Walk Worthy: When Christian Unity Requires It

Walk Worthy: When Christian Unity Requires It

Melissa W

Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of three - two boys and a girl (the girl being squished right in the middle). After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home homeschool mom living life on her little 1 1/2 acre homestead raising chickens, two goats and a small garden. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W

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Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6)

I love these words Paul wrote while he was a prisoner. I picture Paul as the Spirit overcomes him and he writes exhaled words of God as a letter to the Ephesian church. The words found in this letter, though written to people from another time and another place, still strike such heavy meaning thousands of years later in a world seemingly gone mad.  Isn’t that the beauty of God’s Word? His words are not bound by space or time. The words He breathed out then are still what we are inhaling today.

Walk worthy.

I read those words and my mind races just as my heart beats quick. I feel Him. His presence is near. It is not a question or a suggestion, it is eyes locking with mine and He says, “Walk worthy.” Maybe I should feel angst at such a command…but I back up a little and I read through the first three chapters of Ephesians.

This scripture reminds me of my righteousness attained through Christ. I remember his gift of grace and of my new identity in Christ. So I can quickly remove the fear that He is calling me to walk a life of self-sanctification. He is, rather, calling me to walk a life that reflects all that I have received in Him. I can revel in the hope and truth that the first three chapters of Ephesians give. Because He is worthy and my life reflects Him living in me, I can walk worthy. Not a perfect life, but a life that is full of grace and one which strives to bring Him glory. But, what is worthy?

Called to Unity

My eyes travel and these words stand out: humility, gentleness, patience, accepting one another in love. Then this: diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. A call to unity. I cringe.

The struggle is there. A unified body is a great idea and can be found…until you mention your political opinion or until you mention who you voted for last election. Then the beautiful rope of unity begins to unravel and tangle, leaving a mess with knots so tight it has become a useless blob on the floor.

Walk worthy. So there it is again. However, I also see something else: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Did you catch that? Who [God] is above all and through all and through all in all. Does that cause anyone else to catch a breath of relief? There is no fine print, no ifs, ands, or buts, no political figure, no political party. There is nothing but God. HE IS ALL.

So where does that leave us?

As the political comments, remarks, jabs, and opinions become more prevalent each year, let us not forget what we know to be true.  He is the way, the truth, and the life, and above all, He is where our identity is found. We can rejoice with our friends, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that our hope and joy is in Him. Our desire is to walk worthy as children called by His name. By this, we will show the world that His Spirit unites us as the body of Christ. Our unity is not through political opinion, party, or affiliation. Don’t hang your hopes on anyone other than the One whose purpose was to come to earth and rescue us through His death and resurrection.

This year, let us seek unity as believers no matter which political box we check. I pray that we will embrace a Christ-like humility, radiate His gentleness, and dwell in His patience. My prayer is that we will accept one another through His love and that we will be diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Hopefully, you have never been in this situation and will never find yourself there.  But sadly, many of us have.  So what should you do when someone bad-mouths you?

The answer is the easiest, yet most difficult thing you will ever do. You only need to do the following things.  Are you ready?

1. Pray.

This is the best thing to do in every situation.  Pray as if your life depends on it, because in reality, most of the time, it does.  Your relationship with the Lord will determine how you handle the rest of this situation.  At times, you will want to lash out at the person bad-mouthing you.  Resist that temptation.  Instead, pray for that person(s).

Yes, praying for the person bad-mouthing you can be difficult. But it is definitely something that must be done.  If nothing else, it will soften your heart for that person, and you will be able to face them with grace instead of venom.

2. Let God fight your battle.

I say it’s easy, but it is the hardest thing you will do.  You will be tempted to correct the gossip you hear about yourself.  Don’t be tempted to defend yourself.  God will send others to do that (even without you inciting them.)

Some years ago, I was going through a major ordeal.  I heard all this incorrect information about myself, some of which even made me laugh out loud because it was so outlandish. After months of trying to resolve it personally, I sat through a meeting designed to talk through the issues. Instead, it turned into something completely different.  Two of the people spreading untruths used the meeting to attack me with these untruths rather than trying to resolve the issues at hand.  At this time, I fully understood the following verse…

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

In that moment, I understood more than ever before that there was nothing I could have said to change their minds about me.  So if I could not change their minds, why engage them?

