3 Where is Your Treasure Chest Sitting? 5 Raising Your Child in the Lord 7 Is Stress Running Your Life? 8 Eat Clean to Feel Great 10 The Rosemary Fisher 35 Story 14 From Tragedy to Triumph
20 I am a Living Testimony 24 Celebrating Women Everywhere Cover Design Apple Tree Graphics
Guest Writer Karen Israel Coach Bess
27 The True Meaning of Easter 28 The God Who Fights For Us 30 The Ultimate Calling 34 The Spotted Sheep
Sandra Miller Martin
Where Is Your Treasure Chest Sitting? When visiting a relative or friend’s house, I would always see a Bible just lying around. Sometimes it’s on the coffee table, on a shelf, or just propped up against the wall sitting on top of a shelf or mantelpiece. Some of these Bibles are old, with their pages falling apart or taped together. I have always wondered whether the owner of this special book of knowledge understood how valuable it was. While visiting a friend’s house, I saw her treasure chest in the same situation. I asked, “Is this your book?” She responded with a smile and said, “Yes”. Afterward, she began to tell me how her Bible ended up in her possession. Not one time did she mention its value; she just pointed out the fact it had a sentimental value because it was handed down through her family by her great-great grandmother. It was tearing me apart, so I had to ask her, “Do you read it?” As I had predicted, she said no. For every difficult situation my friend faced in her life, the answer was right there in her house. Her treasure chest, full of knowledge, was falling apart while being passed down generation after generation, but that wisdom from the most high was never opened and used! I thought to myself, didn’t she know with this book she could obtain accurate combat intelligence about Satan and learn how to defeat him by using the word of God? Do you long to know God? Do you have the desire and motivation to discover God’s word and use it in your daily living? “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). I must challenge you and ask, where is your treasure chest sitting, and have you opened it?
Letter From The CEO’s Desk Hi, everyone, and welcome to the “Treasure Chest.” It is my desire to take God’s word intellectually and apply it to everyday life issues. It is also my desire for you to experience God’s Word practically through the power of the Holy Spirit. A love of the Word of God was embedded in my heart as I studied Bible doctrine classes while earning my undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies from Amridge University. Treasure Chest is unique and filled with short articles not only to inspire you, but also to help you understand that you can use the Bible as a guide for daily living. The Treasure Chest is sponsored by Christian Women Lifestyle xPress Online Magazine, known to some readers as CWL xPress. Before I leave you, I would like to ask you one thing: Where is your treasure chest sitting? Deanetta P. Thompson, M.S. CEO, Founder
Raising Your Child in the Lord
Raising children can be one of the most difficult things you’ll have to do in life. It’s hard to make decisions for someone else, but it’s even more difficult when you realize the decisions you select will have an impact on their lives forever. Setting goals for your children is fine, however use spiritual wisdom when you set them. One thing to remember is what Proverbs 22:6 says about children. It says, “Train up your children in the way they should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This means when you train your child on how to live for God, when he or she is older they will continue to live for God and not be led “unto their own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-7). When you continually go to church, you’ll find it becomes a habit in their lives, and an unforgettable practice they will hopefully not abandon in their adulthood. Negative peer pressure is one of the hardest things for kids to handle. It tends to be caused by other kids trying to influence your child to do drugs, steal, engage in sex, and a plethora of other activities against the will of God. The more pressure there is the more difficult it may be for your child to ignore, which means your child may want to cave in; and do what the other kids are pressuring them to do if they are not secure in themselves and their beliefs. When you pray with your child and teach them the right things to do, it creates a strong tangible example for them and could help give them the strength to say no. While many children and adolescents find peer pressure is difficult to manage, it can be even more difficult when they become young adults and have the added responsibility of making life-altering decisions for themselves. This is why, it is all the more important to give them a biblically-based foundation so they are accustomed to relying on God to lead and guide them in all they do. They won’t always have mommy and daddy there to help them with the hard choices in life. When you have faith in God and teach your children to have faith it makes life more hopeful for them. Satan is out to destroy our children, and it is crucial that we teach them to endure and fight the ways of this world with God’s ways and His word. It is also vital we teach them to pray before making any decisions, including who they choose as their friends. Teaching our children to be armed with a life of prayer will strengthen them and prepare them so that when the spirit of fear, doubt, or confusion attempts to disrupt their lives, they will have a fighting chance to come away from such circumstances with a testimony of God’s faithfulness. 5
Is Stress Running Your Life? Working a demanding job, paying bills, and not having enough time in the day to get everything done can cause stress in your life. If things aren’t handled properly, stress can take over your life. You’ll find no matter what you do you’re stressing, or you may find your attitude is so destructive because of the anxiety that you begin to take your problems out on everyone around you. Stress can cause you to sin in the eyes of God, so it’s best to figure out a way to remove it from your life. Once you make this change, you’ll find your life will be a whole lot better. You will soon discover you can do anything because you don’t have stress constantly bombarding your life. Once you accomplish this, you will find more peace and happiness will become apart of your daily living. Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” When you read this, you’ll see God was talking about daily matters you have to deal with, and He’s telling you how to fix it. All it takes to get rid of stress is to, “trust in the Lord” with all your heart. Now you say it’s easy to trust in the Lord, but depending on your situation, it may not be as easy as one may think. It has become a habit for you to stress over things, therefore; it becomes second nature to you. When you get to this point, it’s going to be difficult to turn your life around and know how to deal with stress. The best way to begin your journey to a stress-free life is doing what you can by eliminating the things in your life that you feel might create problems in the future. Keep one thing in mind some things you cannot eliminate. For example, you can take people out of your life that cause you stress and you can change jobs, but what you can’t do is eliminate your bills. Proverbs 3:5-7 really comes at the right moment when you are flooded with bills and life seems hopeless. Turn it over to God! When you pray and try to maintain a holy life, you will find living a Godly life will help you learn how to deal with your problems. Things will still look brighter for you regardless of your situation. There’s no time like the present to begin eliminating the stress in your life and to begin living your life the Godly way.
