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 ROBERT STEVENSON
Believe. Know. Do not faint.
Be sure. Stay confident.
Do not lose heart.
You will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
I was all set to write a short, yet humorous piece on a recent Proverbs 27:17 experience (my iron being sharpened by the iron of a very good friend). Before I typed a single letter on the page, my wife piped up from the other room:
“They found that little boy’s body in the lake in Orlando.”
My heart sank. Every ounce of funny drained away and fled. Christina Grimmie. The Pulse. A dead two-year-old.
I tried to comfortably shift into my fleshly default mode: “BURY YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND.”
I couldn’t. I can’t. My spirit wouldn’t let me. The HOLY Spirit wouldn’t let me. The Sunday School lesson I taught a few weeks ago was on giving people HOPE. Laughter is the best medicine, yes, but people don’t need medicine right now. They need something better. They need the word of the Lord. That word is this:
Cipriano Martinez | @ciprianom79
For many years I was under the notion that we all have total control of our own lives. Now this might be true for many of us and many of us may feel we need control to make decisions that gear our futures. But what if I told you that being in control can cause unwanted ramifications? Don’t get me wrong -- I understand in being the spiritual leader of my home that I have to make many decisions. But are these decisions based on my own control or on a control greater than myself?
The very first principle in a Christ-centered program called Celebrate Recovery is, “Realize I am not God”. Read that slow a few times out loud. Many times we take it upon ourselves to play the role of God in our own lives. When we do this we take control. I recall asking God a few times to “take the wheel” and telling Him that I am giving Him total control of my life. Hours don’t even go by before I realize that I am a back seat driver or even driving myself again.
Ellen Martin | @ellenmartin03
We often hear the verse “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). The phrase “…make straight your paths” does not mean that if you trust God, life will be easy. It is saying that we need to trust in God rather than rely on ourselves. This is something I struggle with every day. Life can be difficult. We often think we know best, and it can be hard to hand control over to someone else.
It is hard to trust God when you are going through difficult times. You may think you know what to do and how to navigate life, but in reality, only God knows the best way. When I look back on my life, I see that I have made many, many mistakes. Everyone has made mistakes. Judging from our past mistakes, are we fit to further direct our own lives without guidance? Or do we need Someone to help us get through good and bad times?
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
Growing up, I never expected to be the guy that had federal agents tearing through my apartment.
I never expected to weep into my wife's shoulder as I confessed my sinful behavior.
I never expected to wake up in a concrete cell day-in and day-out.
I never expected to sit through a 12-step recovery meeting.
And most of all, I never expected, that if something like this were to happen in my life, that a few years later, I'd be extremely grateful for all of it.
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
Have you ever sat around the table on Thanksgiving, where everybody is going around giving a small list of things they are thankful for, and then it gets to your turn and you rattle off some generic stuff -- friends, family, pumpkin pie -- and then allow the next person to speak, all the while thinking to yourself that you really don't feel thankful? You don't feel happy? You aren't satisfied with the way life is? And as you listen to everyone else gush about the things that they are thankful for, do you start to feel like you're the only one who is unsatisfied?
Every day, a countless number of people on this earth make a decision based on the fact that they are unsatisfied. Some might seem productive.
"I'm going to start going to the gym because I'm sick of being fat."
"I'm going to go back to college and finish my degree, so I can get a better job."
"I'm going to make myself go to this singles event, because I need to meet someone! I'm tired of being alone."
I'm going to let you in on a secret:
NOBODY IS SATISFIED.
Not really. And it's only a secret because everyone wants to hide it.