One of the most powerful tools in the world is perhaps the most underutilized. Words.
The first chapter of Genesis is the story of Creation. One of the key phrases is “And God said…” He created this most amazing world by speaking. “Let there be…” Also in Genesis, we read how God created man in his own image. If God spoke the world into existence with His words and created us in his image, what does that say about our words? Our words have tremendous power.
Because of this transformational Truth, we will spend this year focusing on ‘Words of the Word’ This month’s word is Intimacy. Since “love is in the air” in February, we felt it would be fitting to go deeper and talk about the depth of God’s love for us and our love for one another. “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 (John 4:12 ESV).
Each month, our theme word will reflect one of our team member’s favorites. While planning the year, each has carefully picked one special word that had deep meaning to them. That person will write about what they have chosen and why it is important in their life. We know you will enjoy hearing from our various team members each month!
As publisher, my goal for our monthly magazine has been to bring unity to our Body of Christ. Can you imagine how we could affect our city if we were all working together, somehow on the same page for the same reason at the same time? While we attend different churches of various denominations, we can come together and support one another. One way we can do that is to commit to using our words as tools to bring change and help others to grow in their faith.
Some words to consider:
Encourage: It takes very little to encourage another. Speaking kind words is always good, but speaking life means reminding others to reflect and see God at work in their life. “Let’s pray about this. Ask the Lord to lead you about that. Let’s find a Scripture for guidance before you make that decision. What if you wait until you hear from the Lord before you make that life change? May I pray with you now?” Those simple statements or questions can usher God’s power immediately into any situation.
Equip: Remind others that God has a purpose for them. Even in the hard places, He is at work bringing about His will. Our world rushes people into quick decisions, yet our faith is most often deepened when we choose to wait on God. Equip others by reminding them to listen for God’s voice above the noise of the world and the voices of others. Waiting on God can often help others avoid making catastrophic decisions.
Engage: Great conversations don’t just happen. It takes intentionality. Good eye contact and body language help initiate depth and authenticity. Listen more and speak less. Converse with one another, listen for the Holy Spirit to move as you seek to hear Him more. He promises to be our Helper! Let him truly help by inviting Him in to every conversation and trusting Him to guide and nudge our hearts into alignment with His will.
Words? How we use them can change everything! Join us this year as we commit to using them to encourage, equip and engage one another more intimately.
I know the power of God: what he can do, and he will do. He’s just looking for vessels that ill be obedient, that will be open to the Spirit of God. – Chaplain Alonzo Young
When Chaplain Alonzo Young walks through the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System’s Secure Forensic Facility in Jackson, a palpable sense of well-being follows. In a high-stress environment, he is often the calm in the storm, the voice of optimism, the touch of reassurance that God has not forgotten or forsaken the residents.
“God’s power can work with anything. God’s so loving, so gracious and so forgiving,” Young said. The facility is home to men and women who have been committed for a variety of reasons. There are mentally ill inmates placed by the Louisiana Department of Corrections and pretrial residents who receive treatment to become mentally competent for trial. It also houses those who are acquitted of crimes because of their mental state but remain potentially dangerous.
“How do you minister to these people? They still have souls,” Young said. “They are forgotten by their families because they did this tragic thing. We don’t know what allowed that trigger in their minds.”
“But God is looking for people to stand in the gap,” he said. “Find common ground to talk about, whether football, food or Star Wars. Get into their world. Just talk, just listen. It brings healing.”
So does music. Young brings his high-energy, trumpet-playing worship style to services in the facility’s chapel using skills he developed in the Eastside High School Marching – and dancing – Band in Gainesville, Florida. “Music ministers to people,” he said. “Saul was depressed, and David came and played his harp, and the Bible says the [evil] spirit left Saul.”
Rather than hymns – unknown to many who attend services – Young finds a spiritual message in familiar, secular music. “They can relate to it: ‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’ to stop God from reaching up there and pulling you down. There’s no valley low enough to stop God from stooping down and pulling you up. There’s no river wide enough to stop God from putting his arms around you, because God loves you.”
Those who are dealing with such challenging environment must be intentional about staying well themselves, whether they are ministers or family members. Constant communication with God is key.
