cultivating c h a racter


ALASKA CruiSe • JuLy 9-16, 2010
What better place to get away from it all than the majesty of Alaska’s Inside Passage? Dr. Stanley invites you to spend seven days aboard the MS Zaandam amidst the fjords, glaciers, and snow-capped mountains of Alaska. While on board, you’ll enjoy encouraging teaching from Dr. Stanley, uplifting Christian music, and the company of fellow believers. Make your reservation today!
visit, or call 800-334-2630 for more information.

on the cover

Every spring, water lily stems begin to grow upward from the pond floor, finding their way through the water and into the light. When full grown, these exquisite, fragrant flowers display their full splendor only during the day, when the landscape is illuminated by the sun’s rays. Likewise, as believers, we can cultivate Christlike character only when we spend time in the light of God’s love for us. That is when we grow, bloom, and truly exhibit the Christian life (2 Cor. 4:5–7).

cultivating christlike character
by C h a r L E s f. s ta n L E y


2 0 1 0

a holy, fruitful life is unattainable in our own strength. But the lord desires nothing less of His followers.

6 12
b y

the sleeper agent
E r i n G i E s C h E n

feeling insecure? You’re not alone. Beth moore shares how a personal struggle became the basis for her new book.

let these devotions from Dr. stanley’s sermons help you reflect on the wonderful gift of knowing God.

early light

22 Solving problemS
b y M a r y E .

18 family room
b y b E C k y

Going Wireless
sometimes good parenting means letting go— and trusting the father to guide teens without our help.
s t a n L E y b r o d E r s E n

Fearful? Yes. Wonderful? I’m Getting There.
making peace with your appearance is one vital step toward developing true inner beauty.
d E M u t h

20 by faith
b y

28 Strong in Spirit
b y f . L .

One More Day
G i n G E r

Thorn in the Flesh
Being a christian doesn’t guarantee a pain-free life. But God uses our weakness to transform us by grace.
s t o n E

eternal life is impossible to comprehend, but God bolsters our faith with occasional foretastes of heaven.

G a r r E t t

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In Touch ® magazine, May 2010, Vol. 33 No. 5. © 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.

DeCisions, DeCisions, DeCisions

A Publication of

to the Glory of God

Dr. Charles F. Stanley

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eDitor Director of PUBlications

Linda M. Canup

beginning of a new chapter in life. And with it come many decisions— often accompanied by the unsettling question, Am I on the right track? In Life Principles for the Graduate Dr. Stanley offers nine key truths for living God’s way and determining His best.
Life Principles for the Graduate uHardcover | $15 (U.S.)

Commencement marks the

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Sandy Feit
senior coPY eDitor

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art Director

Have you decided to trust Jesus as your personal Savior?
Do you desire a personal relationship with the One who created you and loves you no matter what? If so, tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

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ProDUction manaGer

Father in heaven, Until now, I have been living life my own way, but I want to start living for You. I realize I’ve sinned before You, but I understand that Jesus fully paid my penalty by dying on the cross. I receive the sacrifice He made on my behalf and trust Him as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for forgiving me and making me Your child. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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t “
a word from Charles F. Stanley

Will your Children inherit your Faith?

A parent who preaches the Bible but doesn’t live by it teaches her children they can’t trust God.”

The most valuable asset we have, as believers, is our faith. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, the apostle reminds the young man that his faith was inherited from his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:3-7). What are you doing to pass on your faith? Children observe our faith by the lifestyle we live. We can pass on doubt, frustration, fear, and unbelief—or we can give them steadfast faith. A parent who preaches the Bible but doesn’t live by it teaches her children they can’t trust God. If you want to leave your family with a faith that money can’t buy and death cannot take away, live by the Book! We also pass on our faith by persistence. Our sons and daughters need to see us trusting God day after day. Family prayer is essential to building solid faith into our children’s lives. As a boy, I listened to my mother pray and watched the Lord answer. If you don’t pray as a family, start today. We pass on our faith by our participation in our children’s lives. They want to know that we feel what they feel. We need to take part in their hurts and failures and tell them our own stories of pain and disappointment. I recently read a survey of college students that showed the thing they dislike most about their parents is their inability to admit when they are wrong. If we want our sons and daughters to say “sorry” and ask for forgiveness, we must be willing to do the same. And at times we pass on our faith by refusing to bail our kids out of the messes they get into. God doesn’t fix the problems we create until we get right with Him and learn the lesson He has in store for us. It is more important that your children learn to trust God than it is for you to be on friendly terms with them. My grandfather shared with me his basic principles for living, and they have governed my life. Will your faith live on when you are gone? Your children deserve a faith legacy that will endure. Start building it today!

cultivating Ch r i .

Is there a difference between having the Holy Spirit and living in the Holy Spirit? Yes.s tl ike character Whose job is it? B y C h A R L E S F . Now. then the Spirit within us will begin to bear spiritual fruit in our lives. What makes us different is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and | 7 . in fact. “Now there is a Christian”? When we think about our place in the world as followers of Christ. let me ask you another question. S T A N L E y Is there anything in your life that would cause an unbeliever to notice something different about you? Could someone point at you and without question say. If we are living in the Spirit by growing in our Christian walk. And. www.intouch. we must never forget that there is something that separates us from unbelievers—something that the Father bestows only upon those who call on the name of His Son Jesus Christ. it is a tremendous difference.

he found that his . patience. “Lord. Think about the apostle Peter. they are the result of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. In his letter to the Galatians. gentleness. And if such fruit is not evident in our lives. However. One reason is that they each require true biblical humility. three times that very night. Peter heard Jesus’ sermons. and he was sure he would succeed. Peter exclaimed. joy. He walked with Christ throughout His entire three-year ministry on earth. peace. with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (22:33). too. until they were given the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). Then. What was true for the disciples then is still true for us today: Apart from the work 8 | May 2010 In Touch Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. kindness. Unless our works match up with our words. No matter what we may say about the Lord. He was too proud to think that he might one day fail his Lord. Peter was relying on his own strength. That is why He instructed them to delay their ministry for a little while. Rather.ripe fruit In a real sense. our actions always speak louder. Peter denied even knowing Jesus (vv. can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In verse 33. we cannot live the life that God has called us to live. This is how the world will know who we are. then it will be almost impossible for people to even notice our faith in God. These qualities are often downplayed in contemporary society. These are not simple traits that we can strive for or earn. or a sober self-realization of both our place and God’s control. faithfulness. what we believe. when Jesus predicted His betrayal and denial by His friends. Jesus knew that His disciples would not be able to live a life of faith under their own power. how they. watched the Lord heal the sick. the things we actively do for Him can become fruitless and meaningless. 54-62). and enjoyed an intimate personal friendship with the Son of God. that fruit will be our shining testimony in a dark world: Spirit-filled. and self-control. Christlike character is the difference that will set us apart from those who don’t know God. power from above of the Holy Spirit. goodness. Paul identified the specific fruit of the Spirit as love. we cannot live the life that God has called us to live. Yet when the time came. Peter made this profession out of his own strength. and more importantly.

When we give the Holy Spirit free reign in our lives and focus on our growth in Him. Now. According to verse 2. God will take away any branch that is not producing fruit. the works we accomplish for the Lord. gentleness. 12:2). o rr g www n ouch o g || 9 9 . Peter was transformed into a bolder. By “cooperating with the Spirit. by Jesus’ own illustration. As we come under the influence of His love. This does not mean that we will always succeed. ii n tt o u c h . Jesus Himself warned about the error of placing too much confidence in our actions (Matt. let’s go a little deeper and examine the greater growth that takes place when we actively cooperate with Him.strength was terribly insufficient. We’ve seen that the mere presence of the Holy Spirit brings about changes in our actions and attitudes. Verse 8 shows us the result w w w . it is the very mark of believers. we will begin an unprecedented time of growth and maturity that will result in a complete change of our personalities and priorities. refers to the things that we do. The fruit of attitude. goodness. While these deeds can be wonderful. The change comes from within as the Holy Spirit modifies our thinking (Rom. When that “power” came to them. Certainly this must have been on Peter’s mind later. and our spirits are always engaged in battle with outside influences. I won’t.. Why would a vinedresser plant a vineyard if he were not expecting a crop of grapes? Clearly. patience. we are still living in a dark and sinful world. pruning the branches Verses 2 and 8 of this passage expand on this idea even further. as the Holy Spirit works in our lives. faithfulness. our inward attitudes will begin to affect our outward behavior. we can trust that fruitfulness is God’s goal for us. obviously. we will begin to notice changes in our thoughts and deeds. we cannot always trust them. when we begin to emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit by listening to God’s leading and applying His Word. This inner attitude transformation is squarely in line with the very definition of repentance: a change of mind that results in a change of behavior. Several times throughout the gospels. Then we can’t help but show the world what sets us apart as different. We cannot produce spiritual fruit without the work of the Spirit. and self-control. Jesus demonstrates the great importance of fruit in the lives of His disciples. Remember. however. the fruit of the cooperating with the spirit Spirit is simply the natural outflow of what is happening within our hearts.” I simply mean that we trust and rely upon God’s Holy Spirit to work in and through us. He will also prune every branch that is producing. Will I be able to love everyone at every moment? Will I always be joyful? No. kindness. peace. is a far better indication of what is happening in our spirits. spiritual fruit isn’t simply a possibility or an ideal. Our momentary shortcomings do not make us spiritual failures. You see. radical sermon to the leaders of Jerusalem (Acts 2:14-36). He went from cowering in the dark to preaching a controversial. However. joy. Activity. It is as though when we are filled with the Spirit. when Jesus instructed the disciples to hold off on ministry until they were “clothed with power from on high” (24:49). and it is certainly God’s will for us to be fruitful. 7:21-23). more dynamic man. actions and attitudes A difficult lesson for all followers of Christ is that our spiritual fruit can come in two forms: fruit of activity and fruit of attitude. In John 15:1.. In His eyes. His fruit is manifested first in our attitudes. Jesus describes the Father as a vinedresser. so that even more fruit can grow.

a believer cannot produce spiritual fruit when separated from the very source of life—Jesus Christ. This is certainly not God’s will and purpose for His children (John 10:10). When God “prunes” us. peace. “ . The sap—the very life of the tree—flows freely through the vine and 10 | May 2010 In Touch into the branch. He says that He is the vine and we are the branches. As we We can find success and growth in our Christian walk only when we make it our ambition to abide—or remain—firmly planted in Christ Jesus. but we have to carefully understand what He is up to. especially when we are experiencing success in our Christian lives. joy. the result is death. tragedy. in our own strength. He is actually removing those things that weaken or limit the production of fruit. His presence. Instead. When a branch is severed from the vine. I cannot stress this point enough: The Christian’s very life is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit. In a vineyard. even when we are being obedient and faithful to Him? Yes. we become complacent. this may hurt a bit. Those who try to do so apart from Christ have nothing to uphold them when they experience disappointment. and other godly qualities. faithfulness. or even death. the outcome will be a healthier. when separated from the vine. richer crop of fruit. the branches and the vine exist in perfect harmony. and His purpose. But this is possible only when we abide in the vine and allow the Holy Spirit to enter into our hearts. how do we go about attaining it? Realize that when we received Jesus into our hearts. that is exactly what this passage means.) See order form or visit www. The result of this process is the production of ripe fruit. it often takes a shock or a hardship to get our attention and move us into an even more fruitful and productive season. He takes out His knife and begins to cut things away. The Lord wants us to be fruitful—to grow more and more in His power. we were forever bound to Him. What kind of fruit grows on your tree? This six-CD series teaches how the holy Spirit works in and through you. life on the vine If spiritual fruit is God’s goal for us. you see.intouch. let alone thrive. He isn’t killing the vine. In the same way. God’s act of pruning alarms many believers. we’ll surely produce a rich crop of spiritual fruit that will bring honor to Him and draw others to Jesus. sometimes. change us from the inside out. You see. This results in bringing glory to God—and in producing a dynamic testimony that catches the attention of those around us. Now. Does the illustration mean that He will bring in some trial or test. it is impossible for any of us to live out the Christian life on our own. John 15:4-7 makes this point abundantly clear.S. The branch cannot exist. developing spiritual maturity so your conduct will reflect love. and thereby reproduce Christlike character within us. The Holy Spirit u6-CD Set | $20 (U. When the pruning season ends. self-control. Think about the illustration Jesus makes in this passage. We become fruitful when we submit ourselves totally to the will of the Holy Spirit and allow Jesus to live the Christian life in and through us. So. In those times.of this fruitful way of life: We bring glory to the Lord by showing proof that we are His children.

