first-century evangelist seemed to have more than his fair share (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Unlike the obstacles of the average entrepreneur, his included prison stays. We often think of prison as a place meant to stop people from doing what got them there in the first place. But Paul continued spreading the gospel, both inside and beyond the walls of his jail cellfrom the guards and his fellow prisoners to the readers of his letters throughout the ages. Its almost as if the barriers never existed. He actually described his situation as an advantage, saying I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel (1:12 niv). The apostle could do anything God asked of him (4:13). Beaten, left to die, imprisoned, or plagued by an undefined thorn in the flesh, Paul dwelt on the hope of a great eternal future, forgetting what [lay] behind and reaching forward to what [lay] ahead (3:13). This attitude allowed him to focus on his mission and find a way to accomplish it, regardless of his physical circumstances. Even now, nearly 2,000 years after he was put to death, his words continue to change mens hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit. I read them today and am spurred toward a greater diligence and obedience to Gods call on my life. By Gods power, I, too, am unstoppable. Are you unstoppable in praying for a friends salvation? In caring for those in need? In applying Scripture to your life? Look past the obstacles you face, and strive for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (3:14).
For other encouraging tips and resources, visit Rebeccas Corner at www.intouch.org.

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Life-altering illness can elicit devastating emotions of lossfor both patient and caregiver.

Another Kind of Grief


B y C y N T H I A Z A H M S I E G F R I E D

By the time we reach middle age, most of us have lived through the death of a loved one. When each loss occurs, we learn something about the process of handling death and grief as a part of life. Although Id experienced that kind of grief before, nothing prepared me for the sorrow I experienced when my husband Jim was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. I didnt even recognize the torrent of emotions as grief. I knew about the grieving stages first outlined by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kbler-Ross (in her 1969 book On Death and Dying), but I didnt think her theory applied to me as a caregiver whose spouse was still alive. Though the stagesanger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are most often associated with death, I
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learned that Kbler-Ross applied them to any catastrophic event in a persons life. And anyone who has a family member with cancer knows how catastrophic that is. In the wake of a life-threatening diagnosis, both the patient and the family are likely to go through some or all of these emotional stages of grief from merely anticipating the impending loss. I found myself constantly thinking, How will I handle Jims death? Will I spend the rest of my life alone? Will this sadness ever leave me? Even if the disease isnt terminal, theres still tremendous lossloss of health, loss of occupation, loss of shared activities, loss of intimacy. I didnt think I had a right to my feelings. After all, I wasnt the one who was sick. I was immeasurably depressed and afraid,

but guilt plagued me whenever I felt like complaining. I berated myself over and over like a merciless coach: Stop this self-pity. You should be able to handle this. What kind of wimp are you? Wheres your faith? Ive since learned that all those emotions are, in fact, valid. Whether were grieving the loss of a parent, a marriage, our job, or even a beloved pet, our pain matters to GodScripture is clear on that. But it also shows us how to handle emotions resulting from loss so that they dont control or paralyze us. Here are some of the simple actions that made all the difference for me throughout Jims illness.

stuck in my mouth, but as I actually forced myself to sing worship songs, gratitude began to flow more naturally. Then I made a list of everything I was grateful for which amazingly wasnt as difficult as Id imagined. I thanked the Lord for doctors who had found Jims cancer, for our loving family and friends, and for the countless ways God had provided for my husband and me during our 35-year marriage. And then I thanked Him in advance for the good He would bring out of our situation. It was during this grueling time that I finally came to understand what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9: Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (kjv). My grief didnt disappear overnight, but when I chose to press into God each time I was downhearted, He comforted me profoundly. To experience joy in the midst of trial seems like a paradox, but joy and sorrow are actually arms extending from the same emotion. And when emotions are raw, our senses are sharpened so that both extremes are far more acutely felt. Jim and I discovered a deep joy possible only when sorrow is hovering close by. So if your heart is breaking, choose to inject your grief with hope in the One who will never leave you. When you take that step, you become aware of how His Spirit has come to walk alongside you through this valley. And miraculously, youll find that His grace and peace beyond human understanding are, indeed, truly enough.
This book inspires caregivers to seek understanding and peace in their loved ones situation with cancer. When Someone You Love Has Cancer uHardcover | $10 (U.S.) See order form or visit www.intouch.org.
www.intouch.org

Immerse yourself in Gods Word. In

Psalm 119:28, David cries to the Lord, My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according unto your word (niv). We cant find strength in Scripture if we dont know it. Read from the Psalms if youre unfamiliar with the Bible; these transparent prayers reveal Gods heart and character and can often give us the words to pray when were at a loss ourselves. says that the Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (niv). But immediately before that, we read Davids words, How good it is to sing praises to our God (v. 1). Choosing to honor God and willing ourselves to take joy in who He is opens the door that allows us to fully receive His comfort.

PraIse God for who He is. Psalm 147:3

Thank Him for His past faithfulness. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us that to attain true peace, we should come to the Lord with thanksgiving. Often, its the very times we feel least grateful that we most desperately need to give thanks; doing so actually opens our eyes to Gods everpresent goodness. At first, the words got

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Hopeless situations are Gods invitations to risk tHat can cHanGe your life
B y D E B O R A H B A T E

Coming to the End of YoursElf

eak from hunger and overwhelmed with despair, the woman stumbled from her home to finish one last task before surrendering to death. Not long ago, her husband had died, and now she and her son were running out of food. But the widow of Zarephath had no idea that on her most hopeless day, God was about to step into her world and reveal Himself to her through His prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:9). a cHallenGe and a promise The entire region was suffering from drought due to Israels Baal worship, which was led by the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (16:31-32). In spite of Gods warning through Elijah (17:1), they refused to repent, and the rain stopped completely. Food was now scarce, and Elijah was totally dependent upon the Lord for his most basic needs. When God directed him to go to Zarephath to find the widow, he might have assumed that it was merely for his own provision, but the Lord had a different reason. Zarephath, a town in Sidon just north of Israel, was subject to Ahabs rule, although its people were not Hebrews and were considered outsiders. The widow knew about the God of Israel, but she didnt know Him. Her misconceptions of Him, most likely shaped by her concept of Baal, had to be burned away so that she could clearly see the true Godwho loved her and wanted her to learn to trust Him. The Lord began to build the womans faith during her first encounter with Elijah. Upon entering the town, the prophet saw her gathering sticks and asked for a drink of water. She took her first small step of faith by doing what the stranger requested. But while she was getting the water, he

