Outpour Magazine - September 2020

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Stock Image by Envato Elements

September 2020

Meet the Pastors of

World Victory


OUTPOUR MAGAZINE FOUNDER/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Krystion Nelson COPY EDITOR Bryndle Bottoms CREATIVE DESIGN EDITOR Donald Currie, 12/24 Media THEOLOGY EDITOR Ronald Obie

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY Donald Currie, 12/24 Media Sept. 2020 CONTRIBUTORS Michelle Tillman Traci McCombs Alfie Grant Leslie Moore Andrea Thaxton Michael Shamberger

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FEATURE MAKEUP ARTISTRY Tavia Jackson, Tavia J Beauty

Published by Issuu Inc. Cover/Article pictures: Envato Elements/ Canva CONTACT info@outpourmagazine.com Outpour Magazine, Sept 2020 (c) All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible.

*Please do not republish, copy, or reproduce magazine pages without written permission.

**Disclaimer: All Advertisers featured in this issue agreed to abide by OM’s Statement of Faith and to maintain biblical, ethical and moral standards. However, OM is not responsible for services and/or products provided by advertisers, and their placement in our magazine does not equal to an endorsement or full alignment of their church, event, products or business practices.


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Letter from Editor Krystion Nelson

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Foun der & Editor ial Direc to r I love the Fall. It’s the perfect type of weather - not too hot and not too cold, but just right. It signals saying goodbye to summer and hello to changing leaves, cool night walks, and evening reads on the front porch. And it reminds me to bask in the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. And yet, we’re still not at “normal” operations. Kids have returned to school, but for many it’s completely virtual or kids are only attending a few times a week, at limited school capacity. Many adults are still working from home and figuring out how to continue to manage life as we now know it. Others have dealt with the repercussions of this pandemic on their health or from the loss of their jobs. But through it all, one thing is certain: God has remained faithful. Think for a moment on how He’s kept you these last few months - despite the circumstances. What thoughts come to mind? Take a few moments just to say “Thank you, Lord.” And no matter the situation, we are to give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18) and remember God’s goodness, mercy, provision and favor even in the midst of the most uncommon or unfavorable circumstances. In this month’s issue, we invite you to take a walk with us where you will meet a couple who view marriage as an

assignment from God (page 16); learn how God’s timing is better than ours (page 12); and learn how to stay rooted when you are uprooted (page 24). Also you’ll view faith through creative works (page 32); learn how to love your neighbor as yourself (page 37); and see the love of the Lord, even through discipline (page 40). We pray that you continue to put God first and remain steadfast in Him. And no matter the situation, remember: Jesus is still Lord! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our FREE magazine at outpourmagazine.com. And we’d love to hear from you! How has God kept you these last few months? We love you and are praying for you! God Bless,


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“PRAISE THE LORD, MY SOUL. LORD MY GOD, YOU ARE VERY GREAT ; YOU ARE CLOTHED WITH SPLENDOR AND MAJESTY .”

PSALM 104:1 NIV


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Contributors

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Andrea Th a x to n

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Andrea opens her heart and shares her journal of prayers for her unborn child. She finds comfort and peace in God after a miscarriage, and learns to trust Him as she and her husband eagerly await the arrival of their son. She and her family live in Jackson County, TN.

Les lie Moore Leslie invites readers to understand what it means to love one’s neighbor as oneself, and how by loving the other, you are displaying the love of God. She lives with her family in Charlotte, NC and attends Transformation Church.

Alfie Grant Alfie shows how we can trust God’s perfect timing, even when we may not understand the wait. She and her family live in Kennesaw, GA and attend One Church ATL.


Faith-Filled and on Purpose for Christ Meet the Writers of this Issue

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Michelle is a poet and inspirational speaker who turns her faith and life experiences into creative writing and spoken word. She lives in Charlotte, NC and attends Have Life Church.

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Michael Shamberger Michael, a former coach and now consultant, shows how God can still love us through discipline. He lives in Fayetteville, NC and attends Deeper Fellowship Church.

Tr ac i McComb s Traci shares her personal experiences of being a military wife and how to stay rooted in God when one feels uprooted. She lives in Stuttgart, Germany and attends International Bible Church.

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Contents 40

FAMILY FEATURE STORY PASTOR SPOTLIGHT

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EDITOR’S LETTER

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THE CHRISTIAN BOOKSHELF

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Loving the Other

In Every Issue: P A G E

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The Love of the Lord

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Pastor Spotlight

Meet Bishop Adrian and Shandi Starks of World Victory Church in Greensboro, NC.

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G o d ’s T i m i n g

What does it look like to wait on God’s perfect timing? Read more to find out what it means to trust God no matter what.

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Fa m i l y Fe a t u r e : T h e J o n e s Fa m i l y

Meet Lynn and Duwana Jones, and their five beautiful children. They discuss family, 20 years of marriage, and being a couple on assignment. SUBSCRIBE AT WWW.OUTPOURMAGAZINE.COM


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GOD’S TIMING IS ALWAYS PERFECT By Alfie W. Grant

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BY ALFIE W. GRANT At 28 years old, I seemed to have it all. I was a recent graduate of one of the top business schools in the country, had traveled the world and had many amazing experiences in my short time here on earth. I had just landed a position at a top global commercial real estate firm and returned to the great city of Atlanta to begin the next stage of my career. Additionally, I have two amazing parents who have given me their best, four loving siblings who have done nothing but support me, and an amazing extended family that continually wraps me in a blanket of love. I am an extremely blessed young lady.

similar interests, and similar goals, so our friendship naturally blossomed into a relationship that I thought would last forever. But as time went on, I began to notice that what had started off as an innocent first love had transitioned into a tumultuous relationship where I watched him welcome the attention of other women in his life. I thought this was the man I was supposed to marry, so how did we end up here? And how could we recover? Over and over again, I forgave transgressions and even in the times when we Although things seemed to be going well, I really actually broke up, I always believed that things had not imagined myself at this point in my life with would get better so I took him back. no husband in sight. In the midst of working and I fought for our relationship and I loved hard. going to school, I’ve always been praying for God However, hindsight being 20/20, I realize now to bless me with a husband, and honestly, I really that I gave up parts of me for that relationship that could not understand why He had not given me were never meant to be given to him. I sacrificed one yet. I desired to be someone’s wife, to support my standards and I sacrificed my self-worth for my man in all his endeavors, and give him all the him in ways that seemed minor at the time, but love that I had in my heart. I desired to be a wife I now know they were detrimental to my selfbecause I grew up in a two parent household and worth. I accepted things into my spirit from him saw how much each of my parents gave to each such as the lying, the infidelity, and the lack of other and how much they gave to us, and I wanted communication because I believed him to be my the same type of relationship in my life. But for this future husband. But he was not my husband and to happen, I needed a husband. It felt as if God after nine years, it finally became crystal clear to wasn’t hearing my prayers anymore. me that our relationship would never work. Even if I had been dating a guy off and on for nine years he never cheated another day in his life, the trust in in hopes that he would be my husband. We met our relationship was ruined and I could no longer the summer before my freshman year in college, dedicate myself to our relationship when he was and although he was a little older than I was, we not truly dedicated to it himself. had a lot in common: we had similar backgrounds,

After coming to this realization, I began to reflect in


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and often wondered what his personality was like. We also went to the same college and all of my memories of seeing him on campus included him being very polite and very kind, giving me friendly side hugs when he saw me and inviting me to church events, but never having a full conversation. His comment to what I had posted was simple yet sweet. It was not like the other malicious responses I had received. This comment turned into more conversation on Facebook, which led to us really getting to know one another. Our similarities and our interests seemed endless.

