Category Archives: Guest Posts

Hurting

Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover


“I’ve lost my song,” my mother-in-law told me, as her tender heart broke into a million pieces.Today, I understand exactly what she meant.

Sometimes the pain seems relentlessly intense and hopelessly never-ending. During those times, the singer can’t sing, the writer can’t write and the artist can’t paint.

Each of us is born with a unique gift or ability, given to us by our Creator, so that we can fully express ourselves. Using the gift is a way of expressing our love and thanks to our Heavenly Father, a way to encourage others we meet along the way, and a way of joyfully immersing ourselves in our passion. We make time, knowing that we affirm ourselves and our God-given abilities as we express ourselves.

And then…unexpectedly, because we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we encounter heartbreak so overwhelming, it immobilizes us. We may be able to awaken each morning, get dressed and make it through our day; we may even remember to thank God for the blessings we know are still all around us. Truth is, though, we feel hopelessness inside. While we may be able to continue to function, we are not able to thrive.

Finally, knowing our spirits will break if we don’t get help, we fall to our knees beseeching our Father for the comfort only he can give. We quietly absorb the grace and mercy of being in his presence. His love surrounds us and our burden is lifted. We are renewed.

Once again, the singer sings, the writer writes, and the artist paints. It seems amazing, but the time spent away from the gift seems only to enhance the song, the words, or the painting. Yes, our Father created each of us with a wonderfully unique gift and gives us a time and place to use the gift. The greatest gift he gave each of us, though, is the freedom to have a relationship with him. He alone can replace our brokenness with joy and thanksgiving.

There may be several periods during a lifetime when the hurt seems greater than the hope. We know, though, because we belong to him, he is our hope, and there is nothing greater than him!

 

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

I Will Sing a New Song

A Guest Post by: David Fuller


Over the years, my favorite creative outlets have been playing and composing music, and various attempts at written expression, both prose and poetry. I’m arguably better at the prose.

Some years ago, the person I was with at the time complained that I had never written a love song about her, which, given my musical aspirations, was awkwardly true. Also true was that I had never written a love song, period. Not for lack of trying. They just always seemed to come out cheesy and contrived. Not my niche, I guess. So I decided to give it another shot. Relationships take work, right? Unfortunately, my relationship at the time was not a great source of inspiration.

So, enamoured as I am with His woos and advances, I decided to draw inspiration from my relationship with God. I wrote the only love song I’ve ever written, and knew as soon as I finished, that He had actually written it for me.

And for you.

I love you more than the sun is bright
More than darkness fills the night
To the top of Everest’s freezing height,
My love still burns for you.

I love you more than the day is long
More sweetly than the saddest song
When the heavens and the earth are gone
I will be here with you.

I love you more romantically
Than moonlight on the lonely sea
The ways I’ll show you number more
Than grains of sand along the shore.

You and I will be together
Even longer than forever
And I will hold you close to me
Closer than the air we breathe.

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Filed under Guest Posts, Love of God, music

Jesus Paid It All and You Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way (Part 5)

A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Let’s get serious for a few moments now. Based on the standard of the law, we are all guilty of breaking it. I am; you are, every single one of us is. Someday we will all stand before God and the only possible verdict is a resounding GUILTY! This however, is not armed robbery, and the penalty is not simply imprisonment. What, then is the penalty? God’s Word tells us the answer to that question:

Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death………

That’s right, the penalty prescribed in God’s Law for violation of that law is the death penalty. The penalty is not penance, or purgatory, or a monetary fine or any sort of good works to make up for what we have done. The penalty for our sin is death. What does this mean? Well, after the first sin, it meant physical death. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in their physical forms, in harmony with God. Their sin brought into the world all the sickness and death as we know it today.

Death also means spiritual death.  Even though we all eventually die physically, we are are all eternal in our spirits. Our spirit, or soul will exist for all eternity.  So, again, what is it to spiritually die? Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a place of torment we call Hell. It’s really that simple. When God says the wages of sin is death, that is the death of which He speaks.

