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6 Things You Should Consider before Drinking That Beer

A few years ago, I attended a conference where pastors were encouraged to meet at a pub after the general sessions. A few of these pastors could exercise their liberty, but why publicly? I wondered how many people at the conference stumbled because of it.The demands of life often tempt us to seek gratification in alcohol and other things. We must be on high alert. The enemy uses "opportune times" to draw us away from God. (cf. Luke 4:13). The line is so thin that it is often hard to determine when we cross over.The person who consumes alcohol walks a very fine line between freedom and sin, responsibility and carelessness, liberty and abuse—over-indulgence can even disqualify a person from leadership (cf. 1 Timothy 3). This discussion is not about a glass of wine or beer now and then, it’s about abusing liberty. Damage done to families and individuals through alcohol use demands a closer look.Image courtesy: Unsplash

5 Ways to Love Relatives Who Are Alone for the Holidays

Since I've been married, my husband and I have been away from family for most of the holidays. Because he's also a pastor, there are times when we must stay close to home to have church services. Sometimes we've had to miss special holidays because of the distance. It's not fun to be away from family during the holidays. This is especially true for relatives who may be housebound due to illness, are equally distant from their relatives, or have strained relationships and don't feel they can visit their family for the holidays.Although relatives might be away from family for the holidays, it doesn't mean they have to be lonely. With some creativity, a relative who can't be present can be the focal point of your holiday. Here are five ways to love relatives who are alone for the holiday:
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How to Discern if a Song Is Appropriate for Worship at Church

The songs chosen for praise and worship services have a unique flavor and flair that is deeply reflective of how each church is comprised. Older congregations have a style. Younger congregations have a style. Traditional churches have a style. Contemporary churches have a style. Pentecostal churches have a style. Baptist churches have a style.But when it comes to the songs used in a praise and worship service at church, are there guidelines for what is and is not appropriate? Is it just a matter of personal preference, or does the Bible provide any insight? How can you discern if a song is appropriate for worship at church?Think about this:There are plenty of songs that are musically or emotionally attractive but are not theologically sound.There are plenty of songs that have solid theology, but are long and wordy, or hard to sing.There are plenty of songs sung in churches that were written by unbelievers or people whose lives are being lived in disobedience to God’s Word.There are plenty of songs sung in church that aren’t even about God!The truth is, both natural wisdom and spiritual discernment are necessary in choosing which songs are appropriate for worship at church. Remember, praise and worship are holy to the Lord. That’s why it is important that—above all else—His plan for praise and worship is put first.Photo Credit: Unsplash/John Price

6 Truths for Single Divorced Moms

There is no circus quite like the life of a divorced mom. I’m recently re-married, but it wasn’t long ago I found myself raising three boys on my own, post-divorce, dealing with that special blend of loneliness, fear, stress, guilt, and exhaustion felt solely by the divorced mama. Here are my best encouraging truths, with a smattering of Scripture for strength, because Lord knows we need it.
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How Old Was Joseph When Jesus Was Born?

Joseph – the man who served as Jesus Christ’s earthly father – is an important part of the Christmas story. We often see depictions of Joseph in nativity scenes as part of the Holy Family. Sometimes, Joseph appears as a young man, and sometimes as an older man. How old was Joseph when Jesus was born? The Bible doesn’t mention Joseph’s age. But it does reveal some clues that allow us to make some educated guesses. By exploring those biblical clues, we can also find inspiration from Joseph’s life. Joseph, regardless of his age, was someone who God chose to play a vital role in Jesus’ life on earth. Here are 5 Bible clues about Joseph’s age from his inspirational life.Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Nankimstudio

10 Things Christians Need to Tell Their Teens about Sex

In 30 years of speaking on the topic of sexual purity to youth and college groups, the question, “How far is too far?” is most asked by kids raised in Christian homes.The task of taking your teen from looking for ways to go as far as they can with the person to whom they're attracted, to helping them understand the value of sexual purity, is not for the faint of heart. The struggle is real. But dear parent, it’s worth it!To help, let’s visit ten things to tell your kids about sex:
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4 Things You Should Know about The Shift, Angel Studios’ New Sci-Fi Film

