Roots and Wings

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16

Roots and Wings

We all need two basic things in life. The first is stability to be grounded and secure individuals. Only then can you be relationally healthy. The second is the vision and encouragement to discern and develop your unique gifts and aptitudes. Then you can recognize, pursue, and fulfill your calling. In simple terms, you need roots, and you need wings.

Today I want to focus on the latter—the wings. We all want to be discerning so that we can develop God’s design for our lives. But be prepared . . . it takes time and energy. It takes time to connect with God; to read and study His word, to pray, to talk to God and to listen to God, and connect with other people.

As you connect with God and connect with others, you will see God’s will for your life. It’s when you actively pursue life and pursue God . . . that you’ll see God’s will revealed. Don’t wait for it, move ahead and see it happen.

Steve Arterburn

No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. – Seneca the Younger

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Healthy Step-Families

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Healthy Step-Families

In 1990, I was given the privilege of a lifetime: the opportunity to adopt a wonderful little girl who has forever changed my life, my precious daughter Madeline.

In 2005, I made a new journey into fatherhood as two little boys became my stepsons. James and Carter are so smart and loving. It’s been a tremendous blessing for me to be what they call their ‘bonus Dad‘ and for them to be my ‘bonus boys.

And then, I became a biological father with the birth of my son, Solomon and my daughter, Amelia. I’m now a four time-blessed man, and I believe no less than four times a better man as well.

I know from experience that there’s amazing potential in blended families, as well as formidable challenges. There are a lot of suggestions and a lot of rules and boundaries blended families should consider. But the most important one of all is to keep God at the center of your home.

The best way for you to develop these character traits is to have a vibrant relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

– Steve Arterburn

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. – Charles R. Swindoll

No-Win Situations

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of the mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27

No-Win Situations

Sometimes we feel powerless for one reason or another. You may be in a situation where other people have power over you. You may feel that you’re trapped by the demands of others and that there’s no way to please them all. It’s a double bind: to please one is to disappoint another. Sometimes when we feel stuck and frustrated with our relationships, we look for a measure of
control by escaping through our addictive behaviors.

When you’re caught in no-win situations, don’t run away through your addictive or compulsive escape hatches. At times like these God is there, and he’ll listen to your woes. He hears your cries and is willing to give you hope for the future.

Admit to God that you’re powerless; surrender to Him and allow His Holy Spirit to invade your life, it’s the power you need to move forward.

– Steve Arterburn

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Children of Alcoholics

The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. – Luke 8:24

Children of Alcoholics

Alcohol abuse is a huge problem in our world today. Let me give you a feeling for how big a problem it is. Over 18 million Americans have alcohol problems. More than 9 million children currently live in homes with an alcohol-dependent parent. And more than half of all American adults have a family history impacted along the way by alcoholism.

The last statistic is worse than it sounds. Half of all American adults have alcohol abuse in their family history. That’s important because alcohol abuse isn’t an individual problem. And it doesn’t end when the alcoholic passes away, leaves, or even sobers up. Alcoholism affects both the alcoholic and everyone who loves him or her.

But, there is hope. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Adult  Children of Alcoholics, and Celebrate Recovery, are all designed to help family members along with the alcoholic. Seek help if your family has been impacted by alcoholism.

Remember, within each of us lies the capacity to grow and alter the way we act and feel. And that doesn’t mean that God will give us peace from the storms of life. He will instead give us peace in the midst of the storms of life.

– Steve Arterburn

I do not want the peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.– Helen Keller

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Silencing Unholy Sounds

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalm 46:10

Silencing Unholy Sounds

You don’t need to look very far to find that our culture is bombarded by words–billboards, radio, email, text messaging, internet, television, telephones, the list goes on and on. Some messages are, of course, better than others. Nevertheless, there comes a time when we all need a break from the constant bombardment.

But how do you find refuge in a world as frenzied as ours? You can’t just set up your life in a way that you avoid everything coming at you. Yet it will be good for you to find a way to carve out a time and a place for silence in the midst of the frenzy.

The Bible tells us to sit still and be silent, and know that God is God. Take a break from the constant chatter of the world. Sit quietly and attentively in God’s presence.

Try it. See if this spiritual discipline doesn’t break the power of fear and anxiety in your life. See if it doesn’t heighten your awareness of God’s presence. See if, in this silence, you can learn to pay less attention to the noise of the world and more attention to what God is trying to say to you.

Set aside some time this week. Read Psalm 46 slowly and carefully, then sit quietly and let your heart rest in the comforting truth that God is God, and you’re not!

– Steve Arterburn

There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. – Minnie Aumonier

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Words of Medicine

And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. – Colossians 2:10

Words of Medicine

Recently my friend was taking a walk with her two children in the park. As they approached the pond, they came across a sad sight: a small duckling, dead, lying by the edge of the pond. Her two-year-old daughter said sadly, “Mommy, this ducky is dead. He needs medicine.