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Why not let God work in ways that I cannot?

For two hours I sat there, listening and praying that I would keep my big mouth shut.  (Because let’s just be honest here, I do not shy away from conflict.)  Thankfully, a friend was praying over me at the exact same time.  God was able to keep my mouth shut just like he did the lions’ mouths when Daniel was in their den.

On a side note: I am not saying that you should not try to work out misunderstandings and wrongs.  Of course, we should always try to reconcile our differences.  Matthew 18 instructs us to do so, but sometimes we must deal with people who do not want to resolve issues. They just want to stir up problems, manipulate the situation, and cause divisions.  This is what I faced, and I realized this after trying to resolve the issues one-on-one several times.

3. Follow Christ’s example.

This goes back to #2 and is the perfect illustration of how to accept malicious words.  When Christ was falsely accused and put on trial, he was humble and strong.  Some believe He was solely keeping quiet so that he would be sent to the cross, but I believe it was more than that.  I believe He was setting an example for us, knowing that his followers would face slander and similar situations as well.

There is a time to speak out and be bold.  But, unless I overlooked some verses–which is possible so feel free to correct me–what I read about Christ, his disciples and apostles speaking out boldly is that it was for God and others…rarely for themselves. We are commanded to speak out for others and defend the faith.

Paul “boasted about” himself in a way in 2 Corinthians 11, but goes on to say this is utter foolishness.

We are commanded to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

Proverbs 31:8

4. Realize it’s a blessing.

What?  How can we even contemplate that being bad-mouthed is a blessing?  We can! And we should believe this to be true because the Bible tells us so. When we are holding steadfast to God and His truth, letting Him guide us through crazy situations, we may very well find ourselves in the slander spotlight. When this happens, trust these verses…

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. – Matthew 5:11

 

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:13-17

Our faith grows when we watch God work it all out and see Him get all the glory for all He has done! What a blessing!

5. Believe the truth will come to light.

Again, if you are going through this I am very sorry.  It is not a fun situation and can be distressing.  Just lean into Jesus.  He above all completely understands.  In the end, whether on Earth or in heaven, the truth will all come to light.

In the situation I mentioned above, a few years after that horrific two-hour ordeal, I received a letter from one of the two people involved. That person expressed complete sorrow for having said what was said and asked for forgiveness.  It was one of the most memorable experiences I have had and I was very thankful, that even though it took years, the truth became evident because God was working it all out.  Because of all this, relationships began to be mended where division had once resided.

He will fight for you! You can trust that!

My prayer for you:

Lord, you are beyond amazing.  You work in our lives in ways we could never dream.  You use what we feel are the worst of situations to bring about good and resolve situations that might have otherwise gone unresolved.  We thank you for always working behind the scenes, calming our hearts, and giving us the Holy Spirit to guide us through such difficult circumstances.  We specifically lift up all those who are being bad-mouthed and slandered right now.  Give them your peace, which surpasses understanding, and the courage to let you fight for them.  In the One who let you fight for Him so that we could be redeemed to you – Amen!

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Living Out Love on Valentine’s Day

Living Out Love on Valentine’s Day

Lori S

Lori S

I'm Lori! My husband and I have been married since 2008. We adopted our son in July and live in Memphis, TN. One of the things I love about Creating a Great Day is that it is focused on inspiring women to the woman that God wants them to be. Every woman is different, and we all have talents to honor God and walk alongside each other in this spiritual journey called life. Have a blessed day!
Lori S

Valentine’s Day: More than Romance

Before everyone rolls their eyes at the title, hear me out. This is not a blog post about the romantic focus of Valentine’s Day (or as my husband calls it, the “Hallmark Holiday”). This blog post is for people of every age and every life stage.

Growing up, I always wanted to be with someone on Valentine’s Day. The flowers, stuffed animals, presents….showing love to your “significant other” was the main focus of my Valentine’s Day. Sure, getting cards from my family was nice. However, there was nothing like getting swept off your feet by the love of your life, right?

