Wow! This month’s Word theme of Reflection stirs a great deal of emotion! As we look forward to our three-year anniversary in April, it’s with great thanksgiving to the Lord and several others for our journey thus far.
Looking back. It’s hard to believe we published our first edition in April 2015. So many didn’t believe we could do this. Yet God is faithful and went before us. He provided generous advertisers to come along beside us. He helped us
to assemble a team of wonderful people with great talent. The stories of God at work in the lives of His people are never-ending. We are honored and thrilled to get to hear these amazing stories every month. God is at work in our city. Looking over. Much has been learned over these years. I could say a lot about the trials along the way. The criticism, the challenges, and those who seek to discourage our efforts have been difficult. Yet so many of you offer words of encouragement! There are even those who have supported our ministry with monetary gifts at just the right moment of need. Many who purchase ads often do so because they not only want to bring attention to their businesses, but they believe in our efforts to bring Unity to our Body of Believers in our city. God is at work in our city. Looking up. Our goal is to bring glory to God and unity to the Christians in our city. 1 Corinthians 12:14 (KJV) is our mission statement. “For the body is not one member, but many.” We are called to be One and we are called to One Another. Together we can do great things to expand the Kingdom of God and help others come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is by working together that we see the Power of God move mightily in our midst.
Looking forward. Change is coming! In April, you will see change. Our team is collaborating to see how we can improve, grow and learn from our experience and also learn from others. If you’d like to offer suggestions, please do. Do you know of great stories that need to be told? Let us know! firstname.lastname@example.org Share on our free Calendar of Events email@example.com. Follow us on social media!
We thank you for reading, for encouraging, for advertising and for sharing your stories. We are humbled to get to do what we do. We ask you to pray for our team and the work before us – that we bring the glory due His name.
We are changing the world, one story at a time.
As I reflect, I praise the Lord for what He has done.
Cushioned armchairs, bookcases filled with memories, and a coffee table you can put your feet on. The living room is the heart of the home. It is where families do puzzles, watch movies, laugh, and share stories. It is the place friends gather to pray. Or cry. It is an area created specifically for family. These are some of the reasons Kirk Cameron named his latest marriage and parenting event Living Room Reset.
Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine was privileged to sit down in January with Cameron prior to his first stop on the event tour, which was held at the Church International on Quail Drive.
What was it like talking to the actor best known for his role on the television sitcom Growing Pains? It was like chatting with a lifelong friend even though you’ve just met. Familiar and engaging, personable and well-spoken, Cameron joked with us, yet spoke with a purposed passion regarding his great love for God and family.
It might surprise you to learn this outspoken man of faith did not grow up in a Christian home. In fact, he was an atheist who didn’t intend to be on television. Reflecting on his life, Cameron recalls wanting to become a surgeon, but at the age of nine he was given an opportunity to act. His life changed. “Growing Pains was really an interruption to the plans that I had made for myself,” he said. Familiar dimples framed his smile as he began to explain his salvation story.
While working on the set of the popular show that made him a household name, he met a girl who invited him to church. He was intrigued by the pastor’s message, but had questions. The girl’s father answered some of them, but challenged Cameron to go to God with the right attitude for answers. He did. He also continued to go to church. Now 17, he spoke to God one day while sitting in his car. “I asked God to reveal Himself to me and to forgive me for the wrong choices I had made and show me the way.” Cameron’s life changed again.
Looking back, he can see how the Lord was working in his life. Today he simply uses the platform he has been given through his work in television, film, and live entertainment to share the gospel. His love for the Word of God guides his life, including his belief in the sanctity of marriage. It is this view, Cameron stated, that determines how he lives in his family. It undoubtedly also shapes the choices he makes. The film Fireproof, about a man attempting to save his failing marriage, is an example.
“Making a movie like Fireproof was not only a way for me to express my view of the sacredness of marriage, but it also challenges and inspires me when I play roles like that, to be the kind of husband God wants me to be.”
The major stumbling block married people face today is what Cameron call the “me monster” couples who are filled with pride and selfishness. He offers the solution by illustration of the cross, as Jesus did not come to serve but to be served. Christ sacrificed his life for his bride and we are instructed to love our wives as Christ loved the church. That’s a tall order. “Jesus has helped me become more fit for the Kingdom,” he said, his green eyes twinkling. It is that passion for God and family that seems to motivate him. It’s what has driven him to spend the last eight years traveling around the country teaching conferences on marriage.
Cameron said he doesn’t worry if he is fulfilling the will of God for his life. He knows what it is, and it is the same for him as it is for each of us. We find it in the New Testament, where we see Paul writing in one of his letters. “He says that God’s will for us is that we will be saved, that we would be Spirit-filled, that we would be saying thanks for all things, and making music and melody in our hearts. That’s God’s will for our life,” Cameron said.
He added that choices like jobs, schools, or marriage partners are opportunities for God to direct us individually. Cameron likes to pray for God to open doors He wants opened, and to close doors that He wants closed. It is choices like these where he trusts in the leading of the Father, knowing that God sees his desire to honor Christ, bless his family, and work together with the church to bring Heaven to earth. In the end, Cameron says, “All of history is His Story, including our little chapter in it.”
Laughter breaks out when Cameron is asked about his favorite Scripture and he recalls a funny story told by Christian comedian Tim Hawkins — a lighthearted joke followed by a sincere expression of love. “I would like to say that the Word of God is the most precious and important book on the planet. There is no better gift that God has given to the world other than the presence of Christ and the form of His Spirit, than His Word because it frames all of life. I love the acronym that someone came up with for the Bible – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. And it’s true.”