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But as soon as I realized that I may be interested in him, I remembered my commitment that I had made not too long ago to God: to include Him in all parts of my love life, and that meant including Him from the very beginning. I knew that it was extremely early to be thinking this way since Sean Having realized the now obvious error in my ways, had not even asked me for my phone number, but I made a conscious decision to always consult God I wanted to be sure that I was honoring my new regarding my entire love life. I even went one step commitment to Christ. So in that moment, I prayed further and committed to Him that if it was just me to God that as this person enters my life, I would and Him for the rest of my life, I pray that I may be always remember that my commitment to Him content as a single woman forever. comes first. Wow‌I had gone from marriage being my goal Soon Sean did ask me for my phone number. to praying to be okay without a husband for the And in our first conversation, there was such a rest of my life. It seemed extreme, but given the gentleness in his voice and a natural flow. He nine year situation from which I had just emerged, made very clear his love for Jesus Christ and that a total reset of my mind, body, and spirit was due he takes his relationship with Him very seriously. and I welcomed the change. And Jesus remained a topic of our continual And yet, God was still working on my behalf. conversations. I knew that regardless of the future of this relationship, I had found a friend for life. Fast forward to July of 2010. I received a Facebook comment from a guy named Sean Grant on an article The relationship between Sean and I continued to I posted. Sean was a Facebook friend of mine and grow as did my relationship with Christ. Sean led our paths had crossed numerous times over the me in daily Bible Study and I joined a ministry at years, but no real interaction had materialized. We our church. I was experiencing transformation and were members of the same church, and I had seen freedom in my life like never before. him perform spoken word and Christian Hip-Hop Ten months after meeting Sean Grant in the during our worship services on many occasions. I summer of 2010, he proposed. And ten months thought he was quite talented, admired his craft,

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the hope that I would not make the same mistakes again in life and have a healthier relationship in the future. But then I began to wonder why God allowed me to experience this pain. I have always known my Heavenly Father to be a protector and provider‌so why didn’t He shield me from this sorrow that I experienced over the years? Why did He allow me to make the same mistakes over and over again? When I really stepped back and considered the choices I made during our relationship, I also considered the few times that I consulted God for direction in that relationship. Should I really be questioning God or rather look at myself? Even when I did consult God, it was about the little things in the relationship. But the most important thing that I neglected to consult God about was whether He even approved of our relationship.

G O D


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his faithfulness, his kindness, his humility and his thoughtfulness. Although my past isn’t perfect, I can say now that God has made everything beautiful… in His own timing. (edited and republished with permission)

There are times when I sit back and wonder why God did not allow me to meet Sean earlier in my life. But what I have learned is that if I say I have faith in God, I have to have faith in His timing. For reasons that only God knows, Sean and I were not to meet until the moment we did and not a second sooner.

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after that, on June 9, 2012, we made a commitment before God and our families to honor and cherish one another for the rest of our lives, and to love each other with the heart of God.

“But what I have learned is that if I say I have faith in God, I have to have faith in His timing.” Now that we are married, I can see where my past has prepared me for my present and I am able to appreciate attributes of Sean that I may have taken for granted if I had never experienced the dating history that I have. I may have overlooked

Alfie Williams Grant is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S.) and Northwestern University (M.B.A). She is a wife and mother and feels blessed to be walking in God’s purpose for her relationship. She and her family live in Kennesaw, GA and attend One Church ATL.


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MEET THE JONES FAMILY

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Photographer: Donald Currie, 12/24 Media MUA: Tavia Jackson, Tavia J Beauty

City, State: Indian Trail, NC Church: New Beginnings Community Church Favorite Family Activity: Watching Movies & Family Dinner Favorite Family Vacation: A Cruise One word to describe your family: LOVE


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Meet the Jones Family: Lynn, Duwana and five beautiful children, ages 17, 14, 10, 5 and 3. They sat down with us to talk about their faith in God, celebrating 20 years of marriage, how to get through tough times, and being a couple on assignment.

of dance and we even forced Pierre, our oldest son, to take dance - for body awareness and athleticism since he was playing basketball. They can do all forms of dance - hip hop, tap, ballroom...you name it, they can do it all.

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Outpour Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your LJ: It’s a beautiful time. Sometimes it’s hard to get family: Who are the Joneses? everyone there at the same time, and you have seven different attitudes coming to the table. But Duwana Jones: The Jones Family is a family that at the end of the day, it’s like a party...and the kids loves God and loves one another. The things that have such a good time dancing together. When we learn from being in relationship with God, we the kids are gone, that is something we are really implement in our relationship with each other and going to miss. with the kids. We also help the kids understand how to apply the Word of God in their relationship OM: Nice! And the kids are going to remember with each other, their friends, and with the outside that, just like you remember having Sunday world. And we show them how we can live what dinners growing up. So y’all are making memories for the kids. That’s awesome! we know to be true. Lynn Jones: I agree and you know how kids do what you do and not what you say? Duwana has a lot of relationships and when things go good or they go bad in those relationships, she doesn’t shy away from telling the older kids “hey, this is what’s going on” so they can actually see that mom is dealing with stuff too and how she’s dealing with it. Even though we are telling them, this is the verse of scripture, this is what the Word says, they get a chance to really watch what she’s doing in those relationships. They get to see how the Word works in relationships - with family and friends - firsthand.

LJ: Another great memory was when we went on a family cruise. They could eat what they wanted and we didn’t have to clean up after them. For the oldest two kids, it was great to see their independence. And we took someone with us to take care of the babies so Duwana and I got to have some time together. My favorite time on the cruise was when there was a white party and I took Duwana and my oldest daughter to that party. We danced and had a great time. Plus Duwana’s family was on the cruise so it was like a reunion. It was fun. It was the best vacation that I can remember having.

OM: What have been some of your best memories as a family?

OM: How do you both balance putting each other first - your spouse’s needs - and making sure the kids and the family as a whole are taken care of?

DJ: Family Dinner. The kids have noticed that as they are getting older, it is not always easy to have family dinner. So my middle girl will ask “so when are we going to have family dinner; what night this week is family dinner?” So this is probably one of the kids’ favorites. LJ: When I grew up, we had family dinner every Sunday. Throughout the week, my mom worked late sometimes so we didn’t have family dinner every night. Duwana, because of how she was raised, brought that priority of having family dinner together. And the kids love it. They start telling jokes and they ask me how my day was. Then we eat and they start dancing and playing music… DJ: and it turns into a party. The girls have had years

DJ: The number one thing has been God, especially with homeschooling. Every year I make it a point to take some time to give it all back to God. To say, ok God this is for you, this is not about me. What do you want - as I am planning for their curriculum, for the year? I have to then trust God to know that He’s there and He’s inspiring whatever the plan is. And then I work the plan. Even when the day doesn’t happen the way you planned it, you have to trust God - that however He orchestrated this day to go, is the way it’s going to go. And what they are getting, is what He wanted them to get. It’s funny because my husband would say, there is no balance. And there isn’t. There is no


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balance for me and for him. We have to trust God and rest. He gets a little uptight and worried about his ability to be there for everybody, even on a dayto-day basis. My number one goal is to do one thing, and that is to stop and listen. Because we get busy and we get caught up. First I have to stop and listen to God. Then I have to stop and listen to my husband - because typically he has something in the morning that he is telling me for the day. And lastly I have to stop and listen to my children. They don’t always want us so when they come and talk to me, it’s something that they want from me and I have to stop and listen to each of them. Sometimes they have to wait and I have to help them learn how to speak in turn. But the importance of the priority, of the time you are giving them comes when you listen.

LJ: What’s so cool about this is that normally when you get to an anniversary, you plan one big thing - you have all this energy and excitement building up to that one thing. Then after you do that one thing, you are coming down for the rest of the year. So now we are building up our excitement every month. OM: That is wonderful! What a great way to celebrate with each other! LJ: We have a whole spreadsheet of activities (laughs).

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DJ: Laughter. And you have to plan things that are fun together. Paying bills is not fun; cleaning up is not fun. Doing laundry, changing dirty diapers, watching the kids, is not “fun.” We find things that

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OM: How can couples make marriage “fun?”

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DJ: Lynn has even received an invitation to marry a couple this year. We’ve been behind the scenes for years, encouraging couples; so to do this on the front side, during our 20th Anniversary is special. It’s all God.

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DJ: We were invited to do a session [on marriage] at our family reunion and it was interesting because we had only been married for one year at the time but we just had fun! We had fun doing the research, studying for it and teaching the class. That was really the beginning. We even went back to our pastor after the class and from there it just took off. Just knowing that the foundation of family is marriage and that the purpose of why God created marriage was for family. So we were like wow, I think God is doing something with us and our ability to share with others about His heart for marriage and its purpose being family. And that has been a driving force throughout our marriage.