Those who are dealing with such a challenging environment must be intentional about staying well themselves, whether they are ministers or family members, Young said. Constant communication with God is key. “My wife prays with me: ‘Lord, lead me today, guide me today, help me today.’ Stay in the word. The church I attend, Mount Gideon Baptist Church, outside of Jackson, keeps me going. They’re filled with the Spirit.”
It’s also important to find something you enjoy and do it often. “I love fishing!” He said. “It’s a great comfort – eases my mind.” He enjoys hanging out with his eight-year-old nephew, Devon, his five kids and 14 grandchildren.
Coping with mental illness takes discernment and balance, Young said. “You know when someone’s possessed by the devil and you know when a person has psychological problems: the DNA, physical issues and generational issues. There’s a difference in that and the spiritual side.”
Young believes in a holistic approach to mental illness that includes prayer and professional treatment. “Thank God for the medication. It brings them down, calms them,” he said.
“I won’t say that everybody who gets depressed has a demon; that’s not true. David was depressed and so were Elijah and many old prophets. Jesus was depressed, sweating blood. That was a lot of stress. Some things cause depression. The enemy causes oppression. That’s why we have to pray to God: ‘God help me; lift this thing.’”
Young learned the power of prayer early in life. “One day I was hanging out with the wrong crowd and ended up in juvenile detention,” he said. “My mom picked me up. She cried and said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.’” The next Sunday, he went to the Church of God in Christ with his cousin, James. “They really believed in the power of God. Seasoned ladies, prayer warriors, were praying for me,” he said. “The pastor said, ‘Son, what has happened to you?’ I answered, ‘I asked the Lord to forgive me. He changed my heart.’”
Then, he heard specific direction: minister and preach God’s word. “I began to say, ‘Lord, hey, that’s too much. I see the failed ministers, and I don’t need this in my life.’ And that’s when he said to me, ‘Either you do what I ask you or you will suffer as others have suffered.’ I was suffering right then. I said, ‘Yes, Lord. I’ll do what you want me to do.’”
Soon, another young minister from his home congregation, Emmanuel Baptist Church, told him, “I’ve got a prison we can go to.”
Then, he heard specific direction: minister and preach God’s word. “I began to say, ‘Lord, hey, that’s too much. I see the failed ministers, and I don’t need this in my life.’ And that’s when he said to me, ‘Either you do what I ask you or you will suffer as others have suffered.’ I was suffering right then. I said, ‘Yes, Lord. I’ll do what you want me to do.’”
“I had never been to a prison, so we’re driving, and I see all this barbed wire fence and young guys playing ball. Mostly, I saw African Americans – young men. But they came and started singing. The music, it really grabbed me, and Rev. Willie Cunningham started preaching and, oh, the power of God!” he said. “I’ll never forget this. One guy was crying, and he said, ‘Lord, I want you.’ And I was praying with him. All of a sudden, the light came in and he was rejoicing. On the way back, I said, ‘Lord, this is where I want to be. This is where you’ve called me.’”
Now, at ELMHS for five years, Young and Chaplain Henry Johnson reach out to 500-600 patients, a daunting task. “Volunteers are filling the prisons, but they are missing the mental health,” Young said. A majority of the patients at ELMHS come from Baptist backgrounds.
“They are in that depression world. Can you imagine choirs coming, praising God, lifting their spirits up? Smiling and praying with them? It would be wonderful to see pastors come and minister to our patients,” said Young. “Jesus said, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.’” [Luke 10:2].
I’ll never forget this. One guy was crying, and he said, ‘Lord, I want you.’ And I was praying with him. All of a sudden, the light came in and he was rejoicing. On the way back, I said, ‘Lord, this is where I want to be. This is where you’ve called me.'” – Alonzo Young
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.
I stood there in silence, taking a photograph in my mind. I wanted to take out my phone and snap a quick still, but it probably would not have been well received by the others in the room.
I wondered if they could see the beauty that was before them, for to most eyes it was nonexistent. But for me, a photographer by trade, it was almost framed up too perfectly inside my lens eye to ignore. I resisted. Hospital rooms are not pretty places. The walls are bland, the smells are bad, and the temperatures borderline frigid. However, that September day, down that particular hallway, with those four walls, intimacy was present.My father-in-law was a super likable guy. He was friendly – the life of the party, smart and successful. He was a happy person, and when he spoke with excitement about something, his voice would do a charming
Even though we as people do not know for sure where the Garden is located, we can find intimacy with God. He has gifted us with this simply for the asking. Our pursuit of Him will not fall short.
and unique soft squeak-crackle thing, a sound typically reserved for 16-year-old boys. I miss that crackle. He was also a handsome man to whom my husband bears an undeniable resemblance.