Eat Clean to Feel GREAT! By Bess Blanco, Family Health Coach with The Intentional Lifestyle So many of us are looking for shortcuts in getting healthy, losing weight, and getting that “beach body” we all yearn for! But the simple truth is, we cannot get truly healthy without eating clean and healthy. You can exercise as much as you want, pop “magic” pills, or try all sorts of not-so-healthy ideas! However, if the food you choose to shop for, cook, and eat are not healthy choices, you won’t be healthy! If you eat garbage, your body will show it. On the other hand, if you eat whole, healthy and fresh foods, then your body, skin and soul will glow with health that gives you endless energy! Here are some ways to eat clean, get that glowing health, and FEEL great! a. Eat Lots of Plants – Eat food that is as close as possible to the way it was found. Eat mostly foods that come from a tree, bush, plant or vine, and you’re covering the healthiest sources. The idea is to stay away from anything that humans (food corporations) have altered. b. Include Meats & Lean Proteins- Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher. Don’t buy pre-packaged meat products because they often include additives, antibiotics, and other harmful ingredients. When possible, buy whole meats and grind them yourself. c. Enjoy Grains - Eat grains that are still complete and haven’t been broken down into “white” or processed versions. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat and other whole grains. d. Read Labels – So many types of breads at the store say they are whole grain, but if you look carefully at the ingredient list, white flour is the second ingredient after whole wheat flour! Watch out also for “natural” labels; that is often a deceptive marketing term for a product with some “healthy stuff” thrown in, but the bulk of the product is still processed flour or ingredients. e. Eat Fewer Ingredients – Try not to purchase foods that have more than 3-6 ingredients in the ingredient list. If you don’t recognize each and every ingredient, they are likely unhealthy ones. Remember, if you can’t pronounce it, it probably shouldn’t go into your body! f. Eat 5-6 Small Meals Daily – This may seem like a lot of eating if you aren’t used to eating this often, but since you’ll be eating smaller portions, it quickly becomes easy to do and digest. If you tend to have a hard time with this, prepare your regular three meals and a snack for the day, and divide lunch and dinner in half. With this idea, you’ll instantly (and easily) have 6 small meals!
Though the thought of eating clean may feel a bit overwhelming at first, taking these tips and applying them to your own life, even one at a time, will make such a difference in how you feel! That great feeling and the excitement about how you look, will propel you to continue this lifestyle! Come join Coach Bess and the other peeps over in the community at The Intentional Lifestyle and get support, advice and encouragement for your healthy lifestyle!
Bess Blanco is a beloved Family Health Coach, speaker and the author of FRESH Start for Health â&#x20AC;&#x201C; she is a passionate activist in natural family health, leading her own family in the lifestyle! She leads a powerhouse team of amazing whole-health experts at The Intentional Lifestyle, as they work together to serve a growing community of families. Her impressive research combined with her own years of experience in the areas of health, home, and spiritual growth have given her unique qualifications and the relevance to share with todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s families how to live a healthier lifestyle.
