Keep On Stirring

II Timothy 1:6 (Word English Bible), “For this cause, I remind you that you should stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

So many analogies have been given for this scripture; soup and stew are a few, and how you have to stir up all of the good stuff that has sunk to the bottom. I like to compare it to making jam and I have made countless thousands of jars. When you are making jam, you get to this critical point when everything is at a rolling boil, hot sugar and hot juice in a torrent of activity in your hot pan, it can look like molten lava rolling. When you reach this stage you are at the point of no return. You stand there and you stir! Phone rings, leg cramps, someone knocks at the door; you have to not be distracted. If you stop stirring, the jam is scorched, ugly, and ruined. Thankfully, this process only takes less than five minutes; in fact the rolling boil stage is only sixty seconds. But, believe me, when you have been standing over a hot stove, usually in the summer, and you are on your forth batch, that minute seems to take forever. When all is said and done, there is a great feeling of seeing all of those lovely jewel colored jars filled with bounty lined up in your kitchen that makes it all worthwhile.

Romans 12:6-9 (NLT)” In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.”

Isn’t it the same with the gifts God has given us? When we “stir them up” we aren’t letting ourselves get distracted. We are focusing on the Gift Giver and using them to line up those jewels (souls) for Him. What satisfaction comes from that. Maybe, your gifts aren’t so evangelic. Possibly your gifts are used in other ways. Saving a brother or sister from throwing in the towel, using hospitality to show love for your Pastors, feeding some hungry young families that feel stretched in ten different directions, all are part of the purpose of the gifts. Teaching those who need to know, giving to those with need, and leading in others. We lift up, support, and encourage one another with the gifts God has given us. We bless God, ourselves and others when we use them. And sometimes along the way we lead someone into the kingdom. What great gifts!

Stir them up and keep on stirring.

Do What You Can

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Mark 14:3-9 (NIV), “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

This woman did what she could for Jesus. To some it seemed a waste, to Jesus it meant everything.

I read the story of Fanny Crosby who was blind from shortly after birth and she wrote over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs. Her personal life wasn’t great, marital rift, death of her only baby, and living destitute in the slums. Yet, at age 60 dedicated her life to serving in Rescue Missions. She wrote “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory.” Her tombstone read: “Aunty Fanny, She hath done what she could.” Her songs are still blessing people today.

Then there is Irena Sendler, a Polish nurse who smuggle over 2,500 babies out of Warsaw ghettos during Hitler’s reign. She used her imagination smuggling them out in suitcases, mechanics tool boxes, and even coffins. Keeping detailed information of where she put each child, she did what she could to reunite the families after the war. She couldn’t stop the war, but she didn’t let that stop her from doing what she could.

Victoria Soto, hid her students during the school shooting at Sandy Hook, and died protecting them. This teacher couldn’t save the whole school, or even her own life, but she did what she could.

What about Jael, in the Bible. Sisereas was attacking Israel and Deborah and Barak were leading the charge against him. They finally got him on the run and this unknown, unimportant woman invited Sisereas into her tent. When he asked her for water, this smart woman gave him warm milk, hid him under some blankets and when he dozed off drove a tent peg through his temple. In those days women didn’t go to battle. It was already a miracle that Deborah was along for the ride. (Judges 4) Yet this one woman won the war. She did what she could.

There are literally millions of stories about people who changed the world, or changed a life, by their actions. Most didn’t plan to do it, but when the opportunity came, they took it. Had Irena Sendler rescued only one or two children, her accomplishment would have been no less. If you have ever read Chicken Soup for…they are filled with stories of people who did small things and changed lives.

Sometimes the battle looks too big, circumstances huge, and like there is no way one person can help.

This unknown author says, “Instead of doing nothing because I am overwhelmed, today I will do something, even if it is small, because it will be one step closer to the goal.”

Mother Theresa said, “In this life we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

I love J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. One of my favorite saying from Gandalf is this one, “Some believe that it is only great power that an hold evil in check, but that is not what I’ve found. I have found it is the small things. Everyday deeds, by ordinary folk that keeps the darkness away.”

Think about that. Kissing our kids goodnight, giving someone a ride to church, smiling at the girl in the checkout, leaving a larger than expected tip at a restaurant, reading your bible, not letting the world get you down, or laughing and sharing a meal with friends. These things are the opposite of darkness, and when we do them the light of His love drives the darkness away.

Our society is obsessed with long life and anti-aging, but it isn’t the duration of a life that matters, it is the donation!

Luke 16:10 “”Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

If we are faithful in these little things, God may use us in a big way, or He may just want us to keep heaping up these little things until they are all one big thing. My father-in-law loved to find pennies. He never did the “lucky penny” thing, but he would smile put one in his pocket and say, “pennies make dollars!” Small things turn into big things!

