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(Music) Nathaniel Bassey – “Shekinah Glory”

Anointed Gospel music minister and trumpeter; Nathaniel Bassey dishes an uplifting rendition titled “Shekinah Glory”.

Speaking on the new song the sensational Gospel minstrel said;

“This is not just a song, it is a CREED. It is an announcement! We are the remnant and those who have chosen to live by the spirit. We will not bow to the god of this world and will not feast from his table.

We are the ones who will follow the lamb where he goes, forever” – he concludes.

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(Today in History) Chad Died as Foretold in His Vision

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Chad waded hip-deep through the biggest controversy of seventh century England and never let it defile him. His place in history began when his oldest brother, Cedd, died of plague. Chad took Cedd’s place as abbot of Lastingham in 664.

At the time, English Christians were divided. Irish Christians entering England from the island of Iona, evangelized the north. Roman Christians centered on Kent evangelized the south. The two traditions differed, most notably in their observance of Easter.

The person who became the chief spokesman for the Roman tradition was Wilfrid. When he was appointed as Bishop of York, Wilfrid rejected consecration at the hands of Celtic Christians and went to Gaul (France). He was gone for years. Rather than leave the see vacant, King Osway appointed Chad in Wilfrid’s place. One bishop of the Roman church and two from the Irish tradition consecrated Chad.

Wilfrid finally came home, but had to retire to Rippon because Chad had his see. Earlier, Osway called a conference at Whitby to settle once for all which tradition England would follow. The conference chose the Roman.

Shortly after this, the pope appointed Theodore of Tarsus as Archbishop of Canterbury. Theodore decided that Wilfrid, not Chad was the rightful bishop of York.

Chad did not make a fuss. “If you decide that I have not rightly received the Episcopal character, I willingly lay down the office; for I have never thought myself worthy of it, but under obedience, I, though unworthy, consented to undertake it.”

Impressed with the bishop’s humility, Theodore convinced Chad to stay on as a bishop, consecrated him by the Roman rules, and sent him to England’s middle kingdom, Mercia.

Aiden had taught his priests to make their rounds on foot so that they could chat with common folk on their own level. Chad followed this advice. He slogged everywhere on foot.

To prevent him from wearing himself out, Theodore presented Chad with a horse. When Chad refused to mount it, Theodore lifted him onto the horse with his own arms. Chad gave in graciously and found the animal was indeed a big help to him now that he was older.

In 672, Plague again stalked England. Many died of it. One day, Chad was praying at home. A monk named Owini heard singing in the sky near where Chad was praying. The singing lasted about half an hour. Afterward, Chad told the monks that he’d had learned in a vision from heaven that he was about to die.

Shortly afterward he took ill with the plague. On this day, March 2, 672, seven days after his vision, Chad died. He was immediately considered a saint. In time, the people of Mercia would dedicate over thirty churches in his name.

Bibliography:

  1. Burton, Edwin. “St. Ceadda.” Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1908.
  2. Butler, Alban. Lives of the Saint. Various editions.
  3. “Ceadda.” Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, 1964.
  4. “St. Chad.” http://www.saintchads.org.uk/stchad.htm
  5. “St. Chad, Bishop of Mercia.” http://www.dur.ac.uk/StChads/chad.html
  6. “St. Chad, Our Patron Saint.” http://www.chch.anglican.org.nz/linwood/chadpatr.shtml

5 Things Christians Should Consider About AI

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SENIOR PASTOR OF COLLEGE CHURCH AND PRESIDENT OF GOD CENTERED LIFE MINISTRIES

Many of us have seen the extraordinary capacities of ChatGPT. A few months ago, a couple of friends plugged in my preaching into an AI (Artificial Intelligence) piece of software, sampling my voice. Then I cut and pasted random text from the internet, and hey-presto, it was my voice – so uncannily similar that I myself could not distinguish it – saying things that I had never said. It was a fun and amusing moment. I asked them if they could get me to speak in a different language. Off we went to Google Translate, translated a text into German, and had me speak in perfect German. To test the model, one of them tried my German speaking on a friend of theirs who is a native-born German. His verdict? Josh speaks perfect German but with a British accent! So the AI had not only got me to speak perfect German but had kept enough of my intonations to indicate my British accent origins.

What are the implications of all this for the gospel? I’m not sure I have the answer to that, but here are some principles to bear in mind as we think it through together.

Photo Credit: ©Aaron Burden/Unsplash, Getty Images/Yuichiro Chino/SWN Design

AI computer

1. Not Everything About It Is Bad

Certainly, you can (and you should not) use this technology to cheat on term papers, write emails as if you were personally writing them, and more. On the other hand, you can use it to provide some filler text for some anonymous information, and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that – it feels to me like using a rather sophisticated dictionary. That said, there are many “tells” that go with ChapGPT writing. They tend to be or feel “plastic-y.” It’s hard to define it, but I think I can spot it. Perhaps soon, I won’t be able to. At any rate, it doesn’t feel necessarily all bad.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Supatman

Man looking at AI and ChatGPT

2. Not Everything About It Is Good

On the other hand, the pitfalls are legion. To begin with, it can easily induce laziness. It might seem easier to have a machine write your emails for you or summarize some book that you half-read. But shortcuts usually end in long delays. And if you don’t put in the work to understand something yourself, and writing is at least halfway essential to understanding, then, well, you won’t understand. And that’s a problem. If TV, then the Internet, then Smart Phones, can make Dumb People, how much more can ChatGPT, and its various AI cousins, make us become only superficially intelligent ourselves? As someone who has taught undergraduate students at a college level, I am sometimes astonished by the lack of ability to write a coherent sentence, let alone a paragraph. What AI will do to an already semi-literate if the usage is not carefully proscribed doesn’t bear thinking about. We think in words. We think as we write. AI could cut out that for some, and that will have untold consequences.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Laurence Dutton

Man typing on a keyboard with AI

3. Find A Path Between Being a Luddite and Eugenics

Whenever there is a new technology on the horizon, those who approach it with caution are called “luddites” after a movement that resisted various parts of the industrial revolution. We don’t want to be luddites. On the other hand, it is without question that not all technologies are uniform goods in the wrong hands. The most egregious, evil example of this lies with the Nazi so-called “scientists” use of experimentation on prisoners under the guise of finding cures and military advances for the eugenic priorities of the master race. Nor, should we say, is it wrong-head to seek a middle ground as if that were some of nefarious compromise in itself. Long ago, Aristotle advised “the golden mean.” We often find a path to wisdom by avoiding extremes, approaching new matters with Biblical fear-of-God passion, and taking the right next step and doing the right next thing.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Poca Wander Stock

woman on cell phone downloading Jesus

4. Naivete About Future Comfort Is Unwise

While we don’t want to think as if we are living within a dystopian science fiction 1984 movie, nor is it wise to pretend that everything will come up roses and there’s never any need for decisive action. There are biotechnologies that we have under lock and key that should stay there. There may well be aspects of this technology that need to be carefully ruled out of common practice. Look at the ongoing impact of social media: much interaction of good if somewhat meaningless kinds, and yet also the very real danger of cyberbullying. Could social media have been made better if action were taken earlier to limit the well-known addictive properties of “doom scrolling,” for instance?

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/sticker2you

man and woman smiling at cell phone

5. A Christian Has Ultimate Future Confidence

Was it Billy Graham who said I’ve read the last sentence in the Bible, and it all turns out well? Christians need today to return to a great positive confidence in God’s sovereign control not only of the present but of the future too. We need to have no fear of AI if we live in fear of him. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Wavebreakmedia


Josh MoodyJosh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the Senior Pastor of College Church in Wheaton and the President of God Centered Life Ministries. He has a Ph.D. from Cambridge University and is an Associate Fellow of the Jonathan Edwards College at Yale University. He has authored several books, including No Other Gospel (Crossway, 2011) and Journey to Joy (Crossway, 2013). Follow him on his blog and on Twitter @GodCenteredLifeCome and hear more about the power of God’s word at The Word Conference 2023.

(Music) Mr M & Revelation – “Fresh Fire”

Prolific Nigerian Gospel music couple/duo; Mr M & Revelation dishes out a new song titled “Fresh Fire”.

Speaking on the song the duo said;

 “In this days and times when the love of many is waxing cold, the Spirit of God is pouring out fresh fire to the hungry and thirsty.”

“To as many who yearn for a deeper realm of experience and intimacy, this is a deep cry to a place of new encounter. This tune is a song of personal consecration and prayer. If your heart pants for more of God and you are ready to conquer the world get in and soak with this prayer sound. ” – they conclude.

The new song is recorded live at Hallelujah City [The Glory Castle]; shot and directed by the Hallelujah City Media [H.C.M].

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Six Prayers for Estranged Family Members

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PASTOR AND AUTHOR

Whether it’s due to a tragic event or years of pent-up hurt and unforgiveness, many of us have family members who are estranged from one another. That sibling who hasn’t spoken to you in years. That parent you haven’t wanted to reach out to. That uncle you need to avoid for your own health.

