Archive | Spirituality

When God Says No

When God Says No

By Debra K. Owens

I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer. Always have been. It’s a system of faith in which my beliefs are founded upon. Even with this conviction, it’s disappointing and painful when the answer to my prayer is “no.” And yes, I’ve had many “no’s.” Occasionally, I’ve seen the reason played out over a span of days, sometimes years. When that happens, it makes sense why God said “no.” Then there are those instances when the justification never comes. As a result, the mind questions the motive behind the silence.

Inscribed throughout the Bible are verses that encourage us to pray. They also instruct us to believe in order to receive. In some cases, they go as far as to say, “Ask anything in My name and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14 NIV).

With such strong affirmation and assurance, you would think that a person of prayer could face any obstacle with unshakeable confidence. Spiritually speaking, that’s the bold-like attitude we are commanded to have when we approach the Throne of God.

If that’s what were directed to do, why does God say “no” to our petitions? Is it because He’s God and He doesn’t have to explain His reasons? Is it because His reasons are part of a plan that I cannot understand? Whatever His purpose for saying “no,” I can find comfort in knowing that it has nothing to do with my gender, race, social hierarchy, financial status, or religious education. It also has nothing to do with my level of faith. In fact, the most faithful person to ever walk the face of the earth received a “no” answer when He prayed.

It happened in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew that the cross awaited him. In His anguish he turned to His Heavenly Father and prayed, not once, but twice, that the cup of suffering be taken from Him.  But God said “no.” He didn’t say “no” out of a lack of love. He didn’t say “no” because He didn’t care.  He said “no” because He knew that His One and Only Son’s death would bring salvation to billions of believers.

On that day, Jesus submitted to God’s will. At times, it’s hard to surrender to the will of God. But I can honestly say that Jesus’ example brings ease to the ache in my soul. Without a doubt, God is always in control. I may not like the “no” answers, but I do trust his reasons. Frankly, it’s the difficult times that draw me closer to Him. I’m compelled to rely solely on His provision and plans for my life.

I pray that whatever you may be going through, you’ll reach out to God with prayer and faith. The answer isn’t always “no.” If it is, remember God still loves you and has your best interest at heart.

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A Season For Community

A Season For Community

by Rev. Jessica Wright,  Krum First United Methodist Church

Easter people live in community, not just the superficial community some of us may settle for – the wave to the neighbors, drive through downtown, smile politely but keep the deep things to ourselves stuff of over-scheduled, underfed lives. We are made to live in community. It’s what God intended!

I found this wonderful story on Momastery, one of my favorite blogs: In carpentry, “sometimes an existing joist, which was designed to handle a certain load, becomes too weak. Maybe it was damaged by water or fire. Maybe it still has structural integrity but an addition is being constructed and the new load is going to be a lot heavier than before. Either way, now it is not as sturdy as it needs to be.

When a builder needs to strengthen that joist, she puts a new member right next to the original one and fastens the two together. Sometimes, two new joists are needed- one on either side. Do you know what they call that? A Sister Joist.”

We need our brothers and sisters and they need us. Sometimes something has happened in our lives, some tragedy or circumstance that has left us grieving and broken. Or perhaps good, new challenges have come along such as a change of job or the addition of children and the new load is heavier than before.

Some of us are blessed to find our first and best community in our families. This season also brings us Mother’s Day. While for some of us this holiday is a straight-forward obligation to call our moms or make sure we get a gift for the mother in our household, I ask us all to remember that for many, it’s not that simple. Motherhood, like any human relationship, can be a messy reality.

So, as you do your shopping or get your cards in the mail, consider praying for mothering relationships in all their forms. Those who have struggled with infertility. Those for whom motherhood was unwelcome or challenging. Those who have lost children to death. Those who have struggled in relationship with their mothers. Those who opened their hearts to children through adoption or foster care. Those who struggle to balance the demands of family life with work and other commitments.

Maybe Mother’s Day can be an opportunity to live a greater reality of what it means to be family. Jesus said, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:33, 35). In this simple statement, Jesus reconstitutes what it means to be a family, calling us to extend the love we usually reserve for our nuclear families much wider. So, season, consider embracing the Creator’s blueprints and live in community.

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A Month for Love

A Month for Love

by Charles R. Swindoll Continue Reading

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New Year “Do-Over”

New Year “Do-Over”

by Rev. Dr. Christy Thomas

This is renewal time of the year. There are two “New Year’s” this season. The first is the First Sunday in Advent, November 30, and was right after Thanksgiving. The second is, of course, the more traditional New Years Day.

