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Friday, March 30, 2012

Witnessing Without Words—By Greg Johnson


When we open biblethink of witnessing most people think of an ordered way of approaching the subject, like having key verses or simply asking someone about their relationship with God. Most of witnessing though, which is not as much focused upon in training to witness, comes not with words but in other ways (see Acts 1:8- power implies more than words).

One of these ways is the amount love our life radiates. Jesus spoke of this, both in the gospels and the epistles as a common tap root of the tree of witnessing and encouraging others. When Jesus had his final opportunity to train his disciples in witnessing, at the last suppwash feeter, He showed the fullness of his love ( John 13:2-5) by taking time to wash each disciples feet.

In a related manner, when you talk with a new believer a frequent theme they cite in the process of becoming a believer is the love seen, and experienced which was a deciding factor in the conversion process. They selighthousee a difference in their lives. A radiating out the love of God (Exodus 15:13) which overflows to all around like a lighthouse generously radiating light in all directions for all to see. Ones that do not have this radiating love tend to be ineffective at witnessing, even if they possess eloquent words, or insightful arguments.

We also can be an effective witness through the gifts (I Corinthians 7:7), abilities, and talents given to us by God. It is amazing how many believers who have walked in the faith, sometimes for decades, do not have an idea of what part of the body of Christ they are. Some don’t see how the fruits of the Spirit have been an ongoing part of life, and others can’t think of how to live the words of the Bible through their daily lives. If we are not different from the world about us, then we have become part of that world. Therefore, we become as effective as deaf mutes striving to communicate to those nearby.

Witnessing also takes a servant hood (see fellowship foundation in Galatians 5:13-14) manner, knowing the needs of others. This is not to be a know it all, which haughtily believes we know the details of other’s lives. It is to serve in a way in which love leads to awareness, allowing us to be effective stewards to other’s. As we do this we are investing what God has given us into the relationships that He put in our lives each and every day. This provides a powerful witness.

Witnessing should be sharing something we are excited about. Something that is current, and alive, and growing, to the point we can’t not share it (Acts 1:8). We also know that to share it is beneficial to those who receive it. If you have great news do you not expect others will enjoy hearing it? If your witness was to be based on the most recent prayer answer or insight into Scripture, or way God has touched your life, how would your witness change from what it is now? Many people witness though with stories that are years and years old, not giving their present faith experience to those who know the intricate details of their everyday life.

To be a witness is not a one time, on the witness stand, experience, but it is given over a period of time (Luke 8:15), through a consistent life. Think of people coming to Christ, it often is a dramatic moment but one made up of possibly thousands of quiet moments that build up to and lead to an epiphany.

Witnessing is strong when we do not shape our words, but have shaped out lives so others cannot deny what we are saying through our deeds, or unfailing energy, our servant life, and our enthusiasm in discussing God’s love. These we can share through our experiences with those around us. Let your life define the words you speak (Revelation 12:10-11).

How do you witness without words?

Posts you might like:

To Be Salt and Light to the World

God’s Communication With Us

The Great and the Small Part 1—The Button Lady


Pictures through 2008 184Greg has been in ministry work since graduating from Gordon College, a Christian college, in 1978. He is a Christian counselor who primarily works with children and adolescents, but also sometimes long term adults. He has a hunger for prayer, and is dedicated to his family. He currently works two jobs, full time with boys in a group home, Cedar Ridge, and part time in a community counseling office, Christian Counseling Associates.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why I Want To Be Broken

This devotional was inspired by Jars of Clay’s song Sad Clown.

Break me daily!

Oh, how those words used to frighten me. And sometimes, they still do. But I’ve learned to expect my daily breaking, and dare I say, ask for it.

Because I am self-centered, self-absorbed, and try to be self-sustaining. Without help. Without others. Without God. Until I am humbled, broken—daily.

I’m guessing there are many reading this thinking, “She’s nuts! Why would anyone long to be broken daily.”

Why indeed?