This can be a wrestle, emotionally and spiritually. It hurts when family members stop speaking to one another. We all want the happy family dreams we see on our screens. We all want unity and family memories, family celebrations, etc. But so often, reality does not quite measure up to the fantasy.

This is even more complicated when your family members begin to feel like enemies when they are out to slander you or cut you off relationally. This brings up so much heartache and pain.

While boundaries with those toxic family members are healthy and good, one way we can continue to love our estranged family members while remaining separated from them is through prayer.

But let’s be honest – when family-drama emotions are heightened, or anger is ignited when it all feels deeply unfair and hurtful – you might not know how to pray. This is when we can turn to the scriptures to find wisdom.

Psalm 41, in fact, a song by King David, was written about a season when David’s enemies were rising against him. He cries out to God for comfort in his distress and speaks honestly and openly about the pain of being attacked by a close community.  Though he was not necessarily writing about estranged family members, it’s a very relatable passage of scripture.

Here are six ways to pray for your estranged family members from Psalm 41.

  1. God, bless my family member and their loved ones. Deliver them when they are in trouble. God, protect and preserve them; count them among the blessed. 

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in their times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them—they are counted among the blessed in the land…”- Psalm 41: 1, 2

2. Lord, sustain them when they are sick, restore them when they are ill. 
“The Lord sustains them on their sickbeds and restores them from their bed of illness. – Psalm 41: 3

3. Jesus, have mercy on us both and stop any false accusations or slander that is destroying our relationship. 
“I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.  My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” When one of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around. – Psalm 41: 4-6.

4. God, I am deeply sad and angry that they have turned against me. Heal my heart and theirs. Bring our relationship to full restoration if that is your will.

“Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned[ against me. But may you have mercy on me, Lord; raise me up, that I may repay them. – Psalm 41: 9,10

5. In the meantime, the Spirit of God transforms them (and me) into people of integrity. Uphold and set us all in your presence forever, even though we are not currently in each other’s presence.

“Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.”- Psalm 41: 12

 

6. I praise you, oh God, your love is everlasting, even when human love fails.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” – Psalm 41: 13

What you’ll be surprised to discover, as you pray this Psalm over your estranged family member(s), is this – though the relationship might not change or be reconciled, your heart will soften and be transformed.

God will meet you in the frustration of it all and invite you into a newer, deeper family relationship with him.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Pheelings Media


Aubrey SampsonAubrey Sampson is a pastor, author, speaker, and cohost of The Common Good on AM1160 in Chicago. You can preorder her upcoming children’s bookBig Feeling Days: A Book About Hard Things, Heavy Emotions, and Jesus’ Love, and find and follow her @aubsamp on Instagram. Go to aubreysampson.com for more. 

10 Ways the Bible Defines True Manliness

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BRITT MOONEY

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

In the beginning, God created male and female. As such, God saw his creation as good, so both the masculine and feminine are meant to be a blessing with a redemptive purpose.

After the Fall, human nature was corrupted, and sin entered the world. Much of what God meant for good was also twisted, and this corruption colored our perspective of what was once good. For this discussion, the human understanding of males and females has been affected, too.

The Bible is the written expression of God’s word to us, all for reconciliation back to the Father and the restoration of what God desires. While we may struggle with the idea of masculinity and easily point to toxic versions of it, God has a redemptive plan and design for manliness. The Scripture can then be a standard of calling and inspiration for men.

Here are ten ways the Bible defines true manliness.

Photo Credit:©Unsplash/Gift Habeshaw 

A brave with his fists in the air.

1. Courage

The Bible exhorts men to demonstrate courage in various aspects of their lives, emphasizing the importance of trust in God. Throughout the Scripture, numerous passages encourage men to be strong and courageous, facing challenges with boldness and confidence in God’s provision and protection. In Joshua 1:9, God commands Joshua,

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

After the death of Moses, Joshua was about to lead Israel into the Promised Land, and here God’s presence and support empowered Joshua to overcome his fear of the giants in Canaan with faith. David displayed courage when he faced the Philistine giant, Goliath, relying on God’s strength to defeat his formidable opponent (1 Samuel 17). Similarly, Daniel demonstrated courage when he defied King Darius’s decree and continued to pray to God despite the threat of persecution (Daniel 6).

Courage isn’t merely a display of physical strength or prowess but also encompasses moral and spiritual fortitude. Proverbs 28:1 declares, “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Men are called to stand firm in their convictions and righteousness, even in the face of opposition or adversity.

Photo Credit: Japheth Mast/Unsplash

Man in deep happy thought outdoors

2. Integrity and Honesty

God’s design for men includes upholding integrity and honesty in all aspects of their lives, emphasizing sincerity and truthfulness in character and conduct. The Scripture underscores the value of integrity and honesty for men to develop. Proverbs 10:9 declares,

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”

God calls men to integrity as a safeguard against deception and wrongdoing, ensuring men walk securely in all their dealings and relationships. At the same time, people who are deceptive will be found out eventually.

The Bible warns against the consequences of dishonesty and deceitfulness, urging men to speak truthfully and act with integrity. Ephesians 4:25 admonishes, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” To love our neighbors, men should deal honestly with them, fostering trust and unity within the communities around them.

Scripture praises the character of men who demonstrate integrity and honesty in their lives. Psalm 15:2 describes such men as those who “speak the truth from their hearts” and “have no slander on their tongues.” Sincerity and truthfulness reflect the character of God, who is the epitome of truth and righteousness.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Wavebreakmedia

Woman and man hugging in church

3. Responsibility and Leadership

Men are called to embody responsibility and leadership, emphasizing their role as stewards, protectors, and providers within their families and communities. Various passages highlight the importance of men taking on responsibility with diligence, integrity, and humility and exercising leadership with wisdom, compassion, and a servant’s heart. In Ephesians 5:25, husbands are instructed to love their wives sacrificially, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Men are meant to lead their families with selfless love, sacrificial service, and spiritual guidance, modeling their leadership after the example of Christ. 1 Timothy 5:8 instructs men to provide for their families, stating,

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

This underscores the importance of men fulfilling their role as providers, ensuring the well-being and security of their loved ones through diligent work and provision. Moreover, the Bible teaches that leadership is a responsibility entrusted by God to be exercised with humility, wisdom, and servant-heartedness. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus teaches his disciples about servant leadership, declaring, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” God’s idea of leadership isn’t power over others to rule them but humility and selflessness, the needs and interests of others above their own ambitions and desires.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/DGLimages

Man praying eyes closed.

4. Humility and Gentleness

Humility and gentleness are essential virtues for all believers to cultivate, and this includes men in the roles God gives them. The themes of humility and gentleness run through the Bible, and these qualities reflect the heart of God, essential for healthy relationships, leadership, and spiritual growth. A central teaching is found in Philippians 2:3-4, where believers are exhorted to

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

The apostle Paul encourages believers to be humble in every interaction. Men may feel pride in their own accomplishments or strength, yet they are called to humility, as Christ revealed in his time on earth. Similarly, Colossians 3:12 instructs believers to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” This verse uses a command form, implying people must choose to be humble and gentle. Men should be intentional in their conduct to include humility and gentleness.

Most men would love to be seen as wise, yet the Bible teaches how humility is a mark of true wisdom. James 3:13 declares, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” Men don’t reveal their understanding through winning arguments or getting fancy academic degrees but through acting in humility.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/doidam10

man at laptop praying

5. Wisdom and Discernment

Wisdom and discernment are more valuable than gold and silver than any treasure, and these essential qualities guide decision-making, behavior, and relationships with godly insight and understanding. The Scripture exalts the value of wisdom and discernment as gifts from God to enable men to navigate life’s complexities with clarity, prudence, and righteousness.

Proverbs 4:7 declares, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Wisdom is worth any cost. Men should prioritize the pursuit of wisdom above all else, recognizing its intrinsic value in guiding paths and shaping character. Men seek wisdom through listening to the voice of God, the Bible, and godly elders in the church to share their experiences. Wisdom and discernment are gifts from God to be sought through consistent prayer. James 1:5 encourages believers,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Men must recognize the source of all truth and wisdom: the Person of God. Men go to God for wisdom with the added understanding of the Lord’s love for them. The Father gives generously when men go to him.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

man speaking into video camera for online church

6. Compassion

Just as God has been compassionate to all people, men should embody this in their interactions with others, reflecting the heart of God and demonstrating mercy and empathy toward those in need. As protectors, men should see the pain of others and seek to alleviate that pain or empower others to overcome it when under oppression. Ephesians 4:32 instructs believers to

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

God is the standard, and this verse shows how compassion should be a mark of the Christian community, encouraging men to extend grace and mercy to others as they themselves have received from God. Men can have compassion in daily interactions and families, but they can also participate in community efforts of generosity and relief for those in need both locally and internationally.