They both celebrate new beginnings, and both center around babies. Advent signals to many  that the time has come to start getting ready again to welcome the baby placed in the manger as did the shepherds of old. The second New Year, also visually pictured as a baby, signals to many that it is time for the yearly “do-over,” the fresh start most of us need periodically.

As I think about these two babies, I’m reminded that every child born changes the entire world.

Whether eagerly longed for or dreaded, male or female, impoverished or ultra-wealthy, every child changes the world.

Whether loaded with physical and mental challenges or worry-free healthy, a musical prodigy or profoundly tone-deaf, hair sunny-silky light or wildly curly/kinky dark, skin glorious ebony-rich to albino-like pale, every child changes the world.

Whether left or right-handed, born already reading philosophy or never able to read even one word, oldest or youngest or in a middle position–no matter the characteristics or circumstances, every single child born changes the entire world.

Some changes are small, and barely noticed. Others become history-recorded legends.
Some babies grow up to massacre innocent children; others grow up to offer their lives for the good of many.

Each of our own births also changed the entire world. Some of us have changed the world for the better, others for less than better, but none has been a neutral force.

We live in a world full of passionate love, messy brokenness, anguish, hurt, pain, longing, hope, connection, and separation.

It is from a broken, messy people that the the Christmas baby emerged. Check out Jesus’ genealogy sometime–it is full of really messed up people. It is also our own messy brokenness that makes us aware we need the “do-over” of each New Year, no matter when we celebrate it.

So, may our New Year celebrations, whether we honor one or both, open our eyes to our own impact on the world around us. Let’s ask, “How can I, in the precious moments of life yet before me, live my next New Year in a way that brings as much good to as many people as possible?”

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Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

By Donna Mason

Every day boys and girls worldwide suffer from war, poverty, disease, and natural disaster. Operation Christmas Child makes it possible for millions of these children to experience God’s love through shoe boxes filled with gifts. These shoe boxes open doors for presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ by working in and through local churches where possible, offering children’s literature and through culturally appropriate evangelistic and follow-up programs. One of the things that makes Operation Christmas Child so special is its emphasis on kids helping kids. This project provides a simple, tangible way for children and teenagers, to join adults in sharing the joy of giving a simple shoebox gift to children around the world at Christmas.

The Operation Christmas Child collection week is Nov 17-24th and Denton Bible Church is the area Collection Center.  Go to www.samaritanspurse.org  to find out more about OCC and how to pack a shoebox and other local drop off locations.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham.  Get your church, school, organization or business involved in this year-round ministry, contact Donna Mason at donnamwithocc@gmail.com

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Halloween: To Witch or to Watch

Halloween: To Witch or to Watch

By Tonia N. Olson

In our house, because both of us as parents work at facilities which are open 24/7 365, any holiday or birthday is just a day; it’s what you do with any day that makes it a celebration. Isn’t that true with any day of the year and any event? It is what you make it.

What is Halloween for you? An 88-year-old man I met told me he credits God for his good life and that he believes Halloween is just a time to have fun. Maybe you don’t believe in the pagan aspects of Halloween or the evil that it has come to represent, so you don’t participate. Maybe you make your yard into a gothic representation of Halloween complete with ghouls, cemetery markers, witches’ brew, and chainsaw killers who chase anyone who approaches down the street as kids and adults alike scream in response. Maybe you tender your activities by limiting them to dressing up in fun costumes, scaring people for a laugh, and gorging yourself with the incredible amounts of goodies which go along with door-to-door trick-or-treating. Or maybe you use it as a time to fellowship with people you don’t know, like our neighbors who give out hot dogs, hot chocolate and may have a baseball game streaming in on a television in the driveway while neighbors and others from surrounding areas mingle and chat.
Just as we do not like to be nudged or pushed in a particular direction, so others also prefer to come to decisions regarding behavior and actions on their own. We each have the right to choose our own paths – it’s our God-given freedom to choose. Pastor Dave Smith of Gracepointe Church believes, as I do, that “the best thing each person can do is research the topic themselves and then make their own decision. And always, always respect other believers and how they respond, especially when it is different from your approach.” We are not to judge others, but are to remain examples of Christ in our daily behavior, a light in the darkness of this world.  In the Bible we are advised to “judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV).

Being a light to others comes in many forms; God wants us to have joy in our lives and spread that joy to others, but that looks different for each person. It is what makes each one of us a unique creation. For Halloween, whether it is dressed up as a witch walking around your neighborhood gathering goodies or watching television spending Halloween night at home, with family or friends, you are challenged this year to spread joy and to make it a celebration of your freedom to choose how you do that.

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