Friday, April 24, 2015

The Beauty Factor

The Beauty Factor

By Samantha W.
I never gave much thought about the topic of physical beauty before, until I read a complaint on a book once. Why are the heroines always beautiful? It makes it look like, unless you’re beautiful, you can’t be successful.
I mulled it over and wondered if people would rather read about someone who was ugly or plain. Does that relate better to the average person? I did a little research on the women in the Bible. Not one of them could I picture as plain.

I found these descriptions instead:

Sarah: A beautiful woman

Rebekah: A very beautiful woman

Abigail: Intelligent and beautiful

Esther: Lovely in form and features

Sensing a theme? Here’s another: The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful… Genesis 6:2a NIV

Does that mean every woman in the Bible was beautiful? No, wait, Leah was homely looking, right? Not necessarily… in Genesis Leah is described as having weak eyes while Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. It is clear that Rachel is prettier than her elder sister, but it doesn’t mean Leah was ugly.

In fact, the word “weak” can also mean “delicate, tender, or gentle.” Being said to have gentle eyes sounds like a compliment.

We only have to look around at God’s Creation to know He has an appreciation for beauty. The maker of the sunset and the mountain valleys is the maker of you and me. And guess what?

God created you beautiful. In His eyes, every one of us is a precious jewel.

That isn’t to say we can’t become ugly, for sin tarnishes everything in its clutches. Hence, the reason physical beauty should take backseat to inner beauty. But it’s nice to know we can look in the mirror without scrunching up our faces and wishing we could change something. Instead, we can hold ourselves up like the beautiful people God made us to be.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Reaching Out

Reaching Out

By Sarah K.
 1 Thessalonians 5:11:  
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (emphasis added.) 
I will be the first to admit that reaching out to others is hard. Really hard…especially if you’re naturally shy and reserved, like me. Recently, I was taught a hard lesson over just this topic by none other than God Himself. 
It all started when life started getting hard. The college I’d prayed to be admitted to turned out to be too expensive, some good friends moved to other schools, and my home life got really, really tough. Instead of reaching out to other believers for the encouragement and guidance I needed as a relatively young believer, I shut down. I turned to the Internet, to my unbelieving friends, and to harsh music for the answers. Guess what? I didn’t find any. It was only after I reached out to someone that I was able to get my relationship with God and others back on line.  
So what happened? Where did I go wrong? I’d have to reply that I got resentful and angry when other people didn’t initially approach me, tempting me to think, “Well, if you think you’re too good for me, then I’m definitely too good for you!” But that was wrong. I was looking at the above verse the wrong way. I was asking, “What are they doing wrong?” instead of, “What am I doing wrong?” I didn’t care about their needs, just my own. 
Funny thing is, once I started reaching out in my church to people I originally thought I wouldn’t like at all, and getting involved in Bible studies and small groups, things started to turn around. We all have a lot to offer each other; we each have our own ‘gifts’ that put together make us a church. 
So ladies, reach out! I know it’s scary, and puts you in a position where you need to be honest and vulnerable about your faults and weaknesses. But that’s good! Other believers are there to help us get stronger in our weak areas, and we need to be there for each other. That’s what Jesus would do. I hope our prayer, every Sunday (and all the days in between!) is that we could have our eyes open to love others…and in the process we’re helping ourselves.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The True Meaning of Easter

The True Meaning of Easter

By Hannah J.
Chocolate, painted eggs and really cute bunnies - is that what Easter's all about? Well, the answer to that question is NO. It's not all about fun and decorations. So, now let's look at what Easter really means.
When Jesus came into this world, He didn't come as a king into a royal family instead He came as a humble person. While Jesus was teaching among the crowds He had said, "I am the resurrection and the life and anyone who believes in me will not perish but have everlasting life."
Do we really deserve this great love from the Creator of the whole universe, after all that we did? If God judged us according to what we did, we'd be long gone because our sins are as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. But despite all this, Jesus died for our sins. He didn't just die for us, He rose again on the third day after his death!! Now, isn't that AMAZING?
And, Easter's all about the unconditional love of our Savior who died and rose again for us! By His death and resurrection, life and hope entered the world.           
God has given us an opportunity to repent from our sins and walk in His holy ways so that we may glorify Him in our lives. Jesus had said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me."
Today, He's alive and preparing a home in Heaven for those who believe that He has died and risen for them.



