Wednesday, October 5, 2016

When God Shows Up
Mikal Dawn

I consider myself an Israelite. I’m one of those people who would have been wandering the desert for forty years because I kept forgetting what God did for me, and I’d be a grumbling, manna-eating-and-
complaining mess, overlooking the little blessings and provisions in each day.

This year has been one big reminder, over and over again, of God’s love for me. He has used others to encourage me, and spoke into others, directing them to do something extremely selfless for me. It’s been humbling, and has often brought me to tears.

In August, I was down in Nashville at a conference. The Lord used very dear friends to get me there. Then He showed up. He was there when I received the appointments I needed. He was there in each person I met and each relationship built. He was there when I was sitting, waiting for an appointment with a specific person to open up. He was there when He led another person to give me her appointment with that specific person. And He was there during these appointments and looked down on me with favor.

He was also there while I was flying. (I’m not a flyer.)

Since I arrived back home, I’ve been wondering why. Why me? Why did He give me these opportunities and not others? Why did He give me the story He did, and the talent to write it? Why?

Don’t most of us feel that way when something good happens to us? We tend to lean one of two ways: either we believe we deserve all the good that comes our way, or we question why our undeserving souls are blessed and provided for. I admit, I’m in that second camp. But the answer is clearly laid out in God’s Word.

We are undeserving. “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10, ESV). But God is full of mercy and grace. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:10a, ESV). He loves us, truly loves us, and wants His best for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV).

It’s good for us to recognize that we’re most undeserving of all God’s gifts—including the gift of salvation. It makes these gifts all the sweeter. But don’t overlook the gifts we’re given—from the big
to the very smallest, such as a breath—because we’re so caught up in feeling undeserving. Celebrate the gifts He’s giving you by worshiping and giving Him the glory.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16, ESV).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Got a Plan? So Does God

Got a Plan? So Does God
by Kent Walton

Someone once told me, “If you want to make God laugh, just make plans.”

If that’s true, I’ve had God rolling on the floor for the last 30 years. When it comes to making plans, you could say I’m a bit of a fanatic. I’ve even been known to make plans for how I will make my plans.

It doesn’t matter if it was something as insignificant as laying out an agenda for my Friday night or as big as how I expected my children to turn out; I’ve made a detailed plan for it. Like many men in their late 40s, I’ve been looking back and taking stock of how all my plans turned out.

I have to admit, when I compare where I’m at, what I have and who I am to what I carefully mapped out all those years ago, things look much different than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed way beyond what I deserve. But I have to confess it feels as if God didn’t get a copy of my plans.

Isn’t it always that way when it comes to God and the best laid plans of men? As Solomon wisely reminded us in Proverbs:

 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21, ESV).

Just look at how the great men in the Bible likely made elaborate plans for their lives only to have God guide their steps in a completely different direction.

I’m sure there were many nights when Moses was hiding out and herding sheep in the desert that he looked back on the comfortable life he left behind in Egypt and thought, “this definitely was not my plan.”

David probably had his life all mapped out at an early age. He was the beloved war hero who was going to be crowned as Israel’s king. But as he lived on the run from a jealous, murderous rival, he probably had more than a few moments when he wondered how he had deviated so far from his plan.

Saul likely had lofty career aspirations as a young, respected Jewish religious leader. But it’s safe to say, those plans didn’t involve meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, losing his sight for awhile, changing his name to Paul, getting shipwrecked and ending up in a Roman prison.

In each of those cases, God trumped man’s plans with His own.

When asked what he would say to a Christian at the midway point of life who wasn’t satisfied with the way the first half of life turned out, renowned pastor John Piper offered up this advice:

“God makes no mistakes. I cannot explain to you why He ordained that the first half of your life would be lived in a way that looks like you wasted it. ... I don't know all the reasons why God would permit that, but He's got designs in that. And what His offer to you right now is the next 20 years can be different, useful, forgiven, clean, hopeful, heaven-bound."
Speaking as a guy whose path took a totally unexpected turn in the second half of life, Paul put it this way:
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
So if you’re looking at your current location in life and thinking, “this isn’t what I planned at all,” remember, with each new season God brings new opportunity.

