Publisher Beth Townsend
August 2017, Publisher's Letter

August Publisher’s Letter

 

August Publisher’s LETTER

The Big 3 for Me!

It’s my least favorite of the fruits of the spirit.

Self-control. Because my faith didn’t really start to grow until my thirties, I had a lot of bad habits that I didn’t even know were bad habits. Sure, the obvious ones were obvious. Blatant sin does not hide well, and there was plenty of that to put front and center in the “need to change” category.

Defeating those big sins became easier the more I grew, though they still creep in from time to time. It’s the more subtle habits that can truly wreak havoc on your ability to produce “fruit” in your life. The big three for me require that I heavily trust in the “Christ in Me” knowing He holds the victory in these areas of struggle in my life.

1. Words. Our words should match our faith. We can’t say we believe one way and then speak the opposite. If we say we trust God to lead us along his plan for our lives, then we can’t grumble and complain when things don’t go our way. “Lord, I’ve asked you to lead; I trust you to lead. Help me to see you in the midst of my circumstances.” Instead of giving up and giving in, use your words to affirm your faith. Your words will be a blessing or a curse not only for yourself but for others.

2. Worry. This is a daily struggle! As a parent, who does not worry about their kids? Yet we are not supposed to! We are called to “be anxious for nothing.” That includes those we love the most. When I find myself stressed out with worry, I lean into my anchor Scriptures. Psalm 91 is a chapter I recite often, out loud and repeat as necessary. Gratitude is also a wonderful weapon. “Thank you Lord for watching over my children, my family and my decisions. Thank you for your spirit of peace. Thank you for being with me today. Thank you for forgiving me of all my sin.”

3. Wit. We need to lighten up and relax! We are way too serious! When is the last time you had a great time? What did you laugh out loud about lately? Who brings calm into your life? Who speaks faith into your life? An equally good question is who steals your joy? Intentionally be around people who enjoy life and seek to do good things. Talk with them about ways to grow and “bear fruit” on a daily basis.

If we have Christ, we have self-control. We don’t have to keep trying to get better! We ask Jesus to show Himself through our circumstances and invite Him into every decision. We allow him the freedom to match our mindset with his plan for our lives. Our work is to Trust Him.

Do you want more self-control? Then surrender! Let Jesus have His way in your life! Give him your “big 3” and let Him bear fruit through you!

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE

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Publisher Beth Townsend
July 2017, Publisher's Letter

July Publisher’s LETTER

 

July Publisher’s LETTER

It was a defining moment. Though I’d been a Christian for years, the question loomed in my mind for days. “Do you believe in the goodness of God?”

The pastor even made the statement that if in all of our Biblical knowledge and years of study we still doubted the “goodness” of God in our own lives, we needed to go back to Christianity 101. It is the foundation of all other beliefs.

We struggle with that belief because of the bad things that happen in our lives or those of our loved ones. “If God is good, why did He allow this to happen?” While a valid question, we must believe that He is at work in all circumstances, both good and bad to bring about His will.

What is goodness?” In Galatians 5, Paul lists the fruits of the spirit. As the Holy Spirit works in our lives, our character changes. Where we had harbored selfishness, cruelty, rebelliousness, and spite, we now possess love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and selfcontrol. Everything in the list reflects the character of God, and goodness is one that relates directly to morality.

Bad things have happened in my life and yours. Bad things have happened to people I love. That has caused heartache and I’ve cried out to God, asking “why?” Sometimes I get a glimpse of understanding, yet in many situations I can simply lift those concerns to the throne of grace and choose to trust God to bring about something that brings Him glory.

It’s easy to see God’s goodness in the lives of others. Yet behind every door is a story; a mom on her knees, a father praying for guidance, or a family in turmoil. We all need grace. We all need healing. We all need direction. We all need God.

Is God good? Yes! He is goodness. He is forgiveness. He is grace. He is redemption. He is healing. He is wisdom. He is Love. He is savior and Lord. He is good. Let Him have your heart and teach you about His goodness in your life and how you are to be goodness in your world.

Why? Because God is good.

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE

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June 2017, Publisher's Letter

Publisher’s LETTER

June Publisher’s LETTER

Dreams change but never die…

Years ago, my husband Fred and I were in a paddle boat in the middle of our neighborhood lake fishing with our two young children. We were using “stinky bait” to catch catfish. Let me just tell you, stinky bait stinks!