It seems abundantly apparent that Cameron uses The Word as his guidebook – for life, for his career, for his marriage, and for parenting. It is what he is passionate about sharing. It is the same for many of us too, but sometimes we need a reset. We need to sit down in the living room with a friend and talk about the goodness of the Lord. Read Scriptures for guidance. Pray for wisdom. Cry. Laugh. Put our feet on the coffee table, get comfortable, and do life together.
For more information on Cameron’s Living Room Reset tour, visit kirkcameron.com. Additionally, an exclusive showing of Kirk Cameron Connect: Real Help for Parenting in a Social Media World is scheduled to play in select theaters nationwide on March 1. Tickets are available at Cinemark Perkins Rowe or Movie Tavern.
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. 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.
Church Finds Creative Ways to Reach Out
For Sr. Pastor Mark Stermer, actor Kirk Cameron’s visit to The Church in Baton Rouge was just another creative way to impact our city while bringing together people from all walks of life on a Friday night.
Innovative events are just part of the culture of this multi-campus church. It’s an intentional way to add value to what is already there. “When you carve out time for God, people’s lives are touched,” Stermer said. Special events and retreats can be like reset buttons, unique opportunities to have a complete experience with God.
That is also the goal each Sunday morning — to expose the congregation to various forms of worship. Communion, fellowship, prayer, music, and the sacrifice of giving are part of the weekly effort to make Jesus famous.
Overseeing several churches on a daily basis requires intentional leadership, but Stermer has a vision for our city to come together outside of the walls of our church buildings. He believes now is a good season to step outside of denominational walls by loving one another.
“It’s good that we are all different!” he said. “My wife and I are different … that’s a good thing! We are all the children of God, Christians. Unity starts with understanding that we are not enemies. Anyone who loves Jesus and tries to follow him in their life, that is my brother and sister. This is not a competition — this is a family.”
Stermer hopes not just for unity, but for the salvation of many. “Our hope is that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We are called to go, not just stay in our four walls. We are called to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe God’s teachings … that we would be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ — His mind, life, mission, and yes, even his promises.”
He says there is much work to get done in reaching the lost for Jesus. But by being inclusive and working together, he sees great things ahead for our city. For more information about The Church International, several upcoming events, log onto http://thechurch.fm. Information about The Church Academy can be found at http://tca.fm.
His Conversion was a Different Kind of ‘Growing Pain’
Night and day. That’s how Kirk Cameron’s childhood compares to his life today.
Those who watch his Christian-themed films or attend his evangelical seminars are sometimes surprised to learn that in the 1980s and 1990s, Cameron was a teen heartthrob starring in one of ABC’s highest rated sitcoms, Growing Pains.
Anchored by actors Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns as his parents, the show was an entertaining sitcom with a catchy theme song (As Long as We’ve Got Each Other) and an upbeat family who always solved their problems by the end of each episode. With his good lucks and bright smile, Cameron was perfectly cast as girl-crazy Mike Seaver. In fact, the role earned him two Golden Globe nominations.
Kirk Cameron launched his career as a child actor on the show ‘Growing Pains.’
A child actor who had been in the entertainment business since age nine, Cameron’s family wasn’t spiritual. But at age 17, during the height of his career, he became a Christian. Newly committed to Christ, Cameron voiced his objections to storylines that he felt were inappropriate or unwholesome, and admittedly shifted his focus from the show to his spiritual life. When he got married at age 21, just months before the show ended, he did not invite his TV family to the wedding. His new faith caused a rift between him and his castmates that continued for years.
The cast did reunite, however, for The Growing Pains Movie in 2000. At the time, Cameron said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that he was very young at the time of his conversion and would handle things differently (now) to avoid being hurtful toward his TV family.
Today, Cameron is married to Chelsea Noble, a fellow star on Growing Pains, and they are the parents of six children.
Sharon Furrate Bailey has worked in the fields of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist who earned a B. A. in English Literature from LSU. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many books on yoga, meditation, and finding your Zen? Maybe this market has exploded lately because of the stress in our lives and the voices in our heads that say things like, “Did you go to the bank; register your son for soccer; fold the laundry, blow out the candles; brush your teeth, answer the 80-plus emails you have waiting in your inbox for a response … and the voices go on and on. Have you ever felt like you are too accessible due to social media and cell phones? Have you ever felt a tinge of guilt if a text message or phone call isn’t returned within five minutes. We have allowed the noise to invade our lives, which disrupts our thoughts and hinders us from time to unwind or relax from the day. There is no time for reflection unless we make time.
What does it mean to reflect? At its simplest, reflection is about careful thought — a time when one looks inwardly and considers one’s actions and beliefs for the primary purpose of learning. Reflection requires us to be still, to retreat to a quiet place, to examine our hearts, to pray and to listen. God may be trying to reach us, but the noise around us is too loud. And honestly, it may even be a bit scary to sit in silence and reflect on our lives because we may not like what we see or what we have done, but Christ makes all things new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus is a wonderful example of what it means to reflect. There are several accounts in Scripture of times that Jesus walked away from the crowd to be with God. In the Book of James (5:16) it says, “But the news about Jesus spread all the more, and great crowds came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. YetHefrequentlywithdrewtothewildernesstopray.” Another good reminder of Jesus’ time alone with God is found in the Gospel of Mark. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus withdrew to a solitary place to be alone with God and pray.” (Mark 1:35)
Jesus sought time to be alone with God the Father. Can you imagine being alone in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights? Yikes, right? During this season, Jesus had no contact with a human being except for the presence of Satan who tormented him. And yet, the angels strengthened him during this time. It was during this alone time, that Jesus overcame Satan and sin.
