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DEAD MAN WALKING (PAGE 2)

AN OPEN LETTER (PAGE 14)

HIDDEN MESSES (PAGE 16)

TIPS

FOR

5 QUESTIONS W/ SHERRY (PAGE 32)

THE LONG

SUCCESS

ROAD

DAD

DEEP

YOU’RE

DEAD TO ME

(PAGE 6)

OU T OF

DEBT

(PAGE 24)

BATTLING

FEAR

(PAGE 29)

21 DAYS W/ JOHN

IMPOSSIBLE

NewSpring Church

FORGIVENESS DANGEROUS WORDS

www.newspring.cc


Table of Contents

Table of Contents 02

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Religion, Meet Jesus

The Prodigal Returns

#1 Understanding Your Salvation

#2 Finding Your Identity in Christ

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Jesus, Will You Clean Up My Mess? #5 Confessing and Repenting of Your Sin

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Loving God’s Church #6 Loving God’s Church and Buying in to Her Potential

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10

Forgiving When It Seems Impossible #3 Having a Right Relationship With Others

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An Open Letter To My Friend #4 Knowing How to Lead Someone to Christ

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The Seven Simple Words To Free You #7 Reading the Bible to Hear God’s Voice

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Ques

with Sherr

Financial Freedom Is Possible

Written On The Headboards

5 Questions w/ Sherry Moorhead

#8 Stewarding Your Money in a Biblical Way

#9 Having Godly Relationships, Marriages and Kids

#10 Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gift

Central Volunteer


Editor’s Note

Your life is a story. A story about what Jesus has done, is doing and will do. Giving your life to Jesus is the most important decision you will ever make. God saved you because He loves you and salvation is just the beginning of your story. As your church, we want you to understand God has a bigger plan for you than you can imagine. We want to see you live a full life, centered on following Jesus on a daily basis! We don’t want something from you, we want something for you! In fact, we want 10 specific things for you. These 10 things are actually 10 concepts that will help you grow in your relationship with Jesus. We want for you to:

1) Understand salvation in a Biblical context, knowing you have been made right with God through Jesus. 2) Learn how to find your identity in Christ. 3) Have a right relationship with others. 4) Learn how to recognize and follow

the voice of God by reading the Bible on a daily basis. 5) Feel the freedom to admit your weaknesses, confess AND repent of sin without feeling judged or condemned. 6) Love God’s Church and be fully bought in to her potential. 7) Steward your money in a Biblical way, putting God first, living within your means and embracing generosity as a core value in your life! 8) Know how to lead someone to Christ and feel the calling/responsibility to do so. 9) Know about and discover your spiritual gift and use it to impact God’s Kingdom. 10) Have godly dating relationships, godly marriages and strive

to raise children who have a heart for Jesus. In the following pages these concepts are introduced through real life stories, letters, pictures and more. As you read and apply these concepts, your story will change—your life will change. Why “My Story”? Because your relationship with Jesus cannot be broken down to a formula. Your relationship with Jesus is not a 10-step process—it is a story. A story of mess ups and grace. A story of love and power. A story of a God who wants to meet with you and bless you. While reading, ask God what He wants to speak to you about. There are questions and thoughts along the way that will help you apply the concepts to your own life. Set aside some time daily to read. Grab your Bible and a pen, be prepared to meet with God, and take as long as you need. Your life is a story—a story about what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do. 01


#1 Understanding Your Salvation

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#1 Understanding Your Salvation

RELIGION, MEET JESUS We want you to understand salvation in a Biblical context, knowing that you have been made right with God through Jesus Christ. Church attendance and religion cannot bring the dead to life; sin is only removed by the power of Jesus. He is our hope to be made right with God. Read this story about a man realizing no amount of managed behavior can raise the dead and apply it to your own life.

1 John 5:12–13 936 straight Sundays. Plus 40 in the womb. No sick days. Not even a day off for vacation. Every Sunday morning of my entire life I sat on an uncomfortable wooden pew near the back of a little Methodist church in a little Southern town. And every year I got a little medal for perfect attendance. Quite the streak. Attending church wasn’t optional for me; it was simply what my family did on Sundays. Wake up. Wear

shirts with buttons. Sunday school. Sing hymns. Listen to the sermon. Stand around talking to people we never saw the rest of the week. Eat lunch as a family. Wait a week. Repeat. At 18 I began college, and it was a bit of a shock that first semester when my perfect attendance streak ended. It was more of a shock that it only took three weeks to kill. I tried churches in the area. I went to campus ministries. I occasionally picked up my Bible to read a few Proverbs or Psalms. I half-heartedly prayed vague prayers for help with classes. But whatever was built in those 18 years of church attendance wasn’t enough to sustain authentic devotion in my new environment. Some people are natural rule followers who can sustain religious posturing for long periods of time out of pure self will. I lasted less than a month. Years later, in His grace, God intervened and showed me the core problem—I was dead. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins…” (Ephesians 2:1 NLT) As for me. As for you. As for all of us prior to salvation. Dead. And the main problem with being dead is that dead people can’t do anything about it. Dead people are helpless. 03