God is a Father, and the Scripture shows how God is a loving parent to those who belong to him. Psalm 103:13 describes God as “a father who has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” This verse brings compassion into men as fathers, both for their own children but also for children in the church and the community around them. The world is desperate for God as Father, and men can reveal this character in real and tangible ways through their compassion.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

a man in church

7. Perseverance

True manliness includes not giving up. Perseverance is a crucial virtue for men to build in their lives, enabling them to endure trials, overcome obstacles, and remain steadfast in their faith and commitment to God. Sometimes, change happens in a moment, but often, transformation is a process through time. One of the central teachings on perseverance is found in James 1:2-4, where believers are exhorted to

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Perseverance shapes character and faith, enabling men to grow in spiritual maturity and completeness through the trials they face. Similarly, Hebrews 12:1 encourages believers to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” This verse comes on the heels of the “hall of faith” Hebrews chapter 11, which includes a list of men and women who overcame and lived victoriously through faith. The writer of Hebrews continues to build on the hall of faith by urging men to press forward, keeping their focus on Christ as the ultimate source of strength and inspiration.

This perseverance is built on and expands the eternal and secure hope of men in God’s promises (Romans 5:3-4).

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/People Images

Man holding a Bible

8. Submission to God

The Bible emphasizes the importance of submission to God as a foundational principle for men to live by, recognizing God’s sovereignty, authority, and lordship over their lives. Through various passages, Scripture underscores the value of submission as an expression of reverence, obedience, and humility towards God. One of the central teachings on submission to God is found in James 4:7, where believers are exhorted to

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

This verse highlights the essential role of submission in spiritual warfare, urging men to yield to God’s authority and resist the temptations and schemes of the enemy. Similarly, Romans 12:1 instructs believers to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” This verse emphasizes the importance of total surrender and submission to God, offering oneself completely to His service and purposes as an act of worship and devotion.

Moreover, the Bible teaches that submission to God leads to blessings and spiritual growth. Proverbs 3:5-6 declares, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” This passage highlights the promise of divine guidance and direction for those who submit to God’s will, leading to a life of righteousness, peace, and fulfillment.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Red Goldwing

Man pushing senior in wheelchair outdoors smiling

9. Love and Sacrifice

As followers of Christ, his love and self-sacrifice are the models for change, transformation, and a life of meaning. John 15:13 teaches love and self-sacrifice, where Jesus clearly declares,

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Jesus urges believers to emulate Christ’s example of selfless love and willingness to lay down his life for others. Through servant leadership, men are also called to sacrifice for the good of others. Specifically, Ephesians 5:25 instructs husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” When a man decides to get married, God’s expectation is for the husband to demonstrate sacrificial love toward their wives, mirroring  Christ’s selfless devotion and care for His bride, the church.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes love, stating, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” From this passage, love isn’t a feeling but a way to live, including patience and the absence of self-seeking.

God isn’t a sadist with talk of self-sacrifice, nor is he asking men to enjoy pain. Men give willingly, knowing there is an eternal reward that awaits them.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Halfpoint

A man standing before a cross.

10. Expect an Eternal Reward

Living a life of true manliness isn’t one of obligation or religious duty alone. God promises eternal reward for his disciples, and all things work together for good for any who love the Father and are called according to his redemptive purpose (Romans 8:28). The expectation of eternal reward undergirds the whole Bible, especially the New Testament. One such example is found in Matthew 5:12, where Jesus declares,

“Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven.”

In context, Christ speaks of when people will mock and abuse believers, and he declares that enduring hardships and persecution for the sake of righteousness will result in a heavenly reward. Additionally, the Bible often portrays heaven as a place of eternal joy, peace, and fulfillment. Revelations 21:4 describes it as a realm where God will wipe away every tear, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.

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Furthermore, the parables shared by Jesus frequently emphasize the importance of investing in eternal treasures rather than earthly ones. In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus advises, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Heaven, the eternal home, is where those who follow Christ will live forever, so men should do all they can to live for and invest in that eternal Kingdom.

While we have plenty of bad examples of men in our culture, from weak to overbearing, our world needs men like the Scripture describes. Men of true manliness infuse the example of Christ through their roles and responsibilities, bringing hope to our communities and the future. Through grace and encouragement, let’s support godly men in their calling.

 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Boonyachoat

Britt MooneyBritt Mooney lives and tells great stories. As an author of fiction and non -iction, he is passionate about teaching ministries and nonprofits the power of storytelling to inspire and spread truth. Mooney has a podcast called Kingdom Over Coffee and is a published author of We Were Reborn for This: The Jesus Model for Living Heaven on Earth as well as Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight.

4 Things Christian Marriage Requires of Us Beyond Love

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SPEAKER/COACH/PODCAST HOST

I used to think all that was needed to ensure a healthy marriage was love. And then I got married and quickly realized as Don Henley and Patty Smyth sang in their 90’s hit song, “Baby, sometimes love just ain’t enough.” Love is our highest aim; it’s as the apostle Paul describes in I Corinthians 13, “the greatest of these.” So, I’m not negating the necessity for love in marriage, I’m challenging the notion that love is all you need to make a marriage thrive.

The Beatles sang “All You Need is Love,” but interestingly, Paul McCartney has been married three times, and John Lennon was married twice. Before his death, he confessed to having more than 300 affairs while married to his first wife and multiple affairs while married to his second. If these are the people Americans look to as “idols,” it’s no wonder we have a faulty understanding of how love works in marriage.

Love is foundational. It’s like flour to a cake. Your marriage rises and falls depending on how much love is present. However, just as a cake needs other essential ingredients to be palatable and sustainable, so does marriage.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Nghia Trinh

Married Couple

1. Connection

Connection in marriage is the thread that ties two partners together. It’s what intimacy is built upon. A couple may experience physical pleasure without connection, but they will never enjoy the depth of intimacy without a genuine connection. When a person feels disconnected from his/her spouse, he/she feels lonely, unwanted, unnecessary, and used. The love is likely still present, but someone’s heart isn’t. Connection is built upon presence. To build a strong, connected marriage, each spouse has to be present emotionally and physically. This can be difficult for couples whose time together is often interrupted by military deployments, long work hours, or other travel.

But you can be in the same room with your spouse and not be present. This is why I encourage couples who want to work on their connection to take my How Connected Are You? Partner Quiz. The quiz highlights areas of weakness and gives them solutions to be more available and deepen their connection with their spouse.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Mukesh Mohanty

Couple's Hands Holding Scrabble Letters Spelling 'Forever and Always'

2. Communication

By far, the biggest problem couples have that causes them to seek out my help is communication. Or so they think. Communication is not a problem when you are truly connected to your spouse. The bulk of my work as a marriage coach is to help couples build deeper connection. However, there are some communication best practices that every couple can improve upon. We must remember that communication is a two-way process by which one person sends information and the other person receives that information. The issue in most marriages is that spouses are often more concerned with sending information than receiving information.

Most arguments start with a disagreement, right? A couple I recently coached (let’s call them Sam and Sandy) argued profusely about seemingly everything. Sam and Sandy would show up to their marriage coaching sessions charged up and ready to go to war with each other. I had to interject several times to remind them they were playing for the same team. Sam felt Sandy overtalked him, and Sandy didn’t feel that Sam ever truly listened to her when she spoke. Sandy is an analytical learner who prizes facts and data, so she felt the need to systematically report all of her findings on Sam’s shortcomings to him. Feeling attacked by Sandy’s account of his failures, Sam often cut her off mid-sentence and refused to agree that he needed to change. It didn’t take long at all for us to realize the couple had a major listening problem.

Listening is a learned skill. Sadly, most of us were never taught how to actually listen. We listen to respond and not to understand. Therein lies the problem. When a couple learns how to communicate as both the sender and the receiver, they will notice their “communication problems” suddenly decrease. The bedrock of effective communication is respect. Only when we truly respect our spouse will we allow their words to penetrate our ears and into our hearts.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Leah Newhouse

3. Commitment 

3. Commitment

Christian marriages are built on commitment. We stand before God and our chosen witnesses to commit to a marriage covenant: an unbreakable promise. In biblical times, covenants were essential to God’s redemptive plan to restore humanity to its divine calling. God is serious about covenant. He never breaks his promise.

  • He made a covenant with Noah to never flood the earth again (Genesis 9:11)
  • He made a covenant with Abraham to make him the father of a great nation with a permanent land (Genesis 15:18) 
  • He made a covenant with Moses and the Israelites to be God’s treasured possession of kings and priests (Exodus 19:5-6)
  • He made a covenant with David that he would always have a successor as ruler on the throne (2 Chronicles 7:18)
  • He made a covenant through Jesus —the New Covenant of eternal life for you and me (Luke 22:20)

God doesn’t break covenant. Sadly, throughout history, humans have shown that we don’t honor our commitment or hold up our end of the covenant as we should. This is mostly seen in the many Christian divorces that occur more and more each year. Without commitment, marriage is simply relegated to a temporal, conditional relationship that lasts only as long as the good feelings do.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Caio

Happy couple kiss husband and wife

4. Calling

“Are you called to marry this person?” I ask whenever I counsel premarital couples. After their eyebrows return to their resting place, they usually stammer, “Uh, yes. I think so.” You think so? Marriage is a commitment, but it is also a calling. Not everyone is called to be married. I’m sure your mind is filling up with examples from your extended family who fit the bill.

