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N a tiona s i y a l M
There are more than 1,000 children in foster care in the Rio Grande Valley â€“ children who deserve to know the love of a family. May is National Foster Care Month. If youâ€™re considering
Foster Care Month
becoming a foster parent, now is the time to take the next step. Learn more at buckner.org
Vol. 8 / Issue 2
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Valley Christian Magazine is a free monthly magazine published by Texas Christian Publications a 501c3 non-profit ministry located in the Rio Grande Valley. For advertising information call 956-314-0161. Questions, story ideas, events, or comments call 956-314-0161 or email info@ValleyChristianMagazine.com.
May is National Foster Care Month It is the purpose of Valley Christian Magazine to be a magazine that shows people how Jesus Christ is there for you everyday of your life. How to trust Him. How to do life with Him. Supported by local businesses, ministries & faithful believers. Valley Christian is a free resource for us all. 4â€ƒâ€ƒvalleychristianmagazine.com
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index May 2017
The Year I Didn’t Want To Buy An Easter Dress Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayer
10 Financial Advice
The Sandwhich Generation - Armondo Brennan
12 James MacDonald Clean Your Glasses
14 Debunking 7 Myths About Foster Care A Special to VCM by Buckner’s Emma Brezik
16 Luis Palau
Apropiándose de las promesas de Dios
18 Time with Our Creator
Humility In The Christian Life
19 Miguel Paredes Book Review A Hunger for God by John Piper
20 Greg Laurie
Upside Down Living
22 Music Review by Jono Davies The Brilliance - All Is Not Lost
23 Kids Talk About God
Why Did God Make Us?
24 Dave Ramsey - Dave Says -Don’t Be House Poor -Ethics and Integrity
25 Valley Christian’s New Reads -#Struggles by Craig Groeschel -No Easy Jesus by Jason Mitchell
26 How To Become A Christian 28 Raul “Rudy” Rodriguez The Restoration Story
About Tracie: Tracie is a member of the Proverbs 31 Writers Team and is a contributing writer for the Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today devotions, the Encouragement for Today Daily Devotional Book and the Zondervan NIV Women’s Devotional Bible. Tracie has three grown children who have become her best friends, and they all call Charlotte, North Carolina, home.© 2016 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved. Used by Permission Proverbs 31 Ministry www.proverbs31.org
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 Last year as Easter quickly approached, my daughter Kaitlyn asked me to take her dress shopping, which we’ve done every year since my daughters were little. We spent hours looking until she finally found the perfect dress. As we were paying, she asked, “Hey Mom, aren’t you going to buy an Easter dress this year?” I responded, saying, “I have lots of dresses. I don’t really need to spend money on a new one,” but my next sentence made my heart skip a beat: “Besides, I’m not that excited about Easter this year anyway.” She shrugged with a faint smile and muttered, “Oh, okay,” with a little hug as we picked up our bags. Driving home, tears trickled down my face. What kind of mother tells her child she isn’t excited about Easter? How could I say I wasn’t enthusiastic about the celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God? What kind of Christian says that? I felt so ashamed for having those thoughts, much less speaking them aloud to my precious child. Mercy. But I knew this Easter was going to be incredibly different and hard. It would be the first Easter Sunday in 26 years where my family wouldn’t attend church together. Instead of looking forward to the celebration for all the right reasons, I was secretly dreading it, knowing it would be difficult to get through the day. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my husband and I had abruptly separated six months earlier. Holidays look different through the lens of a broken heart and a broken family, and I thought and felt differently about them too. Rather than focusing on the meaning of the resurrection, my thoughts centered around my earthly problems. Sometimes when life is heavy, our hearts and minds can get heavy, too. That’s exactly why in today’s key verse (Colossians 3:2), Paul encourages us to set our minds on the things above — not the problems of this world. Because whatever we set our minds on determines our thoughts, drives our emotions, fuels our words and actions, and ultimately steers the direction of our faith. When our thoughts are sinking, our hearts will too. However, if we intentionally fix our attention on “things that are above,” — what makes us joyful, hopeful and positive — like the resurrection of Jesus Christ, eternal life, hope found in our Savior and blessings of all kinds that make us smile, then our attitudes can stay uplifted, despite our circumstances.
