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Choose Your Own Adventure

By Melinda Bell

When I was about 11 years old, I was given a book for my birthday. When compared to the Barbie Ferrari or the hot pink windbreaker suit I asked for, I thought a book was a pretty lame present. But this book was special. It was a Choose Your Own Adventure book. At various points in the story it would give the reader different choices to make. For example, the main character might be stranded on a desert island and the reader would have to choose to either build a fort and wait for help or build a raft and brave the ocean. With each choice, the plot unfolded as the reader controlled the story. Each book had numerous possible endings. Most of these potential endings resulted in starvation, disease, or death. However, in each book there was always one happy ending that might include being rescued or a large reward for your accomplishments. But since the ending depended on making all the right choices, it sometimes took a few fatal attempts before actually reaching the happy ending.
 
I had never read a book where I could control the story. In fact, I hated reading and everything else I was “supposed” to do. As a pre-teen, I wanted to be in control of something. I lived in a world of curfews, authority figures and regulations that demanded compliance. I found solace in this book that had to bend itself to my will. It was my own little way of proving that I could figure out life on my own. As my age increased, so did my rebellion. I lived my life the same way I read my Adventure books. I took one wrong turn after another, trying to find my happy ending. I had tried everything from drugs to witchcraft to fill the void in my life. But each of my choices led me further from the contentment I longed for. After years of doing things my way, I was still left with a nagging emptiness that I couldn’t escape.
 
I was completely hopeless and willing to try anything.  In a moment of complete desperation, I called out to the God I didn’t believe existed. “If you are real…I’ll do whatever you want me to… Just show me you’re there and I’ll live the rest of my life for you.” Immediately my heart began to soften and I saw how I was just playing a role in a book that was already written. In my adventure books I thought as the reader I had all the power when in fact the story’s author was really in control. The author created the character, set the environment, gave me the background information and even devised the choices I was allowed to choose from. The Kingdom of God is much like one of those adventure books I loved so dearly. God Almighty created the heavens and the earth for the perfect scenery. He intricately designed each character’s personality and the set of circumstances they were born into. But the Author and Finisher of our faith has a much greater reason in writing the story we live out each day. As much as some days might appear to be the horrible prank of a sovereign God, I promise our stories are not simply for His amusement. Rather, the stories of our lives are God’s way of delicately ushering us to Himself, while still allowing us to choose His Way rather than our own.
 
The more I read my Choose Your Own Adventure books, the more I began to pick up on subtle hints that would lead me to the best ending every time. Soon I realized that the author wanted me to reach the happy ending. The more I read his books, the better I became at picking up on his little clues until pretty soon I could pick up a brand-new book and reach the happy ending the first time through. I didn’t do it by making my own choices, but by figuring out the way the author would have me to go. In the same way, God sets before us choices of blessings and curses each day. He gives us the choice but the only way to experience authentic joy is to give up our way of doing things and choose His way. His way isn’t the easiest. Actually it is usually full of hardship because nothing breeds good character like tribulation. In Luke chapter 9, Jesus tells His disciples, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” (The Message)
 
Occasionally, when I first began reading my adventure books, instead of making the choices as it prompted me, I’d flip through the pages and find the happy ending and see if it was worth my time to try to figure out the author’s secret path. God promises us in His Word that we have a happy ending beyond anything we can think up or even imagine, but there is only one Way to receive His promise. And His Way is Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father except through Him.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as God’s Word that became flesh. Jesus is the only path that leads us from the beginning to the end. We are free to choose another way but its end will always lead to death. And God doesn’t wish that any man should perish. God wants us to have an eternally happy ending living with Him. So if we will submit ourselves to His Way and become familiar enough with His style (the Bible), we can pick up on the still, small voice of His Holy Spirit gently nudging us in the right direction. We won’t get it perfect every time; but if we earnestly seek His way and not our own, He promises that we will live Happily Ever After in “The End.”

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 2:39 pm.

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Christ returns to Weddington!

I’m sharing this email from my friends in Weddington about a very significant small victory. Merry Christmas to All . . .

All,

I wanted to share the news that Christ has returned to Weddington, NC.  Yes you heard it here first.  Let me explain…

The other day we received an invitation to the “Town of Weddington Second Annual Holiday Tree Lighting” event at the town hall (see below).  When I received the notice it seemed Christ(mas) was absent from the event.  I knew it was a job for Super Brenda.  So Brenda called the Town of Weddington and inquired about it.  The administrative person said that there had been “some discussion” by the town board about what to call the event (specific to whether Christmas should be used), but they decided not to refer to Christmas.  Brenda lovingly expressed her confusion and concern (Truth in Love, Eph 4:15) over how a Christmas tree had become a holiday tree.  She asked to have her concerns passed on to the board and began reaching out to them via email.

Later in the day she received a call from the Town of Weddington saying that they had reconsidered and would be sending out a notification of the “Christmas tree lighting” event.