asked her for something a little more difficulta piece of bread. The widow explained to him that she had no bread but only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar (v. 12). She was gathering a few sticks so she could cook one last meal for herself and her son before they died. By asking for increasingly difficult acts of obedience, God was slowly growing her faith in Him. Getting a drink of water for Elijah required only a little effort and kindness, but sharing some of her meager provisions with him would be a sacrifice. Elijah told her not to be afraid but to first make him some bread, and afterwards she could make some for herself and her son. Then he gave her a message directly from the Lord: The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth (v. 14). an invitation to risk Now she had a promise of an amazing miracle. Would she believe it and risk entrusting her life to this God of Israel? If she believed the prophets words, she had only a small piece of bread to lose and an unending supply of food to gain. But before you conclude that this must have been an easy decision, put yourself in her shoes. What would you do if youd lost nearly everything, and the Lord asked you to give Him what little you had left? Could you trust Him enough to obey, believing that He would provide for you as promised? Lean times are Gods invitation to believe Him. When were facing financial insecurity, we realize whats always true: our only real security is in the Lord and His Word. We basically have two choices: hold on tightly to the little we have and do our best to make ends meet, or release our grip, acknowledge our helplessness, and accept His offer to supply our needs.
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As long as we live in this world, our fAith Will bE tEstEd; these tests are invitations to grow in intimACY With god.
Our difficulty isnt so much in accepting Gods provision as it is in cooperating with His method. So often we want Him to just drop what we need into our laps. But throughout Scripture, the Lords promises to provide materially are accompanied with the request that we give Him back a portion. This can feel like a huge step of faith when your bills are greater than your income, when youre unemployed, or when your IRA is melting away. The widow of Zarephath decided to believe and obey the Lord. After first making a piece of bread for Elijah, she discovered that almighty God does what He says He will do: as promised, her little bit of flour and oil miraculously didnt run out (vv. 15-16). dynamic faitH She must have been overwhelmed with the power and goodness of Elijahs God. But faith isnt a static condition. As long as we live in this world, our faith will be tested; these tests are invitations to grow in intimacy with Him. The widows newfound confidence in the Lord was shaken when, soon after the miracle, her beloved son got sick and died. In grief and despair, she blamed Elijah: What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son? (17:18 niv). She had seen God do the miraculous yet still didnt understand His character; she thought He was punishing her for her sins.
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But Elijah knew his Lord, and his first response was to pray for the impossible: restoration of the childs life (vv. 19-23). And God revealed more of Himself to the widow by again doing the unheard-of. When her son was raised to life, her eyes were opened His true natureHis mercy, love, and redeeming powerand she declared that the Word of the Lord is truth (v. 24). Never underestimate the importance of believing that Gods Word is truth. This is our foundation for faith. Without it, we will let circumstances determine our perception of who God is and whether He can be trusted. But if we believe that He never lies, well rely on His promises instead of our own plans and resources. Like the widow, we may find that our first steps of faith feel like a blind leap into an uncertain future. But as we experience Gods faithfulness, each successive step will seem more secure than the previous one. In time, well develop faith that trusts in this firmer reality than in all the situations that tempt us to believe God is untrustworthy. A victorious walk with the Lord is available to all who will believe Him and risk obeying what He says. I cant help wondering how different the widows life would have been if she hadnt taken that first step of faith. She would have remained in her hopeless condition, never meeting the one true God, never seeing His miraculous provision and power, and never learning to trust Him.

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spotlight

paul Baloche
by Linda Canup

>> Singing the Lords Praises

take a deep breath. stop being so anxious. god is faithful. you can trust him.

Writing worship songs isnt easy. The greatest challenge, says Dove Awardwinning singer and songwriter Paul Baloche, is not letting it become just a job, and keeping ones heart sensitive to God. He puts it this way: How can I really lead people if Im not trying to keep worship alive and fresh in my own heart on a week-to-week basis? And Paul would knowhe recently released his eighth collection of worship songs. After 20 years serving at Community Christian Fellowship, the worship leader says God is teaching him the value of commitment and faithfulnessand finding contentment in His calling rather than looking for the next big thing. Asked what advice would have been helpful when he first entered music ministry, Paul replies, Take a deep breath. Stop being so anxious. God is faithful; you can trust Him. These days, he prays for kids as they go off to college and remembers the day they were dedicated as babies. The memories are bittersweet. You see some hard thingssome families disintegratebut also a lot of victories: [Ive watched] a lot of people make God choices in their marriages and in their families, he says. The greatest reward, though, is witnessing people connect with God. When that happens, he just wants to disappear. Thats the job, the goalto gently encourage people to come to the water and encourage them to drink, so to speak, he says. Then once theyre drinking and tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, I just want to tiptoe out of the room. But Paul has no reason to hide. Years of success have earned him invites to teach those new to the trade. His number one piece of advice? Dont worry so much about writing songs, he says. Think of it as singing your prayers, and youll end up with songs that are more honest, more inspired. One of his most popular choruses, Open the Eyes of My Heart, started out as a just a prayer he used to sing. Sounds like good advice Paul Baloche is one of todays most in general. As the Psalms influential worship music writers. say: Sing to the Lord a new To purchase his newest CD, see the order form or visit www.intouch.org. song; sing to the Lord, all Now the earth (Ps. 96:1). Glorious you caN listeN iN our uCD | $13 (U.S.) Maybe songwriting is just oNliNe bookstore! that easy.
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Regardless of the sins a persons past may hold, no one is beyond the reach of our heavenly Fathers love and forgiveness.

ll people sin against God. When man was created in the garden of Eden, he had a choice to obey or disobey the Lord. At that time, there was only one thing that was off limits, but Adam and Eve chose to partake of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:3-6). Since then, the entire human race has been poisoned by sin. The daily bad choices we make are only symptoms of the bigger problemour sin nature. But God is so perfectly pure and holy that sin cannot enter His presence. Therefore, we come into this world with an inherited condition of separation from the Father. Scripture states that sins punishment is eternal death, and theres nothing we can do to correct the problem. In other words, left to fend for ourselves, we are doomed. Each of us desperately needs redemption. So the Father, in His amazing love for us, sent His only Son as the solution to our problem. Fully man yet fully God, Jesus lived a perfect life and then sacrificed Himself for our sake. He deserved glory but instead took our sin upon Himself and endured excruciating suffering and separation from His Father. Why would He submit to such torture? He took our place and our punishment, dying a criminals death on the cross to save each of us. Three days later, He rose to life again, conquering sin and death.
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1
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monday