God gave us free will to choose mind over matter or let the matters of life control our minds. The choice is ours, and that important choice will determine the direction of our faith and our ability to enjoy God’s joy and peace, even when our hearts are heavy. Unsinkable optimism, hope and faith hinge on where we choose to focus our thoughts, not on life’s circumstances. This brief conversation with Kaitlyn was a wake-up call. I didn’t realize the toll my thoughts, heartache and emotions were having on my outlook, much less my faith walk, until the second I spoke those unfortunate words. Yes, life was hard in the moment. Things certainly hadn’t turned out the way I’d hoped. But hard things in life don’t have to harden my heart. I prayed all the way home from our shopping trip that day, asking God to restore my joy and peace, refocus my thoughts, and change my mind from the inside out. We all experience hardships in life, but regardless of what we face, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose on the third day and ascended to sit at the right hand of our Father. He assures us a beautiful future in heaven with Him, even when life gets ugly. Those divine truths are reason enough to celebrate Easter with an overflowing heart of gratitude and praise. And certainly enough reason to buy a new dress. Dear Lord, draw my thoughts upward toward You every minute of every day, but especially this Easter. Help me resist the temptation to focus on the painful things of this earthly life and learn to control my thoughts so they don’t sink my faith or joy in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 12:2a, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (NLT) Romans 8:6, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (NIV) Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” (NASB)
REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is it possible your thoughts and feelings about negative circumstances have stolen your joy, optimism or enthusiasm for celebrating Easter? Spend some time with God today, and invite Him to begin a positive transformation in your thoughts. Spend time in prayer, thanking Jesus for giving His life on the cross for you. Make a commitment to focus on Him and His goodness instead of the things of this world. © 2017 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Have you ever cried over something so much that you run out of tears? Your swollen eyes just give out and dry up while a current of unrest still gushes through your soul. And you look up toward heaven in utter frustration.
So what do we do when we feel set aside? What do we do when our heart is struggling to make peace between God’s ability to change hard things and His apparent decision not to change them for us?
And there’s someone else in the Bible who was right there as well.
We do what Hannah did. We keep pressing in.
She felt provoked and irritated. Her anguish was so intense that she wept and would not eat. Before the Lord, she cried out in bitterness of soul, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant . . . then I will . . .” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Instead of taking matters into her own hands, Hannah took her requests to God. Instead of pulling away from Him in suspicion, she pressed in ever closer, filling the space of her wait with prayer.
These words describe and articulate the deep distress of a woman from thousands of years ago, and yet here I sit in modern times and I relate so completely. They are from the woman named Hannah found in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah’s tears over her empty womb were made even more painful by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah. She had many sons and daughters and made sure to rub this fact in Hannah’s face every chance she got. There’s a common thread that weaves through Hannah’s story, and yours and mine. We can all be found desperately wanting something that we see the Lord giving to other women. We see Him blessing them in the very areas He’s withholding from us. We look at them, and we feel set aside. Why them? Why not me? Then the seemingly unjust silence from God ushers us from a disturbed heart to weeping with bitterness of soul. And we start to feel something deep inside that comes in conflict with everything we hold true. If God is good, why isn’t He being good to me in this? And in this moment of raw soul honesty, we’re forced to admit we feel a bit suspicious of God. We’ve done all we know to do. We’ve prayed all we know to pray. We’ve stood on countless promises with a brave face. And still
Oh, how I love her unflinching faith. Where her barrenness and her mistreatment by Penninah could have caused Hannah to completely lose heart, she refused to be deterred from trusting in God. She possessed a faith that was not contingent upon her circumstances but based on what she knew to be true about her good and faithful God. A faith that led her to pray with so much passion and boldness in the tabernacle that Eli, the high priest, accused her of being drunk! (1 Samuel 1:13-14) And in a matter of four verses (17–20), her cries of anguish gave way to the cries of her newborn son. Of course, 1 Samuel 1:20 uses very clear words to let us know Hannah’s answer didn’t come right away: “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son” (emphasis added). Samuel was born in God’s perfect timing. And the timing of his birth was imperative because Samuel was destined to play an integral role in the transition from the time of the judges to the eventual establishment of kingship for the Israelites. God hadn’t made Hannah wait to punish her. He hadn’t been callous or indifferent to her cries. And He’s not ignoring those of us waiting either. God loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time.
clean your glasses by james macdonald
James MacDonald is founding and Senior Pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in northwest Chicago. James’ teachings can be heard on Walk in the Word, a daily radio program reaching more than 3 million people across North America.
hat a thing to ask. Whose sin is this poor blind guy paying for?
