Podcast: Faith Like a Child, Not Childish Faith by Mike Blackaby

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Happy New Year

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“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

– J. Andrews

A new year always seems to bring along the “New Year Resolutions”. How many of you actually look back over your year and see fruit from those resolutions? I know I rarely, if ever, do. Why is that? Is it possible that we aren’t truly serious about changing in the first place?

What if we decided this year was going to be different? Yes, I know, every year is going to be different. But what if we truly commit ourselves to making sure the person who brings in January 1, 2017 is a better person than January 1, 2016 both spiritually and physically.

I have done some research and found that they say only 8% of people achieve their new year resolutions. Let’s work on being a part of that 8% or raising that number.

Here are a few tips I think might help us:

  • Reflect on last year to see what things you accomplished and/or wished you had accomplished
  • Write down and clearly define what you goals are
    • be specific, if you want to loose weight – how much?
    • put them somewhere visible or somewhere you can look back at over the year
  • Make sure you tell other people around you (friends or family) what your goals are 
    • you won’t get very far on your own, thats why God created us for fellowship with one another
    • make sure you are telling people who will support and encourage you, not laugh or try to bring you down
  • Track your progress during the year
    • my husband and I keep a journal and periodically look over it during the year
  • Have patience and don’t get discouraged so easily
    • you aren’t perfect and are bound to slip up every once and a while
  • Make sure you aren’t going at it with an “all or nothing” attitude
    • that never works out and you will get discourage very quickly
  • Put it on your calendar or schedule
    • set a reminder in your phone every day or every week so you can’t forget even if you wanted to

Striving to be your best isn’t just for your sake, it’s for those in your life that are counting on you. Your spiritual maturity, mental health, and physical health all play a part in who you are. If you don’t put the effort in to making sure your walk with God is right or your health is in order, you’re not the only one who suffers. Lets make sure we end this year in a better way than last.503887f1bc1635607556e4fd57c13d24

Write us some of your new years resolutions below. We would love to hear from you and pray with you as we all take these steps for the new year. 

Podcast: Unfinished Masterpiece by Mike Blackaby

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What I learned from a trip to Uganda

Uganda 5  By Carrie Blackaby Camp

I had always dreamed of travelling to Africa. For years I heard amazing stories from people who had visited the continent. And, quite frankly, who didn’t love The Lion King? So I was immediately on board when an opportunity arose for my husband, Sam, and me to travel with a small team of others to work alongside Helping Hands Foreign Missions in Uganda for a week. Within an hour of finding out about the trip, our round trip flights were booked to Entebbe.Uganda 1

It’s probably a good thing we booked our tickets so quickly, because it didn’t give me any time to talk myself out of going (which was definitely a possibility once I learned our plumbing would be
a hole in the ground and we would be tenting for a portion of the trip. Let’s just say, growing up my family’s idea of “camping” was staying in my Uncle’s RV in the driveway…)

But I am so glad I didn’t change my mind as the trip was an unforgettable experience. Below are just a few of the things God showed me while I was in the beautiful nation of Uganda–Uganda 4

  1. You don’t need lots of stuff to have joy. We spent most of our time in rural areas and we witnessed extreme poverty. Most of the families we saw lived in small mud huts. The children ran around barefoot, many of them in tattered clothing. But despite their hardships, those children had joy. They smiled and laughed readily. And they were quick to show love, even to a girl from America they didn’t know.
  2. God can use bad experiences for good. On our first day in Uganda we met a teenage boy named Isaac. His father left when he was young and his mother struggled to provide for him. When he was three he was severely burned by boiling water and no one (except his mother) expected him to survive. But God healed him. He now lives and studies at the Helping Hands school. Rather than harboring bitterness about the hardships he endured, he says he is grateful because God carried him through every trial. Now he desires to become a missionary and share the Gospel with others enduring trials who have no hope.Africa
  3. One person (or family) can make a huge difference in someone’s life. We had the opportunity to visit a young boy’s hut to inform him and his hard-working mother that he had been sponsored by a family in America through the Helping Hands sponsorship program. Because of a family living 8,000 miles away, that child will now receive the food, education, school supplies, and clothing he needs to become a healthy and productive adult.
  4. Even small actions make a difference. In the rural areas we visited, pedestrians, bicycles, and the occasional motorcycle make up most of the traffic on the red dirt roads. So our fifteen-passenger van full of Americans and our gear was quite a spectacle. Everywhere we went, a mob of village children would run alongside our van, calling out greetings, waving and smiling. So we waved and smiled back. This was met with even bigger grins and lots of giggling. I was amazed by how something as small as looking someone in the eye and waving or giving a high five could bring so much joy.
  5. There is still so much need in this world. We witnessed the incredible work Helping Hands missionaries and others are doing in Uganda. Thousands of children are being fed, receiving an education and medical care, and hearing the Gospel because of them. But I was also amazed by how great the needs still are. Many children still cannot afford to eat. Countless children don’t go to school because their parents can’t afford tuition. Many of them suffer from preventable illness because of malnutrition and lack of access to medical care.

As the Christmas season approaches, perhaps God is calling you to help meet those needs, whether through prayer, sponsoring a child, or taking a mission trip.

For more information about Helping Hands and their sponsorship program, visit their website: www.helpinghandsmissions.org

Podcast: Interview with Mike Flournoy with Mike Blackaby

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Book Review: Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices

164262_599645136724539_970989253_nReview by Carrie Blackaby

by Julie Clawson (InterVarsity Press: 2009)

Our everyday choices reflect our ethics whether we realize it or not. And our actions affect far more people than we might think.Everyday Justice

In Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices, Julie Clawson offers a great intro into the world of social justice, and she shows how even seemingly insignificant actions—such as grocery shopping or ordering coffee—can have a global impact.

