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Signet Ring COMPLIMENTARY ISSUE

VOLUME 2.1

L VE GOD IS LOVE LOVE


IDENTITY 6 God’s Love Letter 7

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God is Love God + Nothing

7 LIFE 23 Fitness Spiritual Fitness

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24 Finances Rich in Love 26 Devotional A Timeless Message in a Bottle: Jesus Loves You

RELATIONSHIPS 10 In Great Company In the Company of Women

IN EVERY ISSUE 2 Q &A How Can God be Love? 27 Recommended Reads by Emma Adams 28 Classics Fire! Fire!

11 Loving Your Neighbor A Call to Love 14 Ministry Halo Ministries 16 Marriage The Power of Prayer 19

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Love for a Child Caring for God’s Children

Cover artwork painted by Signet Ring STACIE DESAUTELS of Daisy DeZigns Art Studio in Salisbury, MD. She specializes in both inspirational and Christian art and book illustrations. www.daisydezignartstudio.com GOD IS LOVE COMPLIMENTARY ISSUE

VOLUME 2.1

L VE LOVE

SIGNET RING SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2013

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zodervan. All Rights Reserved. Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version . Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


“For without love, we are nothing.” Volume 2 Issue 1 September-December 2013

aughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace,” Jesus warmly admonished the trembling woman. This woman who suffered from twelve years of bleeding was considered an unclean invalid in society but by simply touching the cloak of Jesus she was miraculously healed. The New Testament is teeming with moments like these as written in Luke 8:48, where Jesus compassionately heals the sick and shows mercy on the vile. Read the Gospel with fresh eyes and listen to the love in Jesus’ voice as He endears you, too, as son or daughter. I write this note laced with my own set of flaws and coated with different flavors of wretched thoughts. But by the grace of Jesus, I am what I am, and through His unconditional love, I know who I will be. By the blood of Jesus Christ, we stand as beloved children before the throne of God as He gazes upon us with His loving eyes. Reflecting on the words of Dr. David Jeremiah, he states, “Just as the sun is our only source of daylight, God is our only source of love. Sunrays reflect from all objects they strike, permeating the air with light and making it possible for us to see. In a similar way, God’s love enters the world and reflects off our hearts, making it possible for us to love Him and others. We have no innate capacity, no self-originating store of love to give. We can give only what we receive from Him.

This world desperately needs His love; not religion, not a check list, not a social club, but love. The crucible of our faith in Jesus is not found in church, credentials, or connections, but within our hearts. Love is the heartbeat of Christianity. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” In the following pages you will find authors defining and displaying love. I hope that after reading the articles you will be encouraged to actively experience love for yourself. For without love, we are nothing.

Publisher JOYCE BIRCH General Editor JON SCOTT BIRCH Art Selection HALEY DYE SHANA SMITH Layout & Design LIZ RAÑOLA Advisor CANDY ABBOTT Social Media STACEY HITCH

Published by Signet Ring, a division of Recover Church. P.O. Box 1891 Millsboro, DE 19966. For questions or comments: info@signetringmag.com Copyright © 2012-2013 Signet Ring a division of Recover Church. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written consent of publisher.

Mission Statement

Signet Ring promotes a wholehearted pursuit of Jesus Christ in response to His invitation, “Follow Me.” We do this through learning about and growing in our identity in Christ, imparting His love in our relationships, and living a disciple’s life. In light of the principles of 1 Tim 1:5, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

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God Love

Q & A: How Can God Be Love?

How Can

be

BY JON SCOTT BIRCH

irst John 4:8 assures us that God is love, yet we must first understand that only God can be love. Second, we must reconcile a hard truth with a resistant heart- that truth being that one cannot love (oneself or others) apart from God. We can like, appreciate, display affection, and show devotion for/to things and other people. But apart from God each of these seemingly positive elements are rooted in the world’s corruption of love- lust. Therefore, one who has not been born again (having experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ) cannot love because they

do not know God. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 Some resist this because they personally know “good” people that are surely not murderers, adulterers, thieves, hateful, or the like, even though they are not Christian. But if Jesus is not Lord of their life, something or someone else is. Evil is often blatant but it is also innate and subtle. Those who know not Jesus Christ are lost in a multitude of ways, even lost in their “goodness.”

“Long before the foundations of the world were laid, perfect love existed within the perfect fellowship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” 2

SIGNET RING SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2013


Q & A: How Can God Be Love?

Others will resist this hard truth because sharp conviction arises within themselves and, as a Christian, they feel less than Christian because of any struggles they may have in loving others as they ought to. It is for this reason that the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 2 This testing is meant to prune us of selfishness and teach us commitment to God alone, which will naturally give rise to selflessness. Many are tempted to interpret commitment to Christ as a form of legalism, but only because of a failure to understand the foundation of that particular commitment: love. This is a broadly known truth, but not so broadly exemplified. Our sinful nature trends toward the false idea that obedience proves our devotion to Jesus, and thus we fall to a worksbased mentality of servitude. This notion, however, is dismantled by the fact that love is the source from which our works/service originate, as the following Scripture proves: Therefore, you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always (Deuteronomy

such power that He was moved to create the world and a vast universe to contain it, simply purposing to display His glory to you and me, and to all humanity. 3 And what is the glory of God? It is His love. Long before the foundations of the world were laid, perfect love existed within the perfect fellowship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Love can only exist and be wholly realized within a relational context of mutual giving of one to another. Thus, the triune nature of the Godhead as three Persons in one essence serves as our perfect example of relational intimacy and its momentousness. No other god, religion, or cult can boast of this exceptional quality in that Elohim is in fact the exception. 4 The glorious love of God carries a potency that by its own nature must be shared, evidenced by a

1 1 John 4:20 2 Deuteronomy 13:3 3 Psalm 19:1-2 4 Genesis 1:1; John 3:16; (Elohim is a plural Hebrew name for God)

11:1).

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me (John 14:23-24).

“The entire universe is a product of God’s love. . .”