Jesus’ healing provided the eye-opening answer to it. He opted for neither response to their absurdly insensitive multiple-choice question. “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents,” Jesus said, “but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Jesus saw before Him a man who needed to be helped, a living canvas upon which to
“NEVER BE SO FIRED UP ABOUT BEING RIGHT THAT YOU FAIL TO NOTICE WHERE GOD IS BEING GOD” paint the love, power, compassion, and authority of Almighty God. Yet the disciples saw this same man as nothing other than an issue to debate. Even with the subject of their inquiry standing right there where he could hear them (he was blind, remember, not deaf!), they were painfully close to missing the whole point of what Jesus intended to do in this situation. They needed to clean their glasses. One of the reasons we sometimes don’t recognize God at work in our midst is that we allow narrow thinking to block our view of His activity. Instead of staying open to the
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1–2, ESV
amazing things He’s always doing around us in people’s lives and in real-time, real-world events, we’re too often focused on other things that we believe to be the “only things.” Reductionism, this is called—reducing everything down to how it squares with our obsession over a few isolated things.
hearts more than how they measure up to whatever label you’ve placed on them. Stop drawing ultimate conclusions from the first thing you see. Don’t just observe people objectively from a distance, but get to know them and see what God may be working to accomplish for His glory through your interaction with them.
Some Christians, for example, are two-issue people. Start a discussion on either of their hot buttons—whether it’s pro-life advocacy or the defense of traditional marriage; whether it’s being a champion for homeschooling or the plight of the urban poor—and you’ll find out in a second where they stand. They are hyper focused on the people, campaign candidates, and news coverage that speak to their main interests. Not that any of these topics aren’t important considerations. They’re valid areas of concern and investment. But when they’re all a person sees, to the exclusion of other matters where God is working, these glasses become a distorted lens for looking at life.
Do you wish to recognize the work of God today, celebrating, experiencing, and being prayerfully involved in it? Then never be so locked in on a few things that you miss seeing the bigger things. Never be so fired up about being right that you fail to notice where He’s being God.
Or perhaps it’s less political and more personal. For example, instead of trying to understand how an extended family member is hurting, struggling, or subtly crying out for help, all you can see is how selfish they are, how stubborn they’re being. You’re not curious to discover what’s truly underneath their unpleasant words and outward behavior. You’re not patient enough to watch for opportunities where you can listen and communicate and share how God has helped you, too, in dealing with certain problems that once kept you away from Him. Clean your glasses! Let God open your mind to what He’s doing. Concentrate on people’s
j ournal What are some potential blind spots in your “glasses” today? Think of a time when you had a front row seat to something God was doing. How did that experience impact the whole of your Christian walk?
Lord, how amazing that You continue to work in my life, my family, my church, and everywhere that people need You. Help me to desire nothing more than seeing lives changed forever as Your kingdom claims its rule in people’s hearts. Prevent me from becoming so distracted with other things— even good things—that I miss the opportunity to contribute to what is so much more important. Increase my faith and widen my vision. I pray in the name of Jesus, amen.
“A Purpose in life, a reason for learning”
Reaching Success through Dual Enrollment
Debunking 7 Myths about By Emma Brezik
There’s a lot of misinformation about foster care floating around that makes it seem scary and undoable for a lot of people. But the truth is, foster care often gets a bad rap. Today, we’re breaking down a few of the myths surrounding foster care:
MYTH 1: Children are in foster care because of their own juvenile delinquency.
Many people mistakenly believe that children are in foster care because of their own bad behavior or juvenile delinquency, but that’s just not true. Children enter foster care through no fault of their own; they enter foster care because they’ve experienced parental abuse or neglect.
MYTH 2: People with full-time jobs can’t foster.
If you work outside the home, that will not prevent you from becoming a foster parent. Your licensing agency can advise you on childcare options.
MYTH 3: I’m single, so I can’t be a foster parent.
You do not have to be married or have prior parenting experience to become a foster parent. You just have to be willing to be a family for a child who needs one. Christy, a single foster mom, shares why she decided to become a foster parent: “I have lots of extra time, money and freedom, and yes, it is fun to have all of that,” she says. “But I want [my time and freedom] to stand for something.”
MYTH 4: I won’t have any control over or choice about the types children placed in my home.
You do have control over which children are placed in your home. However, the broader your parameters, the more quickly you’ll receive a placement.
MYTH 5: I don’t own a home, so I can’t be a foster parent.
Home ownership is not a requirement, although there are rules about how many children you can foster based upon the number of bedrooms in your residence.
MYTH 6: I’m too old to be a foster parent.
If you’re an empty nester, you’re not too old to become a foster parent. In fact, older adults with prior parenting experience often make great foster parents (although prior parenting experience is not required). Lance and Paula, from Dallas, are in their 60s with three adult children and have been fostering for 17 years with no intention of stopping. “I think what keeps us doing it is the same reason we went into it,” Paula says. “We really saw a need and we could fill that need. We felt like we could do a good job of filling that need.”
MYTH 7: I could never say goodbye to child whom I’ve fostered.
