Extending the Hand of Hospitality

Extending the Hand of Hospitality

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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.
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When November flips open on my calendar, I can’t help but immediately start to think about the smells and tastes of the season.  Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, turkey, green beans, banana bread, pecan pie with milk, cranberry sauce….now I’m drooling!

Now, what I picture alongside the food is my family and friends.  I’ve always had the opportunity to spend the holidays with my family except one year when I lived overseas. That year reminded me how wonderful hospitality truly is.

So this month, we want to encourage you to extend the hand of hospitality. Invite a friend or even someone you don’t know to share a meal with you.

Extending the hand of hospitality could take on many forms:

  • Have a picnic in the park with friends (depending on the weather and where you live).
  • Invite someone on a street corner to meet you at the nearest food establishment or bring them a meal.
  • Share meaningful conversation with a friend over coffee or hot chocolate, either in your home or at a local coffee shop.
  • Plan on making a double portion for Sunday lunch and invite another couple or family over.  Maybe that could be a visitor from church or the new family who just placed membership or a family who is just visiting.
  • Take dinner over to a friend’s house and surprise them with a home-cooked meal.
  • Reach out to someone you have been estranged from.
  • You could even invite a friend or an acquaintance for Thanksgiving dinner! If you live near a college, invite someone who can’t go home for the holiday. Or, if you live near a military base, invite a few soldiers over. College kids and soldiers always appreciate a home-cooked meal!

There are so many choices but one thing is for sure: sharing a meal means sharing our lives.  So be blessed by the presence of others and your heart will be blessed also.

Who is the first person that came to mind while reading this?  

That very well could be the Holy Spirit planting an idea.  Now, find the time to reach out to that person and plan a time to share a meal together.

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Remembering with Grieving Parents

Remembering with Grieving Parents

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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.
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As you may know, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month.  Filled with bittersweet memories, it’s a time to openly honor those whose lives have made a big impact even though their time with us was so tragically short. It’s a time to comfort the grieving parents who have endured this loss and remember the children who are no longer with us physically but are always in our hearts and with us spiritually. Remembering with grieving parents on other occasions is comforting as well.

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More than likely, hearing the words “infant loss” sparked the name of a child, mother, and/or father in your mind. Someone you know, maybe even intimately, has endured the pain of losing a child. I’ve heard it described as a lonely suffering. Since some of the children went to heaven before birth, there is no funeral. There is no public gathering of mourning and comforting each other.

Many of my friends and family members have lost children. It’s impossible to talk with them and not remember their precious child(ren).  I’ve been pondering the best way to honor their children’s memories, and then two ideas came together.

This week, as I listened to two different women share their stories of miscarriage and loss, one of them shared how she honored her child. She gathered with other families who have walked this road, and lit candles in their honor.

During the month of October, many gatherings are held where women can assemble with others who have experienced this same loss.  Thinking that you are the only one that has ever suffered this loss is a cruelty Satan casts on our hearts. But when families come together in their suffering, many are comforted. This is so wonderful, but there is something else we can do for these families as well.

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The Greatest Gift to Give a Grieving Friend

As I envisioned the lit candles, one for each child, a thought that H. Norman Wright shared came to mind. The idea he conveyed was this:

One of the greatest gifts we can give someone who has lost a loved one is to remember that loved one with them. Remember them on their birthdays. Remember them on the anniversary of their death. Speak of their lost loved ones. Yes, there might be sadness but the joy of knowing they are remembered is treasured. 

Each of these precious children, no matter how short their life, made a huge impact on this world. They are loved. They are treasured and they have left their angel print behind. As the precious gift from God that they are, they should be honored. Their light still shines here on earth as well as in heaven. When we take the time to talk about each child and remember their impact, we fan the flame of light.

Norman Wright’s idea is something to keep in mind. But in honor of those who have lost children, let’s keep their children’s memory alive in our hearts as well. I’ve created a calendar specifically to remember these children’s heavenly birth dates, so that I can send a love note on their anniversary and cover them in prayer. I’d like to share this with you.

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No Matter How Short, Their Life Made a Difference.

Have you lost a child? If so, leave your child’s name along with his/her heavenly birthday. We will remember that child as well as pray for your family.