DJ: We are actually in the midst of celebrating our 20th Anniversary! We canceled our 10-day trip to Jamaica in order to complete a couple’s “bucket list.” So each month in this year we have activities that we’ve set aside that as a couple we’ve always said “oh, that would be nice; we should do that one day.” We just took all those ideas and wrote them down. It’s been wonderful!

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OM: You both have a heart for Christian marriages, from premarital counseling and marriage retreats, to helping others restore their relationship. You even did me and my husband’s premarital counseling - 13 years ago, so you all have been doing this a long time! Talk about your love for married couples, being a couple on assignment, and God’s purpose for marriage.

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LJ: I go to work all day and then I come home and still have to do yard work. The yard is not going to take care of itself. But a few weeks ago, Duwana came outside and worked with me in the yard and still looked good in her dress doing it. To me that made it fun because it was new and exciting because it wasn’t something that we normally do together. So little stuff like that, that is sprinkled throughout our days, months and years that reminds us that [marriage] could actually be fun. Duwana brings the fun more than I do but we have a good balance. What couples must realize is that even the one that is more serious in the relationship needs to give in at times to having fun with their spouse. It does take practice and effort to learn how to relax and enjoy one another.

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are fun, like comedy shows, theatre shows, etc. But you have to plan it.

And this leads up to being a couple on assignment. Take Michael Jordan for example. He approached the game of basketball as if he were on an assignment. His number one assignment was to get that championship ring and he wouldn’t let anyone distract him from that goal. Same goes for couples. Stuff may happen at work, with the kids, or personally and emotionally - but I cannot forget my assignment. Because my assignment from God is to be a husband to this woman. And as far as marriage, the world needs to

see the relationship between Christ and the church. When Duwana and I go out with other couples or to the grocery store, people are watching because they know who I am. My assignment is to know my role and my place all the time. A lot of couples might know what to do but they are not in the right atmosphere - the atmosphere is not set for them to excel at their assignment. Additionally, what type of skills are men bringing to their marriage that they can do for their wives? And I’m not talking about outside their marriage or making money. What can they do one-on-one with their wives in order to impress them? This helps to make sure that the woman of my dreams and this man of her dreams are loving each other well.

“Stuff may happen at work, with the kids, or personally and emotionally - but I cannot forget my assignment. Because my assignment from God is to be a husband to this woman.” OM: This is great and definitely helps couples maintain the “good” in their marriage. But what about when times get hard - when you can no longer look at that person you are in covenant with as the “man or woman of your dreams?” DJ: You’re talking about the times when you want to “pack your bags?” OM: Yes, those times (laughs).


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DJ: Right, because I am the gift that God gave. Are you treating the gift right (jokingly)?

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LJ: I agree with all of that (laughs). One of the things with men - I always refer to the scripture about Jesus making himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:7-9). Men may be like “how in the world can she do that to me - does she not know who I am?” But LJ: Another comment, that came from a Christian it also goes back to what Duwana said, do you not brother is “she better not mess with my money, or know who she is [as a child of God] and that you and death in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). are one, you are married. We forget that stuff. So we must watch some of the things that we say SUBSCRIBE AT WWW.OUTPOURMAGAZINE.COM

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DJ: The enemy is very crafty. He’s studied me, he’s studied Lynn - he knows our weaknesses. And not to give him too much credit, but we need to expect some foolishness. The devil lies to us and we may even hear it from our friends or statistics - about choices and lifestyles; expectations and where you should be now; how many kids makes sense - some of the lies you are faced with in marriage, and it goes on and on. Another big lie is “if my spouse ever did this…” then what? That’s another one that the enemy uses. Also, we made a commitment to not watch anything on TV that came against marriages things about affairs or cheating. There are parts of us that can be torn down when we sit and watch something like that, as if we are in agreement with it. There are some choices you have to make to keep your marriages clean, just like you would with your bodies by not eating certain foods. We decided never to use the D-word: Divorce. We knew that was not an option in our lives, so let’s not use it.

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LJ: The bible says “he that finds a wife finds a good thing” (Prov. 18:22). As men we look at the way that we have been offended and it changes our focus. The more we are focused on how much we are hurt, that is where our energy is going. Our energy is not going towards healing, towards love. Our energy is selfish, self centered and we get inside our head. We turn something like her stepping on my toe to the same thing as her cutting off my leg. Nobody’s dead, I’m not missing a limb, the house is not burned down - but I don’t want to talk to you for a week. No, we can’t do that. Paul talks about “when I was a child, I did childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). We have to get to a point where we can be offended but still operate as if we know our purpose, as if we are on assignment. I can’t control what she does, but I can control my perception of what she did and stay on assignment.

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DJ: The number one thing is to realize that you are going to get to that point. I think that people get there and they are surprised, like I’m not supposed to feel this way. Everyone gets to that point. You are living with another person - day in and day out; even if it were your mom, your sister, your friend, etc., you would get to this point. So the number one thing is to expect it. And when you expect it, you can prepare for it. Preparation is key. It’s one thing to expect the storm and not be prepared. It’s another thing to be prepared so when the storm comes you can bounce right back. Preparation for the tough times is first staying in the Word of God. We have about 30 books on marriage and we don’t read those in the tough times; we read those when things are going well. Because in the tough times there’s no sex, there’s no talking, none of that is happening; so you have to be prepared. And you need a support group - somebody in your life who first loves God and then loves marriage and understands the purpose of marriage. Often, tough times come because of unforgiveness - we just can’t let things go. It’s just so hurtful. The hurt can be blinding; I know because I’ve been there. The number one hurt is betrayal - on whatever level that you feel has been done to you. But Jesus gave us hope. Divorce was not God’s intent. If we can move towards a place of forgiveness, God can resurrect something even better, just like He did with Job. But you have to be walking in the Word and have faith in God so when you get to that blinding, deafening point of marriage - that God will penetrate [your heart] and you will have that agreement with the spirit of God about where do I go from here. And an even bigger revelation is that [my husband] is God’s son. When you can remember that you are married to one of God’s sons, it changes the way you treat him.

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obedience, you can’t even imagine. It exceeds your wildest dreams - concerning our bodies in regards to sex and our commitment to marriage. But stay encouraged, and know that your marital relationship first starts with your individual relationship with God. - OM

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Husbands, Your wife was masterfully designed by God for your progression and pleasure. She deserves the best of you!

because not only is your spouse listening or your kids, but the enemy. The enemy could say “oh you just gave me something, to mess with you.” Even if your wife is not [messing with you in certain areas], the devil can make you think she is. Little stuff like that, even language, that we don’t use. OM: There’s definitely an attack on the institution of marriage and family. People are waiting longer to get married, have to have this many things checked off their list to get married - and we’re talking about Christians here - not really looking to the Word about what marriage is designed to be. It’s great to hear this from you both, the things you do and pray about concerning the covenant of marriage, that three-cord strand between you both and God. LJ: Yes, exactly. And Philippians 4:8 tells us exactly what to think about. It’s so easy not to think about these things when you are upset with your spouse for not meeting your expectations; it’s so easy not to focus on what’s good, kind and praiseworthy about this individual that you are living with. But that is what God has called us to do, even when it’s tough, so we can have the life He has called us to. DJ: And the fruit of [marriage] - of walking in that

“This book - using scripture and action steps - is designed to influence husbands to love their wives with more focus and intention.”