Although the rugged individualist has been promoted as an American hero. Becoming a faithful friend involves friend and the New Testament’s instrucmaking others a top priority. 4:1-3) u Shows compassion in times of suffering (Ps. such self-sufficiency leads to relational poverty. 24:23. Do you value independence more than interdependence? consider Because the church has been called ways that self-sufficiency hinders the to interdependence.. Eph. being a friend in development of close relationships. Gal. to someone in need? 1 Cor. Scripture offers insightful glimpses into the benefits of having a faithful friend in a time of need. uDaniel and his three friends came together in a time of danger to seek God’s deliverance (Dan. Col. 27:6. 12:15) u Offers wise counsel (Prov. Examples of Rich Friendships: u Despite threats by his own father—King Saul—Jonathan remained a loyal friend to David (1 Sam. 6:1-2) www. We were created for relationship with the Lord and each other. What tions for believers. 18:24. 12:1-13).. 18:1-4.intouch. uNathan was willing to deliver a difficult reproof to David when he needed correction (2 Sam.self-sufficiency leads to relational poverty. 17:17. activities compete for your time characteristics of a Good Friend: and hinder you from being a friend u Loves at all times (Prov. 20:1-42). 27:3). of need enrich your life? Consider the similarities between these Old Testament descriptions of a faithful 2. Rom. 35:13-14. 27:9. 13:4-8) u Sticks closer than a brother (Prov. Eph. 19:1-7.15:3. 2:12-19).a “ 15-minute Bible study . 1. Eph. 3:12-14) u Intercedes in prayer (Job | 11 . u Paul’s friends sought to protect him from Questions for reflection harm and cared for him when he was imprisoned (Acts 19:31. God declared that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 3:16) u Does not slander or tear down but speaks gracious words that edify (Ps. even when speaking hard truths (Prov. the time of a person’s need is exactly How can turning to others in times what Christians are commanded to do. 6:18) u Can be trusted. 4:29) u Shows kindness that encourages faithfulness to God (Job 6:14. Col. 2:18). uThe paralytic’s friends carried him and persevered in bringing him to Jesus for help (Luke 5:17-20).” A Friend in Need is a Friend indeed >> Created for Relationships PhILIPPIANS 2:1-4 As far back as creation.

slee the .

turns out to have been just about me. then I’m going to see it all the way to the finish. What she found was that this double-crossing enemy—like a quietly planted sleeper agent—was. But if I find out along the way that [my readers] have the Before writing her latest book. indeed. or Esther.” Beth is known best for her in-depth Bible studies. to the same degree that she felt compelled by God to write her acclaimed Bible studies on Daniel.intouch. Beth Moore sat at her computer and typed out a promise: “If this lished. I will never let this get pubsame problem I do. But she felt she had to tackle the topic. So Long. invading the lives of www. So when she decided to write about the problem of chronic insecurity—a deeply personal subject—some eyebrows were raised. Isaiah. | 13 .per agent B y E R I N G I E S C h E N Beth Moore exposes the covert enemy that can undercut everything good in life. which millions of women from every denomination and corner of the globe have experienced.

I’ve become increasingly convinced that our gender has no greater issue dogging us than insecurity. 14 | May 2010 In Touch I didn’t always let my insecurity make my decisions for me. It didn’t always steal my victories. productive. It can undercut our decisions and undermine our ability and freedom to do the will of God. The year before I wrote this book. yet people think I can’t possibly [have this problem]. having pigeon toes and the worst buckteeth known to man during elementary school didn’t help matters. You can’t tell anything about people’s security from the outside—or from whether or not you think they’re successful. but I always let it bother and taunt me. In Touch recently had a conversation with Beth about why this is an issue that Christians need to explore further and discuss in a new way. She dove into research. ITM: You’ve said that this is a very personal topic for you. I don’t care how put-together anyone might think I am. She also followed up with a survey for men on their views of women’s insecurity as well as their own. every area of defeat in my life sprang from the common denominator of insecurity. below the surface? BM: That’s the problem—we’re not get- . yet my enjoyment of it was suddenly being drained by all sorts of fresh fears. While it wreaked havoc on the inside. When Beth began to throw out some questions on her high-traffic blog. and facilitated focus group discussions. So we get better at pretending we’re confident and just hope it will stick and eventually become true. “This is how you should think. I made a lot of decisions based on nothing but chronic insecurity—and paid dearly for them later. I’d come to such a wonderful season. even when I’d made the right choice. It can dog us in our relationships and haunt us at work. The interesting twist is that I grew up to be sanguine and outgoing and learned how to keep most of my insecurity well hidden. or something bursts the bubble. Self-doubt is a very powerful motivator. But then sooner or later we get tired of pretending. Like many people. Insecurity can keep us from the full enjoyment and embodiment of the satisfying. ITM: It seems that we women are getting the same kind of pep talks on confidence from both the world and the church— basically. I’d seen so much victory and been freed from bondage to so many things. What do you think is really going on there. it isn’t. of course. I was sensitive by nature. and we just go crashing in to a whole new level of insecurity. it’s blow the stereotypes we have about others sky-high. Why are you still dealing with this? Did Christ come to set you free or not? Is this the one exception? And. liberated life Christ offers. And. but early childhood victimization on top of it nearly put me over the edge. the response was overwhelming.” But we don’t. If there’s anything we’ve got to do. I do not feel I have it all together. but it kept me from feeling them. I looked back over the course of my life and saw how almost every wonderful circumstance or opportunity was somehow tainted by self-doubt or even self-torment. surveying more than 900 women of all ages. it didn’t keep me from some measurable successes as a student and as a participant in lots of activities and organizations. I was scared of my own shadow as a child and fraught with a prevailing sense of inferiority. What kind of role has insecurity played in your life. and we don’t know why. as ridiculous as this sounds in comparison. God allowed a series of circumstances in my life that seemed to touch off every single one of my insecurities.women all around her. from childhood till the present? BM: Insecurity is something I’ve struggled with all my life. When I was growing up. and I thought.

Insecurity is as old as mankind. In other words. Only I can give it up. We all have our Achilles’ heel. women were dealing with the same insecurity which can make us feel that in order to have Insecurity can keep us from the full enjoyment and embodiment of the satisfying. | 15 . the job loss means I’m of no great value and make no contribution to the world. this goes back all the way to the Garden. you can’t have my security. we’re usually just talking and don’t actually believe what we’re saying. So these days. and piggyback insecurity on top of it every time. We have to speak to our hearts in that moment and say. no doubt about it. Our distorted math tells us that two plus two doesn’t make four. or lost jobs altogether. and then to begin silently saying in that moment. Let me give you another example. It’s bad enough that there was the job loss. We have to address this problem at a deeper level— in our belief system. We may have been inspired by a great conference. After 25 years in discipleship ministry. God gave me my security. I think you’re right: if we’re talking about insecurity at all. No one—no matter how special they are to us. Many people don’t even know they struggle with this issue. Yet even throughout the Bible. We’ve got to become really proactive and practical in our approach. and nobody can take it from to figure out practical ways of handling that moment when we’re approaching a situation of personal weakness. In this economy. down in the marrow of our bone. We women [tend to] take our reaction to something that’s hurtful or scary or fearful to us in some way. This really is our pitfall when it comes to teaching within Christian circles: we’re taught something that somehow doesn’t make it to the hot pavement when we go back to real life. women constantly feel the pressure to live up to that unattainable ideal. we need a man to pay attention to us. productive. I’ve learned that people are told volumes about what they need to do. ITM: So is the first step having an awareness of what that vulnerability is? BM: Yes. I’m a failure and an idiot. Say somebody hurts my feelings—but I can’t just have hurt feelings. it makes 19. but now we’re going to add the loss of our security. It’s just more pronounced www. ITM: Our hyper-visual culture bombards us with the supposedly ideal female image. I’m also going to have insecurity. You know what. no matter what powerful place they have in our lives— has the right to take our security from us. demotions. but they’re desperate to know how. but how in the world does that translate to everyday life? We’ve Christ offers. liberated life ting below the surface. What do you think is the root of that insecurity? BM: Of course. I’m not giving it up for this. or have no idea what to do about it. many people have gotten pay cuts.intouch.

There are a number of roots of insecurities that can take hold even early in life: instability in the home. But the heart of it all is this innate fear that we’re never going to measure up. It’s always wrapped up in some kind of inauthenticity. It sells us down the river over and over. But shame is what causes us to want to cover ourselves. yet masquerades as a friend—the part of us that’s always looking out for us in every In her new book. Women with the most chronic cases of man-related insecurities feel “whole” only if they have a man. romance. “ x Read more of our interview with Beth Moore at www. we attempt to cover ourselves. insecurity is a tremendous challenge. she acts like either a victim or control freak. we’ll be stuck in the hole of insecurity for our entire life. 16 | May 2010 In Touch ITM: On a spiritual level. So Long. She has an inordinate need to keep tabs on her man and obsess over whether or not he is straying. That’s what insecurity actually is. a man asked me if I was afraid that my book’s message of getting over insecurity might make women prideful. In reality. pride is actually one of the major roots of insecurity. or marriage. We’ve got to realize that soul-deep security is part of our salvation. I’ve come to the conclusion that insecurity is the driving force behind much of our self-absorption. Bible teacher and women’s ministry leader Beth Moore tackles a topic close to home—insecurity. One serious outcome is the draw to poor relationships. major losses. It makes you realize that you don’t want to be a woman who has to text your man 25 times in one day to see what he’s doing. how do you think shame and insecurity are connected? BM: It’s just huge. It’s not enough for a man to love her. we grow in humility because we no longer have something to prove. She can end up running off the kind of person she really wanted and needed because she’s so desperate. It’s our right as children of . and since the right kind of man isn’t always available. In our human nature alone. they often settle for the wrong kind of man. If we don’t get a life beyond ourselves. They’re two very different things.intouch.intouch. A woman with man-related insecurities only feels good about herself if the key man in her life feels good about her.) See order form or visit www. But now we’re living in a world where it’s epidemic and where the temptation to give in to it is overwhelming. But we’ve gotten insecurity confused with humility. Talk about something as old as the Garden! Instead of asking God to cover us. ranging all the way from disappointing to flat-out dangerous. that we’re going to somehow prove stupid and foolish. Probably the most painful chapter in the book is based on the answers women gave me to a question I put out on my blog: “How has insecurity made a fool of you?” They shared one story after another. which is why the two always somehow get twisted up. It causes us to be so easily offended or to feel overlooked or minimized. When we truly begin allowing God to work soul-deep security in us. Even a more sensitive personal disposition can contribute. insecurity causes us to make all sorts of foolish decisions. A woman can also sabotage a really good and healthy friendship. Ironically. The havoc insecurity wreaks on relationships can’t be overestimated. Insecurity uHardcover | $13 (U. The Proverbs 31 woman is clothed in strength and dignity. Not long ago. Simply put.S. She constantly struggles to be noticed and feel desirable. she needs incessant proof that he does.