It’s never easy to say goodbye to a child whom you’ve loved and cared for, regardless of whether they’ve been in your home for three days, three months or three years. But children in foster care need parents who are willing to care for them and love them unconditionally, all the while knowing they might have to experience the pain of them leaving one day. “Some would advise, ‘You should be careful. Don’t completely open your heart. Protect yourself from what will inevitably come.’ But I can’t,” shares a Buckner foster dad. “I can’t live life with him and be what he needs and not fall completely in love with him. To be honest, I think to do less than that is to cheat both him and me. As bone-jarringly bad as it hurts, I wouldn’t trade it for the world ... I will cherish the short time I’ve had with him always and hold those memories tight.” May is National Foster Care Month. To learn more about how you can become a foster parent or support foster families in your community, visit buckner.org/nationalfostercaremonth. Buckner International is a global ministry dedicated to the transformation and restoration of the lives we serve. We are a Christ-centered organization that delivers redemptive ministry to the most vulnerable from the beginning to the ending of life.
Apropiándose de las promesas de Dios -Luis Palau Luego de leer, estudiar, memorizar y meditar en varios pasajes de la Biblia, ¿cuáles parecen ser los más difíciles de creer? ¿Las profecías? ¿Las porciones narrativas? ¿Los pasajes doctrinales? ¿Las promesas de Dios? Tengo la impresión de que para muchos cristianos el problema más serio radica en las promesas de Dios. Son palabras muy lindas y a veces hasta nos animan. Pero no podemos dejar de preguntarnos: «¿Funcionan en realidad?». A veces inconscientemente nos cuestionamos si Dios es fiel a sus promesas. El evangelista Dwight Moody declaró con confianza: «Dios nunca hizo una promesa que fuera demasiado maravillosa como para ser verdad». Medite en lo que dijo Moody. En el Antiguo Testamento se lee: «No faltó palabra de todas las buenas promesas que Jehová había hecho a la casa de Israel; todo se cumplió» (Josué 21:45; ver 23:14-15). Años más tarde Salomón declaró: «Alabado sea el Señor, quien ha dado descanso a su pueblo Israel, tal como lo prometió. No ha faltado ni una sola palabra de todas las promesas maravillosas que hizo mediante su siervo Moisés» (1 Reyes 8:56 NTV). Ninguna de las promesas de Dios ha faltado; todas se han cumplido. Los únicos absolutos que podemos proclamar son los que encontramos en la Palabra de Dios. El hombre tiene conocimientos y puede adquirir más independientemente de la Palabra de Dios, pero la Biblia testifica de cosas que van más allá de todo eso. Muchas veces Dios ha hecho declaraciones en su Palabra de verdad y ha dado a su pueblo «grandes y preciosas promesas” (2 Pedro 1:4 NTV). Algunas de sus promesas fueron hechas específicamente a un individuo (Josué 14:9), a un grupo de personas (Deuteronomio 15:18) o incluso a una nación (Hageo 1:13). Debemos tener cuidado de no pedir a Dios el cumplimiento de promesas que fueron dadas de manera específica a otra persona. Afortunadamente, muchas de las promesas del Antiguo Testamento se repiten en el Nuevo y también se aplican hoy a nosotros. Dios prometió a Josué: «No te dejaré, ni te desampararé» (Josué 1:5). En Hebreos 13:5 Dios transfiere esa promesa a nosotros como cristianos. El predicador inglés Charles Spurgeon señaló: «Oh hombre, te ruego, no trates las promesas de Dios como si fueran curiosidades para un museo, sino créelas y úsalas». Nos apropiamos de las promesas de Dios al aprenderlas ?a través del estudio y la memorización?, al ver nuestra necesidad de ellas y al darle tiempo a Dios para que las haga parte de nuestra experiencia diaria. El reconocido teólogo J.I. Packer dice: «Antes de conceder sus promesas, Dios enseña al creyente a valorar esos regalos que promete, haciendo que el creyente espere por ellos, y obligándolo a orar persistentemente para recibirlos». Dios ha prometido satisfacer todas nuestras necesidades. Pero, por otra parte, debemos pedir su provisión. Cristo dice: «Sigue pidiendo y recibirás lo que pides; sigue buscando y encontrarás; sigue llamando, y la puerta se te abrirá» (Mateo 7:7 NTV). Cada una de las promesas que podemos pedir en el nombre de Cristo están garantizadas y serán cumplidas por Dios en nuestro favor para su gloria (Juan 14:13-14; 2 Corintios 1:20). Amigo mío, ¿cuál es la necesidad hoy de su corazón? El Señor ha prometido suplir esa necesidad; crea en él.
