In this month of Valentines, we often think of intimate relationships we have with others. Intimacy in the sense that our society defines it is one thing, but intimacy in the biblical sense is another.
Biblical intimacy has two directions. It is, first of all, vertical. Intimacy grows out of a relationship of love. The Bible teaches us that we are made in God’s image, and that God is love. Thus, God first loved us, and because of this, we are able to love Him (the vertical direction). The second direction is our ability to love others (the horizontal direction).
This is perhaps best expressed in 1 John 4:10-11: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Here we see both the vertical and the horizontal — God loving us, and us loving one another. The love here expressed is sacrificial in nature. It means doing something good that benefits another, not oneself. Sacrificial love is the foundation for all other concepts in the biblical “love family,” including intimacy.
The above passage expresses God the Father’s love for His creatures through His Son’s death for our sins, and this makes possible our response of love toward God through faith. It is an intimate, personal and spiritual relationship of love with God that is begun at that moment.
Apart from that unique relationship to God (spiritual rebirth), there can be no biblical, spiritual relationship to God and therefore, no biblical, spiritual intimacy with another. First comes the intimate, spiritual relationship with God. That can then be shared with another who is spiritually related to God.
As for the intimate and spiritual relationship that a husband and wife may have in Christ Jesus … it is like nothing else this world can offer.
Jack Lynch is an accomplished Bible teacher for Radio Bible Courses, Ltd., which meets every Sunday at 9:15 a.m. at Burden Conference Center. The public is invited to this amazing study of God’s Word. See the ad below for more details.
There is nothing like a fresh start! The New Year offers a chance to establish goals, resurrect dreams, and bring new habits to life.
While many will be listing resolutions, we are focusing on “revelations.” A resolution means “a firm decision to do or not do something.” Revelation means “the divine or
supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world.”
Resolutions means you decide something. Revelation means God reveals something.
Years ago, in separate incidents, I experienced a home invasion and a bank robbery, both at gunpoint. Needless to say, I lived afraid for decades! My nightly ritual to create a safe environment was exhausting. Noises in the night kept me awake for years.
After a season with a counselor, I learned about Psalm 91. I read it over and over and memorized it. Finally, one glorious day, I believed it! It became a Revelation. Suddenly those promises took hold of my heart and I began to understand the healing process. It took persistence to keep reading while God was working in the depths of my frightened soul. There is no other way to renew our minds and heal our hearts than meditating on His Word.
This revelation became a miracle. Finally grasping the power of the Word, it created a hunger for more Truth. Seeking the Bible for answers to life’s questions became a new way of life and continues to this day.
This year’s personal revelation has been about waiting on God. Lord knows we are an impatient people! And yes, I fall quickly into that category. Let’s consider a few new habits that may help us gain “revelation” from God and less resolution from ourselves.
1. Slow down physically. I’m a busy bee, known for my energy, and I thank God for it. But in order to hear from God and gain Godly direction for our lives, we must earnestly seek Him. While I’m a big believer in drive-by prayers, I also know that being in God’s will means I’m sitting at His feet, often on my knees, poring over His Word while listening for the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
2. Slow down mentally. For me “rest” often means mental. If I’m sitting and my mind is laboring and spinning, there is nothing restful about it. The only way I’ve found to rest mentally is to repeat out loud a few anchoring Scriptures, cry out honestly to the Lord, and ask Him to help me to calm down the clamoring noise in my mind. He is our helper!
3. Slow down spiritually. There is no quick fix to grow in our faith. This is the area that can be most dangerous to our intimate relationship with our loving Creator. God works in us at his pace and according to His will. Yet the more we submit and surrender to him, the quicker the process. As we seek to slow down our bodies and minds, we must say out loud over and over. “Lord, your will. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.” Daily surrender is key to remembering who is in control.
Regardless of what our culture says, we can’t do it all. Therefore, why not do the one thing that elicits calm and brings clarity to an otherwise impossible schedule? Only God can reveal truth because He is Truth. He created you and me with a plan for our lives. His promise is not only to reveal that plan, but to bring it about Himself (Romans 8:28). We can trust Him with our lives.
Happy New Year! May your New Year’s “Revelations” lead to miracles in 2018
I know the power of prayer. There’s no doubt in our minds. When people gather, wherever, to pray for a common cause, it’s heard. And we have the proof. Is Nick a miracle? Well, yes. I mean, by everything that science told the doctors, Nick shouldn’t be here. -James Tullier, Nick Tullier’s father
If there is one lesson the Tullier family has learned over the past 18 months, it is that nothing is impossible with God. The 24-hour vigil over their son – that began with the 2016 fatal shooting of three law enforcement officers and wounding of three others – is bathed in the prayers and support of well-wishers from across the globe. They have learned to expect the unexpected.
“Nick did lose some brain mass. He’s got bullet fragments through his brain and on his brain stem,” said Nick’s father, James. “They had told us in the beginning he wouldn’t live 24 hours, then 48 hours, then five days.”
James and his wife, Mary, refused to believe the prognosis. “Mary told the doctor, ‘No, you don’t understand, this is not your decision. This decision is between God and Nick.’”
“About two weeks before we left Baton Rouge, the neurosurgeon caught Mary in the hall at Our Lady of the Lake and said, ‘I understand now. It never was in my hands,’” James said. “A higher power was guiding him.”
“Anoxic brain injury affects the whole brain. People usually don’t remember what happened, but the fact that Nick does is another miracle,” said Nick’s fiancé Danielle McNicholl. “He should not be able to breathe on his own or regulate his temperature or swallow, but he can, which is also a miracle. There are just so many delicate things he shouldn’t be able to do, and there’s no medical explanation for it.” And then, there is his smile. “It’s contagious,” Danielle said. “You can’t not smile when you see him smile.”