#1 Understanding Your Salvation

I’d been dead my whole life and just didn’t know it. “For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5 NLT) There hadn’t been a moment of my 18 years that I hadn’t been dead in my sins, separated from Him. I was hopeless. At this point of realization, some people attempt to bridge the separation by trying harder, hurling religious efforts and good works at the sky in hopes that God will notice. Religion is a costume—dressing up in an attempt to convince ourself and others we are okay.

“Years later, in His grace, God intervened and showed me the core problem— I was dead.” Some people simply ignore the separation, pretending it doesn’t exist, like children ignoring things, hoping they will go away. I did both. “Look at how well I serve in your church, Lord! (But don’t look at me sleeping with 04

my girlfriend.)” “Look at all my Bible knowledge, God! (Please don’t pay attention to how little of it I apply.)” I was stuck, and all my church attendance couldn’t save me. My parents' faith couldn’t save me. I couldn’t change because dead people can’t change. Only Jesus can bring dead things back to life, and only He could save me. Jesus Christ died in my place to erase my sins and give me new life. At the beginning of my senior year of college, I confessed my sins, my lack of ability to save myself and my complete need for a Savior. And I was reborn. I was made right with God through Jesus Christ. I didn’t just change costumes; I became a new creation! The old me was dead, but the new me had abundant, eternal life. Understanding my salvation in a Biblical context changes everything. I know I’ve been made right with God through Jesus, through no effort of my own. Jesus paid a debt I could never afford to cover.

REFLECT 1) How does this story apply to you? What did you learn about salvation? 2) Is there a specific moment you remember crossing over from death to life? Write down what happened in that moment. What did God do for you? 3) Write a short prayer thanking Jesus for saving you. If you are unsure, ask Jesus to save you and nail it down today.

RECAP 1) Religion may allow us to manage our behavior and appear alive on the outside, but inside we are dead. 2) Attempting to earn our own salvation is a weight we cannot carry. 3) It is possible to be close to Jesus (attend church every Sunday) and never know Jesus. 4) If we take our sins to Jesus, and ask Him to save us, He is faithful to do so.

READ • 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 • Romans 5 • Romans 6:4 • John 14:6


If you’re not reading www.perrynoble.com you’re missing out on articles like: You Should Probably NOT Date Him If… Stop Complaining About What You Don’t Have! The Ten Things Fear Causes Laziness & Prayer Do Not Go Hand in Hand I Don’t Believe God’s Through With You! What a Husband Needs to Understand... My Thoughts on Hell

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#2 Finding Your Identity in Christ

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#2 Finding Your Identity in Christ

The Prodigal Returns Galatians 4:6–7 Your identity is not determined by what you have done or what others may call you. The Bible calls you a son or daughter of God. In the Gospel of Luke (Luke 15:11–37), Jesus tells a story about a Father and son to teach us about God’s character and our relationship with Him. This is a retelling of that story. Read it and apply it to your life.

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#2 Finding Your Identity in Christ

I am the youngest son in my family. I have almost forgotten what they look like and sound like my family that is. I left my Father and my home years ago. I thought I knew better. I didn’t. I am lost. I am lonely. I am broken. I want to go home. Rounding the last hill separating the scrublands from my Father’s estate I finally reach safe ground. Suddenly, I forget about my cracked, blistered, throbbing feet, the empty ache of my stomach and the stench of pig swill, sweat and excrement that made me want to gag with each breath. It has been four days since I

first vineyard my Father gave me to manage. Along with it comes the memory of that last conversation. I was so sure my Father cared more about a good return on his investment than He did about me. All

set off on foot to return home. HOME. The thought itself is heavy. It presses down on my chest, squeezing my heart between the past and the future. I am not prepared for it. I lift my eyes to the east; I see the

the challenges of tending the vineyard and managing the workers seemed so overwhelming. Didn’t my Father have enough wealth? What if I couldn’t make the vineyard profitable? What if I failed? I

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can’t recall what provoked me that day. All I know is that I finally found the courage to speak the words I had rehearsed so many times before. “Father, I want nothing to do with you or your legacy. You’re dead to me.” My Father let

“That’s when I see it: a shimmering cross of light and shade gliding toward me on the horizon.”

out a groan so deep it seemed to shake the earth beneath my feet. The horizon seems to sway in front of me as I recall this moment. Running away, sure that I was able to handle