A Different Approach to Valentine’s Day

Now that I’m older, I wouldn’t say that approach is wrong. I would just say that my focus on Valentine’s Day is different. God has taught me through my life experiences that we need to see and love people through God’s eyes, not our own. God deeply loves each and every one of us every day. If we are asked to love like God loves, why do we naturally turn the “biggest day” for love each year into a romantic holiday? Why do we tend to only focus on the romantic love, when there are so many ways we can choose to love people that day?

Romans 12:9-13 states:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (NLT).

People in our communities desperately need to experience the kind of love that only comes from God. Why not take this day to share it? Why not embrace the practice of hospitality, serve the Lord enthusiastically, and honor one another through our loving actions?

Ideas for Showing God’s Love to Others

Don’t get me wrong. Loving our spouse is commanded by God and should occur on a daily basis. Valentine’s Day is a great day to honor our spouses and loved ones. However, God calls us into a love that is so much deeper than showing love to those closest to us on Valentine’s Day. He calls us to love those who experience love the least. Valentine’s Day is a special day in which we can make all of God’s people feel loved.

Here are some ways that people (or families) can make others feel loved on Valentine’s Day.

  1. Make baked goods for the staff and/or residents of hospitals, nursing homes, or community service workers (firefighters, policemen, etc).
  2. Partner with your church or a local organization to support women and their families through a community event that day.
  3. Find a creative way to send random people Valentine’s Day cards.
  4. Work with your local church on leaving “love/encouraging notes” in your pantry boxes that go to hungry families in need.
  5. Make a meal or offer to babysit (for FREE) for a single parent.

Start planning now so that when February 14th rolls around, you will be ready to go and be love to others!

How to Help Those Going Through Divorce

How to Help Those Going Through Divorce

Jennifer E

Jennifer E

I am "Mom" to Chloe, Allie, & Emilia. I am wife to Misael Escobar. I am a child of God. I love to learn about other cultures and learn about others life experiences.I am always a "work in progress". Through many struggles I have become "me" and I am finally happy with the person God has led me to be.I am excited to see where God will lead me in this life.
Jennifer E

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Going through a divorce is never a “club” one aspires to be a part of, but it happens.

Oftentimes, friends and loved ones very much want to help and ease the pain, but are either at a loss for what to do, or they try to fix the brokenness. Having gone through a divorce twelve years ago and having the privilege of leading in the national support group DivorceCare for five years, I have heard and seen a lot! So, here are some practical do’s and don’ts of helping friends who are navigating the painful road of divorce.

serve-one-another

 

DO:

1. Freezer meals

As a single parent, working and having to think about making dinner and just planning ahead is beyond difficult. Stocking your loved one’s freezer with already-prepped meals is especially helpful so that on the hard days there is a no-thought-required meal ready and waiting.

2. Gift cards

If you don’t like to cook then a gift card would be great too. Choose places like Boston Market so that they can stop and get something on the way home from work.

3. Fill the empty time

Take your friend out for coffee or lunch on the weekends they are without their children. Going from being a full-time parent to being alone for two days is very hard at first. All that extra time gives them a lot of time to think about the divorce and to worry about how this is going to affect the children. Your loved one now has time to fill their mind with “what-ifs” because the dream of what they saw for their life is over and they can’t see a new dream yet. They are in the deep stages of grief and will be there for a while.

4. Be their family at church.

If you see them at church sitting alone, ask them to sit with you.  Everyone in my DivorceCare class has a really hard time going to church. It is beyond painful to see all the “happy” families and hear all the analogies of families/marriage in sermons, etc. Even though most people don’t notice, it’s easy to feel like everyone is looking at you and wondering why you are alone.

5. Encourage them.

Text them and let them know you are thinking about them, praying for them, and maybe send a verse about God being an ever-present being.

DON’T:

1. Don’t try to force them out of their feelings.

Did you know that if you are in an active healing process (counseling/group therapy) for every five years someone was married it generally takes a year for them to heal? So don’t rush them into feeling better.

2. Don’t encourage them to start a new relationship. This can delay healing and actually create more pain to heal from.

3. Don’t say, “I saw this coming” or bad-mouth their former spouse. Even if that is true, it compounds the hurt and emphasizes in their mind the failure they feel.