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ROOTED IN CHRIST By Traci McCombs

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“Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life should be full of thanks to Him.” (Colossians 2:7-9)

Uprooted as an active duty military spouse. As an active duty military spouse, I’m always anticipating our family’s next move. For the past sixteen years my husband has been called to serve the United States Army at locations around the world. Since our marriage in 2010, we have packed and moved our household goods five times. Once across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, thrice stateside, and once across the Atlantic Ocean to Germany. That may seem like a lot, but this is typical for a family with an Active Duty Service Member. When Adam comes home with news of a new assignment, I take a deep breath. A mixture of excitement and anxiety rush over me as I wonder: Will he deploy as soon as we move? Will we like our new home? Will we find a community of believers? Will there be a church close by that is aligned with our beliefs? Being deeply rooted when you’re constantly uprooted is a challenge. Especially when you must pack up your life and leave the place you call home, over and over again. Challenges when uprooted. There are different challenges I face each time we move, such as isolation, job hunting, building networks, unpacking, feeling homesick, adjusting to new shops, and finding a good

community. I’ve chosen to focus on the three challenges that have been hardest for me: isolation, being homesick, and finding community. Isolation. Two months after Adam and I got married in Hawaii, he deployed to Afghanistan for a yearlong combat assignment. I stayed in Hawaii, and although I was living in paradise, I felt so alone. Not only was my husband missing, my friends were an ocean away. Homesick. Making a house a home isn’t easy. I often get frustrated by the different floorplans that don’t fit our furniture. At night I get woken up by new and unfamiliar sounds. And trying to make sure the kids’ rooms are comfortable in each new house takes time and energy. All these little things add up to homesickness.


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community. The challenges of finding a community and church aren’t easy either. It’s easy to complain and say, “It’s just not the same as our old church.” Meeting new people is hard and the temptation to compare new faces to old friends is even harder. growing roots. Yes, being uprooted has been a challenge. But it’s also been a great opportunity for me to grow deep roots: roots of faith in Christ that I never imagined possible. If you find yourself feeling isolated, homesick, or lacking community there are a few lessons I’d like to share that helped me grow deeper roots during a season of moves, transition and uncertainty.

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that as Christians, we are not home yet. When I miss my old kitchen or the way the birds chirped outside the other house’s window, God gently whispers, “You’re not home yet.”

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 NLT) Moves, transitions, and uncertainty make us uncomfortable. When we are uncomfortable we must be more dependent on God. When we depend on God, we can grow deeper roots.

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being rooted in jesus. First and foremost, above all things, stay rooted in Jesus. No matter where you are or what you are going through, you can always spend time in the Word and you can always pray.

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“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12 NIV) Instead of focusing on your isolation, fix your eyes on Christ. Isolation hurts but it also presents a unique opportunity to spend more time with God.

“...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2 NIV)

When I miss my family, when I miss my friends, and when my husband is deployed – I remember Jesus is the foundation. I open His When I miss my old garden, when I get Word, I kneel in prayer, and I feel God’s love frustrated with new appliances, and when wash over me. our furniture doesn’t fit – I remember this is all temporary. God reminds me that I can be This is not our home. One of the greatest joyful even when I’m uncomfortable. blessings of moving all the time is the reminder SUBSCRIBE AT WWW.OUTPOURMAGAZINE.COM


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show grace and receive grace. The first

month after any move I’ve been tempted to guard my heart. I’ve attended church but with apprehension. I’ve put my kids in Sunday school but haven’t introduce myself to other parents. Sadly, I have missed out on great opportunities to meet people more times than I’d like to admit. Rather, we must

proper community of believers – in His perfect time.

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“...not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 ESV) I have learned that the sooner I put my guard down the sooner my family can develop lasting friendships. I have also learned that with each new move I meet another amazing group of people. My eyes are now open to the amazingly unique body of Christ...something I wouldn’t experience without the moves.

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5 NIV) When I am tempted to judge a new church, when I am tempted to compare new faces to old friends, and when I am tempted to complain – God reminds me of His grace and my responsibility to show grace to others.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV) When I feel isolated, I can kneel before God and trust that He will never leave me nor forsake me. When my house doesn’t feel like home I can remember that God is my shelter and I can rest in the shadow of the Almighty. When I need support God will provide the

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Traci McCombs is a fertility blogger with her first book in progress, “My Road2Motherhood, A Journey of Faith,” forthcoming Fall 2020. Her goal is to shine light on the unique infertility or pregnancy loss challenges women face and provide hope and healthy coping mechanisms through a solid foundation in scripture. She’s a Christ follower and military spouse who currently lives in Stuttgart, Germany with her husband Adam, rainbow baby Morgan, and son Micah. Follow her and her incredible journey at Road2Motherhood. com.


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We sat down with Bishop Adrian Starks and his wife, Pastor Shandi Starks of World Victory Church in Greensboro, NC. They talk about their ministry’s vision, developing leaders inside and outside the church, and making ready a people to be prepared for the Lord.


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Outpour Magazine: Tell us a little bit about yourselves and World Victory Church. Pastor Shandi Starks: We are Bishop and Shandi Starks. We have been married for 23 years and have been pastoring for 18 years. We have five daughters and in addition to ministry and parenting, we have a home-based business that I started 14 years ago. We’re really passionate about that and I fully immerse myself into marketplace ministry. And we do just about everything together and he supports me like I support him. We started in a small rural church out in Pleasant Garden called Anderson Grove. In less than two years, we packed that place out and moved to Fisher Park downtown [Greensboro]. We were busting at the seams there and that was when we merged [with another predominately white church]. It was my husband’s dream and desire - his vision - to always have a multicultural church. And God did it…. Bishop Adrian Starks: ….in a most unexpected way. SS: Yes. Our children were at a Christian school in the building where we are currently. [At the time] we were looking for a church - we wanted to build - but the Lord just gave me this vision one day that this was going to be our property. We had no idea at the time that they were looking to downgrade and go to a smaller building. Another church was actually renting the building but I just knew the Lord told me that this was where we were going to be. I would even find myself laying hands and praying when I was at the school. And one day Adrian had a letter in his hand, points to me and says “now what have you been saying about that church?” And I was like “why, what happened?” (laughs). He says “now tell me again what the Lord showed you about that being our property?” So we found out that the deal with the other two churches had fallen through and the building was on the market. Now this was when the 2009 [financial] crash happened and churches were the last places that were receiving any type of loan. Long story short, the Pastor came to my husband and said, “I know a way we can work around the bank situation. If yall will assume the church and the mortgage, this will be yours.” OM: Wow! Look at God! AS: Yes, it was an interesting way of achieving a goal - multiple goals - that this one decision was bringing to fruition. Isn’t it like God when He says “my ways are not your ways and my

thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9) to do things in a most unexpected way. So we merged the churches and instantaneously we became a multicultural church beyond what we had been on both sides. The other pastor stayed on for seven years and then he retired. And we are still in that facility. The school did not survive beyond a three year window, as it too was facing some challenges. But I’ve always felt that the Lord had a calling for our church to the educational sector. We’ve always had a number of teachers, collegiate level teachers, superintendents, assistant superintendents, and it’s always been a passion of mine to have a school. So even when I had to make the tough decision to close the school because financially it would not be feasible to continue to operate, I still felt like we were called to education. And two years ago we started a charter school. That school has done well and we are going to start a second one in two more years. I believe that this is a space that this particular church is called to fill in the community. I’ve had numerous conversations with people who’ve said that the church has to be more than just Sunday morning. And I agree a thousand percent. They see our church as unusual, doing things in a space that many churches don’t go. While it may not be the pathway that another church should go in, I do believe that the church is called to impact the community in tangible ways, well beyond Sunday morning alone. OM: You mentioned many things here multiculturalism, which is what heaven will look like. And affecting the community - “we were created for good works.” When we get so caught up in “this is our church” we forget that we - as the body - are called to be salt and light and affect the community and those around us, outside the “building.” SS: Right. And we’ll be very candid and say that it’s our desire to be multicultural but it has been a challenge. But God’s heart is still our heart. And we are able to be a bridge and connectors elsewhere in the city, community and in our business. It is still the most challenging place to do it in the church. AS: One of the things that I’ve learned over these years is the heart of God is not racially based. The bible says “there’s neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). But the children of God don’t have it as clear as God does. And a lot of non-brown and black Christians struggle with submitting to non-white leadership. Yet when we reverse that, we as people of color are very open and willing and have demonstrated strong capacity to submit in


