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Showing posts from 2019

Do It Now! | James 1:22

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Welcome to Real Life. Just do it!
We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church. –Unknown 
“If you’re waiting to do something for God, don’t wait. Do it now,” Pastor Schaeffer said in a sermon. His words ignited my spirit. I kept thinking God wanted me to start a women’s retreat. We were new at the church. When I asked, I discovered they didn’t have a women's retreat per se. Instead, they participated in a regional denomination retreat.
Retreats have impacted my life. The act of setting aside extended time to seek the Lord had resulted in breakthroughs, epiphanies, and a renewed sense of intimacy with my God. More practically, I needed a break from daily responsibilities to rest, reflect, and have fun with the girls, of course!

“Maybe God wants me to coordinate a retreat for the church,” I began thinking. “But I’m too busy now. I’ll do it when the kids are older.” However, after Pastor Schaeffer’s sermon, I contacted the church.…

The Pursuit of Holiness | Hebrews 12

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Welcome to Real Life. What are you pursuing?
Run swiftly toward holiness,
for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 TPT Dark clouds gather. A storm brews. I try. But nothing I do-say-think seems good enough, pure enough for a holy God. Holiness feels daunting at times—like scaling One World Trade Center!


When I think this way, I'm caught in an old trap. I’m attempting holiness in my own strength. And it is impossible! It's also a form of legalism.
“Legalism is a matter of the heart, (legalism is) not obedience to God and radical love for others. Legalism is when we’re trying to earn God’s favor to be saved, not when we’re following Jesus because we’re saved by grace.”
 –John Piper[1] Legalism places us back on Mt. Sinai. The stormy mountain is ablaze. The ground quakes. God’s voice booms like thunder. “Please don’t speak!” we beg, trembling. “Who can stand before you?” In our own strength, we try. We offer endless sacrifices. But nothing removes the stai…

Ministry Spotlight: Rita Ballenger, Abolition Bakery

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Welcome to Real Life! Join my conversation with… 

Rita Ballenger, Founder
Abolition Bakery

www.abolitionbakery.com

Mission: To raise awareness of human trafficking and to raise funds for organizations that serve human trafficking survivors.




“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
For the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
And to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.”
Isaiah 61:1 NLT

I was shocked. I fully expected to hear about human trafficking in third world countries. Instead, I learned about human trafficking in our states, our city, and in every city!  Rita thought when she attended a human trafficking presentation by the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking.

Rita, how did Abolition Bakery happen?

After hearing the HT presentation, I immediately took their speaker training to promote HT awareness. At the time, I was enrolled in the Culinary Baking Track at Cuyahoga Community Co…

The Happy Place of Hardship | Hebrews 12

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Welcome to Real Life. “Discipline yourself so no one else has to.” –John Wooden
Endure hardship as discipline. Honestly, I don't like this verse. Endure. Hardship. Discipline. Those aren’t happy place words. However, during a season of hardship, they earned a trophy in my heart.

Suddenly, life had grown difficult. It seemed terribly unfair. “Why?” I kept asking God. Just when things were getting easier. The kids were growing up. Dennis had left for his first year of college. Cal and I were homeschooling his final years of high school. I could breathe.

And then, BAM! My elderly parents needed assistance. They left Florida and moved in with us. Suddenly, I was drowning in pain. Emotional pain in grieving my parents’ loss of strength, health, and vitality. Physical pain as the added responsibilities stressed and exhausted me (and my back throbbed from lifting Mom). Spiritual pain as I vacillated between “If I had more faith, I could handle this” and “If God loves me, why is he allo…

Faith's Victory | Hebrews 11

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Welcome to Real Life. Let’s talk faith.
Faith is like WiFi.
It’s invisible but it has the power to connect you to what you need.
–Unknown “I’m struggling with faith,” my friend told me. “I want to believe God. It’s not easy.” Perhaps you can relate. I sure can. The good news is we’re not alone. Most of us struggle with doubt from time to time. “Doubt is but another element of faith,” said St. Augustine of Hippo.

Hearing other faith stories can bolster our own. It’s the theme of Hebrews 11. But first, the chapter defines faith.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV We do not see God. Yet, we can be confident he exists. Though we don’t see his person, God leaves evidence of his existence all around us. Love, joy, and peace are all very real—though physically unseen. Their presence reveals a humanity created in God’s image. Physical evidence abounds as well. Sunset on the beach, the first flowers of spring, a baby’s smile…

The Power of Sacrifice | Hebrews 9

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Welcome to Real Life. I'm thinking about sacrifice. A fitting topic for Memorial Day Weekend.
People who put themselves on the line and sacrifice their own safety for the greater good and for others, and anyone in any profession whose concern is the welfare for other people instead of the individual, are inspiring and important.
Chris Hemsworth  We’re a contradiction. In a culture averse to violence, it saturates our entertainment, and erupts all around us. Mass shootings are on the increase. Heroes emerge. Riley, a student at the North Carolina college.[1] Lori, a woman in the California synagogue.[2] Two ordinary individuals place themselves in harm’s way so others may live. We marvel at their bravery. In the same circumstances, would I be brave, selfless, willing to shed my blood?