Pops, as he was lovingly called, lived a full life before the sickness took over. Like many of us, he had seasons of walking with God. Some of his seasons were full of involvement and some near seeming abandonment. I certainly can’t speak of his personal relationship with the Lord for that is forever between the two of them, but only what can be observed from afar… and across a room.
It is a strange thing to say, but the sickness, for all its horrors, was used by God for the good of Pops. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28) The perspective of Pops transformed. He began to long for intimacy with a newfound intensity.
He read books on miracles and spoke of them with his crackle voice. He came to church with us and talked of visions of angels rejoicing in the aisles. He told my husband and me that he now realized marriage, or rather love, was so much more than physical. He gave his testimony to a tent full of strangers. He humbly reached out to past wounds with the hope of forgiveness. He found joy despite the circumstances as he pursued intimacy.
Pops got it right. After all, isn’t that what we are created for? Intimacy – created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26) for a relationship with others – animals, other humans, and God Himself. Adam and Eve were granted dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28), and Adam was allowed to name the animals (Genesis 2:19). God shared His creation with His creation. How amazing is He! Such a good Father, initiating fellowship from the start. It is quite a thought – to freely walk in the Garden in the cool of the day; conversation among conception, surrounded by peaceful beauty, ultimate intimacy with God.
Even though we as people do not know for sure where the Garden is located, we can find intimacy with God. He has gifted us with this simply for the asking. Our pursuit of Him will not fall short. Jesus told us to “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Ask. Jesus did. “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth …” (John 14:15-17) His abiding presence.
Ask. It is what Pops did that day in the hospital. After our visit was complete, he asked for pure, simple intimacy. It was time for us to leave so he could just be held. And as I watched his wife stretch her long, blue jean-covered legs atop the crisp white sheet, and lay her head next to his, beauty unfolded. The simplicity of intimacy was before me: extended time with someone who loves you unconditionally – where there is no agenda, no rush, just a peaceful, priceless moment together.
The fall from grace that happened after the apple was eaten had dire consequences, but God did not take away the wonderful gift of relationship. It is still our choice to pursue. It is available to us all. May we slow down enough to embrace intimacy – smell roses, walk in gardens, ask for hugs, carve out time for relationships, pray, sing, create, and see the beauty that is right in front of us.
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.
Congratulations to Milton and Leola Lee, who recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. The Lees have two children and eight grandchildren, and are lifelong members of New Pilgrim Baptist Church in Zachary.
Milton and Leola were high school sweethearts at Northwestern High School in Zachary, where Milton played football and Leola performed in the band. After marrying in 1962, Milton worked as a lab technician at Copolymer Corporation and retired after 40 years. Leola was a Motor Vehicles Officer at the State Police Headquarters for 33 years.
They keep a positive attitude by staying involved in hobbies and church activities. At least once a week, Milton plays golf and Leola competes in a bowling league. He is active in the Zachary Men’s Club, and she has long been a member of the East Baton Rouge Women’s Auxiliary. At church, they have both served in various roles, including choir, Bible study, and social committees.
They agree on the secret to their long and happy marriage … God.
“God is in our life and always has been,” said Milton. “Like all couples, we’ve had our ups and downs, but as long as we’ve put him before everything else, he has kept us together.”
Words of Comfort
Click to hear an audio recording of Leola Lee reading the 23rd Psalm from the Old Testament.
Leola says communication is another key to a successful marriage … with her husband and with God. “With Milton, I talk about whatever is on my heart,” she said. “With God, I pray … to keep my faith strong and to watch over the people I love.”
And when she needs comfort, Leola says, she goes to her Bible and reads her favorite Scripture, the 23rd Psalm.
Intimacy can be a tough subject for men. After all, real men are strong, self-sufficient and task-oriented with a special calling to spiritual leadership in the family (I know, not necessarily the politically correct thing to say nowadays, but true nonetheless – Gen 3:16, Proverbs 31:1-31, Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1-7, you get the picture). Women are the intimate creatures in God’s creation, and it’s better to let them do what they do best, and men to do what they do best, right? As it turns out, not so much, according to Scripture. And how (or whether) the Christian chooses to acknowledge that fact has a huge impact on the Church and its effectiveness in carrying out the great commission.
