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10 Things Not to Say at an Unbeliever's Funeral

The end of this life is the beginning of an eternal one for all who believe in Christ (1 John 2:25). Our compassion should trump all else when consoling those who mourn an unbeliever. The Bible clearly tells us what will happen if unbelief is the fate we choose; however, we should not pretend to know everything about a God whose ways are beyond our understanding (Job 37:5). The God of miracles, He has the final say over where a heart resides. In the quiet depths of every earthly heart, His voice calls. The answers may be audible to Him, alone. Romans 10:9-10 speaks of salvation beginning in the heart. The rest is in God’s hands, and timed perfectly. When offering comfort in a crowd that doesn’t believe in its Author, here are ten strings of text to stay away from. Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Stockbyte

10 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare Yourself for Seasonal Depression

Each year, nature shows its beauty with the changing of the seasons. Tree leaves become grounded rainbows before they disappear, and the ground becomes blanketed with snow. The sun shines more and less, and everyone begins to adjust to the shift in the weather change. As seasons change, so can our moods, ultimately negatively affecting our daily lives. While each season may bring something to look forward to (holiday celebrations, vacations, birthdays, etc.), the shift and changes can be difficult for some to get through.Seasonal depression can develop during certain times of the year for people, and they may find their moods shifting unexpectedly. Fatigue, consuming more comfort food, or having less energy are some things people who encounter seasonal depression may experience. As we approach a shift in seasons, we must be mindful of our bodies and our state of mind and be mindful of our emotional well-being to prepare ourselves to combat seasonal depression. If you believe you struggle with this, take a look at the list below of some things you can do now to prepare yourself for seasonal depression.Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Paolo Cordoni

5 Ways to Turn Halloween’s Dark Traditions into Something Good

You might find yourself unsure of what to do when Halloween approaches. On one hand, the Halloween holiday is steeped in dark traditions and celebrates themes of fear and death. On the other hand, it presents a unique opportunity for you to shine God’s light in the darkness of this fallen world. You don’t need to shun Halloween altogether. Instead, you can use the holiday toshare the good news of the Gospel. On Halloween, you can celebrate howJesus is the light who overcomes the world’s darkness. Here are 5 ways to turn Halloween's dark traditions into something good.Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/sandsun

10 Halloween Costume Ideas for Christians to Shine the Light of Jesus

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)Max Lucado once said, “In God’s hands intended evil becomes eventual good.” I believe that this holds true for the day of Halloween as well.What’s intended to be a holiday focused on evil can be a day that the light of Jesus shines the brightest. I mean, think about it: which other day of the year do you interact with so many of your neighbors? You’re either going door to door or having a plethora of families showing up at yours.It’s time Christians rise up and spread the light and love of God to take back October 31st. In order to help you do that, I’ve come up with 10 costume ideas that help you talk about God’s love for people. Some of these outfits are perfect for groups, some stand alone. Some make great outfits for costume parties and some are perfect for trick-or-treating. No matter where you’re going or who you’re going with, these costumes will help you start conversations about God.Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images Plus/Rawpixel