Luis Palau ya entró en la historia moderna como uno de los contados hombres que le hablaron a más personas en el mundo. Su mensaje fue, y es escuchado por más de 800 millones de personas en 112 países a través de la radio y la televisión, y tiene el privilegio de haberle hablado a más de 22 millones de personas cara a cara en 80 países del mundo, organizando, junto a un selecto grupos de colaboradores internacionales y con el apoyo de invitaciones locales, congresos, seminarios, charlas informales, conferencias y recitales-conferencia llamados “Festivales”. Copyright 2017 Used by Permission.
Humility in the Christian Life Author: Grandfather El, Contributors Grandchildren: Noah, Photography and Editing: Ali “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 Gracious Father, thank you for making it clear in Your Word what genuine humility is, how You feel about it, and how it affects the Christian life. Thank you for showing that humility is not having a low self-esteem; it is the exact opposite if I recognize that all that I am and all that I have comes directly from You. “…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.‘ James 4:6 All-Wise Father, I ask for wisdom on how to live my life with the proper humility and an understanding of the destructiveness of pride. Your Word says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18. I thank You for the insight You gave Johnathan Edwards on the subject of humility when he said “Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.” Show me how humility allows me to see that I am weak and in need of You in my life. Remove pride from my life, since it is one of Satan’s greatest tools of destruction, and direct me to live out 1 Peter 5:6-8 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Lord, may You be glorified by this prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Find more readings at timewithourcreator.wordpress.com
Title: A Hunger for God Author: John Piper Publisher: Crossway
I love to eat food! Planning, preparing, and eating meals seems to be a big part of each day. One problem is that my hunger for food far exceeds my appetite for God. As a matter of fact, there are many things that I desire more than God and His will. Is it possible that fasting can increase my hunger for God? According to Wikipedia, fasting is a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. The idea of fasting is not inviting nor pleasant, especially in the United States. A woman visiting from Nigeria was shocked by the fact that we eat three meals a day. She said they had one meal a day in her village. I cannot imagine having one meal a day, much less zero in more 24 hours. A Hunger for God is a book by John Piper in which he suggests that Christian fasting is a discipline that is lacking among the Church. Fasting is common in some religions and it is even done for fitness and health purposes. Piper presents fasting in a Biblical and theological perspective that shows that it should be a priority and regular practice for the Christian. Jesus fasted when he was in the desert before He was tempted by the Accuser. Piper writes, “It must not go unnoticed that Jesus triumphed over the great enemy of his soul and our salvation through fasting (p. 54).” Did Jesus fast to overcome, or was He fasting to express His dependence on the Father? Jesus said, “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In my physical training, it was recommended that I do intermittent fasting. It has taken me a while to commit to intentional fasting of any kind. My wife gave me A Humger for God, and after reading it, I decided to try fasting. I wanted fasting to help my training, but I also wanted to implement a spiritual element to the process. The spiritual element needs to be the most important part of fasting. While I was fasting, I intentionally remained conscience about hungering for God. It was important to be reading Scripture and praying. I had the privilege of experiencing some divine appointments shortly after fasting. Piper suggests that fasting is a profound way to relate with God. The guidance of this book will be beneficial to those who already fast or who are considering it. May your hunger for God grow.
Book Review by
Is a teacher at Edinburg North and earned his Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is married to Brenda and has four children: Diego, 14, Karla & Andrea, 11, and Charis, 7 .
But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” —Acts 17:6
It was said of the early church that they turned the world upside down. And that, by the way, was offered as a criticism, not a compliment. When Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica preaching the gospel, it was said of them critically, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6). This is the church that changed the world through prayer and through preaching. But it seems today the opposite is happening. We have double standards, moral compromise, and little to no power. We need to get back to what the early church experienced as given on the day of Pentecost. Some would say we need another Pentecost. However, we don’t need another Pentecost any more than we need another Calvary. Let’s just appropriate what was made available at the first Pentecost. The power that was given to the first century believers is also available to twenty-first century believers as we bring the gospel to our generation. What concerns me is that we are so worried about fitting in, so worried about relating, and so worried about being cool that we have forgotten what it is to make a stand for what is true. And instead of the church turning the world upside down, my fear is that the world is turning the church upside down. Vance Havner said, “We are not going to move this world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.” Believers today need to be involved in upside down living. The early church turned their world upside down (or should I say right side up?). And in this crazy, topsy-turvy world where wrong is right and right is wrong, we need to do the same.