“How in the world,” you may ask, “can male intimacy affect the Church?” One of the more straightforward clues can be found in 1 John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” The first thing to notice in John’s exhortation to love is that it is a universal calling: “Everyone who loves is born of God” which means that men are called along with women into loving relationships with God and His created order. I might add that we are called on equal footing with women (Galatians 3:28). That being said, what more intimate expression of the human condition is there than love? The answer is simple: None! Thus, it follows that all Christians have been called to a godly intimacy. If we are not practicing it in every part of our lives, we are not going to be in a right relationship with God, and ultimately, we will fall away from full and faithful participation in the Church.
Here’s where all this plays in to the whole effect-on-the-Church scenario: Studies have shown that the level of a family man’s (full) participation in church (or lack thereof), can have a huge impact on the rest of the family’s participation (by up to as much as an 80% swing in their children’s level of attendance[i]), regardless of the woman’s level of dedication. The takeaway: If men go to church, the vast majority of their children tend to be there with them. That’s not a hit on motherhood by the way. It is simply a fact that speaks directly to the importance of men to the family unit when it comes to their overall participation in the Body of Christ.
The fact is, we (the Church) must be all-in when it comes to having high expectations of unwavering male participation in congregational communities, expectations that begin with intimacy and the love of Christ, though they most certainly do not end there. The universality of intimacy called for in Scripture is not limited to defining male/female equality in things of God. Indeed, it extends to calling for equality in all people everywhere.
Last year, I became involved in the Kingdom Group Men’s Unity Breakfasts, an effort focused not only on engaging Christian men in greater discipleship participation, but also in encouraging cross cultural dialogue on racial disunity, one of the biggest killers of Christian unity in the United States. These gatherings encourage hard conversations, with lots of listening and a willingness to approach others with open hearts and open minds. The really good news is, the men showing up at these breakfasts are open to listening and growing in their understanding of other people’s racial and life experiences. The Bible tells us that the beginning of wisdom is insight (Proverbs 4:7), and insight is the beginning of greater understanding and the breaking down of the walls – walls of fear that keep the children of God separated and weaken the Church of God.
I am looking forward in 2018 to a year of massive headway in race relations and the unity of the church through the efforts of groups like the Kingdom Group, as well as other organizations such as East Feliciana’s own FBIJ (Firm Believers In Jesus) spearheaded by Bishop George Veal. Like the Unity Breakfasts, FBIJ aims at cross cultural experiences, offering monthly opportunities for joint worship between folks who look different from one another.
The bottom line, friends, is that all of these efforts begin with Christian intimacy, and men are not only called into that intimacy along with women, but are actually the ones who should be out in front leading the way to closer, more intimate relationships with one another and with the God of all creation.
 Smith, D. (2014, June 16). Swiss Study shows fathers are important to a child’s chuch attendance. Retrieved from opentheword.org: https://opentheword.org/2014/06/16/swiss-study-shows-fathers-are-important-to-a-childs-church-attendance.
The Rev. Ted Fine and his wife Valerie moved to Clinton, LA and began serving as lead pastor at Clinton United Methodist Church and Clear Creek United Methodist Church in July, 2016. They have four grown children and one grandchild. Rev. Fine is passionate about ministry, both inside and outside the walls of the church, believing that the real Church has no walls and knows no boundaries. His one great desire in life is to see the love of Christ lived out as it is intended by God and ascribed to in Scripture. Besides his pastoral duties, Rev. Fine serves as prayer advocate for the Louisiana Conference of the UMC, and chairman of the East Feliciana Long Term Recovery Group’s Unmet Needs Committee.
“I started working at Chick-fil-A on College Drive in July 2013. I had just moved to Baton Rouge from Shreveport to start college at LSU. I started working part-time to cover some of my new living expenses. On my first day, I would never have imagined the growth I would experience working at a fast food restaurant. One of my assistant managers at the time saw great potential in me and challenged me relentlessly, which is the reason I am in a leadership “I started working at Chick-fil-A on College Drive in July 2013. I had just moved to Baton Rouge from Shreveport to start college at LSU. I started working part-time to cover some of my new living expenses. On my first day, I would never have imagined the growth I would experience working at a fast food restaurant. One of my assistant managers at the time saw great
potential in me and challenged me relentlessly, which is the reason I am in a leadership position today. In addition to working, I have had the opportunity to graduate from college with a degree in Kinesiology and spend some of my spare time volunteering at a physical rehabilitation clinic. Chick-fil-A has given me the opportunity to grow as an individual and provided me with communication and leadership skills that will last a lifetime.”