I know it’s a small victory for showing our love and respect for Christ and what really matters is whether we carry out the gospel with our hands and feet.  But for a brief moment it was great to be reminded that one voice can actually make a difference in our politically correct culture.  Here is a link that explains the “12 rules of Christmas” that can help separate what is politically correct vs. what is legal in expressing Christmas. http://www.rutherford.org/resources/legal-12rules.asp

We should all humbly serve others as Christ’s hands and feet, but not in absence of speaking and celebrating the name of the one who sent us.

Peace,

PK

Posted 8 years ago at 1:39 pm.

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Blessed with boys

As the mother of three boys, I shake my head almost in shame when I remember how frequently I wished for a daughter somewhere along the way. As much as I think I know what I want, truly only God knows what I need.

My boys feted me on my birthday by constructing (and I mean to imply intensive labor here!) a four-layer carrot cake decorated with fondant cutouts of the family. (Check out how slim my waist is and how much hair Greg has!)

Then the two older boys each read a letter they wrote for me. Some excerpts that melt me like no daughter’s words ever could:

“Dear Mommy, You are awesome. You are loving, kind, generas, paicant [patient], caring. … I will remember you always (for as long as I live). You rock! I will be your son and you will be my mommy forever.” –Reece, 7

You betcha, buddy. Forever. And make no mistake: I will remind you I’m your “mommy” the instant you start referring to me as “Mom.”

Oh, also–you rock too.

“What would I do without you? Without a mom to do what we forget to do all the time? [Chores, he means.] You always have our backs and are by our side when we have a hardship or a rough time. … You’re a great strong Christian and you’re leading me in the right direction. God was watching over me when he gave me such a great mom.” –Kyle, 12

No, my dear, he was most definitely watching over me.

I might roll my eyes at the incessant talk of Lego-man “wars” and smoke bombs and the apparent never-ending humor to be found in belches and flatulence. But to hear these strong little men say these selfless and vulnerable things… well, it takes all the sting out of the vision I had of motherhood sans pigtails and tutus.

Love my boys, yes, I do.
Love my God for relegating them to my care. I pray I do right by Him.
And him and him and him.

Posted by LS

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 12:50 pm.

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Devotional 8/28/09

Here are the scriptures referenced in today’s reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

Psalm 63:7-8
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

These are my own comments after reading the Jesus Calling devotional for 8/28/09. DS

I had just read the Jesus Calling devotion for today that talked about letting the Lord add sparkle to your day and light your path. It was a message that hit the spot for me. Having been unemployed for so long I keep myself really busy, not only trying to find new job opportunities but it seems like my todo list has gotten so long I’m running out of paper! I’m generally very positive, and greatful for how the Lord continuously lifts me up. But I get discouraged sometimes and this morning was one of those times.

I got up to get a drink before I settled in to write something. There was a little bit of fruit punch left in the refrigerator so I poured it into a glass. But I also noticed that my son had bought some cans of sparkling lemonade so I decided to open one and combine it with my half full glass of punch. It was the yummiest!! It made me think of how God takes something that is already good and adds a little “sparkle” to it. What a cool little realization treat! I’ll look for more of those today… and by the way, my spirits are officially lifted for the day!

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 8:55 am.

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Devotional 8-13-08 by John MacArthur

Selection Taken From:
From Ordinary to Extraordinary: A Yearlong Devotional to Discover What God Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur

What do a tax collector, zealot, widow, and two sisters have in common? They were ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things for God! Profiling the Bible’s most significant figures, MacArthur’s rich blend of teaching and inspiration drawn from his best-selling books offers daily encouragement as you strive to follow Christ. Padded hardcover. Used by permission. Adapted from From Ordinary to Extraordinary, A Yearlong Devotional to Discover What God Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright 2009).

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY

Boaz… said to her, “it has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” - RUTH 2:11-12

Boaz visited his fields that very day, and when he noticed Ruth, he sought out the foreman of his crew and inquired about her. The foreman related to Boaz the complete story of Ruth’s extraordinary faithfulness and commended her strong work ethic. Boaz immediately began to show her special favor, encouraging her to glean in his fields exclusively and to drink freely of his water. He even instructed the reapers to deliberately drop extra grain behind them for her to glean. The Lord impressed upon one faithful person to be an encouragement to another. Boaz’s grace and silent encouragements to Ruth are a living picture of the grace of Christ to His beloved ones. We may not always see clearly the many ways He makes sure our needs are met. But He manifests His kindness toward us behind the scenes in countless ways we may never even discern. That’s why we are commanded to give thanks “in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Evidence of His providential care for us is everywhere for those who have eyes to see.

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 8:14 am.

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When God Talks

By: Christine Taylor

My best friend has the spiritual gift of prophecy. I may need to explain that a bit: Christian prophecy doesn’t have much to do with foretelling the future, although God can grant that if He wishes. It has much more to do with seeing the power of God at work in the world, envisioning the spiritual battles that rage all around us, and with communicating the miraculous power and message of God to His people.