My husband laughed when I said, somewhat befuddled: “To think I wanted to be a television talk show host,” as I wiped my hands, failing to get the stink off. That goal of being the Christian version of Oprah Winfrey was not in the cards! It seemed stinky bait and raising babies detoured my plans.

We all had dreams when we were kids. For many, it was the dream to escape, to prove our worth, to establish an identity — that brief moment in time when being a rock star seemed a real possibility. Then life seems to happen, and the older we get, the less we dream. Bills, commitments, jobs, families and other priorities become front and center, and all of a sudden, year after year, we have forgotten that potential is still a thing and dreams are still very much a reality.

The Bible has much to say about humility. One, it’s a fruit of the Spirit. Which means if we have Jesus, we have humility! Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4 NIV)

As a believer, humility is a healthy and reverent fear of the Lord. It is trusting God with what is, what was, and what is to come. We can look back in regret over things that didn’t happen. We can linger into the future in hopes of what may happen. But right now — today — this is the day the Lord has made! This is the day set before us to trust Him to speak to us about His miraculous plans for our lives.

Pride is usually considered the opposite of humility. Often referred to as our mortal enemy, it can certainly wreak havoc in our lives. Yet being confident is different. We are gifted by God to do His will, therefore we get to be great at something! (1 Corinthians 12)

Therein lies the confusion. Pride says we can do it ourselves. Confidence says we trust in God to do what He said He would do. He put each of us here for a purpose and gifted us uniquely to live that purpose out, surrendering our agendas to his as only He knows what is best for us.

I’ll admit, I’d still like to be the Christian version of Oprah Winfrey and host a talk show to share the amazing testimonies of God at work in the lives of his people! But for now, that is STILL not in the cards. God has instead blessed me with a marriage of 24 years, two grown children, one grandchild and a ministry that I love. And I would not trade those “stinky bait” days for anything, for those are treasured memories.

Humility includes trading our desires for His perfect purposes. I still believe in God-sized dreams. Do you?

signbeth

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE

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May 2017, Publisher's Letter

May Publisher’s Letter

May Publisher’s LETTER

The fruit of the Spirit: “long-suffering”

When we decided to use “fruits of the Spirit” for our themes this year, they sounded so joyful and pleasant! It wasn’t until a friend asked when we would address topics such as mental illness in the Christian community that I began to think more about how and why we struggle.

It was then that “long-suffering” came to mind: “Bearing injuries or provocation for a long time; patient; not easily provoked.” The range of definitions vary, but long-suffering in the Bible often just means “suffering long.”

One of the most common questions in the church today is why God allows suffering. Not many people have great answers to that age-old question. But we do know this, suffering is common from Biblical days and suffering is common today.

I’ve had seasons of suffering, starting long ago in my family of origin. My father was an alcoholic and was hospitalized twice for mental breakdowns when I was a child. The stories are endless and dramatic as to how that played out in our family of seven. Once my parents finally divorced, he went on to marry nine times.

As a wife and parent of now-adult children, we’ve had seasons when I literally wondered how I’d make it. There are few things better than raising children, but with it comes heartache. This world can be a brutal place to raise up a family. The attacks from the enemy on Christian families are unfortunately quite vicious.

Yet in other seasons, self-inflicted suffering from unwise decisions wreaked havoc in many areas of my life. Years of unhealthy relationships and hunger for a sense of significance led me down many a path of destruction. Looking back, I could have avoided so much pain.

I’ll admit to a few pity parties! Yet in recent years, I’ve come to accept seasons of hardship from a more productive lens. Looking back, God was kind and tender in bringing me through those hard places. Once I finally surrendered my life to him, I’d find myself in the quietness of my home crying out to Him. Sometimes on my knees, other times curled up in my prayer chair with a big cup of coffee, covered in journals, pens and my Bible. Oh, those precious moments.

There are things I’d do differently if I had it to do all over again. But I don’t, so I can’t. Accepting what is and where I’ve been is part of trusting God. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.” For that promise, I’m so thankful!

We hope you enjoy these stories. There are some tough topics within, but we know there are some tough struggles for many. As the Body of Christ, we are called to encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens. Get in a good church where you can find community. Speak Scripture into your life. Seek council from a therapist or pastor. Pray for Godly friends who are rich in wisdom. Position yourself for victory by being around those who are victorious.