#2 Finding Your Identity in Christ

life alone. The decision to ask for my Father’s inheritance was for dramatic emphasis. I didn’t care about the money. This way, there would be no way back. When my Father gave what I asked, I didn’t have to think long. With my deepest desire to please my Father, now meaningless, I was left to search for a substitute. What did I want? Well, there was always food, alcohol and women. Lots of women. I pause and draw my tongue across my upper lip in search of beads of sweat; this journey is stealing my last bit of energy. My knees buckle as if they had

been kicked like a dead dog. This was where my choice has led. I am too tired to cry. That’s when I see it: a shimmering cross of light and shade gliding toward me on the horizon. I can make out

sounds—perhaps shouts, maybe even laughter. Then finally words, “My boy! My boy! My boy!” Before I can rise to my feet, my Father descends on me with arms outstretched, scooping me into his arms and squeezing me in a full body embrace. My Father. It is so good to see my Father. The memories come flooding back. This was how my Father played with me as a young boy, before the vineyard, before I believed He would only love me…if… I would have settled for being my Father’s servant, so that I could stay warm, stay dry and eat real food rather than pig slop. Yet, I now realize that none of that mattered. What I want—what I need—is to know my Father’s love. How could I have been so blind to something that I can now see so clearly? “Climb on my back, son. You’re tired. Let me carry you home. Just wait until you see the feast I’ve got planned for you! Better than any party you’ve ever seen.” As we walk together, into the distance, now I am just a boy again, a whole life ahead of me, dreaming about how I can grow up to be just like my Father.

REFLECT 1) How does this story apply to your life? 2) What does this story teach you about the character of God and your relationship with Him? 3) Write down a short prayer thanking God for your relationship with Him.

RECAP 1) God is glorious and holy; we are separated from Him by our sin. 2) Nothing outside of a relationship with God can satisfy the deepest longing of your soul. 3) Jesus paid the price for you to come home free. 4) God celebrates as a Father reunited with a child when you turn from sin and ask Him for help.

READ • Isaiah 1:18 • Galatians 3:26–29 • Ephesians 1:3–8 • Romans 8:38–39 • 1 John 3:1

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#3 Having a Right Relationship With Others

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#3 Having a Right Relationship With Others

Forgiving When It Seems Impossible

Is there a relationship in your life that is broken? Is forgiveness hard to fathom? Read this story about the power of Jesus allowing us to forgive others and apply it to your own life.

Matthew 6:14–15 I will never forgive _________ for (what they did). Never. Dangerous words. I know because that was me. Completely stuck in my bitterness. I remember feeling sadness beyond anything I could imagine. I knew deep down that the erratic behavior was not my father. It was the illness, the extreme manic stages of bi-polar disorder that could cause violent behavior in my dad. The frustrating part was that the unpredictable mood swings were controllable with medication which he elected not to take. Maybe that’s why all the chaos and pain our family experienced seemed so unnecessary, so preventable. It was shocking to watch my formerly loving and compassionate dad—we called him “Big John,”—morphing into someone we could hardly recognize. The result: angry words to his teenaged children and physical abuse of our mom leaving not only painful bruises, but also a shattered 35-year marriage. 11


#3 Having a Right Relationship With Others

The doctors would tell us, “You have to remember, this isn’t your father. It’s the illness.” Knowing that didn’t erase the devastating images etched in my mind of my mom’s battered life. The formerly happy family of two parents and five teenaged kids was collapsing before our eyes. The only emotion I remember was extreme bitterness for the collateral damage left in the wake of his violent

Those desperate words were the beginning of a season of healing and restoration that could have never taken place without God’s help. It was over time, but in the months following this urgent plea, the Lord enabled me to forgive my dad. When I say forgive him, I mean to the point of wanting to take my young kids to visit him and giving him gifts at Christmas. And praying for him…not the horrible things I had wished for him at one

“How could I forgive him? Wouldn’t that be the same as saying that what he had done wasn’t wrong?” episodes. How could I forgive him? Wouldn’t that be the same as saying that what he had done wasn’t wrong? I remember angrily telling Jesus in my journal, “If I’m going to forgive this man, You’re going to have to do it. I cannot do this on my own.” 12

time, but praying for blessings in his life. Our dad was still eccentric; he had never really been like other dads. I’ll never forget the day a big box arrived in the mail at Christmas time from Big John. The kids opened it to find library books that

he had checked out from his local library, all wrapped in Christmas paper. Sometimes you just had to laugh. A few years later, my brother called unexpectedly one morning. The news was that Big John had died. Dad’s death brought a lot of mixed emotions. I was thankful for the father who, during my childhood had been a loving father. Thankful for the man who taught me to play tennis and put me through college. Thankful for the man who always asked me to play one more song on the piano even though no one else ever requested an encore. I was sad for the man who battled such a heartbreaking mental affliction—sad for the man who had never been forgiven by two of his five children. Because of the


#3 Having a Right Relationship With Others

REFLECT 1) How does this story apply to you? What did you learn about forgiveness? 2) How has God forgiven you? How can you offer that same forgiveness to someone else? 3) Write down a short prayer about your relationships with others.