The Rosemary Fisher Story
All I received from my alcoholic father was physical, mental and emotional abuse. The abuse lasted until I was nine years old when he died in a drunken driving accident. It is sad to admit that when he died I did not even grieve, I only felt relief. I thought ,â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wow, no more beatings, it is over.â&#x20AC;? Despite the abuse I experienced and witnessed at home, I still longed for my fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love that I would never receive. That reality hit me the hardest when I saw his casket being lowered into the ground at his funeral. Here I am nine years old at the time and realized it was truly over. I knew there was never going to be a chance of hearing him tell me he was sorry for hurting us, or to hold me and tell me that I was beautiful or worth fighting for. My home life changed drastically after my father died. My mother made a complete 180 degree turn in her lifestyle. The stay-at-home wife and mother who did not even drive a car 10
because she was not allowed to was now excited that she was finally free. With my father gone, there was no fear in the household or adult authority. My mother wanted to be my friend, she relinquished all parental responsibilities after my father’s death and I could stay up as late as I wanted, do whatever I wanted and it was now party time! At the age of 13, once an honor roll student involved in sports and over-achieving for approval, I now began my new lifestyle of drinking alcohol and selling drugs in school. My grades rapidly declined and I no longer cared about my education or anything else for that matter. At 14, my mother began taking me into the bars so she would not have to be alone and allowed me to drink alcohol with her while she socialized and danced with men. The drinking and the strange men began following us home where overnight stays and chaos would just continue for years to come. At the age of 16, one night I returned home drunk at three in the morning to later find my mother dead in the garage. She had committed suicide. Out of desperation and panic while she was already in rigor mortis, I jumped on her trying to bring her back to life. I kept crying out, “Don’t leave me, don’t leave me. Just please, please don’t leave me.” I didn’t know what else to do. My mother left a note which basically said, “You’re capable of taking care of yourself, you’re strong, you can just keep on. know you’ll be better off without me.” It was the worst day of my life and after I realized there was nothing I could do to bring her back, I left the scene in shock walking around the neighborhood in my nightgown. I could not believe this happened to me. The thoughts kept revolving around my mind over and over again....How could this happen to me? How could she just leave me? At 16 with no family members stepping in to help, I immediately dropped out of school and began supporting myself by working in local bars and restaurants. I was a wreck emotionally and learned from a young age how to look “pulled together” and hide the pain. But deep down I was that little girl that did not know what real love was. I was an emotional bomb just waiting to explode. I became dependent on medicating the pain and my behavior increasingly became self-destructive. If somebody called me out on my actions, I was prepared with my rebuttal and reply “Well, you would drink too if your father was an abusive alcoholic, died in a tragic car accident and your mother committed suicide and left you orphaned at 16.” I believed I had justification for every destructive habit I embraced to hide and kill the emotional pain of abandonment, rejection and self-hatred that I felt about myself. I justified this behavior for 15 more years and the destructive cycle never bore any good results. A business partner who eventually became a dear friend saw how desperate I was and encouraged me to get help. 11
Her name was Christine and while driving home from a business meeting after one of my emotional episodes, she turned to me with tears coming down her cheeks and said, “If you don’t quit living like this, you are going to die. And I can’t watch you die so I’m going to have to let you go.” I was over-
Immediately I had a desire to go look for God and started going from church to church just wanting to pray. I didn’t even know how to pray, I just wanted to find God. I had no idea what denomination to attend nor did I know anything about denominations for that matter. If the sign said “church,” I was going
whelmed how much she really cared and I was more shocked that her tears were real and she was serious. Because I respected her and loved her more than I loved myself at that time, I reluctantly accepted her help because I knew she was sincere and meant everything she had spoken.
to go and find God. After a few visits to numerous churches, I finally heard the Gospel preached in its entirety on how Jesus wanted to save me and take away all the pain of my past and give me a new future with Him as my Savior. I did not fully understand exactly what it all meant. But what I did hear was, “Jesus died for my sins; they are washed away
Christine began taking me to A.A. meetings. The stories I heard from others opened my eyes to the devastating truth of my own life and that alcohol was one of my problems. Although I had a good friend in Christine, I felt completely alone. When the truth hit
by His blood and He wants to give me a new life. A life that’s full of abundance, favor and blessings. All you have to do is be sincere and ask Him to take over your life and believe.” I went to the altar and asked Jesus to be my Savior and save me. That sincere
me, and I realized that I did not have God in my life ,that is when I broke. I lost it and fell on my face and knees, no longer wanting to live, no longer wanting to breathe, and that night is when I cried out to God, “If you’re really up there, I need you right now, right now to show up because I’m done!” I just
prayer changed my entire life because my life began to transform with a hunger for God and His holy word. I would continue to go from church to church whenever the doors were open just to learn more about Him.