Imagine what you might overcome if you learn to reflect on God’s Word in silence and truly think about the words you are reading. You may receive answers to questions you have had lingering in your mind.
Reflection, as you can see, is much deeper than merely looking in a mirror at ourselves. It goes beyond the outward appearance, and it touches upon our hearts, minds and souls if we make time to walk away to be alone. Mother Angelica, an American Franciscannun who had a television ministry for many years, said, “I am a mirror to my neighbor, and in that mirror, he must see a reflection of Jesus. If that mirror is cloudy or distorted, Jesus’ reflection will be so vague it will hardly be seen.”
What do you wish to reflect to those you around you?
Metaphorically, it’s a day when the church “leaves” the building and takes the love of Christ directly into the community. It’s Go Day, a special event organized by Istrouma Baptist Church and now in its seventh year.
Wearing T-shirts that say GO … and make disciples, several teams will fan out across the Baton Rouge area on Sunday, April 21 to clean housing complexes, hand out cold water at bus stops, throw block parties in underserved neighborhoods, conduct sports clinics for children, and wash cars at area police and fire stations. There is even a Laundry Love component, in which volunteers show up at local laundromats with rolls of quarters and offer to pay for customers’ laundry.
Clearly, while all of these projects are taking place, people are connecting … talking … sharing … on many different levels. Each Go Day project provides an opportunity to not just perform an important “service,” but to also share the Gospel and build relationships among the community.
“As the church, it is easy to gather contentedly within our four walls,” said Lead Pastor Jeff Ginn. “There’s certainly a God-given priority for worship and fellowship, but we can never neglect the Lord’s command to ‘go’ into the ‘highways and hedges’ (Luke 14:23). That’s why we have Go Day — to share the love of Christ in practical ways with the people of our community.”
“The Christ-exalting, family-centered approach has led my kids to understand the value of competing with others on the field, while learning discipline, structure, and steadfastness. — Craig Lindsay, coach
One of the busiest Go Day projects is called “A Ball for All,” in which volunteers conduct free children’s sports clinics, including soccer, football and basketball, to name a few. After a morning of sports fun and exercise, each child receives a complimentary lunch and his or her very own piece of sports equipment, usually a ball or glove. The clinics are often led by local coaches and athletes.
“Originally, this part of the program was called Operation First Base and we reached about 125 children,” said Coach M.L. Woodruff, Minister of Sports Outreach. “Our goal at that time was to just focus on baseball, but eventually our vision expanded to include other sports. This year, we may have as many as 1,000 children involved.”
A Ball for All would not be possible, Woodruff said, if not for Istrouma’s partnership with Baton Rouge Recreation (BREC), which provides five locations* for the event. DeVeta Webb, a BREC program coordinator, says she is touched by
“For this one day, these children know that there is one other adult in this world who knows them and cares for them.” — DeVeta Webb
How to help
You don’t have to be a church member to participate in Go Day or A Ball for All. If you’d like to volunteer, (225) 295-0775. You can also visit the website at istrouma.org.
*Locations include: Ben Burge Park (Elvin Drive), Gus Young Park, Hartley/Vey Park at Gardere, Saia Park, and City Brooks Park at McKinley Middle Magnet School.
“We can never forget his command to go into the ‘highways and hedges.” — Pastor Jeff Ginn
Giving Kids a Sporting Chance
Coach M.L. Woodruff remembers when he got the idea for Operation First Base, now called A Ball for All. He was on a plane returning home from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where he and his team had conducted free sports clinics for local children and left them with donated balls, gloves and other sports equipment. Jotting down his ideas on a napkin, he wondered if there was a way to do the same for children here in Baton Rouge.
In his seven years at Istrouma Baptist Church, Coach M.L. Woodruff has been instrumental in the growth of the church’s sports program, one of the most dynamic and comprehensive in the city. The Istrouma Sports Organization (ISO) provides year-round opportunities for children in flag football, volleyball, softball, baseball, basketball, soccer, and dance. ISO is focused on quality coaching, an encouraging environment and a Gospel-based mission.
“Sports is the bridge that brings us all together, but the Gospel is the thing that can transform and unify our community,” said Woodruff, who coached high school baseball at Parkview Baptist for 27 years before coming to Istrouma. “We try to teach that sports is a gift given by God, but one that we must give back.”
If your child is interested in joining a team, or if you are interested in volunteering or coaching, contact Woodruff at (225) 295-0775 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Istrouma is also in need of volunteers, greeters, cooks and equipment donations for its upcoming Go Day activities.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” — 2 Corinthians 5:17
With a foundation firmly established in the Bible, Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step program that offers participants a clear path to salvation — bringing hope, freedom, sobriety, and healing from whatever addictions or behaviors are controlling their lives.
Now in more than 30,000 churches, CR has changed the lives of thousands of people and reconciled them to God. James “Jimmy” Haase is one of them and he gladly shares his testimony:
“I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. By following Him, I’ve been able to overcome a past of alcoholism, depression and drug abuse. I am
currently struggling with perfectionism, self-worth and control. I was born to a teenage girl and never met my biological father. I grew up in a blended family where I never really felt accepted. I had a stepfather, stepbrother, stepsister and other step-relatives, but I felt like an outsider.
When I was a teenager, I hung out with my friends smoking pot and drinking alcohol nearly every day. What started off as a good time eventually became more than a daily habit. It was what I lived for. Every moment was spent either using or looking for something to use.