One of the lessons that I teach around Christian goal setting centers around Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I believe that our desires are our deepest values, the holy touchstones that God created in each one of us. One person’s values and deepest desires may be service, compassion, family; another’s may be beauty, leadership, security; still another’s may be freedom, growth, meaning. We all have them, although in our sin we can try to live them out badly! But God created the values within each individual, and He firmly tied the fulfillment of our values to our relationship with Him. (You can read more about this in my article on “The Deep Desires of Your Heart.”)

My friend’s spiritual gift and my teaching were brought together the other day. I was having lunch with my friend and she mentioned that she had been given a word from God. It had to do with hope in a financial situation, but it didn’t seem to apply to her. Maybe it was for me? She told me the message: “Be obedient and I will give you the desires of your heart.”

The miraculous part? I had never mentioned my teaching on desires of the heart to her before, and she didn’t know the verse from Psalms. She did not know the term in her own wisdom.

God did.

Author Resource:-> Christine knows first-hand the incredible power of faith-driven goals. Would you like to learn more about goal setting for Christians? Go to http://www.christian-goal-setting.com and find out about the incredible power of faith-driven goals

Article From Christian Article Bank

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 7:37 am.

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Devotional 8/4/09

Here are the scriptures referenced in today’s reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:
John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

These are my own comments after reading the Jesus Calling devotional for 8/4/09. DS

What a comfort to know that we don’t have to worry about whether or not we are on course. All we have to do is just keep in companionship with our Lord. He knows our course and guides us along the way.

I was laid off from a very good project management job eleven months ago and in this economy it has been very difficult to even get a job interview, let alone a new job! Eleven months may seem like a long time to be unemployed when you are single and sole provider. The truth is that, yes, it is a long time!!

I have made lots of changes in my life and I have taken steps in many directions to try to figure out how I will support myself moving forward. But although I still am not employed, I am happy to say that God has sustained me very well. I have been able to pay my bills, continue with my volunteer work and learn a whole lot of new things in the process. I even got my PMP certification which is something I’ve been meaning to do for years but “never had the time”.

The Lord is truly my companion! He knows my course and He continues to guide me. Sometimes it seems crazy that I am not worried about my future but the fact is that my faith is in Him, and as long as I continue to take my baby steps He continues to guide me along the way. I am watchful and thankful… He does the rest.

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 9:37 am.

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Devotional 7/31/09

Devotional 7/31/09
Here are the scriptures referenced in today’s reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

Colossians 1:27
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Matthew 28:20
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 20:19
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

These are my own comments after reading the Jesus Calling devotional for 7/31/09. DS

Yesterday I didn’t have anything specific on my agenda for the day and it felt weird. I just “hung out” and told myself I had nothing to do. There were actually plenty of things for me to do but nothing felt urgent and I didn’t really feel motivated to make a “to do” list so I got out of the house, went to Starbucks for coffee and pumpkin loaf, went to the library, went “idea” shopping at the craft store and then came home and took a nap. Wow, how’s that for a lazy day!!!

After my nap I started feeling a little guilty for not being motivated to do something “productive”. But I didn’t dwell on it too much because I was really just enjoying the peacefulness of the day. And when I think about it, I realize that with each thing I did, I felt the Lord with me and within me, my constant companion. I got some great ideas for planning future volunteer activities and I had a very relaxing, enjoyable day.

The funny thing is that after dinner I got on the internet and started looking into a project that I’d been wanting to do for a long time but was never really motivated to do much with it. But as I started looking into it I started to get a new enthusiasm for it. So I’m actually pretty hyped to get cracking on it today.

Hmmmmmm… His peace can be rejuvenating. Thank you Lord for your companionship and your peace. There are times when you let me feel your peace within the storm but this time I got the full treatment :-)

As Jesus said, “Peace be with you”

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 7:36 am.

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Devotional 7/17/09

Here are the scriptures referenced in today’s reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

Song of Solomon 2:13
The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”
Luke 10:42
but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Below are my own comments after reading the Jesus Calling devotional for 7/17/09. DS
Jesus is calling me to make alone time with Him. I know am His servant and He is my redeemer but it’s hard sometimes to understand why He has chosen me to be His child, friend, and companion. But His word tells me that when I choose to ignore the busyness of the world and seek a close relationship with Him, my choice will be blessed and it will not be taken away from me.

It’s so awesome to know that Jesus not only loves me but he actually likes me too and wants to spend time with me. I get the most inspiring ideas when I come to Him but I also enjoy the quiet moments resting in His presence.

Posted 8 years, 5 months ago at 8:46 am.

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Devotional – 7/16/09

Here are the scriptures referenced in today’s reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

Psalm 42:5
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 147:11
the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Below are my own comments after reading the Jesus Calling devotional for 7/16/09. DS
Quote from Jesus Calling: “SELF-PITY IS A SLIMY, BOTTOMLESS PIT”
I for one am guilty of falling into that pit once in a while. It’s a crazy place to be and so unnecessary when I stop long enough to realize that I was the one who put myself there in the first place. But I also realize that I don’t have to stay there for long if I just look up and remember that Jesus is there for me when I put my hope in his unfailing love.

Posted 8 years, 5 months ago at 12:44 pm.

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