Righteous Redemption
romans 3:23-24

Out of love, Jesus overcame our dreadful fate and offered us eternal life instead. This free gift is available to you. Simply believe that Christ is Lord, He died on the cross for your sin, and He rose from the grave. Dont wait to accept this great salvation commit to following Him today.
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deuteronomy 16-20

read

rocrastination can be a big problem: important tasks are neglected, and the benefits of finished work never come to pass. Even worse, though, procrastinating in spiritual matters can be disastrous. Every person is going to spend eternity somewhere. The destination is determined in this lifetime by a choice to either accept or reject Jesus offer of the forgiveness of sins. Some people feel that they can delay this decision. Eternity seems distant, and there is so much to enjoy in this life. They assume, Ill just wait until Im close to death. Then Ill ask Jesus to save me. The problems with this reasoning are obvious. First of all, there is no guarantee that you will have any warning before death. Second, by spending a lifetime rejecting Christs offer, you run the risk of developing a hardened heart. Saying no to God frequently throughout your life may result in being unable to say yes when death comes knocking at the door. In fact, you may not even be interested in Christs offer anymore. There is great danger in abusing the grace of God. All people who are not protected by salvation in Jesus Christ will face the terrifying reality of judgment, as they stand before God without a Savior (Heb. 10:26-27).
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2
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tuesday

Today Is the Day of Salvation

hebrews 3:7-19

read

he Holy Spirit is one of Gods most precious gifts to His beloved children. He takes up residence within the believer at the moment of salvation and empowers the individual to overcome sin and live for Gods glory and purposes. However, the Spirits power can be turned off or ignored. Only those who choose to walk with Him have unhindered access to His strength and guidance. Walking by the Spirit denotes reliance upon Him. He leads the way, and we follow. As He speaks, we listen, heed His warnings, and obey His directions. The Spirits way is a path of surrender which, although difficult, leads to fullness of life. Gods Spirit not only guides; He also empowers, because the challenge of obeying Him is impossible in our own strength. The Holy Spirit supplies everything we need for living a godly life, and He produces His amazing fruit in us. Being led by the Spirit should be the natural lifestyle of all sons and daughters of God. As you intentionally seek to maintain an awareness of His presence throughout the day, He is only a thought away. When your mind turns to Him, He gives sensitivity to the things of God and provides understanding about the situations and people in your life.
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3
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wednesday

Walking in the Spirit

galatians 5:16-25

By putting off a decision for Christ, you not only lose the immediate blessings of a deeply personal relationship with God now but also risk future separation from Him for all eternity. Dont procrastinate! Come to Christ today: acknowledge your sin, ask His forgiveness, and trust Him as your Savior.
One Year
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Take a walk with the Spirit today, and learn to know His voice. Whenever your mind is not occupied with the duties of the day, focus your thoughts on Him, asking for His guidance and looking expectantly for His leading. When He gives direction, rely on His power to obey.
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d e ut e ro n omy 2 1 - 2 4

deuteronomy 25-28
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ost everyone in our culture has easy access to a Bible, yet this remarkable book is too often left on the shelf to gather dust. If only people grasped its true worth, they would prize Gods Word above all other possessions. All of Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit. While He used man to pen the words, every thought in the Bible originated with God Himself (2 Peter 1:20-21). Consider how we treasure letters from people we love. Our response to Scripture should be even stronger. The Creator of the universethe God who holds eternity in His handrecorded all the truth that is necessary for His children to live fully and joyfully, both before and after death (2 Peter 1:3). God reveals Himself through His Word, which is alive and powerful to transform our lives (Heb. 4:12). Whats more, Romans 10:17 explains the great importance of our love for the Word: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. In other words, Scripture is the very means by which saving faith is possible. How could such a book have become so commonplace in our heart? So taken for granted? It is vital that we realize the preeminence of its authorthe Lordand its potential impact on our lives today.
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4
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thursday

Gods Word to Us

2 timothy 4:1-5

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rom the opening line of Genesis to the final words of Revelation, all of Scripture is divinely inspired. And every word has purpose and importance. The Old Testament introduces us to Gods nature, ways, and power; it lays the foundation for us to understand the Lords holiness and humanitys desperate need for a Savior. The New Testament explains that Jesus sacrificially became our bridge to the Father (John 14:6). Its writings clarify why we must trust Christ for salvation, how to live as Gods children, and what to expect in this life and after death. Through the Scriptures, almighty God reveals Himself to us. He also says that His Word is important for teaching, reproof, correction, instruction, and preparation for what we will face in life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). No other book holds such value for living. Ephesians 6:13-17 compares the Word to armor, and for good reason: in the battle of life, we have a real enemy who wants to destroy us. But Gods power is greater (1 John 4:4), and dressing in war gear daily prepares His children for the temptations, lies, and decisions they will encounter. We should be excited about the Word of God, for it is mankinds singular hopeand the only instruction that leads to victory, both in life and after physical death.
e a r l y l i g h t