For example, by purchasing and consuming a chocolate bar that was produced by forced child laborers in Africa, we sustain a system of injustice and cruelty. However, by choosing Fair Trade products as an alternative (available in most grocery stores and online), we support fair wages and safer working conditions instead. Likewise, buying locally grown produce when possible reduces the carbon footprint involved with transportation, while also benefiting local farmers (and it usually tastes better!). Clawson’s premise is that we have a responsibility as Christians to uphold biblical morality even in our smallest actions (including how we shop).

In each chapter Clawson looks at different areas of life or consumerism involved with social justice: Coffee, chocolate, cars, food, clothes, waste, and debt. After she gives an overview of the problem (typically in the form of a narrative), she offers concrete ideas for how to approach the issue more justly. She shows in practical ways that everyone is capable of making a difference. She also includes a list of resources at the end of each chapter for those who would like to pursue the subject further.

Because the problem of social injustice can seem overwhelmingly huge, Clawson encourages her readers to make small changes over time rather than becoming paralyzed by the idea of overhauling our lives at once. She writes, “All of us can discern where God is leading us to alter our lives—to change one thing at a time, taking the time to really understand and get behind our actions. Sometimes insisting that the revolution be slow means that it will actually be doable” (15).

Overall, Clawson really does show that living justly is doable. The book is a good resource for those looking for practical advice on how to make socially responsible decisions, one small change at a time.

5 Things to Remember When Using Social Media

164262_599645136724539_970989253_n by Carrie Blackaby

Social media has dramatically changed the social landscape. Friends near and far can easily stay updated on your daily life. You can post a picture of the pumpkin spice latte you just ordered and almost instantly receive comments from your mother-in-law, former soccer coach, pastor, and Great Aunt Sue.

While there are many benefits of living in a hyper-connected world, it also presents unique challenges. Everyone now has a platform, and in the immortal words of Uncle Ben (or the smart guy he plagiarized), “With great power comes great responsibility.”


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Below are 5 things we should keep in mind as we embrace the wonderful world of social media:

  1. Don’t let a Facebook like replace action. While social media can be a great way to bring awareness to a cause or need, sharing an article or posting a status should not be an end in itself. Rather it should be a springboard to action—such as volunteering, donating, sponsoring, and especially praying.
  1. What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet. Just like it’s prudent to think before we speak, we should think before we post! A good rule of thumb is to avoid social media when our judgment is impaired (whether by anger, exhaustion, distraction, etc.) to avoid posting anything we will later regret.
  1. Spread Joy. Take inventory of the balance of positive/negative posts, comments, or articles you share. While life certainly isn’t sunshine and daisies all the time, our online presence says a lot about us. The way we present ourselves should be a reflection of Christlike love, not of a critical and pessimistic spirit.
  1. The “Golden Rule” applies (even in the comments sections). Online interaction can often feel removed from real life, and that can make people less inhibited to write what they would never say to someone’s face. Scroll through the comments of any YouTube video (at your own risk) and you will often find ugly exchanges. Even under funny cat videos! But we should keep Matthew 7:12 in mind, “Sowhatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” We should show respect to others online, even when we disagree.
  1. Find Balance. As with any other good thing, social media is best when used in moderation. With the social media world so easily accessible, it can become tempting to check our phones, laptops, or ipads all the time. But then we tend to miss what is happening around us. As the saying goes, be with the people you’re with.

 

Podcast: Going the Right Direction by Mike Blackaby

 

 

 

 

*Watch video before listening to the podcast below.*


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Why We Should Go Green

164262_599645136724539_970989253_nBy Carrie Blackaby Camp

When you think of people “going green,” the first image that comes to mind might be of tree-hugging hippies who disdain traditional deodorant and picket the destruction of the yellow-bellied sapsucker’s habitat. And don’t even get started on Whole Foods…

Of course, most of us agree that being environmentally conscious is a good thing, like flossing your teeth twice a day or eating kale. But it can seem overwhelming (like flossing your teeth twice a day and eating kale…).

Environmentalism has certainly gotten a lot of attention lately. But environmental consciousness is more than a trend. It is a God-given duty and Christians ought to be leading the charge, not lagging behind.Going-Green

Genesis 1:26-28 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”

God created the earth and all that is in it, and we ought to treat it with due respect.

It might not be feasible for everyone to ditch our cars, grow all our own food, or switch to solar power, but we can all take steps toward becoming more environmentally conscious.


Here are five easy ways to be a better manager of God’s magnificent creation:

  1. There is no reason to throw away paper, cans, or bottles when they can be reused. Many services even offer to pick up recyclables right from your curb.
  1. Use your own shopping bags. Keep reusable grocery bags in your trunk so you’re prepared for even unplanned trips to the grocery store.
  1. Switch to a refillable water bottle. Not only will this cut down on unnecessary waste, but it will also slash the expense of buying bottled water.
  1. Compost. Separating out organic waste (apple cores, coffee grounds etc.) is a great way to minimize garbage. And it makes a great fertilizer for your yard or garden.
  1. Before throwing something in a landfill, consider ways to repurpose it. Pinterest is full of DIY project ideas that can give a new life to anything from an old sweatshirt to a coke bottle.

We honor God by tending to our own bodies and by caring for other people. Likewise, showing respect for the world He created is just one more way we can glorify our Creator.

 

Podcast: A Wise Work Ethic by Mike Blackaby


*Watch the video before listening to the podcast.*


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