By Haley B.

The day was here. It would be the day of whether I found out if I continued to live on campus at my college or move back home. I’m in my junior year of college and have never known anything about living at home while going to college and how to cope with it. I’ve only lived on campus during the school year. So while in nursing school, jumping into a new environment isn’t something one wants to do. I had found some good roommates after I had countless people let me down, minus my freshman roommate. I was excited about moving in to school with my new roommates this year. My roommate and I had classes previously and we were friends but have grown even closer through living with each other this year. But the day had come where I would find out what my fate was.

So to start off, I’ll take you back to a week ago. Housing applications were coming up and deadlines were approaching to keep your same place or to move somewhere else or any other decision you wanted to make. I thought my roommate would have come and talk to me about this by now considering I’m very forgetful with remembering things like this. But she didn’t. I finally brought it up this specific week. I actually brought it up in front of my suite mate as well since she would be back next year too. I got the answer that every person hates to here. It goes something like this, more or less: “We left you out. We didn’t even think about you or your plans so we went with our own.” Basically, I was left without a roommate since my roommate and my suite mate wanted single rooms. For one, no one even asked me what my plans were. If they had, I would’ve presented problem number two: I can’t afford it. A single room is $1,000 more than a double room. I’m already paying extra for nursing classes and I don’t have any loans. I’m very blessed, nonetheless, but I just can’t afford anything extra.

So I got the bad news. I just hoped for the best and that they wouldn’t be able to get a single room since I had a friend who said it would be impossible for them to get one because of how limited they were. I know that sounds bad but who wants to change their environment in such a difficult major that could ruin their study habits? Not me. And besides, I liked my roommates. I wanted to stay with them. But as always, The Lord had other plans.
So it was the day for them to sign up for a single room. And they got one. I wasted an hour longer at school, waiting for them, just in case we needed to go back to housing to see if we needed to sign up for our same place. But no. I wasted time and money. I put in a housing application that has a fee, which isn’t refundable.

You can imagine how I felt. I was heartbroken. So upset. So betrayed. These events happened to me in high school but never did I think they would happen to me in college. I felt so hurt. I couldn’t believe that someone I thought was my best friend didn’t really care about me or my plans for next year. I had never felt so betrayed by someone thought was a true friend.

Driving to my fiancĂ©’s house on the same day, Jesus spoke to me. Not only did He tell me to write this article but He reminded me of the betrayal, heartbreak, and sadness He went through in His life here on Earth. He reminded me of the people who hated Him and didn’t follow Him to begin with, the people who betrayed Him, the people who denied Him, and even the ones who persecuted Him.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all speak of Judas’ betrayal to Jesus. Judas was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. He was one of Jesus’ followers. He was Jesus’ friend. Jesus held these 12 very close to Him. They were His best friends. Yet, we read this story and think about how stupid Judas was for betraying Jesus. Judas was overcome by greed. If you’ve read the story, you already know the end.
Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 13 all tell of Judas’ betrayal toward Jesus. 4 books in the Bible speak of Judas’ betrayal. I’d say that’s pretty important. We feel so betrayed by our friends sometimes that we forget how bad Jesus had it. To be betrayed for your life is something we never have to experience.