The journey toward healing is a journey of faith. “I grew up going to a Catholic church, Immaculate Conception in Denham, and Nick had questions. A lot of people do. I always had religion in my life, but it was what you’re supposed to do,” Danielle said. “I would pray to God when something bad happened, but I wouldn’t say that I really had a real deep connection before. This has changed all of us. It’s changed his parents; it’s changed me.”
“I blame my mom for this, actually,” she said with a smile. “It’s sort of our little joke. Because the morning this happened, she was at church with my stepdad, and she was praying, ‘Please God, bring my kids back to church, bring them back to prayer.’”
“I’ve never been a non-believer, but I’ve been from one end of the spectrum to the other,” James said. “I was raised Catholic and Mary was raised Baptist.” At his lowest point, he ended up in the chapel at Our Lady of the Lake where he made – not a bargain – but a promise to God to promote Him and promote prayer. “I talk to Him often, multiple times a day, multiple times a night. I ask for direction and help to keep that promise.”
“Nick did lose some brain mass. He’s got bullet fragments through his brain and on his brain stem,” said Nick’s father, James. “They had told us in the beginning he wouldn’t live 24 hours, then 48 hours, then five days.” James and his wife, Mary, refused to believe the prognosis. “Mary told the doctor, ‘No, you don’t understand, this is not your decision. This decision is between god and Nick.’”
As they celebrate each small step, the family is amazed at the way God places people in their path. “So many people were praying for Nick at this time,” James said. A church in Thailand asked for details to direct their prayers toward specific injuries. The family of former TV star Steve Irwin, owners of the Australia Zoo, sent a photograph of the entire staff wearing Pray for Nick bracelets. Tullier was contacted by praying people from the Philippines, Sweden, England, France, Germany, Italy and across the U.S. Father Charbel El-Jamhoury, pastor of St. Agnes Church, flew back to Baton Rouge from overseas to pray over Nick every night. The Tullier family still receives messages of support each day.
When memorial services were held for the three officers fatally wounded in the attack – Brad Garafola, Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson – at least two officers representing every state and Canada took time to visit. “At almost 3 in the morning there was a line of law enforcement officers in ICU,” James said. They would come in very formally and walk to the side of Nick, pop to attention and salute him. And every one of them asked, ‘Do you mind if we pray?’ So, we know what helped save Nick.”
God continues to connect the family with support, James said. Shortly after Nick was wounded, their home in Denham Springs was flooded. They were able to save only their three chihuahuas, two bags of clothes and their motor home. Lighthouse Charity Team stepped in to provide a place to park the motor home, so they could live near the treatment facility.
Then, after receiving care in Galveston, the family moved Nick back to Houston to remain under the TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) umbrella of care. With insurance for round-the-clock care ending, they needed to quickly find a home that would meet Nick’s needs. Then, they were offered a rental house through their connection with Houston police officer Ronny Cortez and his wife, Sheri, a couple they met while Ronny was also receiving treatment at TIRR. The Cortez family is providing the house rent-free for the first few months for Nick’s parents and fiancé, who share responsibility for his 24-hour care. “It’s a lot, but he doesn’t quit, so we’re not quitting,” Danielle said.
Tullier has been contacted by praying people from the Philippines, Sweden, England, France, Germany, Italy and across the U.S. Father Charbel el-Jamhoury, pastor of St. Agnes Church, flew back to Baton Rouge from overseas to pray over Nick every night. The Tullier family still receives messages of support each day.
Neither is the community that has supported the family with donations and encouragement. Courville Construction in Baton Rouge took on the task of remodeling the house to meet Nick’s needs, including a rolling shower and expanded doorways. Donors are contributing home furnishings from a gift registry. “Everybody’s been wonderful,” Danielle said.
“You hear all the time in the Bible that people dropped everything and just followed Jesus,” Danielle said. “In today’s time, how would you quit your job and leave everything? That wouldn’t work. I was a hair stylist. But literally, I have not worked since Nick was shot, and God has provided everything.”
It is prayer that keeps the family going, Danielle said. “Nick’s brain is fully there; his body needs to catch up. So that’s what we’re waiting on. Now that he’s past all the infection he was dealing with, his muscles are starting to listen to his brain.”
“He’s doing multiplication and division, and he remembers everybody and everything,” Danielle said. “He’ll nod his head for yes and then turn his head for no. If you ask him a multiple-choice question, you can say A, B or C and he’ll turn his head. He thrives with pushing and pushing.”
“God knows everything that’s going to happen, but he set up all the people in Nick’s life so perfectly,” Danielle said. “And we want to tell them, ‘thank you.’ It’s been a God thing.”
“Danielle’s just fantastic,” James said. “She could easily jump up and say this wasn’t in my plan. But Danielle is in this game with us.”
Before the shooting, Nick and Danielle planned to marry the next summer. “I told him as soon as he can say, ‘I do.’ No pressure,” Danielle said. “I believe 100 percent that he will talk and walk again. I’ve just had that in my heart since the beginning. If you ask him if he wants a break – no. He just doesn’t quit, he doesn’t stop.”
“People have called us for over a year asking, ‘What can I do for Nick?’ Continue to pray,” James said. “That’s my fear, that it loses momentum. But we’ve got prayer warriors all over the nation and outside the nation, who message me and assure me they’re not going to forget. Please continue to pray for Nick.”
For more information, visit the Nick Tullier Strong page on Facebook.
Susan Brown began her career in radio news. she was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds Master’s Degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary, and served as a chaplain at Louisiana Correctional institute for Women.
Christ’s message was about inclusion and acceptance. A woman who wants a closer relationship with god doesn’t need to be anything more (or less) than she is right now. She doesn’t need to be any different than who she is today. god’s door will always be open for her.
Like the pebble that creates ever-widening ripples in the water, so is the Christian woman whose faith and love influences her family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. She is a role model and inspires those around her to be their best.