So let me answer. Daily breakage is better than the cracking off of rock that’s been hardened over years. That requires a big hammer and a heavy hand. Daily breaking is more of a shaping by the fingers of the One who loves me most despite my shortcomings, failures and sins against Him. He sees through all the paint I use to disguise myself, for the beauty only He can envision. And His love for me is all-consuming, ever-enduring. He wants my best and is prepared to make me just that. He may break me, but He does it only to straighten that which I’ve made crooked. And given there’s lots crooked here, it’s a regular job.

Isaiah 64:8
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter.

Yes, the clown is another one of my daughter’s extraordinary pieces of art Smile.

How is God molding you?

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Broken, Healed, Forgiven—By Gregg Stein

Gregg is a Large Group Leader for KidZone at Grace Community Church in Fulton, MD. As he mentions in the story below, he struggled with dyslexia, among other things, growing up. But if you ever saw him in front of a group of kids, teaching them about the Lord, you would know he is truly gifted. I praise God he was able to find that awesome gift and use it for the One who gave it to him.

Good Morning

Recently I was heading to the local mall to do a little shopping when I witnessed a very sad event. I had the misfortune of walking behind a woman who was yelling and berating her teen-aged daughter. The girl was called “stupid” I don't know how many times, and “idiot” at least twice. I did not hear what the girl’s infraction was but nothing could have been that bad to desebroken heartrve that kind of public humiliation. My heart absolutely broke for that girl. I could only imagine what damage those words were going to have on her. I wanted to slap the mother and tell her to cut it out. Then I wanted to hug the girl and tell her that her mother was wrong and that there was a God who was crazy about her. As you will see I have firsthand knowledge of what those kind of words have on a person.

When I was very little my father decided he did not love us anymore so he left. Just up and left. So my mom raised my sister and me as best she could until she got remarried. Unfortunately the man she married was not much better than the dad who left us. My step dad was not a happy person and he took his unhappiness out on my sister and me—a lot.

I remember one day when I was about 4 or 5 I was in the bathroom goofing off when I got into my mother's makeup and made a mess. I had it all over the place! When my dad saw what I had done he made me put the makeup on and then he locked me out of the house. I can still remember how stupid and ashamed I felt. I hid in some bushes until my mom came home. I will never forget one particular Christmas. Christmases in our house were very stressful. We were always being yelled at because of the mess that we made or the fact that we did not appreciate the things we got. This went on EVERY Christmas. Now this one Christmas was the worst of all. For weeks leading up to Christmas I had begged 42-15646087mom and dad for two very specific toys. One was an M16 plastic rifle, that when you pulled the trigger it made different sounds. One time it was a gun. The next time you pulled the trigger it would make the sound of a bomb going off—that kind of thing. The second toy was a toy called “Rudy, The Robot.” When you turned it on it would walk and talk, and if it walked in to something it would just go the other way.

So I am begging and begging to get these toys. Christmas comes and the first present I open is Rudy-The-Robot!! The second present I open is the M16 rifle! Man was I the happiest kid in the world. So, we are done opening all our gifts hanging out and having a good old time. I am playing with my gun, shooting the hamster and such, when there’s a knock on the door. My mom answers it and it is one of the neighbors coming to wish us a Merry Christmas. As she is standing at the door I put the muzzle end of the gun on the ground and rested the stock end under my rear-end so I could sit on it. All of a sudden you hear this loud cracking noise and the gun snaps in half. My dad see's it happen and gets really, really, angry. He starts yelling at me about not taking care of my stuff and if I don't know how to take care of them, I don't deserve to have anything. He then walks over to Rudy-the-Robot and kicks it across the room and breaks it. Then he comes over to me and pretends he is going to punch me in the face. As you can imagine I was devastated.

