3 Things My Parents Never Taught Me About Happiness

1. Money can buy happy moments, but not a happy life!

2. Managing money is mostly managing yourself!

3. There’s only ONE first place.

TRAIN MYSELF:

Truly Happy is a God-first life with purpose and meaning that is soul fulfilling!

Danny’s Definition of Success

Helping put together a church service for a group of inmates was a big “get off the couch and do something” moment for Danny. When he did, he got to see what happens when you follow where the Holy Spirit leads.

Danny was accustomed to the big stage, the lights, top notch equipment, and a mass of fans, but a small worship service with these inmates changed his view of success. He saw people who had no “stuff,” but they knew they had the most important thing, a relationship with Jesus Christ. And to Danny, that just made sense. That success is knowing who we are in Christ.

New Life Through Baptism

When we repent of our sins, God forgives us wholly and completely. We are made new. Baptism is a wonderful symbol of the new life God gives us when we repent and make Him Lord of our life.

By being baptized, we are making a physical expression of the new life God has placed inwardly in our hearts. The water symbolizes cleansing, and when we lay back to die to our old life, our sin, we are then brought up and cleansed. We are a new creation.

Danny’s Faith Story

Danny had everything he’d sought after in life — he was a great guitarist in a well-loved band, went to parties every night, had a girlfriend, and even a baby girl. But then that baby girl grew up. She saw her dad and was concerned with where he would be spending eternity. That concern from his daughter was a turning point for Danny.

Through a series of conversations with Pastor Kevin and worship pastor, Chris Morgan, Danny decided to take the leap. To forget what he thought were the “good things” in life, and say, “Yes.”

God Put Our Wrong on Jesus to Put Us Right with Him

At the end of each person’s life, we calculate the total value of their life by weighing the amount of bad that they’ve done against the amount of good that they’ve done. If at the end that person has a high positive value, they get to go to the ‘Good Place’. Thank goodness that is not how our God works! Though we tend to think this way about our sin debt. “If I do a little good, it will cancel out the bad.”

The truth is that God sent Jesus to willingly die on a cross to take away our sin. To pay off our debt. All our our “bad” was put on Jesus, so that we could be right with Him. What an amazing gift!

How God Can Actually Guide Us Copy

We want God to help us with big decisions and guide us, but we have to tend to the convicting voice of God first.

In John 16, it says the Holy Spirit will “guide you into all the truth.”

By truly believing this principle, that God wants to guide us, we can lean into that and invite him into our daily decisions.

In this clip, Jason discusses how God guides and directs him with peace or lack of peace.He prays for guidance on a topic. He asks God to give him a peace if he should move forward, or unrest/uneasiness if he should not.

The act of handing something over to God is often overlooked. God can only guide the things we give him. We can’t get on God’s agenda with closed hands.

Steven and Natalie’s Story

Steven and Natalie were struggling with infertility and asking God why they hadn’t been able to expand their family as they so deeply wanted to do. But through seeking God for answers, and Steven seeing their blessing of extra rooms in their house, they found where their capacity to serve and love others, and the answer to their longing met.

Within just a few months, Steven and Natalie had two foster children filling their extra rooms. And then another call came. There were two more children in an emergency situation needing a home. Their rooms were filled, but God was clear, and the Holy Spirit gave abundant peace. “Yes. Just say yes.”

Through Steven and Natalie’s pain and struggle, God orchestrated a true picture of His love — His love for Steven and Natalie in answering their prayer for children, and His love for children in providing them a safe, caring home. And doing it in a way that was abundantly more than what they asked or imagined — a blessing of four when they thought they only had capacity for two.

If Not Me, Then Who?

If we don’t take action, who will? The answer is no one. That’s a haunting thought. But there is good news!

We were created by God with a purpose to do good works, which He prepared for us to do. We are the answer. God has placed us right where we are to solve problems and fill needs that we see around us. What a privilege that we are God’s answer and that He will give us the courage to take action.

The Other Side of Sacrifice

Pastor Jason shares the story of a 12Stone family, who were led by God to do something significant for a complete stranger. God stirred their hearts to sacrifice to send an unnamed student, who didn’t know Jesus and couldn’t afford to go on their own, to “Never The Same” camp.

The family made budget cuts to bless this student with what could be a life-changing experience. And it was! They received word the student learned about the rescuing hand of God in a camp service and accepted Jesus.

God used their sacrifice of several hundred dollars to do something that changed all of eternity for one young person — all the while, marking the family with playing a part in an enormous blessing.