This is a fitting description of the members of Baton Rouge Christian Women’s Connection. Its mission is to connect women with God, each other, and their communities. The group subscribes to the philosophy that Jesus’ influence in a woman’s life can help her not only bring others to Christ, but strengthen the faith of those who are already committed to Christ.
Lisa Russell has served as chairman of BRCWC since she moved to the capital city three years ago, but she has been involved with the group for 25 years. “We welcome everyone – from young mothers to grandmothers, from single women to widows. We look for the unsaved and we try to help them grow in a relationship with Christ,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful organization to be a part of. We show the love of Jesus and share our life experiences. The ladies in BRCWC are mentors and an inspiration to me.” – Sherry Edmonston
Those women could be anywhere — shopping at the grocery store, playing tennis at the country club, meeting with clients, or sitting in jail. They might be coping with loneliness, frustration or heartbreak. The women of BRCWC want more than anything to help those women build a path to God.
To fulfill their mission, the organization meets quarterly for a luncheon at Oak Lodge, which typically includes an inspirational speaker and a special feature (fashion show, music performance, or hobby discussion). Speakers are usually individuals who have overcome difficult challenges, such as cancer survivors, drug addicts, or victims of domestic violence. “They share their testimony with us and describe how God has helped them through the challenges or problems they faced,” Russell said.
BRCWC is affiliated with an international organization called Stonecroft Ministries, which according to its mission, meets each woman where she is and as she is. “It means that we take the gospel of Christ to each woman, wherever she is in her life,” said Russell. “Where she lives, works, plays or prays, no matter her circumstances or background.”
Stonecroft has been bringing women closer to God since 1938. Volunteers in the U.S. and in more than 40 countries use the group’s resources, training and outreach programs to share the Gospel and join each other in meaningful prayer. Members recognize that each woman makes a unique and valuable contribution to her family and community as she celebrates God in her life.
The group was founded in California by a banker named Elwood Baugh. An employee whose mother had just died asked Baugh if she would ever see her mother again. That’s when Baugh spoke with his wife, who was a devout Christian and had a passion for sharing the gospel with others. Helen Duff Baugh planned a dinner to meet the woman and invited several others from her husband’s bank. The first Stonecroft group was established, and today, has become an international ministry.
Linnie Burks has been involved with Stonecroft and BRCWC for 43 years, and has served in countless administrative roles. “It has been such a blessing in my life,” she said. “I came to the group through a Bible study at a time when I knew nothing about it and had never even read it. I learned how much God loves me personally and it really strengthened my faith. Later, as a Bible study leader, I saw women coming to the Lord and I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”
Locally, BRCWC has taken a special interest in the women of Iris House, a group that provides support to women who have suffered domestic abuse. “We invite them to our events and provide free childcare services so they can focus on the program and enjoy connecting with our members,” said Russell. “After the event, we follow up with them to invite them to our regular Bible studies or prayer coffees.”
Sherry Edmonston joined BRCWC 12 years ago and currently serves as Reservations Coordinator and Area Representative. “It’s a wonderful organization to be a part of,” she said. “We show the love of Jesus and share our life experiences. The ladies in BRCWC are mentors and an inspiration to me.”
All quarterly meetings are held at Oak Lodge, 2834 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. and West Bricksome Avenue. The next quarterly meeting will take place Tuesday, February 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guest speaker is Sharon Steen of Lafayette. If you’d like to attend, register by calling Edmonston at (225) 362-3588. Cost is $25 per person.
For more information, email Sherry316@cox.net, visit the website at batonrougecwc.org, or visit BRCWC’s Facebook page.
BRCWC Bible studies are open to everyone, regardless of religious denomination. They are appropriate for growing Christians as well as women who already have a background in studying God’s word.
In 2016, Lorraine Besson suffered a rare reaction to cervical spinal surgery – and an extraordinary opportunity to experience God’s hand at work through the medical community. Now, she shares her story to inspire others to faith and gratitude to God.
“I was rushed to the hospital, unable to breathe on my own,” Besson recalls. “I had gone into cardiac/pulmonary distress and had no airway.” Attempts to open an airway were unsuccessful because her throat was swollen from the surgery. Her family arrived at the hospital only to see her limp frame on a stretcher and a doctor performing CPR. “My daughter, Sheri, said she never wanted to see anything like that again. She just knew I was dead.”
An anesthesiologist succeeded in getting an airway for her by using a special scope, Besson said. “I was intubated, taken to surgery, placed in a drug induced coma for five days, in intensive care for 10 days, hospitalized for 24 days, and had 4 1/2 months of physical therapy.”
“I wanted to meet the people who helped save my life,” Besson said. That’s when she began to understand the miraculous encounters and timing that had taken place. She was told it was highly unusual to have an ER doctor in the ambulance, and that she was spared major brain damage or other physical effects that might have occurred. A tracheotomy could have been performed but was not. “I had a thyroid, arterial bleed with a hematoma completely covering my airway. If the doctor had [performed a tracheotomy], I would have bled out and died,” Besson said. “Oh, my Jesus!”
Besson said her third miracle was the ability to completely function despite dire warnings about her condition. “Praise You Jesus! I am not a vegetable! I am a child of God, daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, an aunt and a friend,” Besson said.
“I asked myself, ‘What gift do you buy for the doctors who helped save your life?” I found special beautiful white-washed standing crosses. I bought the same cross for myself, so I could remember who helped save me: Jesus and all the doctors.”
“There are some very important people in my life: God who gave me life, [husband] Bob, the love of my life, and all the wonderful people who helped saved my life,” Besson said. “Writing this account has been very emotional for me. It’s been 22 months since it happened, but it seems like it was only yesterday.”
“Jesus saved me so that I could help spread His Word of Salvation to the world. He also saved me so that I could continue to be a wife to Bob, a mother to Sheri and Brian, a mother-in-law to David and Rachel, and a grandmother to Tyler, Alex, Brent, Brian, Brice, Olivia, Elizabeth and Elena. God bless you.”