20 Reasons Why We Pray

“And He was giving them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not faint” (Luke 18:1).At all times, we ought to pray.She knew I was praying for a certain family member who seems forever in some kind of predicament. She asked, “Why do you pray? I don’t see it doing any good.”When I caught my breath–I could not believe a Christian asking such a question–I said, “Ask me why I breathe air. It’s what I do to live.”She did not let me off that easily. “Do you really think God is going to do what you ask? Is that why you pray?”By now, I had settled down enough to try to verbalize a reasonable answer.“That’s not up to me. How He chooses to answer my prayer is His business.”“My job is to pray. To ask, intercede, to speak in faith about what someone else needs. And so I ask for it.”“How He answers is strictly up to Him. Or whether He even answers at all.”Her question will not leave me alone. I imagine everyone who prays regularly–and keeps it up over the years, through good times and bad–has to answer this for themselves repeatedly, as well as for friends and skeptics alike.It’s not as simple as it sounds. “Why pray?”I certainly do not get all my prayers answered.Just yesterday in the restaurant, a waitress whom I barely know thanked me for praying for her a year or more ago. “I’ve been meaning to thank you,” she said. “Things worked out all right. And I’m so grateful for your prayers.”Oh my. Did I pray for her? Surely, I must have. Were my prayers determinative? (That is, did they make the difference?) God knows.Some of my prayers the Lord answers with a solid “yes.” But “no” is the answer some of the time. Others He answers later and in such unexpected ways that I may not even recognize that this was His answer to my request.I said to my friend, “I am perfectly fine with Him answering my prayers for my loved ones forty years from now, long after I’m in Heaven.”“But yes, I believe He will.”Why do I pray? There must be a thousand reasons. Here are the first 20 of my answers…Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/sticker2youVideo Credit: Soundstripe, Storyblocks, LightStock, ThinkStock

10 Things Your Adult Children Wish You Would See in Them

During lazy summer days at the pool, did your son call out, “Watch this, Mom!” right before he landed a tidal wave of a cannonball? In the waning twilight, did your daughter shout, “Look, Dad!” right before she turned a perfect cartwheel in the grass? Maybe your son begged you to see him in the school play or your daughter pleaded with you to attend her basketball game. They needed you to see them, watch them, pay attention to them.Even when our kids are grown, they still need us to notice them. They may not need us to watch them every minute like when they crawled through the house wreaking havoc on every item in their one-year-old reach or witness every achievement like when they were in school. But they still want us to recognize their personhood and witness their transition into amazing adults.Here are 10 things your adult children hope you will see in them. Your son or daughter asks you to:Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Aaron Amat

4 Ways to Include God in Every Day Moments

One of my favorite Bible stories is about Elijah hearing God. 1 Kings 19:11-13 says, "The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"It's a descriptive account of how Elijah expected to hear God and how God actually showed up. He looks for God in the powerful winds, earthquake, and fire. God was not there. Unexpectedly, he heard God speak when he quietly waited at the mouth of a cave, and God whispered to Elijah.How often do I look for God to show up as a mighty storm in my life or for him to get my attention by literally rocking my world, such as we see with earthquakes? At times, God speaks in those moments and is with us when our lives take unexpected turns, but what about the innumerable ordinary moments that make up most of our lives? Does God care about our daily routines? Is it possible to hear him as we walk to get the mail or make lunches?What about while cleaning the dishes or driving to work? Does he only check in with us on Sundays when we attend church services, or does Monday through Saturday matter to him, too?How can we start hearing that still, small voice in our everyday routines? It takes intentionality, for sure! Life is busy, we are distracted, and God can get pushed to the background of our lives.Let's be those who pursue his heart, voice, and presence daily!
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/AsiaVision

10 Ways to Bless the Grandparents in Your Life

I didn't realize how blessed I was to have grandparents in my late forties. Some never meet grandparents due to death, family disputes, or distance. If your grandparents are still living, your family is blessed.So how can you bless the grandparents in your life? There are countless ways, but here are 10 to get you started. This article has something for younger children and their grandparents, as well as adult children and theirs.Further Reading: What Does the Bible Say about the Value of Grandparents?Photo Credit: © GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

10 Things Real Christian Women Shouldn't Do

I’ll never forget the day my daughter, Dana, opened my eyes to what the world at large believes about Christians.When Dana had visited Kosovo for a missions project during college, she and other believers on the trip were instructed not to identify themselves as Christians. They were, instead, to refer to themselves as Christ-followers.“In some countries, the term Christian is synonymous with American and carries with it negative connotations – it says more about one’s political beliefs and excesses than personal values,” Dana told me. “The term Christ-follower describes a Person and a lifestyle.”Upon hearing that, I was convicted through the years to make sure that my life resembles a Christ-follower, and that I follow a Person, not the rules and expectations of a political association, a religious denomination, or a long-held tradition. So, in an attempt to share with you my own convictions, let me give you this list I’ve come up with on the 10 things real Christ-following women shouldn’t do, so we aren’t living out the negative stereotypes others have of Christians.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Franck Reporter