We serve God because we love Him, not to prove that we love Him. WHAT IS LOVE? God is love, yet love is not God lest we elevate an attribute of God into another god, as many philanthropists are wont to do. Still, it being an attribute of God reveals the eternality of love. To better grasp this fact, consider that love was never conceived, it has just always been (just as God has always been, and God is love). Now consider that love reaches far beyond being simply defined as a passionate emotion and a faithful loyalty. The entire universe is a product of God’s love. Think about that. The love of God possesses

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Q & A: How Can God Be Love?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” {1 John 4:10}

magnificent decision within the Godhead in ages past: Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… and it is not good that man should be alone (Genesis

1:26; 2:18). HOW DOES GOD REVEAL HIS LOVE? The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35). Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command [ability] I have received from My Father (John 10:17-18). For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us… God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

(Romans 5:5,8). While on earth, Jesus entreated His Father in regard to His disciples (then and

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SIGNET RING SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2013

now), praying “that they all may be one,

as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one; I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me”

(John 17:21-23).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God

(2 Cor. 1:3-4). HOW DO WE RECEIVE AND OFFER GOD’S LOVE? If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation

(Romans 10:9-10).

But without faith it is impossible

to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us (1 John 4:10-11). Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:3-6). He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:6-7).

Despite the cost, God cheerfully gave us His Son…

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness,


Q & A: How Can God Be Love?

longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body (Colossians 3:12-15).

HOW DOES ABIDING IN GOD’S LOVE AFFECT OUR PRESENT/ FUTURE?

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:17-18). The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2). But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10). For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

JON BIRCH is cofounder of Recover Church, a discipleshipdriven movement purposing to recover and promote the early church model as recorded in the book of Acts where Christ, close relationships, and discipleshipapologetics were the pillars of Christianity. He is also the author of Simplifying the Complex. For more information visit veritasunum.org.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves...” {Ephesians 2:4-10} LOVE

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IDENTITY: God is Love

hat is love to you? How does love affect you each and every day? Does it? Have you really ever thought about it? How many times have you heard someone say they love something? I love my iPad. I love this pizza. Oh my gosh, I love that song. I love it when that happens. I love my new car. Is this what love has become to us? An affection to things that only brings us an immediate satisfaction and fulfills a superficial need. The concept and meaning of love has become so watered down and misconstrued that we don’t even know what love means anymore. Love has become a transaction rather than a relationship. It has become a one-night stand as opposed to a marriage. Our immediate superficial needs and desires replace the intimate needs and desires our hearts so desperately long for. We can’t expect to misuse or misinterpret love without negatively impacting our heart. Our flippant use of love not only damages our heart but also down-plays what Christ demonstrated on the Cross. Some might say this is a radical position and I couldn’t agree more. If there

is one thing we should be extreme about, it should be His love for us. The primary reason we aren’t more radical for God is that we don’t understand how radical His love is for us. If we could somehow more fully grasp His incredible love for us, our lives would be drastically different. The sad reality is that we live our lives as if God is watching each and every move just waiting for us to screw up so He has a reason to withhold His love from us. That couldn’t be further from the truth. John 4:8 tells us that God is love. Notice it doesn’t say that God loves, but instead it says God is love. God does not show acts of love. Why? Because He is love. God is God and by Him being God He can’t help but be love. Every thought, every act and every decision of God is always based upon love. Why? Because God is love. God’s wrath starts with His love. God’s justice starts with His love. If God is love, then love has to be the most powerful force in the world. It’s not discipline, hate, anger, disease or even the largest army. It is love. But without an understanding of love how can we expect to more fully understand God? There is

“ God is God and by Him being God He can’t help but be love.” LOVE

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IDENTITY: God is Love

only one answer to the question and that answer is Jesus. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is the exact representation of God. In other words, Jesus was God walking the earth in human form. Do you see the connection? If God is love and Jesus is God then Jesus must also be love . This same love conquered the grave to cancel every past, present, and future sin for everyone. Not just for the Christians but for the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, New Agers, Agnostics, Satanic, Scientologists and every other belief and non-belief that has ever existed. This is the one true undefeated Love. Jesus did nothing apart from the Father. Did you notice the word “nothing”? I looked up the definition and sure enough it means “not one thing.” Jesus didn’t want to spend one second of His life without being in communion with His Father. Why? It is because Jesus knew the love that His

father had for me. If you knew, I mean truly knew the love of God for you, why would you want to spend one nano-second out of communion with Him? If you knew the uncreated God loves you more than anything in this world why would you spend any amount of time not listening to Him? You know why I don’t? I think God is holding out on me. I think I can do my life better than God can. I think I know what I need better than He does. I think my love is better than the love He can offer. At times I use His love just when I think I need it. All these point to a sad reality, “I think I can love myself and others better than He can.” I’ve learned that there is only one formula when it comes to love. GOD + NOTHING = LOVE Apart from God, love is not possible. This uncreated God created

“ Love is always about Him and when we receive His love it is the match that ignites our hearts with love.”

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humanity out of His great love. Not some Hollywood love where someone completes someone else. I’m talking about the kind of love that parts the Red Sea, turns water into wine, raises the dead, cancels sin. Love isn’t simply an act. Love is a force like none other. It is absolutely impossible to live the life Christ asked us to without love. Love is what unleashes the Kingdom of God. Love is what makes earth more like heaven. Love is not God giving us everything we want. That’s not God’s mission. Can He bless us? Will He bless us? You betcha, but God is not a grandfather figure who shows up at Christmas and birthdays to spoil us. Love is only possible when God is working “in” and “through” us. We are called to the same standard as Jesus and we can learn from the model He exemplified. The “in” is the receiving, and Jesus who was a clean vessel was able to receive the Father’s love like none other. The “through” was evidenced by Jesus’ reverent submission to the Father. In the West we assume there are two doors in this equation. The first is the “in” and the second is the “through.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that there are not two doors. The doors are one and the same. We cannot give what we aren’t receiving and we can’t receive what we aren’t giving. We must receive love to give it and we must give love to receive it. God is love and as we receive and give, He is present. When He is our source of love we can give it away because we know He is love. I’m certainly not here to say there will not be times when we can’t feel His love or even see it. Just because we don’t think He loves us does not mean it is not present. It’s no different than the different phases of the moon. Just because you can’t see the moon does not make it any less real. The same applies for the love of God. The love of God is constant and exists no matter what. It is in the times when we cannot see or feel His love that we must remember what His Son did for us. Never ever forget in the present what He did in the past. It is only through greater revelation of God’s love that you will be enabled to be righteous, hopeful, faithful, holy and peaceful when your circumstances appear overwhelming. Realizing God’s love


IDENTITY: God is Love

“ We must receive love to give it and we must give love to receive it.”

reveals that what’s right in His eyes is also what’s best. Have you ever really thought about that? His commandments and requests are not just what He considers to be “right” but what’s best. That truth alone will not only change your life but everyone else’s around you. God’s love has the power to ignite hearts and restore lives. His love will free you from despair, depression, fear, anxiety and abuse. Whatever it is, it has no chance. No matter how far you think you’ve run from Him, His love will chase you down. It doesn’t matter if you have no desire to follow Him, His love is constantly pursuing you. It doesn’t matter if you have no desire to follow Him, His love for you will never change. God loves us more in a moment than we could love anyone in a lifetime.

