All posts filed under: Personal Growth

Are You Clinging to a Cape or The Cross?

Have you ever prayed and prayed for something and then actually got what you prayed for? I have. And as a result of the answered prayer my life has become much more difficult. I got what I wanted but it really hasn’t looked like I thought it would.  I used to be a great parent… or at least I thought I was before I had kids. As my boys have grown I have learned lots and lots of lessons about being a mom. However, none of those lessons have adequately prepared me for the challenge of being a foster/adoptive mom. I came into this believing I was Supermom. God had granted my prayer and I was going to be the perfect mom for these two kids. I believed my love would be all they needed to overcome any obstacle and they would quickly forget about any part of their past. Yeah… no. That’s not at all how things have transpired. Most of the time now, I show up 10 minutes late in a full sweat, …

Looking For Joy Won’t Make You Happy

I live out in the country, down a dirt road and then a little farther. I grew up here and I have a lot of history here. My grandparents’ parents bought this land and used to run a mill from the creek that runs through our property. I would spend hours playing in the woods and splashing in the creek. I always noticed the trees next to the creek were much bigger and sturdier than any others on our land. And it’s something that’s still true today. As an adult, it is very easy to see why. The trees next to the creek have a steady, never ending supply of water. All throughout history people have settled around rivers and lakes to have easy access to one of the most vital things: water. It’s no wonder, then, that God would use this as a metaphor for growth in our spiritual lives as well. Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners or join in …

Suffering Alone And For What?

-written by Kristen Ebensberger Have you ever felt like you were the only one who is suffering? When you are knee-deep in the muck, you may think it’s only going on in your world. We can get caught up in self-pity. We start thinking “if only…” and it’s usually followed with a thought of how someone else should have acted differently. I can promise, you are not alone. Scripture tells us our trials, or “heat,” has a purpose and it’s our job to figure out how God wants to use it for our good. Our trials reveal what is at the heart level. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4 Have you ever wondered why your children won’t listen to you the most when you’re out in …

Is Church More Than Entertainment for You?

Football games, movies, game nights, conferences, concerts, and other events tend to bring us together. We really like to sit back and watch, and it seems like whatever problems plagued us before take a back seat to the entertainment. Sometimes we allow the church to become this. We get up on Sunday mornings, come to a building, and watch “church” happen. We can watch the sermon like we watch Netflix. We review the service on a scale of our own personal preference. But when it’s over, our problems come flooding back and we are rarely changed. If your team wins or loses the big game, you will remember it for a few weeks. If you really enjoy a show on Netflix, you might binge-watch it, cry a few times, and even remember a few quotes—but next month you will have moved on to something else. Likewise, if you watch the church instead of being the church, don’t expect anything to change in your life. If you have been united to Christ through faith, God has …

A Little Faith and a Full Net

About this time a year ago in my daily reading plan, I got caught up in this small detail in scripture, tucked away in the middle of John 21: “Bring some of the fish you just caught,” Jesus told them. So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish – 153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. – John 21:10-11, HCSB I recently came upon it again in another reading plan, and I have to say it resonates with me greatly. There is something about this time of year that is prompting the Holy Spirit to lead me to this verse. I believe it has something to do with the “long-stretch” of the year I am in. New Year’s resolutions have pretty much faded and the hot pace of summer life is merging into the grind of early fall, as kids go back to school and I am pretty much living week to week, rolling with the punches as they come. It is …

A marriage Worth Rejoicing About In Eternity

-written by Jean Daniel Okay, let’s just get it out in the open… I was divorced years ago! My first marriage took place when I was twenty, when twenty seemed far more older and wiser then it does now. I wore a simple white dress I had been purchased, not as a wedding dress, but months earlier at a store similar to SAM’S. To make matters worse, the dress had already been worn a few times before the wedding. The pillbox hat that I wore balanced on my head was made from a cardboard oatmeal box covered in satin and pearls with a pouf of a veil emerging from the top. My shoes, uh… well worn. The reception consisted of standing at the front doors of the little country church afterwards to shake hands with the guests. My parents worried about only spending $60 for the wedding, but, hey, we were married! The wedding by all legal standards worked, but the marriage did not! Joyfully, my second wedding, although again very simple, was nothing but …

Are You Ready for the Change God Has For You?

-written by Matt Clotfelter On May 15, 1991 my world changed forever. I sat with my family and friends, preparing to board a plane for the first time since I was an infant. My family was leaving everything we had ever known, and we were going to Thailand. My parents were answering God’s call to be missionaries. We had spent the last two years raising support and making plans. Our stuff had been packed and shipped in 55 gallon barrels more than a month earlier. That day we stepped out into the unknown. I was unsure of what my future looked like. As a 12 year old, everything I knew as normal was about to change. I had an aunt, uncle, and two cousins who lived there already. We knew we had our family to depend on, but we didn’t know what other friendships we would have once we got there. After being in the air for 24+ hours and a 12 hour train ride, we set foot in our new hometown. My cousin began …

Are You Living in the Hope of Tomorrow Today?

Everyday you wake up and it’s today. You don’t get a re-do on yesterday and you never wake up in tomorrow. Granted, tomorrow became today, but you get the idea, right? Every time we wake up, we get the chance to live in a fresh new today. But isn’t it common to want to live in yesterday or to anticipate tomorrow and miss out on today? I think this happens in our spiritual life as well. When we live out this new life we have in Christ (remember, you are saved by grace through faith! see Ephesians 2:8), we should look to the past with thankfulness for forgiveness of sins, mercy, love, judgment removed, and debt paid. Knowing what God has given us is important, but it isn’t enough. We can’t simply look at what has happened and say, “Okay. I’m good to go now.” We still have today to live. And, likewise, we know what future has been promised to us by God; namely, eternity with Him. That will be an incredible time! I …

The Wedding You Don’t Want To Miss

Weddings. They come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Some take months to plan; some are spur-of-the-moment. Some are loud and filled with laughter; others are more reserved and reflective. But there is a common factor in most weddings: tears. Bridesmaids cry (I think I understand this one). Brides cry (I don’t understand this). Grooms cry (Well, at least one that I know of, but Shannon cries at anything!). Mothers-of-the-bride cry (I’ve heard it is because daughters tend to marry a man like their father; I don’t agree.). And fathers-of-the-bride cry; sometimes visibly, often only in the soul (I totally understand this). There is a special bond between most dads and daughters. A wedding marks the day all that changes. When the pastor asks, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?,” the father of the bride says, “Her mother and I.”  He then literally an figuratively steps back to place his daughter’s hand into the hand of the groom. The father is no longer the most important man in her life, someone …

What Question Does Jesus Have For You?

Have you ever asked a question for the purpose of teaching a lesson? Maybe you ask, “How many slices of pizza did you eat?” because you know your child is about to get sick. Or maybe, “Why do you think it turned out that way?” because you want your friend to think of making a better choice in the future. Jesus was the wisest question asker and often His questions would cut deep to the core issues at hand. In John 21:15 Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Jesus asked Peter if he agape loved him, which refers to the highest form of love, a selfless love which puts others first. This question would have cut deep for Peter because he knows earlier he had denied even knowing Jesus. Peter responds saying he phileo loves Jesus, or another way of putting it is he loves Jesus like a brother. And Jesus responds by telling him to feed His lambs. Jesus doesn’t allow Peter off the hook …