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Your unique place

19 023 005 your unique place
In the movie, Forrest Gump, Forrest’s mother is dying, and he asks her, “What is my destiny, Mama?”

She shakes her head. “You’re going to have to figure that out for yourself,” she says.

His question grabs me. I don’t know about you, but I want to know my name. I want to know who I am and why I’m here. I know why people are here; I read Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life, and, of course, I’ve read the Bible. But why am I here? What unique place do I have in this universe?

What identity, what destiny, what character, power and authority has God imparted to you?

Jacob wrestled with God and gained the name Israel. May you also find your identity in Him.

From the Bible:
Then He puts a sign on me that I am His treasured possession. Psalm 23:5 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by gianni, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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4 reasons for sexual purity

Silhouette of Couple at Sunset
#1 Sexual purity creates a high-trust marriage. God’s plan eliminates betrayal, competition, second guessing and places a high value on your life’s partner.

#2 Sexual purity creates a safe, stable two-parent family for children to grow up in. No judgment if you’re a single parent—you have a tough job, and we’re with you. God wants the most vulnerable people—little children—to be safe, secure and loved. Vast segments of our culture have been devastated because fathers are not fully present in the lives of their children.

#3 Sexual purity prevents the spread of sexually-transmitted disease. Every additional partner exponentially increases the risk of infection.

#4 Sexual purity models the relationship of God and His people. This recurring analogy throughout the Bible points to God’s desire to share His place in our lives with no one else.

Of course, none of these reasons will make any sense especially in the heat of the moment if you don’t have a meaningful, transformational relationship with God through Jesus. The more you welcome God into your life, the more His ways make sense.

From the Bible:
Honor your marriage and its vows, and be pure; for God will surely punish all those who are immoral or commit adultery. Hebrews 13:4 TLB

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Damian Gadal, Creative Commons License

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What we all have in common

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This is what we all have in common. We all have a line in our hearts. On one side, we’ve said “yes” to Jesus. On the other, we have not yet said “yes.”

Christians love to camp out on the yes side, and we’d like to pretend the no side doesn’t exist. We sometimes hope that if we ignore the no side long enough, it will just go away.

But it doesn’t work that way. God and our enemy are allied in this one thing: they both take us over to the no side. The enemy takes us over there to destroy us. God takes us over there to transform us.

The only way we grow is to move the line so a bigger portion of our heart says “yes.” That means we need to come out of denial, face the next “no,” and figure out why we can’t say “yes.”

Why can’t we say yes? What are the reasons?

Those reasons matter. They are lies. When we hold those reasons up to Jesus, He gives us the truth that sets us free (John 8:32). When the why gets fixed, turning a no to a yes is easy.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Celebration

Colin
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5

I am glad that we serve a self-confident God. He is so sure of Himself that He spreads out the tablecloth, opens the picnic basket and sits down with His little children right in the middle of the battlefield.

And there’s nothing the enemies can do about it! This is beyond victory. This is a gentle reminder that God is in a totally different league than His enemies. Even despite our many mistakes and vulnerabilities, He is certain of triumph.

I don’t underestimate the power of the devil or the hold he has on people’s lives. I just find it encouraging that even though God knows the full extent the devil’s horrifying character and power, He still stripped Himself of thrones and power, and entered this world as a helpless little baby.

Jesus went about healing all who were under the power of the devil; and, now, we His church do the same. This is more than victory; this is celebration.

May God give you reason to celebrate!

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Colin, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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Meeting God in the valley

19 023 004 in the valley
I remember a kid—we called him Goldilocks—he was going to beat up my brother after school. At the appointed time, we all assembled. Goldilocks and his cronies. My brother and me. There was a lot of talk. It was going to be ten to one—the whole gang against my brother. And, if I wanted to get beat up too, then I was welcome to hang around.

I had a policy when we were growing up. Anybody who touches my brother deals with me. So I hung around.

Goldilocks and I stood chin to chin while the wolves circled, drooling for blood. I really didn’t know what I was going to do, except I knew I couldn’t back down. So I planted my hand on his chest, and sent him flying.

I think I was as surprised as he was. I didn’t know I had it in me. But, suddenly, the wolves had somewhere else they needed to be, and, after that, Goldilocks was always real polite to my brother and me.

We really don’t know God until we come to know Him in the valleys. There He shows up for us, and shows us what He’s really all about.