Tyler Murphy, Team Captain
“My Chick-fil-A journey started six years ago in Covington, Louisiana. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work with three incredible operators at three very different stores. When I started at Chick-fil-A, I was very active in high school clubs and sports, mainly soccer. Chick-fil-A offered the flexibility that would eventually allow me to grow into leadership
roles. Considering I started working at 15, I have literally grown up with Chick-fil-A. The life skills that I have learned in the course of working here are skills that I have carried through college, and have helped me get to the position of graduating with a business degree in May. After college, I plan to stay with Chick-fil-A and pursue a career as an operator at a store of my own.”
What does it mean to have an intimate relationship with Christ? Does it mean studying the Bible and developing a deep understanding of scripture, possibly one similar to a biblical scholar? Or is an intimate relationship more personal, one that involves meditation, honesty and prayer from the heart?
Certainly, there is no right or wrong answer as most Christians would agree intimacy happens whenever an action draws you closer to Jesus.
But for one Baton Rouge woman, it took the action of another — the unthinkable and horrendous action of a perfect stranger — to remind her that God is always near and his love is far deeper than ever imagined.
In the late 1990s, Staci Polozola was the victim of a violent crime. She was kidnapped and taken at gunpoint to another state. The ordeal lasted 18 hours yet somehow in those hours, “God’s grace was all over me,” she said.
“I still remember the exact spot on the interstate where I made the decision to make peace with what was happening,” she said, explaining that in her fear, she sought refuge with the only one she knew could help. But as her eyes and heart looked to heaven, her deepest desire wasn’t personal. Instead, the story of the Cross flooded her mind, and as she reflected on Christ’s Passion, she began to see her situation differently.
“I said to God, ‘Father, forgive this man,’ and almost immediately, I felt this calmness come over me,” she said. As she began to “let go” and experience an incredibly intimate and overwhelming sense of God’s love, her feelings of fear and anxiety were removed, she said. “By surrendering, I was able to trust God completely. In that instant, I knew everything was going to be okay.”
Prior to her ordeal, Polozola said she believed in God and always had a faith, but she was focused on getting by on her own. “It was all about me at that time,” she said, explaining that by allowing and accepting God’s plan for her life, even during such an intense and terrified moment, she was able to endure.
And there were other benefits. By trusting God and keeping her high levels of fear and anxiety in check, Polozola was ultimately able to break free from her kidnapper, who was later arrested, convicted and sentenced.
Polozola believes that with God’s grace, she has been able to move forward, but she continues to seek and experience a deep relationship with God through personal prayer and works of faith, which include volunteering in prison ministry.
She said some people who know her story are surprised that she can help those imprisoned, but Polozola understands not only the value of every life, but also the value of releasing bitterness and learning to forgive. “Some people hold on to hate, even with things less tragic, yet it drains the life out of you. You can’t live with that,” she said, offering encouragement for anyone wanting to develop an intimate relationship with Christ.
“It begins by making a conscious decision,” she said. “Every day, it’s a decision you make when you say, ‘I’m going to trust in God, and I want to improve my relationship with him.’”
It’s not certain when, but in the coming months, the Catholic community in Baton Rouge will welcome a new bishop and say goodbye to the beloved Bishop Robert W. Muench. In December, the Bishop announced his plans to retire after 15 years in his current role.
According to Canon Law, bishops must submit their resignation to the Pope when they turn 75. Bishop Muench celebrated his 75th birthday on December 28. Only when he receives a reply from Pope Francis will his resignation become effective, and it’s impossible to predict how long the process will take.
In an article published in The Catholic Commentator, Bishop Muench said his years as bishop have constituted “the richest blessings of ministry I have ever received.” And he added that it will not be sad or difficult to move on. “There is an appointed time for everything under the heavens,” he said. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The bishop was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and was raised in New Orleans. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1968. His career has included roles as religion teacher, guidance counselor, liturgy director, school chaplain, associate and co-pastor, vocations director, assistant to the Archbishop, Vicar General, Auxiliary Bishop, and Bishop.