A CGA offers tax benefits as exchange for your gift. Although annuity rates themselves are subject to change. www. yet a charitable tax deduction is available In Touch Foundation to offset current income.000 or more can establish a CGA with In Touch Foundation. such as husband and wife. the older you are. For more information. Also. This article is not intended to provide specific legal.intouch. CFP ® . regardless of changes in the economy. the foundation pays you a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.000 for a CGA would have a rate of 6. Gift annuities make sense not only for people in their retirement years. tax. A CGA with In Touch Foundation is not insurance. you can support the ministry’s work in sharing the gospel while providing for your own financial security.. it is important that you have other savings or assets to meet emergency needs. For example. annuity payments are partially | 17 . CGA rates are for illustration purposes only. a 75-year-old donor who contributes $10. or investment advice. to the extent allowed by law. This is because payments can be deferred until later years. the longer the foundation@intouch. the higher the rate. as of January 2010. All CGA contracts are subject to acceptance by In Touch Foundation.. but also for those still working. A CGA is simple to establish. One way to generate cash flow while supporting your favorite charity is with a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA).” If you are retired or planning for retirement. in which case the rates will be somewhat lower. Payments can also be made for the life of two people.building wisely i “ Fixed Payments for Life >> The Charitable Gift Annuity by WAyNE JONES. and the payments remain fixed. the Foundation pays you a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life. Generally. they range from 5 percent for a 60-year-old individual to 9. For instance. The annuity rate is based on your age at the time of your gift. please call us at 800-967-2200. Please consult professional advisors about your specific situation. Generally. discovering how to increase your income may be a priority. in exchange for your gift.5 percent for someone 90 or older. which is $630 each year for life. The donor is entitled to an income tax charitable deduction for a portion of the contribution. In Touch Foundation does not offer a CGA in every state.3 deferral period. an irrevocable contribution of $5. or call 800-967-2200 Through an In Touch gift annuity. the higher the annuity rate will be. Of course. since a gift annuity is irrevocable and the principal cannot be returned.

Three teenagers later. it is long enough for me to make a quick assessment of who is hanging out with whom and what plans are in the works. “unplugging” from your kids is the best way to let them grow. so I am careful to make enough food to share. so I finished in the kitchen earlier than usual and headed upstairs to the task I’d been dreading all week. the principal told all of us parents that for the next four years. We stayed home. I get out an issue of Bon Appetit and make dinner. on Saturday night we did what we often do on the weekends. The aroma in the house always lures them into the kitchen. But while I encourage them to have a bite or two of something delicious. It was a matter of mental sanity and marital survival. we went out. we needed to stay as connected to our teenagers as we were when they started kindergarten. instead of making reservations.familyroom going wireless Sometimes. So. During the toddler and grammar school years. No one lingers for long. we continue to heed his advice. But now. My son’s friends settled for pizza on the patio instead. My husband and I took that advice to heart and adjusted our own social life accordingly. B y B E C k y S T A N L E y B R O D E R S E N When my oldest son started high school. It is really just an excuse to be 18 | May 2010 In Touch downstairs so I can greet the teenagers who come and go throughout the evening. It was time for me to hook up my Mac Notebook to my new . Saturday night I made tilapia with a light beurre blanc sauce.

I was going wireless. I reviewed the instructions. 17. I carefully loaded the instructional CD and followed the prompts. Each one is very different from the others. or fix. they were now all in the process of going “wireless” on several different levels. “All of us like sheep have gone astray. we often feel responsible.printer. The truth has been downloaded. apart from ours. But as the Bible says. As I considered reconnecting the USB cable to my printer one last time. As we have discussed many times. we not only feel their pain. I could see that the printer was fully downloaded. At 16. We must be discerning about what we are tempted to | 19 . and observed answers to our family prayers. I thought of my children. meddle in. Supposedly. I wondered about the progress God was making with my older son. God knows which circumstances in our children’s lives will motivate them to make their own connection.” nothing happened. As their parents. It occurred to me that my computer screen represented their hearts and the icon symbolized everything my husband and I had taught them. that He gave His only begotten Son. sent them to Christian camps. I am equally sure they know this truth: that “God so loved the world. it was time for me to disconnect the USB cable and place my printer in a cabinet away from my computer. checking as I went to make sure I was doing everything correctly. I’m also confident they know confessing their need for a Savior and putting their trust in Christ—who laid down His life for that purpose—is just the beginning. Suddenly I heard a hum in the cabinet.intouch. So for our part. and all we can do is prayerfully wait for the wireless connection to occur. As much as my husband and I have taken them to church. discussed our beliefs at dinner. Nothing. but most importantly in regard to their relationship with Jesus Christ. On my computer screen. conflicts with friends. Fortunately. has forgiven them completely. lest we interrupt God’s intentional. www. repeated all the steps. Finally. and tried again. we know that eventually their relationship with God has to become their own. but have eternal life” (John 3:16). it worked! The manual did not mention patience—obviously a key ingredient when going wireless. Unfortunately. and according to the guy at the Apple store. Painful? Excruciating. made sure the paper was properly loaded. individual pursuit of their hearts. Finally. but they all have one thing in common—as sure as I am about the icon on my screen. academic struggles. or fix. and 19. Christianity is a lifelong relationship with a sovereign God who loves them perfectly. they are not always the ones I would choose. now a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. individual pursuit of their hearts. that whoever believes in Him shall not perish. But when I pushed “print. it was a piece of cake. Petrifying? Yes. each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. As I stared at the icon on my screen (practically willing it to connect to the printer just a few feet away). and will navigate life for them if they will bend their knee to His benevolent authority. Sin and stubbornness are the reasons God sometimes has to use things like athletic disappointments. we must be discerning about what we are tempted to criticize. 53:6). That’s when the problem began. meddle in. and outright rejection to draw our children to Himself. But such trauma is necessary if they are going to develop an independent trust in and walk with Christ—only then will they be equipped to meet life’s challenges. lest we interrupt God’s intentional.

looked at me and nodded. and he’ll be healthy and strong. Their grandfather. kids. James. and there’d be no more sorrow? 20 | May 2010 In Touch How could I help little children understand heaven when I still had questions about it? Although I make my living as a writer. as did his sisters. words completely failed me at that moment. I’d awaken at night to find my bed lit by a thousand stars beyond my reach—and again I would contemplate heaven and its mysteries. Papa Craig. when I slept with my window open. as it always does. my eight-year-old son. Only sometimes. whole and healthy. He believed my words. That’s just his body. had died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. seasons racing by in a blur of deadlines and carpools. frantic and furious.byfaith A M e t A p h o r B y G I N G E R o f h e A v e n G A R R E T T “He’s not there anymore. We returned home from the funeral.” My children stared at the frail body in the coffin. and life resumed. Only then would I return to . One day we’ll see him again. seven-year-old Elise and four-yearold Lauren—but did they understand them? Could children this young really grasp the idea of heaven. I felt I’d failed my children too. the hope that one day Papa Craig would run to them.

although the girls claimed he had no manners. God made a way to show them what heaven is like.” Dr. It’s an event Grendel will not be able to recover from. I glanced up from my computer to see our 15-year-old bearded collie stagger and fall as he approached the door. ruffling his furry head. Please help them understand. eating too quickly and belching after sandwiches. “We started this adventure together. Daddy! Please! Give us one more day with Grendel!” I could barely breathe. racing and screaming and cheering—and Grendel bounding out to meet them. God answered my prayers by speaking in a way that my children understood best— the special language of forever love between a child and a dog. “and now it’s just us again.” I whispered to Grendel. and my kids throw open the van doors. “What’s wrong with Grendel. We weren’t ready to lose Grendel yet. Weeks later.” I prayed. I was single when I adopted Grendel as a puppy. After Mitch and I married and began our family. “Please. “We’re not putting him down today! This isn’t an embolism. my son and Grendel would play.” We drove to the vet’s. my children began wailing. The children grew so distraught that after Mitch carried Grendel inside. in that moment. and he’s the one who picked out a husband for me at a party: he’d spied Mitch and jumped into his lap. Jan came in and kneeled down to look at Grendel. dramatic recovery. “It sounds like a spinal embolism. he turned and took the kids home. Dr. Ginger—it’s an ear infection!” A severe middle ear infection had caused Grendel to become dizzy and lose coordination. www. And in heaven. Mommy?” little Lauren asked. racing straight for each other’s arms. When we arrived. Once again. Mitch lifted Grendel out of the van and onto the ground. God made heaven real to them. I always knew Grendel wouldn’t be with us forever.the heartache of believing in a heaven I couldn’t fully describe to my children. I made an appointment to bring Grendel in that afternoon for euthanasia.” our vet Dr. grinning ear to ear under all that hair. Sobbing. Then as my husband carried Grendel into the clinic. not so soon after Papa Craig’s death. When my daughters came along.intouch. barely able to stand our hearts breaking.” Before hanging up. screaming and laughing. a quilt on the floor so I could lie down with Grendel as they gave him the injection. My stomach tightened and I bit my lip. I was crying so hard. Jan had the room ready for us: dim lights. and his “deceased pet” paperwork printed. And then she gasped. to us all. He’d never done this before. trying not to cry. and try to steal cookies while I | 21 . snuggle. I found myself trying to explain heaven. I knew Mitch must be special if my dog was so crazy over him. whole and healthy. I’ll never forget seeing my husband drive up the hill to the clinic. buddy. “I’m sorry. Grendel began an immediate. detailing Grendel’s symptoms. we all held hands and thanked God for giving us so many years with this incred- ible—and incredibly silly—dog that we loved so much. but I dreaded this moment. choking out the news. Grendel in my lap to feel the breeze on his face one last time. Earth is when we weep for the pain of death. God. Jan said over the phone. Jan gave him a huge injection of steroids and antibiotics as I called Mitch. “I don’t have the words my children need. “Just one more day. Dr. we’ll experience that moment when the doors are thrown open and we run. refusing all evening to budge. wild with joy. I had called. Grendel was often invited to tea parties.