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gifts were for certain people or that the gifts were for the five-fold [ministry]. But my passion is to teach those in the pews that you have the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. It resides in all of us. So we all have gifts and when we come together as a body….like I have a hip and a knee issue in the physical. And one of the reasons why my hip is like this is because my knee is not supporting me the way it needed to. And so I have a little bit of a limp. This is exactly what happens in the body OM: Bishop, the mission for your ministry of Christ when [people’s] joint isn’t supplying. is “to make ready a people prepared for That’s why you have a bunch of limping the Lord.” Please talk to us more about churches because people are not operating your mission and what it looks like to be effectively in their gifts. God has something “prepared for the Lord” today? AS: This is taken directly from Luke 1:17b - the for each of us to do. And most of us have more Lord is saying I’m coming back for my bride than one [gift]. The bible says that “He gives and I want you to make ready my people to be them severally as He wills” (1 Corin. 12:11). We prepared. If you look in scripture, you’ll find show people how to use them and not just the theme of preparation in so many different in the church. Yes, we should use our gifts places. But one most notably is in Exodus the in church to edify, but I love showing people 19th chapter where God is dealing with Moses, their gifts in the marketplace or outside of the saying I need you to prepare the people. He church. told him actually a few chapters before, when If everybody starts operating in their they left Goshen. Why? Because tomorrow gifts, there won’t be any need that’s not met. He was getting ready to do great signs and Unfortunately the church isn’t doing what it is wonders in their midst. He was going to deliver called to do fully because one, some pastors them. And then in that particular chapter 19, don’t want people to have gifts that are God tells Moses to prepare them because He stronger than theirs. This is one of the things is getting ready to visit them at Mount Sinai. that I’ve always said about my husband - one So the idea of us preparing before a wonderful reason we have so many women ministers in move of God is continually repeated throughout our church is because he believes that God can the Old and New Testament scriptures. use everybody. I mean He used a donkey in And I think that is the call of the church. the Old Testament (Num. 22:28). My husband In 1 Corin. 12:11, God is giving gifts to men doesn’t care if someone sings better than him. severally as He wills. He’s made some to be He has a beautiful voice. I remember talking to apostles, and others pastors, teachers and our worship leader, who I could tell was holding evangelists for the perfecting of the saints, for back. I told him, “why are you not doing what the work of ministry until we all come into the you are capable of doing?” And he said that in unity of the faith and become mature (Eph. 4:11- other churches he had been suppressed - like 13). And so the call upon the church is to that “you can use your gift, but only this much.” of preparation. People are not invited to come And I had to tell him that if you do your best, to church to just exist and be entertained. They it might take [Bishop] up a level. You are to are supposed to come into the body of Christ in use your gift and use it fully! This is not a order that they might be prepared to do a work competition. And that’s why so many people, and to be called into the kingdom eternally. especially women, feel suppressed. That’s a problem in the body. Another reason that people don’t fully OM: Pastor Shandi, can you talk more about use their gifts is because they don’t really World Victory’s vision of how people can know who they are and what God has called use their “God-given gifts and talents to them to. So they end up allowing the devil to help everyone become victorious,” and for the edification of others, even outside of the stir up jealousy and envy. But if you knew who you really were, you wouldn’t be envious of my church walls? gift because God doesn’t put rank on them. SS: This is my passion. I love helping people It doesn’t matter if you are ministering to the not only discover and find their gifts but also parking lot or you are ministering in the pulpit. equip them and activate them because in Eph. It’s all important to God. 4 that my husband was just talking about, it talks about the body being fitly joined together and every joint supplies (Eph. 4:16). And I never OM: You both are well-known and sought after leaders in your community and have a knew that. For so long I thought that certain SUBSCRIBE AT WWW.OUTPOURMAGAZINE.COM the name of Christ to leadership of different ethnicities and colors. And I believe that in this end times season that this is going to be one of the indicators that Christ is ready to unleash tremendous revival, when we begin to see that reversed; when people will be spirit led and humble themselves no matter what the leader looks like, who has been anointed and called to lead His end-time church.

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heart for developing leaders in the church and in the body of Christ. Can you please help us understand the role of leadership in the church; how to develop leaders in the body of Christ; and why “a true leader is more interested in the people they lead than themselves.” AS: The reason why that quote is there - I shared this in a sermon. The fact of the matter is senior leaders are called, by God, to develop other leaders. And in doing that you are never diminished. If you look at the life and relational dynamics between Saul and David, you see the most dysfunction that was completely contrary to the heart of God. Saul was afraid of David taking his place. And that’s how many leaders lead. David only wanted to serve. David had no appreciation that God was going to use him to ultimately replace Saul. But Saul understood that God had rejected him and therefore he loathed David. He tried to kill David. For some [leaders], they may not be trying to take your life but they certainly want to kill your gift. This happens when [leaders] are broken, out of the will of God, and are completely thinking about self. As my wife just alluded to, there is nothing that anybody who I am leading will be able to do to take away from my gift. The bible says “the gifts and the calling are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). You didn’t give me the gift; it was God that gave me the gift. So as long as I am pleasing Him, I don’t have to worry about you. SS: We are supposed to be fruitful and multiply in everything. So a leader that is not fruitful and multiplying is barren. AS: Paul says that “there are many teachers but not many fathers” (1 Corin. 4:15). He’s showing a distinction between two tremendous functions in a community. You need teachers but you also need fathers. They don’t serve the same role but they are working to bring underlings into their maturity, into their full expression. God gives children to parents to raise them, and parents entrust their children to teachers to teach them. Ultimately, we are trying to get those kids to be all that they can be. But a father is supposed to do something different than what a teacher is supposed to do. It’s to leave a legacy. The bible says that a good man, a good father “leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22). If you look back at the story of Saul and David, Saul took David from his father. He was saying to Jesse, if you give him to me, I’ll love him like you do; I’ll bless him like you do. In other words, I’ll father him. But instead what he did was he tried to kill him. And that’s because he was worried about

himself. l f A person that’s h ’ lleaving i an iinheritance h i is never focused on themselves alone. They understand that I have been blessed with all that I have but I can never eat it all myself. That’s where we see Boaz. Boaz told all of his workers - don’t glean the field entirely (Ruth 2:16). You must always leave something behind for the ones who are coming behind you. That’s why a leader can’t be focused solely on themselves. OM: Pastor you posted something on Facebook recently that I grabbed a hold onto: You said “If we are going to fulfill our ultimate calling, we cannot be distracted by everything that God and other people are doing. God is doing wonderful things, but it’s not possible for us to be involved in all of them! You must know what is for you.” Wow! That spoke directly to my heart. Can you speak more about that? SS: Comparison is the thief of joy. Especially in this digital age when we can peer into other people’s lives. We’ve got to know what God has called us to do. Scripture says “all things that are lawful are not expedient” (1 Corin. 10:23). One of the biggest ways that the enemy robs us is when we are focused on somebody else’s blessing and can’t even see what God is doing with us. AS: Focusing on the will of God for somebody else’s life. SS: Yes, yes! And especially for women, who are driven and high achievers - we can allow the enemy to pervert our ambition. God gives us a desire to succeed and do well; but when we use it for the wrong purpose, it becomes perverted and a tool in the hand of the enemy. You’ve got to know what’s good for you because everything isn’t expedient. And it will


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get us off course. I’ve learned how to say no more because if it’s not in line with the things that God has for me - and just because I can do it doesn’t mean I’m supposed to. It is a trap, especially in the social media world. I just really believe that anything that God gives us, it is our duty to steward it and steward it well. We can’t be so anxious for the “more” and not take care of what we have. OM: Let’s talk a bit about worship. Why is worship still essential in the life of every believer? SS: It makes us look up and look inward. It keeps our eyes focused on the right things. Sometimes when I pray, I just get so overwhelmed that I go into worship and I pray in the spirit. It’s like a direct connection to God. And that’s when I hear the Lord speak to me more. In prayer, sometimes I have an agenda (laughs). But in worship I can focus on the main thing.

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LEARN MORE ABOUT WORLD VICTORY, BISHOP ADRIAN & SHANDI STARKS, AND VIEW THEIR LATEST SERMONS AT:

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“We invite the church to ‘wake up’... See and focus on the things that God would have us to see...The church must do some things that it has not been doing; the church has got to respond - the many members fitly joined together.”