wept and all I remember at that point was this warm presence full of peace coming all around me as if it
During a conversation at A.A. of what was happening in my life, someone told me about the Holy Spirit
was holding me. I never felt anything like that before in my life but knew it brought me comfort I never experienced before. I did not even ask any questions. All I know is that my cry out was sincere and
being my helper and to call upon Him for help in any situation. It was His job to help me. So I began to immediately call upon my helper from the largest to the smallest of tasks and He always showed up. I
to this day I believe God heard and answered my call to Him. I continued to weep for a few days after this encounter and believe it was a cleansing process from all the
started seeing life from a whole new perspective – from His perspective. I experienced being taken out of the kingdom of darkness and was now captivated by the Kingdom of Light. I truly experienced a new birth that is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
things I allowed in my life to make room for His precious Holy Spirit. Things were being removed like the desire for drugs, alcohol and the promiscuous sex to fill the huge hole in my heart.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 12
It has been 17 years now since my new life began with Christ as my Savior and I admit that it has not always been easy. The Holy Spirit has and still is accompanying me on my quest to fulfill my role within the Body of Christ by serving the church with my gifts and talents. I also take my position as His ambassador to this world to encourage others to be transparent, share their stories for His glory and to help as many people as I can within and outside the walls of church to see that Jesus is REAL and He has come to set the captives free. Although sometimes it feels like I have been on a roller coaster ride that has had some serious up and down turns, I still believe without a shadow of a doubt that He is worth everything. I love God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I cannot get enough of Him. Don’t get me wrong, I am human and I mess up all the time, but I will tell you that His loving, merciful and forgiving grace is just magnificent! I am so grateful that He was always there waiting for me to surrender my will to His. I was the one that had to choose to get out of the pit and step into His palace. Just like me, Jesus is knocking at everyone’s door of their heart wanting to get in to save, rescue, redeem and restore what was lost. My prayer is that His children will take their ambassadorship seriously and share what He has done for them so He gets ALL the glory and people who are watching His children won’t hesitate on opening the door of their hearts to allow Him to do the same because He is good! We must no longer live in shame of our past but glorify Him for what He has pulled us out of so others can be saved by the blood of His testimony and always give Him the glory and honor that He so deserves! For more information on Rosemary and her book Recycled Women, please visit www.recycledwomen.org
From Tragedy to
Denise Jones Interview
Who Said It Couldn't Be Done? Is the story of one woman's journey from poverty, incest, drug addiction, incarceration and lesbianism to sobriety, spiritual redemption and inner peace.
CWL xPress: Please tell readers about yourself and your ministry? I was born and raised on Chicago’s West Side. I am the eldest of seven children. At the age of twelve, my mother introduced me to shooting heroin. This lasted for over fifteen years. My life during this time was as a child living in an adult world. I dropped out of school in the fourth grade. I embraced the street life of drugs, prostitution, and crime. My life was filled with poverty, incest, molestation, drug addiction, and incarceration. Deep insecurity and inferiority, drug addiction, and gender confusion tormented me for many years. I often wondered if I was human. I am a Deliverance Minister and Motivational Speaker; I have been on a passionate mission to share with others how to break free from the prison within. I believe that the greatest prison is the one that we erect for ourselves. My mission is to educate, inspire and empower individuals to achieve their greatness regardless of their race, color, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. I found my purpose in my empowerment ministry, which includes a prison ministry; overall my goal is to address the needs of women and young girls. This ministry has allowed me to provide volunteer services to various organizations throughout the Chicago land area, as well as other states. I have worked with adults, families and children for over 20 years in building healthy relationships. Churches, parents, schools, government institutions and businesses have heard and utilized my lectures on “Roadmaps for Ex-Offenders to Return to Their Communities.” I am the author of “Who Said It Couldn’t Be Done?” This book has been the curriculum for a 16-Week, 80-Hour Life Skills Course called “Changing Your Lifestyle” that has been used by the Empowerment Center of the Department of Women’s Justice Services within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. I have also been asked to develop Who Said It Couldn’t Be Done? into a play by a local Chicago Theater. I am also working on my 2nd book, The Prison Within Me: Break Free.
CWL xPress: What was your child hood like? I grew up in a sweet but bitter home, raised by my grandparents who spoiled me rotten. I was the fourth oldest grandchild. My birth mother abandoned me for a man. I remember one Christmas; my mother bought me an easy bake oven and a tall white doll, almost as tall as me. I was happy to see her because she had been missing in action for a while. I was so excited and eager to open up my gift and learn how to cook on it. My granny taught me how to make cornbread and a pound cake. She was preparing me for the real world, that good old southern way. She shopped at the thrift stores, where she would purchase me some of the prettiest dresses, hats and socks with lace on them. We would bring the clothes home and she would put them in the bath tub and wash in Argo starch and hang them out to dry on the back porch. I remember those close pins. On the next day she would iron and re-hang them on cloth hangers in the closet. I would ask, “Granny can I put one on?” and she would say, “Child, tomorrow." I couldn’t wait! When she finally dressed me, I remember feeling so pretty inside and out. I would hear her say look at my baby. Those days would soon come to an end, when the incest and molestation started. By the age of six, my grandfather, uncle, cousin, the man from the dry cleaners and my sister’s father had all molested me. I remember somewhere between the age of 7 or 8, I would spend the night at my cousin’s house and in the middle of the night my mother would come and beat me with a thick black belt all the way back home. She would ask, “Didn’t I tell you I don’t want you staying over there?” She would never tell me why. I did not find out why she was beating me until I wrote my book Who Said It Couldn’t Be Done? In 2010 when she was interviewed, I later found out her father had molested her. She felt that was the only way to protect me. She had never shared this until that interview. So, not only was I hurting, she was hurting too. We now have the best mother and daughter relationship; there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t talk. My mother, sisters and I are now working in the ministry together, sharing this powerful gift of how God put our family back together. The devil said it was not going to be, but God who is rich in mercy did it.