Lorraine Besson went out of her way to meet the people who saved her life after a difficult spinal surgery, including (left to right) paramedic Jeremy Landry, Dr. Alex Aitken, Dr. Lura Wight, and Dr. Martin Blake.
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, Charles and Clelie Carpenter make the 30-minute drive to a small building off Goodwood Boulevard. Their mission is literally a matter of life and death.
The Carpenters are pro-life advocates who, along with other advocates from different churches, stand outside Delta Clinic to try to change the minds of women who are seeking abortions. Because the clinic provides escorts to meet the women at their cars and take them into the building, the Carpenters have very small windows of opportunity to make a connection. But when they do, these “sidewalk counselors” do it in a loving way. “If we hope to have a meaningful conversation with a mother, she needs to know that she can trust us and we are not here to condemn her,” said Clelie. “These women find themselves in a desperate situation, broken and often in tears. Our message is that we care about them and their baby. We remind them that God has a purpose for both mother and child. We let them know that there are alternatives to abortion and we offer to help them in any way we can.”
Those are not just words. The Carpenters are board members of the Baton Rouge Right to Life and members of Bethany Church, which advocates for he rights of the unborn. The church annually gives money to BRRTL and designates that the funds be used to help women who have decided against abortion – a ministry they call Loving Moms, Saving Babies. For some, that means reimbursement of the $125 ultrasound that all women must have on their initial visit to the clinic. For others, it may mean money to pay rent, groceries or other
bills. The Carpenters provide such assistance through BRRTL. “Our goal throughout their pregnancy is to show the love of Christ by our support and to share the gospel,” said Charles.
The Carpenters have even given baby showers to mothers they have met at the clinic. “Twice, I’ve been invited into the delivery room to witness the birth of babies we’ve saved,” said Clelie. “What an honor … one of the mothers told me, ‘I want you to be the first person who holds my baby … we owe her life to you.’”
The couple estimates that the pro-life ministry at Delta has saved more than 600 babies in the past six years, 130 babies in the last year alone. Louisiana has a mandatory 48-hour waiting period from the initial clinic visit until the procedure. “Sometimes we will talk to a woman at her first visit, and then we’ll never see her again,” said Charles. “Of course, we would like to believe that she changed her mind. Others come out of the clinic and tell us that after talking with us, they thought about what they were about to do and decided against it. They always thank us for our part in that.”
So how do so many women reach such a heartbreaking crossroads in their lives? Some women who find themselves pregnant are afraid their boyfriends will leave them. Teenagers and young women often fear their parents will kick them out of their homes. Other women say they already have children and can’t afford another. In these cases, the
Photo by Taylor Frey
Photo provided by the Carpenters
Photo provided by the Carpenters
Photo provided by the Carpenters
Carpenters, along with other sidewalk counselors, encourage women to look beyond their immediate circumstances and consider the long-term effects of abortion and the emotional consequences of ending the life of their child. They also make referrals to the Woman’s New Life Center (next door to the clinic) for further counseling and adoption information.
Charles believes the Baton Rouge community should know more about the abortion issue. “Certainly, they’re not aware of the magnitude of it,” he said.
“In 2016, the clinic was shut down, but only for a few weeks. I think a lot of people aren’t aware that it reopened. And I believe people are desensitized to the issue. It’s been going on so long now …”
The Carpenters would like to see area churches more engaged in the pro-life effort. “I really think that a lot of pastors don’t talk about abortion because they don’t want to offend the people in their congregation who have had one,” said Clelie. “And it’s such a shame because if no one talks about this topic in a spiritual setting, there’s no way to discuss forgiveness, no way to find healing. Instead, it becomes a source of silent shame.”
Indeed, the Carpenters say they have met women who want to talk about their abortion experiences from 30 or 40 years earlier. Many speak of ongoing pain, sadness, guilt and regret. The Carpenters are always willing to listen and offer comfort — not just because they are strong Christians committed to a noble cause, but because they have both experienced abortion personally. “I think that’s why so many women listen to us,” Clelie said. “We would never judge anyone. We know exactly how these women feel, and we know that in Christ, there is hope.”
Male sidewalk counselors are uniquely qualified to talk to the men who come to the clinic, most of whom say, “She is the one who wants this and I’m just supporting her.” Charles encourages them to speak up if they want to keep their baby. “There are plenty of men out there hurting because of an abortion in their past,” Charles said. “If they believe it’s wrong, they should make their feelings known. At the same time, they must commit to share responsibility for the child.”
Louisiana Life March
Saturday, January 20, 2018
10 a.m. – noon
State Capitol to Downtown Riverfront Levee green
Theme: every Life Deserves a Lifetime The march begins in the grassy area outside the State Capitol near Spanish Town Road and N. 4th Street. it will proceed south on N. 4th Street, west on North Boulevard, and south on River Road to the Levee green near the U.S.S. Kidd. A formal program will be held at the Levee Stage at 11 a.m.
When they are not at the clinic, the Carpenters make themselves available to schools, churches and other groups to present a class called Defending Life. The session covers the physical and emotional aspects of abortion, an overview of the history of abortion, and an animated video that explains the most common abortion procedures. Most important, the class enables individuals to have informed, non-confrontational conversations with anyone about abortion.
“The video is very effective because it’s narrated by a physician who performed 12,000 abortions during his career and is now a pro-life advocate,” said Charles. “Our goal is to make the truth known … to expose exactly what happens during an abortion and make it unthinkable.”
There are days when the Carpenters and other sidewalk counselors are unable to make any kind of connection with the women arriving at the clinic. On those days, they continue to pray – for the mothers, the babies, the nurses and staff, and especially, the doctor who performs the abortions. “Even if we are not able to make a difference and save a life, at the very least, we are honoring the lives of these babies as they pass from life to death,” said Clelie.