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John the Baptist exclaims at first sight of Jesus. The crowd who overhears him understands the metaphor. For every year, the high priest …

Today, If We Hear His Voice | Hebrews 3

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Welcome to Real Life. In a noisy world, we tune out voices. Politician. Parent. Boss.

At the sound of her voice, I switched stations. Nancy’s  Revive Our Hearts program replaced Elizabeth Elliot’s when she retired. Young Nancy couldn’t match Elizabeth’s wisdom and experience. I tuned her out.
Fast forward a few years. I work at Moody Radio. Revive Our Hearts airs on their network. At work, when I heard Nancy's voice, I couldn't switch stations. I grew to love and respect her voice. I even traveled to Indianapolis to attend Nancy's True Woman Conference.







Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness.
Hebrews 3:7-8 NIV 1500 BC. Israel is perched at the border of the Promised Land. “Go! The land is yours,” says the Lord.
“But giants dwell in the land. They’ll devour us,” Israel resists. God rescued them from Egyptian bondage, parted the Red Sea, showered manna from heaven. None of it mattered…

Ministry Spotlight: Bob Hershey, Cleveland Pregnancy Center

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Welcome to Real Life. Join my conversation with…

Bob Hershey, Executive Director
Cleveland Pregnancy Center
www.ClevelandPregnancyCenter.org

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
and that you may love the Lord your God,
listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 30:19–20 NLT

I’m a junior in high school. I’m pregnant. My parents don’t know. The man involved doesn’t care. Abortion seems to be my best option. What would you tell me? (This was my friend’s situation when we were in high school.)

First, I listen—well and with compassion. Then ask, “Are you certain you’re pregnant?” If not, we schedule an appointment to confirm the pregnancy.

If she is pregnant, we (CPC) help eliminate the crisis—not the child. Most women want to have their babies. But they can’t see beyond the crisis. They believe abortion is the only solution. “I was pro-life before I got pregnant. Now that I’m pregnant, I don’t know what to do,” many will say.

“What is abortion?” I ask.

“Well,…

The Cleansing Power of Grace | Titus 2

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Welcome to Real Life. Our world sorely lacks grace. Lines are drawn. Judgment is swift. We hear without listening. Decide before seeking to understand.

While grace listens, understands, loves.
Grace issues a warning instead of a ticket. Grace wipes the spill with a smile. Grace likes us—even tired and crabby. Grace finds beauty beyond wrinkles.Grace hugs a rebellious child.Grace hears the hurting heart behind harsh words.Grace is a gift, never earned, most appreciated when least deserved.
We want grace, don't we? I want you to like me even tired and crabby. But we don't always want to give it.

“Grace isn’t fair. Evil people should be punished,” someone once told me. A terrorist falls on his knees, begs God’s forgiveness, and trusts in Christ. He doesn’t deserve grace. Until I see. I am the terrorist. I can be cruel, arrogant, ugly. None of us deserve it. That's grace.
When we don't get what we deserve that's a real good thing
When we get what we don't deserve

Ministry Spotlight: Bill & Cathy Goodrich, God Cares Ministry

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Welcome to Real Life. In today's Ministry Spotlight, join my conversation with . . .

Bill and Cathy Goodrich
God Cares Ministry 
www.GodCaresMinistry.com

And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.
(Psalm 71:9 NLT)

In 1984, at the age of twenty-six,
I felt the desire to visit with residents living in a nearby nursing home
to bring happiness to those who were lonely.[1]“Why did God create us? What is his purpose for us?” Chaplain Bill asked. He holds a weekly church service for residents in a skilled nursing facility where he’s ministered since 1989. “Our purpose is to enter into a loving, nurturing relationship with God. He did not create us to do something. He created us to receive something—to live forever with a heavenly Father who loves us.”

Bill, why do you minister to the elderly, why nursing homes? 
“Where is the greatest need?” we asked. My late wife and I were involved in many ministries. “If we weren’t at the soup kitchen, someo…

A God-Full Day

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Welcome to Real Life. Occasionally, my to-do lists backfire.


It's January. A fresh year's before us. I want to make it count. So, I begin writing to-do lists. My desk is scattered with them:
Goals for 2019To-Do TodayPrep for MentoringWriting Projects to Complete  In the morning, I feel fresh, inspired, and ambitious. I tend to crank out these lists. I thrive on productivity. When you finish something, doesn't it feel good to cross it off a list?
And yet, our strengths can also be our weaknesses. Because I’m driven to go-do-accomplish, this morning, my lists overwhelm me. I’m pulled in too many directions. My mind scattered like my desk full of lists. It’s difficult to focus. So, I pray.

Calm me, Lord.  Quiet my noisy thoughts so I can hear your heart.  And enter your Holy Place.[1]
There, I hear his still small voice.
You are placing importance on things unimportant. Before the work, Peggi, comes you—your heart, mind, and spirit. 
Until our hearts are right, our actions are sim…