From the Bible:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by David Stanley, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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God leads us in the right path

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[God] leads me on the right path because that’s who He is. Psalm 23:3 The Easy Bible

Let’s review what this verse DOESN’T say. He doesn’t guide me because I’m a really nice guy. He doesn’t lead me because I’m a real man. He doesn’t teach me because I think I’m spiritual, or because my second grade teacher put stars on my papers.

God guides me for a reason bigger than me, a reason outside of me, a reason that doesn’t depend on me.

I don’t know about you, but I need verses like this one, and also Psalm 25:8 (God instructs sinners in His ways—it’s easy to qualify for that one!), Philippians 1:6 & 2:13 (God is at work in me). I need these verses because apart from God I’m not such a good guy, I need a God who is going to work with me even so.

If, like me, you don’t trust your own spirituality, your own commitment to Christ, rejoice that you can count on God’s commitment to you.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Hans Clough

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God meets us in our place of weakness

19 023 001 Inner working
A few years ago, I tried coming up with a testimony to give at a small group I belonged to. I couldn’t figure out how to put my arms around what God has done in my life.

That bothered me. So many people have dramatic testimonies—God saved them from booze—or God saved them from bankruptcy—or they left their lucrative business and followed God to the mission field—or whatever. My life has been transformed by God, but I couldn’t figure out how to show that to someone.

Then it came to me. The real testimony is not that God got us out of debt (though He did), or that He kept me from getting run over by a train (though He did that also), or that He put money in my mailbox anonymously (yes, He did that too). The real testimony is this: He restores my soul.

I realized that my testimony is deeply personal. God showed up for me in the dark places of my heart—in my bitterness, in my frustration, in my feelings of inadequacy, in my loneliness, in my arrogance. With kindness that I confess I don’t understand, God is gently rebuilding my identity so that I am less and less a lonely, paranoid, bitter man and more and more a son of God.

I hope and pray that you can say the same, that God is meeting you in your places of weakness and filling them with His strength.

May that be true for you today!

From the Bible:
He restores my soul. Psalm 23:3

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Hans Clough

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God is ready

Kaye Ratia
Even though I lived, briefly, on a sheep farm, I don’t know much about sheep and shepherds, except that sheep aren’t very smart. Sheep munch on grass and don’t pay much attention to anything else, except when the shepherd’s dog races out to round them up.

If it wasn’t for the shepherd, the sheep would have no water (on our farm it needed to be pumped into the troughs), they wouldn’t get out to pasture, they wouldn’t get back to the safety of the barn at night, they would never get any medical attention.

The shepherd had to figure out that they needed all this. But the shepherd doesn’t get angry or impatient with the sheep for being so dull and dependent. He (or she) just anticipates and takes care of the sheep’s every need.

I’m glad God knows what I need, even when I do not. I’m glad the Holy Spirit prays for me, even when I don’t know what to pray for myself.

We may have needs and dangers that we don’t even see, but God is there, our Shepherd, ready with the answer.

From the Bible:
The Lord is my shepherd… Psalm 23:1

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Kaye Ratia, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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6 things you need to know about suffering and evil

45 08 18 Six things
#1 God hurts when you hurt. God weeps when you weep. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He intimately understands pain. God cares.

#2 God did not create suffering and evil. He created humanity. We humans create our own choices. The world we live in—with its suffering and evil—is a result of the collective choices of billions of people.

#3 God heals the hurting and repairs what’s broken—in His way and in His timetable, in this life or the next. God works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. (Psalm 103:6) Jesus went about doing good and healing all… (Acts 10:38)

#4 We get to help in the healing process. You are the answer to someone’s prayer. You have the power to alleviate someone’s suffering somewhere in the world by your prayers, your resources, your actions.

#5 No suffering is permanent, unless we choose to reject God forever.

#6 It will be worth it. The good that’s waiting for us so totally outweighs our little troubles that there’s no comparison. Romans 8:18 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Lima Pix, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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The suffering of God

43 11 35 Jesus wept
Jesus wept. John 11:35

We can never understand human suffering without taking into account the suffering of God.

Why did Jesus weep? Why didn’t He smile? He was the only one present who knew that the grief of Mary and Martha would soon give way to delirious, dancing joy. He was the only one present with the power to reverse the tragedy, and He fully intended to use that power.

Yet He wept.

God is not aloof. Even moments before our deliverance, His heart feels every bit of our pain.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Brisbane Falling, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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