CWL xPress: What is the worst memory you feel will forever impact your life? My mother had initiation parties in our house every weekend. I observed a man having sex with a virgin. She was crying and bleeding. He would not stop. That incident affected my mind terribly. I could not begin to tell you how that altered my emotions. I looked at men as dogs, and they hurt girls and women. I grew a great hatred toward all men. After everything that I had encountered with men, there was no way I could respect them. I felt that women were weak; therefore, I took on the role of a man and vowed that this would never happen to me. I wanted nothing to do with a man. But choosing the wrong path almost cost me my life. I began to live as a man with women who were thieves by day and whores by night and the men, [who were competition] couldn’t handle that. [I learned that some of them planned] to rape, kill me and throw my body behind Chicago Brach’s Candy Company. God blessed me to escape but not before receiving one-hundred and eighty-three stitches. Once again, God has shown His power to me. He saved and delivered me gave me a new outlook on life. He taught me how to forgive and put love and respect down in my heart for men. He used a true man of God, who is my Presiding Elder to break into my emotions. This man poured nothing but love on top of love on me, and through that God began to take away all the hurt and pain. So in my final words, if God’s desire is for me to be married, I bow to His will.
CWL xPress: How do you feel your story can help someone else? My message of deliverance can help anyone who is living a homosexual lifestyle desiring to come out, like I did. It can also be used as a teaching tool for someone, who is endeavoring to reach a loved one, a friend or child. My story gives a voice to the one who feels hopeless. My story is an excellent fit for the church setting today because people are looking for the truth, but the preachers are afraid to preach it, in fear of losing dollars and membership. Therefore, I make myself available, to those who are in need of help.
CWL xPress: What is your favorite bible scripture and why? I have listed two of my favorite scriptures. These scriptures are precious to me; because I was literally standing in a pool of blood in July of 1980 and God said, “And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou was in thy blood, live; yea, I said unto thee when thou was in thy blood, live” (Ezekiel 16:6). He gave me a second chance at life. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). 17
CWL xPress: How can readers learn more about you, your story and contact you? I invite the readers to follow me on almost every social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Good Reads); you can even Google me. Also please check out my website at www.authordeniseJones.com and you can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would you like to have your business link featured in CWL xPress Online Magazine? Click here for details.
I am a Living Testimony The Sandra Miller Martin Story My name is Sandra Miller Martin. I was born in the small town of Ware Shoals, South Carolina, which is in Greenwood, County. I came from very modest beginnings. I am the seventh child of nine siblings. At a very early age my parents, the late Jerry Sr. and Susie Mae Wilson Miller instilled Christian values in all nine of their children. Going to Church was not an option for us. Many Sunday's we were in Church twice, and dared not complain. We were taught the essence of what love and respect meant for the home and the community. "Honor thy father and thy mother which is the first commandment with a promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2-3). We didn't take the word of God lightly. When we played at our neighborâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house, I fondly remember feeling the love that the Bible teaches. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mark 12:31a). These were just good basic instructions that we practiced throughout life. After graduating high school I married and went to work. God did not see fit to bless the union with children. In 1993, my husband of eight years passed away at the age of thirty-seven from cirrhosis of the liver. I would be the first to say, to indulge in obsessive amounts of alcohol is detrimental to your health. It was not easy watching my handsome husband die from this disease. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1). During husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s illness, my mother was also ill. I had the task of taking care of her as well. When my loving mother passed away, the realization that I had also lost my best friend was hard to accept. As difficult as life was, I had to gather myself in the strength of the Lord and put my life back together. I truly felt in my heart that I had succeeded in doing that. Until, one day while I was at work, without warning my eyesight became blurry. In March of 2004, an immediate appointment with the ophthalmologist revealed that I was losing my eyesight at a rapid past due to diabetes. My heart sank. My world crumbled. I was going blind! After undergoing three major unsuccessful surgeries, I was told there was nothing that the doctors could do to restore my eyesight. Needless to say, I was devastated. During my final diagnosis, everything that I had been taught about hope, and faith vanished. Agony and pain became a daily ritual for me. My world crumbled. This was truly a life-altering experience for me. Fear shaped the very core of my being. Having to go from being an independent woman to a dependent one in every area of my life was crushing. At times, in the months that followed, I felt overwhelmed. At some point in my journey, I had to reach within the folds of my soul and lean on my faith in God. 20
Learning how to cope with this loss was no easy feat. Diabetes is a very debilitating disease. It causes many problems to the body. I am a living testimony to that fact! As if the disease didn’t rob me enough; I was faced with yet another challenge. In August of 2011, my right leg was amputated due to diabetes. The scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:7 is by far one of my favorites, "For we walk by faith and not by sight." Those words became ironclad to me. My inner-spirit had to line up with the scriptures. What I'm unable to see in the natural, God enables me to see in the Spirit. The paths that I can no longer walk in the physical, God lifts me on the wings of love and guides me gently on. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (Psalms 119:105). My journey has not been easy. My trials have been many, but through it all, I have not lost faith in God. I worship Him early in the morning, and I praise Him late at night. No matter what! "I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to his name, O thou most high" (Psalms 9:2). It is my sincere prayer that my testimony will encourage someone who may be facing the same or similar challenges to keep the faith. When the load is cumbersome, and the burden is heavy we can be confident in the word of God. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee, He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Psalms 55:22). I am a living testimony!