In these same books and same chapters, just a little farther down, these accounts of Jesus’ death tell us that not only was He betrayed but that He was going to be denied 3 times by another disciple: Peter. Peter was the kind of friend who you think would never hurt you. They were there for you through the hard times and the good times. This friend had a lot to do with helping you through rough times to become a better person. Peter was this. Yet, Jesus predicts, and proves, that Peter denies him 3 times before a rooster crows. WOW. And we thought WE had it bad. No one denies us. I’ve never had an experience where someone denied my existence, at least to my knowledge.

Now, what does this all have to do with Easter?
Well, Jesus experience betrayal and heartbreak like we did and still do today. He still experiences it as well because we hurt Him every day by doing things He doesn’t like. But if He can overcome this betrayal and heartbreak from His best friends, can’t we overcome it too? I mean, He didn’t JUST overcome this hurt from His best friends. He overcame DEATH and the GRAVE. Matthew 27 & 28, Mark 15 & 16, Luke 23 & 24, and John 19 & 20 tells us how Jesus died and tells us about Him overcoming death. Everyone was against Him, yet He still died for us. He still forgave us and the people who betrayed Him. He still died for them. He still gave them hope.

Isn’t it wonderful when all of our life stories lead us back to the cross, like this? It truly reminds us of the Easter season that’s upon us and how, even though we’re hurt, Jesus overcame it, death, and the grave. It gives us the hope to continue on and to overcome our hurt. It gives us the greatest opportunity of all. These experiences point us toward Jesus and His greatness and His gift of hope, grace, love, and forgiveness that is for everyone.

Easter, the Meaning

Easter Article

By Maryann Y.
 "As they were going out, they met a man form Cyrene,  named Simon, and forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha(which means, The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall*; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. Above His head they placed the written charge against Him:     This is Jesus, King of the Jews.   Two robbers were crucified with Him, one on His right, and one on His left. Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying,:You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! Come down from the cross, it You are the Son of God!" 

In the same way the chief priests mocked Him. "He saved others," they said, "but He can't save Himself! He's the King of Israel! Let Him come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him." Matthew 27:32-44

 I don't know about you, but I always get mad when I read this passage. How dare the chief priests! If only they knew who they were talking to,

Can you imagine putting yourself in Jesus' place, and the VERY PEOPLE your are saving are mocking and ridiculing you.  Jesus is taking all the sin in the world  on Himself, and the people of Israel are rejecting and denying Him, to the point of killing Him. The people He loved. The people He was DYING for. John 15:13 says, 
"Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends." And Jesus did that. He lay down His life for His friends. But some of them rejected Him. And let me tell you, crucifixion is a really  cruel way to die. And they didn't just crucify Him; first they beat Him up. They spat at Him, and hit Him, They even blindfolded Him, then struck Him, saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ, who hit You?" Matthew 26:68

Then the guards took Him, and beat Him. After seeing Pilate, He was flogged. Then they even put Him in a "scarlet robe, and then twisted together a crown of thorns, and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and o=mocked Him. 'Hail, King of the Jews.!' they said, They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to be crucified."  Matthew 27:28-31.

 The thorns probably dug into His skin, and they beat Him with a rod, which can really hurt.

  "From the sixth hour through the ninth hour darkness came all over the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" - which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He is calling Elijah."

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Leave Him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save Him."

 And when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.

At that moment the temple curtain was torn in two form top to bottom. The earth shook and rocks split." Matthew 27:45-51

 He died for every person on the planet, lots which have refused Him. It says in Luke 23:45 that the very sun stopped shining.

Then the people buried Him, and put Him in a tomb.

But that is not how the story ends. That was the beginning of a new story. Luke 24:1-12 tells how the women went to the tomb, but found the stone rolled away, with no body inside. And,"AS they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them."Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has Risen! Remember now He told you , while He was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' Then they remembered His words. " Luke 24:1-8
(emphasis added)

Hallelujah!  He rose from the grave; He conquered death. And today, you can choose to follow Him.

Ephesians 2:1-10 : As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up in Christ, and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might Show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not by works, so that o man could boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. " 

Make that decision today; Trust me on this.


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