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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tell Yourself the Truth



Her dearest friend was away the morning she found out. The information halted her breath and drove Judy to her knees. When she could move, she shut off her cell phone and left it on the floor. The patchwork quilt cocooned her on the tan corduroy loveseat. She wept as she realized the details were too deep and personal to share with anyone.

By the time the afternoon shadows lengthened, the crisis dominated her mind and heart. She rose and fumbled through dinner preparations, forgetting to add tuna to the casserole. Dread about how she ought to respond settled over her as she ladled out the soup. The brave front she adopted left her family unaware of her dilemma. She excused the children from clean up, saying it was her turn.

Have you been isolated by events or emotions on occasion? Or do you keep your own counsel by habit?  

Either way, in reality we’re never truly alone. We can turn to God at any moment. But sometimes the human condition can make our heads feel like an MRI scanner. Thoughts bounce and bang ominously as they repeat past messages, conjure odd ideas, evoke wild emotions. Even devoted believers fall into this pit. There is an escape route.

1. Listen to the rebounding clamor and write down what you hear.

2. Read the comments aloud to engage the objective side of your brain.
Would you call a friend one of those names? Refuse to say it to yourself.
Does that evaluation or plan make sense? Double-check the facts.
Is the fear, anger, or pain out of balance? Verify their sources.

3. Research what God says about and to you, and write it down.
Are you yearning to be valued or belong, to dwell in a place of security?
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine (Isaiah 43:1).
Is the constant barrage wearing you down, and the turmoil stealing your peace?
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

4. Rephrase His Truth as godly self-talk, not I-centered statements.
“Judy, you are redeemed. You belong to God.”
“Judy, soak your mind in God’s Word. You will be revived.”

These strategies are tools to uncover our human frailties and restore our confidence in who we are in Christ. As we implement them in obedience, we build our defense system and promote our peace.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).


About the Author:

Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s a well-respected speaker and author known for her transparency, warmth, and humor. Sandra has two manuscripts underway, Wallflower Women and Naomi. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/
You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook. If you contact her at Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+ she’ll be delighted by a reason to practice.






Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Redeeming Halloween




Halloween is a tricky, touchy subject in many churches. What do we do with this “holiday” that seems to celebrate the demonic but offers such great outreach opportunities?

In the fifteen years we’ve had children in the house, we’ve tried just about every option. One year, we even hid in the house with the lights off and hoped no one rang the doorbell.

For the last two years, however, we’ve approached this cultural observation differently. We’ve chosen to redeem Halloween—at least on our street—and use it to bless our neighbors. It’s a friendly, non-threatening way for us to meet our neighbors and for them to rub shoulders with real Believers.

Our approach involves:

Accessibility
I
We set up a table at the end of our driveway so we meet parents. If we were in the house, children would approach the door while parents hung back on the street. We want to get to know our neighbors, so we moved out to where they are.

2    Welcoming Spirit

We set up some chairs and hang out at our table all night. We ask people questions and try to have conversations rather than just “Happy Halloween!” with a wave.

      Adult treats

We offer muffins or cookies for the chaperones. If it’s warm, we have apple cider punch, and if it’s cold, we have hot cocoa. I make up a big batch of homemade cocoa so we can serve people small cups instead of mixing packets one-by-one. My recipe is much like this one except I add cinnamon. (I just Googled this. It’s not an endorsement of the site.)

      Music
We make a playlist of fun, clean Halloween-ish songs and put it on shuffle. We have a little, inexpensive Bluetooth speaker so we can just use a phone for this.

 **GOOD CANDY**

This is the most important part! If you’re going to do this, don’t be the cheap-skate house with the bad candy. Invest in the good stuff, be generous with it, and you’ll be the house people want to visit at other times of the year.

In one night, we met dozens of people from our neighborhood—people who generally drive into their garages and are never seen again. What an opportunity! The second year, people told us how much they enjoyed the year before and said they looked forward to coming our way again.

Our idea might not work where you live because of your church expectations or the greater culture of your area. But before you decide what to do for Halloween, pray for God’s leading and make sure you take advantage of Halloween rather than it taking advantage of you.


Question for Reflection:
How is God leading you to redeem Halloween this year? Will you be brave and follow His leading, even if it’s unexpected or a little out of character for you?

For some thoughts on discipling your children through Halloween, check out this guest post on my parenting blog.

Have you found fun ways to redeem Halloween in previous years? Please share your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


Bio.

Carole Sparks still hasn’t found the perfect Halloween costume because there were no prominent women theologians in the Reformation. Her husband is threatening to go as Martin Luther this year and shave his head in a tonsure. (That’s where you shave the center and leave the sides.) We’ll see.

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