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For Adults

Be Encourages, Not Doubters

By: Callie Milling

As parents and youth workers, we often find ourselves surrounded by teens that we love. We cheer them on, pray for them, and encourage them. We’re their biggest fans, believing in them and supporting them as they take on life’s challenges. We want what’s best for them, but how do we respond when God asks them to do something hard? Do we question their abilities, doubting whether they are capable of doing hard things? Or do we stand in the gap, doing what we can to equip and help them be obedient to God’s call on their lives, even when it means they will have to face adversity and challenges?

I often hear adults talk about the younger generation negatively more than any other way. They say they’re too wrapped up in their phones, they don’t know how to have a conversation, and they’re disrespectful. This younger generation is often put down and doubted, not even given a chance to prove themselves and show what they’re capable of. I know I’ve been guilty of this before. There have been times I haven’t even given teens the chance to show what they’re capable of because I allow my doubt and prejudice take over. 

What I’ve learned, when I do give them the chance, is that teenagers are capable of so much–often so much more than we give them credit for. God knows that, too. He knows His children, and He has a special purpose for each teenager, believing in their ability to live up to the calling He has placed on their lives. He has created them each with gifts and talents to glorify Him. 

Because we love them, we often desire to see teens live an easy life, wanting comfort and safety for them. However, God calls them to so much more than a comfortable life. He calls them, and us, to live a life that honors Him. He requires obedience of them, even when it’s hard and when it brings on adversity and challenges. If we really love them, we should encourage them to pursue God and His will, and push them to be obedient to whatever God has called them to–even the hard things. 

When a teen feels called to be a missionary in a foreign country, it can be scary for those who love them. There’s so many unknowns about what a life of missions will look like. Will they be safe? Will I ever see them if they live across the world? These are valid questions, and they certainly have their place. We, as trusted adults in their life, should be more concerned about whether they’re being obedient to the Lord. To raise up adults who trust Him, and who have given their life to serve Him, what greater joy is there as a parent and youth worker? Whatever they’re called to, let’s be encouragers instead of doubters!

Just because they’re young, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable. However, many of them believe that their age is a hindrance. They feel as if they’re too young to make a difference or to live a life that honors God, that what they do now doesn’t really matter. However, we know that’s not true. So let’s be people that build up and encourage teens instead of tearing them down for what we think are their faults. Teenagers are capable of doing hard things. Sometimes, we just have to get out of their way and allow them to walk that road of obedience.

For Girls

You Can Do Hard Things

By: Callie Milling

Did you know that most scholars believe Mary was between 12-14 years old when she was pregnant with Jesus and married Joseph? Can you imagine, not only becoming a mom, but becoming a mom to the savior of the world at such a young age? When the angel told her about the Lord’s plans for her, she simply replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). In other words, she told the angel that she was a servant of the Lord and would do whatever He asked of her. What an amazing attitude to have. Mary could have easily refused to do it or she could have done it with a bad attitude, but instead she said yes with a willing spirit. After the angel left I’m sure she sat down and thought about all the adversity she would face. She likely knew it would be a hard road. She didn’t know what it would look like to give birth to the son of God and she didn’t know how her fiance would react to this news. Despite all of the unknowns that lay ahead of her, she was faithful and willing to do what the Lord asked of her even though it was going to be really hard.

Mary was young when she was tasked with carrying the Son of God and raising Him up. Despite her age, God knew that she was the right girl for one of the most important roles in the redemption story. He didn’t see her and think, “Oh, well Mary is too young to do anything important for me. She doesn’t know enough yet. She doesn’t have what it takes. She’s not old enough to serve me yet.” No! Instead, He saw Mary and might have thought, “What a faithful young woman. I love her and I have a purpose for her. She is old enough to make a difference for me.” 

God thinks the same thing of you. He loves you and He has a purpose for you at twelve, thirteen, seventeen, or whatever age you may be. He doesn’t think you’re too young, He thinks you’re just right for the task at hand. So, what is God asking you to do that you feel you aren’t capable of doing? Are you wanting to lead a bible study but feel like you’re not old enough to lead a group of girls? Are you wanting to start a club at school but don’t feel qualified enough? I don’t know what the Lord is asking of you. I do know that you are valuable and that God can use you at any age. You are never too young to serve God.