“For we walk by faith and not by sight.”
II Corinthians 5:7
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Celebrating Women Everywhere! After God created man, He created woman. Women do a lot in this world, and they are a asset to everything they do and touch. Women should be celebrated every day, and the reason is because women are special in the eyes of God. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the fear of God.” Women cook, clean, take care of their families, and work for others. It is almost like the slogan used for the Postmen, “Rain, shine, sleet or snow they are there to get the job done.” They do it for the love that is stored inside their hearts. Once their daily duties are done they will ultimately rest for the day. This special time may be done by watching a television show with the family, reading a book, taking a bubble bath, or reading the Bible. No matter what it is, they find a way to relax and return to a peace which makes them happy. This peace can be found in many different places, but one thing for sure, there is always peace in God. Proverbs 31:30 talks about charm, beauty and women who fear the Lord. America defines women by their beauty and charm, which can be exceedingly deceitful. That’s why it’s vital women stay in the word at all times. Godly women do what they can to keep their families and others happy by being a blessing to them. When they consistently stay in the word, and do what’s right by God, He will give them the spiritual wisdom needed to raise their families. If they don’t have a family, they will use that wisdom to honor God and remain precious in His sight. If you know a woman such as a friend, mother, relative that does it all and then some, let her know how much she is admired and let her know God’s favor is upon her.
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Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Keep Marriage the Way God Intended for It to Be
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4
The True Meaning of Easter Easter is a special day for Christians because it’s the time of the year when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. Most Christians regard it as “Resurrection Day.” It is the celebration of the eternal life that was given to those that trust in Him. Jesus dying and then rising from the dead shows us that He wasn’t a regular teacher. It shows us that He truly was the Son of God, and He conquered death. The resurrection story can be found in I Corinthians 15:3-8. Paul summarizes it quite nicely in these verses, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (KJV). Once you read these verses, you will have a better understanding about the holiday some call Easter. You will realize the Easter bunny, the eggs, and the candy has nothing to do with resurrection day at all! The Easter bunny represents a commercialized holiday, and this is a long way from the true meaning of Resurrection Day, and why Christians celebrate this historic day. While there is nothing wrong with hiding Easter eggs, spending time with your family dying the eggs and searching for them, you do need to make sure your children and family have a complete understanding of Easter and why it’s necessary to celebrate this special holiday. Jesus rising from the dead is awesome because it shows us if we believe in God and live in his footsteps we can live life eternally with Him one day. It shows us that He died on the cross for us. Instead of worshiping the Easter bunny, we should worship Him. When you know and understand the true meaning behind Easter, you’ll celebrate differently. Make sure this Easter you sit down with your family and learn about this special day and what it means to you. When you keep this incredible story in the back of your mind, you’ll continually remember that Jesus died on the cross for you, and then rose from the dead so you could have eternal life.
The God Who Fights For Us Conflict. Few of us handle it well. Some of us seek it out too much. Some of us avoid it like the plague –even when it may be unavoidable and working through it is necessary. Every since Adam and Eve fell in the garden we have felt the consequences of sin in our human relationships. Life can be hard. God does not promise us paths of ease, but He does promise us the strength and wisdom and peace we need for the journey. Do you find yourself in the midst of a conflict right now? If so, I want to remind you that God has a plan in what you’re going through. I don’t say this to minimize or diminish the difficulty or significance of what you are facing. It may be big. It may be important. It may be hard; However, God is bigger. Your relationship with Him is even more important. He promises to be the strength you need to get through it. I do not say this as someone preaching to you from her ivory tower. To be honest, I have to confess that I did not apply this truth to myself when my husband and I faced a legal settlement matter with a contractor who breached his contract and left us in a very vulnerable situation. I got so caught up in the legal stress and focusing on what we would lose if the situation didn’t work out, that my relationship with God got shoved to the back burner. Instead of turning to Him for guidance and peace I acted out of the misconception that it was my 28
responsibility to solve the problem. I tried every way I could think of to manipulate the situation and find a winning strategy—in the end NONE of my efforts mattered! Ultimately, it was just a matter of waiting until enough time had passed that the contractor came to his senses and did what needed to be done. God changed that man’s heart in His timing. None of my work, tears, emails, phone calls, legal consulting, anger, or sleepless nights mattered one bit. If I had it to do over, I would have prayed more, rested in God’s sovereignty, and enjoyed those days that I was home with my kids. Instead, I spent that time making phone calls, sending emails, complaining, and neglecting my sweet children because they were just a distraction from my misguided focus. I allowed my fear and need for control to steal those days from me. I can’t have them back, and I feel like a total fool for letting the enemy trick me out of using that time wisely. I hope you can benefit from my mistakes and not fall into the same trap. Consider the striking imagery of Psalm 18:6-18, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they
trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth… He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him- the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them… He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.” Isn’t that beautiful? To think that our God stops what He’s doing when we cry to Him and fly in a storm to defeat our enemies on our behalf. Make Psalm 18 your new mantra! Start each day by reading it. Burn it into your brain over and over! God fights for you! He is stronger than your foe. You are responsible to honor Him and call to Him. Remind yourself of this throughout the day as facets of your current conflict pop up and demand your immediate attention. Every time you get another urgent phone call or email, stop and pray. Remind yourself who is in control and ask Him to give you wisdom to deal with the new problem. Ask Him to help you keep things in perspective and to give you peace. Then get out of the way and let Him fight for you!