RECAP 1) Unforgiveness is a bitter

bitterness, some of his grandkids never met him. It was heartbreaking to hear his grandchildren at the funeral asking cousins what Big John was like. Am I a better person than the brother and sister who were never able to forgive our father? Probably not. I am, however, a very grateful

person. I am grateful that through the awesome power of our Savior, I was able to share many sweet moments and a restored relationship with my dad. Now that he’s gone, I have no regrets. Thank you, Jesus. What about you? Is there someone you just can’t forgive? If a person is coming to your mind right now, I want you to know that you’re right: you can’t. It’s when you reach the point of desperately asking Jesus to give you His heart toward them that the healing will begin. It’s not easy, but I promise He can bring about peace in your life when you accept His help to forgive others.

poison in your heart, slowly stealing your joy, peace, and freedom. 2) Jesus understands what it means to be hurt, yet He forgave those who crucified him as they nailed His feet to the cross. 3) You cannot forgive in your own power; it is only by handing your hurts over to Jesus that you slowly learn to forgive. 4) Jesus forgives your sins; you are commanded to do likewise and forgive others who sin against you.

READ • Matthew 18:21–35 • Mark 11:25 • Colossians 3:13 • Matthew 5:43–44 • 1 John 2: 9–11

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#4 Knowing How to Lead Someone to Christ

We are all called to share the Good News of Jesus with others. Read this letter from someone in our church who benefited from a friend investing in her, inviting her to church, and sharing the truth of Jesus with her.

REFLECT 1) What does this letter say about the importance of sharing Jesus with others? 2) How did God grab your attention and draw you to Jesus? Who do you need to have a conversation with about Jesus? 3) Write a short prayer for the person in your life that needs Jesus. Ask Him to save them and ask Him to show you ways to continue to invest in that relationship.

READ • Acts 1:8 • Romans 1:16 • Matthew 9:37–38 • Luke 19:10 • Matthew 28:18–20

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#5 Confessing and Repenting of Your Sin

JESUS, WILL YOU CLEAN UP MY MESS? Growing people change. Sometimes change is tough because you are struggling with a weakness or sin that you 16

can’t overcome without help. At NewSpring, we want you to feel free to ask for help. Read this story about a woman’s personal struggle and apply it to your own life.

Romans 8:1 This is my life. I began a relationship with Jesus when I was six years old. I made straight A’s all the way through school, and I was the valedictorian of

my high school class. I married my high school sweetheart in college and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Early Childhood Education. I’m working at a job I love, doing exactly what I always said was my passion. My husband is a pastor at one of the fastest growing churches in the country. We have two healthy, beautiful, well behaved children who make straight A’s. This is my life, at least how it


#5 Confessing and Repenting of Your Sin

appears from the outside. My daughter’s room reminds me of my life. It’s beautiful with bright pink and green accents surrounding butterflies and dolls. It looks really clean to visitors, but mama knows something about her room others don’t. Somewhere tucked away are piles of stuff she doesn’t want to deal with: toys and clothes I’ve asked her to clean up, hidden instead of sorted

and put away. She is hoping no one, not even her mom, will see her mess. Like my daughter, I’ve spent many years and much effort stuffing my mess into hiding places. I have obsessive compulsive disorder. My weakness became evident to me as a little girl when thinking an unkind thought made me feel God was displeased with me. Guilt and worry would

torment me, making me want to avoid school instead of talking about my problems. Worry haunted me from time to time growing up, but escalated after losing six family members and friends at age eighteen. I had looked death in the face over and over again and had become afraid. I allowed fear to be a stronghold for me. I was afraid I had been exposed to disease through someone else’s blood. After I allowed it to consume me, I thought I saw blood on almost every door handle, every sink handle. I wanted to avoid touching people, even held my arms close so I wouldn’t touch someone passing by. I spent hours each day washing my hands to cleanse them of it. I was afraid of bringing harm to someone else. When a disturbing thought went through my mind; that I would move my car and hit someone. The thought became my reality. Driving became torturous as I backtracked multiple times a day, to make sure I hadn’t intentionally or accidentally caused harm. Many mornings I looked through the online paper to make sure no hit and runs were reported. I took the burden of safety on myself by checking doors and ovens multiple times. Sometimes I stood for minutes staring at oven knobs, 17