Medicine doesn’t help when you’re dead, sweetheart,” said Mom, “There’s only one person who could help that little duck now, Jesus.” The little girl asked, “Does Jesus have medicine?” To this her five-year-old big brother answered, “Yes, his words are medicine.

Boy! Out of the mouths of children! What a profound statement. Jesus’ words do indeed bring healing.  If you’re struggling with doubt, fear, loneliness, or anything else, I encourage you to seek the medicinal power of God’s word.

– Steve Arterburn

Some things never make sense, but neither does God’s love. – Patsy Engle

In Times of Grief

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. – Philemon 1:7

In Times of Grief

When someone you know is grieving, you want to express your love and concern. But, how do you know what to say? Sometimes there just aren’t words. But it’s important that you spend time with your friend or family member. What’s as important as anything is just showing up.

What do you say to someone who is suffering? Some people are gifted with words of wisdom. For such, one is profoundly grateful. But not all are gifted in that way. Some blurt out things that don’t really make sense. That’s o.k. too. Your words don’t have to be wise. The heart that speaks is heard more than the words spoken. And if you can’t think of anything to say, just say, “I can’t think of anything to say. But I want you to know that we are with you in your grief.”

Or even just embrace. Not even the best of words can take away the pain. What words can do is testify that there is more than pain in our journey on earth to a new day. Of those things that are more, the greatest is love. Express your love. How appallingly grim must be the death of a child in the absence of love.

Sharing in someone’s grief is no time to worry about your own discomfort and uncertainty about what to show. Believe that God will give you the words, the touch, the hug that will comfort. And you’ll be glad you shared in the moment and gave strength to a hurting soul.

– Steve Arterburn

Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength. – Billy Graham

Silence

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. – 1 Peter 2:15

Silence

Have you ever hung up the phone or left a conversation and felt like you said too much? Have you ever wished you could take back something you said? We often learn the hard way that words can cause pain and create problems.

One way to refine your use of words is by routinely practicing the discipline of silence.

Take a day to monitor your conversations. Spend some time in silence to reflect on how you’ve used and abused words. Do you use words to rationalize, lie, deceive, exaggerate, or manipulate? In silence you’ll remember the words you spoke quickly in anger and slowly in apology, arrogantly in accusation and humbly in confession. In silence you’ll begin to hear and you’ll begin to experience his renewal.

Then you can begin to make changes where necessary. People recovering from heart attacks are often counseled to bring quiet into their lives by speaking less often and more slowly when they do speak. Such discipline has been proven to reduce stress and ease tension. And most importantly it can help you use your words in ways that encourage others and please God.

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. – George Eliot

Gifts And Gratitude

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

Gifts And Gratitude

There’s a real danger in thinking your spiritual gifts are blessings God has given you for your own benefit. The problem with this selfish viewpoint is that you see your use of these as an option or luxury that you neglect or use according to your will alone. That’s a far cry from a biblical understanding, which sees your spiritual gifts as expressions of gratitude God wills for you to use in service to others.

The Bible teaches that God gives us spiritual gifts so we can give to others. We use our gifts to continue Christ’s work on earth. The apostle Paul wrote: A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. His point: your gifts aren’t your possessions. Yes, they’ve been entrusted to you, but actually, they belong to the community of believers. The truth we need to think about is that God has woven a unique design into each of our hearts. And our spiritual gifts are part of that fabric.

So, what are your spiritual gifts? Not sure? Read the Bible’s teaching on spiritual gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Then ask yourself where you’ve felt the greatest satisfaction serving the Lord. Carefully thinking through that question will go a very long way in clarifying this issue; because when you do what you love in order to show God’s love, you’ll find spiritual fulfillment and renewal.

– Steve Arterburn

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me. – Erma Bombeck

Our Shield of Togetherness

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Facing Up to Our Wrongs

Alone we’re vulnerable to temptation. Together, however, we form a shield of protection for one another. God wants you and I to grow spiritually in a network of mutual commitment and accountability, where we help each other to think and live in new ways.

The apostle Paul wrote, “In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan” (Ephesians 6:16). The shield of faith was likened to the shields carried by Roman soldiers, which were able to cover the entire body. To advance in battle, a group of soldiers would assemble together, making a wall of shields for protection as they moved forward.

Similarly, we’re told to stick together. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other” (Hebrews 10:25). Our encouragement of one another and our shared faith in God and his Word will serve as the shield we need to persevere in tough times.

Who is standing beside you in the everyday battles of your life? Are you alone on the field or do you have trusted friends on each side? If you’re alone, how is that working out for you? Who has God called you to stand beside?

– Steve Arterburn

If I have seen farther than other men, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. – Sir Isaac Newton