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Truth About Pregnancy After a Miscarriage Miscarriage & Cancer Grief Grief & Mercy

Rise Up, O You Sleeper, Awake! — The Audacity To Be A Godly Woman

Rise Up, O You Sleeper, Awake! — The Audacity To Be A Godly Woman

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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My husband is Superdad. He sent me away for a weekend with my mom to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live Simulcast in Wichita last year.

Spiritual Nourishment

I don’t know about any of the other moms of little kids out there, but I’m drained. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mommy, but I’ll tell you it seems to take every ounce of everything I have to give–every day. In the best way of course!

Spiritual nourishment during this season of life can be especially hard if Sundays are spent nursing babies, wrangling young kids during the service, or being distracted by an active toddler who may or may not have escaped down the aisle while you are trying to worship Jesus. Right.

Sometimes, it’s even hard to get out the door to Bible Study. I find myself seriously craving some meaningful corporate worship with fellow believers. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not all about “me getting fed,” but let’s be honest, in this season it seems like I’ve got an appetite for spiritual food and I’m just still hungry all the time.

Church Camp for Women

Anyway, I cannot tell you how grateful I was that my husband encouraged me to go to this conference. Praise the Lord, seriously!  If you get a chance to do something like this such as Women of Faith or a Living Proof event or Abundance, etc., please go! Do it.

This was Mommy church camp and I loved every minute. Walking in, you could absolutely tell the Holy Spirit was there and He was ready to work.

It would take me longer than I have room to write here to talk about everything Beth discussed this weekend and how the Lord worked in my heart. However, I want to highlight the point that set the theme and struck a chord that has echoed in my heart all day.

Audacity

These are days that require audacity in our faith. Beth defined audacity as “intrepid boldness, disregard of normal restraints.” It is not an absence of apprehension, but it is a courage found only in Christ. Audacity in Christ means we must be characterized by boldness for Him because our witness as individuals, and as an entire Church, is at stake. We should not be afraid because our birthright is in Christ and we are secure that He has won the war.

As a woman of God, a daughter of Christ, we must not give up our “birthright” flippantly to this world for things that seem to satisfy us in our lives.  Just as Esau gave up his birthright to his brother Jacob for stew (Genesis 25: 19-34), we often have contempt for our Jesus just because we are exhausted, we are depleted, and we are vulnerable to a certain flippancy or impatience that comes with allowing our focus to be distracted from what really matters.

What’s your stew?

Beth asked us all: “What’s your stew?”

What might you be allowing to satisfy your desires instead of Jesus? What might be your focus “right now” instead of waiting on the Lord? Or what is taking precedence in your daily life over Christ? Are you tired or stuck in a routine that does not include prayer and meditating on the Word?

We have so many idols in this culture. I read 2 Tim 3:1 and I think of the world in which we live. The thing is that Satan looks for the vulnerable and seeks a foothold.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Romans 1: 16-18 (ESV) tells us, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Rise Up, O You Sleeper!

Rise Up O You Sleeper AwakeLadies, we must not be asleep! We must be alert and ready as ones who are adopted in Christ to have the audacity to serve the living God as He has called us. Boldness is at stake in our own lives, in our nation, and in our world.  Have the audacity to be fervent in your prayers, dedicated to your relationship with Christ, in love with our Savior, bold in sharing the truth and in glorifying Him through the way you live your life.

Scriptures remind us, especially in Psalm 39 and in 1 Peter 1 and Isaiah 40 that our time on this earth is short. Our only real legacy is what we do to further the Kingdom of God. That might look as simple as bringing someone (your children, friends, family, or strangers) to know the Lord or as big as a ministry like Beth Moore’s. Whatever that looks like in your life, be audacious in your faith and be bold for Christ every day. Ask God to show you how you can use your day to be audacious for Him. Pray fervently and be in His word.

Ponder one of my new favorite songs:

Rise Up, O Sleeper, Awake by Andrew Peterson

An excerpt of the lyrics:

Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
The dawn is upon you
Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
He makes all things new
He makes all things new

The world was good
The world is fallen
The world will be redeemed

So hold on to the promise
The stories are true
That Jesus makes all things new
(The dawn is upon you)

 