I started being careless with other areas of my life, too. By 1999, I had been arrested several times on drug and/or alcohol-related charges, and was ultimately sentenced to six months in the EBR Parish Prison. Over the next decade, I had periods of highs and lows. By 2009, my whole world was spiraling out of control and I had no idea what to do.
The DNA of the CR Ministry
Christ is the one and only Higher Power. The program is a Christ-centered ministry.
The Bible* and CR curriculum consists of specific publications, including The Leader’s Guide, The Journey Begins, CR In a Box, Testimonies to Go, Life’s Healing Choices, and several others.
The ministry is “group based.” All groups are gender-specific and “The Five Small Group Guidelines” are implemented and followed every time.
There are no online groups; face-to-face meetings only. No lessons may be posted to Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo or any other public forum.
Groups are expected to be accountable to Christ, the local church, and the CR model.
CR is a ministry of the local church, so it does not try to dictate any doctrine or policy.
I was majorly depressed, and found my “god” 12 ounces at a time or through various narcotics. Things never got better, but seemingly worse. After two DUIs in less than two years, I lost my driver’s license, then my job, then my home. Shattered and broken, I fell further into alcoholism, substance abuse and depression.
A friend was attending First Baptist Church at Addis, so I began to tag along. It wasn’t too long that I walked down the aisle and accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized. I continued to struggle with alcohol and drugs, but I was attending every church activity and event possible throughout the week. From a men’s group,
I learned the importance of accountability and allowing others to speak truth into my life. I was ultimately convinced by the Holy Spirit to lay down all my self-will and turn it over to Christ, who freed me from my addictions. Christ is my Lord!
For over 20 years, I struggled with alcoholism, drug abuse and depression. Today, only by His grace, can I now, celebrate recovery!
I have gained an education in the field of addiction recovery and worked for two years as an addiction counselor. I have learned that the key to life in recovery is balancing emotional, physical, mental, relational and spiritual health.
Today, I am blessed with a beautiful family that includes my wife and three wonderful kids. I am a locksmith by profession and I volunteer as a minister, serving at the Church at Addis as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, Director of Growth Group, and Director of Men’s Recovery Support.
To God be the glory!”
There are many Celebrate Recovery programs at local churches. For details, call Haase at (225) 218-5630 or email him at JamesHaase@churchataddis.com. You can also learn more at celebraterecovery.com.
(Psalm 98:1) “Sing to the LORD a new song … for he has done marvelous things.”
Kirk Andres Wilson Band / Bruce Boyet Album Release Concert
Saturday, March 3, 6:30 p.m.
For tickets, visit manshiptheatre.org or brsounds.com.
Q: Talk about your journey as a musician. When did you realize you wanted to pursue music?
A: In 6th grade, my Uncle Kenny came to live with my family after serving in the Marines. I looked up to him as a young boy and he taught me how to play the guitar. His vast library of music exposed me to some awesome musicians. I got a taste of Neil Young, the band Rush and other musicians who helped me “cut my teeth” or rather “work my fingers to the bone” as I practiced the guitar.
Q: Your music is described as Christian folk rock. Did you ever play in the secular realm?
A: Since I began playing the guitar at a young age, it allowed me to really delve into my craft and become a better musician over time. With that progression into music, the next step naturally was to play in a band. So throughout high school, I played in bands and continued playing in college. Around my sophomore year in college, my Uncle Kenny dedicated his life to the Lord and his lifestyle began to change. He sat me down one evening and led me in the Lord’s prayer … and at 19, I accepted the Lord into my life. The vision, purpose and direction of my life took on a different meaning after I accepted Christ and the urge to write music became very important to me. I had tinkered with writing music prior to this time, but it became easier and more effortless because I felt inspired by the Holy Spirit when I sat down to write. It was like the Spirit breathed the words into my heart and mind and helped craft my songwriting skills.
Q: Your CD, titled Live the Life, was launched in January 2018. What are some of your favorite songs on Live the Life?
A: Live the Life is a project that I started over a year and a half ago, and I am very pleased with the outcome. Most songs were written a year or two before they were recorded, but one or two of the cuts are from many years ago. Different songs are written to different audiences. Some are addressed directly to God — like House and Cars — the chorus says, “All I need is you Lord, All I need is your peace, All I need is your grace to help in time of need, All I need is your mercy. Cause when all said and done, I realize all I need is you.”
In the song Rest, God is saying to the listener, “I’m listening, and I hear you, and I’m moving you’ll see, It’s okay now – to say now – that I am free. Because there’s not one hair that’s not numbered … No need to worry, because I’m in no hurry … just put all your trust in me. You will find rest … rest into my arms … you can rest.”
Gonna Make It is about the trials and valleys of our lives. And the title cut, Live the Life, is about the choices we make in life. (Download the title cut at bruceboyet.com.)
Q: Your best friend is Kirk Andres Wilson. How did you meet and become friends?
A: Kirk and I go way back. We worked together at a church for 10 years and during this time we played music together weekly. We remained friends even after he moved to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue his music career. He is an absolutely amazing piano player and jazz guitarist as well as a vocalist. We are both performing on March 3 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge. Kirk is bringing some of his band members from Los Angeles and will do his regular show. I will be performing songs from Live the Life with my band. However, we have not decided if we will perform together.
Q: It’s quite an honor to perform at the Manship Theatre. How did this come about?