God Stirs Our Hearts

We all sacrifice when our hearts are stirred for something. When you live on God’s agenda, He will lead you to sacrifice for others.

One 12Stone family went so far as to move from their comfortable, suburban life to a low-income apartment complex so they could reach people for Jesus. Why? Because God stirred their hearts to have a deep love for the people there, especially the ones who don’t know Him yet.

Sacrifice Is the Core of Living Sent

The life of the Apostle Paul is a remarkable demonstration of sacrifice. He left everything he knew behind to do what God called him to do, and he experienced extraordinary hardships along the way, including prison and severe persecution.

We all know how to sacrifice for the things we love and enjoy. But can we sacrifice to Live Sent and meet the needs of others — even when it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient? Paul believed his life would be worthless if he didn’t live out what God called him to do.

Imagine how the gospel would advance if we all did everything God called us to do, and we spread the good news of God’s grace on a daily basis.

How Doug Jones Loves Others

When Doug and his wife, Laurie, learned they couldn’t have children of their own, they searched for another life’s purpose — a way to pour into young people’s lives. He encountered many young people on sets, in film school, at meet and greets, etc., so he didn’t have to look far for kids who needed love. “Puppies,” he called them.

Doug and his wife found that opening their home to young people (their “puppies!”) could be a profound way to impact others. In doing so, God fulfilled their longing to pour into young people, and then He divinely used Doug and Laurie to love and care for the young people in return.

Doug Jones’ Christianity

Acclaimed actor Doug Jones explains how he shares his Christianity when the subject of faith arises and through how he lives his life. He says he doesn’t want to be “overt or covert” about his faith. It simply comes out through who he is.

When he’s met with someone’s anger toward the Church or past experiences with Christians, he gives them a big hug, listens to their story, and empathizes with their pain. It’s an important step to healing and a kindness Jesus would want us all to show regardless of what someone believes.

Today, Doug is often approached with prayer needs because his colleagues know he is a Christian.

Doug Jones’ Sense of Normal

There was a long period of time in Actor Doug Jones’ career in which he felt a little left out. In his mind, all the other Hollywood actors were having “red carpet” moments and magazine cover shoots while no one even recognized who he was. This became his sense of normal — being unseen and unknown, and able to live a private life. But as soon as he stopped craving the desire to be known, God allowed him shine in the public eye.

It didn’t take long for Doug to realize how fickle fame can be and that his public success shouldn’t define him (even though he still often finds himself in the spotlight). It was Doug’s role as child of God, husband, son, brother, uncle, mentor — and then, actor — that he wanted to define who he was.

Follow Jesus, Not Your Heart

When you follow Jesus and God’s instructions in the Bible, you will never go wrong.

When you follow your heart and let your emotions drive your decisions, you can easily fall into situations that will defeat you and drain you. It’s the Bible that trains our hearts and minds when it comes to truth and how we should make our decisions.

How Did Jesus Love People?

Jesus loved people like no other human being to ever walk the planet. As the Son of God, he loved everyone — no matter who they were (friend or foe) or what was in their past (their mistakes and sinfulness). He loved everyone equally and perfectly. He still does that today. And the Bible encourages us to love like Jesus.

When Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), he made it clear that when the Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself,” it means that our “neighbor” is literally everyone we meet — not just the family next door.

Day 1: Do You See What I See?

Wouldn’t it have been great if Eve had been the ideal role model for the modern woman? She was the first woman, first wife, and first mom, and yet she struggled with contentment. She lived in paradise with her husband, had direct access to God, and Satan still tricked her into believing that she needed more. God gives us everything we need and tells us not to worry (Matthew 6:25-26), yet we spend most of our lives fighting for contentment.

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He doesn’t always come as the obvious deceptor, but often as the snake in the grass that slithers into our circumstances planning to destroy our perspective. He wants us to see the way we fall short in comparison to those around us, stealing our joy, killing our contentment, and destroying our view of ourselves.

Eve knew what God told her about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Satan convinced her that God was holding out on her. When Eve “saw that the fruit of the tree was good … she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Remember who God says you are. 

Satan wants us to “see” our world differently than the way God designed it. He wants to attack our families as he did Eve’s. He wants us to compare ourselves to others and forget we are wonderfully made. He wants us to snap at our children instead of being slow to speak. He wants us distant from godly women that can hold us accountable as mothers and wives. Satan wants us to forget God’s truth. He wants us so focused on other things that we forget we are gifted, beloved, and adored children of the living God. It is the last thing he wants us to “see.”