Love is not about us or the person or object we think we love. Love is always about Him and when we receive His love it is the match that ignites our hearts with love. Let His love be your fuel and your life will become the flame. As your life burns with His love you cannot help but ignite other’s hearts. When hearts burn with His love, things change. The blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, those who mourn become joyous, the fearful become courageous, and the broken become restored. God’s love tells us that what He asks us to do is not just right but it’s what’s best. You are a dream of God and His love created you and His love will see you through. Your life begins and ends with the love of the One True God.

AARON STEPHENS is a passionate follower of Christ whose mission is the restoration of others through the freeing of the heart and renewing of the mind. He is a student lifegroup leader at Vista Community Church in Dublin, Ohio. He is also the missions trip leader for the ministries in Cambodia purposing to free and restore those trapped in human trafficking. He has written a book titled “Pieces of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” which will be available in 2014. To learn more please visit www. aaronrstephens. com or you can reach him at aaron@ aaronrstephens.com.

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RELATIONSHIPS: In Great Company

Great Company In

“The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host.” (Ps. 68:11 Amplified Bible)

hat a privilege it is to be in the company of other women. Women who have published the good news of the Gospel through their words and deeds of faith, grace and obedience. This great host includes sisters in our own lives, as well as those we are familiar with from history and the Scriptures. The story of the woman from Nain, known only as “a sinner,” is one of faith and love in the midst of religion and accusation (Luke 7:36-50). She knew that Jesus was at Simon the Pharisee’s house. Compelled by her realization that she was a sinner, she sought Jesus. She was willing to face the wrath of the religious establishment to honor Him. Whatever her sin, she knew where Jesus was and she entered the house uninvited, seeking Him. Weeping, she began to wash His feet with her tears, wipe them with her hair, kissing His feet and anointing them. Can you imagine the reaction of the Pharisees when they witnessed this? How dare she, a woman, be in the company of men! How dare she loose her hair publicly! Religion was offended by this display of humility and love. Religion only saw the laws that were broken and not the heart of one who was broken. Observing her actions, the host thinks to himself that Jesus is not all that Jesus thinks He is. He is not a prophet. If He was, He would know that a sinner had touched Him. The implication was 10

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that Jesus was now unclean and didn’t even know it. Jesus knows Simon’s thoughts and responds with the parable of a creditor and two debtors. One debtor owed five hundred pence and the other owed only fifty. Both had nothing with which to repay their debt. The creditor forgave the debt without any expectation of compensation. Jesus then asked Simon which debtor would love the creditor the most. Simon answers that he “supposes” it would be the one who was forgiven the most. All the time the “sinner” is listening, watching and wondering what will happen to her. Then the Savior turns to the woman, but rebukes Simon for not following the basic laws of hospitality; for not showing his love for his quest. All that she did, Simon should have done. Simon, comparing himself to the sinner according to the religious laws of men, felt little need for forgiveness. To Simon, Jesus says, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.” Then Jesus speaks to the woman the words of freedom that every sinner throughout the ages yearns to hear, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you: go in peace.” Faith and love work hand in hand, for “faith works by love” (Galatians 5:22). The woman from Nain wept for her sins and humbly washed His feet with her tears of repentance and love. Her faith and love has placed her in great company. Her love for her Savior will be immortalized and published wherever the Word is read and taught.

MALORIE DERBY uses the power of voice and assembly to awaken women to live life full on. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, educator, writer, speaker, and CEO of “In Great Company.” With more than thirty years’ teaching experience, Malorie believes that the Word of God is foundational for all human endeavors and relationships. She is passionate about working with and challenging women to navigate together toward plan and purpose.


RELATIONSHIPS: Loving Your Neighbor

A Call to Love BY LAUREN HIRSCH-FARROW

that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “A Levite likewise came down to the place and saw him, and passed by on the other side [of the road]. “But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled along, came down to where he was; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity and sympathy [for him], “And went to him and dressed his wounds, pouring on [them] oil and wine. Then he set him on his own beast and

PHOTO BY AMANDA KAYE OF EXPOSED BRANCHES PHOTOGRAPHY

n a self-obsessed society such as ours, which promotes self-absorption, material accumulation, and personal financial gain, it has become quite common for us to fail to notice even those who live directly next door to us. Do we know their names? Do we know what they do or what they love? Or are they simply “the neighbors”? If we cannot see the other people who live within our direct spheres of influence, how can we possibly notice those who are in another town, another state, or even another country? Is this truly how life is supposed to be? Are we called, as fellow believers in Christ, to be caught up in the worldly fixations of our culture – and of the world – and become completely selffocused? I think not. Our lives are not merely our own. We were paid for with a very hefty price – the price of Jesus’ blood on the cross for our sins – and because we were bought so that we may live, we have a responsibility to others to share that gift and proclaim that unrestricted love of Christ. In the book of Luke, chapter 10 (verses 30-37), Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan: “A certain man was going from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothes and belongings and beat him and went their way, [unconcernedly] leaving him half dead, as it happened. “Now by coincidence a certain priest was going down along

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RELATIONSHIPS: Loving Your Neighbor

PHOTO BY FLORDELIZ RANOLA WWW.LIZRANOLA.CARBONMADE.COM

PHOTO BY AMANDA KAYE OF EXPOSED BRANCHES PHOTOGRAPHY

“...despite how little we may have by American or Western standards, we still possess far more than many others in this world.” AMANDA KAYE, of Exposed Branches Photography is based out of Dover, DE where she lives with her husband, three cats, and two dogs. She has been a professional photographer for three years and holds degrees from Wilmington University in General Studies and Media Design/Photography. FLORDELIZ RAÑOLA is a freelance graphic and layout designer and events photographer. Her passions are design, photography and traveling. She is currently a wedding photographer for a Christian photography studio in the Philippines, and an Art Director for a newspaper publication. 12