but I can’t seem to shake hands with wonderfully. wonderful are your works. 22 | May 2010 In Touch Today I am loved deeply by a man who affirms me. of longing for a daddy and looking for him on the face of boys my age. I revel in his embrace. his tender words spoken over me about my beauty to him. Or looked at. my worth affirmed. sometime around puberty. Unfortunately. Wonderful? B y M A R y E . she’s striking. attention came. longing for limelight. All I really wanted was for someone to hug me and say. But there’s still that little girl inside me. a deeper issue lurks. or notice how young I was in snapshots from long ago. equating my worth with how I look. for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I was homely. How uncanny is that? I should be embracing the wisdom that comes with years. So I spent my childhood in the shadows. it had to do with how I looked. and my soul knows it very well” P S A l m 1 3 9 : 1 4 I resonate with fearfully when I think of my aging body. Number three? Make friends with your own reflection. She will reflect my own paranoia. And how I view myself is caught by my daughter. preening in airbrushed beauty. “Everything will be okay. She will be insecure if I am insecure. Have you been there? In the past few months. needy. I started that fatherless dance of fear. the Lord saw fit to send me to a mother-daughter conference where author Vicki Courtney keynoted. D E M U T h I’m getting there.” Right around this time. She spoke about five things our daughters needed from us. “I will give thanks to you. I shake my head.” I did not want to be kissed. How can it be wonderful? Beneath my current struggle with body image. “Wow. Just held. and thin. I realized why Sophie built me up— because I wasn’t happy with my own reflection. my 16-year-old daughter Sophie has on several occasions said. I still mourn losing my looks to age. I grew up thinking that if I had worth.solvingproblems Fearful? Yes. “Mom. the serenity of growing a more beautiful soul. I’m having a hard time grappling with my body’s physical changes. Regardless of how I felt. you’re pretty. . And yet. Every time I see a celebrity on a magazine cover. I wasn’t a cute kid—hardly one you’d look at and say.


We could start a positive revolution by simply embracing contentment. for the things which are seen are temporal. We’re all aging.” . but at the things which are not seen. there are women everywhere who need to see godly women becoming comfortable with their image. hay. 4:18). If I’m stressing about extra pounds. chances are. We do ourselves no favors by constantly worrying about our physique. straw. Paul tells us.Her attitude about how she looks will be affected by the way I feel about how I look. in a roundabout way. So we all face these issues. and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. Here are six ways to “make peace” with who we are: Embrace health. hay. exercise. we speak them silently about ourselves. And that means denying the nagging judge in our head who mercilessly compares us to the latest beauty queen and offers the verdict that we’re not Angelina Jolie. Push against culture. and straw Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 3:12-13. Be mindful of eternity. precious stones. bear burdens. In Ephesians 4:29. Paul describes the anticipation believers should have: “We look not at the things which are seen. her compliments served as a reminder to make peace with myself. spending our energy on loving others. but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. Why would we spend time discrediting His 24 | May 2010 In Touch temple? Why would we deny it nourishment (or offer it more than it needs by overeating). We must choose to push against our culture’s superficial tyranny of beauty. and seek to keep short accounts with friends and family. then we can rest in knowing we are wonderfully made while we embrace the responsibility to keep it healthy. listen to hurts. wood. To place on each other this yoke of hierarchy is to discredit the Lord. Add to that this surprising truth: Those who love Jesus are actually God’s sacred dwelling place! “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. Mother Teresa spoke of us finding Jesus in “distressing disguise. Everything that I see in the mirror is temporary. and we’ve looked away. We can defy the trend that glorifies youth and devalues anything less than perfection. One thing that’s helped me befriend my reflection is embracing a healthful lifestyle. I wonder how many times Jesus has appeared to us from the unlovely. but I can commit to living wisely: I can eat nutritious food. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth.” Many of us are guilty of disobeying that verse—but our words aren’t critical of someone else. 3:16). I fear that all my worrying is adding to the wood. we’re all beautiful people. But when we embrace those whose hearts outshine their physical beauty. so that it will give grace to those who hear. Even if we don’t have daughters watching us. But what I choose to do in this body God’s given me is what will last. we become countercultural in the best possible way. I may not be able to control age’s gravity. We must learn to make friends with our reflections. These are things I can choose. and rejoicing that our bodies enable us to give hugs. each man’s work will become evident. It won’t last. level scorn its way. for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire. So. she’ll follow.” How sad that we miss Him when we value external beauty over genuine beauty. Whenever I worry about my looks. or let it atrophy through lethargy? If God created our bodies to house His Spirit. wash my hands. Is that what Jesus would do? Would He call on only the beautiful people? Since He created us all. “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold. silver. I think of heaven and the fact that this body won’t remain—that a new body will replace it. but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment.

” My husband will never forget her touch of blessing. Rest in the wonderful body God has given you. I asked him what he thought of her. but also the interests of others” (Phil. do not merely look out for your own personal interests. We can smile when we look in the mirror. So our goal in life should be pursuing the kind of beauty He rewards and developing a heart that runs quickly to Him—one that is full of mercy and patience and kindness. when you’ve had a passel of grandkids and maybe even a few great-grandkids. Think about the rest of the women out there—many of whom probably also suffer from body image issues—and seek to encourage them.” he said. “She was shorter than I expected. It helps to take our focus off ourselves. Because my father passed away when I was young. Consider this: Today is the youngest you’ll ever be! Live. I tell older women they’re beautiful. you’ll exemplify what Paul meant when he wrote. I compliment a friend who’s recently lost weight. I didn’t. Praise another’s beauty. Project yourself into the far future. And show the world this radical truth: Godly people are content with how they look. to rejoice for the breath that fills our lungs. And I’m so thankful I’m alive. I always thought I would die in my thirties. how light shone in her eyes. Be content in today. we should value faithfulness over youthfulness. I remember the lined face of Mother Teresa and the love she shared freely. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. Strive for “inside out” beauty. Altering the way you view now will save a lot of needless reminiscing and will help you anticipate what God has in store. but for the you who lives right now. You will be old then. When I find myself slipping into sadness over my appearance. Make peace with your reflection. We need to remind ourselves that God looks at the heart. So give yourself and others around you a gift today. Will you have “smile lines”? Will children want to scamper onto your lap because you exude the irresistible Jesus? Will your heart be beautiful? Whenever I despair of growing old. Altering the way you view now will save a lot of needless reminiscing and will help you anticipate what God has in store. not for the “has been” you. 25:23 niv). In so doing. Learn to rejoice in who you are and how you look today. www. not for the “has been” The key to contentment is learning to be alive in the moment.intouch. I strive to point out beauty when I see it. As Christ-followers. Let’s be less consumed with a body that is fading and more consumed with the consuming fire of God’s testing. our service over our looks. Well. My husband met her in Calcutta when he worked in one of her homes for the dying. but for the you who lives right now. one of the best ways to pull out is to look at others in a different light. But she blessed me. She was beautiful from the inside out. “And very old. Trust that the Lord will make your soul beautiful. Let’s strive to live a life worthy of Jesus’ words. good and faithful servant” (Matt. but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. “Well done. how worn her hands | 25 . 2:3-4). thankful for the years the Lord has given us thus far on earth.

” P S A L M 1 3 0 : 5 May marks the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. we were sitting around the dinner table. On the surface. I remember when my daughter Becky learned this lesson—she was just 21 years old. This is especially true when something seems to be right in front of us and we think that God is about to bless us with the desires of our hearts. everything seems to take too long. but I couldn’t deny them either. She had become engaged to a wonderful young man. One evening. you’d like to press down hard on the accelerator of life and speed things up. and it was as if the Lord said to me. and whatever road she took would determine the course of her life forever. When you’re on the cusp of adulthood and the whole world is at your fingertips. If you’re like most young people. Colleges don’t respond to your applications as soon as you want them to.” . my soul does wait. talking about the wedding. jobs don’t come through on time. and I began to pray silently. My daughter was standing at a crossroads. asking God if I should share my concerns with Becky. everything looked great. And somehow as summer draws closer. and I couldn’t point out a single fault with him. But very often God asks us to wait. and in His word do I hope. I felt uneasy about them marrying. I had no legitimate explanation for my feelings. but deep in my spirit.groundedingrace M 26 | “I wait for the Lord. It was crucial that she get it right. “You must tell her what you feel. Waiting is probably one of the most difficult things that Christians are called to do. time slows down. or you’ll live the rest of your life wishing you had. I was overcome with feelings. May 2010 In Touch The excitement of taking control of your own life is tempered with the stress of not being able to fully do so. friends don’t call when you expect to hear from them.

“I would go to seminary. and it comes with a certain degree of stress. Being patient is difficult. He has a definite plan for your life. I don’t believe he’s the right person for you. Or perhaps you haven’t figured out what you want to be when you grow up. He responded by demeaning her choice. would you like me to help you call off the wedding?” She was as stunned as I. For most young we started talking again.The words spilled from my mouth: “Becky. the Lord blessed her with a wonderful husband. Becky joined her brother Andy at Dallas Seminary. “If you’ll wait for God. After a while. The whole process was very difficult for both of us. Create your own profile. saying the last thing he should have said: “How long are you going to listen to your father?” When she heard that. “Daddy! What are you talking about?” she said. I pray that you can discover that for yourself. That fall. As fine as this young man is. “Becky. that’s what you should do. her decision was confirmed. “Okay. He’ll bring the right person into your life. After a period of waiting. if you could do anything that you wanted to do at this point in your life. x VISIT GROUNDED. my faithful daughter called her fiancé and told him about her new plans. Maybe you have a job. what would you do?” She hardly hesitated. but stepping out on your own ahead of God can bring about disastrous consequences. Maybe you haven’t yet found a job and don’t know how you’ll pay for school this fall. and the prospect of spending the whole summer away from good friends seems lonely. Waiting on the Lord does not mean being stagnant. I said. but haven’t found a car or transportation to get you to and from work.” she said. As always. It was one of those critical times in my life when I knew that I had to obey God and be totally misunderstood or be loved forever. and then was quiet for a few heavy moments. the Lord rewarded my obedience. summer is a transitional time. Then I reassured her. but He may be calling you to wait awhile. God is moving and active. www. hear podcasts. That’s what we’re going to plan on. for what purpose I do not know. This is the perfect time to learn to wait.” I said.” When we finished our 25-yearolds connect with like-minded young Christians. and share ideas at www.intouch. Wait for His confirmation in your life. If you’re at a crossroads and don’t know which path to take. In Touch’s new online community helps 18. wait on the Lord. start | 27 . in His time.intouch. They make a terrific match—and she couldn’t be happier with her family.

stronginspirit When God doesn’t take aWay the Pain b y F . L . s t o n e .