The Ultimate Calling A humid day in August changed my life. My boyfriend, on bended knee, opened a royal blue box and took out a sparkling diamond ring. In that moment, I knew my life would never be the same, but I had no idea what God was calling me to. As he placed the ring on my finger, the diamonds glistened in the sunset and symbolized my life's new direction: one of unity, sacrifice and submission. When we first began dating, he told me God was calling him to become a pastor. As a young Christian, I did not understand the full breadth of that statement, but unwittingly accepted that call, too. Seven months after we got married, God called us to pastor our first church in Canada. We were far way from our homes, and had no money. I never realized the many luxuries and
securities I would have to sacrifice in order to serve the body of Christ as a pastor’s wife. Although I consider it a privilege to serve God and His church in this way over the past thirteen years, there have been times when those sacrifices have proven a trial to my faith. One such trial came when we planted our first church. We did not begin in the conventional way with 50-100 eager members banging down our doors. We started our calling with twelve hesitant couples that had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Frankly, neither did we. But my husband felt God’s leading to plant a church, and I did whatever I could to support him. At the end of our first church launch meeting, it seemed all twelve couples willingly embarked on this new church adventure.
Except for me. I searched my heart and questioned my doubts on this matter. I figured the enemy’s manipulations were driving my feelings. I thought if I prayed or read my Bible more, I would eventually share everyone’s contagious excitement.
But I never caught it. After that first meeting, I felt much like James and John in Matthew 4:18-20, giving up my comfort and security to be thrust into a life laced with uncertainty and confusion. But as I spent time with the new church members, got to know their stories and ate in their homes, something happened.
As we met in small groups, studied the word and prayed together, I began to see the members of my new church as brothers and sisters instead of strangers. Suddenly, my calling was no longer a source of frustration or sacrifice, but an opportunity to embrace God’s people. Because I am one with my husband, his leadings are my leadings. In this instance, God was asking me to fulfill my ultimate calling, to be a “suitable helper” for my husband (Genesis 2:18). Sometimes God’s callings aren’t always easy, secure or comfortable, but it is my willingness to be a suitable helper in the midst of them that gives God glory. And I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.
AUTHOR Michelle S. Lazurek
Michelle S. Lazurek is a pastor's wife, a mother, an author, and a speaker. Her writing has been published in numerous publications, including womensministry.net, and christiandevotions.us. Her e-book Everything I Learned About Writing I Learned From Rocky Balboa: Six Ways To Keep Fighting Without Throwing in the Towel is an Amazon bestseller. Please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com
My heart changed. 31
The Spotted Sheep Written by Karen Israel
There was once a man who had a herd of sheep. Now these sheep were very beautiful, and everyday this man would take his sheep through a valley and up to a mountain where they grazed on the best grass. In all the land where this man lived, there were no sheep healthier than this man’s sheep. They were physically fit and their coat was of a pearly white, and everyone was always seeking to get their wool. In fact, every year this herd of sheep won the best sheep contest at the town’s Great Fair. One day, Sam who owned this herd of sheep had a little misunderstanding with his wife, who was always complaining that he loved the sheep more than he did her. So, to make her happy, he thought he would take a day off and not take the sheep on their usual trek. Now it would happen that this was the day that a spotted sheep strayed onto Sam’s farm. Sam looked at the sheep and wondered, “What kind of sheep is this? I have never seen any sheep this ugly before. It even looks ill,” he said and called his wife, who was still fuming with him. She knew that come tomorrow, he and the herd of sheep would continue their daily trek. “Doesn’t this sheep look sick?” he queried to his wife. "Indeed it does,
we shouldn’t let it graze with our sheep. Why don’t we take it across to Ben,” Sam’s wife suggested. Ben was another shepherd just like Sam. For years he had been trying to win the annual best sheep contest at the Great Fair; however, every year Ben always comes in last. Ben tried everything; he had good grass, he had good water; he even invested in a water filter. “Perhaps I need to spend more time with them,” Ben thought. But Ben had a strict rule. He got up at 5am every morning and prayed until six o’ clock. Then he had to walk three miles to help his neighbor Mrs. Smith, who was old and could hardly move around. He had often tried to get Sam to help out Mrs. Smith as he lived nearest to her. But Sam was normally off on his stroll with his sheep, by four in the morning. Ben had even asked Sam’s wife if she could help out some of the mornings, but she was so busy with the eight children and the house and the farm; the poor woman didn’t have time to sit, not