4 Things You Should Know about Surprised by Oxford

Caro Drake is a young, determined woman with a passion for knowledge. That’s one reason she enrolled at the University of Oxford for her postgraduate studies. She wants to sit under the world’s greatest professors. She wants to sit beside the world’s top students.For Caro, the pursuit of knowledge is the purpose of life.But then she encounters classmates and professors who don’t see the world the way she sees it. They love knowledge -- yes -- but they have a greater love for God. They believe in the supernatural. They believe in the Bible.“How does someone who believes in talking snakes get into Oxford?” an incredulous Caro asks a friend.Caro’s Oxford stint grows even more complex when she falls in love with a young Christian man who gives her space to think and to pose questions about life she has never considered. Suddenly, everything she has believed about life is in doubt.What will Caro do?The new movie Surprised by Oxford tells the story of Caro, who embarks on a journey to discover truth at one of the world’s most prestigious institutions.Here are four things you should know about it:Photo credit: ©Fathom; used with permission.

5 Nighttime Prayers for Protection

Nighttime offers a unique opportunity to connect with God. At night, we’re often more relaxed than we are in the midst of busy days, so we’re less distracted at night than during the day. That can help us perceive God’s presence with us more. We also tend to reflect on our lives in the evening before going to sleep, and that can help us see our need for God. It’s important to seek God’s protection through prayer, and nighttime is a valuable time to do so. A night prayer for protection can be a powerful way to entrust our lives and loved ones into God’s care. Here’s why it’s worthwhile to pray a night prayer for protection, and 5 night prayers for protection to use in different situations. Why Pray a Night Prayer for Protection?Praying for protection at night allows us to rest in the assurance of God’s unfailing love, knowing that he is our ultimate protector. Psalm 91:4 beautifully reminds us of God’s love and power: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”When we sleep, we are vulnerable. Praying for God's protection can help us to feel safe and secure, knowing that he is watching over us. Psalm 4:8 declares: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”Asking God to protect us at night can also help us find peace of mind. Nighttime can be a breeding ground for anxiety and worry. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us to pray about everything so we can trade anxiety for peace from God: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Through night prayers for protection, we can access the ultimate peace, which comes only from God. Praying for God's protection can help us to receive a restful and refreshing sleep. Psalm 127:2 reveals that God “grants sleep to those he loves.”Night prayers for protection also provide guidance, welcoming God’s light into the darkness. Life often presents us with uncertainties and challenges that can be particularly daunting in the darkness of night. Psalm 119:105 declares about God’s Word, the Bible: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Through evening prayers, we seek God’s guidance, asking him to illuminate our path and lead us safely through life’s trials.Finally, praying for God's protection at night can be a valuable way to end the day with an awareness of God’s presence with us. Psalm 139:11-12 points out that God is with us throughout each dark night: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”Here are five nighttime prayers for protection:Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/AntonioGuillem

Creative Mother-Daughter Date Ideas for Fall

Hey there, are you a girl momma too? Well, welcome to the club! As a mom of three daughters, I am always on the hunt for fun ideas and special ways to spend time with each of my girls. Now that I have two teens, let’s just say that this momma has to get a little (or a lot) creative. And let me tell you - I am so thankful it is fall! Bring on the harvest festivals and many mother/daughter date ideas. Yahoo!Yep, I really do love fall! There is just something truly special about this time of year. It’s as if the whisper of the wind and the glow from this sweet season waft in with an open invitation to spend time with those we dearly love! As cute scarecrows and plump pumpkins make their debut once again, they carry a warm welcome that declares, “Come on in, get cozy, and soak it all in – the sights, the smells, and all the fall flavors.”So, maybe, like me, you are ready to relish this season and create some lasting memories with your precious daughter, but you need some ideas. Well, my sweet “girl momma” friend, you have come to the right place. Below, you will find merely a few ideas to get you started. Whether you have a sweet little miss or an adoring adult, there is something to meet every momma and daughter. But let me assure you, nothing is too crazy or costly, as this is more of a means to bond with your sweet girl, keeping it simple yet fun! At the same time, realize that taking some time (even briefly) for a festive fall mother/daughter date will cultivate your relationship and be so worth it!And now, without further ado, here we go, my friends; let’s step into fall together with our dear daughters and enjoy the moments and the glorious gifts this season has to offer!Photo credit: ©GettyImages/AzmanL