In their book and premarital program Called Together, Steve and Mary Prokopchak explain that premarital counseling “helps to build a couple’s faith, or it will reveal to the couple that they are, in fact, not called together.” More Christians need to stop asking if their future spouse is “the one for me” and start asking if their future spouse is “the one I am called to be with.” When you know that the Lord has called you together with your spouse, arguments, different values, and even tragedies won’t tear you apart. This is why marriage must be a communal decision. Far too many lovestruck twenty-somethings (and fifty-somethings, for that matter) marry without seeking honest input from their family, pastors, and friends. When you’re called to marry a person, your faith community will know it, too.

Now we’re cooking. We have our essential ingredients blended together to make a beautiful marriage: connection, communication, commitment, and calling. Colossians 3:14 sums it up like this, And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

(EP) Moses Bliss – “Love Testament”

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Trendy Gospel music artist and Spotlite Record label boss; Moses Bliss comes through with his much anticipated EP project titled “Love Testament”.

The 4-track project is a heartfelt declaration and a powerful expression of love directed to his significant other.

With each track receiving acclaim for Moses Bliss’s creativity and versatility, the “Love Testament” EP adds to his collection of inspiring songs, further solidifying his impactful status in the gospel music space.

 

STREAM/DOWNLOAD EP

(Music) Daniel Ojo – “We Win” Ft Vashawn Mitchell

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Daniel Ojo a Canadian JUNO Nominee Gospel Artist features Vashawn Mitchell, a Stellar Award Winning, Grammy Award Winning, Top Billboard Chart, Dove Awards Nominee Gospel Artist, Singer, Songwriter on this new and powerful anthem that resonates with hope, faith and victory – WE WIN.

“We Win” is a powerful gospel anthem that resonates with hope, faith, and victory. With its uplifting melody and inspiring lyrics, the song captures the essence of triumph over adversity and celebrates the ultimate victory found in faith.

Through heartfelt vocals and stirring instrumentation, “We Win” serves as a reminder that, despite life’s challenges, we are conquerors through Christ, his amazing grace and unwavering love.

This soul-stirring composition is destined to uplift spirits and ignite a sense of hope in listeners, reminding them that with God, victory is assured. “We Win” is not just a song, but a declaration of faith and our victory in Christ Jesus.

Written & Composed By – Daniel Ojo

7 Ways Your Clothes Speak Louder Than Your Words

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CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Since the days of Adam and Eve, when they took a bite of that forbidden fruit, and God made coverings made of fur to hide their nakedness, people have been wearing clothes, at least in public.

Through thousands of years and across a thousand cultures, there have been different styles and choices for clothing. Yet, as with most activities of the human race, like food and language, we have invested meaning within clothing.

We say more through what we do than what we say. John 3:16 doesn’t say, “For God so loved the world he said he loved us.” God gave his son, who sacrificed himself for our eternal good. That action declared the depth of love God has for us.

It’s important to remember, however, that we are speaking of first impressions or outward appearance. What we communicate on the outside might not be the best representation of our inward character. God is more concerned with the heart. At the same time, we know at least 70% of communication is nonverbal, so it’s wise for us to consider what our dress says about us to others.

So what do we say about what we wear? Here are seven ways your clothes speak louder than your words.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Ylanite Koppens

Professional Woman

1. Professionalism

Our attire speaks volumes about an individual’s competence, credibility, and attention to detail without uttering a word. A well-dressed individual in a professional setting exudes competence, making a positive impression on others.

In an era where more people are working from home, and younger generations don’t see the importance of professional dress, we can stand apart by taking a bit of time and choosing clothing reflecting our commitment to professionalism. Opting for well-fitted, clean attire appropriate for the workplace or even online meetings reflects a respect for the job and the people encountered within it. While the expected attire may not be a tailored suit, dressing more professionally demonstrates we’re serious about our job.

To some degree, this is cultural, and societies in different countries may possess different norms. We should take the time to ask questions or do research to be more culturally sensitive in some situations, as well.

Moreover, attention to grooming and hygiene further enhances professionalism. Neatly groomed hair, clean shoes, and minimal accessories contribute to a polished appearance.

Beyond mere aesthetics, professional attire prepares our own minds to take our jobs seriously. It suggests a dedication to excellence to ourselves and others. Not only does our professional attire reflect upon us but also upon our team in situations where we interact with other businesses and customers.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Emmy E

Cultural Dress

2. Cultural Identity

Cultural identity is intricately woven into the fabric of our clothing choices, speaking volumes about heritage, traditions, and belonging without the need for verbal expression. We can incorporate garments to serve as a representation of cultural background.

People are moving around the world for work more than ever, and the US has become increasingly more diverse, with various nationalities and racial backgrounds in our local towns. Clothing styles, patterns, and fabrics reflect the rich tapestry of cultural heritage. Whether it is traditional attire passed down through generations or modern interpretations of them, garments can tell a story of ancestry and connection to a specific cultural group or community.

In addition, accessories can further let people know about our heritage, adding layers of meaning. From jewelry adorned with motifs to headwear symbolizing status, these elements serve as proud markers of cultural identity.

These clothing choices serve as both cultural expression and assertion. By wearing certain attire, we can express pride in our roots and assert our right to celebrate and preserve our heritage in a diverse world. Clothing can also foster a sense of solidarity within cultural communities. Others may be inspired to also express their own background, and within groups, this can serve as unifying symbols, bringing people together and reinforcing a sense of belonging.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/RDNE Stock project

Message T-shirt

3. Mood and Personality

We can let people know our mood and personality with our clothing choices, acting as a silent yet powerful form of expression to communicate emotions, attitudes, and individuality. The garments we select serve as a type of canvas where we can paint our inner state, conveying a myriad of messages without the need for verbal communication.

One simple and common choice is a T-shirt with a message on it, revealing our mood for the day, or a band we might enjoy. Moreover, clothing serves as a reflection of our personality, conveying aspects of our character, interests, and values. From edgy leather jackets to preppy polo shirts, each garment speaks to individual tastes and preferences, offering glimpses into identity and personal style.

Beyond that, the colors, styles, and fabrics reflect our mood, with vibrant hues and bold patterns for energy and optimism or muted tones to evoke calmness and introspection. Whether a cheerful floral dress or a cozy sweater, clothing can uplift spirits and set the tone for the day ahead.

Accessories further enhance the expression of personality, with statement jewelry, quirky socks, or vintage-inspired eyewear adding flair and individuality to an outfit.

Clothing choices also influence perception and interaction with others. A confident power suit may convey assertiveness and professionalism, while a casual ensemble suggests approachability and ease. By aligning clothing with mood and personality, individuals project authenticity and confidence, inviting meaningful connections and conversations with those around them.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Jean-Baptiste Burbaud 

Man wearing a cross necklace

4. Values and Beliefs

Our clothing serves as a visual representation of deeply held convictions, principles, and ideologies, communicating our core values and beliefs to the world and offering insight into our worldview and moral compass without the need for verbal expression.

The clothing styles, symbols, and slogans chosen reflect the values and beliefs held dear by individuals. Whether it’s wearing clothing adorned with religious iconography, political statements, or messages of social justice, we can tell people what we think and believe.

Moreover, the ethical considerations behind clothing choices, such as opting for sustainable, ethically sourced garments or choosing to support fair trade practices, reflect a commitment to values such as environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and ethical consumerism.

Accessories and adornments further amplify the expression of values and beliefs, with items such as religious jewelry, cultural artifacts, or handmade crafts serving as proud markers of identity and allegiance to certain ideologies. On a more personal level, a necklace or other accessory can be a reminder of a family member or close loved one, letting others know how important our kids or spouses are to us.

Whether it’s wearing attire adorned with symbols of solidarity, participating in clothing drives for those in need, or supporting brands with values-aligned missions, clothing becomes a tangible expression of values in action.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Bruno Felix 

Close-up of woman working on a laptop.

5. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail in clothing choices speaks volumes about our style and personal standards. Each element of attire, from the fit of a shirt to the choice of accessories, communicates deliberate attention or the lack of it.

When we are meticulous with our selection of clothing, it reflects our commitment to presenting ourselves in the best possible light. Whether it’s ensuring every button is fastened or hem is pressed, attention to detail demonstrates care and consideration.

On the other hand, a slovenly appearance might communicate laziness, or perhaps we don’t care what people think, which may or not be true.

Subtle accents and embellishments further enhance the attention to detail, with carefully chosen accessories adding polish and sophistication to an outfit. From a well-coordinated pocket square to a tastefully chosen piece of jewelry, these finishing touches demonstrate an eye for detail and elevate the overall look.