Can you share a meal, sew on a button, make a cake, babysit for a friend, spend some time in prayer, donate some time at school…?

Do what you can!

Book Review for “The Art of Work”- Non Fiction Inspirational

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do

 

I really liked Jeff Goins latest book, “The Art of Work”. I have read other books written by this author and I follow his blog. He gives great advice on writing, publishing, marketing, and general life advice. This book is all about finding and following your “calling”, and according to Jeff, we all have one. I think this would make a great graduation gift, or a great retirement gift. I give it four stars. Great for teens and up.

Make a Difference: Ways You Can Help

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Yesterday I wrote about making a difference in someone’s life. After giving it some thought I realized that it can sometimes be hard to know how or what to do. So today I am giving you some ideas, websites, and some encouragement. First and foremost, if you want God to continue to bless you and to give you seed to sow, you need to be giving God His 10% and that does not go to a charity. It goes to your local church, the one you attend on a regular basis. Next, you should be regularly supporting that same church in any outreaches and missions.
Charities that I support or have supported (Please do your research! Some “charities” give more to their administrators than to the people they are supposed to be helping)

Samaritans’ Purse

Feed the Children

If you are crafty, can knit or crochet:
Hats for the homeless

Knit a Square

Send a card, package, or a letter to a serviceman or woman:
Any Soldier

Help a wounded soldier:
Wounded Warrior Project

Another opportunity if you can either knit or crochet is to make hats for newborns and donate to hospitals, or for adults and donate to nursing homes.

Here are some places to volunteer your time:
• Nursing home or hospitals-rock babies, push wheelchairs outside, visit or play board games with the patients.
• Daycares or schools- read with those learning to read students, help study, lunchroom supervision, playground supervision, decorating classrooms.
• Local food pantries- give out food, pick up food, load boxed, unload boxes.
• Abuse shelters
• Homeless shelters
• Soup kitchens
• Big Brothers or Big Sisters
• Sew clothes for the poor (there are several organizations who take donations, including “Little Dresses for Africa”
• Make Christmas shoeboxes (Part of Samaritan’s Purse “Operation Shoe Box”)

One on one:
• Offer to babysit for neighbors or young parents at your church (free of charge).
• Make a meal for a shut in, or new mothers, or anyone who is unable to cook for themselves, or for your busy Pastors and/or Church staff.
• Invite someone that doesn’t have a family to dinner.
• If you are a handyperson, offer to help with home repair.
• If you are mechanically inclined, offer your services to single moms, elderly, or widows.
• Volunteer in your Church’s nursery or youth program (if you don’t want to teach, make a snack, or decorate the rooms, do craft time).
• Volunteer to clean your Church, or to do the same for the elderly, or those new moms.
• Send out birthday cards to those without family.
• Take someone else’s children school shopping if they are low on funds.
• Bring a box of groceries to a needy family, or mail them a gas card.
• Find a missionary and support them financially, or donate goods to help their outreach (again, do your research!) If they only travel part time, offer to mow their yard, or water their plants while they are away.
• Take your Pastor’s out to lunch.
• Donate funds to your local Christian schools. They do not get government funding and still have to pay for staffing, heat, and supplies. (Here is the one I used to teach at, my daughter graduated from this wonderful school, New Testament Church Christian Academy P.O. Box 90 Merrill, Wisconsin, 54452. Your gifts here are tax deductible.)

Ok, I think you are getting the picture. The point is to invest yourself into someone other than yourself, or your own family, whether it is some “one shot” deals or ongoing commitments. Most Charities want you to commit to monthly giving, but I never do that. I send what I can, when I can, or when God lays it on my heart. Be led by His Spirit in your giving and you’ll never go wrong. Some of your giving is tax deductible, some is not, but don’t ever let that be your motivation in giving. Our motivation should always be the same thing that motivated Jesus, love.

Without any reservations, I will include our Church and our Ministry here.
What we do:
NTC Ministries is a relationship based Apostolic Network of ministers, churches and ministries Advancing the Kingdom of God across the globe. We are actively seeking to develop positive, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationships with ministers, churches and ministries. We facilitate connections and bring mutual support between ministries regionally, nationally and internationally. Those who God adds to our network become Partners working together with us in cooperation not competition to advance the Kingdom of God on earth. You have an opportunity to make an impact around the world.

By our collective efforts NTC Ministries has had a global impact with churches, ministries, Bible colleges, schools, orphanages, radio, television and outreach programs in Australia, Burkina Faso, Congo, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, United States, Vietnam and Wales.