If there was ever a moment in our history when leadership was needed, it is now. With all the greed, dishonesty, selfishness, evil, and bad things going on in the world, we need good leaders. A common quality of great leaders through the ages has been their mastery at articulating a vision of the future. They see something that is not yet there and can relay the image to others. In any leadership position, the most important aspect of the job is getting everyone to work together.
However, working together is only a beginning. The world needs leaders who find their strength in faith and character. Exceptional leaders will get their team members to feel they’re an integral part of a common goal. How is this done? This may sound odd, but the underlying theme of teamwork is our ability to convey a renewed sense of optimism. Teamwork doesn’t just happen – it takes a captain to steer it in the right direction. The role of the captain – whether it’s a coach, teacher, father or mother – is to give the ship direction, purpose, and ultimately success.
We need to make a difference, but we can do it only through the grace of God. I am convinced that we are capable of solving any problem, whether it is race, crime, poverty, terrorism, pollution, drugs, or whatever plagues humanity.
You, with God’s help, are responsible for your future. You’re really free the moment you don’t look outside yourself for someone to solve your problems. You will know that you’re free when you no longer blame anyone or anything, but realize you control your destiny and are capable of changing the world. People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. We’ve got to decide which group we will be in.
The most important thing to God is our relationships with one another. He made us in such a way that everybody needs somebody. And God’s idea for success is a community, a group of people who are committed to each other and who strive to follow his will. Communities and nations will be transformed when humanity returns to God and his purposes. Humans have not advanced a centimeter in the history of the world by fighting, hating, killing, and cheating. The only notable advancement humans have ever made is becoming brothers and sisters who labor toward a common goal. You see, the best potential of “me” is “we.” So the question in our life journey is not whether God can bring peace, love and happiness in the world. The question is, can we?
Legendary Coach Dale brown spent 25 years leading the LsU Tiger basketball Team. Under his coaching, the team earned Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1986. His full story will be featured in our March issue.
Intimacy – a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
And He ordained twelve that they should be with him and that he might send them forth to preach… (Mark 3:14).
The story of Jesus’ relationship with his disciples was one of love, pain, betrayal and restoration. and Jesus said to them, “Come and dine.” This was after broken fellowship had taken place before His death, burial and resurrection. These were the men that He’d spent His time on earth building, shaping and preparing to turn the world upside down. They had once enjoyed sweet communion and closeness. They followed Jesus everywhere as He built their faith and taught them His ways. He called these men and chose them for a special purpose. even though they had a great relationship, when He needed their support the most, they all left him.
Many of us have experienced broken relationships in this way. as children of God we are called for a special purpose. When we receive the gift of grace, through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we can enjoy sweet communion and fellowship with other believers. The testimony of Jesus and His disciples sets the stage for all of us to glean from, whether it is marriage, business or parenting … there will come a time when all relationships will be challenged.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains that the word of God is like seed being sown into the ground. When the seed of the word is properly sown into a heart, it produces the right fruit (Mark 4). Relationships are the main places this principle can be tested. In this parable, you can see the closeness between Jesus and His disciples. Even though He taught the parable to the crowd, He took His disciples apart from the crowd to explain its meaning to them. Jesus wanted them to see how powerful the word is when sown into our hearts and how it exposes our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4).
Before Jesus’ death on the cross, He told his disciple Peter that he would have to endure an overwhelming temptation that would cause him to deny Jesus. He also encouraged Peter that He had already prayed for him so the temptation would not overtake him (Luke 22:32). Peter did indeed deny Him, as did all of the disciples.
Jesus is the living word and because we can depend on His great love, we have no need to try to impress or hide who we really are. When we’re true to Jesus, we can then be true to ourselves and others to achieve greater intimacy in our relationships.
When it came time for Jesus to restore the relationships with His disciples, He met them right where they were, in a state of confusion and desperation. The disciples felt they had disappointed the Lord and failed Him. The beautiful part about intimacy is that Jesus is always ready to forgive and restore. Jesus extended the invitation to them to come and have breakfast with Him. After they’d partaken of their meal together, He encouraged them, loved on them and restored purpose to their existence once again (John 21).
He extends this very invitation to us all. We have only but to believe, trust and “come and dine!”