Why is “long-suffering” a fruit of the Spirit? Perhaps because it brings us to our knees in surrender to a loving God who has a plan for our life.

For it is there we bear the fruit of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

signbeth

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE

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April 2017, Publisher's Letter

April Publisher’s Letter

                                                                    He is Risen!

bethNew life! As the country says goodbye to the cold winter months and trees that appear lifeless – behold!   New life bursts forth once again. Resurrection is in the air, and Easter is our time to celebrate a risen Jesus!

Happy Easter! When I was in my early teens, I attended North Columbia Baptist Church in Columbia, MS. One Sunday, I answered an altar call to receive salvation. Walking down the aisle, heart pounding, I prayed “that prayer” with my pastor and knew if I died that day, I’d go to heaven.

A few weeks later during another altar call, I walked that very same aisle again. Same heart pounding experience, much of the same prayer, and the same sense of relief that my life was once again right with God.

Yet only a few short weeks later, I did it again. Down that aisle I walked. Those altar calls were truly wreaking havoc on my young faith! Every time our pastor would invite people to the altar: “This last stanza could be for you….” or, “We’re going to play that last verse one more time. Don’t wait, come forward, receive Jesus…” I just couldn’t not go. Such misinterpreted conviction would stir my soul every time. All I knew to do was walk the aisle again, so afraid of what could happen if I didn’t.

Finally, my pastor pulled me aside, held my hands and looked straight into my eyes. “Beth, you don’t have to keep receiving Christ. Once he comes into your heart, you start a whole new journey. He walks with you now, living his life through you.” Wow. That was a lot to grasp! Though it took years to fully understand, deep down I accepted that He was with me. This time, it was not because I felt guilt or shame and answered another altar call, but because I’d become His child.

I’d love to say from there my faith was solid and I grew in wisdom and knowledge. Quite the contrary! For years, I wrestled with how that faith played out in my life, often walking away from God altogether. Every time I made a mess of my life, it was like another altar call. “Lord, it’s me. I’m back. Again.” Like before, He received me, reminding me of His life in me, bringing me back to my knees in surrender to a Holy God who is also my loving Father.

Easter is like no other glorious day! An ongoing ”altar call” of sorts. A fresh start. Take that walk towards Christ. Receive salvation. Repent. Renew. Reinvigorate your faith by surrendering your life into His hands. Take it from me, once is enough! Yet change and growth are a daily process.

Wow! This edition marks our two-year anniversary! If you had told me all those years ago that I’d be in any kind of ministry, I’d have probably just laughed out loud. It’s still pretty funny. Yet He chose to use me despite my need for continual altar calls. Praise God, now they are in my home and on my knees, but always lead me to the same place.

He is risen indeed.
signbeth

 

 

March 2017, Publisher's Letter

Publisher’s LETTER

beth This month’s fruit of the spirit: peace.

As I write I feel very little of it. Storms rage around me. There is deep hurt in my family. There are decisions to be made in my work that are difficult. Key relationships need healing. There have been days when doing just what must be done is all I could do. Where is my peace?
No Christian is free of pain. Nor does anyone feel peaceful all the time. In seasons of difficulty, we must remember that our feelings will not only fail us, but can often mislead us. In Jeremiah, the Bible explains. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). We must understand peace from the Bible’s perspective to have peace in our lives.

Peace is a promise. Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he himself is our peace…”  We may not feel peaceful, but if we are in Christ, He is our peace. His very presence supersedes any situation and covers the trials we face.  Therefore, we must practice his Presence daily. One way to do that is to say, as needed, “He himself is my peace.” Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Peace requires perseverance. Hebrews 12:1 says to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” You have a race marked out for you. As do I. Each life has a divine purpose. We can neither give up nor let any lack of peace interrupt our commitment to God’s call on our life. We persevere because He persevered. Period.

Peace has a pathway. Philippians 4:6 gives a strong directive: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  The doorway to peace is thanksgiving. If peace is lacking, gratitude is lacking. Thanksgiving comes before presenting our requests to God. We don’t wait until we feel thankful, we offer thanks in obedience to the Word. That is the promised pathway to peace.

Peace requires people. Getting wise counsel can mean reaching out to a pastor or counselor to help overcome issues that continue to cloud your faith. When I struggle over and over with an issue, I see that as God saying, “you need to deal with this.” That is when I need to talk to someone who can help. That person must be someone knowledgeable and proven. Don’t ask for wisdom from someone who is unwise. Be careful and prayerful.