Because We are ALL His Treasured Posession

Because We are ALL His Treasured Posession

Tamika R

I was born in Denver, Colorado. I moved to OKC after quitting my jobs as a teacher and YouthIntern to pursue the call into ministry. I started as a non traditional student at Oklahoma where I met my husband. He was a non traditional student working on a 2nd degree after moving from Poland to pursue a degree in Ministry. We dreamed together of serving the Lord in Europe. Now we are blessed to be witness to the awesome way that God works all over the world. We live in Vienna, Austria with our3 kids. We work with Eastern European Mission. We provide Bibles and ethics materials in native languages of Eastern Europe. That means we get to seeGod's hand and providence all over Europe. I am Publishing Assistant at EEM and a fitness trainer. I fill my days caring for my family, teaching gym classes and designing book covers and working on details to provide quality materials to those who need God's word. In my free time I paint, cook, make jewelry and run 2 blogs.
Tamika R

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“For just as rain and snow fall from heaven

and do not return there

without saturating the earth

and making it germinate and sprout,

and providing seed to sow

and food to eat,

so My word that comes from My mouth

will not return to Me empty,

but it will accomplish what I please

and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

Isaiah 55:11

Have you ever thought about all of the things that had to fall perfectly into place for you to have come into a relationship with the Father?

That is not chance that is destiny. Even if it is something so seemingly simple as your exact parents coming together so you could be born. It is a miracle. A declaration of love. The Father saying I want you. He has chased each one of us down. That is the central story of the Bible.

A God that loves each one of us that he is willing to do whatever it takes to be in relationship with us. What a gift. What an honor to be called his.

The most amazing thing about this gift, is that he desires all mankind to receive it. There are many people around the world who have to overcome huge obstacles just for the right to hear the message of God.

Since August, many of those people have made their way to Europe. What an opportunity. The chance to discover His word. The ability to suddenly hear Him singing over you and see the way His hand has prepared your way.

Those of us in Europe now have the chance to share Jesus with people who were in places not easily accessible to missionaries.

I am so thankful to be able to play a role no matter how small in people getting a chance to have their own Bible. We have been doing this for 60 years in many war torn countries. All over Eastern Europe, we have witnessed the mighty hand of God and his work to save those in need of him.

Now, we are able to empower the Ministries and Missionaries on the front lines of working with refugees. Through gifts from the Lord’s church we have been able to start giving out Bibles in Farsi. It is so exciting. We are working on Arabic Bibles as well. It thrills my heart when people come by to get them. I know what a special gift, and unique opportunity it is.

I will never forget the first time I gave a Bible to a child who had never had one. We both cried and it was moving. I cry pretty much every time. I can’t even imagine what a special moment it is for those sharing with and blessing the disheartened and displaced.

I am thankful we have a God who desires a relationship with us. I am impacted by the love and kindness of those who donate the time and resources needed to provide these gifts to those in need.

If you would like to know how you can get more involved in helping people take the first steps in learning to be in relationship with the Lord, click here. Please take some time to think about and pray for the many people around the world who need Jesus. Ask the LORD to open your eyes to any paths you are standing near. Ask him to give you discernment and strength to help someone along their road to him.

Here are a couple pictures of me and the little part I have played in this project.

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Eastern European Missions has helped many receive Bibles in Farsi so they can read God’s word!

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The Encouragement Challenge: Loving God with Body, Heart and Soul

The Encouragement Challenge: Loving God with Body, Heart and Soul

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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.
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Have you ever read the verse “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” and wondered HOW?

Of course, we want to do this!  More than we can ever verbally express, we want to live for God with our entire being, but how?  Then I think of Luke 2:40:

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. (NIV)

When I read this, I fill with hope.  Jesus grew.

It’s a process.  It’s all about growing in the Lord. Growing is a process.  A seed must be planted and watered.  The roots must grow deep into the earth and bring about stability so the rest of the plant can grow without toppling over.  Slowly, it matures until it is ripe and ready for harvest.

We are no different than Jesus. We will love him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength, IF we are willing to take the time to plant the seed, water it, and let it take root in our lives. We’ve got the grace of God and the Holy Spirit is living in us!

As I think of this verse and how we want to grow more in love with the Lord daily, I realize that we have to incorporate our entire beings, not just our spiritual side.  We have to engage every part of ourselves–our body, our mind, our heart, and our soul!

So I want to introduce this challenge–a challenge to myself and to you as well to take small steps to a big life change.


The Encouragement Challenge Social media

“The Encouragement Challenge”
is all about focusing on our walk with God and not just fleeting New Year’s Resolutions!

Day by day, what we are seeking is to grow our relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ, and many times we need a physical friend (as well as the Holy Spirit) to encourage us along the way as we invite Him into all areas of our lives.  So that is our challenge for January.  We want to walk with you on this journey as we grow closer to our Lord and encourage you every step of the way in all areas of your life.