Unfortunately, it did not get any better the older I got. My dad would always say things to me like "How could you do something soyelling stupid? You must be stupid." Or, “You're never going to amount to anything” Or, another one of his favorites was "If you don't like the way things are, you can pack your bags and get out of my house." But by far what I heard the most was how stupid I was. And because it was dad who said It, I believed it. When you hear something often enough you tend to believe it even if it is not the truth and if it is said by someone who is supposed to love you, you believe it even more. It did not help at all that I had dyslexia as a kid which made school really hard. Not being able to read correctly, and do math problems correctly, really made me feel stupid and then to hear your dad say that it was your fault because you just did not try hard enough only reinforced the feeling of being stupid. From 6th grade to 11th grade I went to summer school because I was so far behind. That also made me feel stupid.

I hated who I was. I was ashamed of who I was. I was a stupid loser. For two full years I never looked in the mirror because I was so ashamed of who I was. I was a stupid kid who had a bad case of acne. It was during my senior year of high school that my life changed forever. My homeroom advisor came to my house one night to explain to my parents that because I was so far behind in my work, barring a miracle, I would not graduate with my class and would have to make up some classes the following year. I was devastated, and to this day I can still see the look on my dad's face. When it was just he and I in the kitchen once again I heard those familiar words " I told you you were stupid. I told you you would never amount to anything."

So, I left the house, walked to my high school, climbed the bleachers and cried my eye's out. I asked God why I was so stupid and I asked God if it was true that he loved me? I asked God if he truly loved me would he show me. So I told God that I wanted to see a live Owl within 3 days or I would know that there was no God or that He just did not love me. The next day my mom was driving me to an orthodontist appointment. Oh yea, I forgot to tell you I had a mouth full of braces. So anyway we are on our way and I am sitting in the front seat passenger side looking out the window when all of a sudowlden I scream to my mom to stop the car. I really freaked out my mom. She screamed and asked what had happened. I sat there with my mouth open and tears running down my face because on the branch of a dead tree (so I would not miss it) was the biggest Owl I have ever seen. It was beautiful! At that moment I knew there was a God and I knew he loved me.

It was a few weeks after this that God once again showed me that he loved me. Remember a little while ago I told you that I had not looked at myself for 2 years? Well one day I was in the bathroom shaving with my head in the sink, not looking at myself, when I felt like someone was telling me to lift my head and look in the mirror. I didn't want to do it, but I really felt like I had too. So, very slowly, I lifted my head and even slower I began to look in the mirror. What I saw drove me to my knees in tears and laughter because what I saw was how God saw me!!! And I must tell you I AM AMAZING!!!!

That's why I call myself a disciple of Jesus Christ, because He gave me my life back. And as I started to read His word on a regular basis I began to understand that my earthly father may not have thought much about me, but my Heavenly Father sure did. The more you get to know Christ the more you love Him, and the more you love Him, the more you want of Him, and the more you want to follow Him. The shame, self loathing, and feelings of despair gradually started to disappear the closer my relationship to Christ became. In the book of 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 17 it says this: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come." Amen to that!

As my relationship with Christ grew, I allowed Him access to more and more of my heart and soul, and the more I gave the more He healed. The healing did not happen overnight. You do not go through years of abuse and "get over it" right away. At least that's not how it happened with me. For years I hated my father, I used to pray sometimes that he would go to work and never come back. Even worse were the times where I wished he would trip coming up the stairs, hit his head, and die right there. As time went on I felt Christ calling me to pray for my father. At first I refused. There was no way I was ever going to pray for him, but Christ would not let that go. So gradually I began to pray, grudgingly at first and not very sincere. But I did pray and the more I prayed the less I hated hipraying handsm. I finally got to a point where I earnestly and regularly prayed for my father's healing. Through my prayers I came to realize that he was just as broken as I was and just as in need of a savior as I was. I finally reached a point where I wrote my father a letter, and in it I forgave him for all that he did to me, and explained to him that God would forgive him too if only he would ask. I explained how God loved him and that no matter what he did God would never stop loving him. We never spoke about that letter but I know that it had an impact on him.