#5 Confessing and Repenting of Your Sin

repeating to myself that they were off. I tried to prevent tragedy from striking my life; I tried to be in control of everything. Medicine offered me some relief, but I had to stop taking it before my first child was born. During my pregnancy

losing my aunt and watching my son suffer from unexplained seizures. Through these difficult experiences, He was teaching me to rest in Him, and that life is not something I can control. I knew God was reaching His hand down into the pit

To appease God, I went to pray with someone after the service like I have done so many times before. I thought this would be enough, but God’s voice was confirmed by the wonderful friend who said to me, “I know an awesome lady you could talk to.” She was referring me

“I do not lose hope because I’m not doing it alone. God is with me, helping me clean up what looked like an impossible mess.” and again six years later, my level of worry, fear and anxiety escalated. This time, it took an even more hidden and crippling form. I wasn’t having as many compulsions, but my mind would turn horrible thoughts over and over. Hidden lies and fear consumed my days. I doubted my feelings and even my relationship with God. During this struggle, as I was focused on my problems, God was focused on me. He comforted and calmed me in the tragedy of losing a baby, 18

I was in and calling me out, but I still kept losing ground. I prayed that God would heal me of this pain, but it would always resurface. Mother’s Day 2011, God knocked hard on the door of my heart, and I wasn’t excited about His visit. That day, my pastor admitted he had suffered from depression and sought counsel. God spoke to me that I needed to do the same. Maybe my mind was just coming up with this idea; it was good at doing that.

to a counselor, and I did not want to go. The Bible says, “Share each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2 NLT). I had only shared details of my burden with my husband. Knowing God was asking me to take a step of obedience, I made an appointment with this lady and began seeing her for counseling sessions. What freedom I found in sharing my most embarrassing and burdensome thoughts and fears with another Christ follower! I went to this counselor fighting,


#5 Confessing and Repenting of Your Sin

but when I allowed her to share the load, it was lighter on me. Through her, God spoke truth to a mind so jumbled that truth and lies were hard to distinguish. God honored my obedience to deal with my weakness, my sin, by beginning the renewing of my mind. The relationship I began with Jesus as a little girl had been neglected. I began spending time reading the Bible, praying and thinking about scripture during the day. I also began taking the advice my counselor and husband gave me. Spending time with God and sharing my weakness with others were key to the change I have experienced over the last eight months. How do my little girl’s hidden messes get cleaned up? I point them out, and she is obedient to put everything where it should be. She dreads the process, and it often takes longer than she would like. Usually I will come along and help her clean up her mess. When it’s done, she is satisfied knowing that change has taken place. I look back over the last eight months with a thankful heart. I’ve pulled my hidden piles out into the open, and I’m working

“God honored my obedience to deal with my weakness, my sin, by beginning the renewing of my mind.”

REFLECT 1) How does this story apply to you? What did you learn about confession? 2) What is keeping you from growth? What are you keeping private that God could use if you would allow Him to? Who can you talk to about this? 3) Write a short prayer to God asking him to walk you through this struggle.

RECAP on putting everything where God intends it to be. Though difficult, the transformation is amazing and freeing. I do not lose hope because I’m not doing it alone. God is with me, helping me clean up what looked like an impossible mess.

1) No one is perfect except Jesus; everyone has sin to repent of and issues to work through. 2) Hiding your sin and weakness will only lead to misery and slavery. 3) The Bible says to confess your sin to each other and pray for each other. 4) When God points out sin or hurts in your life, He wants to heal you, not chastise you. 5) Today can be your first step to freedom found only in Jesus.

READ • Galatians 6:2 • Psalm 103 • Matthew 14:14 • Psalm 32 • Zephaniah 3:17

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#6 Loving God’s Church and Buying in to Her Potential

Loving God’s Church and Buying in to Her Potential

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#6 Loving God’s Church and Buying in to Her Potential

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#7 Reading the Bible to Hear God’s Voice

No one wants to fail in life. We all want to succeed at the things that matter: our relationship with God, family, career and finances. How can you be successful?

Read Your Bible. Do What It Says. The Bible

is full of instructions for life. It offers practical teaching on questions that come your

way on a regular basis. Want to have a better marriage? Want to manage your money successfully? Read your Bible and do what it says. The Bible rebukes, corrects, trains and encourages you when you need it most. Reading your Bible daily is how you can connect with God and find your way to success.

Not following instructions leads to destruction. Some of you know that from experience, and you may be in need of direction right now. No matter who you are or where you have been, God wants to meet with you through His Word. Today you can be successful: Read Your Bible. Do What It Says.