Pamela Gauthier is a writer, poet, and owner of HearTune Creations Poetry. Pamela is married to Ronnie Gauthier and is the mother of four and grandmother of five. She began her journey writing poetry as a way to lift the spirits of those in nursing homes. Her goal is to touch the hearts and lives of others whenever encouragement is needed
It’s funny how you can look at something for weeks, months, even years … and not really see it. Jeffrey Welsh experienced this years ago when he was trying to decide which direction his life and career would take. Speaking with a pastor about his search for a meaningful ministry, the pastor pointed out that Jeffrey had already found it. In fact, it was right there in plain sight if he only cared to look. But we’ll get to that later.
Jeffrey and his partner Carol Poche are leaders of The Keyfinders Team at Keller Williams Realty. They might spend their workdays in the real estate world, but their careers are founded on a commitment to serving God. They believe their shared faith is what brought them together professionally.
Carol joined Keller Williams Realty in 2002 after 16 years operating Mamacita’s Restaurant with her husband. A year later, Welsh brought his property management company to KW and began to focus on the sales side of real estate. He and Carol became friends right away and their friendship deepened when they worked closely together after Hurricane Katrina, helping a wave of New Orleanians find homes in Baton Rouge.
Not many people know it, but Keller Williams Realty International, founded in 1990, is based on Christian principles. The company’s belief system is God, Family, Business – building careers worth having, lives worth living, businesses worth owning, and legacies worth leaving.
It’s this kind of philosophy that helps people see a company or business in a new light. The real estate field wouldn’t seem to have any Biblical connection, but Jeffrey disagrees. “I’d say that the
first real estate transaction was when God gave Adam and Eve the Garden of Eden and told them to tend to it.”
In any case, Jeffrey and Carol formed The Keyfinders Team in 2006 with the support and encouragement of their spouses Pam Welsh and Gerry Poche. Since then, the two have become top producers in their market, averaging 100 transactions per year. Best of all, their team has become a family affair with 10 employees, many of them spouses, grown children and in-laws.
Quite simply, they have formed a “marketplace ministry.” The term describes a belief that one’s work IS one’s ministry, that every profession provides opportunities to practice evangelism, help others, and spread the Gospel. Although Jeffrey has long been familiar with the term, it took a pastor friend’s insight to really make it come alive.
Although he was practicing his faith and finding success in his work, Jeffrey wanted to do something more meaningful with his life. “I began feeling called to the ministry,” he said. “And one day, I was having lunch with Pastor Larry Norman asking for his guidance. When we got back to my office, he looked at my sign and said, ‘Jeffrey, this business is your ministry. The proof is right here.’”
Before coming to Baton Rouge, Jeffrey had worked with his mother at the property management company she founded in the 1980s. She had also designed the company logo which featured a red key. When Jeffrey looked closely at the key, he could clearly see the shape of a white cross in the design.
“All those years, I had never seen that cross,” he said. “I took it as a sign, and I started to seek God on a different level. I was fired up.”
Carol and Jeffrey look for opportunities to connect with their clients on a deeper (spiritual) level. “In this business, you often find yourself sitting at people’s kitchen tables talking about the changes in their lives or the losses they’ve suffered,” said Jeffrey. “It gives us the chance to minister to them, to be peaceful and patient as they share their feelings, and to offer them our friendship.”
Carol agrees. “It’s such an honor to play a role in bringing a young family to a new home where they will welcome their firstborn, celebrate holidays, and live life to the fullest,” she said. “It’s a gift to us, and one that we treasure. Every sale is so much more than that. It’s a family we are serving and a life we are enriching.”
Nothing works harder than your heart. at 80 beats per minute, that’s about 4,800 times per hour and 115,200 times per day. imagine how hard your heart works over a lifetime! That’s why it’s important to take care of it — by eating healthy, getting regular exercise, managing stress and seeing your doctor often.
February is National Heart Month, a time when healthcare organizations encourage americans to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. The bad news is that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country … the good news is that even small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.
Here are some guidelines from the american Heart association to reduce your risk of heart disease:
Kick the habit. smoking greatly increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.
Limit your intake of sugary drinks, red meats, and foods with high salt content.
Get regular exercise. even 2 or 3 hours a week is beneficial.
Drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
Talk to your doctor about managing high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Choose an activity to help you manage stress, such as yoga or a daily walk.
(Information provided by the American Heart Association and Web MD.)