The Carpenters believe that the tide is turning on the abortion debate. Charles stays informed of legislative decisions and new laws that affect the issue. And Clelie is determined to get more churches to join the fight. “Just imagine if a woman drove up to the clinic and saw not 15, but 100 Christians praying for her and her baby!”
“God has called the Church to confront evil,” she said. “If this is going on in our midst and we don’t confront it, then we are accomplices. We are allowing it to continue. The blood of innocents is on our hands. If the church would show up to the battle … we would certainly win.”
If you would like to know more about the pro-life movement in Baton Rouge, contact the Carpenters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I stepped out of my daughter’s room and heard the door click softly behind me. The tears that I had suppressed through her bedtime prayers began to pour down my already blistered cheeks. It had been two weeks since the floodwaters tore through our property, trapping our beloved horses on a hill far beyond our house. My husband and I were nearly killed, as we fought for hours to rescue them from the raging current in the pitch black and pouring rain. Then, when our efforts proved futile, we headed home, heartbroken and shaken beyond belief.
In the following days, I was forced to tackle challenges I never anticipated as a parent. How do you explain to a small child that the same water that churned outside of her home for two days had made it impossible for her pets to come home? She had built up the two bold and valiant creatures as unbreakable in the ongoing fairytale in her young and optimistic mind. Which words are best to convey that kind of defeat – without also simultaneously defeating her? And is there a perfect answer to the ongoing stream of questions about the lines of debris piles, the tents in yards, the cars in ditches and the families struggling to survive behind each of them? And how does one concoct the kind of courage within themselves capable of convincing a child that the world is still safe when their own bones lock in fear at the sight of a single drop of rain?
These were just a few of the concerns that swirled in my mind as I stepped into the hallway after listening to her prayerfully request that Jesus scratch those two sweet pets in their new heavenly home. As I headed toward our living room, I stopped for a moment to study a large piece of art on the wall, the words of Jeremiah 29:11 carefully scripted in white: “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for hope and a future.”
“These are Your plans?” I whispered to God, indignantly. I mentally tallied everything the flood had damaged in our home and throughout our community, and couldn’t help but wonder if God was failing to deliver on this once comforting promise.
Now I am quick to take clips of cozy feeling scripture to display on the walls of my home. The poetry of the Bible’s sweetest words comfort and encourage me through each hectic day. But the problem is that somewhere along the line, the context of those phrases can be lost after a while. Clearly it had been for me, because that verse would have made much more sense in those critical moments after the flood, if I had taken it for what it truly was: God’s promise to a group of broken people in the face of massive destruction and limited hope.
Later, when I pulled my Bible off the shelf, wiped the dust from its cover and flipped through each page of Jeremiah, I processed the details of the Israelites’ struggles with a fresh perspective. Then, when I got to the 29th chapter, it was no longer the 11th verse captivating me. Instead, it was the 12th and 13th verses drawing me in: “Then you will come to Me and call on Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” In that moment, I realized that I needed to seek God with far more tenacity than I had been previously. I needed to pursue Him in the places of scripture that confused me and even scared me. If I wanted to understand God’s presence in tragedy, then I needed to dig into His Word and worship, study and pray in such a way that begged God to reveal answers to me for the questions that I never wanted to ask. Short clips of scripture may be catchy and sweet, but the peace that I received from fervent seeking was what ultimately comforted me with an unshakeable resolve that God is with me always and His plans are infinitely good.
Karen Milioto says prayer, study and worship helped her realize that god’s plans are infinitely good.
Q: When did you begin creating your unique jewelry pieces: charms, rings and more, and what technique do you use?
A: Everything I have ever done in my life has contributed to the culmination of the rings that I create as well as the charms. My father was a gifted artist and musician, and my great grandfather worked in theatre. So, I have been surrounded by visual artists, musicians and the theatre. The process is called Electroforming. I use electricity to move copper from one place to another through a copper sulfite saturation, sort of like plating with metal.
Q: Share about your personal life.
A: I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia in a town where many of my friends were born with silver spoons in their mouths. I consider myself fortunate in the sense that I was born with silver spoons in my hands. I was surrounded by creative
thinkers and I am thankful for this aspect today, but at times, I just wish I had a “normal family life.”
In art class, I was like a free bird. I felt like I was soaring while creating art. I sometimes wonder where I would be if it were not for art? There were several times that I even went back and told my art teacher in high school that she saved my life. I enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Art and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics.
Upon completing graduate school, I moved to Michigan to participate in an art exchange program with the Soviet Union. There is too much to share about that experience, but it did shape my life as an artist. During this time, I married and began teaching at an art center on Lake Michigan. Community involvement became very important to me, and with the help of many in the community, I started a program called Art Angels. This program helped many people through a somewhat holistic approach to health. From pediatrics, to oncology patients and those in foster care, I taught art, but they also extended a life line in a sense.
Q: You have faced challenges but overcame them. Share some more about those difficult times.
A: While I was pregnant with my daughter, [I felt that] my husband “checked out” of my life emotionally, spiritually and as a supportive mate. We stayed married during this wilderness time for seven more years, but we were separate on every level. What helped me? Art helped me express myself in a positive manner…Now, my daughter is attending Louisiana State University and majoring in the arts field. I am so proud of her. She is following her true calling.
Q: As an artist, you studied ceramics seriously most of your life, so how did your jewelry line begin?
A: Ceramics are not easy to sell. I started making jewelry because, in a way, it is a form of journaling for me. It is fun and the jewelry I create represents a faith journey. There are many spiritual symbols used in my designs, and I feel a deeper connection to God when using these symbols in my work. For some reason, God seems more accessible to me by incorporating these images of Jesus and his mother, crosses and other Christian symbols. They remind me of Him and help me to reflect more of His goodness. Having been raised in the Catholic culture and religion, I am fascinated with the different pictures of Jesus, the saints and their stories and the stories in the Bible. There are many stories of miracles that encourage me, because throughout my life, I have experienced divine intervention myself. At the time I was experiencing a miracle, I cannot say I recognized it as a miracle.