You can do hard things, no matter your age. God has a plan for your life, and wants to use your talents and your life to honor him. You don’t have to wait until you’re in college, married, or get that job to do hard things for the Lord. God wants to use you now. You are capable of taking on challenging things. Your age is no excuse. If you are a believer, then God requires obedience of you, no matter how old you are. 

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul tells Timothy that he shouldn’t let anyone look down on him because of his age, but rather to set an example for other believers. Even at a young age, you can live a life that points people to Jesus. Why culture might doubt you or see you as immature, Jesus sees you as someone who can be bold for the cause of Christ. If you allow Jesus to work in your life and to reign as savior, then you can go forward with confidence knowing you have a purpose to live out. 

I know so many women who wish they would have served Jesus more faithfully as a teenager. Many of them feel like they wasted opportunities. They believed the lie that they weren’t old enough to make a difference. They wish they would have used their younger years to do things that they no longer can because they now have families, jobs, and other responsibilities that tie them down. One day you will be an adult and you will get to experience all the wonderful things that come along with adulthood, but right now you are a teenager and you get to live the years that so many women wish they could do over. Use your teenage years wisely–use them for the Lord. Don’t let them waste away because you think you’re too young. You can have an eternal impact on this world, no matter what your age is. Be bold, be faithful, and do hard things for the Lord!

For Girls

He Has Gone Before Me

By: Claire Ryan

There are times I sit outside on the back porch, simply to take in the beauty of creation. The sky is so blue, the grass so green, and the birds so talkative. They sing melodies back and forth, as if trying to outdo one another; each song is prettier than the last. Nature is alive.

Pawpaw and I enjoy watching the deer. A mom and her two babies like to roam the back woods, sometimes venturing out beyond the edge of the forest and into human territory. The babies are always curious, they enjoy frolicking into the unknown and experiencing the newness of life. However, when it comes to being out in the open, where there are no trees for coverage, they are somewhat timid. Their mother, perhaps, having taught them the dangers of exposure. Or, maybe, it’s an instinctive knowledge. The momma deer knows all too well what dangers they may face; so, taking charge, she leads the trot away from the forest. Her babies watch from further back, uncertain. Eventually, curiosity wins over and they join her, drawing strength from their mother’s courage. They trust her fully. If a problem arises, they believe she will protect them.

Trust. It isn’t always easy. It requires the giving up of control. When I stop and consider that, I am quickly reminded that nothing has ever truly been in my control in the first place. I have the freedom to make my own decisions, but God holds the gavel of my life.

Life can be really scary; the unknown, a daunting prospect. When I see those baby deer staring anxiously after their mother, sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror. I am tiptoeing on the edge of my forest, looking out into the large, open world. There are so many dangers out there; especially, as a Christian. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 we will face trials and tribulations in this life; however, He is our blessed hope! We can take heart, we can rest in Him, because He has overcome the world. Like that momma deer, going before her babies, bravely marching outside of their comfort zone, Jesus Himself takes me by the hand and leads me into the open fields. He will never abandon me, but protect me in His perfect way.

Deuteronomy 31:8: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

He has gone before me.

For Adults

Helping our Girls Find God’s Will for Their Lives

By: Diana Bryant

Even before our daughters were born, we all had dreams of what they would do with their lives. Of course, at that point, those dreams were based on what WE thought would be an excellent idea. They were our dreams, but it didn’t take long to discover our daughters had their own minds, with plans of their own. Today, our girls live in an exciting time, with the world literally at their fingertips. And as they grow and mature, we must remember it’s God’s plan for their lives we want them to find and follow.

How can we help them discern God’s will for their life?

  •  There is no substitute for routinely and intentionally praying for our girls. Pray for God to reveal His will to them and for them to be receptive to His plan. Let your daughter know you pray for her and pray with her.
  • Make sure your daughter knows you want God’s will for her. That may be something you have to settle in your heart because God’s will sometimes lead our children to faraway places or to places we would not have chosen. We need to be convinced God’s plan for their life is the absolute best place for them to be, no matter how that corresponds to our dreams for them.
  • Not only teach your girls to read, love, and obey God’s Word, make sure you are modeling that for them. Let them see you use wisdom found in Scripture to make decisions. You might even have an opportunity to share when you didn’t follow that plan and the consequences that followed.
  • Pay close attention to the personality traits, talents, and abilities your child displays. Do what you can to provide encouragement and growth in these areas. Search for lessons, opportunities to use their talents, or places of service to make the most of your child’s abilities. These may be the characteristics God uses to prepare them for their future.
  • Expose your daughters to opportunities, organizations, and activities that make use of their gifts and interests. Provide ways for them to grow in the areas in which they excel. At the same time, help them experience ways to serve others. God may lead them to do things He will use in their future.  