4. Don’t try to give advice unless you have been in the same situation. You can be a friend by listening and being there, but encourage them to seek counsel from someone who is further down the road, a professional, or a support group.

These are just a few things that I hear over and over from people who are going through this process. It is a marathon and not a sprint. Above all: be patient. The healing process is painful but possible and it helps so much to have loving people walk alongside you.

it-helps-so-much-to-have-loving-people-walk-alongside-you

If you have experienced divorce, what was encouraging to you?

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Why you should teach Bible class In the Trenches Fighting for Your Marriage when hope seems lost Being Chosen

Choosing to Love, Even if He’s Not Your Soulmate

Choosing to Love, Even if He’s Not Your Soulmate

Laura P

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

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I’ll never forget the first time my husband told me he didn’t believe in soulmates.  I’ve always felt like the term itself was a little cheesy, but up until that point I suppose I had never really given the idea much thought.  Still it seemed a little…unromantic.  In our culture we’ve been inundated with movies and stories of finding true love. And what is true love if it isn’t one special person you’re destined to be with for all of eternity?  That’s what the world would have us believe, and I admit, I did buy into the romance of that in my younger years.

In the Beginning

I suppose in many ways the way my husband and I started our dating relationship could be considered very romantic.  It is definitely very similar to a barely believable Hallmark movie.  The story goes that our mothers were best friends in high school.  My mother was even maid of honor in his mother’s wedding.  Then my mother moved away, got married and our mothers didn’t see one another again until they were both pregnant with us (insert collective “awww”).

After I was born, my mother enlisted in the Air Force.  I spent the rest of my days exploring new states and countries every few years, while my husband spent his days exploring wheat fields, farm equipment, and the inside of engines in our small hometown.  Fast forward to August 2005.  I was visiting my great-grandmother who is very dear to me before I left for college.  I was enrolled in a Christian college in Oklahoma City.  At the church potluck a sweet older lady was chatting with my grandmother when I was beckoned over to meet a boy who was also OKC-bound.

Friendship Blossoms into Something More

Honestly, I didn’t give it much of a second thought.  I was engaged to a boy from high school in a very toxic relationship.  Our friendship slowly bloomed as he and I began to ride home together to visit our families.  He was always kind and respectful, and I valued our friendship.  When my engagement came crashing down around me, he was there with words of comfort and support. A couple of months later I was there to reciprocate when he and his college girlfriend broke up.

At this point I had never had a romantic feeling toward him.  It would be another couple of months before our friendship began to blossom into something more.  I remember when I first really realized how blue his eyes were, and suddenly I could hardly bear for him to look at me.  That sounds so ridiculous, but it is so very true.  After a chaste kiss to the hand I was sold, and the rest, they say, is history.

My Plans are not the Lord’s Plans

I promise you have endured that long story for a purpose!  Jaded by my broken engagement and the betrayal that came with it, I told God I was done looking for a soulmate.  My plan was to study, focus on school and my faith, and leave the rest up to Him.  How funny it is to me now that I thought I actually had complete control of things in my life! Alas, I was young and needed to learn so very much more about the Lord and myself.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

I had no way of knowing that this man would challenge me in more ways that I ever knew possible.  He showed me how to love without shame. I learned how to dream within boundaries and how to plan for an unpredictable future.  He unleashed desires in my heart that I had fought against, desires that were God’s will hushed by my own plans and dreams.


So now comes the question:

If he was so good for me, so helpful in my walk with the Lord, wouldn’t that make him like an–I don’t know–soul mate If you look in God’s word (and I have), there’s no mention of one perfect person to fulfill us, aside from God, of course.  And it makes sense.  God wants to hold that most special place in our hearts.  He requires us to love him above all else and above ourselves.  God very plainly wants to be first in our hearts.  He does not build another human being to be perfect in our eyes. No, He reserves that place for himself.

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Choosing to Love

So as flawed human beings, we are destined to choose love.  We must choose to love one another in the hardest of times.  In my experience, choosing love has been the single easiest way to resolve any conflict in our marriage.  I don’t expect him to fill my needs, to perfectly anticipate my desires, or insure that our marriage stands strong against the enemy.  And I would not measure up if he expected those things of me.