5 Things I Wish My Son Knew

In 2004, my whole world changed forever. I gave birth to my first son. If I'm honest, I was terrified about being a parent. I came from a controlling household, and I was afraid that I would do the same to my kids. But my doubts and fears soon subsided, and in 2006, I gave birth to my daughter. As the years went by, I spent my time trying to do what was right for my children. Now that my son is off to college this year, and my daughter is a senior in high school, I can pivot my parenting style from one of a parent to one of a trusted friend. I no longer am the person to check their homework or remind them to do their chores. Rather, I can be free to share my struggles more openly. I'll simply be there not to dispense advice but rather be a sounding board so that my kids have someone to whom they can talk.As my son embarks on the journey of becoming an adult, there are some things I wish he knew:Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ThitareeSarmkasat

5 Ways to Be Still and Hear God's Voice

Have you ever wondered how to discern the voice of God? Maybe questioning if it was your own thoughts or God that was speaking to you? I know I have. I often wish God would talk to us like He did in the Old Testament with a commanding voice, burning bush, vivid dream, or just break through the clouds. It appears that distinguishing the voice of God from our own thoughts, or worse yet, the infiltration of the enemy, has always seemed to be a bit of a mystery. But, if I can assure you of anything today, it is this - God is a loving Father who wants to speak to all of us. Many times, it is just in a little less climactic way.Come to think of it, if God spoke to us through a burning bush, loud voice, or a talking animal, as He did with Balaam’s donkey in the Bible, could you imagine how we would react? There is no doubt that God’s line of communication is indeed limitless. But the point is that God knows how to reach our hearts and reveals Himself (even in biblical times) in such a unique way. Isn’t it heart-warming to know that God cares for us and loves us so deeply that He provides personal ways for us to commune with Him, offering more than a one-way conversation?Even still, hearing from God takes practice in patience and learning the art of being still. We must also be mindful of the “voice” we are entertaining. There are generally three options: your own voice, the enemy’s, or God’s. While our inner voice usually tunes into our wants and desires, claiming to offer sound advice may not align with God and His Word due to our sinful nature. The enemy’s voice is loud, condescending, and condemning, usually pointing fingers, bringing on blame and bitterness. Then there is God’s voice. His voice is convicting and will call out your sin, but will always lead you back to the truth, offering you freedom wrapped in forgiveness. His words are spoken with love and compassion, coated in wisdom, offering hope and healing.So, with that, how do we hear God’s voice above all else? Oh, friend, read on, and let’s discover ways to be still, quiet our minds, and open our hearts to receiving the most beautiful conversation that will grant us peace, offer us clarity, and define our purpose in this life.
Photo credit: © Unsplash/Finn Hackshaw

5 Prayers for Trusting God This School Year

The Fall can feel like a whirlwind of activity! I feel like I can't keep up with the assignments, classes, sports, haircuts, dinner prep, parties, games, meets, appointments, and more. I have to confess I have mixed up more than one scheduled item because things just keep falling through the cracks of my brain.As parents, we can easily see the laundry list of what we need to do to nourish our kids' bodies, hearts, minds, and souls and get completely overwhelmed. I have good news, though: we aren't called to get it all perfect for our kids; we are just called to trust the Lord with our kids. Trust He is with them, preparing them for the many purposes he has for their lives, and he is able to cover our mistakes and forgotten birthday party gifts with his grace.Jesus invites those of us who are weary and burdened to draw closer to him (Matthew 11:28-30). When you start to wonder if you are enough for your kids, if you are making the right choices for them, and try to devise all the ways to protect them, it's time to bring that worry list to the feet of Jesus. He wants to draw you near and help you find him in this season of parenthood.Here are some verses and prayers that invite us to trust God with our families this school year:
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tiero