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SS: It is our time, as Isaiah 60:1 states “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” This is the hour that the church has been made for - to be light in the darkness. We all have to do our part. -OM

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OM: And lastly, Bishop in a recent sermon you talk about the need for the church to “wake up” and help those who have fallen asleep in the body. What did you mean by that and what is God saying to His people right now during this particular season? AS: God is inviting the church to wake up; He calls us multiple times “Oh sleeper.” Or that we are drunken with the wine of the world. In one sense we are asleep at the wheel and in another we are asleep because we are inebriated with the intoxicants of the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). God is calling us to wake up because the encouragement is to be sober and alert. Look at the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25). The reason that the five were commended was because they were prepared versus the others who at the last minute were trying to get prepared. But all of them were

asleep and they had to wake up to answer the call. The combination of preparation and alertness is something that every believer should never underestimate because Paul writes to the church of Thessalonica and says that even though some of us die, we’re not asleep in the same context as the world sleeps. In that it’s talking about literal death. Even when we die, we don’t die the same - in the context of anticipation and expectation. People who are asleep are not waiting with an expectation. And that’s how you draw a line of distinction between the believer and unbeliever. We invite the church to “wake up” - to come out of your stupor, come out of your slumber, come out of your intoxication - and be sober and alert. See and focus on the things that God would have us to see. Isaiah 62:6 says “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem...you who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest.” That’s saying we have forsaken sleep because of the watchful expectation and commissioning of the God who’s faithful. The church must do some things that it has not been doing; the church has got to respond - the many members fitly joined together.

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AS: The objective of worship is to open you up. Look in Ezekiel 28 where it talks about the physiological attributes of Lucifer and everything that is in him. He was a worship leader. And worship opens you up - there is an opportunity for what is inside of you to bless the Lord. And what is in you that doesn’t bless the Lord becomes exposed and released. That’s why it’s so powerful. Many people don’t understand that and they reject or run away from [worship] when actually that’s what God wants more. And for those that say, just give me the Word, read Psalm 119. If you understand David’s posture, he uses worship to approach the Word, melding the two: the Word and worship.

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By Michelle Tillman The Word says that without it, it is impossible to please Him. Even if it starts the size of a mustard seed, I want it to grow to the size of a sequoia tree. Since I am nothing without Him, I guess I better get me some. See I’m gonna “faith it ‘til I make it,” and wish the enemy would try to break it. I’m taking steps into my destiny and the enemy don’t really want to mess with me. See my God has not given me the spirit of fear, but He has given me access to faith on fleek, so Satan you better rest beneath my feet. I want nothing less than mountain moving faith, and if faith comes by hearing then I’m playing the Word on repeat. I’ll be at church every week, not going to miss an opportunity for it’s of Him I seek. But maybe it’s not enough for you to hear it from me. Maybe you should ask Jonah how he got out the whale; ask Peter how he got out of jail; ask David how he killed a giant as tall as the sky; ask Esther who helped save her life other than Mordecai. Ask Job what he used to keep his head held up; ask Jeremiah how he made it when everyone around him was corrupt. Why don’t you ask Isaac what kind of faith his daddy had or ask Gideon how he won a war with only 300 hundred men on his staff.


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See I want world record breaking FAITH...

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Michelle Tillman is a poet and inspirational speaker who turns her life experiences into creative writing and spoken word. After totally surrendering from her “wild party girl” ways, she has a unique ability to capture the hearts of women, who despite their past can see how God can bless their future relationships. After her proposal video went viral on YouTube, she began an online ministry to uplift women of God with inspirational YouTube video content, and is also a podcast host for her show “Booty Call to Bride.” Follow her at https://www.youtube.com/c/ MichelleTillman

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And if we live by Faith and not sight--if what looks impossible is possible, and what is invisible is still invincible…if even your salvation can’t be seen, For it is by grace that you have been redeemed…through FAITH. Then build your faith, like a carpenter taps on the head of a nail. And build your faith like bodybuilders train their bodies to perform well. And build your faith by living a life like that of Christ Jesus. A faith so strong that we know God sees us. For without faith, it is impossible to please Him.

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Like how did she get that, “she must know somebody” type FAITH. Like that Jesus said “Go, your faith has healed you” type FAITH. Give me some of that, I just need to “touch the hem of His garment” type FAITH. Or what about being sure of “what I hope for and certain of what I don’t see” type FAITH. That “I’ve fought the good fight and finished the race” type FAITH. That I’m gonna “take up my shield and extinguish the arrows of the evil one” type FAITH. That “whatever you’re asking in prayer, believe it and receive it” type FAITH…


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By Andrea Thaxton The hardest part of living is losing. I have never been one to lose in sports, life, love, or anything else. I have always strived to be the best at everything I’ve ever done and have been extremely successful; but losing a baby showed me that I am not in control‒ God is. When you grow up as a young girl, you want the life your parents had. I’ve been blessed with parents that have been together my entire life. I too wanted that life – to be a happy family on a farm, but it would be a while before that would come to pass. On August 3, 2013, while eating at a restaurant with friends, I felt an excruciating pain surge across my abdomen. I was experiencing something no woman wanted: a miscarriage. Nothing in the three pregnancy books I’ve read could have prepared me for the pain of losing a child; so I turned to the Lord for my solace. It was then that I clung onto my faith in God and all His goodness. I knew that despite the current circumstance, God “would never leave me nor forsake me” (Deut. 31:6). I asked Him to shed His grace on me because I didn’t think I was going to be able to bear the loss of this child. I found myself beginning to pray for my husband and myself. I had never really prayed for him before. Up until the miscarriage, my prayers were always focused on me and my needs, and no one else’s. Later that night, when we went to the emergency room and heard the news that the

womb was open and there was no fetus, Clay and I looked at one another and cried. Both of us felt like failures. Would my dreams of having the perfect family be shattered? What did I have to do Lord? August 6, 2013 - Does anyone know why I missed the first day of school? What will I do if they ask me about it? I anxiously sit in my car waiting for the clock to turn to 7:30am before I reluctantly pull myself together and exit the vehicle. As I walked down the hall, I feel as if I am floating and wandering aimlessly to my classroom. I have ten minutes to put on a brave face before I meet my new students for the school year. I pray, “Please, God, help me get through this day.” I turn on my computer, and I quickly look for a Bible verse which deals with coping with loss. Why did this happen to me? Is God paying me back for the things I did when I was growing up? Searching for the right verse… Philippians 4:13... No, I don’t feel that strong today. Matthew 5:4…“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”... No, not that one. Scrolling, scrolling...no, no, no… This may be it. YES! “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:17-18). I hastily press the print button and then go to work trimming the white edges of the paper. As I tape the paper to the wall by my computer desk, I let out a sigh of relief because I know God is going to take care of me and my family no matter what. After having the miscarriage, Clay and I began praying about our lives and what our next step as a family would be. What if we try again? But what if I have another miscarriage?


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At that point, my relationship with God changed forever. I gave myself over to the Lord and told Him to take this pain; and if we were meant to be parents, to please help us get pregnant when He saw fit. I fervently prayed day in and day out.

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comforting hand. Help me stay healthy throughout this pregnancy. Give Clay the confidence he needs and use us to be messengers for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

December 28, 2013 - The doubts came creeping into my mind. When I woke up this morning, I was December 10, 2013 - We found out through home bleeding. The nurse told me that I needed to go to pregnancy tests we were pregnant with our second the emergency room. The nurse practitioner told child. This time I didn’t want to forget anything so me that he wanted an ultrasound, blood work, and I began a journal of notes and prayers throughout a pelvic exam. I went for my ultrasound, and…I the duration of my pregnancy. got to hear your heartbeat for the first time! I wish your daddy could have been in there with me. I had a little relief after I heard it. I had to wait to see if everything was closed in the pelvic exam, and everything looked good. The culprit of the bleeding was a cyst on my ovaries.

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God, Thank you for keeping watch over me and my family. Please continue with your healing touch and

Andrea Thaxton is a native of Jackson County, Tennessee where she is known by many for playing basketball, teaching English, and/or mothering Charles Henry. Basketball was a passion of hers for roughly 14 years until she met her wonderful husband, Clay. They have been married for 11 years and have a six-year-old son named Charles Henry. The Thaxton family enjoys farming, boating, and traveling with family and friends.