It’s exciting to watch our girls grow and mature. It’s rewarding to see them walk with the Lord, following wherever He leads. No matter what our dreams were initially, the truth of 3 John 1:4 is the absolute highest aspiration we can achieve: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  Walk every day with your daughters, keeping that goal in mind. Trust God for the results. He is faithful!

For Girls

Finding God’s Will For Your Life

By: Diana Bryant

Everybody loves a good mystery, right? Just not when you have decisions hanging over your head and can’t figure out the right move to make. Many times sincere Christian young people want to find God’s will for their lives but get hung up looking for answers. Let’s look at some basic principles and steps you can take, so decision making is a little less scary and intimidating

Principle #1: Realize life is a series of choices and consequences. The sooner you can grasp good choices result in good, beneficial, and helpful consequences, the better. Bad choices bring about tough consequences. Learning to think through possible outcomes of your decisions can go a long way toward deciding the right path to take.

Principle #2: Be assured God is not trying to trick you. He’s not making a game out of His will, hiding it, and watching to see if you figure it out. God loves you and wants His best for your life! He will provide answers when you sincerely seek them.

Principle #3: Decide early on you are committed to doing whatever His will turns out to be. God may lead in ways you never dreamed of, but rest assured, doing His will ensures a joyful, fulfilling future.

There are several practical steps you can take to find where God is leading. Consider these:

  • Sincerely seek God’s direction. Read and obey Scripture. God will speak to you through the work of the Holy Spirit, and direction will follow. Pray, expecting answers.
  • *When you’re unsure what the long-term answer or direction is, do the next right thing. If you’re in school, the right thing is to study, pay attention, and keep your grades up. When choosing a college to attend, the next right thing is to meet deadlines for applications and essays. If you have a job but aren’t sure about a career track, do your best where you are. Be on time, have the right attitude, and refine the skills you use on that particular job.
  • Notice your gifts and abilities. Work on developing those areas of your life. Make the most of the talents God has given you; He had a reason for giving them to you!
  • Notice circumstances in which frequently you find yourself. God may be preparing you for a specific role.
  • Listen to the guidance from older, godly friends, pastors, and teachers. Many times they see possibilities that you may not realize.
  • Consider known aspects of God’s will first when making a particular decision. There are many things we KNOW are God’s will, like honesty and compassion. Are there principles that apply to your decision, like honoring your parents or giving up things that are not necessarily wrong but keep you from doing better things? If so, use these guidelines to your decision.
  • Be well-rounded. We all have particular things we love to do, watch, and experience. When we obsess on one activity and exclude everything else, it’s not healthy and limits the chances of discovering other exciting possibilities.  

Thankfully, God has promised wisdom when we ask; therefore, you can make decisions with confidence. He has promised to lead and be with us every step of the way. That’s no mystery, and it’s a promise!

For Girls

Does God Care about You?

By: Karah Grooms

Eblast paragraph: Karah Grooms challenges you to ask yourself, “Does God care about me?”

Does God Care About Me?
            One day while at college, I was listening, or at least trying to listen, to a chapel speaker preach. My mind was filled with all kinds of distractions, and I allowed them to overtake my mind for most of the sermon. I was going through a particularly hard time in my life. I was battling hopelessness, loneliness, and depression. Chapel was honestly the last place that I wanted to be.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I had heard that passage many times before. The speaker paused after reading it, looked up, and said, “Do you know that?” I leaned in. “Do you know that He cares for you?” he said. It woke me and pulled me out of my thoughts. “Do I know that God cares for me?” I asked myself.

God loves you more than anyone in this finite world ever could. He created you intentionally and purposefully in your mother’s womb. He sent his Beloved Son to die a sinner’s death on a cross for you. He cares for you.

During the time in which we are living, it is easy to isolate ourselves. We think no one cares about us or what we are going through. It’s easy to pretend we’re okay and hide, quite literally, behind a mask. It’s easy to hold onto our pain, regret, struggles, and sins.

