by Shari Stratton
Why is vulnerability so difficult? I recently found myself in conversation with someone about homeschooling and parenting; she offered encouragement and advice, but I quickly became aware of areas in my parenting where I needed to improve. I felt vulnerable. I wanted to ask her to pray that God would help me to be a better mom and that God would give me the strength and wisdom to correct my mistakes. The words were on the tip of my tongue. Instead, I just nodded and acted as though I had it all together.
Sermon on Matthew 6:25-34 by Johnathan Arnold
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” Matthew 6:33, is one of the most famous verses in the Sermon on the Mount, which spans from chapter five to chapter seven. Its context, Matthew 6:25-34, reveals much about the nature of the verse: the heavenly Father feeds the sparrows and cares for the lilies in the field, so why be anxious about our lives?
by Johnathan Arnold
As a wounded and broken public school teenager, perfectionism was a coping response. When especially stressed, I would wander around the house aimlessly straitening things and aligning nick-nacks into tidy right angles. This attraction to symmetry was so consuming that I would rewrite entire paragraphs so that they did not end with the letter “y.” I hated the asymmetry. My perfectionistic tendencies have subsided by God’s grace, as you can see from the previous sentence.
For many, however, perfectionism does not easily go away; for some, it “is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It's a fast and enduring track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn't a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. The need for perfection is usually transmitted in small ways from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A" (Psychology Today).
by Stefan Paulus
What is faith? Faith is the basis of Christianity. We are saved by grace through faith. We are entirely sanctified by grace through faith. We live by faith. We hope for Heaven by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says it is impossible to please God without faith. We call Hebrews 11 the faith chapter and hold it up as the example or the definition of faith, but really it speaks of faith in action. Sometimes we pit faith against works, as if the two are unrelated or possibly even opposites. There is no such problem in Scripture. Hebrews 11 is not the typical place people go to talk of faith and works, but the writer of Hebrews uses “acts” to describe great faith.
by Johnathan Arnold
Oswald Chambers famously wrote, “We are not destined to happiness…but to holiness.” But is this true? Does God not destine us for happiness? Is happiness something that should be separated from holiness? Is it possible to be holy and not happy?
In a letter to Rev. Dr. Middleton, John Wesley wrote that “Christianity is…holiness and happiness, the image of God impressed on a created spirit; a fountain of peace and love springing up into everlasting life.” After commending the love of God and one’s neighbor as oneself, he concludes elsewhere that “This is religion, and this is happiness; the happiness for which we were made” (emphasis added).
Happiness in God was central to Wesley’s thinking. He saw no dichotomy between happiness and holiness — and neither should we.
by Serena Sickler
The singing and writing of hymns is a precious part of the legacy that has been left by centuries of Christ-followers. While the church of today often enjoys singing more current styles of music, it is vital that we not neglect the rich heritage of hymns we possess.
Psalms 145:4 tells us, "One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts." We can be a part of this generational praise by listening to the praise of past generations, learning from it, and joining in the praise with hearts overflowing with thankfulness.
While hymns are part of church tradition, they find their roots in the Bible. Several passages instruct Christians to sing praise to God, such as Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19, while others give Christ's example of singing hymns in the time before his greatest trial on earth, such as Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26. Hymnody began in Biblical times and continued into early church history.
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