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brought him to an inn and took care of him. “And the next day he took out two denarii [two day’s wages] and gave [them] to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return.’ “Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers? “He answered, ‘The one who showed pity and mercy to him.’ “And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Amplified Bible) Think about it. This man’s own people, the priest and the Levite, would not stop to help him. In fact, the Scripture points out that they continued their journey

on the other side of the road, as if not taking notice of this man in such desperate need. However, the Samaritan, one whom the Jewish people despised, felt pity and mercy for he who was beaten and robbed on the road. While this parable has so many implications for our daily lives, what I wish for us to focus upon is the notion that Jesus calls each of us to do the same for others; that is, to step outside of the busyness of our own lives to care about and to help someone who cannot help him or herself. God considers all peoples to be our neighbors, about whom we should care, despite numerous differences in customs, belief systems, or proximity; we are called to demonstrate this through acts of love – His love. Consider 1 John 3:11-20: “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” (NIV) Thus, according to this passage of Scripture, we are called to be love through actions and in truth – not merely by saying we care, but by earnestly demonstrating it. If we are unwilling to show the love of Christ in this way, we remain in death. So if we see a need, no matter where it may be, we are called to do what we can to alleviate suffering. This is not to say that the Lord expects us to fix everything for everyone. He knows that this is not within our power to accomplish. However, He does call each of us to do what we are able, so we may be His love to others in


RELATIONSHIPS: Loving Your Neighbor the brand you love to wear utilizes cheap sweatshop labor. Our comfort should not come off the backs of the less fortunate. What we must come to realize is, despite how little we may have by American or Western standards, we still possess far more than many others in this world, where clean water is a luxury, and where selling one’s children into slavery is not out of malice, but out of the desperation for survival. Therefore, we occupy positions of privilege in the world, and with this privilege comes responsibility. I encourage you to seek the Lord, asking that He open your heart and your eyes to the needs of this broken world and for Him to provide you with guidance on how He desires for you to get involved. We are not all called to be identical. For some, action may be financial giving while others’ may be in missions. Please just be open to the urgings of the Holy Spirit.

For additional information on some of the topics mentioned above please visit: • http://www.thea21campaign.org/ • http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/ • http://www.compassion.com/contribution/water-life-klove.htm?referer=119533

LAUREN HIRSCHFARROW currently resides in Salisbury, Maryland with her husband, Jon. She is a social services specialist at a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility while working on her Master’s degree in Psychology at Washington College. Lauren has a heart for worship and a passion to see social justice extended to the less fortunate in the world.

PHOTO BY FLORDELIZ RANOLA WWW.LIZRANOLA.CARBONMADE.COM

the world. We cannot do this by turning our backs on those who are suffering, like the priest and the Levite, but by taking the example of the Samaritan and helping someone even when it costs us personally. What does caring for those across the globe look like? To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that one out for myself. Yet, I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus wants us to seek truth and to educate ourselves on the plights and oppressions around the world. He cares about these things and the people affected by them; therefore, He wants us, as His hands and feet to the world, to care as well. I know, first hand, how difficult it is to uncover these painful truths because it is uncomfortable knowing these things. Nor is it easy to begin to recognize how your own existence negatively impacts others, because perhaps the chocolate you crave originates on a cocoa farm that uses child slaves or perhaps

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RELATIONSHIPS: Ministry

BY CELESTE SAVAGE

ncreasing economic woes are proving the American dream to be more “dream” than ever before. With a disturbing and surprisingly widespread plight of homelessness sweeping swiftly across our nation, it is encouraging to know that Jesus Christ continues to comfort the afflicted in very personal ways as He reveals Himself through His own. Signet Ring is pleased to share the Christlike outreach of HALO Ministries. Celeste Savage, HALO founder and director, provides insight regarding the origin and mission of the ministry. HALO is an acronym for Hope and Life Outreach and is located in Salisbury, MD.

HOW DID GOD CALL YOU INTO THIS MINISTRY? WHEN? WAS ANYONE ELSE INVOLVED FOR YOU TO START THE MINISTRY? God called me into this ministry after taking me through many seasons of life. Sometimes poor decisions are filled with pain and you become broken; it is then God can take past experiences and tie them together with present-day experiences to accomplish His plan. During this difficult time, I searched for a church and knew I had found a “home” at Oak Ridge Baptist Church. I inquired as to whether they had a homeless ministry. They were just beginning to meet to discuss the possibilities. Interestingly, I made the statement, “I will help in any way I can, but I will never lead it.” Don’t ever say never! God had other plans. In 2007, the Senior Pastor, Brian Moss, told me to prayerfully consider stepping out of the church and forming a separate entity. That way, more churches could get involved and HALO could be a conduit for individuals to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

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WHAT IS HALO MINISTRIES? HALO ministry is a Christ Centered IRC section 501(c)(3) nonprofit that proclaims and demonstrates the lifechanging message of Jesus Christ by meeting the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of men, women, and children who are homeless and in need of Hope. IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU SEEN HALO MINISTRIES HELP IN AN INDIVIDUAL’S SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT? I am reminded of a female guest whom we served meals to as she walked the street, in and out of jail. Drugs had taken over her life. Susie walked through our doors at the HALO shelter, and there she found volunteers that loved her like Jesus. She accepted Christ as her Savior, started attending church, entered the Journey of Hope program, grew in her faith, and within a year and a half had been clean of drugs. She was reunited with her family in Tennessee, obtained a job, got her license, a car, and found an apartment. As she puts it, “Theres no place like home.” Susie


RELATIONSHIPS: Ministry continues to volunteer at HALO when she is not working. HOW DOES HALO MINISTRIES SHOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST? HALO provides five major ministries following the Scripture in Matthew 25: For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.

HALO operates a café where guests are served three meals a day. Since opening the café, over 200,000 meals have been served to our guests. One incident: a man comes into the café, sitting alone. One of our volunteers went over and sat down to talk with him. The homeless guy, Bob, shared with Mike (volunteer) some of his story. Mike talked with him about the Lord and had an opportunity to pray with him. A few days later, we received word that Bob had been struck by a car and had passed away. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness, Mike’s obedience, and a place where Bob could come to get a nutritional meal. I was naked and you clothed me.

