BY JAMES DAMAN
Pokémon Go is a mobile app game that was released this past month and has been downloaded millions of times. The game allows players to capture virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as though in the real world. You then train them and bring them into "gym's" to battle on your behalf. I often wish that life worked like the game does, I wish we get to watch something else experience the pain in life on our behalf and I wish we could choose everyone who comes into our life.
Unfortunately in real life, we do not get to pick who comes into our lives and oftentimes those who come into our life are difficult to deal with.
Furthermore, we don't get to pick and choose the battles we face and when we face battles in our lives we have the possibility of getting hurt, while in Pokémon Go our Pokémon are the ones that get hurt.
When we face a difficult person, we don't realize that many of them have been difficult people for so long that it has become an identity for them. Or they identify as an addict, someone who is constantly angry or unhappy, or something else that causes them to manifest as a difficult person.
The only thing I've learned from Pokémon Go is that it is not designed to teach us life lessons, it's just for fun and I do love playing it. But, if I'm seeking those answers from Pokémon Go then it's a good reminder that I certainly don't have all the answers in life. But, it did help remind me of lessons from the bible that playing Pokémon Go sparked in my life:
BY CIPRIANO MARTINEZ
At the beginning of this year, out of nowhere (so I thought) came the thought of stepping down as Ministry leader of the Celebrate Recovery at my home church. So the wrestling with God began. Many emotions came out of this decision that was placed at my feet. I have always felt that in ministry work that there will come a season that a person needs to step aside in order for others to lead in the same capacity so that they can grow. For me, the year 2016 is that time to step down. The life we live is determined by many choices that we make; we may feel confused or maybe unsure about decisions we have to make. In past years, there have been times I have worried that I was not in line with God’s will and fearful of making the wrong decisions.
But we shouldn’t be fearful and afraid to make decisions. As long as we reach out to the lost and share the Gospel, this will honor God. I am excited for the year of 2017 and this excitement is building up in a way that is filled with the Holy Spirit. So, my encouragement to you, dear reader, is to fly when you feel you need to fly, run when you feel you need to run, and dream when feel like dreaming. But in all this, share Jesus with everyone along your path and our God will light your way.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:6-10)
Cipriano Martinez is the ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery at Highland Baptist Church in Clovis, NM, as well as the CR State Representative of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. He is blessed to be clean and sober for 9 years and counting. He is happily married and has 5 kids ranging from high school to diapers. He enjoys sharing his life with others, golf, and spending time with his family, and also feels a strong calling to vocational ministry. You can contact him via twitter @ciprianom79.
BY ELLEN MARTIN
Psalm 23 is a familiar passage for most of us. Psalm 23:4 says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
When I read a Bible passage that is familiar to me, I don’t really spend time mediating on it because I think I already know it. But although we may be familiar with a passage, we should spend time meditating on and studying it. God reveals things to us through His Word, regardless if we have read that passage before or not.
Psalm 23, especially verse 4, resonates with me because it is saying that through the difficult times, God is there. We have nothing to fear. This one verse goes beyond saying that we have nothing to feel to say that God comforts us with His rod and His staff. Even through difficult times, God is teaching us something. It may be difficult to see it in that moment, but in hindsight we may be able to see what God was doing.
BY KENT BUSH
Which God do you pray to?
If there is only one God, why do our prayers sound so different?
Rev. Willard Kern helped me understand that. This pastor earned the title reverend. He knew his Bible. He loved people. He even had the booming pastor’s voice that just made you want to call him reverend.
When he prayed, you felt like your soul was riding an escalator straight to Heaven.
But for one week, he stepped down from his revered status.
Our church needed a male counselor for our youth camp at Falls Creek in Oklahoma. When duty called, Rev. Kern answered. But something interesting happened to the good reverend that week.
For that week, he became “Sweet Willie.”
BY JANICE EICHOLTZ
I am a thinker. Sometimes, an over-thinker. Thinkers are people who consider all sides to a story. The inner workings of this mind is constantly analyzing everything - exhaustively examining everything. A word or tidbit will get under my skin and I will dissect it and not let it go until my mind has found some sort of solution or reconciliation.
When I was younger, it was all very egocentric. I would replay conversations in my head and get my feelings hurt over some perceived mistreatment. I made mountains out of molehills and constantly held my friends and family to levels of loyalty and perfection that they could never live up to. Finally, God saw fit to give me temperance. Praise God!! Now, I have the comfort of knowing that most people's reactions and actions are also egocentric. We are all the center of our own worlds and our views definitely represent our own baggage. I've lain a bit of my baggage down, little by little through the years. Still have more of it I need to relinquish-but all in good time.
BY DANIEL FOSTER
And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Mark 10:20
This passage is from Mark 10, the story of the rich young ruler who was seeking eternal life from Jesus.
“What must I do?” (verse 17) He asked Jesus, as if there is some sort of checklist we must accomplish to enter Heaven. Sadly, there are many today with this exact thought. If I go to church twice a week, if I help someone in need, if I read my bible exactly 25 minutes each day, if I tithe my 10% I will be good enough to go to Heaven when this life is over. However, it’s never been (and still isn’t) about being “good enough.” But it is all about having a relationship and following Jesus. Jesus lists a few of the commandments we are to follow and the guy insists he has kept them from his youth. Ultimately Jesus tells this guy to sell everything and to take up the cross and to follow Him.