intouch. it’s as if a giant vise grips my body in a mind-gnawing ache I can’t psych myself out of. at least. I’ve learned how to focus beyond it and run on a sort of forced adrenaline—as long as the meds are taking the edge off. no matter www. Truly a far cry from what we in the West. but that the very presence of God can actually come to inhabit suffering and make it into something altogether different. The point was God’s answer to Paul’s plea for deliverance: “My grace is sufficient for you. Plenty of people deal with physical afflictions I would stagger beneath. After ten years. my usual day-to-day acceptance of reality was jolted out of place by a fleeting memory of what my mind used to be like. It makes little difference. While the New Testament is indeed full of refrains about future glory that can come from suffering. Paul well knew that all of his readers would have their own private. vulnerable conversation with God in which he lays bare his agony—from the thorn itself and the fact that the One with the power to instantly pluck it out wasn’t going | 29 . the specifics weren’t ever the point. And even if you don’t. Furthermore. unrelenting pain. though. something the apostle Paul famously called the “thorn in my flesh” (2 Cor.* I turn a deaf ear to all the speculations over what his thorn might actually have been. But the other night. He was speaking to those of us who have done everything we possibly can to deal with chronic depression and yet continue to have no mental energy for anything. you probably struggle with a burden that merely has a different shape but weighs about the same. we should keep in mind who the letters’ original recipients were: a harshly persecuted church dealing daily with the possibility of losing their livelihoods or even their lives.” Yet God’s epic response wasn’t about these kinds of persecution-related trials.My saving grace has always been this: not thinking about what I can no longer do. 9). After all. This mysterious proclamation of hope speaks of pain in the strange way that’s confounded humanity from the ancient times of Job to the present: the idea that not only can the most inexplicable pain have value. I doubt Paul left out the details because he was a particularly private man or embarrassed to share either a mundane physical complaint or dire temptation. I’d forgotten how effortless it once was to do (or even think through) simple things—so easy that I never thought about it. who knew what it was to be beaten or tortured or mercilessly humiliated and lied about—only because of their allegiance to “the Way” of Jesus. But this spiritual reality of God’s power made complete in the very center of pain goes far beyond grin-and-bear-it praise-the-Lords or the bad theology of Job’s cold-comfort friends. those are underspiritualizations of pain. claim as our own “religious persecution. If anything. I don’t actually think I have it worse than anyone else. we each have a burden to bear. Something of the past. there’s no lack of maddening clichés about praising the Lord through trials or things ultimately working out for our best. ness” (v. 12:7-10). We’re sick of people glibly quoting Bible verses at us about the glories of suffering. We’re tired of begging God to heal us year after year and then (even as we accept that for some reason He’s chosen not to) being told by righteous believers that we must not have enough faith. for my power is made perfect in weak* All Scripture is taken from the NIV Bible. and it shocked stinging tears into the corners of my eyes. My burden to bear happens to be perpetual physical pain. or there must be unconfessed sin in our lives. Blissful ignorance of an insanely amazing gift. Any person of faith who experiences pain on a regular basis knows how wearying the overspiritualization of pain can be. of course. he was divulging a very personal. But once they start wearing down (or I’ve overexerted myself).

But then. What God is saying infinitely transcends religious platitudes. . “ . we don’t know the true meanings of words until we’ve experienced them. but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (73:25-26). . we hardly know their true reality or power. Or those of us trapped inside our bodies or minds by some disability that keeps us from interacting the way we want to with the rest of the world. This hope of what we call “heaven”—the place where God’s presence is total and fully seen—rarely seems as real as what’s right in front of us in our time-bound state. a time in which His sacrifice has conquered the darkness that first twisted and corrupted the world He made. His words speak to an in-between time when His grace is sufficient. He’s speaking about personal. This is. but in which our free will still must play out till the end of this chapter on earth. And that is truly our saving grace. This goes deeper than the surface of suffering—it’s something mysterious that must be experienced to be understood. It can feel thin and vague. spoken about as a concept only and tucked into the far regions of our starved imaginations. strangely. after all. This is reality: that the Creator is literally speaking His story into yours—that He has entered into the pain you are otherwise 30 | May 2010 In Touch alone in and has borne it for you on His own back. He’s not commentating on the apologetics of the spiritual problem of evil or the collective metaphysical problem of human suffering. As Mrs.“My grace is sufficient for you. “Whom have I in heaven . When our hearts and flesh fail us completely. there are those rare times when it materializes as something realer than anything else. Or even those of us who have tried again and again but can’t get pregnant or stay pregnant when that’s the one thing we’ve always wanted—or those of us who just desperately long for our family to stay intact but know it isn’t within our control. Until we’ve lived in desperate need of God’s comfort and grace. It’s about His grace completing its effect in your life. simply because they’re not you. sparked into view by a transcendent moment—whether a great story or an utterly beautiful vista that moves us or. private pain that no one on earth can experience with you or for you or completely understand. the nature of grace is its ability to transform. carrying you. by great loss or utter desperation that breaks us. We know the aftermath: our hope becomes sight. And it’s in this perfect weakness that God has chosen to make His home.” how well things are going. and we finally cry with the psalmist. His power dwelling in and actually springing from your weakness isn’t just about helping you hang in there and survive. for my power is made perfect in weakness. Charles Cowman said in her devotional classic Streams in the Desert. Not only is it enough to keep your heart beating. as you really can’t carry it alone. entering our world and taking its pain into Himself for our sake. the heart of the gospel: that the ruler of the universe stripped away His power and chose weakness as His mantle. and we no longer see darkly through a hazy glass—all is made new.

He’s made quite a bit of money— ’cause he’s cute. you can drift away and go on the computer or get pulled in different directions—watching TV or something.s “ spotlight by lINdA CANuP Sara Groves >> Music. Kirby’s little brother helps in ministry too—Toby likes to carry a little cup that says “money to free slaves.” the singer admits. “[My husband] Trey used to give me a joke to warm up the crowd. Is this stuff that will land my kids in counseling when they grow up. or will they flourish because of it? Her career as a successful musician has meant that her husband and three children spend a lot of time on the road. We’re in here together. another ministry Sara has supported in the past. www. and aahs? Now Fireflies and Songs you caN “Back to the jokes. from Minneapolis.” Time together is surely a great blessing for the Groves family.intouch. Ministry.” says Sara. But on the bus. They try not to focus on what they’re missing. and Motherhood Ladies and gentlemen. “If you’re at home. “He bounded onto the stage. . It was a meaningful. met the child they sponsor. improducing .” she explains. but I was always terrible at that. “It’s a lot of fun.) oNliNe she laughs. Sara Groves!’” What crowd wouldn’t love her after that? Six years later. Sara Groves!” Sara Groves worries about what every mother worries about. and instead celebrate the great opportunity to spend time as a | 31 . from Minneapolis. “Everywhere we go. this is it. ‘Ladies and gentlemen. Sara.” In fact. and their three kids enjoy taking part in ministry together. Kirby even traveled with Mom and Dad to Rwanda to visit a community they support through Food for the Hungry. . . “Then he announced. though. memorable trip—they built a home for a widow. her oldest son Kirby wouldn’t have gotten the chance to introduce his mom onstage when he was only three years old. Kirby. Minnesota. improducing . bookstore! See order form or visit www.intouch. however. Minnesota.” listeN iN our uCD | $11 (U. . loved it. if they weren’t together so much. “he’ll put his little cup out.S. so we tend to play and be together more. and also saw a memorial to the Rwandan genocide. But Sara’s got one problem: What happens Subtle yet provoking lyrics and the when the kids are too big pure voice of Sara Groves encourto elicit “cute-little-kid” oohs age listeners in her newest It was completely like Tigger leaping out to center stage. Trey. she says. Last year.” The coins he collects go to the International Justice Mission.

One Year the bible in 2 Kings 24-25 . Anyone who thinks otherwise is deceiving himself (1 John 1:8). The cross represents the intersection of His holiness and His love. always has His children’s best interest in mind. But Scripture also tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). He’s so “perfectly perfect” that no earthly man or woman can look upon Him and live (Ex. When we trust Him as our Savior and receive His forgiveness. 33:20). Though God loves mankind. and He created people with the intention of caring for them. It’s important to understand that God hates sin. He cannot abide evil in His presence. From there. the Lord displayed His grace for the entire world to see. 3:10). the Lord desires that all people spend eternity with Him.the weekend The Cross: Grace Displayed read | romans 3:21-27 God. He poured out mercy on an undeserving population: all of humanity. e a r l y l i g h t A The Father sent His holy Son to be a perfect sacrifice on our behalf. So the Father made a way to cleanse dirty hearts and transform wayward natures: He put the sin of all mankind on Jesus Christ’s shoulders. The problem has to do with our sinful nature—we all have an inborn desire to rebel against His authority (Rom. Yet there remains the problem of our sin and the death penalty that we owe. His holiness would be compromised if He permitted the filth of sin into His presence. and welcome in our Father’s presence. t Calvary. What’s more. He acts in love to help each believer reach his or her full potential. the perfect parent. Our holy God is absolutely without fault. The Lord cannot violate His own nature. perfect. 6:23). we are made new—holy. including you and me. so He pronounced a death sentence on sinners (Rom. Jesus Christ took our sin upon Himself and died on the cross in our place.

present. though the act itself had no saving power. Like the Israelites. With that act of disobedience. If an animal’s blood could actually erase a sin-debt. innocent. When we receive Jesus’ finished work on our behalf. God accepted the lamb’s blood as temporary payment. He willingly gave His life so we might be reconciled to God and live with Him forever. the ritual of sacrifice was God’s idea (Lev. The desire to spend time with God was replaced by a bent away from Him. human nature became self-centered instead of focused on the Lord. and undefiled” (Heb. To use a modern metaphor. Then we are adopted into God’s family and have fellowship with Him (1 Cor.” | 33 . we must also look to a lamb—the Lamb of God. Christ not only erased our past. present. sacrifice can be thought of as a credit card. chose to take on mankind’s sins—past. Jesus Christ paid the sin-debt in full. The ritual symbolized a confessor’s payment for sin. and Jesus’ death would have been unnecessary.4 1 ChroniCles 5-7 www. His mercy can reach the darkest part of our hearts. What’s more. When the ancient Israelites brought a goat or a lamb to the temple for a sacrifice. od’s grace has no limits. He established such offerings as a powerful illustration of the seriousness and penalty of sin. you were designed to have sweet communion with your heavenly Father. and future—to save us from eternal separation from the Father. But we are not pardoned through prayer. When the bill came due. Take a moment to reflect on Christ’s “rescue mission. 1:9). Jesus died so that you and I might become part of His family. When we receive Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. the forgiveness Jesus offered on the cross stretches back to earth’s first day and forward to its last. Bible reading. they placed their hands on its head and confessed their sins. our response should be a strong desire to fellowship with Him. How strong is your need for fellowship with Him? Does it override the clamor of the day’s events or get lost in the demands of daily living? One Year the bible in 1 C h ro n i C les 1 . As a result of Adam’s rebellion. The priest then killed the animal and sprinkled some of its blood on the altar of atonement. Christ alone qualified to carry our sins to the cross and pay our outstanding debt. He also paid for the wrongs of every generation. the One without sin. e a r l y l i g h t G 4 | tuesday Communion with Our Lord 1 John 1:1-3 Modern believers practice certain biblical rituals too. and future sin. The practice also pointed to Christ’s perfect sacrificial death on our behalf and the salvation He offers. or even the act of confession. 7:26).intouch. 10:4). Yet we must remember that. One Year the bible in Child of God. 4). we’d still be offering those frequent sacrifices. we are acknowledging His Lordship over our lives. But the lamb could not actually take on the sin and die in place of the Israelite (Heb. we are forgiven forever. e a r l y l i g h t G 3 | monday The Sacrificial Lamb hebrews 10:1-14 read enesis 1:27 teaches that God created us—male and female—in His image. sin entered the hearts of his descendants and separated all of us from our Creator. Knowing our dilemma—that we are enslaved by our “flesh” and unable to pay the penalty we owe—the heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus to stand in as our substitute. As we ponder this amazing demonstration of grace and love. Because He is perfectly “holy.