My mother always said that she felt that God had given her a word that my father would become a born again believer before he died. I cannot tell you how many times I prayed that prayer for my father. The Bible says that God is faithful and He would forgive us our sins if we would repent and accept Christ as our savior, so that is what I would pray. It was a few years later when my youngest daughter was just a year old that we all attended a Christmas eve service together. My sister was there with her son, so were my mother and my wife and daughter, and at one point during the service my father began to sing one of the songs, and there was such a look of peace on his face that I knew that night my father became a Christ follower. Later on during the night my mother said to me "Did you happen to see your father during the worship time? Did you see how he glowed? Your father accepted Christ as his savior tonight. He did not tell me this but God did." And I knew in my spirit that he had. Four days later my father died of a massive heart attack. My father had no church he called home or a pastor that he would have called "his pastor." We, as a family, were trying to decide what kind of burial we were going to give him and who would do the service. Well, God in His infinite wisdom spoke to me again and said I was the one who should do it. So that is what I did, I honored God by giving the service. I look back on it now and realize that it was God's way of completing my healing process.

I cannot say that I am glad that I went through what I did or that I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. But I will say that because of that experience I became a follower of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:28 says it best "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

So, my question to you is: What have you been called to, and will you answer the call?


101croppedGregg Stein lives in Jessup Md. He has been happily married to the same beautiful woman for 15 years and I has two beautiful, smart, and talented daughters. But most importantly, he is in his 30th year of following, loving , and obeying his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nothing Good Comes Easy … Easy

Check out Trevor Morgan singing “Easy.”

Being a writer isWriter on rocks the life … isn’t it?

Two years ago, after working with my daughter on a story project for school I got the bug. I wanted to write. I came up with some ideas for a story and laid them out on paper. Oh, was it fun! I hadn’t been that creative in years.

Did people really get paid to do this?

Then, the Lord spoke to my heart. I can almost envision Him shaking His head, warily as He imparted the message. “This won’t be an easy journey. Prepare yourself for a long and bumpy road. But don’t give up.”

Long and bumpy? How?

Um. Well. I know now. After writing, re-writing, critiquing, being critiqued and re-writing again—only to find I must do more of the same—Oh, do I know. So, seeing His word to me was true, I do as He instructed. I don’t give up.

It’s hard work. Harder than I’ve ever encountered. And yet—though I’m still not “published”—the most rewarding work I’ve ever engaged in. My manuscript has brought my sister and I closer as it allowed me to communicate, through my characters, things I could never say. I’ve been told about families who have found great success using vision therapy for their once struggling readers after reading about it on my blog. Yes, the Holy Spirit has shown me the fruits of this labor. Labor I might have given up over a year ago had He not spoken that warning to me.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, didn’t stop there. A year ago, I went to a Third Day concert and heard Trevor Morgan sing for the first time. He played the song on the link above andTrevor Morgan autograph cropped I bought his CD. Thank you, Jesus, I can be reminded of His message on a daily basis, after a long, weary day of hard critiques and brutal re-writes. And it encourages me to keep plugging away. Because, after all …
Nothing good comes easy … easy.

P.S. Got the autograph, this weekend, at my third Third Day concert in a year :o). How cool is that?!

What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Why I Wrote Part of the Overcomers, By Margaret Daley

When some writers I knew started talking about some of theirOvercomers problems they had as they grew up, an idea took root. We decided to write about our experiences dealing with our learning disabilities. In spite of our learning problems, we each went on to become a published writer.

The learning disability that I have is auditory processing. There is nothing wrong with my hearing, but once I do hear something I don't process the sounds the same way as others. I can't learn a foreign language or sing on tune. If someone talks too fast, I can't follow what he is saying. I have to really concentrate when someone is making a speech or I lose track of what is being said.

When I worked with students with learning disabilities, I wouldn't let them tell me it was too hard for them. I told them if I could struggle to learn to read (trouble hearing the phonetic sounds of words) and still master the ability to read, they could, too. If I could go to college, then they could dream and go for that dream whether that was going to college or trade school.