Attention to detail extends beyond the aesthetic realm to aspects of functionality and comfort. Selecting clothing that fits well, moves with ease, and is appropriate for the occasion demonstrates a practical approach to dressing that values both style and functionality. We’ve all been in a situation where we didn’t plan our outfits well for a specific occasion.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

Creative people working

6. Creativity

Clothing can be a vibrant form of creativity and self-expression, communicating individuality, originality, and imagination. Each piece of clothing can be used to bring a creative vision to life, allowing for endless possibilities of style, color, texture, and pattern to captivate attention.

The innovative pairing of unexpected elements and unconventional combinations reflects a bold and daring approach to fashion to set us apart from the crowd. Every person is an individual, each with our own fingerprints, each with a unique combination of personality and interests, and we can express this creatively through our dress. This might mean going beyond some cultural expectations.

Whether it’s mixing and matching contrasting patterns, experimenting with bold colors, or incorporating avant-garde silhouettes, creative clothing choices showcase a fearless embrace of personal style and artistic expression.

Moreover, customizations and DIY alterations further amplify the expression of creativity in clothing. From hand-painted designs to upcycled garments, these unique touches add a personal flair and individuality to one’s attire, transforming ordinary pieces into wearable works of art that spark conversation and intrigue.

Accessories and statement pieces serve as powerful tools for unleashing creativity in clothing choices, with bold jewelry, eye-catching headwear, and distinctive footwear adding personality and character to an outfit. Many people make their own jewelry. These imaginative accents become focal points that command attention and convey a sense of whimsy and playfulness.

Beyond aesthetics, creativity in clothing choices also fosters a sense of innovation and self-discovery. By experimenting with different styles, trends, and techniques, we expand our creative horizons, discovering new ways to express ourselves and cultivate our unique identity.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Christina Morillo

Confident woman wearing a hat and sunglasses.

7. Confidence

When we begin to realize what we wear says something about us, we can be more intentional regarding our clothing. This intentionality leads to self-discovery and awareness, making us more confident people.

Confidence exudes from well-chosen attire, speaking volumes about our self-assurance, poise, and presence. The garments we select serve as a reflection of inner confidence and combine to project an aura of self-assuredness and empowerment.

The choice of clothing reflects a belief in our own worth and capabilities. Whether it’s a suit for a business meeting or a statement outfit for a social event, dressing with confidence communicates a sense of self-assurance and readiness to take on any challenge.

Moreover, attention to grooming and personal presentation further enhances the expression of confidence. Neatly groomed hair, polished shoes, and impeccable grooming send a message of self-respect and professionalism that resonates with those around us. Most people enjoy being around people who are confident in their identity and personality. Our clothing becomes a cohesive and intentional expression across our whole person. That brings authenticity and integrity into each interaction, whether a new acquaintance or an old friend.

This level of confidence isn’t pride or condescension to others. Our contented self-confidence welcomes others into a real relationship since we aren’t trying to be someone else or put on a mask with our outward appearance.

Remember, God cares about our hearts and what we believe. Taking care of our souls is important because we live from our hearts, and our clothing is a great opportunity to express creativity, individuality, respect for others, and more. Let’s take the opportunity with our outfits to express our genuine and unique person to the world around us.

(Music) Minister GUC – “Eyes On Jesus”

 Eezee Conceptz recording artist; Minister GUC, kick-starts the year with the release of his new single, “Eyes on Jesus”.

Speaking on the inspiration behind the song via Instagram, Minister GUC shares;

 “No doubt the world is going through a phase. A lot of things are happening right now, the economy is crumbling. There is a void that only Jesus can fill, there is a need for the peace that only Jesus can give. There is no better time for the release of this song #EyesOnJesus.”

Read full post below;

Watch video and download mp3 below;

 

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(Music) Steve Crown – “He’s Here (The Kabod) ” Ft Nations Will Rise And Sing Choir

Sensational Gospel music minister; Steve Crown releases a new single and music video titled, “He’s Here (The Kabod),” featuring the Nations Will Rise And Sing Choir.

Speaking on the new song “He’s Here (The Kabod)” Steve Crown said;

“This lyric came with a huge inspiration from an encounter with the Holy Ghost to greatly impact the lives of people.”

“It is a song born out of an overwhelming feeling of the presence of God; an atmosphere filled with the spirit of God which turns different situations around for the best.” – he continues.

“I encourage anyone listening to this song to believe God’s grace upon me, because in the atmosphere like this everything is possible: restoration is assured according to Ezekiel 37:1-10. Can these dry bones live again? Find out in this song

The new song which owes it’s production credits to Samuel Okolo aka ProfMusic, is packed with soulful melodies, heartfelt vocals and creativity. The accompanying visual is shot and directed by IBOZI media.

Watch video and download mp3 below;

 

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Banky W Celebrates Wife Adesua As She Turns 36

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Nigerian RnB artist, rapper and actor who now doubles as a preacher of the gospel, Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W has showered his wife Adesua Wellington with heartfelt messages as she celebrates her 36th birthday today (February 22nd, 2024).

 

Taking to Instagram share his gratitude and birthday wishes to his beloved partner, Banky W shared adorable pictures of the actress and expressed his profound love in a lengthy post;

“Happy birthday to the love of my life. The best Mama, the bestest wife.”

 

Reflecting on their journey, he added, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d choose you twice. This must be what winning the lottery feels like.”

 

Acknowledging the significant role Adesua has played in his life, Banky W penned

“You’re sincere, and sweet. My sunshine, my heart beat. My safe space. You make my world a better place. Thank you for always being there to water my mustard seed of faith.”

 

You’re easily, by far, the most beautiful, talented, and strongest person I know. You’re hilarious and kind. I’m honored and grateful to call you mine,” enthused the versatile celebrity as he appreciates his heartthrob sincerity and sweetness.

 

Describing her as the most beautiful, talented, and strongest person he knows, Banky W expressed his honor and gratitude for having Adesua as his partner. He playfully listed various roles she plays in their lives, from the gym’s class captain to the family’s queen and more. “Our gym’s class captain. Our family’s queen. My amala-eating-local-girl, obsessed-with-korean-films. My Michelle Obama. My Cardi B. My Julia Roberts. My Tori Kelly. My Meryl Streep. My best friend, my baby, and my sugar-mommy,” he continued.

 

Ending the heartfelt post, he emphasized, “You were worth waiting for. I’ll love you forever and a day more. You are living proof that God loves me. I love you truly, madly, deeply. Happy birthday, baby.

(Today In Church History) Yield or Suffer Said Diocletian

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DAN GRAVES, MSL

Who was Emperor Diocletian?

Diocletian, born Diocles, was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus’ other surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus. Diocletian’s reign stabilized the empire and marks the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. He appointed fellow officer Maximian as Augustus, co-emperor, in 286. Diocletian reigned in the Eastern Empire, and Maximian reigned in the Western Empire.

statue of Diocletian

Statue of Diocletian

Roman Reform

As Barbarians menaced the Roman empire, Emperor Diocletian instituted a number of reforms aimed at saving the sprawling political entity. He reorganized the provinces and made the army more mobile while increasing its size. To battle inflation, he issued a new coinage, established a uniform system of taxation and implemented wage-price controls.

Christian Persecution

Recognizing that the empire was too large for a single man to rule, he divided it into four administrative units. In doing this he raised to power a man who did Christians much harm. This man, Galerius, instigated by his mother (a die-hard pagan) prodded the Emperor to persecute the Christians. With their new customs, Christians were a threat to imperial unity, he said; and their vast, well-knit organization was the largest non-governmental body ever seen. Surely they could not be trusted: their loyalty was to King Jesus rather than to Caesar. Diocletian, who for eighteen years had never lifted a finger against the faith, followed this wicked advice. The crackdown began on this day, February 23, 303.

The persecutors dragged off church leaders and tortured them to death, employing the rack, the scourge, slow fires, crucifixion, and many other barbarities against them. They burned Christian books and scriptures. Many Christians died deaths of great courage. Theodotus, for example, after terrible tortures said as he was being led back to prison, “It is but just that Christians should suffer for Him who suffered for us all.”

Divine Resilience

Timothy, a deacon in Mauritania, allowed his eyes to be put out with red-hot irons rather than reveal the hiding place of scriptures. His wife of just three weeks was then brought in and she attempted to persuade him to recant for love of her. He refused. Growing stouthearted, she joined him. After horrendous torture, both were crucified.

In the end, it was the church which won the showdown. All the powers of Rome could not crush its allegiance to Christ. Even Galerius eventually left off the persecution. In 311, the dying emperor issued an edict of toleration. Christians had outlasted the might of the empire. Their resistance to arbitrary power was instrumental in winning the right to follow their Christian faith.

head of Diocletian

Bibliography:

  1. Aland, Kurt. Saints and Sinners; men and ideas in the early church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970.
  2. “Diocletian.” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
  3. Foxe, John. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Various editions.
  4. Ridpath. Encylopedia of Universal History. 1890. Source of the image.
  5. Scannel, T. B. “Diocletian.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
  6. Various encyclopedia and internet articles such as www.roman-emperors.org/dioclet.htm.