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We may be thinking Martha is right—if there is still work to be done. With an attitude of humble repentance. the first sister turned her attention to Him while the second was distracted by the preparations (v. If we come to Him in submission. e a r l y l i g h t 6 | thursday Draw Near to God James 4:6-10 Establishing a habit of communing with the Lord is essential to our spiritual health. Then we hear Jesus’ perspective. One Year the bible in Have you let adversity or failure pull you away from God instead of toward Him? To put distance between you and Jesus. repentance. Sin always blocks our ability to know the Lord. as we seek forgiveness from the Father. There are some important lessons to be learned from this story. What appears to us to be a painful or desperate situation is His invitation to draw near.” That is an amazing promise! As we open ourselves up to the Lord. Upon His arrival. we may seem to be the ones who begin this open relationship. and brokenness. to have fellowship with Jesus. Only in the humility of helplessness will we discover the sufficiency of His presence. First. 42). love. He said Mary had chosen what was better (v. Jesus knew how hard the women had been working and how much Martha longed to finish the tasks. it is God who has taken the initiative. if you and I continue living in rebellion and are unwilling to confess and repent. e a r l y l i g h t 5 | wednesday Fellowship with Jesus luKe 10:38-42 “D read raw near to God and He will draw near to you. Martha certainly didn’t comprehend her sister’s decision. Mary and Martha. we can enter into a more intimate relationship with God. 40). Even our greatest failures and sins can lead us to Christ. At first glance. He will not open up and reveal more of Himself to us. her sister should not be sitting down. Don’t let the Enemy win the battle. Their focus was to be on listening. if we fail to take time with Him. Many times He uses situations and difficulties to get our attention and stimulate our thirst for Him.1 1 In ToucH 1 ChroniCles 12-14 34 | MAY 2010 . He opens up to us. Observing that Martha was worried and upset about many things when only one thing was needed. we can learn how to maintain an awareness of Him. However. He rushes in with forgiveness. Jesus invited her to choose the better way— namely. there may be unpleasant consequences. What’s more. But their greatest need was to spend time with Him. She became agitated that Mary was no longer helping. Connecting with Him regularly will sharpen our focus on what is most important and help us separate what is good from God’s best. and interacting with Him. The second lesson is that our choice to forgo an activity may be misunderstood. were busy preparing for Jesus’ visit. Satan will misuse the very situations that the Lord can utilize to draw you to Himself. Martha’s distraction led to worry and T wo sisters. and faithfulness. There is no room for self-sufficiency or self-protection in this interaction. learning. to be with Him. Even in our daily work. we are merely responding to His overture (John 6:44). but in reality. One Year the bible in 1 C h ro n iCles 8 . we may have to leave some things undone.

soul. Even when her misery was overwhelming. and 2) help them experience the power and joy of prayer (James 5:16 niv).1 7 1 ChroniCles 18-21 www. I picture her telling him day after day. One Year the bible in Children need committed parents who 1) demonstrate love toward both the family and God. 5:7). While she wasn’t in any physical danger. her emotions were in constant turmoil because she could not avoid this person. however. the lessons apply to both men and women. and strength (Mark 12:30) and to give Him first place in our lives (Deut. How tempting it must have been to try and find a way out. whose life was in service to Him (1 Sam. Demonstrating godly love strengthens the people who are most precious to us. Our lives. and did her best to cope. Samuel was blessed because Hannah was a woman of prayer. while the second came from a heart rejoicing over the Lord’s answer to her cries. e a r l y l i g h t I 7 | friday the weekend Hannah’s Example 1 samuel 1:1-20 read A Praying Mom H | 1 samuel 2:1-10 annah experienced great sorrow prior to the birth of her son Samuel. mind. Through that difficult time. Though her situation involved motherhood. e a r l y l i g h t Some of us live with people who make life difficult. and parental hugs and kisses. 20). communicating love and acceptance. though n today’s passage. In fact. I love you and look forward to what He has planned for you. we can learn some important principles by which to live. I can still recall the phrases she used and the things she talked over with Him. Hannah considered her son Samuel a gift from the Lord (v. she acknowledged how important He was to her. Even one parent can make a powerful difference when Christ is the center of the home. prayed to the Lord. One Year the bible in 1 C h ro n i C les 1 5 . Staying committed to family. I know my mom did. prayers. and she modeled a godly lifestyle. We are commanded to love the Lord with our whole heart. Then express the same to others. God understands your situation just as He was fully aware of Hannah’s. we will make sure our children know about Him and understand the importance of a relationship with Him through Christ. Her first recorded petition stemmed from misery. And yet Hannah stayed in the home.” We have the power to build up our children and our spouses—or tear them down. we show how much we value them.intouch. the prophet Samuel describes his godly parents and the difficult time they had before he was born. 1:11). Samuel had a mother who loved the Lord deeply. will reveal the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. If we love God. At times we are negatively impacted by the choices they | 35 . Draw close to Him and experience His love and commitment to you. From looking at the life of his mother Hannah. Hannah saw herself as God’s handmaiden. she demonstrated a strong love for God and a dependence on Him through prayer. One of the women in Hannah’s life tormented her unmercifully. Through our words of affirmation. A praying mother gives high priority to bringing family concerns before God. “God gave you to me. She demonstrated a commitment to family that overrode her need for relief. I remember my mom kneeling with me by my bed to pray.

we are lost and hopeless. and resources for that purpose. Ask Him to forgive your sin. 2:10). Samuel lived in the temple with his mentor. Therefore. so to correct that situation. The priest. all we have to do is trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This report will be based on two factors: the truth we’ve heard and the opportunities that were available. At first. Third. lived the perfect life. First. then accept Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf. Then. Jesus came to earth. however. He calls us to service. Life had become too busy for me to hear something the Lord needed to tell me. God has planned good works for us to accomplish (Eph. The Father. who’s holy and perfect. Second. the Lord calls us to sanctification. And teach your children to tune in so they can hear Him too. and choose to follow Him. and died as a substitute for mankind. The Holy Spirit makes us aware that something is missing in our life. But God loves us. e a r l y l i g h t 11 | tuesday The Call for a Believer 2 timothy 2:20-21 Have you felt God speaking to you? If so. we’ll be able to hear our Father directing us in three ways. Through His Spirit. Share your decision with a pastor or trusted Christian friend so that you can have guidance on this beautiful new journey. this felt frustrating. but eventually I began to realize His plan for this trial. One Year the bible in 1 C h ro n iCles 2 2 .2 5 In ToucH 1 ChroniCles 26-29 36 | MAY 2010 . Eli the priest. Salvation is the greatest gift. He continually reminds us to use His power and resources so we can obey and live righteously. He abides with us and continues to speak. So we should be sure to listen daily as our heavenly Father reminds us to utilize everything we have for His glory. Romans 14:12 teaches that one day we all will “give an account” of how we used the resources God placed at our disposal. This happened two more times before Eli realized that the Lord was the one calling the boy. He certainly managed to get my attention by stilling my physical body! After leading us to A s a young child. don’t delay. Everyone is born with a sinful nature that’s “bent” away from God. which means being set apart by Him and for Him. Without the Savior. cannot be in the presence of unholiness. so he sent the child back to bed. and then He points us to Jesus Christ as the answer. so he ran to ask Eli what he wanted. e a r l y l i g h t 1 0 | monday The Call of God 1 samuel 3:2-18 read Y ears ago. hadn’t spoken. Almighty God still speaks to us today. What a waste it would be to tackle life without guidance from above. He gives us abilities. Then he instructed Samuel to respond by asking the Lord what He wanted. guiding gently and encouraging us toward righteousness. The first time we “hear” Him is when He calls us to salvation. the boy heard his name called. time. One night. To receive it. He took the penalty for our wrong. If we listen carefully. the penalty for sin is death—eternal separation from Him. One Year the bible in Has life become so hectic that God’s voice is inaudible? Foster your own ability to listen by spending time in the Word and by waiting for answers when you pray. God still has work to do in our lives. He calls us to accountability. God temporarily allowed me to have such physical ailments that I could do nothing but lie in bed.

His blood purchased redemption for people from every place and time. who. Picture yourself in the scene. One day. But to avoid the treasures found within this book is to miss some of the richest descriptions of our Lord that Scripture offers. the sight of His Lord in this glorified state caused him to pass out in fear (v. you are reading about your future. The praises described in Revelation 5:9-14 are coming from your mouth! Let this glimpse of the future shape your worship and focus this week. you will be in this army of saints and angels. Even though the apostle had shared an intimate friendship with Christ on earth.intouch. we see Jesus exalted as the King of Kings. This appearance is nothing like His quiet arrival in Bethlehem as a helpless baby. e a r l y l i g h t 1 2 | wednesday The Exalted Lord of the Revelation revelation 1:9-20 read n today’s passage from Revelation 19. and set up His R evelation may be the most ignored book of the New Testament simply because it can be difficult to understand. so that they could become citizens of His kingdom. 1:7). | 37 . as our High Priest. and admonishing when necessary. and we recognize the importance of His death and resurrection. who is the king of your life? Who guides your decisions and directs your path? The Creator has a plan and purpose for you. e a r l y l i g h t I 13 | thursday The King of Kings revelation 19:11-16 If you are a believer in Christ. As heaven opens. He watches over them. protecting. Jesus will literally reign on this earth as King. Jesus is shown to be the Lamb of God. This time.4 2 ChroniCles 5-8 www. but the story doesn’t end there. in Revelation 5:1-14. He comes to rule in the heart of every believer. Only in submission and obedience to Christ’s authority will we be transformed into His image and live a life worthy of His rewards (22:12). All heaven erupts into praise and worship when Christ is found to be the only one worthy to end this age and set up His righteous kingdom (v. seeing Jesus as the exalted Lord and Lamb of God. but salvation is just the beginning of all the blessings that the Lord has in store for us. One Year the bible in 2 C h ro n i C les 1 . 17). We love seeing Him as the baby in the manger. sacrificed Himself on our behalf. Sometimes Christians try to keep Him in the role of Savior. If you are a Christian. Jesus is portrayed as the Lord of His church. 7-8)—are following Him on white horses. as He comes to bring inescapable judgment. But even before that time. He is shown returning to earth to rescue His people. John was given a dramatic vision of the exalted Lord as He is now in heaven. This describes the fulfillment of the promise that says believers are going to rule and reign with Him (Rev. in the midst of the lampstands. In the heavenly scene. which can be discovered only by living under Christ’s authority. May His kingdom come. “every eye will see Him” (Rev. and His will be done on earth and in your heart. 5:10). A few chapters later. One Year the bible in In all practicality. 13). judge the wicked. Christ rides out on a white horse in power and great glory. The exalted King is not coming alone. The armies of heaven—who are clothed in the white linen of the bride of Christ (vv.