I will always have a learning disability. I won't outgrow it. But I learned to work around it and compensate for my auditory processing problem. I'm a visual learner and learn best by seeing rather than hearing. I use that to my advantage.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. We need to learn to use our strengths to overcome our weaknesses.

 As you were growing up, what did you have a problem with?

Margaret Daley1-Margaret Daley photo-jpg, an award-winning author of eighty-two books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Adopted Children of God

Yes, I’m a big Third Day fan. Check out “Children of God.”

Okay, I admit it. Having been indoctrinated in all that is politically correct in my various jobs, I was a little put off when I first saw the adopted children set apart, wearing shirts that suggested they were, well, different. Having a niece who would be wearing one of those shirts at the beginning of the song, I don’t think of her as less related than my other niece. In fact, I often joke about how she inherited a particular family trait only to remember colored hands editedshe doesn’t actually share my genes. So to have their “adopted” status highlighted, it made me uncomfortable.

But by the end of the song (after the gasping “Oh, I get it!”), I was in tears. Admittedly, that’s not hard to do for me—but WOW! The video is a poignant reminder of who our family really is. Who is our brother and sister, regardless of our “birth” mother or “birth” father. In fact, my brothers and sisters are not just white, like me, or black, like the younger Powell children, they are Asian, Native American, Slavic, Middle-Eastern and every race and color in between. All children of God, and adopted—chosen—by Him!

Romans 8:23b-24: We … groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

Oh, and the artwork is my daughters :o)!

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What did the video mean to you?

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Are You Worth To God?

Click the link to see You Are More, by Tenth Avenue North or the imbed below.

I’m not sure what the creator of this video intended, but when I see those first drips of water, I see tears. Who’s tears? Our Creator. Our Savior. Our Lover. Our Friend. The one who loves us most and guides us with the best wisdom to show us the fullness of what we can be … through Him.

We are more. That’s what He sees through those tears that gather and storm forth to wash away our sins. We are more. Not because we’ve done all the right things or even in spite of doing all the wrong things. We are more, because we are His. Where we were less, he wiped away, made clean. And I am grateful.

Maybe those tears grow and pour forth in the end because they are not just His anymore. They are those of all the children who’ve been set free. Set free because of His suffering. Maybe they include mine.

Actually, I know they do!

Song of Songs 1:15a (NIV)

How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!

Do You See What He Sees?

Also, try these links:

Jesus Wept

P.J. Sugar and You

His Power is Made Perfect in My Weakness

Friday, March 2, 2012

To Be Salt and Light To The World—By Troy Parrish


Thoughts on Love and Doctrine

wedding cakeIt was a beautiful spring day, early in the year, so the weather was a particular gift. My wife and I were attending a wedding and we were without our children. My wife had gone through some effort to find a flattering outfit and she looked beautiful. It was going to be a really nice weekend.

I travel in conservative Christian circles. Often things are off limits or frowned upon as being ungodly. There are the favorites, tobacco, alcohol, R rated movies, and such. We are also homeschoolers—have been for over 20 years. Early on, many of our friends looked and acted the part of the prototypic homeschool family. I attended a very conservative Bible college in which my hair had to be a certain length, I had to dress within the confines of a dress code and interactions with members of the opposite sex was heavily regulated. Needless to say I have met my share of deeply convicted individuals as well as some pretty judgmental ones.

The wedding we attended was that of a friend's son. My friend travels in the same conservative circles. Many of the activities and attitudes listed above he espouses, not out of requirement, but out of conviction. I hold my friend in high regard. His convictions about these things are genuine, motivated out of a desire to please Goddancing in his daily living. What was interesting about the wedding was that the bride's family didn't hold all of the same values. They wanted to serve alcohol and have dancing at the wedding.

I was not privy to how my friend negotiated these issues with his son and future in-laws. I do know that they had alcohol and dancing at the wedding. I also know that some of my other friends did not attend the wedding specifically because these things were part of the festivities. Most importantly, I remember well, a brief conversation that I had with my friend about his new in-laws. He’d come to know these people and had developed a real appreciation for the love they had for God. He noted that he had learned some things through this whole experience. While he did not specifically mention the alcohol or dancing, it was evident that the whole set of circumstances had given him a reason to re-examine how he looked at these types of activities and the Christians who would participate in them.