(Video) Chidinma – “Love Me First”

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Marking her first release of 2024, Afropop star-turned-Gospel music minister; Chidinma releases a brand new music video titled “Love Me First”.

The Afro-tune track reflects God’s unfailing and everlasting love towards us and emphasizes how He is readily available when we need Him. Chidinma’s vocal prowess adds a captivating and soothing quality to the song, making it a must-listen.

Watch video below and share on your most preferred social media platform;

(Video) Dunsin Oyekan – “Do To Me What You Want”

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Anointed Nigerian Psalmist; Dunsin Oyekan dishes out the music video for his uplifting worship single “Do To Me What You Want,”.

The re-imagined track serves as the 8th track from his “Code Red: The Worship Experience Album” released in December 2016.

Speaking on the essence for the song via youtube the music minister said;

 “So I did as He told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over,” revealed the Worship revivalist.

“Then the Lord gave me this message: ‘O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are You in My hand.’ Jeremiah 18:3-6 NLT,” he added.

Watch Video Below:

 

(Music) Melvin Crispell III – “He’s Never Failed Me Yet”

GRAMMY®, Dove and Stellar Award-nominated artist Melvin Crispell, III has released a new single with “He’s Never Failed Me Yet.” Available on all digital music providers, Melvin performs a powerful ballad of celebration in this new arrangement of the CeCe Winans song “He’s Never Failed Me Yet.” Delivering hope and encouragement, Melvin’s luminous vocals shine praise on God’s constancy, finding comfort in God who is always there, and a source of light and strength through trying or sad times.

Melvin’s latest single “He’s Never Failed Me Yet” is his first newly-recorded song from an upcoming new project, where he has been busy in the studio recording new music. Melvin recently attended the 2024 GRAMMY Awards, where his song “God Is” was nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song. Celebrating his second career nomination in that category, the single “God Is” (Radio Edit) is his latest single out on gospel radio now. Featured from his second full-length album No Failure, which was released last year, Melvin’s rich voice delivers an inspiring country-tinged rendition of “God Is,” the beloved classic famously sung by the late gospel legend James Cleveland and written by Robert Fryson.

Melvin Crispell, III has continued to garner accolades as a breakout fresh-voiced talent and dynamic live performer since launching his solo career a few years ago, after winning Season 9 of BET’s gospel competition “Sunday Best” in 2019. Captivating audiences with his versatile range in bridging modern and classic gospel, honoring his gospel roots and the influential figures who’ve inspired him, fans can catch Melvin live as he continues to perform in select cities across the country. For information on dates and cities, visit: https://www.melvincrispell.com/. Melvin’s live performance of “He’s Never Failed Me Yet” is also featured on the Black History Honors special, which is airing on the Stellar TV Network. In celebration of Black History Month, the Black History Honors 2024 broadcast is currently running in national syndication throughout the month of February into early March (check local listings).

 

Check out “He’s Never Failed Me Yet” and the “God Is” (Radio Edit), available now.

Melvin Crispell, III – “He’s Never Failed Me Yet”

https://MelvinCrispell.lnk.to/HesNeverFailedMeYetPR

Melvin Crispell, III – “God Is” (Radio Edit)

https://MelvinCrispell.lnk.to/GodIsRadioPR

To connect with Melvin Crispell, III, visit:

Website: https://www.melvincrispell.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@thethirdmelvincrispell

Instagram: @thethirdmelvincrispell

Facebook/Twitter: @MelvinCrispell3

(Music) Calvin Bridges – “No Weapons”

Chicago, IL —  Composer and international artist; Calvin Bridges is one of Gospel music’s living legends.  He is a Stellar Award-winning, and Grammy® nominated artist who has penned numerous hit songs and has traveled the globe, presenting his dynamic music ministry and teaching classic and iconic sacred songs.

Once again, Calvin has gathered the children to sing the Gospel Glory, proclaiming the Good News about Jesus with the profound message and new single “No Weapon.”

“No Weapon” is a celebration of hope and joy, permeating indisputable decrees and powerful images of deliverance and victory!  The single proclaims, “No weapon formed against us shall prosper. Every tongue that rises against us in judgment shall be condemned.” (Isaiah 54:17)

Calvin recorded the single live in Chicago at the historic Malcolm X College Auditorium with an aggregation of USA and European singers who joined to form the International Gospel Music Conference Mass Choir with special guests from Stockholm, Sweden. The recording captured the atmosphere of elation and the skillful artistry of the participating gifted musicians and singers, all crafted, written, and produced by Calvin Bridges.

“No Weapon” is swingin’ with contemporary jazz nuances and pumping with old-school power and swag while riding on a funky music track. With a masterful lead and soulful choir vocals, the song becomes a praise party.

Bridges says, “In a day where automatic assault weapons are used to kill and destroy in record numbers, taking way too many innocent lives, violent crime is rampant in our cities, government, boardrooms, schools, and houses of worship. Words are also weaponized to shame, degrade, and assassinate the moral character and dreams of generations past, present, and future.  No weapon can prosper is a Kingdom statement and battle cry that is especially needed now.”

“No Weapon” is available on all digital music and streaming platforms with spots on Apple Music Sunday Soul Slider PlaylistPandora’s New Gospel Now #7 Playlist, and Tidal’s Premier Gospel and Spread The Gospel  Playlists.  You can watch and share the marvelously innovative official lyric video on Calvin’s YouTube channel.

Calvin is a 2023 Prayze Factor Award winner who, additionally, is nominated for six 2024 Rhythm of Gospel Awards this year. Calvin continues to travel the globe with upcoming 2024 appearances in Nairobi, Kenya, at the Mziki Gospel Music Festival in July, Stockholm, Sweden, and Kehl, Germany, in the fall. Find more of Calvin’s music and tour dates at CalvinBridges.org.

 

5 Bible Verses to Reflect On When You Are Stressed

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CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Feeling stressed is all too common in the modern day. With the constant demands of work life, home life, and social life, we can quickly start feeling stressed. High amounts of stress over time can do much damage to our bodies and mental health. If you have been experiencing stress for a short or long period, you know how much it can wear you down and affect all areas of your life.

Stress also affects our relationship with Jesus. When we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, there can be times when we neglect reading the Bible and going to God in prayer. If you have noticed stress has affected you in this way, as well as it has affected your overall well-being, know that God wants you to come to Him. You can also reflect on Bible passages when you are feeling stressed. Here are five Bible verses to reflect on when you are stressed.

1. Matthew 6:34

One Bible verse to reflect on when you are stressed is Matthew 6:34,

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

This is a Bible verse that always comes to mind when I am feeling overwhelmed with stress. I often get stressed about things that haven’t happened yet. I start stressing about an event or an appointment a week in advance, and then this causes me stress every day leading up to the event.

Maybe you have noticed the same to be true in your life. It is at these times that we need to remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:34. We do not need to worry about tomorrow because today has enough troubles on its own. Just focus on today and take each day as it comes. Try to do this when you are feeling stressed. Don’t only listen to the words of Christ—you need also to apply His teachings to your life.

Focus on today and choose not to worry about the future. We have no control over the future, but God does. This should cause us to feel secure, safe, and peaceful. God is our loving Creator, and He has our future in His hands. Place your focus on today, and don’t stress about things that have not happened yet.

2. Matthew 11:28

A second Bible verse to reflect on when you are feeling stressed is Matthew 11:28,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

The Lord is telling us here that we need to come to Him, and He will give us rest. When we are stressed, we are weary and burdened. This doesn’t make us any less lovable to God. Rather, He sees us and wants us to come to Him with our downtrodden hearts.

The Lord will give us rest when we come to Him. Rest is something we desperately need and want when we are stressed. Go to the Lord with all of your stress, and He will give you rest. He will take up all of our burdens and carry them for us, including all of our stressors. God doesn’t want us to be stressed. He knows how much pain it causes us and the damage it can do to our lives.

All of us can go to God freely. There is no “limited access” when it comes to God. Anybody can go to the Lord and pour out their struggles to Him. The Lord hears every prayer from every soul, and He will give rest to those who ask. Ultimate rest, peace, and hope are found in Christ alone.

3. John 14:27

John 14:27 is a third Bible verse to reflect on when you are stressed. In this Bible verse, Jesus says,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

 

These are beautiful words from the Lord. Jesus tells us that we do not need to let our hearts be troubled, nor do we need to be afraid. In the same way, Jesus tells us that He gives us His peace. It is not the same peace as the world gives. Rather, it is the peace that only comes from God.