2. in charge. The lesson here is that no one can sin beyond the Lord’s capacity to forgive. God changed a sinner into a saint. e a r l y l i g h t G T he apostle Paul had a certain mindset that Christians are wise to emulate (1 Cor. borrow a page from the apostle Paul’s “playbook. The apostle Paul is a good example of the Lord’s power to transform an unrighteous man into an image-bearer of Jesus. The only way for people to be acceptable before God is to receive the saving grace of Christ—He replaces our sin nature with a righteous spirit. And even though saints will sometimes falter and make mistakes. At the end of his life. 6:16). He’d promoted blasphemy. Paul desired more of Jesus and none of himself (Phil 3:8).” Praise the Lord for all that He has done for you.1 4 read friday the weekend The Transforming Grace of God romans 8:28-30 read The Attitude of a Saint | 1 Corinthians 15:9-11 | od has predestined every believer to be conformed to the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ. 1:6). The book of Acts records the almost constant turmoil and heartache of his travels. 3. Paul’s gratitude for salvation from that former life never waned. Commit to obey the Lord. Do not allow His grace to be poured out on your life in vain (1 Cor. glory. but he relied on good works and a pious nature to gain divine acceptance. Paul was as certain as ever that God was real. Paul was welcomed into the kingdom in spite of his hostility toward the church. the future apostle learned that all of his religious zeal meant nothing. A spirit of absolute confidence. One Year the bible in Do you see these attitudes in yourself? If not. and then get busy working for His kingdom. To describe the source of his strength. punished believers.1 2 In ToucH 2 ChroniCles 13-16 38 | MAY 2010 . and yet he kept praising the Lord for the privilege of serving. The apostle never lost sight of how far God’s grace had brought him. A sense of dependence. God changed a servant of sin into a servant of the Lord (Rom. He frequently reminded followers of his role in persecuting the church (1 Tim. and worthy of all honor. 1:13). He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in you (Phil. A sense of obligation. and cast his vote against those being put to death (Acts 26:10-11). and see what He will do in your life. Paul spread the gospel because he believed that the grace which was sufficient to save a sinner like him was adequate for anyone. Humility. e a r l y l i g h t The Father shapes and chisels His children until they mirror His Son. Pride cannot hide in the heart of a believer who understands divine mercy. The process begins at salvation and continues until we join Him in heaven. He knew what it was like to depend upon one’s own goodness and work to be religious—and he wanted no part of it. 4:6-8). One Year the bible in 2 C h ro n iCles 9 . His attitude included: 1. 15:10). 4. our heavenly Father remains patient and loving toward His children. and praise (2 Tim. 11:1). When he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. He uses our failures to teach us more about Himself and His ways. Paul used these words: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. He turned one of the early church’s enemies into a wise and repentant leader. Paul was deeply religious before his conversion. 15:10).

One Year the bible in 2 C h ro n i C les 1 7 . they could admit their weakness and await divine intervention. Going deeper than familiar expressions like “hallelujah” and “praise the | 39 .” his prayer celebrates God’s personhood and extols His virtues. persecution. How could he be certain? Paul learned to trust the Lord during affliction in the same way that we do: he was thrown into high-pressure situations with impossible odds and yet saw God triumph. This was exactly what God had told the Israelites to do—to instruct their children about His ways so they could honor Him every day (Deut. God gave them an outrageous solution to the problem: to do nothing. the people recalled anew how He had intervened. Therefore. Furthermore.17 read monday The Affliction of Paul I | 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 read t’s easy to assume that problems in biblical days looked totally different from those facing us today. “Father. So you might wonder what a first-century missionary can teach us about triumphing over adversity. God loves it when we throw ourselves upon His mercy. we have the promise that God will meet our needs in every heartache and trial (Phil. satanic temptations. in the people’s worshipful state of mind. e a r l y l i g h t 1 8 | tuesday Praise in Troubled Times 2 ChroniCles 20:1-25 God’s strength is available to all believers who confess their weakness and inadequacy. Paul “despaired of life. some things remain the same— like temptation. Sometimes a troubled soul has only enough stamina left to admit. and sin. he had experience to back up his words. The Israelites’ story is recorded in His Word so that all believers may apply its principles. Rather. I absolutely cannot. However. he believed the Lord would sustain him during that season of conflict. we throw ourselves upon God and wait for Him to keep His promise. This builds courage and strengthens faith.2 0 2 ChroniCles 21-25 www. it is simply not going to happen.” but he trusted in a God who raises the dead. We understand divine power when we reach the limits of our own strength and feel God’s supernatural energy kick in. King Jehoshaphat responded with worship. Divine strength is more than adequate to overcome worldly hardships.intouch. Bend your heart and mind toward the Lord. because then His power can be released in its fullness. and consequences of sin. Though Paul’s culture was quite different from ours. 4:19). e a r l y l i g h t F aced with his nation’s certain demise. If You don’t. In other words. Our faith grows stronger when we trust Him in times of affliction. The people’s praise paved the way for their complete dependence upon Him. Even so. and you may find it difficult to separate the petition from the praise. the king led the nation in glorifying God for His past redemption. The odds of the small Israelite army beating the united force of three enemies were slim. Read his prayer in today’s passage. when the apostle wrote of being burdened beyond his strength. Satan never changes either. One Year the bible in God is also willing to lead you to victory in troubled times. As the Israelites focused on the Lord (and away from the incoming armies). hardship. sometimes dramatically.” In effect. and He will enlarge your vision of who He is and what He can do on your behalf. That isn’t to say believers can avoid all sorrow and pain. 6:7). Israel was spiritually prepared to go against human reason and obey.

we see what God is doing in our situation and notice areas where He requires our obedience. Praise Him! praise Him! ever in joyful song! Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus. —Fanny Crosby. Pow’r and glory unto the Lord belong. Crown Him! crown Him! Prophet and Priest and King! Christ is coming! over the world victorious. Taking a step forward in faith can be frightening. believers are completely safe risking their whole future on the Lord’s faithfulness. His wonderful love proclaim! Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory. In His arms He carries them all day long. Savior. but it is the wisest response. By doing so. deep and strong. Worshipping the Lord enlarges our vision.2 9 In ToucH 40 | MAY 2010 . wonderful. the way of God’s will. More particularly. our blessed Redeemer! Sing. Jesus will guard His children. He has never disappointed anyone! e a r l y l i g h t Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus. This is why I recommend that you decide now to respond to troubled times the way the Israelites did: with praise. Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows. A believer who is filled in this way can wisely keep a commitment to obey the Lord no matter what. We can dispel doubt by recalling His past faithfulness—and ease frustration by committing our future plans to Him. However. and bled and died. fear. our hope of eternal salvation. Praise is not the obvious reaction to hardship. despair. Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus. But believers who strike out on their own do not mature in faith. perhaps in ways and places we never noticed before. Moreover. Our human tendency is to plot a course through a situation toward the easiest solution. Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus the Crucified. Strength and honor give to His holy Name! Like a shepherd. they miss out on the blessings of following the Lord’s plan. Stopping to praise can divert us from the easy way out and direct us to the right path—namely. we begin to see how He is at work in the world. Even in the darkest hours. reigneth forever and ever. our blessed Redeemer! For our sins He suffered. worshipping God fills the heart with joy and the mind with peace.19 read wednesday a hymn of Troubled? Try Praise! | deuteronomy 20:1-4 A lot of negative emotions accompany hardship: frustration. One Year the bible in 2 C h ro n iCles 2 6 . Chorus: Praise Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness. He our Rock. People ruled by those feelings often make poor choices. our blessed Redeemer! Heav’nly portals loud with hosannas ring! Jesus. Love unbounded. O Earth. and doubt. 1869 It’s hard to despair while honoring the Lord for His love and strength.

When one of God’s people is seeking an anchor in turbulent times. ask yourself what produced the uneasiness. An exhaustive list would not fit here. help. e a r l y l i g h t When we focus on our circumstances. Instead of becoming more confident.” Among Satan’s subtle and successful traps is the art of distraction. Let me give you an example of what I mean. He gives two commands: “do not fear” and “do not anxiously look about you. Thankfully. Sometimes negative events create a hurtful thought pattern that can play in a person’s brain like a continuous tape loop. The Evil One knows that fear can choke faith. but the following are a few of the more common ones: • A belief that one can’t reach a set standard • Guilt over past sin • An erroneous idea of God as a punisher • Attitudes instilled during childhood Even if one or more sounds familiar. He’s filled His Word with scriptural anchors to keep His children steady in the faith. 1:33). this is the right passage for the job. Once a believer’s attention is diverted from God. 10). Knowing which incidents nurture fear can point you to the underlying cause. She | 41 . Isaiah writes about the source of Christians’ strength. Here.2 the Fearful 0 read thursday Strength for recommend that believers underline Isaiah 41 in their Bibles and meditate on it often. Tina may not be able to name her fear. One Year the bible in When feeling anxious.” Tina rarely received praise for a job well done.intouch. Now an adult. the Lord promises strength. but it certainly holds her back. it triggers anxiety in the heart of the listener. “Surely I will help you” (v. Moreover.3 2 2 ChroniCles 33-36 www. In verse 10 alone. Why? Because she fears being found inadequate. natural human tendencies take over. “You can do better than that” or “Your sister did much better at your age. e a r l y l i g h t I | isaiah 41:9-13 21 read friday The Hidden Causes of Anxiety E | Psalm 94:19-22 xperiences affect how people think about themselves and what they choose to believe. and then to evaluate possible ways of preventing our worst fears from coming true. There are several other potential root causes of anxiety. let’s decide to trust in the promises God has given us. Instead. When that tape gets switched on. Suppose that little Tina’s efforts to do well were often rejected by her parents. Let God help you reject the unhealthy thought pattern and replace it with assurance that those who listen to Him live free from the dread of evil (Prov. In the absence of prayer and worship. even though her boss is encouraging her to do so. anxiety and doubt grow unobstructed. don’t despair. You can count on Him. we begin to realize how powerless we are. Staying focused on God can be hard. The flesh prefers to seek security by thinking through all possible angles: our tendency is to weigh what we think could happen against what “experts” say will happen. These roots can be yanked out. Shutting it off permanently requires faith in the Lord. we serve an almighty God who says. we’re actually choosing to feel anxiety and doubt. He works hard to make unsettling circumstances a person’s sole focus. One Year the bible in 2 C h ro n i C les 3 0 . and protection. But these emotions don’t belong in a believer’s daily life. she refuses to apply for a job promotion.