Greg Laurie is Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif. He began his pastoral ministry at 19 by leading a Bible study of 30 people. Since then, God has transformed the small group into a church of 15,000 plus, one of the largest churches in America. for more, visit www.greglaurie.com. used by permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000 Riverside, CA 92514 Copyright © 2017 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
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Music Review by Jono Davies:
The Brilliance All Is Not Lost
The New York-based duo The Brilliance, comprised of David Gungor and John Arndt, are back with a new album titled All Is Not Lost. The band want to write songs for both the church and those feeling spiritually homeless. Their goal is to create music that gives voice to the pain and pleasure of the human experience, providing a sonic invitation that welcomes all people to live fully and they very much do this with this release. The album has this gentle flow throughout. Each song works in union with each other, and the tracks seem to move and ooze between each other with a comforting ease. These songs are elegant pieces of music that really hit at the soul. It goes without saying the The Brilliance are a fantastic band, a band with a really dedicated fanbase. They are the kind of band that are always trying to produce music that is creatively different to the normal mainstream sound. What they have done with this album is produce a collection of stunning music that is elegant, theatrical, creative and interesting to listen to. The Brilliance are sounding Brilliant yet again. Review by Jono Davies LTTM Rating 4 Out of 5 Stars Standout Tracks See The Love Hear The Prayers Oh Earth For more news and reviews go to louderthanthemusic.com All Rights Reserved.
Why Did God Make Us?
“God made us because he was tired of seeing dinosaurs on the world,” says Austin, age 7. “He didn’t like the dinosaurs,” adds Colton, 6. Are you guys saying we’re God’s Plan B? Think again. “I think God created us because God thought we would be special, and it turns out we are special!” says Chelsea, 8. Now, we’re on the right track. Being created in God’s image is as special as it gets. “I think God made us because he was bored of just sitting up in heaven looking down at nothing,” says Jordan, 10. The Scriptures portray God as full and overflowing with life. We are the ones who succumb to boredom when we try to live apart from the One who is the source of life. Describing those who trust in God, King David wrote: “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your pleasures” (Psalm 36:8). Wait a minute. Isn’t God against pleasure? Wrong. “I think God made us because he wanted to see somebody playing and having fun,” says Sara, 8. King David danced, leaped and shouted before the Ark of the Covenant as he brought it back to Jerusalem. When was the last time you saw people so filled with the Lord’s life that they danced, leaped and shouted before the Lord? Probably never. That’s why God called David a man after his own heart. We try to squeeze a few drops of pleasure out of life while God waits with a river of pleasure for all who trust him. We settle for too little pleasure when we try to make ourselves the center of the universe. “God has created all things for his own pleasure, but not in the sense of selfish gratification, but in the sense of purposeful and meaningful activity,” writes Bible scholar G.W. Bromiley.
Art by Anna Whited, age 9 also wanted us to pray to Him and to be with Him.” Some people associate work with the curse God placed on the ground after Adam and Eve sinned. Before Adam sinned, however, God told him to “tend and keep” the garden. God intended for people created in his image to rule over the Earth in perfect harmony with his will (Genesis 1:26). “God made us for his own glory,” says Cody, 7, or “to live in his glory,” concludes Ross, 11. On the night before Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins, he offered a prayer regarding his Father’s glory “that they [that is, Jesus’ disciples] may be one just as we [Jesus speaking of himself and his Father] are one” (John 17:22). Jesus revealed the eternal glory, oneness and love that he had always enjoyed with his Father. They, and those after them who entered into that eternal fellowship, would never be the same. Point to ponder: God made us for his glory and pleasure. Scripture to remember: “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Question to consider: From what do you derive your purpose and pleasure? Kids Talk About God is a syndicated column by journalist Carey Kinsolving. To access more columns and other free, Bible-based books, videos and artwork,
God created us because “he wanted someone to play with,” says Sarah, 7, or “to talk and walk with him,” says Carri, 9. After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God when they heard him “walking in the garden.” It appears that “walking and talking” were things God did regularly with Adam and Eve.
To learn more about the RGV Children’s Arts Festival, please visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org.
“God created us to rule the Earth,” says Katharyn, 9. “He also wanted us (or Adam) to name the animals. He needed us to take care of the fruit tree. He
Don’t be house poor! Dear Dave, I read where you recommend having your house payment or rent at an amount that’s 25 percent or less of your monthly take-home pay. Does this figure include property taxes and insurance too? Mark Dear Mark, Yes, it does. I’m trying to keep you from being “house poor.” Did you know you can qualify for a house payment, with taxes and insurance, that’s close to half of your take-home pay? That’s ridiculous! When you don’t have room in your budget to do anything else that matters because your house payment is so large, that’s what we call house poor. When your income minus your basic living expenses equals almost nothing, it means your basic living expenses are way too high. Being in this kind of situation keeps you from saving for really important stuff like investing, retirement, and college for your kids. I’m trying to position you where you can get the house and everything paid off so you can become wealthy. Remember, your most powerful wealth building tool is your income.