5
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friday

The Value of Gods Word

2 timothy 3:14-17

Think about the last time you saw a Bible. What was your reaction? Did you finger the pages with awe, or did you pass it by with barely a glance? Next time you open this precious book, read the words, savor their meaning, and ask God to help you apply the lesson to your life.
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The Bible predicted that many people would reject the truth, and a glimpse at our culture shows that to be the case. Dont let yourself fall into the same trap. Meditate daily on Scripture, and ask God to speak to you. Life without His truth is destined for failure.
One Year
the bible in

d e ut e ro no my 2 9 - 3 1
In Touch

deuteronomy 32-34

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MARCH 2010

the weekend

The Holy Spirit: Our Teacher


read

John 14:25-26

read

f you are going to take instruction from someone, you want to be certain that person is well qualified, right? Its interesting, then, that so many believers neglect the greatest Bible teacher available. We read religious books, consult friends, and tune into a favored preacher before we will get on our knees. While those sources can point us in the right direction, only the Holy Spirit illuminates Gods Word to our hearts and minds. Asking someone to explain Gods Word seems easier than seeking to understand it through the Holy Spirits power. But consider what a person misses by forsaking Him. Who better to instruct believers about Scriptures depth and breadth than the One who wrote it (2 Peter 1:20-21)? The Spirit laid His message on the authors hearts, and they dutifully recorded it, each in his own unique voice. Furthermore, as a member of the holy Trinity, the Spirit knows the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:10). He is often called the Spirit of truth, because He understands everything. The Spirit recognizes our emotional and mental state and can identify exactly where we are in our Christian growth. Therefore, He can reveal to our minds the passages that will encourage, challenge, or convict us as needed.
e a r l y l i g h t

he ways of God are a mystery to man. Only when we have accepted salvation from Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit can we begin to understand. The Spirit uses three methods to open our minds and fill our hearts with godly wisdom. Revelation. This term refers to truth given by the Lord that cannot be obtained in any other way. The Scriptures are the most obvious example. Anyone can read Gods Word and even understand some portions, but only a Spirit-filled believer can begin to grasp the layers of meaning within the Bible. Illumination. We use this word to describe the amazing moment when the Holy Spirit lights up our minds so that we understand Gods Word. If the Bible were any other book, we would be able to read it a few times and know it thoroughly. But the Lord reveals ever-deeper truths about Himself as we mature in our faith (Eph. 1:18). Remembrance. The Holy Spirit reminds us of godly principles or biblical passages when we need them. He helped the gospel writers recall events and Jesus words many years after the fact. And He does the same for us when we could use encouragement, inspiration, or comfort.
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8
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monday

The Holy Spirits Lesson Plan

John 16:12-15

We have a teacher of divine quality. He will help us to learn and grow, guide us through difficult passages, and shed light on why the Lord allows certain challenges our life. When it comes to aiding Gods people to know His Word, no one is more qualified than His Spirit.
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The Holy Spirit illuminates believers minds so that they can recognize and comprehend Gods revelation. When we memorize scriptures and store up biblical insights, the Holy Spirit can dip into the reservoir to bring needed wisdom to our memories.
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J o s h ua 1 - 4

J os hua 5-7
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rom the beginning, God intended to have an intimate, loving relationship with us. What evidence do we have that this is His desire? his Son. One reason Christ came to earth is for us to know and relate to God the Father. The Bible tells us that Jesus is His exact representation; His words and works were the same as Gods (John 5:19; 12:50). Therefore, when we look at the Son, we are seeing the character of our heavenly Father. Invitation. Through the Scriptures, God invites us to join His family (3:16). He took care of all the arrangements; our part is to say yes. Adoption. The closest tie we can have with one another is family. At salvation, we are adopted into the Lords. This relationship with our heavenly Father lasts for eternity, providing us with support, encouragement, and love. Friendship. By calling His disciples friends (15:15), Jesus revealed a new aspect to their relationship, which applied to His future followers as well. Christ is a forever friend, one who will never desert or turn away from us. his Presence. From the moment of our salvation, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He is even closer to us than any earthly kin can be.
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9
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tuesday

Intimacy With Our Heavenly Father

John 1:12-13

1 0
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wednesday

Our Relationship With God

Psalm 119:33-40

y trusting Christ, a person enters into a lifelong relationship with the heavenly Father. As believers, we have a responsibility to keep that connection healthy. First, we must learn about our new family. An essential and ongoing part of family life involves knowing and being known by the other members. In the Bible, God gave a detailed description of His attributes, values, and thinking. And since Jesus came to earth, we can better understand divine character, which was demonstrated in a human life. As we meditate on Scripture, our sense of connectedness to God will grow. Second, we should stay in close contact with God through prayer and study of His Wordand resist the temptation to put people, work, or pleasures ahead of Him. Remember: Relationships thrive with consistent interaction but wither if neglected. Third, we must respond to what He has communicated. He provided instructions for living and explained what pleases Him. In healthy families, people pay attention to each other. We are to heed our Fathers warnings and obey His commands. Finally, were to grow in likeness to God. Relatives can resemble each other in subtle and obvious ways. As we cooperate with the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, we will start to think and act like our Father.
e a r l y l i g h t

The Lord invites us to become family through faith in Christ. This is our highest callingto believe in Him and live for Him all of our days (20:31). Once we become Gods children, His Spirit will work in us to make our family resemblance stronger and clearer in thought, word, and deed.
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God the Father provided salvation through His Son, who died so we could become spiritually alive. Jesus set an example for us to follow: a life of loving, obedient service. Gods Spirit is doing His sanctifying work in us (1 Peter 1:2). Are we doing our part to keep the relationship healthy?
One Year
the bible in

J o s h ua 8 - 1 0
In Touch

J os hua 11-13

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MARCH 2010

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esus told His disciples that tribulation is part of this life (John 16:33). And truly, people do disappoint us, circumstances cause pain, and our own limitations lead to frustration. Many Bible stories attest to this truth: Hannah was unable to conceive. The longer her yearning for a child went unfulfilled, the more hope dwindled. Sorrow and bitterness took hold of her. (1 Sam. 1:6-10). Paul was caught in a violent storm. Against his advice, the ship had set sail, endangering him and everyone else on board. After futile efforts to save the vessel, those on board had to swim ashore to survive (Acts 27:11, 20). Jealous Saul pursued David throughout the land, trying to kill him. In Psalm 13:1, David wondered if the Lord had forgotten him. How did these people find their way through such negative emotions? All three spent time in prayer. Hannah cried out to God, confessed her misery, and asked Him to provide her with a son. When she left the temple, her face was no longer downcast. Her hope returned because she trusted Him with her future. Following prayer, Paul witnessed to the hopeless sailors. He told them to have courage because the Lord had promised to deliver them. David turned his attention away from his circumstances and focused on Gods unfailing love (Ps. 13:5-6).
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11
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thursday