HALO’s Thrift Ministry is a Bargain Center and Community Outreach Center. Clothes, household goods, furniture, and so much more are donated to the Bargain Center and sold at an affordable price. The money that comes into the Bargain Center is put right back into the ministries. Within the Thrift ministry we have Second Chance HALO Dollars; this is available for homeless men, women, and children. Also, Home at Last Dollars provides a way for women who have completed the Journey of Hope program and are starting out in their new home. I was in prison and you visited me.

Also within the Thrift ministry is our Community Service program for those who are in Drug Court or who have been appointed to do Community Service through court. This provides us an opportunity to “Love ‘em like Jesus.” After

all, wasn’t Christ between two individuals that stood before a judge? *I was sick and you took care of me.

HALO provides a shelter for women and children, a safe place for them to come in off the streets, helping those women with children find hope from what seems to be a hopeless life. The Day Facility offers case management to connect our guests with appropriate resources. Through the Heart to Heart Incentive program guests are able to attend Bible Studies, Life Skills classes, and workshops. Those who do not have their diploma can attend GED classes right there at HALO. Our long term life change recovery program, Journey of Hope, provides a structured program centered on Christian principles to help women “who are sick and tired, of being sick and tired.” Not only will they find Christ if they do not know Him, but they will learn how to live life God’s way. HOW DOES A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST REMAIN A CENTRAL ASPECT OF THE ADMINISTRATION/STAFF/ VOLUNTEERS? HALO follows three basic Core Values. First, we (this includes our Board, our staff, and our volunteers) honor God by trusting and obeying Him. Secondly, we are good stewards of His resources. Everything that we have comes from the provision that God has given us. Thirdly, We value people. Each person is important to the Lord and we value them. We hold monthly orientations with those wanting to volunteer at HALO, sharing with them who we represent and reviewing the importance of the three core values as part of the training. HALO continued on p. 21

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RELATIONSHIPS: Marriage

The Power of Prayer

The Story of Missionaries Eric and Casey t was the last week in July 1996 when I met my future wife for the first time. On Oct. 10th of the same year we were engaged and on January 18, 1997 we were married! I knew the day I saw my wife that she was it! There was something about her that gripped my entire being, and I had to spend the rest of my life with this woman. Not everyone’s experience is like ours. If you want to call it “love at first sight” you may be correct in doing so. Also, I believe that God knew what we were both crying out for and He was

ready to meet those needs. Unfortunately, we were not allowing Him the right to transform our hearts before we met. So, He decided to use my wife for me and me for my wife to bring us near! The next few months of marriage were great but I began to see how hypocritical my personal walk with God was. I was a youth pastor at the time of our wedding and was blessed to be a part of a church that was very busy. However, for me it was dangerous because I was not backing up my ministry with the love that God had for me. So, I was always struggling with guilt, condemnation,

The Miller Family

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shame, and fear because I was living a double-life. I was living a “sin, confess, sin” roller coaster lifestyle with no breakthrough for consistent, faithful living before a holy God. I was struggling in secret with a pornography addiction that I just could not break. I really wanted to be right with God. I went to counselors to talk about my struggles, read all kinds of books about freedom and deliverance, and read my Bible daily. Finally, one day the Lord spoke to me and said, “Eric, you know how to pray and read my Word as a minister but not as a son.”


RELATIONSHIPS: Marriage

Baptism on the river

Those words shot through me like a bullet that targeted my heart. I knew God was speaking to me, but I just could not understand what He was communicating to me. There was something I was missing. In our eighth month of marriage I stood in front of the congregation where we were serving and repented for my hypocritical life. I was broken and torn apart. After my confession and resignation, I stepped out from behind the pulpit and walked down the middle of the aisle. As I was walking, I felt like physical chains were falling off of me! As I got to the back door of the sanctuary where my wife was standing, I looked at her and said, “Casey, I don’t know what just happened, but I am totally free right now!” I’m sure my wife did not know how to respond to that as she was dealing with hurt and betrayal. But something broke in me and I knew I was different! In April 1998 we both went to the famous Brownsville Revival in Florida for a week to see what God was doing. Even though things had changed in both of our lives since leaving the church, we were still struggling in our communication with each other. Of course, it is not odd for any newly married couple to struggle but after the situation we had come out of, we

were really a desperate couple trying to understand our identities in Christ as well as who we were as a married couple. When a couple gets married they become one in Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32). So, when individuals bring so much sin baggage into a new relationship, they can start losing hope- that this dream we had for marriage and family might be slipping away. I believe there is so much divorce in

the world/Church today because we don’t begin our marriages walking in freedom as a single person. Just because we have a ceremony, wear the ring, and the pastor pronounces us married does not mean we understand what oneness in Christ means. Thankfully, God led us to move to Pensacola, Florida four months after visiting the revival in April. We were growing in our understanding of His great love for us A Group of New Believers Baptized

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RELATIONSHIPS: Marriage

Sharing the Hope of Christ to the Typhoon Victims

ERIC and CASEY MILLER have been married for 16 years and have 5 children. They have lived in Davao city, Philippines for 10 years. They are sent out by their missions agency: FIRE (Fellowship of International Revival and Evangelism) International They have planted a local church and equipped a Filipino Pastor who is now leading the church. They feed 120 children through what is called FPFP (Faith Promise Feeding Program) Monday - Friday They are planning to start an additional 5 feeding programs in different locations of the Island of Mindanao; this means at least once a week close to 1000 children will be fed. Filipino Missionaries have been trained and equipped that are now taking annual trips to minister to their tribal communities surrounding the city of Davao. Within the next year they plan to start a Bible school called FIRE School. The vision and passion for Eric & Casey’s ministry is to “Restore & Reassign Inheritances.” They believe God has personal revival for every Filipino whom after they encounter God have a great anointing to be missionaries locally and internationally. If you would like to give to the Miller’s Online please go to this link: www.fire-international.org If you would like to receive their monthly newsletter please contact the Millers via email at Hismission@ mac.com.