Instead of expecting to fit like a hand in a glove, we expect the snags and grooves along the way.  If one of us has a rough spot, we work to buff it out.  If the other has a hang up, we find a way around it.  There has yet to be a bridge that we cannot cross in love.  When we are both overworked, overtired and over-stressed, it is much harder to choose love. However, it just gives us more opportunity to practice.

How do you choose love with those you care about?

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Courageous Perseverance True Rest God is our Refuge Praying James

God’s Promise of Family

God’s Promise of Family

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Did you know hidden in God’s word like a diamond waiting to be discovered is a beautiful promise of family? It’s a promise that he would put the lonely in families. If God says it, then you can trust it to happen. That is the truth that I’ve been holding onto for years. As I look at how God has fulfilled his Promise of Family in my life, I know that this promise rings true for all of us.

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Promise of Family

The first time I read this promise in Psalm 68:6, I held onto it like it was my lifeline. At that time, my husband and I were in the midst of discerning which congregation God wanted us to work with. You see God called us away from the church family we grew up with and asked us to go somewhere where else. We couldn’t understand it at the time, but now see that God was paving the way for other things He would call us to later.

After eight long months, we found a family of believers that took us in as their own. We came to them as visitors and they treated us like family long before we ever placed membership.

I saw God’s promise of putting us in a family unfold. 

I remember being asked if they could throw us a baby shower when they found out we were pregnant with baby #4. This was only after visiting for a handful of months. After responding “thanks but we aren’t members,” we were met with a question that makes me cry thinking about it even now.

“Can we love on you anyway?”

How could I refuse allowing them to love on our family?  They truly showered us with love then and even after our move.

The Promise Answered Again!

About four years later, once again we were being called to leave. My husband had finally been offered not one but two jobs after spending a year taking care of his grandparents. Praying for discernment over which job my husband should take, was hard because I had to put my emotions aside. I did not want to move far away. On our way home from the potential job that was the farthest away from our “home,” my husband asked my thoughts on where God was leading us. I couldn’t help but burst out into tears as I answered him. I knew God was calling us to the farthest location away from all our family.

And then that same promise came floating back to my heart:

“God sets the lonely in families,”

A year ago I was in tears thinking about moving, and now I’m praising God for how He has kept his promise once again. We may not have any family by blood in this town but we have a spiritual family. And they are a blessing to my heart.

Here’s the cool part though…many of our spiritual family from back “home” did what they could to connect us to people they knew in our new town. One friend connected us with her family and they have been a big blessing literally from day one of our move. Others encouraged us to visit certain congregations or connected us through Facebook with their friends here. God has blessed us with amazing neighbors and blossoming friendships near and far. The more I spend time in different places, the more I realize what God means by family. It’s a family where there is always room for more! I am so thankful for those who have come into my life up to this point and look forward to those I have yet to meet.

Christ’s church is a Family No Matter Where You Are

Christ’s church was designed to be a family of believers no matter where you are on this planet. We are all one big family! I love this so much. Thanks to the congregation we attended before leaving Oklahoma, we had a wonderful opportunity to bring this understanding home to our children’s heart.

A couple months after delivering our 5th child in Texas, we received a package from the Oklahoma congregation. The kids were sooooo excited to open it and guessing what it was. Then one kid piped up and said, “Why are they sending us a gift?” They spent several minutes coming up with answers. Some were hilarious, but some hit the nail on the head:

They still love us. 
They still consider us family!

Yes, they do consider us family and we still consider them family, just like we still consider the congregation we grew up in family. No matter where you live on this earth, if you are a follower of Christ, we are family!

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The congregation in Oklahoma had a baby blessing and delighted in blessing us too with a handmade blanket! And yes, I totally cried!

I share this because I’m sure I am not the only one who has felt lonely in my circumstance. God is always with us and praise God for Him and his faithfulness! He is my closest friend and always will be. But I praise Him for recognizing our need for physical families too. I hope this encourages your heart today if you are feeling lonely to reach out to those around you. And even if you are not feeling lonely, pray about who you can reach out to that might be praying for family right now.

Bless you and create a great day, my sisters!

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