Kevin is a hard-working 40-something man who is having a very bad day.His boss sent him home early, dissatisfied with his work. His wife is mad at him, upset about a disagreement over bills. And now a vehicle has crashed into him in traffic, totaling his SUV and nearly killing him in the process.Fortunately for Kevin, an individual is on the scene of the wreck to check on his health.Unfortunately, though, that individual has ulterior motives and other-worldly powers. This person -- the "Benefactor" -- has transported Kevin to another world where goodness and kindness are rare. It's a dystopian realm where the Benefactor almost always gets his way -- and where Kevin's wife and his friends don't exist. "They didn't go anywhere. You did," the Benefactor says.This Satan-like Benefactor has the power to move people -- to "shift" them -- from one world to another. Even crazier: there are multiple realities in the Benefactor's multiverse -- and multiple Kevins.The Benefactor offers Kevin power and fame. The catch? Kevin will never see his wife again.What will Kevin do?The new faith-based movie The Shift (PG-13) tells the fantastical, science-fiction story of Kevin, the Benefactor, and Kevin's wife, Molly.Here are four things you should know about it: Photo credit: ©Angel Studios; used with permission.

6 Scriptures That Capture the Christmas Story

Our living room has a book box that holds picture books for our youngest daughter. I do my best to rotate them out each season as we usher in different holidays. As of now, that wicker box is filled with picture books on Santa, the Bernstein Bears, and Five Little Snowmen. But, my favorite books take a deeper look into the reason for the season, proclaiming the birth of Jesus. There is a touching story about a crippled lamb that made his way to the manger and a beautiful picture book that shares the story of Christmas with vivid pictures that make it truly come alive.These books have been well-loved, and some have even been passed down from previous generations. So, when I glance over at that book box, I am grateful. Grateful that God's story is told to our precious children and continues to live on!Maybe you have some picture books that retell the story of Jesus, or you share that story in your own words when you tuck them into bed at night. Maybe you are fortunate enough to hear stories of the past from grandparents, their take on the Christmas story, and how they celebrated this time of year.Many stories have been passed down and shared about our Lord's humble and miraculous birth. For quite some time, this unconventional story has been shared and retold by many, including pastors, theologians, and authors. However, while we can certainly indulge in these stories, joyfully listening and reading them to our children, nothing quite compares to hearing and seeing those words come to life when we open up the precious Bible.Just opening up His Word does something for our hearts, minds, and souls. If you really want to dig into some Scriptures and capture the essence of Christmas, then go ahead and grab your Bible and maybe some cocoa and chocolate-covered pretzels (because this is going to be good). Then, get settled in and savor this time of year by getting wrapped up in His presence and in tune with the real spirit of Christmas.
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10 Bible Verses That Prophesy Jesus Christ's Birth

The Bible tells us that long before the world began, God had a plan to bring redemption through Christ to all those who would choose to believe and follow Him (1 Peter 1:19-20). God knew we would need a Savior. He knew we would need to be set free. And He made a way, by sending His One and Only Son, so that we could receive forgiveness and find new life and hope through Him (John 3:16).Throughout the Scriptures, weaved through verse after verse in the Old Testament, are prophecies that speak of the Christ who was to come. Bible scholars have concluded from much research that, hundreds of years before Jesus was even born, more than 300 prophecies were recorded to tell of His coming, His life and journey to the cross, and the power of His Resurrection. These prophecies point to the exact location, circumstances, and even timing of Jesus Christ’s birth. God alone is the only One who could plan those specific details and ensure they all come to pass.Jesus is the fulfillment of Scripture. He is the Word. He is the Light. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And the whole message of Christmas is wrapped up in Him, God’s greatest gift, who came as a tiny baby, with one powerful purpose—to save a lost world. Here are 10 specific prophecies of the birth of Jesus Christ.Photo credit: Getty / MKucova

6 Vital Truths to Remember When Raising Teens

Raising kids in today's increasingly Godless world and confused culture is hard. Raising teenagers feels practically impossible. Out-of-control gender dysphoria issues, online dangers and addictions, an influx of social anxiety and isolation problems, and even more serious issues like the epidemic of self-harm and suicide running rampant amongst 13–18-year-olds are just some issues facing teens today.As parents, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious while in the trenches raising teens, but meditating on these five truths will help us remain grounded and resolute in our belief that we'll get through this season.
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10 Powerful Prayers to Protect Your Children from Satan

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.We know the enemy wants our children; he wants to pull them away from us, from their faith, and from the one true God. We also know that Satan is crafty, and he tries to pull our children away in a variety of ways: by temptation, distractions, deception, etc.Thankfully, we serve a God that invites us to pray, to talk with Him about the longings of our hearts. He has also given us His Word, full of wisdom and promises that can guide us in our prayers.When we pray to God, asking for our children to be protected from Satan, we should remember that we aren’t praying to a distant, indifferent entity. No! We’re praying to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! We’re praying to the I AM, who loves our children more than we do and who cherishes their souls more than we can even comprehend!As you pray through the following 10 scriptures, pray expectantly. Pray with confidence. Pray with boldness as you approach His throne on behalf of your children.Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Predrag Images