Q: Share one of your most spiritual revelations.
A: I will never forget the day I truly felt so close to God. I literally felt I could reach out and touch the hem of his garment. While driving to work on a very gloomy, rainy morning in the center of Philadelphia, all I could see was traffic and people carrying umbrellas. It was like a sea of people with black umbrellas. I was stuck in my car next to this huge old church. Suddenly, the rain stopped, the sun beamed through the clouds, and I could see the faces of the people that once had their umbrellas opened, but had closed them. At that moment, the church bells started to play a Cat Stevens song called “Morning has Broken.” When I hear that song today, tears come to my eyes because of the intimacy I felt with the Lord.
Q: How can one find your unique jewelry line?
A: I sell my work on Etsy.com (Christina Root) and locally at Mosaic Garden on Government Street as well as a few galleries in New Orleans. For more information email@example.com.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17
Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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On Saturday, December 2, I invited my grandson Joshua to spend some time with our ministry, The Kingdom Group, as we hosted our last Men’s Unity Breakfast of the year. He was challenged in a very special way as he witnessed what his grandparents actually do in ministry. I can’t speak for him, but I will say this recognition gathering was truly an extraordinary event. Nearly 100 people came together at Broadmoor Methodist Church to dine, fellowship and be blessed. Former Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff spoke passionately to the group. So many expressed their gratitude for this successful meeting.
Besides the experience at the breakfast, Joshua found himself in a unique environment later as he accompanied us to another event. While attending a Christmas bazaar at a church north of Baton Rouge, he commented, “Paw-paw, we are kinda standing out here,” a reference to the fact that we were the only minorities at the event. Although this was striking to him, I thought to myself, “This is normal for us.” My wife and I are often the “different” ones in many crowds and events we attend. For us, this makes life so much more interesting and a lot of fun, to say the least.
There is something special about being different. I believe it is the key to making a difference. In fact, God calls us to be different. He requires it of us as followers of Christ. Observe the Apostle Paul’s writings to the church in II Corinthians, 6:17-18: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
This is all about being holy unto the Lord!
God has called men to be different and to make a difference in our world. This difference must go beyond just being good husbands and fathers, although this is important. It also is not simply about being good men. God is looking for GODLY MEN, men who are willing to be examples of valor and honor … men who will lead like Christ in all holiness and unmovable faith.
God desires real men who are not willing to shun their leadership roles in the home, church and our world. Men are called to make a difference in the workplace, marketplace and every place as those who have been given ultimate power and dominion by God! When men resume their rightful positions in the world, as mandated by God, then real change can happen. This is the goal of the Men’s Unity Breakfast. Real unity and change must start with men who are willing to make a difference.
The next Men’s Unity Breakfast will be held on Saturday, January 27 at The Church, 2037 Quail Drive. The event starts at 7:30 am. For more information on the Men’s Unity Breakfast, call Elmo Winters at (225) 305-3006, or email him at Elmow1@att.net.
Reverend Elmo Winters has been in ministry for nearly 40 years, as an Apostle, pastor, church planter, hospice chaplain, Bible Institute instructor, and short-term missionary. He is the Executive Director of the Kingdom Group International, LLC, and author of two books, “Going by Going” and “OVERCOMING RACIAL AND CULTURAL BARRIERS, to Disciple Men”. Reverend Winters serves on the board of Gulf South Men and is active in Iron Sharpens Iron and other men’s ministries. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). He is married to Therese Winters and father of 5 children.
The year was 1991 and I was a college student in San Antonio, Texas working to support myself and pay for school. I lived much like the other students I knew – weekly beer parties in between responsibilities.
But things were different now. I had been spiritually attacked, and I knew my only help would come from God. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to read my Bible each night before bed. I started with the first chapter and read straight through. I didn’t understand much of it. The names were hard to pronounce and many of the countries were places that no longer existed. I wasn’t sure how it was helping, but I knew He was my only hope.
One evening after I had done my nightly reading, I felt like I should continue, so I did. I read a little more, but still was not feeling a connection or finding any relevance to my life. I struggled to read more, but my heart wasn’t in it. I decided I was done for the night. As I closed my Bible, I had a very distinctive, yet nonchalant thought: “Oh
well, if God wants me to keep reading He’ll tell me.” At the very millisecond that thought finished in my mind, BOOM! CLASH! Lightning struck and thunder boomed. It shook my entire room. A treasured item from my childhood, a wooden Jesus fish, fell out of my window and onto the floor. I flew off the bed and huddled in the corner of my room, as far away from the window as possible. I was shaking; afraid to move. God had just spoken to me. There was no denying it. This was not coincidence. There was nothing haphazard about the timing of the lightning bolt or the fact the only thing that moved in my room was the representation of Jesus.
I do not remember if it rained that night, but I am certain there were no other room shaking thunder claps or lightning strikes. And I know I desperately needed God during that time of my life. I needed to know He still loved me and that all hope was not lost. Lovingly, in that moment, God was there. His message to me was one I will keep with me all the days of my life: God is real. God is with us. God loves us and wants us to read the Word, His Word.
“ You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other .” – (Deuteronomy 4:35 NIV)
As time passed, I began to feel more secure, more normal again. I continued reading my Bible every night although I rarely prayed. I started to slip back into the ways of the world. The moment I had so clearly experienced with God was left to memory as I grew comfortable, complacent and caught up in life. Eventually I stopped reading all together.
I was silly and foolish just like the Israelites. I forgot. I got caught up in my world — my needs and my desires. I stopped seeking the Lord, stopped reading my Bible, and was unfaithful to Him. Fast forward to April 2006 when my life changed for good.