REFLECT

Be ready to write down any-

5 Tips to Help You Read

prepare for God to speak.

• James 1:22

4) Get a plan. Use the 21-

• Joshua 1:7

day reading plan we offer

• 2 Timothy 3:16–17

the Bible: 1) Pick a time and place. Start a routine. Schedule a daily time and place where you can be uninterrupted. 2) Get a Bible you understand. Find a version that is easy to understand, like the NIV or NLT. 3) Have a pen and paper handy.

thing that jumps out at you and

READ • 1 Kings 2:1–2

at the end of this magazine or one at newspring.cc 5) Be accountable to someone. Let someone know your plan to read the Bible for 21 days and ask them to check up on your progress.

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#8 Stewarding Your Money in a Biblical Way

Is Poss 24


sible

#8 Stewarding Your Money in a Biblical Way

God’s Word commands us to tithe the first 10 percent of our income to the church. Scripture is also clear that believers should be generous with the other 90 percent. Think that isn’t possible? Read this story about a woman that followed Biblical principles and found financial freedom, and apply it to your own life.

Proverbs 3:9–10 I accepted Christ at a young age and attended churches on and off for most of my life, but I didn’t understand the whole “tithe” thing. I knew “tithe” meant to give the church a tenth of my income, but we are making a lot more money in this day and age than they did in the Bible. I rationalized myself into believing that God’s Word did not apply to my current circumstances. For me, the word tithe turned into tip, occasionally offering God money to appease my conscience. I didn’t know how to live within my means. I spent most of my time being a financial fireman— running from one bill to the next and putting out the blazes as they were due. Gradually, the flames of debt overwhelmed me. By age 21, I was the statistic: a young single mom, a high school dropout, trying to raise 25


#8 Stewarding Your Money in a Biblical Way

two kids on my own. At the time, I was making minimum wage, renting an apartment and trying to keep up with car payments. My car was repossessed, and I found myself without transportation. Needing a car to pick my kids up after work, I got the cheapest car I could find using my mom’s credit card. I learned how to drive a stick shift in the parking lot of a car dealership. I came home night after night to a bare fridge and pantry. I tried to keep moving forward, yet everything seemed to be working against me! I couldn’t even afford a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter! How had I gotten myself into this mess?! As hard as I tried, I could never make enough money. I constantly found myself scraping together

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pennies to make ends meet. It was as if I was under a financial curse. I was at the end of my rope and humbled myself to apply for welfare assistance. I didn’t qualify. I made too much money when they

broken—financially, emotionally and spiritually. Why had God allowed this to happen to me? Why should my children be punished for my mistakes? I felt like a bad parent and like nothing good would ever

“We found through reading scriptures that we had to make some changes.” calculated my income from my minimum wage job and the child support payments that I was supposed to be receiving. I left that office

happen to me again. I didn’t know where to turn. I knew God loved me, but I felt I had somehow disappointed Him to the point that I would never


#8 Stewarding Your Money in a Biblical Way

receive another blessing from Him as long as I lived. I tried to keep smiling and hoped that no one would find out. In 1999, I married a wonderful man that not only loved me but loved my kids. We moved for his job a few years later and began attending NewSpring Church. We sat in services and did something we had never done before—when we got home, we started discussing what we heard in church. How did the sermon apply to us? We read our Bibles to find answers. We found through reading scriptures that we had to make some changes. Maybe there was more to being a Christian than going to church and tipping every week. The Bible said that those who do not tithe are robbing God and placing themselves under a financial curse. I believed it because I lived it. In June 2005, we joined NewSpring and made the commitment to tithe and serve. I wish I could tell you that our financial behaviors changed overnight. It was hard. We were no longer struggling with the knowledge. We knew what we were Biblically commanded to do and we had signed a church covenant giving our

word to do it. The hard part is obedience. After all, no one knows if we are really tithing or not—it is between us and God. It was hard parting with that money. After many sleepless nights and heated discussions, we made the decision to quit fighting it. As we began giving our tithes and offerings, we were blown away by the financial blessings that we saw in return. Our faith continues to grow as we see God’s promises come true in our lives. We have learned to be good stewards of the resources God provides to us. We tithe, save, and then spend—in that order every time. We now have no debts (other than our home), have savings in the bank, three vehicles completely paid for, and we are paying for our daughter’s college education. I never thought it would be possible for me to tithe, live within my means and be generous. Embracing generosity and stewardship brought financial freedom and joy. That is priceless.

REFLECT 1) How does this story apply to you? What did you learn about financial freedom? 2) How can you embrace generosity in your own life? Do you live within your means? Why or why not? 3) Write out a short prayer asking God to help you see opportunities to be generous and also ask Him to help you be obedient in the area of finances.