Feeling Hopeless

acts 27:10-225

12 A Living Hope
friday
read

1 Peter 1:3-9

ope is both a strong belief and the anticipation that something good is going to happen. When our goals are not achieved, we may experience discouragement, which over time can turn into depression and even despairthe absence of hope. How can we remain optimistic in the face of unmet expectations? First, were to remember the reason for our confidence: our relationship with Jesus. At salvation, we were born into a living hope (v. 3) God made us a new creation, and we are no longer in bondage to the old sin nature (2 Cor. 5:17 niv). His Spirit lives within us. Weve been made co-heirs with Christ, and our true home is in heaven with Him. Nothing can alter our familial connection with the Lord. Second, to maintain a positive outlook, we must spend daily time in the Scriptures. Romans 15:4 says that the Bible was written to give us encouragement and hope. The Psalms can be especially helpful in difficult times because they express the feelings we have and also tell us about the comfort available from God. Third, we rely on the Lords faithfulness. Trusting in Him will never disappoint us because all of His promises are yes in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).
e a r l y l i g h t

Communion with God can combat hopelessness. Prayer moves our attention to the Fathers deep love for us, the Sons sacrifice on our behalf, and the Spirits reassuring presence. If we confess ungodly thoughts and become willing to surrender personal desires, forgiveness and peace will be ours.
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Believers should not react to trials as the world does. Were to live by faithbeing sure of what we hope for (Heb. 11:1 niv). When circumstances overwhelm you, shift your focus to the Lord. Read the Scriptures to find encouragement, and be reminded of what is yours in Christ (Eph. 1:3-8).
One Year
the bible in

J o s h ua 1 4 - 1 6

J os hua 17-20
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the weekend

The God Who Comforts


read

2 corinthians 1:3-7

read

ook up comfort in dictionary.com or another reference, and you will read a definition like this: Something that promotes a state of ease or provides freedom from pain and anxiety. But Gods Word has a different solution when consolation is needed: the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Greek, He is called parakletos, which means he who stands at ones side; he who comes to ones aid. Believers dont have to seek outward remedies or distractions to ease their mind, because help is available within. Even before the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell believers (John 14:26; Eph. 3:16), Scripture identified God as the one who comforts His people (Isaiah 40:1; 49:13). The Lord personally provides consolation and reassurance because no one knows our hurts the way He does. I like this anonymous quotation: When we have gone into the furnace of affliction, His hand is on the thermostat and His eye is on the clock. God lets us pass through hardship to make us stronger believers, wiser servants, and more humble people. But He stays by our side through the entire experience, sustaining us and limiting the intensity and duration of our distress. The Spirits reassuring whisper to our heart gives more comfort than the solace of family or the encouragement of friends.
e a r l y l i g h t

e expect a loving heavenly Father to care for His children when they are hurt, persecuted, or misunderstood. But you might be surprised to realize that God comforts believers even when they have sinned. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save anyone who believes in Him (John 3:17). Consider His response to the woman whom the Pharisees dragged from an adulterous liaison and dropped at His feet. Her accusers wanted the offender stoned to death. But instead of taking up a rock, Jesus offered forgiveness. The Lord did not defend her actions or completely erase all consequences of her choices. However, He did offer compassion and an opportunity to turn her life around: Go. From now on sin no more (John 8:11). God understands our human frailty. And even before we do wrong, He knows the poisonous harvest that we will reap from sin. We certainly want a lot of comfort when we are suffering from our own foolishness. A loving God does not abandon His children at their hour of great needHis Spirit wades into the mess we have made. He offers to guide us out of the pit, soothes our broken heart, and provides reassurance that He is always close by.
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15
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monday

The Lord Comforts Sinners

John 8:1-11

People who fail to understand the true source of comfort try to escape their pain. They seek out pleasures, material wealth, or drugs and alcohol to soothe their heart. Only God can offer lasting relief from the crushing pressure of heartache. He even brings joy into periods of mourning.
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Sinning against the Lord makes us feel unworthy of His care and solace. Yet Gods forgiveness is based on His great mercy rather than our conduct. If Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to save you from your sins, then He certainly will love and comfort you, no matter what.
One Year
the bible in

J o s h ua 2 1 - 2 4
In Touch

J udges 1-3

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braham is one of the people in the Old Testament who have had a great impact on my spiritual walk. In his life, I see the necessity of living by faith. Separation is oftentimes a part of our development as Christians. Before we can take on something new, the Lord may ask us to let go of something we already have. In Genesis 12:1-3, God told Abraham he was going on a journey that would require leaving his country, his people, and his fathers household. Obedience meant saying goodbye to relationships and things dear to him. The only family that traveled with him were his wife and nephew; the life he knew in his homeland was left behind. But this godly man did not hesitate. His strong faith enabled him to say yes. Moving ahead in the midst of uncertainty can be another aspect of following the Lord. Abraham was told to travel without knowing his destination. Try to imagine explaining to friends that youre moving away but have no idea where you are going. This lack of detail did not stop Abraham. Unwavering trust in his heavenly Father enabled him to answer the divine call wholeheartedlyeven though specific details were lacking. Abraham was spiritually ready to answer affirmatively when God called.
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1 6
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tuesday

Living by Faith

hebrews 11:8-10

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aith can be lulled to sleep when we are focused on our own comfort rather than Gods plan. Abraham did not fall into this trap. He traded the familiar for the unknown and received many blessings. Living by faith is the right answer when God calls you to move forward. His call can come to us at any age and in any situation. Abraham was 75 when he began his journey. David was a shepherd boy when he was anointed to be king (1 Sam. 16:11-13). Paul encountered the Lord on his way to arrest Jewish believers in Damascus. After his conversion, he became the Lords representative to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-6). Our call may not be so dramatic, but it will always involve moving forward by faith. Following God will also include times of testing. Abraham, like all of us, had some successes and some failures. The initial call to leave his country was met with strong belief and immediate action. As a result, the Lord promised a great blessing for him and his descendants. But encountering a famine brought a different response from Abrahama sojourn to Egypt, deception about his relationship with Sarah, and chastisement from Pharaoh. Our response to Gods commands really matters. We can bring blessing or heartache through our actions.
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17
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wednesday

Forward by Faith

genesis 12:1-20

Following God requires living by faith. That means: trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us when we dont see how all the pieces fit together (John 16:13); believing that God always works for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28); and desiring to please our Father. Will you be ready when He calls?
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Obeying God can be uncomfortable. Those close to us may question our motives or disagree with our decisions. And we ourselves may not want to do what He asks. But faith will keep us moving forward in obedience. It helps us stay the course and experience the blessings found in a relationship with Christ.
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J ud ge s 4 - 6