6 Comfort Soup Recipes to Try This Fall

'Tis the season for all things warm, cozy, and comforting. Yippee! Just writing that excites me as I have already decked the halls – with pumpkins, trimmed the mantel and staircase with fall garland, and am currently sipping on my pumpkin spice latte. Yum-O!I know, I know, sounds heavenly, doesn't it? Well, guess what! As you welcome in all the "fall feels," I have got some yummy recipes that you are just going to have to try! Trust me, these will not only taste utterly delicious, but the smells alone will wake up your home (and everyone it in) with a sweet reminder that this time of year literally smells as good as it looks!Below are six simply delicious fall "comfort soup" recipes that will be sure to bring some smiles to your little darling's faces and, who knows…maybe even posture their hearts to feeling thankful for His daily bread. Oh, and speaking of bread, I am attaching a scrumptious and easy-to-bake bread recipe, too!Because what soup doesn't go well with fresh baked bread, am I right? Yay, bonus recipe!So, with that, let's get started!
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/PippiLongstocking

12 Powerful Prayers from Paul

Sometimes praying feels like throwing darts - with your eyes closed. You hurl some words heavenward and wonder if you've hit the bulls-eye of progress. You hope something sticks.What would happen if we prayed like Paul? God got me asking this question. So, I searched every prayer Paul prayed (below) to find the essence of God's power held within his words. What I found were 12 categories of prayer. I hope they bless you as much as they did me!Read these prayers from the words of Apostle Paul inspired by God to bring peace, hope, and courage.

10 Scriptures for Overwhelming Days

We’ve all had those days when our to-do lists are too long, the expectations of others have piled on, and we feel like we’re drowning. Or, maybe the amount of emergencies we have had to deal with has left us exhausted. We are overwhelmed. In those moments, life feels like too much. We feel as though the stress we’re facing is greater than our capacity for strength.Feeling overwhelmed can be caused by relationship pressures, a demanding boss, work overload, financial stress, or trauma. The reasons are varied, but the feeling is often the same: “I can’t handle this!”While feeling overwhelmed can be a natural response to stress, staying in that feeling is not healthy. In other words, we need a plan. All of us, at some point, are going to feel like we’re drowning; however, if we have a plan, we don’t have to sink in that river of overwhelm.One of the best plans I know is to have verses to meditate on for the days when life feels like too much. I write scriptures out on index cards and read them out loud over myself whenever I feel overwhelmed. The result is that as I am meditating on the Word of God, His peace replaces my anxiety.Here are ten scriptures for overwhelming days:Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/pixelheadphoto

11 Questions about Heaven Answered by Dr. David Jeremiah

Heaven is not just our far-off future home, but a place we can joyfully look forward to today. The Bible provides more than 600 references to heaven, and we can gain incredible joy and fresh vision for our lives on earth as we read and understand these passages. In the following excerpts from my messages, I point you to a handful of these Scriptures and answer 11 questions about heaven.(For expanded video answers from Dr. Jeremiah, just click the link on an individual question).Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/AndreyPopov

5 Things Christians Believe about Hell That Are Not Biblical

Hell is a topic that has fascinated and troubled people since ancient times. It is a place often associated with divine punishment, eternal suffering, and fiery torment. However, what many Christians believe about hell may not align with what the Bible actually teaches. Hell is a complex and challenging subject for many people. A majority of U.S. adults say they believe in hell – 62 percent overall, and 79 percent of those who are Christians – according to a recentPew Research Center survey. But many myths about hell are popular in our culture. It’s important for believers to discern between popular misconceptions and what the Bible says about hell. So, let’s consider five common beliefs about hell that are not biblically supported.Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Ig0rZh

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