RECAP 1) God, in His Word, calls us to tithe and live generously. 2) Living outside of Biblical principles will never work out well. 3) God does not need anything from you. He owns everything. God wants financial freedom for you. 4) Tithing is a step of obedience that God will honor. 5) Financial freedom comes one obedient step at a time.

READ • Malachi 3:10 • 2 Corinthians 9:6–15 • Psalm 37:25–26 • 1 Timothy 6:17–19 • Proverbs 11:25

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#9 Having Godly Relationships, Marriages and Kids

Written On The Headboards

We want every owner of NewSpring Church to have godly dating relationships, godly marriages and strive to raise children who have a heart for Jesus. It is possible to raise godly children and have a godly marriage. In a culture of unfaithfulness and rebellion, you cannot shelter your family, but you can point them to Jesus. Read this story about a woman’s relationship with her kids and apply it to your own life.

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 I sobbed as I sat on the curb of the parking lot—legs outstretched, wrecked. For the very first time in my life, at the age of thirteen,

somebody bothered to tell me that God loved me. That He had not discarded me because my parents divorced, because I had my ears pierced, because I had never been in church on a regular basis. He loved me. And that was all I needed to know. So, how do I now (as a 38 year-old mom) teach my daughters about Jesus when He wasn’t a part of my life as a child? I have no frame of reference for discipling my children, yet I feel such an urgency about their salvation and spiritual formation. To further complicate matters, my husband was lost for his first 27 years of life. We both want better for our girls, but we have felt unsure about

how to direct them spiritually as we parent out of our own negative (or lack of) experiences as children. I started with prayer far before they were old enough to understand much about Jesus. I have consistently prayed that God will make Himself so clear to them; that He will allow each of them to know without any doubt when He is knocking on the door of their hearts; that He will enable my husband and me to stay out of His way while still pointing them to Him and living lives that are true pictures of following. I have prayed He will always make them spiritually aware, wise far beyond their years, and that He’ll grow 29


#9 Having Godly Relationships, Marriages and Kids

them into strong women of God. I prayed those prayers but I still doubted. I would often feel afraid they might never give their lives to Him. What if I should be pressing in on them to make a decision? What if I’m messing this up?

making it right. We also began to have some neat conversations about scripture. I spent a year working on a scripture memorization challenge. I carried my scripture notecards everywhere, posting them on the visor above my seat in the car and having

I remember a time when my oldest daughter was afraid at bedtime. I shared with her how fear is something I also battle, and we wrote one of my favorite verses on a Post-It note and posted it on her headboard: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD,

“I shared with her how fear is something I also battle, and we wrote one of my favorite verses on a Post-It note” “Lord, I didn’t know Jesus when I was a child, so I don’t know how to do this. What if they die and they haven’t given their lives to You? What if I die and they haven’t given their lives to You? Lord, I just need them to know You because then I’ll feel some assurance that they’ll be ok no matter what. I’m getting antsy. What if I told them You would make Yourself clearly known, and You don’t?” But again and again, He reminded me He loved them even more than I do. And that He doesn’t need me to tell Him how to save my children and that even if I mess it up, He is completely capable of 30

my oldest daughter—a somewhat proficient reader at the time—assessing my accuracy as I practiced. She sometimes asked about the meaning of a verse, why I was memorizing all of those verses, etc., and my youngest sat absorbing what she could from our conversations. We’ve also had the opportunity to apply scripture when life gets a little bumpy. (I am learning that praying for spiritual awareness and wisdom for my girls means that bumpy life may be how that is accomplished. Face it, we don’t become spiritually aware and wise adults through easy living.)

make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8 NIV). I prayed that over her and tucked her in. The next morning she told me she slept through the night without fear after a week or more of night terror. The next night she woke up during the night, turned on her lamp, read her verse, and went back to sleep. And that was literally the end of that episode of fear. Then, a very cool thing happened a year ago. It was a Sunday afternoon. Our family dispersed after lunch to play separately, piddling around the house and napping. My husband and I were chatting when our oldest daughter walked in on the verge of tears. Terrified.