When we talk about driving a crappy car, not going out to eat, or not going on vacation — those are temporary things. It’s all about living like no one else, so that later you can live and give like no one else!
Dave s y a S
Ethics and integrity Dear Dave, I’ll be getting out of the military soon, and I want to open a coffee roastery in civilian life. I had planned to work at an established place like Starbucks for a while so I can learn the business. Recently, I’ve become concerned with this idea from an ethical point of view. Can you give me some guidance? Wayne Dear Wayne, First, thank you for your service. The fact that you have enough integrity to even think about this means you’re a conscientious, honest person. I think you’re going to be okay. Making and serving coffee is not a proprietary set of information. It’s done all over the world by lots of people, so you’re not violating any ethics by doing that. Now there would definitely be something wrong with you stealing another company’s exact recipes or logo, but I think you already knew that. There’s nothing wrong with learning how to make different coffee drinks that are made all over the world. Starbucks doesn’t have a corner on that. There are coffeehouses all across America these days, so there’s no ethics breach. Just understand what’s proprietary about a company or a brand, and don’t duplicate that.
* Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He has authored five New York Times best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 8.5 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations. Dave’s latest project, EveryDollar, provides a free online budget tool. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.
Best of luck to you, sir! —Dave
Following Jesus In A Selfie-Centered World
By Craig Groeschel // Publisher: Zondervan We all love the benefits of technology and social media, but even with the incredible upsides, many of us suspect there are unintended negative consequences that are beyond our control. We’ve lost perspective, even perhaps ourselves. In this timely and life-changing new book, New York Times bestselling author and pastor of LifeChurch.tv Craig Groeschel encourages readers who are hungry to regain control over their lives and put Christ first again. He walks them through biblical values that all Christ followers know are essential, but are even more important for our maxed out, selfie-centered world. The more you compare, the less satisfied you are. The more we interact online, the more we crave face to face intimacy, but the harder it is to find. The more filtered our lives become, the more challenging it is to be authentic. The more information about the pain in the world we’re exposed to the more difficult it is to care. It’s time to refresh and rediscover our understanding of the biblical principles that life with Christ brings: contentment, intimacy, authenticity, compassion, rest and more. Groeschel taps in to some of the most up-to-date studies on the effects of social media on our emotions and our friendships. And he offers real-life examples of how we struggle with social media, how it masks our real struggles, and how we can reclaim a Christ-centered life. With helpful appendices like the 10 Commandments of Using Social Media to Strengthen Your Faith, and Creating Safeguards for Your Digital Devices, you’ll find #Struggles to be just the guide to bring balance and real-life engagement to your everyday life.
No Easy Jesus
How the toughest choices lead to the greatest life
By Jason Mitchell // Publisher: Tyndale
“Too many Christians I know have grown bored and frustrated with just ‘believing’ in Jesus. They’ve settled for salvation someday, not realizing they can experience a fuller life today.” Many Christians share a secret. Few of us dare to speak it out loud, because doing so would feel like taking a slap at God—and it wouldn’t make us look good either. Yet this secret is affecting us painfully on the inside every single day. Here it is: Believing in Jesus has left us disappointed. At one point we were thrilled and hopeful about living a life of trusting in Christ. But over time our experience has failed to live up to our expectations or make the difference we thought it would. So we’ve begun to think: “This can’t be all there is to being a Christian.” If that’s what you’ve been thinking . . . you’re right. No Easy Jesus holds the key to moving forward when you’re bored, disillusioned, and beaten down by faith-as-usual. It’s a clarion challenge to wake up each day and choose Jesus all over again; to make the tough, gritty choices that align your way with His and lead to true fullness of life. Because when you decided to follow Jesus, you didn’t sign up for what was easiest—you signed up for what was best.
Do You Know Jesus?
Do you know Jesus Christ? Many have heard of Jesus and know a little about Him. Many sing songs about His birth at Christmas and know that Easter commemorates His resurrection. Some think of Him as a teacher or perhaps the founder of a major world religion. But, do you know Him personally? Do you know that Jesus died and rose again, not to start a spiritual movement but because He loves you and wanted to provide a way for you to know Him?
The Bible tells the story of God’s love for people. In the beginning, God created us to reflect His image and to have a relationship with Him (Genesis 1:27). We were created good, and then sin entered the world. We essentially chose to try life on our own without God, instead of living our lives for God as we were designed.
God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins and bring us into a relationship with Him. Through Him, we can know the promise of eternal life and experience the joy of knowing God here on earth!