J udges 7-9
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he apostle Paul knew the value of having good friends. Barnabas encouraged him in his ministry. Silas partnered with him in establishing new churches. Timothy became like a son to him. Paul also knew the heartache of co-laborers turning away from him when times got tough (2 Tim. 1:15). We may experience something similar in our life. People will react differently to our struggles. Some feel inadequate and hold back because they are uncertain about what to say or do. Others are so protective of their time that selfishness causes them to turn away. And sometimes our friends and co-workers do not want to be identified with us in our trials. In my early days as a pastor, this happened to me when the church was going through a period of turmoil. Only two pastors reached out to me and offered support; the others stood back. This experience taught me the importance of reaching out to people in crisis. Helping others requires an investment of time and energy. We start by praying for them and asking the Lord how we can help. He may have us lend emotional support, provide spiritual guidance, offer assistance in a physical or financial way, or find others who can. Standing with people will encourage them.
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1 8
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thursday

When Others Fail Us

2 timothy 4:9-14

19
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friday

A God We Can Trust

Psalm 37:1-9

hroughout Scripture, we are admonished to trust in the Lord. When times are good, this doesnt seem like a difficult task. However, when trials arise, it is much more difficult to rely fully upon Him. Yet it is always important for us to place our trust in the living God, especially when everything around us seems to be falling apart. That may well have been the situation that inspired the writing of Psalm 37. Notice that in todays passage, the psalmist mentions several times that we should not fret (vv. 1, 7, 8). Distress over a situation is the opposite of trust, and fretting has ill effects. For one thing, it can take a toll on physical and emotional wellbeing. Another problem is that feeding worry can lead to evildoing: by attempting to manage the situation quickly in our human way, we may miss Gods best solution. A third consequence is that others may not enjoy our company, so we could lose our effective witness for the kingdom. What, then, is the antidote for worry and stress during a difficult time? Absolute trust in Christ. Psalm 55:22 says, Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. This means we are to lay all our burdens at His feet, believing that He is good, loving, and in control.
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When friends abandoned him, Paul asked God not to count their actions against them. He followed the example of Jesus, who prayed for the Father to forgive His persecutors. Whats your response when friends let you down? Forgiveness is the choice that pleases God every time.
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When trials arise, do you run toward the Lord? Or do you try to handle things yourself? He who created you can handle any difficulty and pain, even when it seems overwhelming. What He desires is your surrender and trust. It is in His arms that you will find rest for your soul.
One Year
the bible in

J ud ge s 1 0 - 1 2
In Touch

J udges 13-15

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MARCH 2010

the weekend

The Trustworthy Character of God


read

2 samuel 7:21-22

hom do you trust? These days, it isnt easy to find many people who are true to their word. At some point, we all learn the hard way that anyone other than almighty God can disappoint us. Lets look at the Lords character to discover why He can be trusted. First, He is the one true God. Back in Old Testament times, it was common for people to actually carve and worship a false god. Today, it is more typical to idolize something unseen, such as wealth, power, fame, or relationships. These can consume our passion, money, and time and in the end leave us fruitless and empty. Jehovah, on the other hand, is alive and real, ready to be intimately involved in our lives. Second, God is truth, and He is always faithful (John 14:6; 1 Cor. 10:13). Unlike sinful man, the Lord is trustworthyand everything that He says will happen comes to pass. Our sovereign God has all power and is in control of every situation. Third, Christ loves us unconditionally. How can we ever doubt His love when He willingly gave His life in our place? And His love is based not on our behavior or status, but rather on His character alone. Fourth, the heavenly Father is unchanging. All of the above are timeless attributes that will forever be true.
e a r l y l i g h t

2 2
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monday

The Riches of Gods Grace

ePhesians 1:3-9

magine an elderly couple living in a dilapidated farmhouse. They can barely afford a few groceries and the medicines they need. There isnt even enough money to keep the heat on all the time. Then a short while after they both have died, a huge deposit of oil is discovered on the old homestead. All their years of poverty were lived out sitting on top of untapped wealth. Sadly, many Christians go through life like that elderly couple. Such believers have distilled Christianity down to its most basic parts: God saved me and someday Ill go to heaven. Jesus Christ offers an abundant life now (John 10:10), but they arent living it. Spiritually poor Christians fail to tap into the reservoir of Gods grace. Eternity begins the moment we are saved; there is no reason to wait until heaven to start enjoying the Lords riches. God has lavished His grace upon believers. We receive righteousness, freedom from legalism, and an unbreakable union with our Father. In return, He desires that we invest time and energy in our relationship with Him. As believers open themselves to God, everything He has to offer flows freely into their lives. Our connection to Him makes it possible for us to live joyful, contented lives rich with blessing.
e a r l y l i g h t

God can be trusted. So dont give Him just the easy concerns; rely upon your Creator for everything. He desires a personal relationship with His beloved and is able to guide each believer through life victoriously. In a changing, suspicious world, you have a Friend who is 100 percent reliable.
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True wealth isnt measured by your bank account or automobile. Believers, as joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), have access to Gods riches, which include unspeakable joy, unconditional love, and peace beyond understanding. Invest in your spiritual life, and enjoy these blessings of grace.
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J ud ge s 1 6 - 18

J udges 19-21
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tuesday

A God of Grace

James 1:17-18

he Lords character is often distorted by the world. To unbelieving eyes, God can appear as a harsh ruler who is quick to condemn any disobedience. Somehow that false view has infected our churches as well. There are believers who approach the Lord as if He were a stingy old man doling out shreds of love, grace, and forgiveness. But spiritual poverty is not the Fathers plan for His children! At salvation, we received every good gift that God intends to give us: forgiveness, redemption, righteousness, a place in His family, and much more. There is a misguided notion among some believers that the Lords grace to us increases as our faith matures. If that were accurate, we would be earning His blessing though works. The truth is that spiritual growth broadens our capacity to recognize and enjoy His grace in our lives. Sadly, plenty of people feel unworthy to enjoy the Lords blessings. Thankfully, we do not have to merit His goodness, because none of us would be able to do so. In fact, Ephesians 2:8-9 underscores the fact that God operates on the basis of His grace rather than our works. Think of how big, wide, and deep His love isHe adores, blesses, and showers us with grace because He wants to and not because we earn it.
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2 of Prayer 4
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wednesday