and Abednego—had unwavering belief as well. arrogance (I know a better way—I don’t have to ask God). Sometimes the circumstances were thrust upon him—such as whether to eat food sacrificed to idols. 1:5-9). 1:10). One Year the bible in Knowing and trusting God through His Son. he was demonstrating his confidence in the Father. Abraham left home to go to a place not yet known to him. Which of these is keeping you from becoming a person of strong faith? Confess it and turn toward the Lord. With the Holy Spirit’s help and our cooperation. he voluntarily initiated a difficult situation in order to help (Dan. Knowing God and trusting Him are the two key elements of deep faith. and power in moments of testing strengthens our beliefs. Noah. Not only did this young man know what the Scriptures said. beatings. Developing steadfast trust takes time. Convictions are nourished by a growing knowledge of God and a deepening confidence in Him. Daniel. Each time Daniel’s loyalty was tested. he writes that faith without works is dead. Meshach. but he also trusted God to do as He had promised. when warned about things not seen. We are born spiritually through simple. At the Lord’s direction. e a r l y l i g h t D 2 4 read monday How to Have a Daniel-like Faith | hebrews 11:1-31 T he apostle James challenges us to understand the connection between faith and obedience. who was part of the Israelite nobility. 3:16-18). each of us can have a Daniel-like faith. he followed God’s leading. and living obediently are the elements needed to develop an unshakable faith. Every time Daniel took a stand for godliness. but they trusted that He would do what was right (Dan. When offered a meal that had been sacrificed to idols. provision. Jesus Himself said that our work is to believe in Him (John 6:29). In James 2:17. e a r l y l i g h t Barriers to unshakable faith include pride (I won’t admit I need God’s help). It strengthened him as he served under four different kings and faced many challenges. One Year the bible in e z ra 1 . we are to spend our lives learning and carrying out what pleases our heavenly Father (Col. At other times. his words and actions demonstrated that he knew the Scriptures and wanted to obey God. taken into captivity. experiencing His presence. God caused the official to show favor to him (Dan. he took a great risk by requesting other food. Experiencing His protection. he obeyed the Lord and preached the gospel. childlike faith that receives Jesus as Savior. obeyed God and built the ark. he chose to depend on God. Like Daniel. The apostle Paul was planning to arrest Christians when he encountered the Savior. In each case. apparently learned about the Lord from a young age. They did not know for sure that the Lord would rescue them from the fiery furnace.3 In ToucH ezra 4-7 42 | MAY 2010 . we cannot have unshakable beliefs without obeying. 2:24). Hebrews 11 shows that obedience is critical to steadfast faith. And his friends—Shadrach.the weekend Unshakable Faith read | daniel 1:1-20 aniel had unshakable faith. and self-sufficiency (I can do it myself without His help). His belief in the Lord sustained him when he was uprooted from his home. He did a complete turnaround—despite threats. and sent to a foreign country. In other words. and shipwrecks. While he was in captivity.

Finally. believers need friends who will continually point them to God and pray over them. Not only men like David and Paul. cry. we can be quickly comforted when we respond wisely to loneliness.1 0 nehemiah 1-3 www. God wants every believer to implicitly trust that He is near. which is why a relationship with Him gives people a sense of oneness. One Year the bible in e z ra 8 . 2 Tim. There is just one way to close the chasm and conquer loneliness—by drawing near to the Lord. His vow never to forsake believers is found throughout the Bible: He spoke this comforting word to Joshua. The Lord desires that all people feel connected to Him and to each other. That’s why His Word contains pledges of His constant presence as well as instructions to prevent loneliness among church members. However. A person who seeks ways to escape those feelings only broadens the gap between the Lord and himself. and avoid judging (Rom. 26:40. bear each other’s burdens (Gal. My adult life has been marked by periods of emotional isolation as well. The first step is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 25:16). God has never abandoned me to these feelings. Some biblical saints picked up the theme in their writing as well. Human beings are not designed to walk through this world alone. 3:8). A spiritual body works much like a human body—parts are both independent and interdependent. But nothing in the Bible says we won’t endure emotional isolation. e a r l y l i g h t G | hebrews 13:1-5 2 6 read wednesday Conquering Loneliness I | Psalm 25:15-22 know the pain of loneliness. One Year the bible in We can’t deny feelings of loneliness. The Lord created mankind for fellowship. Second. The Lord stressed His constant presence because He knows our need for assurance. 27:46). and the disciples who were about to witness Jesus’ ascension (Josh. 1:5. Above all. The love of Christ squeezes loneliness out of the lives of God’s children. Believing He exists is not enough. 6:2). We require support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. 25:16. He gave the Bible this consistent theme: I love you and I am with you always. Some Christians incorrectly think they shouldn’t be susceptible to normal human feelings. but even the Lord Himself knew the ache of feeling deserted (Ps. we must admit that we’re lonely.2 5 read tuesday When We Are Lonely od created humanity for companionship with Himself and each other. He doesn’t want people to suffer the emotional turmoil of loneliness. Knowing this. David often sought God’s solace (Ps. e a r l y l i g h t Loneliness can cripple a person emotionally and spiritually. we ought to develop godly friends. each needing others in order to function well. and empathize with us. 15:7). the Israelites. which God gladly supplies. 14:13). 4:16. 28:20). Paul admonished people to accept one another (Rom.intouch. Lest we forget that the Lord is near. Matt. We are made for relationship. I was the only child of a single mother who had to work long hours to support us. The church is designed to meet our need for person-to-person | 43 . And Paul preached that nothing compared to drawing close to Christ (Phil. And in fact. nor can we run from them. Matt. These are the Christian brothers and sisters who will laugh. especially when we feel deserted or isolated.

4:17). but this holy respite is from all the things that make life on earth so wearying— temptation. our treasure is stored there (Matt. 21:10-27). whether it’s declining health. Our mistakes won’t stop Him from loving us. First. Thomas’s doubts were answered by Jesus Himself (John 20:27). and we will also have access to a heavenly city—the new Jerusalem (Rev. One Year the bible in n e h e m i ah 4 . and other saints.2 7 read thursday Our God of Comfort | 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 od’s care for us extends to the details of our lives. We receive His comfort through the Holy Spirit. we won’t be sitting and doing nothing! We will rest. He will renew all things. And no sickness of ours will prevent Him from caring for us. insufficient finances. the Lord also promised to return and take them to a home He had prepared (John 14:3). continuous. the Lord lovingly strengthens us to persevere (2 Cor. who lives within us. e a r l y l i g h t God’s comfort and care are adequate for anything we face. Later. And while our infirmities may remain. ourselves. Moreover. People everywhere are in great need of His compassion. God’s children will spend eternity serving and worshipping Him. 6:20). we will take up the work of serving and praising God. Consider how the compassion of God was demonstrated through Jesus’ life.7 In ToucH nehemiah 8-10 44 | MAY 2010 . 1:4). 3:20). He not only healed them physically but also gave an even greater comfort—new life through the forgiveness of sins. Christians have a citizenship in paradise (Phil. trials. pain-free. and always available. our bodies will be resurrected as immortal. Even to His enemies. There is no situation or time when He is inaccessible to the believer—we can be consoled and reassured at any time. Rather. and pain. heartache. Jesus left the way open for repentance. The Lord’s compassion is personal. Despite misconceptions about reclining on clouds and playing harps. According to the Bible. day or night. In these two spheres of heaven. Once the Lord’s timing is fulfilled for the world’s tribulation and judgment. He interacted even with the “untouchables”— people whose bodies were infected with a contagious disease (Luke 17:11-14). 5:6). 14:14). He knows when His children hurt and longs to offer comfort (Isa. Jesus had compassion on people with medical conditions (Matt. And what about the messes we get into? Peter’s betrayal of Christ was met with forgiveness (John 21:15-17). and vigorous sheaths for our spirits (1 Cor. and it will be our eternal home (1 Thess. This verse confirms that heaven is a real place. Then. earth will be transformed into an uncorrupted paradise. we will enjoy unlimited energy and perfect harmony between the Lord. 49:13). e a r l y l i g h t G 2 8 read friday Heaven—Our Eternal Home | John 14:1-4 J esus warned the disciples that He was going away. As citizens of that realm. once we’ve experienced His consolation. Every believer’s spirit enters God’s presence immediately after physical death (2 Cor. or family trouble. However. 15:42). we are to become bearers of comfort to others (2 Cor. 12:7-9). One Year the bible in Paradise is beyond our imagination. God is not describing a celestial dream world. but we do know that the believer’s life goes on in heaven. all believers will be gathered to a tangible dwelling place.

on exiting this world. but we can decide whether. we will enter God’s presence or eternal torment. On the one hand. e a r l y l i g h t W | John 10:1-11 31 read monday Remembering God’s Priority | numbers 15:37-41 At times. We are also to remind ourselves frequently of His commands and His greatness (Ps. Every person has a choice to make. some biblical elements are essential when beginning a relationship with Him: 1) Confess your sin and admit your need for a Savior (1 John 1:9). 1 Cor. politics.” But this statement reveals that they have missed the point. and on the other. but from our Father comes the appeal of holiness. the pull of God. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. the door (10:9). That’s why Jesus taught. And it rages not just in the realms of education. That means we express His righteous life simply by faith. and joy in Christ. 12:2). His gospel is a straight path from the pit of sin to the glory of heaven—with the promise of an abundant life in between. 2) Place your trust in Jesus Christ as the only possible Savior. it’s critical that we keep God’s priority as our own and make continual course corrections to stay on track. 3) Believe that your sins are forgiven and your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life (1 John 5:11-13).the weekend Jesus: The Only Way to Heaven read hile there are many religions. “I’ve made Jesus a part of my life. Jesus clearly states that “no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). there is only one way to heaven. Num. He used several picturesque descriptions to emphasize this point—He called Himself the way (14:6). then the Living Bread will sustain us. peace.” The way to do this is by opening God’s Word daily and letting Him use Scripture to flush from our minds anything that doesn’t fit with His priority (Rom. One Year the bible in The battle is ongoing. Jesus can never be simply a part of life. 105:4-5. The truth is. God does not expect people to follow a ritual to make Jesus Lord of their lives— you can use any words you’d like. Death is inevitable. at salvation. people will say. and the good shepherd (10:11). because He is the central | 45 . and rose again (John 3:16. and all these things will be added to you. the essence of living is to walk in childlike obedience to Christ. to do this. People will be judged not by their attitudes but by the truth of His Word. 15:37-41). One Year the bible in n e h e m i ah 11 . In other words.1 3 es ther 1-5 www. Jesus becomes our life—everything revolves around Him. Let me make this very clear: What a person believes about heaven and hell won’t influence God in the slightest. 15:3-4). Satan throws temptations our way. Since there’s no way to make it in life without Christ. there’s the pull of the world. And stumbling will occur because we live amidst two kingdoms that are in constant conflict. acknowledging that He died for your sins. For the believer. we depend on the power of the Holy Spirit for enablement and divine grace for forgiveness when we stumble. What we must do is go through the Door and follow the Way. e a r l y l i g h t The Bible declares that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. and finances but also within every human heart. the living bread (6:51).intouch. science. was buried. However.

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