When I’m not feeling peaceful, it’s up to me to get on my knees, recall Scriptures and say them out loud. I must choose obedience to His word over my circumstances. It’s much easier to wallow in worry and vent to others about our struggles. Yet even our words should be tempered to match our faith. We can’t speak one thing and strive to believe something else.

Peace. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, rightfully ours! It’s a fact, not a feeling.

signbeth

February 2017, Publisher's Letter

February Publisher’s Letter

                                                                     Love.

bethIs it really just a four-letter word?  

Based on popular opinion, he was a great catch. Great looking, wealthy, from a rich heritage, and he certainly had a way with words. “I love you, I want to be with you.” We’d been dating a few weeks. He was a bit too quick to pronounce his devotion. It sounded good, but I knew the words were just that, words. I’d seen the signs – thankfully that was years ago.

Words should mean things. Many are quick to offer their opinion on a variety of topics. Not that that is a bad thing, but it can get relentlessly confusing. “Do this, try that, go there and don’t go there.”

If you are like me, you just want to do God’s will for your life. Not everyone else’s will. Just His will – nothing more, nothing less and nothing else. “Please Lord, help me to keep it that simple in 2017.” Yet that worthy goal is made complicated every day! There are so many voices speaking into what we should or shouldn’t do. People we love, jobs we have, things that have happened that we didn’t anticipate all greatly influence what we do. Perhaps a simpler approach could help.

You know a man by his fruit. Not what is said, but by what is done. Matthew 7:16 says, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

“Fruit of the Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life. According to Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV), these attributes are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. We learn from Scripture that these are not individual “fruits” from which we pick and choose. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit is one nine-fold “fruit” that characterizes all who truly walk in the Holy Spirit. Collectively, these are the fruits that all Christians should be producing in their new lives with Jesus Christ.

In 2017, our monthly themes will be fruits of the Spirit. Featuring love this month, each subsequent edition will take a closer look at what we are called to be producing within our lives. With that focused approach, we should be positioned to prioritize decisions in such a way that we set out to produce fruits of the Spirit and bring glory to our Father.

It’s true – February is all about love. Dinners, chocolates, jewelry, roses, and other gifts on Valentine’s Day will be presented carefully to say, “I love you” to those we care most about. Yet God’s love is year round. It’s a noun and a verb. It’s feeling and a fact. It’s a daily calling for every follower of Christ.

We are to love one another as Christ loves us. He didn’t wait until we had it all together to open his arms and receive us into his forever family. He didn’t wait until we quit living in sin to forgive us. He didn’t say, “When you are more like me then I will love you more.” His love is and was and will always be complete. It’s available for all to receive, and our job is to share it.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 sums it up perfectly. Let’s not play games. This is eternity. Love is more than just a four-letter word.

signbeth

 

January 2017, Publisher's Letter

January Publisher’s Letter

Happy New Year!

bethDoes your faith move mountains? It should. It could. 

Let’s make a New Years “Revelation” together. In 2017, we will move mountains!

The Bible is filled with stories of people who had big faith — David, Queen Esther, Abraham, Daniel, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul, Thomas, John, and so many more! In Mark chapter 5, Jesus healed a woman saying, “Your faith has healed you.” Her faith. Not her works, not her life story. Her faith.

None of these mentioned had worry-free lives. They had obstacles. Many faced death. They didn’t just worship God all day. The lived lives, had families and jobs. Like us, they faced great difficulties and overcame obstacles.

Matthew 17:20 says, “He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”’

Let’s move mountains in 2017. Together. As ONE.

O: Overcome! In 2017, be an overcomer! The only way to overcome anything is by trusting the truth of His Word. 1 John 4:4 says, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  When you are feeling disappointed, say this verse out loud as much as you need to in order to walk in truth. Meditate on the Word and not your problems.

N: Now. Now is the time to live in freedom. Do not belabor your sins. Repent and be made new. Isaiah 1:18 says, “’Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” Your sins are forgiven. My sins are forgiven. End of story.

E: Everyone is equal! John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” We must come together as one body. Christ died for all. He loves all equally and forgives everyone the same.

Our faith can move mountains. Isn’t that an incredible truth? The day to day can quickly rob us of an eternal perspective. Yet if we live by truth and focus on what God says in His Word instead of what our problems say about our lives, we begin to be transformed into children of God who live like heirs to his righteousness.