A: Yes, it will be a big night for us. Back in 2016, Kirk was scheduled to do a release concert but unfortunately, the show was canceled due to the flooding in Baton Rouge. In 2017, I began searching out venues to perform songs from my new CD. Kirk and I talked and decided to schedule a date that worked for both of our schedules. I will be performing an hour set followed by an intermission. Kirk will perform afterward. It will be an incredible night and no matter what type of music one likes, there is something for everyone in our song line-up. We want to really glorify God and put on a great show.
Q: What is your favorite scripture and why?
A: Ecclesiastes 9:11 has always been one of my absolute favorite Scripture passages — “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” This scripture has so much meaning to me in that I don’t have to be fastest, strongest, wisest or the most skilled, but time and chance happen to us all. Time and chance are in God’s hands. I am called to trust the Lord daily because he holds the power to make things happen. The Lord can lift me up or make me wait, but in time, I truly believe by leaning on Him, all good things come to those who wait.
Bruce Boyet’s songs focus on self-enrichment and redemption. There is always hope and a chance to live again despite the barriers that tend to blind us. The messages in his songs are positive and may reignite a flame in your spirit that has been burning low. It’s possible to LIVE, truly live, life again.
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 email@example.com.
If asked to list their abilities, most men would rattle off things like hunting, fishing, small engine repair, auto mechanics or something that involves their field of endeavor. While this may be an honest answer, it may not reflect the abilities God asks us to use when we serve Him. As men, these are the areas in which we try to serve, at least initially. Let me stay within my comfort zone and do the things I do well.
As we grow in God, we will find that the areas in which we believe we are strong may not be the areas in which God wants us to serve, much less the talents that He intends for us to use. Once we make ourselves available for Him, we will find we can do things we never thought possible. We will serve in areas we never considered. We will touch lives we did not think we could reach.
I found this to be true three years ago when I joined a team to serve at Iberville Parish Jail. This was something that I never considered – and, quite frankly, I was not terribly motivated to do it. I initially became involved with Hope Ministries out of my respect for its director. He had trouble recruiting volunteers, so I relented and told him I would stay with the ministry until it grew. Afterwards, I would step away and work in the ministry to which I thought I had been called.
We have worked with a number of men and seen lives change. We have seen attitudes change. Three years have passed, and I can’t imagine not serving in this ministry – all because I made myself available to God. Making oneself available to God involves surrendering ourselves to Him. When we are available to God, we are available to others. We answer the call that God has for us.
The answer to his call is not “why me?” but “send me.” When we are submitted and available, God begins to change us. We begin to develop new characteristics.
Humility: (Micah 6:8) We begin to think about others before ourselves. Our needs are less important. Our focus becomes outward as opposed to our way, which is made up of selfishness and greed.
Wisdom: (Proverbs 3:13) As we begin to grow in Christ and make ourselves available to Him, we begin to attain Wisdom in how to live a Christ-centered life. The longer we walk with Him, the more we begin to understand.
Focus: (Proverbs 6:6) When we surrender to Christ, service to Him is not work. We begin to enjoy what we do for Him. Our focus becomes not so much on what we do and its difficulty but on the reason that we do it
Not Lazy: (Proverbs 6:6) When we surrender to Christ, service to Him is not work. We begin to enjoy what we do for Him. Our focus becomes not so much on what we do and its difficulty but on the reason that we do it.
Truthful: (2 Corinthians 8:21) Truthfulness does not come naturally to everyone. Even those who tell the truth can state it in such a way that it can be hurtful and not help a person grow in Christ. When we become available to God, the way we present truth is in a way that fosters love for the other person and a desire for them to grow.
Love: (1 John 4:7) Availability causes us to love those whom we never thought we could love or those whom we deemed unlovable all together. When we are available to God, our heart changes and becomes filled with the love of God.
Zack Morales is a pastor and Director of Men’s Ministry at First Baptist Church in Addis, and a Network Project Designer for Louisiana State University. He is focused on making men better husbands and fathers through discipleship. He and his wife Stacey have three sons — Adam, Austin and Andrew.
“I’ve worked at Chick-fil-A on College Drive for almost six months. I was interested in finding a job that provided good management, a flexible schedule, and the chance to work with others. Chick-fil-A has been a great fit! In my free time, I enjoy do-it-yourself projects such as hand lettering, embroidery and fiber art. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and I’m active in my local church. I moved to Baton Rouge a year ago and I’ve felt that I fit right in working at Chick-fil-A!”
Chauncey Hopkins, Team Captain
“I started my journey with Chick-fil-A in October of 2016. When I started I was a student and had a second job. Chick-fil-A worked with me to ensure I got the best possible schedule that didn’t wear me out. This was not only tough on me, but my grandmother as well. Having to transport me to each job and school was hard on her, but with the help of Chick-fil-A I was able to make it work and was even promoted in my first year. My growth as a leader and a young man are things I will never take for granted, and I hope I can help others have the same experiences that I have had.
Most of the changes related to the country’s new tax bill, which was passed in December 2017, will not be noticeable until you file your taxes next April (2019). But it would be wise to educate yourself on those changes (see below).
In the meantime, you’re probably focused on your tax return which is due in a few weeks — April 17. This year’s deadline is two days later because the 15th falls on a weekend and April 16 is a federal holiday in some states. In other words, you’ll have a couple of extra days to cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Be sure to take advantage of the extension.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Will Mercer finds himself extremely busy this time of year. Not just clients, but friends and neighbors often ask him for tax advice. Here, he offers some tried and true tips to help you prepare your return appropriately:
Get organized: Gather in advance all the documents and information you need — W2 forms, social security numbers, 1099s, etc. This is especially important if you are having someone else do your taxes. Missing documents will only slow down the process.