Stop looking in the rearview mirror and put your roadmap in the glove compartment. Just enjoy the ride knowing God has the wheel and laid out the road ahead.

What are your thoughts? Did anything in today's post resonate with you? Can you share a time when you thought you were headed in one direction but God redirected you? What were the results? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Keeping in Step With the Spirit

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Psalms 25:21 (KJV)

Last week my youngest daughter called and asked me to pray for a lady who wanted an opportunity to minister to a young girl and her family. The child, all of nine years, one who once had been filled with smiles and dreams of dancing, had been given a death sentence. An incurable form of cancer. Being the curious human I am, I stalked the
Facebook page dedicated to her story. The deep wells inside my heart churned as I clicked through the pictures. I hurt for this mother, and not because I recently lost my husband.

I understand cancer as much as anyone on the outside can (I’ve come to realize that each person’s journey, although having similarities, is uniquely their own). I understand having a really sick child. I understand fighting to keep hope, but somehow, when I looked at the pictures of this little girl and her family a light switch flipped on a revelation God had been unveiling to me since my husband’s diagnosis.

You see, as I stared at one picture in particular, that of the mother and child snuggled together in a hospital bed, many of the thoughts and emotions I had while caring for my husband crashed against the fragile strands of my heart. I knew when the doctors attended my husband, filling us will all kinds of information that I didn’t want to react in a clinical manner, or how the world expected me to act. I didn’t want a pasted on smile and a false sense of hope. 

I wanted moments. Moments to last my lifetime whether that was three weeks or thirty years. I wanted a righteous integrity to be my standard. And I wanted the same for this precious mother.

I didn’t have a full understanding of what God was trying to show me while I held my
husband’s hand, prayed over him, with him, paced the halls, and sat in quiet corners while tears seeped, but I did when I began praying for this little girl’s mom.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law"
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV).

I've taught on the fruits of the Spirit for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been tested through the fire many times, given plenty of opportunities to use them, even before my husband’s graduation to heaven. Trust me. Life has thrown me some curve balls, and there have been times when I felt shattered. Times it seemed impossible for all the King’s horses and all the King’s men to put me back together. But I persevered and made it through, breathing. I stood up, shook the dust from my knees, and kept limping until I could run.

Now, I can’t help but smile, because this time, during the biggest disappointment of my earthly life, I didn’t even fall. When fear, anxieties, and anger tried to weasel their way in, I kicked them right out with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It wasn’t easy. I couldn’t have done it in my own strength, or without prayer (from myself and my church family). I won’t lie, there were moments of gritting my teeth and at least one of throwing my hands up in the air, but God quickly reminded me of who I am in Christ Jesus.

I don’t share this with you to say ‘look at me’. Rather, I want you to know that whatever you’re going through (losing a job, a sick child, divorce, death, homelessness, or a combination) that it is absolutely, positively possible to keep in step with the Spirit. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God in Everything

Going through the motions is something that we all do. For some of us every day is the same; we wake up, we go to work, we make dinner, then we go to bed to do the same thing the next day. 

Here and there it is good to take a moment just to think about everything you possibly can about your life and consider all of the things that you take for granted. There are so many things about life that are beautiful, so many people that are dear to us. However with the way our society functions we must develop a routine in order to keep everything straight. 

The problem with routine is that it causes you to become numb to life. 

Life was created and given to us by God to live in love and in appreciation to not only Him, but to all around us. Routine causes us to mostly think about ourselves and what we have to do, and to
forget those around us. 

How many marriages have been broken up because spouses feel disconnected and that there partner no longer makes time for them? With that thought in mind, how does God feel when we all live our days without him? 

We must all remember that God gave us our lives and they are not to be wasted. Life matters more than we know and when we accept this we can better love each other as Christ intended. Colossians 1: 16

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ministry Needs

According to numerous articles printed between 2012 and now, homelessness is on the rise in Omaha.
We knew this without reading articles; we saw the influx of hungry men, women and children coming into our doors each Friday night and Wednesday lunch. And each one was a blessing--a gift from God--an opportunity to show, in a tangible way the love of Christ to those who desperately need it.

And so we did, dipping into our pantries here, pulling from our freezers there.

The people kept coming. We kept feeding, but unfortunately, our donations didn't match the influx.