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December 14, 2013 - Yes! We are having a baby! With my history of having a pulmonary embolism, my pregnancy was considered high risk, and I had to take shots every day to ensure that no blood clots would occur again. I will have another year of doctor’s visits, but God has blessed me and will continue to do so.

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you has brought me a huge blessing. Be with me throughout this pregnancy and the years after so that I may raise a disciple for you here on earth. Mold me and make me in Your image to go forth and spread the word. Thank you for your son, Jesus Christ, being sent here for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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God, Thank you for giving me a sense of peace and comfort while in the ER. Thank you for placing your healing touch on my pregnancy and keeping my miracle baby growing. God is so good! In Jesus’ December 11, 2013 - God is here to help me name. Amen. through this one. I can feel His presence because I March 9, 2014 - I looked over at your daddy and am calm and feel comfortable. To my baby: I can’t said I think I felt your baby kick. His smile made wait to see you and hold you. Here is my prayer for me cry. you today: March 18, 2014 - It’s official. You are a boy. I cried God, you have done amazing things in my life thus at the precious baby I saw on the ultrasound. I love far, and I know you have many more blessings you so much already! in store. Please, watch over me and my family through this pregnancy and give me the comfort On August 5, 2014 Charles Henry Thaxton came and peace needed. In Jesus’ name. Amen. into our lives and changed our world forever…. December 12, 2013 - God, this prayer that I pray is God, Thank you for EVERYTHING! In Jesus’ name. for the things you have given me. Giving my life to Amen.

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“I gave myself over to the Lord and told Him to take this pain; and if we were meant to be parents, to please help us get pregnant when He saw fit.”


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“You, are that from neither God and “For Idear amchildren, convinced have overcome them, because the one death nor life, neitherthan angels who is in you is greater thenor one is in the the present world.” nor the demons, who neither 1 John 4:4 NIV

future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV


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church affiliation, worship as a group, and participate in the Bible Quiz. That’s right— there was a Bible Quiz and it was a pretty big deal to defend your geographic location. My father, affectionately known as Papa, was not as religious and never understood the small church setting, so he found a megachurch that was a lot faster paced than our old-school small church. My brother and I were involved in both growing up. Needless to say, whether we wanted to know God or not, we didn’t have a choice.

Loving the Other

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Now, being a parent myself, my husband and I are determined to help this country be better for ourselves, and more importantly, for our daughter. It first starts by showing Christ to everyone through unconditional love. In Matt. 22:37-39 NLT “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your

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I was born and raised in the suburbs of Houston, Texas to a middle-class family, as the second and last child, and the only girl. My mother was very religious, and we were in church multiple times a week: Sunday service was oftentimes more than just one service, and there was Wednesday night Bible study, mid-week choir rehearsal, usher board meetings, and the list goes on. Each summer was filled with traveling across the country to spend a week and a half with our

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“Don’t be upset if you want to play with everyone and everyone doesn’t want to play with you. Just go find new people to play with.” It was 1998 when I begged my parents to take me out of my all Black, Christian private school to start my zoned, public elementary school education. Up until then, I didn’t understand their earlier statement. My parents were very hesitant to move me, not only because my learning needs were being catered to in a challenging and loving environment, but also because the Christian school was family.

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by Leslie Moore

In the Black church experience, the issue of race was and has always been a topic laced into a sermon or just a topic of discussion. My baby boomer parents only knew from experience to be cautious with white people because they had seen so much racial tension. My mother, born and raised in Brandon, Mississippi, was among the first group of Black students to integrate her high school. She was the first Black cheerleader and continued to break barriers on the basketball team. Papa was born and raised in Buffalo, New York; and although we were taught in grade school that the north was much better in terms of race relations than the south, his stories didn’t seem much different. And because of their experiences, my parents thought it was important to shield my brother and I from the harsh reality that many of us in the Black community face every single day.


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God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” This means loving people who are different from you, who have a different point of view than you, and yes, even loving the people who hate those with a different skin color. Our job is to still love unconditionally. It’s also imperative for us to create diverse environments, such as building multiethnic churches so messages of God’s love and unity can be shared from a Christian perspective. In our society, it is easy and natural to stay in what feels comfortable. It takes work to insert yourself in certain settings, but this is where change can truly happen. Building relationships with individuals that may not have the same understanding as you is integral. Hearts, minds, and communities can change because of one person, but that change is most likely going to come through relationships. It’s extremely hard to hate someone when you walk through life with them. You gain greater understanding when you hear their experiences and see their humanity for yourself, rather than depending on secondhand information or media sources.

“It’s extremely hard to hate someone when you walk through life with them.”

still discussed constantly in many homes. As Christians, we understand that hatred and injustices exist because SIN exists. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NIV). We have to talk about racism as sin AND remember that sinners are deserving of God’s love. Because didn’t God die for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)? “… God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). Furthermore, we must talk to our children about embracing people who are different from them, which will encourage them to have empathy. And at the same time pray for humility, as my Pastor Dr. Derwin Gray puts it in his book The Good Life: “It takes humility to admit your racism or prejudice; [and] humility has the power to heal racial divides – if we allow it.”

And yet change is still needed. Who wouldn’t want to be part of changing the world? As a Black, 31-year-old woman living in 2020, still having to protest the same things my parents, and grandparents, and generations before protested is disappointing. My maternal grandfather marched right along with Dr. Martin Unfortunately, life still happens. We Luther King Jr. for the exact same thing that I can’t always live inside the bubble or safety have been marching for since my freshman of our church walls. Race and racism are year of college. People are hurting and as


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neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV). This does not erase our differences but allows us to love others just the way they are…just the way Christ loves them.

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Remember, as Christians, we must be intentional in loving the other and realizing one another’s humanity. The Imago Dei or Image of God is reflected in every single person – no matter their race or ethnicity. Genesis 1:27 states “so God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Further when we become Christians, we are seen as brothers and sisters in Christ, for “[t]here is

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My two favorite people on earth call me Lez and Mum but you can call me Leslie. I am an energetic, talkative wife to the best husband ever Anthony Moore and Mommy to the sweetest but sassiest little 18 month old lady Arley Moore. I was born and raised in Missouri City, Texas but now reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. My most enjoyable pastimes are traveling, meeting people, talking about different cultures, religions, and food. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends who are truly family, and dreaming of million dollar model homes. I attend Transformation Church in Indian Land, SC. Follow me on Instagram @l.a.j.moore

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Christians we cannot overlook the brokenhearted, for “[t]he LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV). Nor can we turn a blind eye past the most recent tragedies involving Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain and the countless other black men and women who died before them. As Christians, we must continue to be salt and light and exhibit the love of God in times such as these. My husband, Anthony, put this into perspective a few weeks ago and shared, “We don’t condemn people when it takes them longer to come to Christ; we just jump in, help, teach, and welcome them in becoming Christians. We should treat people the same who are now jumping in and being catalysts for change.”

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THE LOVE OF THE LORD EXPRESSED THROUGH DISCIPLINE

B Y M ICHAEL S HAMBERGER When you think of “love” what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Now, for the majority of us who did not think “God” or “Jesus” as our first thought for love, no condemnation. But here’s a thought for us to consider. Scripture says that God is love (1 John 4:8). Since love is who God is and what God is, can there be any greater lover anywhere than God Almighty? So why is it that we don’t think of God first when it comes to love? Most of us are hopefully taught to love at an early age. But we find that love means different things for different people. One commonality that love seems to carry across the various meanings is that love is something good. It might be kind, nice, gentle, giving, caring, selfless, thoughtful, etc. But whatever the description, it is a good and positive experience for the giver and the receiver. From our human perspective if love hurts, it’s not love to us. If love is tough, painful or abrasive, it’s not love to us. It must feel right, it must sound right, and it must align with our human ideologies of love for us to consider it as love. But what if God’s definition and perspective of love is much broader than ours? If His definition of love includes aspects that we don’t include, then who is right and who is wrong? And how does this gap in the understanding of love affect us today in how we live, train our children, and relate to each other, and to God? One popular passage of scripture that people generally refer to when talking about godly love


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is 1 Corinthians 13. Verses 4-8a read as follows, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” So we see that some of the godly love characteristics mentioned in this scripture passage are patience, kindness, protection, trust, and hope. These all seem very positive and give you a warm feeling, right? So we humans don’t have a lot of trouble agreeing with these aspects of God’s love.