I re-committed my life to the Lord and I have never looked back. As a newly dedicated Christian, I was exposed to the Scriptures through teachings on Sundays, but in the spring of 2010, a sweet lady entered the store where my husband was working, and as their conversation turned to the Lord, she told him about a resource that has become invaluable in my daily walk with God’s Word.
It’s called the Daily Audio Bible. It’s a digital app that goes through the One Year Bible, read by Brian Hardin, who lives in the rolling hills of Tennessee. Each morning he reads part of the Old Testament, part of the New Testament, some from Psalms and a portion of Proverbs. After the reading, he gives a short commentary and a prayer. This daily time within the Word has blessed my life so much! I have a greater understanding of the Word because I know more about the context.
2018 will be my seventh consecutive year of going through the Scriptures in a year with the Daily Audio Bible. I have found the sustenance I need is within his Word! I cherish my morning time in it and understand that His Word is alive! It speaks to me in the circumstances of my life. It gives me revelation in times of need, inspiration to believe in miracles, and the faith to walk out my days in collaboration with Christ.
“ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. ” – (Romans 10:17 NLT)
There are other great resources available too, and I encourage you to fiercely search for the one that works for you. I promise there is no better way to start your day than in the Word of God and with prayer. It is worth the effort to find an extra 30 minutes of alone time each morning. Here’s to a year ahead filled with more of Him!
If you’re interested in the Daily Audio Bible, search your app store or go to dailyaudiobible.com. Look for the red windmill logo.
Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles – 12 American Women, 12 True stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her
Glory and inspire Louisiana , she is now penning her first screenplay. Ministry Today
showcased one of her photographs on the cover and several others as article imagery. Sharon is a graduate of the University of Texas at san Antonio and The Art institute of Houston. she is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.
For the sixth time, the Dunham School has been named an Apple Distinguished School, proof that its leaders are producing the next generation of innovators, problem solvers and game changers.
The Apple Distinguished School Award is given to schools that demonstrate technological innovation, leadership and educational excellence that inspire collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Under the guidance of Nikole Blanchard,
Director of Innovation and Technology, the school has created a curriculum that incorporates iPads, MacBooks, BreakoutEDU Boxes, 3D printers, virtual reality, coding, robotics, and explorations in Dunham’s Innovation/STEM Labs.
Apple Vice President of Education John Couch attended a Dunham home football game on November 10 to personally present the award to the school.
“I started working at Chick-fil-A on College Drive in May of 2015. I had just graduated from high school as a home-schooled student, and it was my very first ‘real’ job. From the beginning as a team member, I have had the opportunity to become a team trainer and eventually a team captain. During my time here, I have learned skills in the areas of customer service, food
safety, leadership, and communication that will now follow me wherever I go. In addition to working, I have been able to pursue musical endeavors, travel, and be active in my church. I look forward to finishing my college studies online through Lumerit in 2018. My favorite thing about working at Chick-fil-A has definitely been finding ways to use my job to serve others and make people smile. The friendships and memories made with my team will last a lifetime!”
Monturios K. Howard, Assistant Manager
“November 11, 2011 … I shall always remember that day as a very important day in my life. I had been homeless for six months and was sleeping on friends’ couches and floors … anywhere to rest my head for the night. I was out of school because I could no longer afford it and I really had nothing to be proud of or call my own. I remember my first day at Chick-fil-A like no other. I told myself this
fast food thing was just not for me. Who would have guessed that six years later, the former bun toaster boy would be a manager and about to graduate college in May 2018? The growth I have experienced in life started to manifest itself the first day I stepped into the restaurant. Chick-fil-A has given me the confidence to be whom I choose to be, and has taught me life skills that have helped me tremendously. Talking to guests every day at the front counter, meeting new people on a daily basis, and helping my coworkers achieve their goals are all skills that have helped me take leadership roles on campus. From my role in student government or as the LSU NAACP chapter president, I have learned things from Chickfil-A that will last a lifetime.”
As 2018 begins to unfold, our hope is that our path will be straight and our ways prosperous. History is full of examples of self-reliant people who innocently see their future through the eyes of their own success and actions. We contemplate resolutions that we hope will lead us to a brighter future in the upcoming new year.
As financial advisors, people seek our advice on how to navigate stormy “financial” waters. They have questions about wealth building strategies using brokerage accounts, 401Ks, IRAs, and 529 plans. They wonder if a second home might be affordable or if they should consider buying gold or Bitcoin. There can be a tendency to focus on providing for our own security as we get older or closer to retirement – something that we are not the first generation to do.
Many people have gone down this path for centuries although they had different names for the way they tried to build and protect wealth. As far back as Israel in the Old Testament, people worshiped and hoarded gold, silver and other precious metals. As we look back over time, one thing holds true … the presence of idols (there’s that word we don’t like to hear or use) in the presence of a Holy God is not good for our financial or eternal health.
The Bible provides countless examples of how money and reliance on other forms of idols can take us down. Although there are many examples of how our actions have a direct impact on us in the Bible, the book of Hosea provides insight and examples of how God views us1, what He expects from us2, and what we can expect from Him3. The people of Israel in the Old Testament acted much like we do today. They were blessed4, they fell away from a reliance on God5, and they suffered because of their actions apart from God6.
As stewards of the financial resources we’ve been provided, we sometimes struggle with how to address current and future concerns of financial safety and security. It can be a daunting task to align one’s financial goals with biblical principles, but as Christians, that is exactly what we are called to do. As we balance our own plans and financial goals with what we are called to do as Christians, keep in mind that how we respond to and manage God’s financial resources (they are not ours), is what is important to God and not the number of zeroes in our financial accounts.
In today’s secular world, we have basic financial principles such as:
Saving 10-15% of your gross income before other bills
Paying off debt as quickly as possible
Applying payments from debt to savings once debt is paid off
Establishing financial and charitable giving goals to make sure we stay on course
We also have guiding Christian principles found in the Bible and summarized in Riches – A Biblical Perspective by Vision Foundation which states that 1) God is the creator, owner, and dispenser of our financial resources; 2) He provides us with these financial resources for our basic needs7 for enjoyment as we live the life he’s given us8; and 3) to meet the needs of others9.