The Priority

mark 1:35-37

ur Father does not consider prayer an optional part of the Christian life. The Bible tells us that two-way communication with God is essential. The discipline of prayer includes . . . An expectant attitude. We must believe that God has something important to say to us. It could be a strengthening reminder of His love, insight into our situation, or the answer to a petition. With such an outlook, well be listening more than we are speaking. A focus on our heavenly Father. When we praise the Lord, our minds will let go of worldly things and center on Him. Thinking of His perfect character and sacrifice at the cross readies us to hear from Him and obey. A willingness to see ourselves the way God does. The Holy Spirit works in us to produce Christlikeness. That means uncovering what is unholy and replacing it with righteousness. It also includes our recognizing when we demonstrate godly character (Gal. 5:22-23). A surrender to His leadership. When we submit to Him as Lord, our petitions will be more in line with His will. A regular appointment. Developing a strong faith-life takes commitment. Daily activities will crowd out time with the Lord unless we set a time and place to pray.
e a r l y l i g h t

Our heavenly Father is not stingy. He opens His hand wide to pour out grace upon us. Instead of sampling meager bites of His Word and His presence on Sunday, we ought to devour whole meals every day. Follow the psalmists advice to taste and see that the Lord is good (34:8).
One Year
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Everywhere Jesus traveled, the multitudes approached Him with their needs. Even though there were many people for Christ to help, He would regularly step away from the demands of the crowd to interact with His Father (Mark 6:45-46). Wont you give prayer that same priority?
One Year
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rut h 1 - 4
In Touch

1 samuel 1-4

42 |

MARCH 2010

25
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thursday

Jesus: To Believe or Not to Believe

m at t h e w 1 6 : 1 3 - 2 0

hen Jesus asked His disciples, Who do you say that I am? Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:15-16). The Lord asks us the same question, though not with audible words. Lets check Scripture for answers. First, Jesus is God the Sona member of the Trinity. After His baptism, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and the Father Himself announced, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased (Matt. 3:17). Next, Christ is the Savior of mankind. When Adam and Eve chose to sin against Jehovah, there was a separation between God and man. In Old Testament times, an animal sacrifice was necessary to atone for the wrong in ones life. But that was a temporary solution, until Jesusthe perfect sacrificeatoned once for all sin. He was the only One who could satisfy Gods requirement for a Savior, because He had no sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Finally, He is our High Priest (Heb. 4:15; 7:26). In Old Testament times, a mediator often a temple priestinterceded between God and man, offering an animals blood as atonement for sin. Jesus death and resurrection took away the need for such sacrifice. Christ now stands as our intercessor, the bridge between Holy God and sinful man.
e a r l y l i g h t

2 6
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friday

A Decision to Follow Jesus

luke 5:27-28

esterday, we saw how Scripture answers the question, Who is Jesus? Once we have that information, we must decide what to do with it. Some may desire to ignore the truth of what they have learned, but thats truly not an option. God calls us either to accept or reject Jesus as Savior; avoidance is actually a form of rejection. How, exactly, can we accept Jesus in our life? We must believe in Him. This means placing confidence in the person of Christ, knowing that His death on Calvarys cross paid for all our sin. This is not merely an intellectual understanding; rather, it is a total surrender to Jesus as the only One who can forgive our sins, thereby bridging the gap between us and the Father. When we receive the Savior, we immediately become children of the King! Believers must also follow Christs ways. Allowing Jesus to live out His Lordship through our lives means yielding our will and desires to His. In addition, Christians are to worship Him. We ought to be so overwhelmed by His presence that our hearts and lips overflow with adoration. One last thing, of course, is that were to share the truth with others. Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus commanded His followers to spread the good news of salvation to the entire world (Matt. 28:19-20).
e a r l y l i g h t

Who do you believe Jesus is? These characteristics of Christ are taken directly from the Bible. Do they align with your understanding? Check your view of Him against the standard of Scripture. Then ask the Lord to reveal Himself so that you can know Him accurately and personally.
One Year
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We are blessed to have ready access to Gods Word, but this benefit leaves us no excuse for ignorance regarding the person of Jesus Christ. Once we know who He is, we must decide whether well yield our lives to Him. He longs to have an intimate, personal relationship with you. Will you let Him?
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1 s am ue l 5 - 8

1 samuel 9-11
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| 43

the weekend

Eternal Life: You Can Be Sure


read

John 3:16-17

have heard many reasons why people are uncertain about their eternal future. I sin too much, says one. I dont feel saved, Pastor, says another. Someone else worries that she did not follow the right procedure to ask for forgiveness. Still others have erroneously learned from their families or churches that no one can be sure of salvation. My response to all of these rationales is the same: If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that His death on the cross purchased Gods forgiveness for your sins, then you are saved. And you can be sure. Gods promises never change. He said that those who trust in His Son would have eternal life (John 5:24). Whats more, a believer cannot be snatched from Gods hand (John 10:27-30). The Lord loves us unconditionally. Nothing can separate a believer from Gods love (Rom. 8:35-39). Satans charges against us can never change how precious we are to our Father. The Saviors work on the cross is finished. Jesus Christ made one perfect sacrificeHis own life. In this single act, He atoned for every sinful deed, word, and thought (Heb. 9:11-12, 26). When we receive His salvation, it is ours forever.
e a r l y l i g h t

2 9
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monday

The Heart of the Cross

1 corinthians 1:18-31

onsider how illogical Jesus crucifixion looked to first-century observers. The Romans were concerned with power they probably wondered why a mighty God would let His enemies kill Him. The Greeks valued wisdom and no doubt thought, There must surely have been a better way than the cross! And the Jews, who longed for victory over oppressors, probably felt bewildered to see Jesus humbly submit to a brutal death. Yet, what seemed foolish was actually a brilliant plan. Through the cross, the Lord powerfully revealed His character. First, we see His unconditional love in dying for those who sinned against Him (John 3:16). Second, His righteousness is apparent only the perfect sacrifice of His own blood could satisfy the penalty for sin. Third, He shows His faithfulness by redeeming us at so great a cost. And fourth, Jesus demonstrates power by conquering sin and death. In addition to all this, the cross exposed and disarmed Satan (Col. 2:15), who no longer has authority over believers. Though the Enemy can tempt and try followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit is there to strengthen Gods children and guide them to victory. One last benefit of our Fathers remarkable plan is that we are eternally secure because of the price Jesus paid. That gives us hope and confidence about our future.
e a r l y l i g h t