Notice that the beginning of verse 5 says that this is a word of encouragement. What?!? Is there a misinterpretation going on here? Who is being encouraged by talking about discipline? But yes, it is encouraging when we look at it from God’s viewpoint.

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But let’s take a look at another aspect of God’s love that we don’t always see or agree with as Let’s look at the definition of Discipline: being love. Hebrews 12:4-11 NIV states: Discipline: “to train, chasten, correct” (Strong’s “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet Concordance) resisted to the point of shedding your blood. • to train: “to undergo instruction, discipline, or And have you completely forgotten this word of drill” encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not • chasten: “to correct by punishment or make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not suffering; to prune (something, such as a work lose heart when He rebukes you, because or style of art) of excess, pretense, or falsity; to the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and cause to be more humble or restrained” He chastens everyone He accepts as His • correct: “to make or set right, amend; to son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is discipline or punish” (Webster’s Dictionary) treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are For 19 years I was a high school boys soccer not disciplined—and everyone undergoes coach in North Carolina. Soccer season was discipline—then you are not legitimate, not in the fall for us and so the summer months true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we were used for training. The workouts were have all had human fathers who disciplined voluntary and guys who were not committed us and we respected them for it. How much to the process usually did not come very often, more should we submit to the Father of spirits for it was hot and humid and I pushed them and live! They disciplined us for a little while to get better. The main things that we focused as they thought best; but God disciplines us on in our training during those weeks was for our good, in order that we may share in His conditioning and the basics of soccer. No one holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the liked it while going through that training, but the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces guys really liked the results that came from it in a harvest of righteousness and peace for those terms of winning, having fun, championships, who have been trained by it” (emphasis mine). and playoffs.

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The thought we generally focus in on in this passage is “discipline.” But if we attempt to look at it from God’s heart and perspective I think you will see that the main focus should be on the love of God expressed through discipline. In verse 6 we see that the Lord disciplines those He loves, and verse 10 tells us that God disciplines us for our good. Do you see the heart of God here? He doesn’t just send discipline our way willy-nilly or for the purpose of harming us.


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Why did I push my players hard during the talking about with ungodly abuse and summer? I disciplined or trained them the way mistreatment. I did because I loved them and I wanted to position them to attain the success they really “God is looking out for wanted in soccer.

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our best; He disciplines those He loves; and His discipline is for our good.”

Looking back on the passage in Hebrews 12:411, there are some tough sounding words or phrases in there. Here are a few examples: • “when He rebukes you” (v. 5) • “He chastens” (v. 6) • “endure hardship” (v. 7), and • “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” (v. 11) Even though all of these sound rather harsh and like nothing you would want to voluntarily participate in, remember the context of the full passage: that God’s heart is for us. God is looking out for our best; He disciplines those He loves; and His discipline is for our good. Remember, the definition of discipline is to train, chasten or correct. That middle word, chasten, can involve punishment that can be painful. God gives us that type of discipline for our good and because He loves us. But let me be clear – discipline is different from abuse. This is not at all what God is about. That type of behavior is evil and demonic and should be reported to appropriate authorities immediately. So please do not mix together what I am

Consider this story the Apostle Paul tells about himself in 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NLT “If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Why did God want to keep Paul from becoming proud? Because Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall according to Proverbs 16:18 NLT. God cared enough about Paul and about the people Paul would be influencing, to do what was best to keep Paul from falling spiritually due to his vulnerability to be prideful. Paul didn’t like it at first, and asked God to take that messenger of Satan away on three occasions. But the response from God was, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Paul grew to such a place of


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maturity in the Lord that he began to rejoice in his weak areas because that’s where he recognized and felt God’s strength working in him and through him. I don’t know about you but I’m very grateful for God loving Paul and me enough to keep Paul humble, because I have been greatly impacted by the writings and ministry of Paul.

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When we limit the expressions of love to our finite human concepts of love we misunderstand God’s love for us. In order to more fully understand that God’s ways are not our ways and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts we need to have a revamping of our thinking. Consider Romans 12:1-2 NLT: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform

God is love and God loves us fully. But we have failed so many times to see, understand, or accept His love expressed to us because we have tried to make it fit within our own concepts of what love is, rather than seek to understand love first from the way God has designed it. You are blessed. Walk in the security of His love for you.

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So one of the things we should do is to retrain our thinking as to what real love is from God’s perspective. God has a much bigger definition of love than we do. Remember Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV? “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

We need to allow God to transform our thinking according to His Word – His full Word. When we submit to the fullness of God’s Word in our daily lives our thinking will automatically begin to change. We will see perspectives and revelations of His Word that we had never seen before. His Word will become alive to us and something that we desire, instead of being a religious book that is simply a duty to read for Christians.

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When we only see love through the perspective of the warm fuzzies and making people feel good, we are missing a completely different, very important aspect of God’s character and nature: His discipline as love. This causes us to not understand, or to misunderstand, His dealings in our lives many times. What needs to happen is for us to change or add onto what we believe about God and His love.

you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (emphasis mine).

Michael Shamberger is the owner of Masterpiece Consulting Solutions, LLC. He helps individuals, organizations, churches and ministries find solutions and discover pathways toward their next goal or phase in life. He is the author of “The Challenge” and “Beyond the Pitch: Soccer Strategies for Winning at Life.” He lives in Fayetteville, NC with his wife Cynthia and attends Deeper Fellowship Church. He is the father of two adult children, the proud grandfather of 7 and great-grandfather of 1. You can follow him at https://masterpiececs.com/

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S B l i i Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy will help men strengthen their faith and life on a yearlong journey.

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Have you ever felt stuck in life? This bible study will show you how to move from being stuck to being alive in Christ!


EDITOR’S FINAL THOUGHTS

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Losing a job or being demoted

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Change is hard. We all know that but many of us don’t really spend time to think about the difficulties or inconveniences of change. Of course not all change is bad and many times it can be better than good, it can be great! In fact, it may be exactly what we needed in that moment of our lives. But regardless if what happens to you is good or bad, a significant change in our lives requires us to reorient who we are and where we are going with our lives. For example, getting married or having children is a change that can bring much joy and excitement into our lives. But it can also bring stress, sleepless nights, arguments, misunderstandings, and anxiety. Think about the most recent changes you have had in your life. They can be a number of things from: • Getting a new job or promotion •

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Eccl. 3:1 KJV)

Starting your own business or preparing to be self-employed

Getting married or divorced

Becoming widowed or losing a parent

Having a baby or suffering through a miscarriage

Moving to a new house, state or country

Getting sick or getting well

Going to college or dropping out of college

Graduating and entering the job market

Becoming an empty nester or having adult children move back in with you

Or having life interrupted because of a worldwide pandemic!

Friend, you may be like me and realize that you have gone through not just one of these changes in your life but many! And if you have some more living to do, God willing, you will most likely go through a few more.

But there is good news, such good news friend. You don’t have to go through ANY of this alone – the good, the bad, or the ugly. God will be right there with you each and every step of the way. When you are kissing your newborn’s chubby cheeks to when you are wondering if they will ever sleep through the night; when you just received that promotion to getting laid off a few months later and not sure how you are going to pay your bills; when your ailing parent is suffering through cancer or when they are finally at rest with the Father; and when you are moving to a new area and have anxiety about making new friends: He is there – through it ALL! Remember that the bible says:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6 NIV) “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5 KJV) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NKJV) You never have to do anything alone and know that even if you have uncertainty now, God has you in His hands. Change can be hard – but remember to lean on the Father in Heaven!

Heavenly Father, thank you for being with me and my family during this time of change. It may be hard to adjust to our new normal but we know that You are right there with us, every step of the way. Show us how to live for You, regardless of our circumstances. Help us not to feel anxious or worried about [insert the change here] but to fully trust that You have our good in mind and will work it out. And we pray that your will and purpose be done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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