• Planting Churches •Providing Apostolic Oversight• Prophetically Bringing Support to Your Ministry Goals. • Providing Biblical Counsel to those in Five-Fold Ministry • Leadership Development & Biblical Church Government • Planting Bible Colleges and Schools of Ministry

• NTC Bible College • National & Regional Meetings • Licensing and Ordination for qualified ministers • Providing inclusion in our 501c3 group exemption for churches and ministries • NTC Resource Center • Opportunities to Develop Your Broadcast Ministry • Missions Impact Opportunities

Who we are:
Founded by Apostle Dr. William and Pastor Pam Hohman in 1986, New Testament Church boldly proclaims a faith and grace based message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church’s ministries and outreaches include Christian day care, 3 and 4 year old pre-school, a K-12 Christian academy, a Bible college, a Christian radio station, and “His Hands Extended” food pantry. NTC Ministries supports missionary works in over thirty countries, including a Christian television station in the Philippines as well as works in a number of countries in Asia and Africa; these include orphanages, medical clinics, schools, colleges, and other missionary work. If you would like more information on NTC Ministries you can contact us at N2519 Hwy K, P.O. Box 90 Merrill, WI 54452. (715) 536-8554

Or follow one of these links:
Website

Facebook page

Make a Difference

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“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

We are blessed in America. Even our poorest are better off than people who live in third world countries. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. We live in our safe houses, in safe communities, and drive our safe cars. So sometimes we forget about “them” and only think about “us.” Then on the flip side, we know that there are evils in the world, human trafficking, drug abuse, child abuse, all types of sexual perversity, and things better left unsaid. When we think about those things, happening even right here in America, we can go into ostrich mode and want to bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. Sometimes just thinking about all of those hurting people, and all of those who have been doing the hurting, can just seem too overwhelming, especially as a Christian. We sympathize with some and want to judge others, but we aren’t sure what we can do about it.

There are some great organizations out there that try to stop the bleeding. There are even more Churches that reach out all over the world to help others. I am proud to say I belong to one of them. In the face of the numbers it can seem a pretty pathetic attempt at saving the world. But, I am reminded of a story about the Good Shepherd. He left the whole flock to go and seek that one little lost sheep.

Matthew 18:12 (NLT), “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?”

We need to change the way we think about changing the world. As Christians isn’t that our job? To bring Heaven to earth and show the world how much God loves them? We may not be able to save a whole nation, or even a small community, but we can help a family, or a single person. God lays things on the hearts of His people. Maybe at some point you had a driving urge to give to someone in need, or your heart was torn over the story of a young girl sold into sexual slavery. What did you do about it? Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray, and sometimes we can give some finances. However, if there is something we can do personally, we should do more than “throw some money at it.” Maybe you can’t spend a fortune, or have unlimited time, but I firmly believe that if you pray and seek God, He will show you how you can help.

Let’s face it; the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. We need to step up to the plate and do what God has commissioned us to do. Time is short, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Feel like tackling a bigger project? Talk to your family, or your neighbors, your Church family and make a plan. For some of us it is something big. I have read about people quitting their lucrative jobs to go out and feed the hungry, some who sold everything to live in a motor home and travel helping wherever they could. Maybe your part is to keep that great job and fund those who can and want to go out on the streets. We all need to do our part.

God’s love turns people to repentance, it changes hearts and lives. How many people need to know that? A great open door is by helping in some way, big or small. Hearts are softened when someone cares. It’s easier to talk about spiritual needs when physical needs are met. Have you ever tried to talk to a hungry child right before lunch? As a teacher that was one of the hardest times to hold their attention. What if they hadn’t eaten all day, or for were constantly hungry? How can we tell a homeless person that God loves them, that we love them, when we can’t offer a crust of bread or a warm blanket?

It’s can be easy, once we set our mind to help, to do so for the poor. It’s harder to make a difference in a convict’s life, a drug addict, or a greedy man who’s wealth is his god.

If we can stop judging others, see them as God does and allow ourselves to be led by His Spirit, even those, who God loves too, can be reached. We are called to live in the Spirit. If we really do this, we will be compelled to make a difference. You will be amazed at the ideas of how and when.

Romans 8:5 (ESV), “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

There is no such thing as making a “small difference”. If you have helped one person in even the seemingly most insignificant way, God will bless that.

Acts 9:36 (NASB), “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”

Tabitha is still remembered today, yes partly because she was raised from the dead, but also because she took her faith and put it to action. She sewed clothes for the widows and orphans. You may think, “I don’t have the money or the time, but God is the one who gives us the seed to sow and the seed to eat. He provides for us and gives us enough (time, money, energy, materials, etc) to give to others!

II Corinthians 9:6-15 (NIV), “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

We just need to step out in faith. Some may not want our help, others will accept it and then be ungrateful, but there will be those whose hearts are changed and their lives will reflect it. Some will be inspired and will even go on to help others. It’s called “paying it forward.”

Make a difference in someone’s life today. You can start by smiling, and being friendly, and then move on to bigger things. Don’t despise small beginnings, and never let your failures (yep, there will be a few) stop you from doing what you know you should.