‘Because of their faith’ … let 2017 mark a new era of faith in your life. At home, at work, around the city. Be in the Word and in prayer. Do things that require faith. See that God is faithful, and by all means, move those mountains!

December 2016, Publisher's Letter

December Publisher’s Letter

For God so loved the world …   

bethIt was an otherwise ordinary Monday. Our community group was coming over for our weekly gathering. Snacks were on the table, coffee brewing, and folks were trickling in to catch up with friends after another busy week. Hugs all around the room, it was great to be together again.

Often we rotate facilitation of our discussions. This week, our friends who have a passion for international ministry were teaching. Heavily involved in teaching the Perspectives Course, they shared specific data that gave a bird’s-eye view of the state of religion in the world.

I’m not one who has felt called to become a missionary across the globe. I do however, feel called to participate in the great commission to reach my world. After listening to my friends that night, it became much less intimidating to view the world from a global perspective. It was quite astonishing.

What I didn’t know was frightening! The numbers and statistics were mind-boggling, yet easy to grasp. The most amazing fact is that we have a mission field right here on our LSU Campus! With more than 1,600 students from more than 110 countries, we have an incredible opportunity to reach “the world” by reaching out to these students. They are far from home, missing their families, and longing to make lasting friendships. Many are very lonely and feel isolated.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Whosoever could be in a tribe somewhere we’ve never even heard of. Whosoever could be your neighbor. Whosoever could be a grad student at LSU coming here to get an education to take back home. Whosoever could be the cashier, mail carrier or teacher.

In 2017, let’s be laser focused on the ‘whosoevers’ we come in contact with every day. Then, reach out to someone new – find someone and be their answered prayer. Step out of your comfort zone. Pray for and expect divine appointments. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples!” He didn’t say wait until they knock on your door.

Jesus died for all of us. God so loved the world that He did the unthinkable, taking on the punishment we so deserved. If that is good news to you, then share it. Others need that same knowledge of a Savior – a King to save the day and save a soul.

For God so loved the world that He sent Jesus. He also sends you and me to love the world in such a way that they know Jesus is very much alive. After all, they will know we are Christians by our love.

Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Jesus! Whether you reach around the corner or across the globe, share Christ with others. There is no better gift.

November 2016, Publisher's Letter

November Publisher’s Letter

How to live a “thank you” life! 


bethWith Thanksgiving upon us, gratitude is in season. Being thankful for family, friends, churches, pastors, jobs, and certainly for God’s place in our lives, is a given. With food covering tables as smells from the oven fill the rooms of our homes, we will gather with those closest to us and share meaningful moments with those we love.

Yet, God’s people are called to be thankful in all circumstances. We are to live a “thank you” life. This requires a change of mindset, often daily. One way to adopt a thank-you mindset is to recall just what Jesus did on the Cross.

Romans 4:7 – it’s almost too good to be true! “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Shall we read that again? I don’t know about you, but that Scripture is enough to remind me I have much to be happy about. Once we fully grasp this powerful truth, it’s enough to rock our world, and cause us to lose sight of worldly distractions. We who have accepted Christ are a forgiven people. There’s no sin left to feel guilty about – not one too huge that He left it behind for you to belabor in regret.

Our city has been through so much, as has our nation. Battles rage over countless issues. Our political environment has become hateful. While elections are important and government a necessity, our job is critical. Keep pressing forward in faith, running the race set out before us.

Hebrews 12:1-2 is our reminder: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith.”

What hinders you? What sin entangles you? Giving yourself freedom to answer that question could prove monumental. Get real with God and get free from that which binds. We are ineffective if held in captivity to sin. It’s why Christ died for you and for me. Wresting with our sin is like saying what Jesus did is not enough. It was. It is.

live-a-thankful-lifeLiving a “thank you” life means meditating on what He did for us. Then, living like we believe we are God’s children – heirs to His kingdom. We are champions of hope! We are in the world, but not of the world. We are ambassadors of Christ himself – a living testimony to what He has done in our lives – offering hope to those in need of a savior.

How do you live a “thank you” life? You don’t go a day without remembering what has been done for you. It was personal. It’s our ticket to freedom and gives our life meaning and purpose, offering a refreshing lens to help us get up each day and face the world.

We are God’s children – fully free and forgiven by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – put here in this world and on this earth to be His light in this otherwise dark world. Go forth and shine!