The beginning of verse 6 says we have to humble ourselves. Holding onto all of our burdens is an issue of pride. Holding onto all our problems and not giving them to God says we are strong enough to fight these battles alone. Or even that God is not big enough to fight our battles. The truth is God is a big God, and nothing is too heavy for Him.

Verse 6 refers to “the mighty hand of God.” The verse is referencing God’s mighty hand saving His people, the Israelites from Egypt. God’s hand is still mighty, and if He can bring a whole people group out of bondage thousands of years ago, then He can handle your burdens. Christ calls you to cast your sins on Him because He cares for you (verse. 7). You can bring all of your sin, all of your hurt, all of your day-to-day struggles to Him. He is a big God, and nothing is too heavy for Him to carry.

 Today, I pray that you can turn from yourself and turn to God, giving Him all you are carrying because He cares for you.

For Adults, For Girls

Intentional Relationships

By: Hannah Gorrell

This season of life has lasted much longer than any of us hoped or expected. We are endlessly separated from our friends and loved ones in one sense or another. Sometimes we only see our friends through screens or plexiglass. It feels like one of the loneliest times in history. We are challenged to find new ways to interact and form relationships. That may even be what led you to be reading this blog.

As human beings, we are made for relationships. God told Adam it was not good for him to be alone, so God made a companion. We should resist the temptation to take the easier route, shying away from relationships. My prayer is that we find new ways to be intentional in our friendships. Intentionality will enrich our love for those people even more. We may do this by writing letters to friends far away or making phone calls to our grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

I want to encourage you to set aside some time every day to do these things. Make it a time to express yourself but also a time to relax. The relationships you need to work on are not far away. Make sure to spend time with those in your household. Honor your father and mother and those who take care of you. Remember, your siblings are your companions for life.

Commit to reaching out to a different friend or loved one every day this week. You will be surprised when you not only lift their spirits, but they also raise yours.

For Girls

Worth the Wait

By: Becky Gwartney

I sat nervously in the car, folding a piece of paper over and over again that I held in my hands. The ride seemed to be taking forever as we drove back to college from a church service a few hours away. Weeks before, my chauffeur for the night had told me he loved me. I was hesitant to get that serious since I had just ended a 5-year relationship before dating him, and I knew he hadn’t been separated from his previous girlfriend for very long. I was skeptical, and I was afraid of making the wrong decision.

I had made plenty of those in my life! In fact, I traveled out of state to attend a Christian college trying to get away from the mistakes I had made. I needed a fresh start, and attending college near my home was not the place to do it. No more choosing the wrong path, and no more choosing the wrong guy. This was my time to choose well.

I had had many boyfriends in the past. All of them were “good guys”, but not all of them were good for me. Some of them claimed to know God and love Him, but few lived that out. I was tired of playing games and wasting time. Now, as a college student, I was ready to wait as long as it took to find Mr. Right.

Was this him, the guy sitting beside me in the car? He had “checked every box” on the list I had made before I would even consider dating someone else. I knew I had set high standards. I wasn’t about to make a mistake again…with my heart or with my life. With peace in my heart and a nudge from God, I knew He was orchestrating every moment and the feelings swelling inside of me.

A songbird at heart, I decided to sing the words instead of speaking them—I love you. I honestly love you. As the words in my heart finally escaped my lips, he pulled the car to the side of the road, eyes full of tears and a huge smile on his face. He knew, then, I felt the same as he had for weeks.

Was all the heartache I had been through worth the wait? Definitely! Was being picky worth the ridicule from my friends who thought I was ridiculous? You bet! Was it wise to wait for the man God had for me? Positively! Had God answered my prayers and given me the man of my dreams? Absolutely!

I never had to keep searching, taking chances, plucking off the rose petals… “He loves me. He loves me not.” But more than that, I knew this man of God was the man God had chosen for me, and he would love me until death parts us. Now, 42 years later, we are still living out the love story God wrote for us, and it’s beautiful. Won’t you let Him write yours too? The man He has for you is worth the wait!!!

For Adults, Uncategorized

A Love Affair of the Greatest Kind

By: Becky Gwartney

In the most recent blog, Becky Gwartney asks a simple question, “How is your love relationship with God?”