Starting January 4, we will be offering interactive ways to encourage you as you take small steps to make a big life change.

1.  Sign up now to receive our newsletter so you can receive all the info that will keep you encouraged during “The Encouragement Challenge” including:

  • The Encouragement Challenge Calendar so you can stay on track to fulfilling what God is calling you to this year.
  • A Weekly Exercise Video Series that includes daily exercises with a video at the end of the week that includes the entire combination. This is a 5-minute exercise series that will help everyone (from beginner to returning from injuries to advanced) strengthen their bodies with things around the house.  This will help us strengthen our bodies so we can physically serve our Lord, our families, and others. Double or triple this series for a more intense workout and still get it done in 15 minutes!
  • Scripture memorization cards.
  • A list of encouraging music that will get you moving and fill your soul with inspiration.

2.  Follow us on Twitter & Periscope at Create_GreatDay!  Kristi will be scoping her Encouragement Challenge journey and would love for you to share yours too! It’s a great way to stay accountable.

3.  Share your wins with us on our Facebook page! We will have a daily “Encouragement Challenge Wins” thread where we would love for you to share your  daily wins with us.  You might share what passage you read that day, what devotional book you’re enjoying, or that you drank water instead of a Coke. Whatever you are focusing on, we want to cheer you on too!

4.  Mark your calendars for January 30 from 9:30am-12:00pm.  Our very own contributors Julie and Toni will be facilitating a Real Food Cooking Class in Edmond, OK.  More details to come.

Here’s a glimpse into the first exercise of the first week’s series.
It make look easy but it will build your strength!

Julie Wulfert is a certified group fitness instructor with over 22 years of teaching experience She is also a board certified holistic health counselor.  She leads an amazing workout session every Monday &  Wednesday from 8:45am – 9:45am at the New Hope church of Christ in Edmond, OK.  Each class is $5 and you are welcome to attend.

 

Right now God might be wanting you to focusing on one area.  Great, let us be your cheerleader along your journey and you can be ours!  Just knowing that we have others who are walking the same struggles and being accountable gives us the courage to continue on even when we don’t feel like it.


heartI’m sure you already have an idea of where you want to grow in the Lord first, but if you need some ideas, I will throw some out too.  We encourage you to be praying about how God wants to grow you and follow His lead.

Honoring our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit by:

  • Treating our bodies with respect.
  • Listening to God’s image of us instead of the world’s image of us.
  • Exercising in order to become physically strong to do God’s work.
  • Nourishing our bodies better so we can stay healthy.
  • Working towards honing a skill that God is calling us to use for his kingdom.
  • Removing addictive behaviors whether that’s what we consider smaller things like binge junk-food eating to what we normally consider vices–smoking, excessive drinking, sex outside of marriage, etc.

Filling our hearts and minds with the things of God by:

  • Being in God’s word consistently.
  • Memorizing scripture and writing it on our hearts.
  • Filling our minds with things that are noble.
  • Taking the 30 day KLove challenge of listening to Christian music for thirty days.
  • Choosing different TV shows (You know, not watching the ones we watch but wouldn’t feel comfortable watching if Jesus were sitting next to us.)
  • Taking our thoughts captive.
  • Believing what God says about us instead of others’ criticisms.
  • Not harboring negative thoughts of others in our hearts.
  • Believing we are worthy of God’s love. (Oh, how Satan uses the world to smash our image!)

Growing spiritually by:

  • Praying more – maybe starting once a day or working towards praying without ceasing.
  • Praying for others specifically.
  • Allowing joy to be present in every situation.
  • Living in the understanding that no matter what happens on Earth, our souls are forever protected by God.
  • Trusting God to be faithful.
  • Obeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • Engaging our children in our spiritual growth so they can grow as they walk with us.
  • Picking a devotional book to read through or a Bible study to attend.

These are all just ideas. The list is endless, but pray about where God wants you to start.  We are each on our own journey but here to encourage each other along the way.  Our journeys will look different from anyone else’s. I will be focusing on some of the things above this year and can’t wait to learn what you will be focusing on!

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The best piece of advice I’ve ever received about making changes in my life was this:

Pick one thing you want to add to your life and start adding it.  Once it feels natural and you’ve got the hang of it, add the next thing.  This will keep you from being overwhelmed and stressed out.