When you open your next financial statement or read a colorful and well written investment, automotive, or real estate marketing brochure, and feel the excitement of how that product or experience could make you feel, make sure you take a moment to prayerfully consider and balance these financial and Christian principles.
Hosea 14:9 sums up God’s perspective on how we should navigate our way through life. “ Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them. ” If you have questions, feel free to call Bill Campbell with Peters Wealth Advisors at (225) 766-4885.
Bill Campbell, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CeBS serves the clients of Peters Wealth Advisors as an Advisor. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, he has helped clients with plans for their cash flow, education, investments, retirement, business, and estates. He earned his master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Tulane University in New orleans and his bachelor’s in economics from North Carolina State University. Bill and his wife ginger are members of The Chapel on the Campus and have 2 sons and 10 grandchildren.
Investment advisory services are offered through Peters Wealth Advisors, LLC (“PWA”) an investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Such services are only provided after clients have entered into a Wealth Management Agreement confirming the terms of the advisor client engagement and have been provided a copy of PWA’s ADV Part 2A brochure document.
It won’t be long before you’re ringing in the New Year and thinking about all those wonderful changes you’re going to make in your life. Unfortunately, those who actually make a list of New Year’s resolutions are pretty disappointed in themselves by the end of January! Turning wishes into reality usually means changing your behavior, and it’s just not easy. Habits are hard to break, especially if we’re trying to get healthy or be a better person. Here are some resolutions that can evolve into revelations – about your character and your commitment to treat your body as God’s “temple.”
It’s an admirable goal, but don’t commit to losing 30 pounds. Set a smaller, more manageable goal … say 10 pounds. once you’ve reached that milestone, set a new goal. Start with small steps to keep yourself motivated.
Don’t imagine exercising every day, although that’s a great idea. if you start a fitness routine on Monday and skip Tuesday, you’re already discouraged! Plan to exercise 3 times a week, which gives you some flexibility and improves your chance of succeeding.
Pay It Forward
Do something nice for someone every day. it could be as simple as paying a compliment or holding the door open for a stranger. You could also perform an act of kindness by visiting an older relative or offering to babysit for a friend who needs some quiet time. once you start thinking about it, you’ll come up with dozens of ideas on your own.
Get Enough Sleep
Try to get a full night’s sleep every night. Turn off the Tv, put away your cell phone, and unplug the computer or iPad. A healthy sleep schedule increases your energy and improves your mood, your work habits, your relationships, and your outlook
Pray More Often
Maybe you’ve joined a Bible study that begins each session with a group prayer. or perhaps you like to sit alone after Mass and say the rosary. Prayer is personal and there are many ways to speak to god. Be sure to carve out a few minutes of every day to renew your relationship with Him.
Yes! You should kick the habit as soon as possible, but if you find yourself “quitting” on a regular basis, you probably need a little help. There are many smoking cessation programs offered by local hospitals, clinics and physician practices. Check into one and start breathing easier.
Get a handle on the things in your life that create stress. Chronic stress can lead to many health problems, including high blood pressure, insomnia, headaches and weight gain. Learn to say no if you’re overwhelmed by work and family responsibilities. Take time each day to relax or meditate. And talk to your doctor if stress becomes a real problem.
A ) Rosh Hashanah B ) Yom Kippur C ) Shavuot D ) Hanukkah
Answer: A) Rosh Hashanah.
Unlike the traditional European holiday most Americans observe, the Jewish New Year usually falls during autumn. Rosh Hashanah, which literally means “day of shouting” is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days, as outlined in Leviticus 23:23-32. While Americans sing Auld Lang Syne on January 1, Jesus would have actually celebrated the start of a new year in September or October.
The blood of Jesus cleanses our sins and refreshes our spirits, and since His birth, the Son of God has given mankind the gift of unadulterated deliverance. He also offers each of us limitless fresh starts. The New Testament serves as a tribute to Christ’s redemptive power, and the story of Peter is perhaps the greatest example of spiritual renewal.
A lowly fisherman, Peter was a hardened, skeptical man. But Jesus saw something special beneath his rough façade. Peter was transformed during his walk with Christ, and he ultimately became the rock upon which God built His Church.
If Peter, who denied Jesus three times and lost faith after the Crucifixion, could transform into one of the pillars of Christianity, just imagine the wonderful ways God could use your life to further His kingdom. Just as he changed Peter, Jesus is capable of taking even the most basic sinners and molding them into vessels for His glory. In the New Year, it’s worth letting Jesus change our perspectives, because by submitting to His will, we are better able to serve the Kingdom of God.
What Does it Mean?
Renewal The process of being made spiritually new in the Holy Spirit We’ve all heard the phrase “New Year, new you,” but, honestly, the Lord is capable of renewing us any time. When we submit to His calling, He refurbishes us from the inside out, and we transform into living, breathing expressions of His love. The New Year is a great time to make positive changes in our lives, and God is ready to shape us into something unexpectedly splendid.
Resolution A firm decision to do or not to do somthing A resolution is a personal promise nearly everyone makes but few people keep at the start of a new year. Normally, we design resolutions to alter our appearance or improve our finances, but the best kind of change starts on the inside. When we resolve to strengthen our individual walk with God, we are much better equipped to tackle life’s other challenges. So, essentially, deciding to strengthen your walk with God is a great way to kick off 2018!
Rejoice To feel or show great joy or delight Three. Two. One. Happy New Year! It’s easy to get excited about the start of something new. But, when life gets stale and things stop going your way, it becomes more difficult to find happiness in your daily routine. Luckily, there’s good news. When we celebrate during the hard times, it actually becomes easier to rejoice through the bad.