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individually, but we were still learning to come together as one. The next few years of our lives were amazing, but challenging! We knew God spoke to us to move and be a part of the revival, and for me to go to ministry school. We had little money, but lots of hope. We saw God move every night during the years of the revival. But at home, Casey and I were still arguing and being very difficult with each other. We knew things had changed spiritually in our hearts, but why couldn’t we walk in love and honor towards each other? Yes, there are many other factors that we do not have time to discuss in this article so I will cut to the chase! In January 2003, along with four other families, we moved as missionaries to Davao City, Philippines. We had matured somewhat and were so excited for what God was going to do in the Philippines! The first six months as a team we spent in prayer five days a week. We did not do any ministry during this time. Culture changes, lack of

financial support, daily prayer meetings, and living in one house with five families was a high pressure situation! Casey and I would argue a lot, and we were LOUD! It was embarrassing when the other couples in the house heard us. We knew we had to do something to not only save face before the others but to be real with each other. God gave us a plan! With the support of our team, I began to read the book The Power of a Praying Husband and Casey read The Power of a Praying Wife for three months. During that time, we confessed ten Scriptures a day over each other. As we continued to pray for one another, our ability to communicate in love only increased. In fact, after being here in the Philippines for ten years, having five children, and now being married for 16 years, we can testify that without God’s love in our marriage there is no way we would have made it. With His love not only do we love and honor each other more but His love has taught us how to raise our children, how to look at the church as a family, and most of all, how to look to God as our Father. If you are struggling today in your marriage, I promise you that the key to improvement is found in surrendering your will to the Father and letting Him give you a love for your spouse that will transform your outlook on everything else you will do in this life. Don’t give up! If you are single, press into God’s love now and learn to walk in freedom because the investment will pay off when you get married! Illigan City after Typhoon Sendong


RELATIONSHIPS: Love for a Child

Caring for God’s Children here is a saying, “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!” That pretty much sums up how I feel about being in the midst of children, teaching children, disciplining children, loving them and, yes, even being a servant to them... all day long. That last one was probably the hardest concept for me to realize as part of God’s plan for me through all my years of being a daycare provider. When it finally dawned on me, it made all the difference in my care towards the children and their parents. The world sees servanthood as drudgery. Jesus sees it differently. “Now if you have known anything of Christ’s encouragement and of His reassuring love; if you have known something of the fellowship of His Spirit, and of compassion and deep sympathy, do make my joy complete--live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of

“I want them to be adults who can admit they are wrong and also ask for forgiveness. So therefore, I must model that for them.”

you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people’s interests also.” (Philippians 2:1-4) This applies to children too! Through a personal revelation of my lacking in this area, I realized that God had given me a ministry. I am finally becoming mature enough in Christ to see that my biggest failing over the course of my life has been that I have never really been a good servant. Even if I had looked like one on the outside, I wasn’t very good at it on the inside, where it really matters. Only God and myself knew the truth. Be warned, if you belong to the Lord, He isn’t going to leave you in your original nature for long! I loved raising my children, every second of it was a joy to me. But I resented any intrusion into it. And I really hated babysitting! Even as a favor to a neighbor. This is hilarious when you consider that for almost a decade now I have been in the child care business. But that’s how God has always worked in my

SHANA SMITH is a wife, mother of two grown children, and has been in the child care business along with her daughter for 9 years.

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RELATIONSHIPS: Love for a Child

“I let things go... Let the past be in the past, even if it’s the immediate past... Many of us have experienced how freeing that is through the love of Christ.” life; He tends to throw me in the deep end, head first. Because that’s what it takes to get a job done with me. However, I am thrilled with the work God and I are doing in my heart. I’m not all the way there, and I have to do my part if I want to grow. But I am kind of becoming an expert at this child care thing if I do say so myself! And let me tell you, I don’t let my feet hit the floor without first giving each day over to Him in prayer. And I think anyone who is about to spend over ten hours with children should do the same! I also try to stay in conversation with Him throughout the day. Shooting up arrows of prayer is a specialty of mine. Even if it is just “Oh dear Lord help me!” Being a constant part of a child’s daily life means you are dealing with the entire rest of their lives. Yes! Think about your best memories and your worst, and the adults who may have taken part in

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them. These things inform the rest of a child’s life. My little ones arrive first thing in the morning and my whole purpose is to love, care for, serve, discipline, and find joy in sharing Christ through stories, prayer, conversation and example every day. I also set the tone for the day. I am very aware that I am an example to them. Sometimes I am a disappointment. I’m human. That’s a heavy responsibility right there. Jesus isn’t finished with me yet. Thankfully, there’s not just tomorrow, but the next hour or even minute to right my wrongs. I don’t claim to be perfect, far from it, but I do know how tender a child’s heart is and how easily bruised their spirit can become. If one is not careful those bruises can become tears, and even worse, scars. I have learned that the best thing I can do for children when I have made a mistake is to get on my knees, look right in their eyes and sincerely apologize. I also ask for their forgiveness. I want them to be adults who can admit they are wrong and also ask for forgiveness. So therefore I must model that for them. When they do something wrong, after the initial “talking to” or “time out,” I must show them grace and mercy. Ephesians 2:4-5 offers encouragement: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace.” I let things go. I don’t beat a child over the head with their transgressions. Nobody needs that. Let the past be in the past, even if it’s the immediate past. LET. IT. GO. That is one sure way to give love. Many of us have experienced how freeing that is through the love of Christ. This is how God operates, so I believe it’s how I should operate. I’m also pretty sure it’s going to make a world of difference in them believing with all their heart someday that God truly has forgiven them, for “as far as the east is to the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) I will acknowledge that while children are mostly adorable, they can also be very frustrating. At those times, if you have to go out of their presence and fall on your knees before the Lord- do it! Then when you go back and are down on your knees looking into the eyes of a child for whatever reason, remember you might as well be looking into the eyes of Jesus. Speak, act, and love accordingly.


RELATIONSHIPS: Ministry

HALO from p. 14

HALO does not receive any Federal, State, or local funding but depends upon the faithful support of individual donors who believe in the life-changing message of Jesus. Staple items such as sugar, flour, coffee, creamer, drink mixes, paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper are in high demand. Volunteers are committed to our mission.

women’s. And finally, a facility for men with children and whole families. These are the needs that have been presented. As God leads and provides we will honor Him by trusting and obeying Him.

WE ARE PLANNING a Signature Event on October 20, 2013. HALO’s Harvest of Hope Fest. This event is twofold: 1) as a major fundraiser, a $25,000 matching fund has been given, and 2) raising awareness of homelessness in our area and how HALO is breaking that cycle. More information can be obtained from our website (www.HALOministry.org) or by following us on Facebook (Hope And Life Outreach).