The penalty is due; we all owe it, for we have all sinned and transgressed God’s law.  And each and everyone of us can pay that penalty ourselves if we want to. We each owe it, and we can each pay it. I could have payed for my own sin; you can pay for yours if you wish. But that’s the point of this article. We don’t really want to pay our own way; we don’t want to suffer eternal death in a place called Hell.

Although we can certainly pay our own way, we do not have to. The title of this article is Jesus Paid it All, and He did. The Good News of the Gospel is that even though a penalty is was due and payable, it has already been paid! We need to go back to Romans 6:23 and look at the rest of that verse, as we only showed part of it earlier:   

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God has given us a gift. Even though we owed the penalty of death for our sin, He have us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way for that debt to be satisfied. God became flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ and became incarnate on this Earth for that very reason. Jesus Christ was fully human, so He could pay the price humans owed for their sin; He was also fully God, so He could pay the infinite price of the sin of all humanity past, present and future. Despite how He hates sin, God loves us deeply and completely.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is a gift, we do not pay a thing for it; Jesus paid it all. We do not deserve it and we do not earn it.  All we have to do is accept it. How do we do this? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about this:

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

It’s simple really. We have to confess Him. Basically we have to agree with Him that our sin is wrong and understand we should have paid for it. We agree with God that our sin is wrong and turn away from it. We call that repentance. We also need to believe that Jesus paid the price we should have paid ourselves, and to trust Him as our Savior and Lord.  And finally, we do have to call on Him. Romans 10:13 teaches that. The gift is available, and it is free; however God will not force it on anybody. He does require that we call on Him and ask for that gift.

Jesus paid it all. Four words full of meaning.  We all have a choice. We can pay our own way or we can accept that Jesus has already paid our way, if only we repent toward God and believe in Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Christianity, God, Guest Posts, salvation

Flawed and Loved

Here’s another insightful guest post. I’m so glad God loves me, flaws and all!


Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover

“Duh!” “How Stupid!” “Dummy!” These words are the words that fly through my head when I’ve made a silly mistake.

I would never, ever talk to anyone else that way, but, for whatever reason, I feel quite free to berate myself soundly at any time or at any place. I simply cannot cut myself any slack – especially when I goof.

I would really like to blame my upbringing. Maybe my parents are the ones who turned this horrible voice on inside my head. No, it wasn’t them. They tried their very best to make me feel good about myself. This voice is one I developed all by myself!

“She’s just being kind.”  These are the words in my head when someone pays me a compliment. If someone says my hair looks nice, I run to the bathroom mirror to try to figure out what my hair has done with itself since I sprayed it this morning – didn’t look so hot to me then.  I love compliments, don’t get me wrong―it’s just that even if I was tempted to believe them, I probably couldn’t see what was worth complimenting. I mean really, my hair looks nice – um – must be something wrong with her eyesight! 

We’ve all probably heard that it takes 10 positives to outweigh one negative. I believe it.  If ten people complimented me on my appearance and one person looked straight into my eyes and said, “You look tired. Are you feeling okay?”,  I would run to the mirror to check out the tired eyes.

I don’t think I’m the only person in the world who looks for the flaws instead of the attributes when I’m evaluating myself. I’m trying to figure out how to stop it before it gets way too far out of hand.

The first step for me is to remember, “God didn’t make any junk.”  I’ve always known that’s true, especially when I look at my husband or my sons and their families. They are absolutely wonderful people and I’m so very proud of them. I need to remind myself that God created me, too. He loves me, even though I’m flawed.

The next step for me is to be as kind and gentle with my words to myself as I am to others. Have you ever tried to list five good qualities about yourself? I could list many more than that for the other people in my life, but to find five really good qualities about myself is a bit of a stretch. I’ll need to work on that.

The best step I can take is to trust that God has a plan for my life. He put me here for a reason or reasons that I may, or may not, get to know. If I stay focused on Him and His goodness, I won’t have too much time to worry about myself and my flaws.

The final step is to realize that the Bible is very plain about loving others as we love ourselves. Well, guess what? If I don’t have a healthy self-esteem, if I don’t value myself, how will I be able to value others? If I’m always looking inward at myself, how will I be able to hold my head high, look into the faces of the people God sends my way, and share with them all the love God has shared with me?

