Deacon's Digest (14)

Grief

Do you feel overwhelmed by grief and sorrow? Perhaps a loved one has died ... or your spouse has left you ... or you are dealing with the trauma of an abortion ... or you have lost something very precious, such as your job, your health, your home, or a relationship. No matter how deep your pain, God can help you find comfort and hope.

The Facts on Grief

Understanding the nature of grief can help us better cope with loss. Grief is a natural, healthy process that enables us to recover from terrible emotional wounds. William Cowper, the English hymn writer, said, “Grief is itself medicine.” People may say, “Don’t cry; your loved one is in heaven.” That may be true, but it’s important to deal with the very real pain of loss. We should not feel guilty for grieving because it is a necessary part of God’s pathway to healing.

The grief process is like sailing across a stormy sea. When we first experience a great loss, we are launched into a tempest of emotions. We feel surrounded by darkness and heavy waves of anguish. Comforting words are drowned out by howling winds of sorrow. We feel lonely and out of control as we are swept toward a new destination in life.

This journey through grief has four phases:

1. Shock – In the days and weeks immediately following a devastating loss, common feelings include numbness and unreality, like being trapped in a bad dream.

2. Reality – As the fact of the loss takes hold, deep sorrow sets in, accompanied by weeping and other forms of emotional release. Loneliness and depression may also occur.

3. Reaction – Anger, brought on by feelings of abandonment and helplessness, may be directed toward family, friends, doctors, the one who died or deserted us, or even God. Other typical feelings include listlessness, apathy, and guilt over perceived failures or unresolved personal issues.

4. Recovery – Finally, there is a gradual, almost imperceptible return to normalcy. This is a time of adjustment to the new circumstances in life.

Healing a broken heart is similar to healing a broken leg. Rushing the process can actually hinder our long-term recovery, like removing a cast before the bone is strong enough to bear weight. Grief that is left unresolved may trigger depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other serious problems

Psalm 34:18(ESV)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

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Why Church?

Why Church

Is it possible to steer clear of church and still be a good Christian? Many people would say yes to that question, and perhaps you would agree. You believe in God; you pray once in a while; you consider yourself a Christian; but you feel you can get along just fine without church. The important thing is how you relate to God, not how you relate to church. Right?

Wrong.

Is it possible to steer clear of church and still be a good Christian? Not if God knows what He’s talking about. God’s Word, the Bible, shows again and again that when people belong to Christ, they also belong to his church and are deeply involved in the life of the church. So if you think you can be a good Christian without the church, you’re saying that you know better than God. And that’s not a very bright thing to do.

Why Stay Away?

Here are some reasons people used:

1. Some of you feel you have no other choice. You feel you have to work Sundays. If you don’t, you fear that you could lose your job. Going to church and praising God may be fine, but going to work and pleasing your boss is what pays the bills. God will understand, won’t he?

2. Still others of you stay away from church because a member of the church or one of its leaders did something that really turned you off. You figure, "If that’s what the church is like, who needs it?" You want nothing to do with your old church, and you’re not eager to find another one, either. Why hang around with a bunch of hypocrites, when you can follow God on your own?

God Says So

If you think faith is purely private, a "me and Jesus" thing, you’re fooling yourself. You might ask, "Who says you need church to be a good Christian? Who says so?" Well, God says so. Just look at some of the ways that God describes the church in the Bible.

The Bible calls the church God’s household (Eph. 2:19), God’s family (Eph. 3:14-15). It is home for all who belong to God. So if you stay away from the church, you’re either running away from home or you’re not part of God’s family at all.

Fellowship

Now let’s consider the vital aspect of the church: the fellowship. Church is the special community where we share in the fellowship of believers.

I know that the church has its faults, that the fellowship is often far from perfect. After all, the church is a fellowship of sinners who still have plenty of changing to do. The people don’t always get along very

well. But I also know that when the going gets tough, the people pull together to support the one that is hurting.

The church’s fellowship does more than just get us through times of crisis. Christians devote themselves to fellowship because in the church the whole is greater than the parts. Like a body, the church has many parts, each with its own unique function.

You need the church, and the church needs you. Every part needs the others. If one part suffers, they all suffer. If one part flourishes, the others benefit. That’s how God designed our physical bodies, and that’s how he designed the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12). It’s not just "me and Jesus." It’s "we and Jesus." When Christians devote themselves to the fellowship, they all benefit from each other God-given abilities, and they accomplish many things as a group that they couldn’t do as individuals.

The church is a setting for loving fellowship, where we can stop thinking only about ourselves and start loving others as Christ has loved us. Jesus says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).

Prayer

The final activity mentioned in Acts 2:42 is prayer. The Christians in the New Testament church got together to pray. You might wonder, "Why go to church to pray? I can pray by myself just fine." Well, it’s true that personal prayer is important and that you can pray anytime, anywhere. But praying together with others is also important. When God’s people come together, whether as a large congregation or in a small prayer meeting, their prayers take on added power. Jesus said, "I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. The bible states when two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matt. 18:19-20). Why church? Because there God’s people pray together with one heart and praise God together with one voice.

Every church has its problems, of course, even those where God is very much at work. But look at it another way: if the people of the church were all perfect, they might not want sinners like you and me to join it and spoil it. Be glad the church isn’t too good for you, and don’t act like you’re too good to join the saved sinners who are in the church. AMEN!