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE LORD LEADING THIS MINISTRY IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS? There is a need for a facility where those who are homeless and have mental health issues can come and receive the care and love they deserve. Also needed is a men’s homeless facility, much like the

Signet Ring

Signet Ring COMPLIMENTARY ISSUE

November 2012-January

CoMpliMenTary iSSue

2013

February - april 2013

COMPLIMENTARY ISSUE

CELESTE SAVAGE is the Founder and Director of HALO. Her greatest joy is seeing people come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way and watch life change begin.

MAY - JULY 2013

Suffering

“Take heart, I have overcome the world.”

ForgiVeneSS “seventy times seven ”

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

SUFFERING ForgiVeneSS

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“WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT” PHOTO BY ANGELA AGAPITO

WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT NEEDS AT HALO AND HOW CAN SOMEONE HELP?


If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 CORINTHIANS 13

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LIFE: Fitness

Spiritual Fitness BY BRANDON ENGLISH

any fitness enthusiasts may have heard of something called the 90/10 rule. This refers to a type of diet that many fitness enthusiasts use in which 90% of the calories they consume are clean, which means they eat lean meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts and avoid processed foods that contain unhealthy fats and sugar. The 10% refers to the amount of calories you allow yourself to cheat and eat whatever you want. Some people do this by allowing a small allowance of cheat calories everyday, planning a couple of cheat meals spread throughout the week, or even setting aside a whole day to indulge in whatever they want. A few of my personal favorite cheat foods are pizza and ice cream. Many people spend much of the time craving and looking forward to the cheat meals and have to force themselves to be satisfied with the unsatisfying healthy foods they are eating in the mean time. However, after spending all week looking forward to when they can have their pizza, ice cream, or fries they often feel disgusted, bloated and unsatisfied after finally getting to indulge. This happens because while we may think those cheat foods are what we crave, it’s really the clean foods that our bodies crave due to the nourishment they provide. However, most people continue to look towards this small indulgence and ignore the good that comes from eating clean. Now compare this with God and think of Him as the 10% of cheat foods, only instead of being what’s bad for us He’s exactly what we need to nourish our souls. But instead of looking towards that “cheat day” with God, many people will spend that time dreading the hour they have to spend in

church while thinking of the other 90% we spend much of our time occupied with, such as money, drugs, and other worldly things. Just like the fries and pizza, these things never satisfy and leave us empty and wanting more. Yet we continue to overindulge in them anyway. What our souls really crave is the time with God, because deep down we know it’s the only thing that can nourish our souls in the same way only the clean foods will nourish our bodies. So instead of making God the 10% cheat day, God should be the 90%, the thing (Person) we occupy ourselves with most, allowing our souls to be filled with nourishment instead of being left unsatisfied and craving more empty fillers. Many people may think of this as being too hard, but it’s as simple as spending a little more time praying and trying to look at things from a Godly perspective. Others may say that if this is what we seek then why not spend 100% of our time with God and ignore the worldly distractions? Good question. The answer is “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This means that no matter how righteous we try to be, we are still sinners in God’s eyes, proving that “being perfect” is impossible. That’s okay because these imperfections are what make us human. The one thing we should remember is even though we may never be perfect, if we learn to spend more time on Godly things, even if it’s not 90%, and less on worldly things, you are given a 100% guarantee of mercy, forgiveness, love, and above all else, eternal life!

BRANDON ENGLISH is a full-time student at Wor-Wic Community College and is majoring in Exercise and Sport Science. He hopes to attend graduate school to become a physical therapist and one day use exercise and fitness as a way to reach and educate people about Christ.

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LIFE: Finances

BY LINDA BIRCH

can still remember having my mother ask me to do a task as a child, and my response being, “That’s too hard.” My mother would always reply, “No one ever said life would be easy.” And if anyone would know the truth of that statement, my mother would. A child of the depression, my mother grew up in a home with six children, three boys and three girls. My mother was one of the older children, so many unpleasant tasks fell to her. Her father, and later her younger brother, worked for the WPA, one of the government’s programs for economic recovery during the depression. To hear her talk, there was never any extra money, but they had clothes, mostly hand-me-downs, one set to wash and one to wear. And they were well fed compared to others, because my Grandfather hunted and they had a small garden.

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My mother learned about stewardship and frugality first-hand. She went to work at age 12, and going to work meant being “loaned out” to other, more prosperous families, to tend to their children and do the housework. Most of the money she made went back home to help her family. She was only allowed to keep a small portion for herself. After losing her husband to tuberculosis, my mother met my father, a child of the same generation, who’s family had numbered eight children. They shared many of the same experiences. Neither had completed high school, both were the older children in the family, and neither was afraid of hard work. They also never seemed to have more than “enough” money; enough for school lunches, but rarely dessert; enough for school clothes, but never the brand names; enough to pay for a house and car, but never the biggest or the best. Mother always, however, tithed and gave to the special offerings at church. She knew God would look after her needs. When my father died, my youngest brother was 15. My mom worked to keep things going and rarely spent much of the social security check she received. She put it into savings for my brother when he was older. Money was still tight, but my mom made the best of it, taking in sewing

and doing hair for neighbors as the need demanded. About 15 years after my dad’s death, she finally met someone to once again share her life with, and life became easier. Still frugal, she managed to save her money. When my stepfather passed away, mom traveled a bit, bought a new car, and tried to enjoy life. She was always ready to help out the church’s special projects, and tried to better the lives of others. She was a willing target for many of the petitions that came in the mail, requesting funds for various causes. I helped her with her finances and would try to give a little to each charity, at her request. However, she began to be afraid she was going to outlive her money! The hard life she had lived earlier helped her to live to be 89, and when she passed away, she was still helping others. In her will she remembered two churches, three children, five grandchildren, and several other individuals.


LIFE: Recommended Reads

I worked nearly 40 years in the financial industry, but it was my mother’s example that taught me about stewardship and following the Spirit’s guidance. Because of my mother’s legacy, I too have been able to help others as needed. My husband and I have been able to travel, and our family was not devastated by my job loss after nearly 40 years of employment. My church, my children, and complete strangers have been beneficiaries of my mother’s generosity, even through me as guided by the love of the Holy Spirit. The world will tell you to work hard, make lots of money, spend what you want, and then make more and try to save some for old age. But God’s Word tells us not to worry about building bigger barns or laying up treasures on earth (Luke 12:13-21). In fact, the Bible has much to say about money, but the caution is always to depend on God for your needs, not man. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, is credited with saying, “Make as much money as you can, save as much money as you can, and give away as much money as you can.” When he died, he had enough money in his pocket to bury him. That should be our goal, not to leave behind any debts for our family to assume, but to give as much as we can to God’s work, because we can never out give, or out love, God!