#9 Having Godly Relationships, Marriages and Kids

When we asked what was wrong, she replied, “I think I want to give my life to Jesus.” We sat down to talk and asked why she appeared so shaken. We had not had a conversation about salvation in months, and I later found out the KidSpring lesson had not been on salvation at all. She said, “I was trying to play Barbies and all I could hear in my head was, ‘It’s time, Carson.’ I smiled and cried and smiled and cried. He had been so faithful to answer my prayer, and her response made it so clear to me that she had heard the voice of God for the very first time. Our youngest is just now beginning to show a developing understanding. In fact, over Christmas we were discussing

“But, Mama, we have to say ‘Yes’ when He tells us it’s time; that’s what we have to do.”

salvation…” when Campbell interrupted to say: “But, Mama, we have to say ‘Yes’ when He tells us it’s time; that’s what we have to do.” He is so faithful. Lest anyone have a deluded understanding of what life in our house is like, my kiddos beat each other up on a regular basis. They are selfish and often cry when we give away toys they haven’t played with for months. I sometimes yell and get very impatient, and we don’t read a Bible story at bedtime every night (though we should do better). It’s not like Bible school at our house every day, and I am far from the picture of the mild, soft-spoken, grabbingevery-teachable-moment mom. But here’s what I know: so far, my God has been faithful to hear my prayers and fill in the gaps where my husband and I mess it up. I am not so naïve to believe that we are free and clear of destructive choices and spiritual rebellion. We do still have the teen years in front of us. But I am convinced He has been completely faithful in my own life and that He will continue to be in theirs.

REFLECT 1) How does this story apply to your life? What did you learn about having a godly family? 2) What practical steps can you take to be a godly spouse, or raise kids in a godly manner? 3) Write a short prayer for your children and spouse, or your future spouse.

RECAP 1) God saved you. He is able to save your children and spouse as well. 2) No one is qualified for what God calls them to do. God is able; He gets the glory. 3) Praying for your family is the best thing you can do for them. 4) Scripture is powerful. It is God’s Word to us. 5) God is faithful.

READ • Ephesians 5:22–33 • Ephesians 6:1–4 • Colossians 3:18–21 • 1 Peter 3:1–2 • 2 Corinthians 6:14

a devotional that asked, “Do we have to do anything to be saved?” Of course, I dove into, “Jesus did all of the work of 31


#10 Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gift

Questions with Sherry Moorhead

Central Volunteer Director

REFLECT Here are 5 things that can help you discover your spiritual gift: 1) YOUR PERSONAL STORY

How did you discover your spiritual gift?

“I didn’t wake up one day and know what my gifts were. Finding your spiritual gifts is about the journey, not the destination. Start serving somewhere, even if it is not in your comfort zone. Putting yourself in that place of discomfort opens your eyes to your ability to do things you never thought you could do.”

Did you find your purpose through serving?

“Yes. Early on I knew I wanted to be involved in what was going on here. I wanted to be a part of it. It was a process of embracing change and letting God guide my steps. Now, I am experiencing fullness because I am operating in my purpose. It is an exciting, life changing thing to operate where God has gifted me.”

What used to hold you back from serving?

“I thought my past disqualified me from ministry. You have to die to your past or it will not let you live. God believed in you enough to 32

make you and die for you. He is not concerned with your past, because Jesus has secured your future. Don’t let your past keep you from jumping in and serving the church. God has called you and equipped you. Remembering where you have been allows you to love people right where they are.”

What advice would you give someone unsure of which area to serve in? “I have had an opportunity

What is your salvation story and what drew you to Jesus? What has impacted you in a major way? 2) YOUR LIFE PURSUITS What is your occupation? What do you wish it was? What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy? If you could do anything for God and knew you would not fail, what would you do? 3) YOUR PASSION What breaks your heart? What do you see that gets

to serve in six different areas of ministry. I didn’t even know the potential and passion God placed inside of me until I was willing to start my journey of discovering my gifts and calling. Everyone should get started somewhere!”

you fired up? Ask others

Why should we serve?

When can you serve?

“It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus. You are called to and gifted for ministry. Your gift is not for you, it is for you to give away by serving others. We are the church—it is a team effort. If you are not doing something, it is not getting done. You will grow in Jesus and experience His love as you serve in the local church.”

if you do not know. 4) YOUR PERSONALITY Are you a people person or more behind the scenes? Are you detailed or big picture type thinker? 5) YOUR PRIORITIES What is your availability? How can you serve?

READ • 1 Peter 4:10–11 • Ephesians 2:10 • Galatians 5:13 • 1 Corinthians 12


Your Story Begins Here…

Your Story begins here… Life change does not happen overnight. God is patient. He walks with us for a lifetime, molding us to be more like His Son. Maybe some of these 10 concepts come easy to you— maybe some seem impossible. Take your questions and your shortcomings to Jesus. Allow Him to shape you while reading from His Word, the Bible. This devotional

is just a start. Next comes your life—your story of God’s faithfulness. Hopefully, by this point, you have built a habit of sitting down with your Bible and your pen on a regular basis. Continue to open God’s Word and spend time meeting with Him daily. Use the tear-out reading plan between pages 28 and 29 to get you started. Your story is

just beginning. God is at work in you and around you. To God be the glory. “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command" (Joshua 1:8 NLT)

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT

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My Story