Reflect:

  • Is there any part of your life you need help “seeing” God’s way?
  • Take a few minutes to encourage a mom today by reminding her of her true identity in Christ.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 2: Playing Favorites

As mothers, none of us would likely admit to having a favorite child, but many of us can look at our childhood and pinpoint the sibling we believed our parents loved most. A recent study released findings that the baby of the family is usually the favored child. While we can debate the validity of these findings, the Bible shows us the ramifications of parenting with favoritism.

Rebekah and her husband, Isaac, had favorites when it came to their twin sons. Esau, the elder, was Isaac’s favorite, and Jacob, the younger, was Rebekah’s favorite. Before Isaac died, he wanted to give his blessing to his eldest son. Rebekah, remembering that God had previously promised that the younger son would rule over the older son, schemed to help Jacob deceive his father and steal his brother’s blessing. Jacob then fled, fearing for his life, and was gone for years before the two brothers reunited (Genesis 27). Knowing her family so well, Rebekah knew exactly how to coach Jacob in the deception of Isaac in order to assure that her favorite son would indeed rule over his brother.

Favoritism, Redeemed Mistakes, and God’s Plan

1. God doesn’t have favorites.

Romans 2:11 says that God shows no favoritism. As hard as it may be for us to understand, God loves each of us the same. We are all His children, and He has good gifts in store for each one of us (James 1:17). When we model our parenting after the love God shows us, we love our children equally, showing no favoritism.

2. God can use our mistakes to accomplish His plan.

Rebekah used her role as a mother to “help” make sure God’s plan happened, and her “help” ended up causing years of separation between her sons. It’s tempting to want to help God with His plans for our lives, but God doesn’t need our help. He can use our mistakes to teach us great lessons and bring us closer to Him. Even if we stumble, God will pick us back up and guide us on the specific path that He has for each of us (Psalm 37:23-24).

Being a perfect mom is something we can never attain, but we can learn from stories of the mothers in the Bible and from other moms in our lives. We can be confident that God will love us with an unchanging love, show mercy by picking us up when we stumble and give us the strength to be the best mom to our children.

Reflect:

  • Take a few minutes to thank God for your kids and how He’s carefully crafted them.
  • Does favoritism keep you from loving each of your children just as God loves you?
  • Is there an area of parenting you need help surrendering to the Lord? Take some time to talk it through and ask God for help.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 5: Does Parenting Ever Really End?

Read: Ruth 1Ruth 2Ruth 3Ruth 4

  • Are your children grown and out of the house?
  • Married with their own families?
  • Are you an empty nester and wondering what’s next?

Whatever our stage in life, our ministry is never over, and there is no better example than the life of Naomi.

Naomi lost everything, even her husband (Ruth 1:3) and both of her sons (Ruth 1:5). A devout Jewish woman, Naomi was left with two Moabite women in her charge. Heading back home she encouraged them to also go back home. She had nothing for them. One left and returned to her people. The other, Ruth, “clung” to her, pleaded with her to let her stay, and at that moment, accepted her God.

A mother’s work is never done, and even when your kids are grown and gone […] God still has a plan for the wisdom and care He’s built in you.

What a witness Naomi’s life must have been. Ruth refused the opportunity to return home. She turned from her religion and accepted the God of Israel. This must have brought joy to Naomi, through her grief, as she made a bold move and continued to disciple this young woman.

Neither knew their future as they set out to Judah. But, Naomi knew it was her calling to shepherd Ruth toward three keys of wisdom:

  1. Wisdom for protection by instructing her how to work the field (Ruth 2:22).
  2. Wisdom about how to secure her future by “flirting” with Boaz (Ruth 3:1-4).
  3. Wisdom to have patience and wait for Boaz to do the right thing (Ruth 3:18).

A mother’s work is never done, and even when your kids are grown and gone, or perhaps you’ve outlived one or more of them, God still has a plan for the wisdom and care He’s built in you. Naomi received Ruth as her own daughter and eventually became the great-grandmother to King David.

Naomi pushed through the pain and the emptiness that often accompanies outliving loved ones to continue what God called her to do, and He blessed her beyond what could be imagined. Ruth and Boaz married and had a son named Obed. Naomi’s role wasn’t over. She took the baby and became his nanny (Ruth 4:16). The wisdom from her life with the Lord could now be shared with her grandchild.

Because Naomi remained a witness in her home …
… an unlikely woman, whose country represented temptation and trouble for Israel, believed and followed God.
… this unlikely woman, Ruth, married again and birthed a son.
… she became the great-grandmother to King David whose lineage eventually birthed Jesus.