Small steps in one or more of these areas will open our lives to loving God with our complete being!

 

On Every Street Corner…

On Every Street Corner…

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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.
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“On every street corner you hear…” While most people would finish this phrase with “silver bells”, I am thinking of eyes begging and dirty hands clutching a sign that says, “Homeless. Please help.”

This time of year there seems to be more people on the streets, holding signs asking for help. They are making the most of the giving season because they need it the most.

Yes, we could go on to argue whether a person may or may not be taking advantage of others’ generosity, but I would dare to beg you to reconsider letting this be your first response.

I am so thankful to God for his mercy toward me and his willingness to strip me of my judgmental eye.  There was a time when that would be my first thought or I would assume I knew what they needed best, but God exposed my judgmental ways and brought me to a new understanding.

The first time (yes, apparently, I’m a slow learner) God ripped open my heart was while I was living in Vienna, Austria.  Like any other day, I was enjoying the breathtaking city while strolling down a main thoroughfare.  I happened to look down and saw a man, who had obviously not showered in some time, holding a cup and silently begging for money.

Now, I am not one to give money.  I just never have.  I rarely carry it but I tend to feel better if I provide something needed instead of providing money that might go to other purposes (oohhh….that’s a bit judgmental. Or is it discerning and trying to be a good steward? I believe that’s a heart issue each individual needs to take up between herself and God.) When I saw him, my first thought was to provide him with food.  I ran into the nearest store and purchased a sandwich.

When I offered him the sandwich, he refused!  REFUSED FOOD!  Now, he is begging right? Obviously in need!  So why on earth would he refuse to take food?  Ok, so maybe he just wanted the money for other things!  Oh, how sadly my judgmental heart revved up.

I soon began arguing with this man in my imperfect German, me still offering and he still refusing.A Smile I will never forget

Then finally, he smiled.  It’s a smile I will never forget because it brought me to my knees and made me realize how absolutely prideful and judgmental I had been.  And then I knew why he refused my offering.

He refused the sandwich because he had NO TEETH!  That sandwich was absolutely useless to him.  He knew what he needed and I just assumed I knew what was best.  After this realization, I quickly went into the next closest shop and then presented him a smoothie.  This he took with a smile!

That interaction has FOREVER changed my outlook on “helping others.”  Am I really helping or am I judging and assuming I know what is best for them?  Since that time, God has continued to work on my heart.  Now when I see someone asking for help, whether on a street corner or elsewhere, I SEE that PERSON.  And because I see them as a person, my interactions are different.

My interactions tend to go something like this:

  • “Hi!  I have ______. Would you like it?” 
  • “What are you needing right now?”  And the answers I get are so varied from diapers to a motel room to food to gas.
  • Then if I am able, I will go and get what they need and bring it back.
  • “What is your name?”  This really seems to take people back.  Most people don’t ask for their names.  They are just an “it” out on the street.  Most smile when they tell me their name.
  • “I will be praying for you, insert their name.  What specifically would you like me to pray about for you?” Again, the answers to this are so varied, but I’ve never had anyone turn the prayer down. A few times, I’ve even had people ask what they can pray about for me.
  • Then I write their names, location, and prayer requests down in either my daily planner or on my phone. That way the next time I see them, I can call them by name and let them know that I remember them and I care.

Many times this is all done really quickly as I’m sitting in my car before the light changes.  Changes…oh, how God has changed my heart in regards to how I see people.  In a way, Christ has lent me his eyes, so I see his people for who he created them to be and not the circumstance they are currently living.

There have been a handful of times where our interactions have turned into relationships.  As in everything, we should always be prayerful about our interactions and how God can use us.  And I have been thankful for God’s guidance during these times.

May this be a challenge to you and encourage you to see all people for who God made them to be.  To put away our judgmental ways and give from the blessings we have been given.  Yes, some might not make the best decisions with what they are given, but at least we have honored God with our choice to obey him and plant a seed of hope, love, and redemption in others’ lives.

For Christ did not over look those in need; instead, he walked up to them, engaged them, and asked if they would receive his help. Should we not do the same?

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” – John 5:6

How has God broken your heart for the homeless or those in need?

Are you ready to take the December challenge and start using Christ’s eyes to see people and who he created them to be?

We would love to hear about how God has guided your heart in reaching out to others in need, in whatever circumstance that might have been.

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