Whenever you are feeling stressed, remind yourself of the peace of Jesus. If you are having a hard time accepting Jesus’ peace, go to Him in prayer. Ask Him to help you feel His peace and to have the rest that only comes from Him. You can also ask Him to help your heart not to be troubled and not to be afraid. The Lord will help His words come to life in your life. He wants to give you the peace that only He can give you.

4. 1 Peter 5:7

A fourth Bible verse to reflect on when you are stressed is 1 Peter 5:7,

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

As the Apostle Peter tells us in this verse, we need to cast all of our anxiety on Jesus because He cares for us. This is something that can make us feel safe and comforted. Through this verse, we know that God cares about all of our struggles, including anxiety and whatever is causing us stress. There is nothing in your life that happens that God does not care about.

Rather, God cares about every area of your life. No matter what you are feeling, God wants you to hand it over to Him. You can trust Him with all of your feelings, worries, and concerns. The Lord will give you peace and comfort through your struggles. Whenever you are feeling stressed, go to God in prayer and cast all of your worries, concerns, and stressors onto the Lord. He will carry this burden for you and give you the rest you need.

5. Exodus 14:14

A fifth Bible verse to reflect on when you are stressed is Exodus 14:14. This passage from the Old Testament says,

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

While this Bible verse is directly referring to Moses’s speech to the Israelites, we can also apply it to our own lives. God will fight our battles for us—all we need to do is to be still. This demonstrates our trust in the Lord. It can be easier just to take matters into our own hands, but it is more beneficial to wait on the Lord.

The Lord will fight for us. There is no reason to be afraid. Stress can make us feel hopeless as well as it can make us go into a hyper-focused mode. Instead of trying to fight on our own or losing our way to hopelessness, we need to allow God to fight for us. God is our beloved Creator, and He will lead us to victory. Whatever struggle you are facing today, all you need to do is to trust God and be still.

Stress is hard to overcome, but the Lord will be standing beside us through every stressful situation. Go to God with all of these feelings and stressors. The Lord wants you to come to Him, and He will give you comfort. Don’t fight this battle alone. If you let God, He will fight for you.

(EP) Chioma Jesus – “Holy Ghost”

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Sensational Gospel music powerhouse; Amaka Okwuoha popular as Chioma Jesus, unveils a new EP project tagged, “Holy Ghost,” produced by Chux XP, Skers Beats, and Doron.

The six(6)-track project features collaborative efforts from gospel acts like Mercy Chinwo and Pastor Blessed Uzochika.

Chioma Jesus is the founder of Chioma Jesus Praise Ministries Int’l and the Convener of the “Ancient Worship 2024,” Concert.

Tracklist

 

DOWNLOAD EP

 

(Music) Mr M & Revelation – “No Limits Praise”

Prolific Nigerian Gospel music duo/couple; Mr M & Revelation releases an energetic and prophetic rendition titled “No Limits Praise”.

Speaking on the release Mr M & Revelation shared;

‘Wearing a garment of praise unto Him who is able to do exceedingly much above all we ask or think. ‘No Limit Praise’ will not just get you into a joyous celebration but a prophetic declaration of what is to come.’

Watch video and download mp3 below:

 

STREAM/DOWNLOAD MP3

 

3 Scriptures to Pray for Your Anxious Child

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AUTHOR

Feeling worried or anxious is a normal part of the human experience.

Every day, we feel insecure about something—relationships, finances, achievements, due dates, wayward children, politics, you name it. The possibilities are endless. Television and social media don’t help, giving us immediate access to the worst the world has to offer. Even young children, especially those from less-than-ideal environments, but even those with the very best, most stable of situations, can feel anxious about things outside of their control. Some anxiety, stress, or worry is normal. Most of the time it leads us to the One we know is in control—God. His Word gives us all kinds of tools to turn our anxiety into trust, and we should put them into practice often. But sometimes, anxiety goes deeper and needs the foundational truths of God’s Word plus help from a trusted professional. There’s no shame in this. As someone whose educational background is in counseling, I support getting the help our children need as soon as we know they need it.

But I invite you to start the process of getting help by asking for it in prayer.

As my friend Becky Keife says in Praying God’s Word for Your Child’s Anxiety, “When we see our children struggle and we don’t understand what they’re going through or how we can fix it, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, lost, discouraged. The best news is that we don’t have to have all the answers. If you’re weary from watching your child suffer or you’re burdened by the weight of trying to solve their symptoms or discern the right kind of support they need, please lean in and listen to Jesus’s invitation to give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

Prayer is one of the most important parts of Christian parenting today. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most overlooked and underutilized. God has assured us that when we need wisdom, He’ll give it (James 1:5). I suggest praying God’s Word for your children because it’s “living and active…able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) and because it will do exactly what God purposes for it to do in the heart of your child (Isaiah 55:11). Prayer is a partnership between you and the God Who loves your child more than you do. He will use your prayers in the life of your child and in your own heart to give you comfort and direction in times of need.

With that in mind, here are three scriptures to pray for your anxious child:

Proverbs 19:21

“Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the Lord’s decree will prevail.”

Prayer: Father, help my children to take comfort in the knowledge that You are in charge and that You see everything—big and small—happening in their lives. When anxiety threatens to overwhelm them, fill their hearts with faith in the God Who is big enough to know and control all things for their good.

Romans 15:13

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

  1. Prayer: Father, anxiety, and stress can cause a lack of belief and trust in Who You are. Help my children believe You at Your Word and have a foundation of joy and peace. Even when their anxiety goes beyond the norm, may the truths of Your Word ground them and give them hope.

Isaiah 26:3

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.”

Prayer: Lord, there are so many stressful things in this world. It’s hard not to dwell on them or feel anxiety over the unknown. Help my children choose to keep their minds focused on what they know about You and Your Word, trusting in You instead of what they can see.

If you suspect that your child is struggling with anxiety, begin praying right away. Look to God’s Word to show you what to pray, and bring your petitions to the Lord on their behalf night and day. You might not always know what to do, but you can always know what to pray. If you need help learning to pray God’s Word, download your free copy of my how-to guide, How to Pray God’s Word for Your ChildrenAnd don’t forget to pray for yourself. Ask God to give you compassion for what your children are going through, for the strength to follow Him faithfully, and for wisdom for the next step.

5 Ways to Go from Stuck to Thriving in Your Marriage

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SPEAKER/COACH/PODCAST HOST

“Whatever you do, make sure you don’t move.” The medical technician repeated his stern warning for the third time as he adjusted the helmet-like contraption that encircled my head.

I inhaled deeply, thankful for the cloth covering I had asked him to put over my eyes, as he wheeled my supine body into the MRI machine.

I hate tight spaces.

The medical term for this is claustrophobia, and I have a bad case of it. As the machine began doing its thing, a series of loud knocking noises, beeps, and other indescribable sounds echoed in my ears. I took another deep breath, hoping my head didn’t budge on the exhale.

The minutes passed, and I began thinking about my work. I love what I do. I get to help couples who feel stuck in their marriages see a different perspective. Much like how I felt the morning of my MRI, these couples often feel helpless and incapable of moving beyond where they are in their current condition. Perhaps you feel this way now. The distractions of life are whirling all around you, and you’re just trying to breathe through them.

Being Stuck is Temporary 

I was told my MRI would take approximately 40 minutes. I found myself dozing off to sleep and wondered how much longer I’d be in the machine. I started thinking of all I had to do that day . . . clients to meet with, dinner to cook, oh, and an urgent run to Trader Joe’s. I began making a mental list of what I would do first, what sides I needed to buy to go with the dinner I had planned, and so on. Thinking about my next moves helped the time to pass more quickly.

When you feel stuck in your marriage, there is a tendency to think your condition is permanent. Maybe you’ve been here before; the problems creep back in like uninvited house guests. Disappointment settles in because you thought you’d be farther along in your marriage by now. Why can’t you and your spouse seem to make any headway? Perspective is an important tool when diagnosing marriage problems. Are you really stuck, or is this temporary setback setting you up for greater awareness in your relationship?

Some things in our lives remain hidden until the light of God’s word reveals them. Like the high-tech cameras that took images of my brain, I needed to be still to get the full picture. When you find yourself stuck in your marriage, it is helpful to ask what needs to be revealed. What attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors need adjusting? Is there a malignant growth, like unforgiveness or bitterness, hidden in the recesses of your heart? Has the connection between your heart and your spouse’s heart been interrupted, and the life-giving flow of love can’t pass through?

Whatever the cause, it’s important to remember that being stuck is temporary. Too many married couples short-circuit the process of investigation because they have no foresight to understand what the stuck point can teach them. Pain is a terrible reason to end a marriage. If you’re in pain, it simply means that you’re alive. Pain is also an indicator that something is wrong, not that everything is wrong.

You Have a Choice 

I don’t understand why my body reacted the way it did in the days preceding my MRI. I do know it was trying to alert me that something was amiss. I could have chosen to ignore it, or I could have chosen to investigate. Obviously, I chose the latter. When you feel stuck in your marriage, you always have a choice. You are not a victim of your life. Being stuck is a state of mind. When you realize that the “stuck point” is there to teach you something, you begin to discover that these temporary stalemates are working to produce a deeper intimacy in your marriage.