Contribute the maximum to your 401K: Company-sponsored 401K plans are a great deal because employers often match contributions. Try to contribute the maximum. (If you are age 50 or over, you can contribute a higher amount. Check with your employer.)
Make the most of work-related expenses: This includes safety equipment, uniforms, vehicles — items you had to purchase out-of-pocket in order to do your job. Make sure you can support your claims with receipts. (And keep in mind that this deduction will go away next year as a result of the new tax bill.)
Consider medical expenses: This issue typically applies to those in low income brackets, but you might be able to claim a deduction if you spent more than 7.5% of your income on medical expenses, including prescriptions, surgical procedures, doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, therapy and other health-related costs. Again, double-check with your tax preparer.
Get divorce agreements in writing: After a divorce, and especially if you have children, tax returns can be really tricky. Many couples establish an agreement about which parent will claim which child(ren) with the understanding that if one parent benefits this year, the arrangement will be switched the following year so the other parent will benefit.
Revisit your flood losses: “The flood issue isn’t gone,” Mercer said. “The Tax Reform Act changed the way people can deduct their flood losses from 2016. This is something you should discuss with your tax preparer. It might be to your benefit to amend your 2016 return to reflect your losses.”
A word about state taxes: Many people are receiving communications from online retailers about purchases made during 2017. Since most of these retailers don’t collect sales tax, they are now having to tell their customers to report the purchases on their state returns and pay the sales tax directly to the Department of Revenue. The deadline to file state returns is May 15.
Down the Road
It will take time for all of the tax bill’s ramifications to become clear, but here are a few results, according to J.P. Morgan Chase.*
Although you might see a slight increase in your paycheck this year, thanks to the new tax bill, remember that this “bump” is not permanent. The middle class tax cuts will be reversed in 2025, while the tax rate for corporations will remain at 21%.
Many deductions you’ve been using will disappear next year. That includes work-related expenses, investment expenses, tax return preparation and union dues, to name a few.
Part of the tax bill repealed the insurance mandate component of the Affordable Care Act. In other words, people who don’t buy health insurance will not have to pay a fine to the IRS. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, this also means premiums could increase and 13 million Americans may lose coverage.
Mercer says if you plan to prepare your own tax return, educate yourself — and it’s always a good idea to call a professional if you have questions or concerns. Mercer can be reached at Wmercercpa@cox.net, or at (888) 224-0358.
*These are estimates only. Talk to your tax preparer if you have questions or concerns.
Will Mercer’s firm is located at 3535 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. Call his office to set up an appointment: (225) 291-1411.
Most people will not reach their full potential without somebody else believing in them. We should be encouraging people, building them up, challenging them to reach for new heights. People should feel challenged and inspired after spending time with you.
Take time to make a difference in people’s lives. Don’t just obsess about how you can make your own life better. our attitude should be: Who can i encourage today? Who can i build up? How can i improve somebody else’s life?
Somebody needs your encouragement. Somebody needs to know that you believe in them. If you look back over your life—who believed in you and helped you get to where you are today?
Now, it’s your turn to do something similar for somebody else. Who are you believing in? Who are you helping to become successful?
There’s no greater investment in life than in being a people builder. am i improving somebody’s life, giving that person confidence, or am i just coasting along, doing my own thing? Take a look at your life and you be the judge of what you are doing to help someone else succeed.
True giving is done with no other motive than to try to make someone else’s life better. it does not have to be with financial assistance but with a word of encouragement and interest in helping another human being improve their life. real happiness begins where selfishness ends.
Jackie robinson said, “The only real measure of the stature of a life is its positive impact upon other lives.”
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.
A high school student’s memoirs of the 45th annual march in D. C.
by Rachel Malmberg
I was given the opportunity through my high school, St. Michael the Archangel, to march for life with my fellow students at the 2018 National March for Life in Washington D.C. The day was cold but beautiful. The atmosphere was uplifting. Marchers smiled and I felt truly inspired by the 100,000 plus people who walked alongside me. Abortion usually gets the majority of attention, and it’s because abortion is the genocide that is taking humanity quickly but quietly. As student activists, we were not only marching for children not yet born, but for those who have suffered at the hands of combat, those who have suffered at the hands of others, such as victims of the Holocaust, and the elderly who deserve a chance to live out the journey God planned for them. We marched for all life, because all life is good in the eyes of God and we must protect and defend its nature at all costs.
Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of all mothers; many Catholics pray to her in advocacy of mothers faced with abortion.
Rachel is a senior at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge. After she graduates with honors in May of this year, she plans to attend LSU.
Our lives in 2018 don’t offer us much time for reflection, as information and choices come at us so quickly, we can barely grasp the blessings of any given moment. Change is the one thing we can count on, and we best get used to the reality of it. We often miss essential aspects in our lives because of changes, and without reflection, we suffer in intimacy (with God and others), grief (essential in the midst of change), and leadership essentials.
Call it a “cultural faux pas” not making commitments for the sake of keeping our options open, but we miss out on the depth of emotion and health available to us in any given situation. Reflection is an essential aspect when dealing with the need for anchors in our lives. As Andy Stanley states, “We as Christians are at our best when we are personally growing in our intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.” This balance of intimacy is impossible without the discipline of reflection.
The Apostle Paul shared in Romans 6 that one must know, consider and present yourself “dead to sin and alive unto Christ.” The difficulty I have found of late is that we conservative Christians take such joy in knowledge of theology, God, and the Bible, that we have the opposite impact God desires in our life — reflection leading to intimacy with Him. I may think I am succeeding in life, achieving such lofty outcomes, and even have all the outward markings of winning at life, but with this speeding chase of life, lived without the practice of reflection, we risk the symptoms of shallowness in all our relationships, knowing about, but never truly knowing or being known.
Working in two environments, one as a hospice chaplain and the other as a missionary to the business community, I find that reflection is also essential when dealing with people experiencing grief. Reflection is the pathway to walk beside grief, which wears many varieties and covers. Grief is individual, yet organizational, and is experienced in so many ways. It is most obvious when we lose a loved one, but in the marketplace, the grief in success is the same as grief in tragedy. Both involve change from what was, to the new normal of what now is. Without reflection, grief will disable you, whether in loss or in plenty; however one handles transitions often determines the joy we experience in life. Grief demands to be experienced, and as Kubler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” recommends, take time to grieve (reflection), even in your triumphs.
I have heard the word “leadership” defined as taking initiative for the good of another. But without reflection upon your overarching “why,” you miss what is meant for good. God calls us to be intentional, to take the lead for the good of others. Interacting with people, I find leadership lived out through Paul’s reflection in I Corinthians 16 … “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”
Whatever experiences you find yourself in, the lowest of lows, or in a thriving environment experiencing growth, be prepared to practice the discipline of reflection — to know who you are, who you aren’t, and who you need. Practice healthy “self-care” and embrace intimacy and the emotions that flow from it, and ask the Lord to teach you what its source is. Lead yourself first.
Bruce Lininger is a graduate if Louisiana Tech, Dallas Seminary, and Trinity University, with over 30 years of ministry experience in churches and non-profits. In his 29th year of marriage to Sharon, they are parents of four grown children. Currently he serves on staff with The Navigators through NavWorkplace, and as chaplain with Bridgeway Hospice
Humble yourselves.” That’s the secret. It has been there all along, but we rarely use it.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Fear and anxiety sufferers like myself have tried on a number of Scripture passages over the years. We might start with Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount … “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” (Matthew 6:26). When we need something easier to memorize, we move on to Philippians 4:6 … “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
These passages work very well as counters to low-level anxiety. But in the face of an anxiety assault — they aren’t enough. At those times, they can sound like mantras that are devoid of power, which is actually a good thing. Anxious and fearful people can easily slip into taking Scripture as a pill. Take one passage twice a day for two weeks and your symptoms will be gone. When the pill doesn’t work we have two choices. We search for another treatment, or we confess that we are using Scripture as a self-help book for symptom relief, in which case it is time to get back to basics. If you choose to get back to biblical basics, Peter’s exhortation to humble ourselves is a great place to start.
I had an anxiety assault recently. I was facing perhaps the worst fear I could imagine, and there was nothing I could do about it. What a mercy that I was confronted with the call to be humbled before the Lord. It resulted in a simple prayer.
“Lord, you are God and King. I am your servant. I know you owe me nothing. For some reason you have given me everything in Jesus. I trust you. And please give me grace to trust you.”
A few minutes later, my prayer moved even closer to Scripture.
“Father, forgive me for always wanting things my way. By your mighty hand you have created all things. And by your mighty hand you have rescued your people. I want to live under your mighty hand. Please have mercy.”
It sounds very simple — and it is — but it changes everything. This is the secret to dealing with fears and anxiety. The words of God and the comfort of the Spirit become much more obvious when we are repentant and humble before him. No deals — “if you spare me from this suffering then I will . . .” Just simple trust. We trust him because he is God, not because he is going to immediately remove our anxieties or our fear-provoking situation.
This passage has been a secret because we have typically entered it at verse 7. “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” But to understand its meaning, you need to start with the preceding verse, “Humble yourselves.”
“Humble yourselves” is the only exhortation in the passage. This is what Peter wants us to hear (and obey). If we jump in at the middle, it makes no sense. We can’t cast our cares on him until we have recognized that he is God and we are his servants who have also been elevated to become his children. A paraphrase could read like this (and I highly recommend putting Scripture into your own words.)
Humble yourself before the Lord. This shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, he is God and King, Lord of all. He is the Creator. You belong to him. The creature is the possession of the Creator. Humble yourself before your King. And here is one way to express this new-found posture of humility: cast your cares on him. Did you catch that? When you come humbly before the King he reveals his unlimited love. Who would have thought? He actually wants you to cast your burden on him. You were never intended to carry those burdens alone. He is the mighty God who never leaves. You can trust him. And this casting is no mere act of your will. It comes as you know that he is God and you are not. Oh, and you can be sure that he will lift you up from your kneeling position and give you more than you ever expected.
A little wordy, in contrast to Peter’s more succinct version, but rambling and embellishment give us more time to meditate on the logic of the passage.
The secret is to:
Pause before you head into your favorite passage on fear.
Consider the greatness of God.
Add some of your own confession and repentance as a way to drive the message of humility home.
Remember some of those sweet words of God to fearful people.
Used with permission of CCEF.
The Gospel & Mental Health
Presented by Dr. Ed Welch
Community Bible Church
Saturday, March 10
9 a.m.-2 p.m.
$15 per person/$25 per couple.
Dr. Welch is a Christian counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He has a Ph.D. in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Dr. Welch has written many books and articles on biblical counseling, including When People Are Big and God Is Small, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Blame It on the Brain?, Depression, Running Scared, Shame Interrupted, and Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love.
Everyone strives for good health, and many struggle to achieve it. The truth is that making simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your health. Eat a smart diet, exercise regularly, and find ways to manage stress in your life. Here are some other suggestions to put you on the path to wellness.
Q: Based on your expertise, what are some suggestions for becoming healthier?