So, for today, my plan is to prayerfully focus on God and His mercy, treating each of His children, even myself, with the love He expects us to show.

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Filed under abuse, Depression, Guest Posts, Love of God, self-worth

Christian Tyranny

The following is a guest post by David Robert Fuller. David blogs at Christian Consciousness, so go check out his stuff…but only after you read this and share your thoughts in the comment section. There’s a lot worth discussing in this post, the least of which is his use of periods and quotation marks 😉 First let’s talk Christian tyranny, then we can see who’s a grammar Nazi.


Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves. But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. – Galatians 2:4,5

I am concerned about one of my Christian brothers. He is a prominent member of my church, well known to everyone in the congregation. He says that he loves the Lord and is devoted to the Faith, yet he seems to experience some profound struggles in his Christian walk. It is not his struggles which most concern me, however, nor is it the fact that despite all the special consideration given him by his fellow Christians, no one seems to have a desire to see him grow beyond his spiritually immature state. What concerns me most is that I have the distinct impression that he doesn’t want to grow. He seems content to maintain a state of affairs in which he can play the role of a kind of Christian tyrant.

If there is a sin, this man struggles with it. Lust, drunkenness, immorality, drugs, gambling, smoking, swearing, and even occult practices are among the things that littered the former life of this dear brother. And he is apparently having an extremely hard time excluding these things from his life as a Christian, since everything he sees or hears reminds him of one or more of these things. He just can’t get away from it all. What’s worse, when he’s reminded of his former life, instead of being filled with the joy of his deliverance, he is rather filled with a desire to return to the very things he supposedly hates!

This unfortunate state of affairs has caused him to create a situation for himself similar to the famous “boy in the bubble”, who, due to the weakness of his immune system, was forced to spend every moment of his life within the confines of an artificial environment. In much the same way, this brother has devised a system for filtering out “impurities” and allowing only that which is “pure”.

For instance, all “secular” media is harmful to him. He can only be exposed to “Christian” music, television, magazines, books, and the like. He frequents only those events which are spiritually “edifying” (church functions mostly), and limits his business dealings to Christian merchants whenever possible. He cultivates friendships with Christians exclusively, since “bad company corrupts good character”. Even some “Christian” elements are filtered out, because they have the “appearance of evil”. He is very careful, because he knows that “…a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”.

The upshot of all this is that special procedures must be observed by all those around him to avoid unintentionally short-circuiting his filtering system, which is so elaborate that it cannot be maintained by himself alone. This is where the tyranny starts.

I call it tyranny for three reasons.

First, tyrants manipulate facts to support their own cause. This is done by forcing others to conform to his standards by repeatedly quoting a couple of verses in the New Testament, which he conveniently takes out of context. He tells them that Romans 14:21 forbids them to do anything which he finds “offensive”, and 1 Thess. 5:22 prohibits anything that even “appears” to be evil, ignoring the fact that “…to the pure, all things are pure…” (Titus 1;15), or that Jesus Himself commands us not to judge by mere appearances (John 7:24).

Second, tyrants typically impose fear on other people. This is accomplished by saying it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck, than to make him stumble; in effect, threatening their eternal life if they don’t do what he wants,when he knows that “…each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12).

Third, tyrants are self-serving. While they usually claim to serve some nebulous “greater good”, in this case “the things which make for peace”, it is really only an excuse they use to bully others into bowing to their own personal self-interests, however good and right they may believe those self-interests to be.

While I repeat my concern for this brother, let me hasten to add that I have serious reservations about passing judgment on someone whom I don’t personally know. I have never personally met this man, although he has been a church member for as long as I can remember. In fact, I don’t even know his name, because no one ever uses it when referring to him; maybe it’s because they don’t know his name either. Usually, everyone refers to him as, “the Weaker Brother”.

 

© 2017 David Robert Fuller

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, legalism

What We Can Do When It Hurts

UPDATE: The following post was NOT emailed to me by Donald N. Norris, but Dave Peever. Thankfully, this is the only mistake I have made today 😉

So, please check out Dave’s blog, Live 4 Him. I’m sure you will be blessed there, also.  