11 Critical Warning Signs You're on the Road to Burnout

More than a few of you reading this know you are on the edge of the cliff we call burnout. And probably a few of you are in free fall right now. What’s so perplexing about burnout (and especially low-grade burnout) is that more than a few of the symptoms strike people as “normal.” So how do you know if you’re heading for burnout? I’ll describe eleven signs and symptoms I personally experienced as I burned out. If you recognize one or two of them, you’re likely not burned out. Consider them warning signs. If you show six to eight, you may be in low-grade burnout or heading for the cliff. If you resonate with most or all of them, you’re likely in full-fledged burnout. I hope these signs can help you see the edge before you careen past it. Photo Courtesy: Thinkstock

10 Prayerful Meditations for Better Sleep

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” (Matthew 11:28)Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you struggle finding rest? Do you dread nighttime because of the struggle—perhaps even because of a sense of agony that comes with trying to sleep?Stresses of life, worries that cause us to fear the unknown, thoughts that get stuck in our minds.Maybe you’re dealing with nightmares, or fears in the night that shake you and make you dread going to sleep.Perhaps a restful night of sleep seems impossibly far away to you.But picture this in your mind and believe it in your heart:God sings over you. He sings songs of deliverance over you. He sings soothing songs of peace and love and victory over you as you sleep (Zephaniah 3:17).“…when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24)As a child of God, “sweet sleep” is your inheritance. You can rest in Him. He has given it to you.Here are 10 prayerful meditations to help you sleep peacefully:Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

8 Simple Homemade Gifts Everyone Will Love

As Christmas seems to be closing in and the excitement fills the air, you may glance over at your gorgeous tree and quickly realize you have a huge task at hand. Gifts! You need to fill the bottom of that tree with thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Gifts that show how much you adore and cherish those people in your life that bring so much joy!Sounds simple enough, right? If you are a natural gift giver, this time of year may bring out your inner child as you tap into your “gift” of giving the perfect present. I truly admire those who have that skill, and to be honest, I look forward to getting gifts from those dear people as they seem to know exactly what I need.However, if you are a little more like me and don’t possess that gift-giving talent and the thought of finding a gift for everyone on your list feels more overwhelming and daunting than exciting, you, my friend, have come to the right place!Finding gifts that sweetly say, “I thought of you” while staying on budget can be challenging at best. Then there’s all the hustle and bustle that comes with getting out and braving the crowds, making the thought of online shopping quite enticing. Yet that, too, can feel so impersonal.So, why not try a different approach this year? All it takes is a little effort, time, and intentional thought to create gifts that are simply made with love. Trust me, these gifts will not only say, “I thought of you,” but they will also say, “I thought of you while I was creating it, too!”Now, take a deep breath, relax, and let’s start by making some precious and thoughtful gifts to put under that magical tree. Need some ideas? Check out some of the gifts below. Each takes minimal time and effort, yet makes excellent gifts for family, friends, neighbors, and teachers.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Bogdan Kurylo

10 Peaceful Christmas Eve Prayers

Peace is a vital part of the sacred night of Christmas Eve. On the first Christmas, when angels appeared in Bethlehem to announce Jesus Christ’s birth, they praised God for the peace that Jesus would bring to humanity. Luke 2:13-14 reports: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” A profound message of peace accompanies Jesus’ birth, so peace is an important part of Christmas. When you pray peaceful Christmas Eve prayers and meditate on Bible verses about peace, God can bring peace to you, and through you, in many different ways this Christmas.Christmas Eve offers a unique opportunity to seek peace that you can experience, even in our troubled fallen world, through a relationship with Jesus. In John 16:33, Jesus promises: “…in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This Christmas Eve, you can experience peace in any circumstances when you reach out to communicate with God. Enjoy spending time in prayer and meditation to draw closer to God and experiencethe peace that only God can give you. Plan some peaceful times of silence and solitude to spend with God on Christmas Eve. Take a break from the busyness of Christmas Eve festivities to connect with God in moments of tranquility that allow you to connect with the deeper meaning of Christmas. Open your heart and mind to receiving God’s peace and inviting God to send his peace through you into the world.Here are ten peaceful Christmas Eve prayers. You can personalize them in whatever ways the Holy Spirit leads you to connect with God and experience peace this Christmas.Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fermate


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