A: One small change at a time! A healthy eating lifestyle isn’t about deprivation or guilt. We should enjoy the foods we love in the healthiest way we can. Familiarize yourself with the best organic foods to incorporate into your diet. Replace refined sugars and artificial sweeteners with stevia and monk fruit or other low glycemic alternatives. Substantially reduce or eliminate soft drinks and fast foods. Drink a full glass of lukewarm lemon water first thing every morning and eat a breakfast that includes healthy fats like avocado, raw nuts and organic nut butter which will satiate you for hours.
Q: What common mistakes cause us to have less energy and lose motivation?
A: The one small change at a time applies here too. Don’t be hard on yourself or compare yourself to other people’s fitness levels. Our own negative thoughts get in the way of change, so just start moving. Even simple standing stretches and deep breathing energizes you. Practicing deep breathing as you walk naturally includes core muscles. To get a greater core workout, walk intentionally — swinging your arms and rotating your torso.
Q: What does it mean to come “in tune” with your body?
A: It is about being more aware of how we carry and support our body. A tucked-pelvis position (whether standing, sitting (like slouching!), or lying down) is what some people become accustomed to and what feels normal. They need to retrain and learn “neutral spine” — a small curve at low back. Natural curves are in the back for a reason. They serve as natural shock absorbers against compressive forces under the pull of gravity. Every muscle in our body has a job and if any are improperly working, then the load is placed somewhere else and in the spine it can travel to the lower back and hips.
Q: How do you help others with core balance and strength training, and why is this so important?
A: Posture assessment first to look for any imbalances, post surgeries, or injuries. This will ensure appropriate exercises to incorporate in their program. I have several Pilates large and small apparatus as well as balance pads and Power Plate acceleration equipment to help clients increase strength, balance, flexibility, and agility. Clients practice unique postural correction cues so the exercises can “live” in their bodies. The essence of the Pilates method is not copying the exercises but meant to correctly practice the mindful movement so you can use it in active daily living effortlessly, not kept in the studio.
Q: Why did you become certified in helping others heal from scoliosis, osteoporosis and breast cancer recovery?
A: I wanted to properly learn about the specialization needs, healing and recovery of clients as circumstances arise. There are a plethora of contraindicated exercises from mat work to small and large Pilates equipment for specialty populations — pregnancy, postnatal, breast cancer surgery, scoliosis and osteoporosis. Several of my clients (and myself) have scoliosis. Practicing proper alignment with strength gained through exercises will help provide pain relief for years to come.
1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over age 50 have low bone density and are at risk for fractures. Bone responds differently to exercise at every age. I wanted to apply current research in teaching effective movements for bone health, which will increase strength and reduce the risk of falls and fractures
Q: How do health and vitality affect our spiritual life?
A: When you stand better, you breathe better, so you can move better, which makes you function and feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. A healthy diet and lifestyle create a state of well-being. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit! Hence with God’s grace, this vitality can bring physical and spiritual movement into worship.
Therese Pittman is the owner of the Pilates Center of Baton Rouge. As a fitness professional, she has a solid understanding of anatomy, biomechanics and postural issues. She works with clients from all walks of life and teaches them to be strong and flexible so they can perform daily functional tasks free from injury risk.
In what year did Lent become part of the Christian faith?
A ) 1035 A.D. B ) 655 A.D. C ) 953 A.D. D ) 325 A.D
D) 325 A.D The Catholic Church began the tradition of Lent around the year 325, during the Council of Nicea. Since then, other Christian denominations such as Lutheran, Methodist, and Western Orthodox churches have adopted the Lenten Season into their religious calendars. Bonus fact: Lent gets its name from the Middle English word lente, which means springtime.
Elijah was one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets, and according to 2 Kings 2:11, he was ultimately carried into heaven on a chariot of fire. He was also the vessel through which God anointed kings, raised the dead, and defended Israel against paganism. But despite having a powerful calling placed on his life, Elijah had trouble trusting the Lord.
Jezebel, who was Queen of Israel during the time of Elijah’s ministry, threatened to take his life after he struck down the prophets of Baal. Even though the Lord had used him to work great and mighty miracles, Elijah was afraid of being killed. So he fled to the wilderness and prayed for death. But God kept him alive and sent him on a 40-day journey to Mount Horeb. It was there, in a cave on the side of the mountain, that Elijah was forced to consider his fear. After a period of self-reflection, he came out of hiding and promptly anointed a new King of Israel.
It is inevitable that, like Elijah, each of us will encounter fear from time to time. The devil wants to overwhelm us with panic and he daily reminds us of our shortcomings. However, the Lord has sent His Holy Spirit to defend us against attacks from the enemy. If we hold fast to our faith in the midst of adversity, God will call us down from the mountain and send us forth in victory.
What Does it Mean?
Serious thought or consideration.
As Christians, we usually call occasions of deep personal reflection our “quiet time.” During those periods, we dive into scripture, pray, and consider our walks with God. Self-reflection is an important part of building a strong relationship with Jesus because it broadens our spiritual perspectives and gives us a chance to privately examine our faith.
The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” A sound mind comes with serenity, and serenity comes through faith. Essentially, we are better equipped to face life’s trials with confidence when we press into God.parishioners. The crosses are bold reminders that “from dust thou came and to dust thou shalt return.”
The act of offering something precious to God.
Lent is a period of profound sacrifice for many Christians. Those who observe the Lenten season typically give up something they treasure and fill the void with supplication. That symbolic act of surrender mimics Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and it is meant to bring a person closer to the Holy Spirit.