When my husband and I were dating, we couldn’t find enough time to be together. We lived in different states for a couple of months before our wedding, and I waited by the phone to answer his call each night. I longed to hear his voice, to hear the events of his day, and to hear of his love for me. No matter the time it took from my schedule or the cost (back when long-distance was a big deal financially), it was worth it to take the time to share my life and dreams with him.  Love does that to you! 

When you love someone, you want to spend time with them, get to know them, and value those moments together. The same is true in our relationship with God. Getting to know Him is vital, spending time with Him is crucial, and moments together should be treasured. We all know this in our hearts because something is missing when HE isn’t included in our lives.

So, during this month of love, let’s examine ourselves. How is your love relationship with God? Do you arrange your schedule each day to make sure you spend quality time with Him? Do you prioritize the things of God over the things of the world? Are you passionate about knowing Him and making Him known?

Maybe some of you are experiencing a crisis of the heart. Perhaps you’re too busy, overworked, or unable to unplug from an electronic society. How do you get out of a spiritual funk? Here are a couple of “no brainers”:

BE IN THE WORD!

God’s Word is not junk mail that is delivered to our mailbox or inbox.  It’s a message that is vital for our existence and God’s purpose for our lives. Second Timothy 3:17 tells us that, through the Word, we are put together and shaped for the tasks God has for us.  We may have been handed down the greatest of legacies, be shaped for God’s purpose, and be willing to serve, but if we lack His Word in our hearts, we aren’t “all in” with Him.

Whatever it takes for you to get into His Word and be intimate with Him, do it. The word intimacy means “into me see”.  I love that! God looks at us and knows us, but we can look at Him and know Him too! What a beautiful gift we’ve been offered, but to create that intimacy with God and become passionate about Him, we must see into Him and His heart through His Word.  Another way we can do that is through…

PRAYER

Psalm 55:17 says, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.”  You can’t be intimate with someone you don’t talk to. But, how do we pray so that we connect intimately with our Heavenly Father? It’s a two-way street—we talk, and we listen. We may be really good about the talking aspect, taking our “list of things to do” to God, but do we listen to His voice speaking to us? He wants a deeper relationship with you. He wants you to hear His heart and His thoughts. He wants you to reveal your deepest desires. And, if we set aside the time to be quiet enough (even quieting our thoughts), He will speak—through His Spirit, through the Bible, through friends, through circumstances, or through a gentle “knowing” that settles in our hearts.

These simple truths are nothing new and probably nothing new to you. Simple truths, simple steps, simple measures to take, but, oh, what benefits we reap when we do them! A love affair of the greatest kind is yours for the taking. Are you ready and willing to do your part?

For Girls

Present in the Present

by Hannah Goucher

As Christians, we often view God’s will as something off in the distant future. We fantasize about the things we will do for God then, often forgetting He is working in the here and now. We must not think of God’s will for our lives as something we are waiting to do, but rather as something happening in the present. One may ask, “How can we do God’s will in the present?” We do this by loving God and being obedient to Him. This is the very thing God calls all Christians to do. It is not something in the distance we’re striving to attain. Instead, it is daily dying to ourselves and our fleshly desires, then choosing to walk in the Spirit.

If we want to do those big things for God, we must be willing to be obedient in the small things of everyday life. Luke 16:10a says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” I often find myself wanting to do big things for God. But if I’m not willing to be obedient in the small stuff, I won’t be obedient in the big.

What are the things we can know about God’s will?

1. It is not distant or a mystery.
We can be sure of the things God has called us to do right now. We can also be sure they will be the same in the future.

2. It requires obedience from the believer.
We must be obedient to what God has called us to do now in order to do big things for Him in the future. (How beautiful it is that He allows us to be a part of that!)

3. There is mercy and grace when we disobey and repent.
We can rest and be encouraged that God does not leave us when we fall short and make mistakes. He is faithful and just to forgive, helping us along the way.

What are some ways we can be obedient in the small things?

  1. Choosing not to gossip and changing the conversation when the topic arises.
  2. Being a friend to someone in need when you’d rather go hang out with your friends.
  3. Putting in the work for your homework/test rather than slacking.
  4. Helping your friends through drama rather than adding fuel to the fire.

Dear Lord, thank You that Your will is not something unattainable but present in the here and now. Help us be obedient in the small things and rely on You to do big things.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen