Archive for the 'Family' category

Friends

Nov 24 2014 Published by under Family, Life

By Rev. Doug Clay

 

DClay-300x300Good Monday Morning . . .

 

I have heard it said that true friendship is when you walk into a friend’s house and your WI-FI connects automatically.

 

C.S. Lewis said friendship is born at that moment: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

 

I can’t imagine going through life without a few good friends.  Too often when we walk through some difficult seasons it is easy to withdraw into isolation; or fall into a pit of condemnation; or reach for some short-term medication . . . but to have a few good friends, who can “refresh your heart,” now that is priceless:

 

A friend who refreshes is one who offers tears, not just answers.

 

A friend who refreshes gives godly counsel, not just quick-fix formulas.

 

A refreshing friend is one who will keep reminding you of the bigness of God and His ability to see you through no matter how unfair everything is for you.

 

A friend seeks to be genuinely interested in your wellbeing and will empathize, instead of comparing his plightful situation to yours.

 

Paul said of Timothy “He genuinely cares about your wellbeing.” [Phil 2:20], and he said of Philemon, “Your kindness refreshed the hearts of the people.” [Phil 1:7].

 

Take some time today to thank the Lord for the friends that He has placed in your life.

 

Strive to have friends for life. To find a real friend in a lifetime is a good fortune; to keep him is a blessing!

 

Make a great day!

 

Doug

 

Rev. Doug Clay serves as the General Treasurer for the Assemblies of God. He can be reached at dclay@ag.org.

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Thanksgiving – A Redemptive Outlook

Nov 03 2014 Published by under Family, Life, Ministry

MJ

This month’s posts will focus on what it means to be thankful. Our first post is written by Michael Johnson, Director of Ethnic Ministries at Global University.

 

Ephesians 1:15-16

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a rich American tradition that is both historically and relationally steeped in gratitude and community. The first Europeans and Indigenous Americans celebrated life and survival together and in turn gave thanks to God for preserving their lives during unsettling times. Fast forward to the year 2014 and we can see the vast changes this festive celebration has evolved into. Here are some of its new characteristics: Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys, Black Friday sales, carbs, sugar, and lots of butter. Although different from the first Thanksgiving, the holiday still carries the spirit of gratitude where friends and family still gather to give thanks for a productive year.

On the other hand, here are some ideas from Ephesians 1:15-16 that could bring the holiday a more redemptive outlook. In the text, Paul is rejoicing over the church in Ephesus who gave their lives to Christ and received the promises and blessings of God. This group of believers were once steeped in the cultural and religious darkness of Gentile traditions, but at this point their new experience entailed something else: spiritual blessing, predestination, adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, the gospel, and the Holy Spirit.

Paul took it upon himself to nurture, guide, and help the Ephesian church to live the Christian life. His heart burst with joy because he knew firsthand the challenges this group had to live with in regards to spiritual darkness, maturity level, and human resources. The bottom line is that Paul was thinking of others and putting their needs before his own. He was excited about the intentional growth and unison this church family was practicing, and as a spiritual father he could not help but GIVE THANKS and PRAY.

The imagery of Paul locked up behind bars in a Roman prison, with a pen and paper, writing these words while feeling the pain of not being present with his spiritual children compels any reader to consider the sincerity of these words: “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

In this month of November, let everyone take the initiative to imitate Paul and consider others more than oneself. To transform a holiday of feasting and relaxation to one that is truly:

THANKFUL – for people that God places in our lives

PRAYERFUL – for people’s faith in Christ and love for his church

 

Michael can be reached by email at mjohnson@globaluniversity.edu.

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Let Somebody Know

Jul 07 2014 Published by under Family, Life, Ministry

By Rev. Doug Clay

Clay_Douglas_Casual_100A nursing student in South Burlington, Vermont was cramming for an exam in a coffee shop. She left the table to get a refill on her coffee.

When she returned, she found an anonymous note of encouragement, along with a $10 Starbucks gift card. The note said, “I’m assuming that you’re probably nearing the end of nursing school. You should be proud of yourself. You’ve worked so hard to get here and I promise you, it’s worth it. I’ve been a nurse for twelve years and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

That note, which has been widely circulated online, has provided a great source of encouragement, not just for the Vermont nursing student, but for many who have read it and commented about it.

People crave encouragement. One of the byproducts of being a part of a spiritual family is encouragement.

The Bible talks a lot about encouragement.

I Thessalonians 5:11

. . . encourage one another and build each other up.”

I Thessalonians 5:14

“. . . encourage the timid and be patient with everyone.”

Hebrews 3:13

. . . encourage one another daily.”

Encouragement is a big deal!

This idea of “inspiring others with renewed courage, a renewed spirit and renewed hope,” is something that all of us can do . . . and it works.

Encouragement works. Think about it:

1.) Encouragement helps to keep people from getting a hard heart.

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

2.) Encouragement builds confidence.

I Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

3.) Encouragement keeps people from quitting.

Hebrews 10:25

Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Take some time to write one note of encouragement to someone. It could be a day changer for them and for you!

 

Rev. Doug Clay serves as the General Treasurer for the Assemblies of God. He can be reached at dclay@ag.org.

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The Kingdom Within

Jan 21 2014 Published by under Evangelism, Family, Life

By Carolyn Hittenberger

Carolyn PR Photo CROPLuke 17: 21…behold the Kingdom of God is within you.

“A man’s home is his castle,” so said William Pitts in the 18th century.

We rejoiced when, officially, legally, all papers were signed and the house belonged to us.  However, it still had the residual imprints of its former owner.  We made changes and added touches that would make it a place that fits us, reflects us, that says, “We live here!”  This is our residence, where we reside and preside, a place of warmth and welcome, shelter from the cold, our little “kingdom,” the place where we dwell.

Each small change, each meal shared, each night of rest, adds to the sense that this is where we belong.  We knocked out a wall to create openness.  Light now filters into areas long deprived of the sun’s healing rays.  The dark stained varnish from the past had to go.  Cupboards, closets and corners are swept clean of any leftovers from the past.

Piece by piece the furnishings are considered.  If they please us they stay; if not, they go.  More and more the imprint of “us” is seen.  This small piece of property reflects who we are.  This is our castle.  We are at home.

The Kingdom of God cannot be adequately compared to any earthly entity.  Yet, in reflecting on our tiny, temporal “kingdom,” we learn more about His Kingdom.

God’s day by day creative work in Genesis transformed a dark, empty planet into a place of such beauty and wonder that it shouted, “God is here!” His careful plan and process as He formed mankind, revealed His longing for pure fellowship.  From dusty earth He drew man’s frame, then breathed Himself into that lifeless form until He saw in Adam a reflection of Himself.  With Adam and Eve in Eden, God could come and chat and feel at home…in their hearts.  With holy purpose He sowed the seed of His Kingdom on earth.

Sin severed communion between God and man, marring His mirrored image. God could no longer fellowship with man’s darkened nature, but His plan did not change.  He didn’t abandon His Kingdom building.  He sent His Son, God-in-flesh, to buy back Kingdom relationship.

Each time a soul accepts His salvation, God initiates His work of building in him/her a suitable residence for Himself.  He is the new owner.  A wall is torn down here, dark stains removed there, leftovers from the previous owner are swept away.  Furnishings unacceptable for God’s occupancy must go.

When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, He came into my life to establish His Kingdom.  I am His.  I am His residence, His castle.  We have Kingdom relationship.  More and more, He removes the old and brings in the new.  Step by step, I learn to make Him my King.   I want Him to be at home in me, in His church, in His world.  Around me, through me, and in me, with loving detail He is building His Kingdom…a place where He can live, a place imprinted with and reflecting who He is!

A Prayer:

Father, how could I ever express how grateful I am that you want to live in me?  I don’t fully understand how that can be.  Yet, I long for it to be so.  I am yours.  I desire no Kingdom of my own.  Build your Kingdom in me.  Make my heart Your home. 

Carolyn Hittenberger served as the Administrative Assistant to Global University’s Regional Director of the Caribbean until her retirement in December of 2013. Carolyn continues to work with Global University as a writer and a volunteer. She can be reached via email at rchitt@gmail.com.

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