God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins so we could live eternally in His presence. It really is that simple. Whatever your doubts, ask the Holy Spirit to confront them with biblical truth. He will quietly assure your heart that you are Gods child forever (Rom. 8:16).
One Year
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While the cross seems absurd to those who dont understand, Gods children know it is the Fathers wise design. We have assurance for today and security for tomorrow only because of this amazing event that occurred over 2,000 years ago. We have no need to fear, but every reason to hope.
One Year
the bible in

1 s am ue l 1 2 - 1 4
In Touch

1 samuel 15-18

44 |

MARCH 2010

3 0
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tuesday

Understanding Jesus Sacrifice

m at t h e w 2 6 : 3 6 - 4 6

esus journeyed into the deepest pit of despair hours before His crucifixion. In the garden of Gethsemane, He repeatedly prayed that the cup would pass away (Matt. 26:39). Christ was staring into a chalice of wrath and judgment that must have made His soul recoil (Is. 51:17). Mankind had filled it with the most depraved and evil deeds and thoughts they could conceive. According to Scripture, Jesus Christ did not just die for our sins; He became our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). The holy, perfect Lamb took on Himself all that was vile and dark. Furthermore, Jesus knew the consequences of accepting mankinds evil. Gods holiness prevented Him from being in the presence of sin. Therefore, the Father would have to separate Himself from the Son. Jesus had always enjoyed perfect oneness and relationship with God. To contemplate a wrenching rejection and separation must have been terrifying. There was no question that Jesus would do Gods will. He would become sin and be separated from the Father, if thats what was required to save mankind. For a while in the garden, He pleaded for another route to our redemption. However, when it was clear that the Fathers answer was No, this is the only way, Jesus obediently sacrificed Himself.
e a r l y l i g h t

31
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wednesday

The Precious Blood of Jesus

any churches today have erased all mention of Jesus blood from their worship. But the shedding of blood is essential to the Christian faithwithout a sacrifice, no one can have a relationship with God. For that reason, the Lord wove the story of death, renewal, and reconciliation like a red thread from Genesis to Revelation. What do you have if you take all the blood from a body? A lifeless corpse, right? The same thing is true of the Bible. Scripture would be no more than historical literature if we edited the unpleasant bits regarding animal sacrifice, Jesus on the cross, or the power of His blood. God designed the redemption system in such a way that anyone could understand the connection between shed blood and freedom from sin. The Lord gave detailed instructions for offering a perfect animal sacrifice so that His holiness would be satisfied. God also wanted His followers to understand that sin brought terrible consequences and resulted in death. The first fatality in Scripture was the animal whose skin was used to cover Adam and Eves nakedness (Gen. 3:21). Every time an Israelite brought to the priests a lamb or a pair of doves, he recognized that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
e a r l y l i g h t

1 Peter 1:17-21

Jesus Christ sacrificed more than His life. He exchanged perfection for wickedness and holy union for separation. The Savior did this so we could be transformed into righteous men and women with an eternal future. No wonder all of heaven exalts Him (Rev. 5:11-14). We must do the same.
One Year
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God chose a graphic solution to the worlds sin problem. Therefore, believers cannot be squeamish about explaining what truly happened at Golgotha. The words we choose influence listeners; Jesus shed His blood for you is a powerful statement. It is also the message God repeats throughout the Bible.
One Year
the bible in

1 s am ue l 1 9 - 2 1

1 samuel 22-24
www.intouch.org

| 45

All He Created You to Be


Dont settle for the settled-for life. You can discover all the dreams and blessings God has for you. In his new book and workbook, Dr. Stanley helps you answer the question, What is the Lords plan for me?
How to Reach Your Full Potential for God uHardcover | $19 (U.S.) uWorkbook | $9 (U.S.)

How to Experience Abundant Life


The cross did much more than secure our salvationit completely altered the believers relationship with holy God. Formerly available as The Encouraging Message of the Cross, this CD series will help you recognize all that the Savior accomplished at Calvary.
Be Encouraged Now That You Believe u8-CD Set | $26 (U.S.)

The Ultimate Solution


When trials or sorrows seem overwhelming, you might wonder what good can possibly result. Dr. Stanley shows how God can intervene while restoring what has been lostand bring lasting joy in any circumstance.
How to Let God Solve Your Problems uSoftcover | $7 (U.S.)

The Way to Victory


Obstacles can make you frustrated, angry, or ready to give up. But as you walk in obedience, God will demonstrate His power in your circumstances. Dr. Stanleys four-part series teaches that roadblocks are opportunities to respond with faith while watching the Lord work on your behalf.
Facing Lifes Obstacles u4-CD Set | $14 (U.S.) u2-DVD Set| $30 (U.S.)

An Essential Resource for Your Library


When you need biblical answers, the Spiritual Foundations Series is a priceless resource. Perfect for personal study or sharing, this quick-reference set covers 19 topics, including The Only Door to Heaven, Freedom Through Forgiveness, How to Live Without Regret, Discovering Gods Will, Transforming Fears Into Faith, and much more.
Spiritual Foundations Series uBox Set | $18 (U.S).

Armed for Battle


The Enemy strikes with the weapons of doubt, fear, and lust, but you can render them ineffective by responding with the sword of the SpiritGods Word. Dr. Stanley teaches that meditating upon biblical truth prepares you to take every thought captive to Christ.
When the Enemy Strikes uSmall Hardcover | $9 (U.S.)

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has always been

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After college, navigating the real world and making good decisions can be difficult.

Thats why In Touch created GROUNDEDan online community where young adults

can plug in to Gods principles and connect with like-minded believers from 18 to 25.

Visit www.intouch.org/grounded to learn more about this free resource.

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has always been

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After college, navigating the real world and making good decisions can be difficult.

Thats why In Touch created GROUNDEDan online community where young adults

can plug in to Gods principles and connect with like-minded believers from 18 to 25.

Visit www.intouch.org/grounded to learn more about this free resource.