Follow these steps to a New Life with Jesus 1 God’s purpose is life and peace: God desires for you to have life and peace now and for all eternity.”I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b
2 Recognizing the problem: sin and separation: We were created to know, love and glorify God. When we choose to go our own way, living life in willful disobedience to God, we are choosing to be separated from God both now and for all eternity.The Bible says we are sinners…“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 But God is love…“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 And God is also just…“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
If you would like to have a relationship with God, the Bible tells us that the first step is acknowledging that we have sinned and that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love (Romans 3:2326). Next, we believe and confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) and allow Him to guide our lives. Where we once wanted to control our own futures, we now invite Jesus into our hearts to be Lord over our lives.
3 We cannot save ourselves: Because God is Holy, He cannot allow sin to enter into Heaven. Most people attempt to save themselves by their own efforts, good works or church attendance. The Bible says…“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12 How then can a sinful person enter Heaven where God allows no sin?
Knowing God’s peace, perspective, and purpose for your life begins with a personal relationship with Jesus.
4 We are saved by grace: The good news is… in spite of our sin, Christ died for us.“For it is by grace you have been saved through
faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9” But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
What do I do now?
5 Responding to God’s gift by faith: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Just like a new baby needs to be cared for and nurtured in order to grow physically, a child of God needs to be nurtured in order to grow spiritually. Here’s how you can begin growing in Christ:
Would you like to accept Jesus as Lord of your life?
1 Tell someone: Tell a pastor or Christian friend who will help you grow and find your gifts of service. “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:11, 12
“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 you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
If you would like to accept Jesus as Lord of your life, you can pray the following prayer: Lord, I confess that I have sinned against You and ask You to forgive me. I’m sorry that my sin has hurt You and other people in my life. I acknowledge that I could never earn salvation by my good works, but I come to You and trust in what Jesus did for me on the cross. I believe that You love me and that Jesus died and rose again so that I can be forgiven and come to know You. I ask You to come into my heart and be Lord of my life. I trust You with everything, and I thank You for loving me so much that I can know You here on earth and spend the rest of eternity with You in heaven. In Jesus name, Amen.
2 Be baptized: This is your first act of obedience. “So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Acts 10:48
3 Join the church: The church is where God’s family encourages and supports one another.”How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
4 Pray and read your Bible daily: God communicates His will for your life through His Word and prayer.”Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
Seek a godly mentor: A mentor teaches you the ways of God and how to live a holy life. “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” Titus 2:3
© 2017 Proverbs 31 Ministries All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. For more info go to www.proverbs31.org
Raul “Rudy” Rodriguez attorney at law
Some historians may argue that among the greatest restoration stories of mankind are the European Renaissance or perhaps the post-World War II era. The cultural movement known as the European Renaissance roughly took place during the 14th through 17th centuries. This moment in history saw the face of Europe evolve with respect to its arts, architecture and long held science tenets. It also saw a rediscovery of the Greco-Roman classical knowledge and a rebirth of the study of Latin and vernacular languages. It served as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern Era. Closer to home, America saw its restoration take place in the years that followed World War II. During this era, couples who could not afford families during the Great Depression made up for lost time. The mood in America suddenly became optimistic. At that time, the unemployment rate of the Great Depression dropped dramatically and the economy improved substantially. The G.I. Bill empowered many honorable service members to finish high school and attend college. As their skills were improved, so was the financial well-being of their families. But, without a doubt the greatest restoration that can take place is when a person does as Romans 10:9 instructs us to do. Romans 10:9 says: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The message is simple: invite Christ into your heart and make him your personal Lord and Savior. At that time, your restoration will be complete. Next He will do as Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” As you seek and strive to honor God with your life, He will reward you by allowing you to take on His characteristics. Hosea 14:4 says, “I will bring my people back to me. I will love them with all my heart; No longer am I angry with them.” I pray that you will invite Christ into your heart and allow Him to restore you! At my office, I also want to be part of your restoration plan, albeit in a different way. I pray that God will use me for His honor and glory in helping me address your needs. If you have been involved in an auto accident and/or other serious injury or if you have lost a loved one as a result of someone’s negligence, I will do my best to restore some sense of normality to your life. I will also help you in matters involving family law, criminal law and real estate and will issues. As always, I bear in mind that in honoring God with the way I handle my business relationships I will be honoring you my esteemed client.
Raul “Rudy” Rodriguez
www.raulrudyrodriguezlaw.com Phone: 956.380.1421 / Toll Free: 877.480.1421 Fax: 956.380.2920 / Mobile: 956.655.5455
511 W. University / Edinburg, TX 78539 e-mail: email@example.com