Reflect:

  • How can Naomi’s story encourage you in your season of life?
  • Have you ever considered that there are other “children” that may need your wisdom to navigate a life lived in Christ?
  • What is one thing you can do today to start a journey to share wisdom with a new believer?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Four Ways to Battle Fear and Worry

Every Christian has to decide: Am I trusting that Jesus is for me always, or am I believing His care for me diminishes based on my performance? Is Jesus my king, provider, and comforter? Or, is He a distant authority figure watching me weather storms alone?

In Matthew 14:22-33, the disciples found themselves at this crossroads. They were in the middle of a storm, frightened and hopeless. Jesus approaches them and says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Apprehensive and uncertain, Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.”

Full of faith and full of trust, Peter walks on water with Jesus. But the moment is broken as soon as the wind kicks up and Peter lets fear creep back in.

Like Peter, when we trust that Jesus really does want the best for us, everything changes. We can stop worrying. We can embrace change. But inevitably, the wind will kick up again.

The alarm doesn’t go off.

You get news from your boss you weren’t expecting.

A friend betrays you.

In those moments when the worry creeps back in, we can look to Jesus or start looking for ways to keep ourselves afloat.

4 Ways To Focus on Jesus Today

1. Spend time in the Bible.

When I’m not looking for Jesus daily, my perception of Him goes from good King to enemy. His plans look terrifying and my way looks better.

Keeping our perspective in check starts with us knowing who we’re putting our trust in. Reading the Bible shows us more about Jesus and builds trust in our hearts.

2. Serve someone else for a change.

When I focus more on myself than the people around me, I give more of my attention to my own doubt and fear. Serving others allows me to remember that life is not all about me.

Serving also allows me to come face to face with situations I can’t fix or control. So as I reach out to serve others I find myself reaching up to Jesus more and more.

3. Pray.

Prayer doesn’t have to be super religious, lengthy, and eloquent. God also loves raw, honest prayers. When Peter was afraid and sinking he didn’t say, “Jesus, Holy Messiah, save me if it is your will.” He said, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

Most of us avoid prayer because we think we have to impress someone. Prayer isn’t for me to impress Jesus. He knows my heart. Prayer allows me to grow by being open and honest with Jesus and myself.

4.  Hang out with other people who are trying to follow Jesus.

There’s power in numbers. We’re more likely to have faith and be less fearful when we’re surrounded by people who point us back to Jesus (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Jesus’ love, provision, and sovereignty are always present. But I can see those things more clearly through the love and support of Christian friends. Celebrating God’s miracles in each others’ lives helps to make those moments real and gives us touchstones to go back to when fear creeps in.

Peter was only able to walk on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus. The miracle of change, the ability to do the impossible, comes when we do the same — putting our eyes on Jesus rather than storms that surround us.

Day 1: What It Means for Two People to Become One

We are told from the outset that in marriage “two become one.” But with all the differences between you and your spouse, how is it possible to be unified in anything?

Think of all the elements working against a married couple. Our differences in preference and personality, upbringing and experience make chemistry practically impossible. Add to this the temptations and frustrations attacking marriage from every side. It’s a miracle that two people, so different, can come together on anything.

Thankfully, God made a way for couples to experience oneness in marriage. We become one flesh when we marry, but God doesn’t stop there. He graciously continues to unify our hearts and minds as we each grow in our relationship with Jesus.

As each person seeks to put off their old life and take on the mind and heart of Christ, God aligns our hearts and minds in marriage. Simply put, as we move closer to Jesus individually, we move closer to each other in marriage.

True intimacy in marriage is impossible without Jesus. Without Him, we are locked in a futile battle over preferences and personalities. With Christ at the center, we both change — not to become like our spouse, but to become more like Jesus. The old preferences and personality quirks give way to sacrificial love modeled by Jesus. In short, the path to marital intimacy is paved with the pursuit of our personal relationship with Jesus.

Without Jesus at the center, our differences only serve as a wedge between us. For example, is there a difficulty in your marriage? Before talking about this topic together, take your concerns to the Father through prayer. Watch God pull you together despite your differences. Watch God use your differences to complement one another.

You may still disagree on the issue, but with the proper perspective, the process of wrestling together will improve intimacy, not destroy it.

Question for him:

  • Read Ephesians 5:22-33. What are the specific areas in your marriage where you can “give yourself up” for your bride?

Question for her:

  • Read Ephesians 5:22-33. What are the specific ways you can show respect to your husband as he follows Jesus?

Questions to talk about together:

  • Read Ephesians 4:21-24 together. What does the process of “taking off the old” and “putting on the new” look like for you? How could this affect your marriage?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church