LINDA BIRCH is the lay leader at Woodland United Methodist Church, Seaford, DE. She currently serves as Sunday school superintendent, adult Sunday school teacher, and choir member. Linda has retired from the financial industry after 40 years of service.

The Reading Disciple

hen the awesome power of God’s love touches a human heart, a story begins to be written; like the historical account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. The love of God impacted her heart so profoundly that the shame of her sin was washed away in a flood of confession, “Come, see a Man who told me everything I ever did!” (John 4:29a) Her fervor lit up the village like fireworks. It was an infectious love that captured John’s heart and compelled him to pen it. This story has infected me some two thousand years after the fact. Many stories that have changed me start much like the Samaritan’s, for they start with God’s incomparable love through Jesus Christ. Two such stories in modern times that have profoundly changed my life come from two people who have encountered the same Jesus and the Love that He embodied, and these people were never the same. First, Corrie Ten Boom penned The Hiding Place. Upon reading it I was immediately aware of God’s Holy Spirit at work in her life and the lives of Christians during the Holocaust. Corrie’s faithfulness to the Lord through such horrible circumstances emboldened my faith in Christ’s unfailing love. It changed me forever. It deepened my heart for the meek, broken, and lame. It broke my heart with God’s unfathomable love. Even more contemporary to Corrie’s story is a man named Shane Claiborne. His books, of which there are several, have put a face to suffering for Christ’s love. Shane’s expression of Christ’s love for the “whosoevers” of our world and his monastic lifestyle have challenged me to embrace the lifestyle of slavery to the Gospel of Jesus. I want to be Jesus’ slave to love. I want to be emblazoned with the compassion of Christ. Shane’s message, especially in Jesus for President, profoundly helped me to see the global lack of Christian love and the plight of people in countries I have never even heard of, or I have only heard one side of a particular circumstance regarding such countries. When I read about the love of Christ as other Christian men and women have encountered it, I am forever changed and renewed in my fervor to search out and to show the magnanimous Love of God! EMMA ADAMS is a wife, mother of two awesome boys, ministerial student at Indiana Wesleyan University, intern at Laurel Wesleyan Church and a ninja for Jesus. LOVE

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LIFE: Devotional

A Timeless Message In A Bottle

BY STACEY L. HITCH

esus spent a lot of time around water; I like to think He liked the beach. When I go to the beach I look at all the elements that make up the ocean. I can see God’s wonderful lessons and blessings expressed in the waves, a jetty, and even the sand. Sometimes I stand upon the shore pondering the vastness and the depth of God’s Love for me. Ocean waves are truly astounding, each time a wave crashes onto the shore it carries away some sand from one place to another. The waves, sand, and beach will always change.

God deals with our sin in the same way. His waves of mercy and grace wash over us and take away our sins. God also wants us to be like a jetty. A jetty is an armored structure mostly made up of huge rocks that extends out into the water and is intended to protect a navigation channel. He wants us to put on our full armor, to stand firm, but allow His Word to penetrate every nook and cranny to get past the rocks, enabling His complete unconditional love into our hearts. My message for you: Jesus loves you! God sent His only Son, Jesus, to rescue you, to show you how to love Him, to teach you and to bring you home! I have found in my journey the hardest thing to do is to love myself. Too many times we cry out and repent of our sins to the Lord, then we go 26

SIGNET RING SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2013

back and reflect on our sins over and over. The reality is that if you’ve asked God to forgive you and asked Jesus to come into your life — you are forgiven!!! His Word says so. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV). God wants us to realize that His love and forgiveness includes His forgetfulness. The enemy delights in holding up our past sins and trying to get us to agree with him that we are disappointments. If, of course, we are having a bad day and all heck is breaking loose in our lives, we easily believe the enemy’s lies. If you repeatedly allow the enemy to bring your past sins into the present, they will be used to beat you down until you give up and go back to your sinful ways. How can

you crush the enemy when he brings up your past? Send the enemy to Jesus, there is so much power in the name of Jesus! Let Jesus do the work for you! As hard as it is at times, remember that Jesus loves you. And you can love yourself no matter what your sins were. The Word of God tells us in Matthew 19:19 (KJV) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Sometimes the most difficult person to love, forgive, or even accept is the one who appears before you in the mirror. Jesus is telling you that proper self-love is acceptable. One thing I have learned is you will never truly love others as long as you’re at battle within your heart. Jesus is simply telling you that you are to love yourself the way God loves you, in His image, purpose, and of course for His Glory.


LIFE: Devotional

To love yourself as God loves you, you need to dig deeper. You must seek after His best for you. You need to conform yourself to God’s expectations, live according to His guidelines and precepts in the Bible. He has so much love for you and He gave you a compass just like the ships have at sea, but our compass is the Bible. We must learn to yield our desires and allow His will to be done. You will find peace with an abundance of joy, love, and the ability to live a functional and fruitful life. Your past does not have to poison your future so let it go! Jesus loves you and sees a treasure in you. Rejoice in your relationship with Him. Don’t quit; dig deeper and mature in new heights with Jesus. Together we must finish this race to victory! We are nearing the end of the race. Christ is coming soon to bring us to our home with Him. Until then, if enough of us send out ripples of love, those ripples can turn into waves of love to reach the lost souls of this world. It may seem like an overwhelming undertaking, but with the power of Jesus we can do it! People, we need God more than ever. Don’t run from God. Run to Him. He loves you! “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV). Jesus’ message in a bottle for you: I love you, you are My treasure. Don’t quit!

STACEY L. HITCH is first and foremost a daughter of the King, a wife of 20 years, a mother of 2 great kids, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. She writes daily devotionals that come from her heart on www.RunTheRaceWithJesus.org, and she prays they always communicate a love for her Savior, a love for people, and a love to serve. Stacey attends Joshua House Ministries in Gumboro, DE and she anticipates to see what God has for her next!

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LIFE: Classics J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) Homily Title: Fire! Fire!

Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for every body, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.

—

J.C. Ryle

Illustration by Steve Swain

SIGNET RING SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2013


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SIGNET RING SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2013


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