The need to hold to sound doctrine is pretty evident in the open bibleScriptures. I Timothy 4:6 reminds us that we need to be nourished in “Good Doctrine” which we have followed. Titus 1:9 reminds us that elders should be able to hold to the faithful word, which he has been taught so that he may be able to exhort and convict with the use of sound doctrine. And Galatians 1:6-10 pronounces those who pervert the Gospel through false teaching to be anathema, or accursed. We should not condone or even tolerate bad doctrine.

The difficulty I see is that too often the concerns about Christian liberties gets confused with sound doctrine. I like to attend an Independent Baptist Church on the occasional Sunday evening. I can promise you that 4 out of 5 messages will mention the evils of alcohol. These people are sincere, God loving, evangelically minded believers. They are also convinced that consumption of alcohol is a sin – period. To them this is sound doctrine. They wouldn't call it that, but it is a part of their understanding of living for Christ and those who think differently are compromising with the world.

Of course, by now there may be someone reading who is convinced I am advocating drinking, but that is not the case. I don't drink. Not because I think it is wrong, but for reasons of a personal nature and for the sake of testimony. You see, John 13:34-35 tells us that we need to love one another as Christ loved us. By this, men will know that we are His disciples. I think this is what my friend was getting at when he said he had learned some things. He was forced to get to know them beyond the surface appearance and had come to love them.

Romans chapter 14 discusses the issue of Christian liberties. We are enjoined to refrain from judging one another. We are instructed that we are God's servants and that as such we need to tend to our own conduct since we will be answering for it. It is verses 6 and 7 that I would like to focus on. They read:

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord: and he that eateth, eateth unto the

Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, unto the Lord he eateth not, and

giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and none dieth to himself.

The crux of these verses is the intent of the heart. Whether we participate sun in skyin a Christian liberty or not is unto the Lord. The particular of the behavior is much less important than how it is motivated by our relationship with God. I think my friend had seen the heart of these people and their liberties were no longer an offense to him. My friend is mature enough as a Christian not to be moved off of his own convictions about these issues but wise enough to be challenged to rethink how he evaluated others in their liberties. He could now see the genuine heart and desire for God these people had without compromise. Their faith was sound and mature, despite being willing to engage in behavior that many in my circle of Christian friends would at the very least frown upon.

Are we encouraged to confront those in sin? Galatians 6:1 and following makes it plain that we have that responsibility. But I also know that anything that we do without love has no merit (I Cor. 13:1-3).

I was recently disheartened to see a Christian woman brought to sobbing tears over how she was handled by her Church. While I do not know the particulars of the situation, I am convinced that one's Church should not elicit this type of response. Too often our judgment of others is not about love for the brethren, but out of a sense of righteousness. If we really knew the people that we were judging, if we really loved them, then I am convinced that our actions and attitudes would be different.

Would we still confront, convict of sin? Of course, we would because we loved our brother or sister in Christ. Would our attitude and approach be different? Without a doubt. I think we would care a lot less about the liberty issues that so often are the center of the judgmental behavior and be genuinely concerned about the hearts and souls of those around us. We would be the salt and light that Christ calls us to be.


dir_troy.l.parrish_mthumbTroy is a Software Engineer during the week and a Christian Counselor on the side. He’s been married for 25 years to Belinda and they share the blessing of homeschooling their 8 children, ranging in age from 7 to 22. He has an undergraduate degree in Bible Studies and a Graduate Degree in Clinical Psychology. He and his family enjoy long vacations at the beach.

Troy originally developed The Homework Keeper to help youth he counseled manage the stress of completing homework on time. The Homeschool Organizer was a natural outgrowth, utilizing his experience with his own kids. He and his wife are very active in the homeschool community providing products and resources such as Homesat Helper and Belinda’s Buzz.

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