God bless you!

Evil For Good

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Psalm 38:20 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Those who repay evil for good attack me for pursuing good.”

Psalm 109:5 (NIV), “They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.”

Have you ever tried to help someone, it was even something laid on your heart by God, only to have it backfire? You poured out your love and in return they called your good evil, or repaid your good with evil? Maybe they slandered you, lied about the whole situation, tried to make you look bad? Maybe caused you some sleepless nights and some grief?

Join the club!

David is in this club. You can tell by some of the things he writes in Psalms. Some of his close friends and his very own family turned against him. They kicked him when he was down, shook their heads, and behaved as if they were ashamed of him. They lied about him. They returned his good for evil and his love for hate.

Jesus is in that club. He came to save God’s chosen people, along with the rest of us. Only to have them shake their heads, mock Him, and to call Him a liar and a blasphemer. People accused Him of everything, they still do.

Isaiah 53:7 (KJB), “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

1 Peter 2:23 (NIV), “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

I am a member of this club. I’ve paid my dues. Not on the scale of David or Jesus, but it didn’t hurt any less. I have had evil repaid me for the good I have done. I taught school for thirteen years. It happens in the classroom all the time. Students lie about their teachers to cover their cheating, poor work effort, etc. In almost every instance their smart parents brought it up during parent teacher conferences, and the students were found out. However, that didn’t take the sting out of what they said. Some of the parents spread the lies and chose to believe their children. Those students ended up leaving our school and things didn’t turn out so well. The others, fessed up, and still treat me with love and respect when they see me. I have had people live in my home, family members, abused wives, abandoned teenagers, and foster kids. Most of them left with attitudes and slandered me and my husband. The few who accepted our love and our wisdom still stop by, they call, and they come for holidays. One is officially part of our family now. As an elder in the body of Christ, I have people talk bad about me. Sometimes they misunderstood something; sometimes they are just trying to take the heat off of themselves. It happens.

We can’t stop helping others. For my husband and I, after several not so good experiences with sharing our home, we decided we were done. Then a visiting prophet spoke over us that we were going to open our home up to those who needed love and help. My husband was going to love them unconditionally, he is good at that, and I was going to impart wisdom and tell them what they needed to do to get their lives right. Needless to say, we weren’t thrilled with that word! I can laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny at the time. We had just come out of an ugly situation where we had to have a sit down with about three families and our Senior Pastor due to the lies that had been spread about us. But God knows who and when we need to help. So we trusted Him. I now have a family member in our home. My husband does the love thing, and I am doing the accountability thing. So far this is looking like a good outcome.

David didn’t stop helping. He asked God for help. He resorted to prayer. He continually put his hope and his trust in God.

Psalms 109:1-4 (AMP), “O God of my praise! Keep not silence, For the mouths of the wicked and the mouth of deceit are opened against me; they have spoken to me and against me with lying tongues. They have compassed me about also with words of hatred and have fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my adversaries, but I resort to prayer.”

We can’t hold it against them, no grudges. We have to forgive and love them. Keep them in our prayers. Jesus forgave.

Luke 23:24 (NAS), “But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.”

Doing anything less gives Satan the upper hand. He is the one who tries to bring division in the Church and in families. We have to do what we know we are supposed to and know that God preserves those who fear Him, those who trust Him. He preserved David and his household, all the way through until His own Son, Jesus, sat on the throne of David forever.

Do we live as doormats and allow people to walk all over us? No. Jesus didn’t rail against the people or even open His mouth to defend Himself at His trial. That is true. But we cannot allow division in the Church, (Satan’s divide and conquer technique) and as a teacher I couldn’t allow disrespect in the classroom. Those things weren’t Kingdome building behaviors. I called every one of them on the lies. I went through proper channels, parents with the students, pastors with the adults. Most of the time dealing with it directly brings repentance and forgiveness, which is a wonderful way to restore relationships. It keeps unity. The Apostle Paul had to deal with some bad behavior. It’s part of being a family. I am pretty confident that every Pastor, teacher or anyone who has opened up their home to help others has or will get burned. It’s human nature. But we now have God’s nature and we need to rise above that kind of thing. We are warned by Paul to not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (KJB), “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Love people. Help them. Be quick to forgive and slow to anger. Don’t hold a grudge, ever. Live like Jesus. Open your heart and if God calls you to, your home, and He’ll take care of the rest.

Romans 12:18 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.”

I came across this Christmas poem and just loved it. Now I am sharing it with you all. Be blessed and be a blessing this Christmas!

Not Only Christmas Day

Lord, this is my prayer
Not only on Christmas Day
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:

Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.

And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.

Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.

Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.

Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.

Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You’ve done.

So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.

I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
“Come, good and faithful servant,”
Your Master says, “Well done.”

And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day

— Mary Fairchild