Guest Post by: Dave Peever

I Have Nothing to Offer

It hurts and it should. It may be my hurt or it may be someone else’s hurt that I observe, but it hurts, and it should. Still, we try to avoid it or at least address it as quickly as possible and move on. Logic does not play into it or at least cannot be used to lessen the impact. The passage of time may help but when everything seems to be going by so slow, the future is not even in the mix of thought and emotion. We wish it never happened, we hope we can somehow forget, but we know that it’s not going away. Like a rotten tooth that needs to be pulled or a wound that must be reopened and cleaned, it must be dealt with or the long-term issues will far outweigh the short term pain. It hurts and it should.

You’re a pastor, you should know what to say, how to bring comfort, how to rise above the pain.

I often wonder how people see me and others who have been called to pastoral ministry. When we are in the pulpit we are in control or at least appear that way. We tackle the tough issues head-on with Bible verses pre-selected and marked, script written and rehearsed. Everyone’s attention (we hope) is focused on us with little else competing for space in people’s thought process. We are in charge with little question about who is there to give out the answers to life’s problems. Before I go further, there are many times I haven’t felt in control in the pulpit, but by its very nature preaching creates the appearance of having it all together. Then comes the hospital visit, the funeral preparation family meeting, the pregnant unwed mother discussion, the abused wife’s plea for help or the drug or porn addiction revelation and people expect that same sermon preaching confidence. It is as if there are magic words that will make it all better and somehow the pastor is supposed to have them all stored up in his brain, ready to use at the appropriate time.

God’s word is full of comfort but God’s design does not allow us to avoid pain.

Biblical words of comfort are not the recipe for griefless living. To love someone is to invite pain into your life no matter how much they love you back. At some point something will happen that will hurt you. It isn’t always between the people in the relationship, but it is always felt by the people in the relationship. If we truly love the other person, their pain becomes our pain even if we are not directly affected. The only way to live life pain free is to ignore the Bible and never love anyone.

By calling and vocation, a pastor is placed in the middle of pain. By calling and obedience, a pastor experiences pain just like anyone who loves as Christ loves. Pastors may have a responsibility to the congregation defined in their job description but all Christ followers have an obligation to love and therefore are exposed to pain. The comfort we have and the comfort we offer is not found in the removal of hurt, pain and grief because we know the right words to say but instead it is found in the sharing of life as it happens.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 (NIV)

You may say that you have nothing to offer because you are not a pastor, but the truth is, even though I am a pastor, we both have the same thing to offer.

I hate hospital visits as much as the next guy. I want to avoid the tears of a grieving family just like most people do. If I could miss funerals, including my own, I would. To seek out pain, physical or emotional, is not the sign of a stable person, to enjoy the depths of despair is not normal behavior. I understand that people want a pastor to be with them in their time of need and I accept that as part of my job. I may not like feeling that I can’t make the pain go away, that I am not in control and have nothing to offer, but I accept that just being there brings a level of comfort.

What I have to offer is the same as you. We all need to live out Romans 12:15 because we all, if we love like Jesus, have something to offer. Love has a cost, a price to pay. Sometimes we get to rejoice together other times we share pain but all the time we need to be there for each other. God does not leave or abandon those He loves but stays with us in part through the people He surrounds us with in our time of need. Be there for others, you can’t fix it, you can’t make it go away, that’s not the way God designed us, but you can share in the pain, help carry the burden, you have something to offer.

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Filed under blogging, Guest Posts, ministry

“Dad” A Guest Post by Dorissa Vanover

There are many deadlines approaching, and I would appreciate your prayers. Therefore, I will be posting more guest posts this week and following, To all of your who are submitting posts, thank you for helping out!

This week will feature posts in honor of Father’s Day.


Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover

He was my very first dancing partner. Giggling, I watched him as he twirled my mom around the living room. I knew my turn would come. And it always did.  He would smile at mom, take a step toward me and guide me into a two-step or a waltz. We’d laugh at my mis-steps and keep right on going. My mom and brother sometimes plowed right into my dad and me with their own dance moves. The little bumps didn’t matter though. We all knew we were meant to dance!

Dad was an upbeat, contented family man. He enjoyed spending time with my mom, my brother, and me. From him, I learned to treasure my family and friends and to make the most of each moment.

He was an unusually happy morning person. Unlike my dad, it takes me a while to get going in the mornings. I remember, so many times, waking up on school days when Dad would turn on the light and say, “Good morning, Sunshine!” or “Rise and shine!”  I just wanted him to hush and go away so I could bury my head under the covers a few minutes longer. If it was a weekend and we were going out of town to visit family, he’d say, “Get up now.  We’re burnin’ daylight!” He liked to get an early start on our weekend outings.

Dad must have convinced mom that mornings were happy times because they would get up very early, drink coffee, and play Wahoo (a marble game). We’re talking 5 or 5:30 am! Nobody wakes up ready to play a board game that early!  But my dad did.

He taught me to appreciate the mornings and the blessing of waking up to each new day.  I still don’t play Wahoo at sunrise, though.

Dad loved to get in the car and go. Driving to Kansas to visit relatives could take several hours more than the rest of us anticipated. We might as well not be too anxious to get to our destination because Dad was enjoying the ride.

If he saw a little farm house “just down that road a bit,” and he wanted to see it close up, that’s where he’d go. He became famous in our family for his detours. Sometimes, he got us all lost; but never for too long. We always wound up where we intended – just later than if he’d taken the direct route.

Those trips became good times for driving lessons for my brother and me. Dad would sit back in the passenger seat, close his eyes and off we’d go.  We knew he wasn’t sleeping and he’d help if we needed him to, but he also let us know he trusted us — and felt very confident that he had taught us well. Patient mom ― in the backseat hoping we really did know how to drive!

I loved those trips and I loved my dad for making them so much fun.

Dad worked hard to provide for us. He enjoyed his work and was thankful to have it.  He’s the one who taught me to like Mondays. It didn’t matter to him that most people rated Mondays pretty low on their list of favorite days. Every day had its own special joy and Mondays were no different.

Every night, he came through the front door whistling; glad to see us, happy to be home, and ready for an evening of family time. Our meals were at the same time each night. We’d take our places at the table, bow our heads for the blessing and visit about our day as we enjoyed the meals mom prepared. Sometimes, he would tell my brother and me, “Let’s give mom the night off and do the dishes for her.”  I imagine Mom loved those nights!

If my brother or I asked, Dad helped with homework.  Patiently, he explained math problems or quizzed us for an upcoming exam.

Sometimes, we’d all sit in the living room together and watch television.  There were three channels and all of the programs were “family friendly.”

Our home was cozy, comfortable, and secure.

Dad was of medium height and build, but he was always “bigger than life” to me.  As a very young girl, I knew if I needed anything, he would see that I had it. If I was in danger, he would protect me. Of course, he was my hero.

Once, during a tornado warning, we were at the park watching my brother play in a baseball game. One of my aunts was visiting us at the time. She was not accustomed to the shrill sounds of the sirens and she was absolutely terrified of tornadoes. On our way home, my aunt was so visibly upset that I became scared, too. When Dad got us all to our house and my aunt safely inside, he sat me down and said, “Sister, there is nothing for you to be afraid of. I will take care of you as long as I can, and when I can’t, God will.”  He was so calm and his voice so comforting that I immediately relaxed.

I’ve heard it said that an earthly father who is loving, compassionate, and kind makes it easier to comprehend the love of a Heavenly Father with those attributes. I knew my dad cherished me and he taught me to believe that my Heavenly Father treasured me even more.

As an adult, he often told me, “Sister, you’re pretty special.”  I always felt special when I was with my dad.

He entered his heavenly home in 1999. I am so thankful that God blessed me with such a wonderful dad.  The memories of him and the joyful times we shared always make me smile.

So, until we meet again, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  I love you with all my heart!”

 

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, Parenting, Relationships and Family