So now we're coming to you, our faithful supporters and co-laborers in Christ. Winter is coming, and with it, the demands will increase. Families will be forced to make some tough decisions--pay their electric bill to keep their apartments heated, or spend that money on groceries.

We want to help with the latter. The meals we provide help many on disability and the working poor stretch their groceries that little bit more.

Will you help us? Right now our biggest need is meat. You can bring by frozen meat of any variety or you can mail us a check, designating it for "meat" in the memo section.

Drop your donation off any Friday evening between 5pm-8pm or call Bobby Dofner at 712-326-4286 to schedule a time. You can mail a check to us at PO Box 4818, Omaha, NE 68104


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

There Is Hope

There Is Hope
by Susan Aken

My dad went to be with Jesus in 2000. One of the last times I saw him alive was on a visit I made to the VA home where he lived in another state. I was only able to visit him there two or three times a year. He had been in the home about four years and he hated it. As a former reformatory guard, he referred to it as “lockdown”. But my mom was no longer able to work and take care of him by herself. I wanted so much to encourage him somehow and on this visit I felt the urge to share these verses:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3 (ESV)

Looking at my mom, he choked, “Did you hear what she said”? He was blessed and encouraged. He would not be stuck in that bed forever. Jesus was preparing a better place for him.

 This world is a place of suffering. We may have moments, even days when we are personally free of suffering. But truthfully, with how the world has shrunk so that we know what is happening around the world instantaneously, suffering confronts us hourly if not by the minute. Suffering in this world is a reality and has been since the day Adam and Eve sinned.
Our encouragement, our hope is in knowing it won’t be this way forever. Even if we live into our hundreds, life on this earth is short. Those who believe in Jesus will then live with Him for eternity free of suffering. Someday, He will return to earth and those still alive on earth will see the end of evil and pain.

The tragedy is for those who never know or do not believe that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross and set us free and then enter into eternity without Him.

The longer I live, the faster the days go by. Life on this earth is fleeting. Even if I manage to have a life of ease and comfort it won’t last long.

“For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14b (ESV)

I feel it.

The longing we each have in our hearts for a perfect place free of pain and sorrow will be fulfilled in heaven.

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)

Believe in Jesus. Believe He died for your sins and rose again.

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:13 (ESV)

Believe in Him and know you will spend eternity in perfect joy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When the Doors Open

When the Doors Open
by Toni Shiloh

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” - Matthew 7:7 KJV

Funny how this is the prayer of our heart when we're desperately seeking a solution. An answer to our problems.
Provision for our lack. We pound on the door of Heaven with our prayers begging for an answer.

But what happens when the door opens?

I've had the door open before and instead of having intense relief like I imagined. Fear immobilizes me. I stare at the door wondering why it opened so easily. And by easily I don't mean in the context of time. More, why was the person on the other side so willing to open it for me.

Y'all it's amazing how the enemy will have us doubting our blessings. We prayed (asked), sought, knocked and then stare at the door open mouthed when it opens. Wasn't that the whole point? Why do we let the enemy convince us that bad awaits on the other side?

When indecision prevents me from acting I have to ask myself if I'm the one preventing myself from entering an open door. Here are some ways we can do a sanity check.

1.  Did God tell you no? When the door opens, there's no problem with asking God did He open it. If He says He didn't, then obviously don't walk through that door.

2. Is that voice you're hearing fear? If you're a worrier like me, that voice may simply be your fear running amok. It feels the need to analyze every single reason and potential consequence of walking through that door as if it'll close with you stuck in the doorway. Again, if you do step 1 and God isn't telling you to not walk through the door then walk through it.

3. Are you frightened because it seems too easy and therefore you're waiting for the other shoe to drop? Now the truth emerges. How many times do we expect bad things to happen to us? Friends, we can't let that fear prevent us from living or walking the call God has for us. Remember He is with us, do NOT be afraid.

I know these are all easier said than done. Believe me. I can worry like it's an Olympic sport. But my desire to walk the path God has for me trumps my fear any day. Here are some Scriptures I like to say to remind me of His truth when fear gets to me.

1.  Philippians 4:6-7, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

2. John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give
unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

3. Psalm 55:22, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."

What Scripture do you use to still the fear?


Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.