For this reason, we can truly be thankful! Happy Thanksgiving!

October 2016, Publisher's Letter

October Publisher’s Letter

58113_1569259147392_7315076_n-210x200A Different Kind of Flood

Because I’m the publisher of a magazine, I think forward. Our team meets to carefully plan ahead with specific ideas each month. We discover great stories, talk to amazing people and publish according to a calendar that is part of an overall plan that spans a year. We sometimes work months in advance.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a mans heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevails.”

It seems our plans were suddenly overridden by a bigger cause that on our best days we could not anticipate. First, we witnessed the violence and unrest after Alton Sterling’s death. Then, the tragic police shootings. As we were seeking ways to resolve our differences as a community, our city flooded with what is being called the Thousand Year Flood.

Who can plan for that? When the flood happened, I began to realize that none of our planned stories would happen. After a few days of near panic, I began to sense the Lord calming my anxious heart. Deep down I knew there was nothing I could do but let the water begin to recede and let God have His way.

After a few days of helping friends as well as complete strangers gut their homes and toss years of memories into ginormous trash piles on the street, I began to listen. Not to words, but to a spirit of love that seemed to be hovering over heartache. That same spirit was soothing pain and gently touching those suffering deafening loss. That same spirit is what moved others into swift action to help anyone they could find who needed a hand.

We were flooded all right. That horrific flood was followed by a different kind of flood. That of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, stories were coming to us. Heroic efforts by everyday people. Boat rescues. Cooks cooking. Loads of laundry being done. Valiant heroes forming demolition teams. Churches sending out groups. Shelters becoming neighborhoods. Teams of people coming from across the nation with caravans of supplies and years of experience in handling disasters. 

After a few long weeks, it seems we are we! Our city and state are still rallying to help one another. Church and state are working together. People from across the world are sending help. While the road ahead is long, we have become one.

We hope you enjoy our stories. We wish we could tell them all! Our prayer is that in this edition, you too will find hope and a sense of community. Our capital city has been through a lot. There is much work ahead. We are center stage to much of the world, and each one of us is here for this season.

When they see us, may they see a different kind of flood.

Publisher's Letter, September 2016

September Publisher’s Letter


What does reconciliation in our city mean to you?

58113_1569259147392_7315076_n-210x200Our class at Columbia (MS) High School was the first to be desegregated. Years later I learned that it was apparently a “big deal” through a random Facebook post. Like most of my fellow students, I had no clue.

My siblings and I were raised by a single mom. The five of us had some tough hurdles early in life. We lived off a rural highway with few other houses around; it seemed it took forever to get to our house from our small town. Across the highway were several African-American neighbors who faced similar struggles to our own.

This was our village. While we had friends in town, those neighbors helped raise us. We played with the kids whose moms took care of us while our mom worked. If we got out of line, those ladies would put us back in line, and I mean quickly. My mom trusted them with her kids.

By high school graduation, you’d have never known ours was the first class to integrate. It just wasn’t talked about. Not because it was taboo, but because it was a non-issue, at least to the students. I do not recall one incident that was a result of racial tension. From the football team to the student body government to the homecoming court, we were diverse, and our friendships were as well.

Yet, at the town square, I recall Ku Klux Klan rallies. Those white robes are hard to forget. You couldn’t help but see them because they would stand outside the town square right in the center of everything. It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand what that meant.

There will always be extremists. Those rallying for division will always speak loudly. No matter what culture or city, as Christians, our duty is clear: love and accept others, while at the same time standing firm for what is right. The Body of Christ must lead the way in the dark world, and we must do it together if we are to be effective.

It’s easy to look out into the world and assume the worst. Often it’s simpler to assume there is nothing that any one person can do to affect change. That is a lie from Satan himself. We have the power of Christ within us. By way of the Holy Spirit, we have been empowered and anointed to go boldly into the world. None are here by accident. We were placed here by a Holy God for a Holy purpose — to bring Him glory and make his name known.

Let’s do this! We can be that city on the hill. Matthew 5:14 (ESV) says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Let’s shine so brightly we show the world it can be done. Let’s put aside our differences and let Christ be our bond. There is an opportunity before us, and together we can do great things.

We hope you’ll enjoy this special edition. We are thankful for the many who shared with us, and hope our call to action will produce warriors for Christ and evoke saints in the city. God help us as we seek ways to heal and be healed.