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Levels of friendship

Levels of Friendship

Friendships can be among the most rewarding and the most frustrating relationships in our lives We are told that friends love at all times (Proverbs 17:17), only wound us in ways that are trustworthy (i.e., tough love; Proverbs 27:6), are more loyal than family at times (Proverbs 18:24), provide mutual edification (Proverbs 27:17), can impart wisdom (Proverbs 13:20), and they may even sacrifice themselves for us (John 15:13).

Level 1. Associate

This one has some gray area. Most of the time, you see your associates more than your own family. You all spend enough time with one another. You get to know them better, understand their likes and dislikes, and have a grasp on their personality. This might cause you to consider these people friends, but answer this: Can you bring your associates around your current non-work/church/ friends and not feel uncomfortable? If you can’t then they are strictly associates nothing more. If you feel the need to separate your associates from your life outside the home, then they are far from friends!

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Obedience

BibleWhat Does the Bible Say about Obedience?

Faith is necessary to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our faith is genuine and true, we will live a lifestyle characterized by righteousness, modeling the example set for us by Jesus Christ. We obey His commands, not because we have to, but because we want to, because we love Him. We are enabled to obey because, once we believe in Christ and are saved, we are remade. We are not the same people we once were. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

When we obey the Lord, we can live a life of joy, without shame, rooted deeply in the Lord and confident in our eternal hope. Our obedience is actually part of our assurance that we truly know God (1 John 2:3).

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The wise

Old age is a blessing from the Lord. We should never be afraid of aging. Christians have a responsibility to show kindness, respect, and to take care of the elderly. Yes we are to respect all people, but there is a certain type of respect that we give to the elderly unlike our own age group. There is a certain way we talk to them and give honor to them.
When living by the Word of God old age brings wisdom that is able to help and guide others in need.  Senior Christians carry so much wisdom and they give great advice.
Job 32:7 I thought, those who are older should speak, for wisdom comes with age.
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Read your Bible

When we read the Bible, we should view it as if God is telling us a story.  He is talking to us about what He desires for us, sharing His heart with us and telling us about following Him.  It gives us a point of conversation so that we can talk with God. 
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Be a man

What does it mean to be a Man?

What does it mean to be a man? The answers are as varied as the people who give them. Some would point to genetics, anatomy, or character. Others measure men by their accomplishments, by the battles they fight or trials they overcome.

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Teamwork

The Perfect Story for Teamwork! A Powerful Team Tale & 4 Tips

by Michael Rogers

The following teamwork story illustrates the need for every member of the team regardless of their differing talents and gifts. It is a powerful reminder of why leaders and team members must embrace diversity.

Have you ever heard of the Aesop Fable, “The Belly and the Members?” As you read the following story I encourage you to think about your own teams and how this might apply.

One day it occurred to The Members (parts) of the Body that they were doing all of the work while the Belly got all of the food. They believed the Belly was lazy and unproductive.

It was decided that they would hold a meeting that evening to discuss how unfair this seemed. After what was a very long meeting that night it was voted on that The Members of the Body would go on strike until the Belly agreed to take its proper share of the work.

The unhappy body parts didn’t do anything for several days in an attempt to stop feeding the Belly. The Legs stopped walking, the Hands stopped moving and the Teeth stopped chewing.

As a result of this inactivity and the starving of the Belly, the Legs became more and more tired, the Hands could hardly move anymore and the Mouth became parched and very dry.

Eventually the entire Body collapsed and passed away as the Belly completely starved.

What is the moral of the story? Team dynamics are complex. Here are four important team tips to remember:

1. Some members of the teams contributions may seem less significant or of less value than others. Especially as it compares to those louder and possibly more prominent members of the team.

It is important that every member of the team understands their unique roles and what they bring to the team. It is also important that they clearly understand everyone else’s roles and contributions.

2. Another moral of this story is the need for teams to refrain from evil speaking of each other, gossip, jumping to conclusions and a whole host of other potential team illnesses. Doing so weakens teams and organizations.

3. While team member accountability is critical, it should never become personal or be based on ill-fated assumptions. Accountability must be based on trust, which is not something that magically happens it must be built consciously and over time.

4. Because everyone in the organization or on the team plays an important role to the success of the agreed upon goals, the vision and goals of the leader must be cascaded up and down the organization so everyone is in alignment.

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Submit Yourself to God's Purpose

Submit Yourself to God’s Purpose

Christian worker has to learn how to be God’s man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things. Never protest by saying, “If only I were somewhere else!” All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. Unless we have the right purpose intellectually in our minds and lovingly in our hearts, we will very quickly be diverted from being useful to God. We are not workers for God by choice. Many people deliberately choose to be workers, but they have no purpose of God’s almighty grace or His mighty Word in them. Paul’s whole heart, mind, and soul were consumed with the great purpose of what Jesus Christ came to do, and he never lost sight of that one thing. We must continually confront ourselves with one central fact— “…Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

“I chose you…” (John 15:16). Keep these words as a wonderful reminder in your spirituality. It is not that you have gotten God, but that He has gotten you. God is at work bending, breaking, molding, and doing exactly as He chooses. And why is He doing it? He is doing it for only one purpose— that He may be able to say, “This is My man, and this is My woman.” We have to be in God’s hand so that He can place others on the Rock, Jesus Christ, just as He has placed us.

Never choose to be a worker, but once God has placed His call upon you, woe be to you if you “turn aside…to the right or the left…” (Deuteronomy 28:14). He will do with you what He never did before His call came to you, and He will do with you what He is not doing with other people. Let Him have His way.

James 4:7-8 (This scripture is on my license plate)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

 

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