even for a second. Ben often thought that if he had a wife, things would be better for him—the truth is no one wanted Ben, who was always failing at the sheep contest. So Sam and his wife got up early one morning and went all the way to Ben’s farm. Quietly they opened Ben’s gate and placed the spotted sheep on his farm. “I bet the fool will keep it,” Sam laughed. “I bet you, he will put milk in a baby’s bottle and nurture it like it is special,” the wife said softly. Sam laughed. “Wife, I think you’re right, and Ben wonders why he can never win at the Great Fair.” When Ben had finished his praying and was about to leave for Mrs. Smith, he saw the spotted sheep lying on his patio. “What a beautiful sheep,” Ben thought. “Well I’ve been praying for a blessing Lord! And here I woke to find that you have led a beautiful spotted sheep to my door!” he spoke aloud. Ben looked at his pocket watch and didn’t think Mrs. Smith would mind a ten-minute delay. Quickly, he hurried into his kitchen and came back out with a baby’s bottle filled with milk. Ben took up the spotted sheep and sang to it and fed it and smiled, all the time thanking God for the gift He had sent. Ben would continue his routine with the spotted sheep every morning before he went to Mrs. Smith. Soon Ben began to notice that the spotted sheep was a lively little chap. He loved to run around, and it seemed the other sheep took a liking to him. They liked the spotted so much that
they followed him up to the hill and down the hill and up to the hill and down the hill, and they would do this all day long. Ben noticed that he didn’t even have to worry about spending more time with the sheep. He would wake up, and his sheep would be up and about and running around with the spotted sheep. Ben wasn’t sure if it was his love for his herd or if his mind was playing tricks on him, but the herd looked exceptionally robust. Then comes the time for the Great Fair and Ben rounded up the spotted sheep and the rest of his herd. However, at the Great Fair, while all the other farmers were sweating from nerves, Sam just kept his cool. Sam’s nerves weren’t shaken one bit. In fact, he was busy thinking about where he would put his next trophy. He looked across at Ben and the spotted sheep and laughed. “Stupid Ben,” he thought ,“when will he learn?” Finally, it was time for the judges to go around and look at the herds. They looked at Sam’s first and as usual, they were very pleased. They looked at all the other farmers’ herds and as usual Ben was last. But something happened that was different at this fair. All the children wanted to pet the spotted sheep. First the children went by Ben’s sheep, then the parents quickly followed and soon everyone wanted to touch the spotted sheep. Even Sam’s children shouted, “Daddy isn’t this sheep beautiful? Can we have a spotted sheep for our farm?” Sam looked at his kids annoyed. A sudden fear rose up in him because as he looked at the spotted sheep, he began to realize that it was beautiful—a robust sheep, he thought. And then the judges moved through the crowd. What a fuss they made over Ben’s herd and one of them even told the story about when he was a boy, and his neighbors owned a spotted sheep. He looked at Sam’s wife, “you remember, don’t you? Your father used to own a spotted sheep. It made your father’s herd healthier than everyone else’s.” Sam turned swiftly and looked at his wife, who turned away with a wry smile. And you can guess the rest of the story. Ben went on to win the best sheep contest that year and every year after that. The idea of the spotted sheep was taken from Genesis 30:32.
Treasure Chest Christian Women Lifestyle xPress Online Magazine welcomes you to the Treasure Chest. Legend holds that pirates would go through any means necessary to find hidden treasure chests full of gold and other valuables. They knew once they found and opened a chest, its contents would be priceless. For us, the Bible is like one gigantic treasure chest: once you open it, the contents are invaluable! There is no problem or situation on Earth that humans have to deal with on a day-to-day basis that the Bible cannot answer. By giving us a treasure chest, God made sure we had access to specific instructions on how we were to live as women of holiness here on Earth. Unfortunately, some women never open the treasure chest or do not value what is in it. This has led them to plenty of bumps and obstacles along the way. We created the Treasure Chest magazine for women all around the world to share their life experiences, to discuss how God delivered them from something, or to encourage those who are getting to know Christ. We also created this magazine for those who are searching to find what is in the treasure chest; it is here to show how one can use it to build and maintain a relationship with Christ. If you have any personal comments, please send them to email@example.com or leave them on Facebook. Feel free to leave comments on any article you choose. Treasure Chest is sponsored by Christian Women Lifestyle xPress Online Magazine/Christian Talk Show.
Isn't it incredible that God is always available when we call upon Him? We never have to leave a voice - mail or be placed on hold. God is always On Call! I love the promise from scripture that says - "Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3). Spending time with God will change your life! This is my prayer for you. www.oncallprayer.org