There was a point in my marriage when I never thought my husband and I would overcome the financial mess we were in. We’d take two steps forward and finally pay off a credit card, only to have an unexpected financial need arise with one of our children. We tried to save an extra fifty dollars that month only to learn we had accidentally overdrawn our checking account. It was like a yo-yo of disappointment and despair. Would we succumb to living paycheck to paycheck, or would we put some new habits in place to give us a little breathing room the next month?

Over time, we learned how to manage our finances properly. We weren’t stuck; we were starting over. Too few married couples understand the beauty of starting over. Things don’t turn out the way we planned, and we’re, instead, tempted to throw the whole thing away. But why not just start over? Again and again, you can begin anew.

We are encouraged, through God’s words to the prophet Isaiah, to change our perspective on what God is doing now.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV

The past is the past. You can’t go back and change that. But you can begin anew again. Allow God to show you the way. And if you’re having a hard time finding the way, He promises to make a way in your wilderness.

Strategies for Reconnecting 

  1. Begin with the end in mind. I would never have allowed myself to be shoved into a tiny tube for nearly an hour had I not believed that what my doctors found through the test would benefit me in the long run. Likewise, when you realize that doing the work of discovering what’s hiding behind the seemingly obvious problems in your marriage is worth the discomfort, you’ll surrender to the process.
  2. Keep calm. We learned in middle school that humans “fight, flight, or freeze when they perceive danger.” We do the same in marriage. When problems arise, it’s important to stay calm and not overreact. Your spouse may seem threatening, but they are not the real problem. Just because this season is difficult doesn’t mean it’s damaging. (Listen to: What If Married the Wrong Person?)
  3. Do What You Can, Not What You Can’t. You cannot change your spouse. You’ve tried, and it hasn’t worked. However, you can change yourself. Focus on what you can change about your responses, attitude, and role in the marriage. Where have you fallen short and need to ask for forgiveness? What new patterns can you implement to move forward in your relationship? You’ll worry yourself sick trying to make something happen that is beyond your control. Instead, choose to work on what’s in your power to control.
  4. Trust the Process. We used to sing a song called Trouble Don’t Last Always in the church I grew up inIt’s bad grammar, but it’s good gospel. Trouble is temporary. Trust that your good Father knows what he is doing. God often uses the strife in our marriage to teach us to rely on Him in every circumstance. Too often, we can make an idol out of our spouse, so God has to allow us to see them in the correct light. If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it. Trust that his plans for you are always good (Jeremiah 29:11).
  5. Get Support. We were created for community. No marriage can make it alone. Look at the word community. Its root word is unity. You can only have real unity in your marriage when you are connected to a community. Church matters. Mentors matter. Friendships matter. Talking to someone about your marriage problems can seem frightening. Vulnerability is a must-have characteristic of a healthy marriage. There are a plethora of resources that you can consume on your own, but their impact is magnified when you discuss and practice what you’re learning in community with others. Professionals, like marriage coaches or counselors, can help you and your spouse gain a different perspective of where you are in your relationship and help you create a plan to get you moving forward.

I’m happy to share that the results of my MRI were encouraging. I made it out alive and will continue to thrive in my health and life. You, too, will make it out of this “stuck place” in your marriage if you keep your eyes on what matters, surrender to the Lord’s guidance, and trust him to make all things new.

(Today In Church History) Robert T. Ketcham Converted

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Robert Ketcham was a stubborn boy. Although he had loving, godly parents, he refused to yield to Christ. He deliberately broke the rules of his home. One way he did that was to read the trashy novels his father said he could not bring into the house. At sixteen, tired of their efforts to discipline him, he walked out of his Pennsylvania home, telling his parents he would not be back.

His father called after him, “Son, if you ever bump up against a row of stumps you can’t pull, just call on Dad.” Those words infuriated Robert. He could handle what was out there!

With broken hearts, his step-mother and father prayed for him. Robert smoked, hung out at pool halls, fooled around and got into trouble.

It was four years before Robert recognized his need for a savior. On this day, February 16, 1910, he listened as Harry S. Tillis preached in the Galeton Baptist Church. He asked Jesus to become his savior that day. But had he really meant it? For a year, there was little improvement in his behavior. He clung to his old sins.

W. W. Rugh led a one-week Bible conference at the church. Robert planned on making himself scarce. However, Rugh’s Sunday presentation was so interesting that he came back to hear more. As Rugh’s theme developed through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening, Robert grew uneasy. With little or no knowledge of scripture, he thought Rugh was blaspheming when he taught that God the Father loved each Christian just as much as he had loved Jesus.

He waited for one of the church leaders–his own dad even–to challenge Rugh. When none did, Robert rose to his feet. “Mr. Rugh, I don’t believe that!” Kindly, Rugh began to question the boy. Would he believe it if the Bible said it? Yes, Robert would. Knowing that Robert had no Bible, Rugh asked him to read John 17:23 which he said proved it. Robert didn’t know where to find the verse when Rugh loaned him his Bible.

So Rugh helped him. In that verse, Robert read that God loved each of his children just as much as Christ. When the impact of those words sank home, the young man collapsed onto his seat and sobbed. He told God that God could have his whole life. Others sobbed, too, recognizing a truth they had neglected.

Robert committed himself to complete obedience to God. Two years later, still untrained, he accepted a position as a pastor of a tiny church. Revival soon broke out. Many people became Christians.

Eventually, Robert’s determination to follow God led him to challenge modernism in the Northern Baptist denomination. When crucial issues of faith could not be resolved, he became a leader in forming the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. For years he edited its journal, the Baptist Bulletin. Once asked to sum up his advice for pastors he said, “Preach Christ, give the whole counsel of God, expose error, obey God, be available to your people.” He died in 1978, obedient to the end.

Bibliography:

  1. Fisk, Samuel. Forty Fascinating Conversion Stories. Grand Rapids, Mi: Kregel, 1993.
  2. Murdoch, J. Murray. Portrait of Obedience; The biography of Robert T. Ketcham. Schamburg, Illinois: Regular Baptist Press, 1981.
  3. ———————– “Robert Ketcham: Obedient Servant.” Fundamentalist Journal. (January 1983) 46 – 51.

5 Unique Habits and Hang-ups to Give Up for Lent

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AWARD-WINNING CHRISTIAN NOVELIST AND JOURNALIST

Perhaps you’ve heard of Lent and thought it was simply an exercise in self-denial, a time when we’re supposed to give up something we really love, like chocolate, to embrace the suffering Jesus experienced on the cross.

But Lent is about far more than self-denial.

Lent is a sacred Christian observance, the six-week reflection and repentance that occurs leading up to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday—which this year falls on Feb. 14, 2024—and ends on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. It is meant to commemorate the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and enduring temptation in the desert. Sundays in Lent are not included in the 40 days, as they are considered mini-Easters. During Lent, the idea is that we should reflect on Christ’s time in the wilderness as he prepared to begin his ministry.

Christians are supposed to focus on their relationship with God during Lent, growing as disciples and extending themselves. This might mean giving up something that might be a stumbling block for us or perhaps adopting a new practice, thereby giving ourselves to others.

When it comes to giving up something for Lent, there are common things people tend to give up, such as coffee, alcohol, or sleeping in.

But many people spend a great deal of time intentionally praying about things the Lord wants us to do for Lent. Often, these are unique things that really embrace the heart of Lent and what it means to prepare our hearts for repentance and deeper service.

Let’s look at five unique things to give up for Lent.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImagesNastco

Bible on a dinner plate

1. Eliminate Toxins from Your Body during Lent

Our bodies are beautiful creations, and each of us was designed by God and created in his image (Genesis 1:27). It’s important to honor our bodies in remembrance and respect of this truth. As we’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20,

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (NIV).

When we take care of our bodies, we also care for our minds and ensure we are healthy and capable of doing the Lord’s work. While God can and does use anyone for his purposes, even though with dire illness and vast disability, we should strive to care for the special home he created that houses our souls while we live during our time on earth.

We know toxins are bad for us—polluted water can sicken or kill us. Tainted food can do the same. So can junk food. Studies have shown that people who consume diets that are not nutritionally sound often suffer from brain fog and other debilitating conditions. They are also more prone to diseases, including some kinds of cancer, that can interfere with our work for the Lord.

We also use chemicals in products that can impact our health, such as lotions or soaps. The toxins can be absorbed into our skin and lead to sensitivities and even health conditions in some people.

One interesting Lenten exercise is to eliminate toxins from our bodies as much as possible. Instead of soda, drink water or freshly squeezed juices. Instead of white sugar, sweeten food naturally with fruit or honey. Phthalates are often found in nail polish, so if you polish your nails, look for phthalate-free polish. Consider organic fruits and vegetables that don’t have as much harmful pesticide residue. Bisphenols, such as Bisphenol-A or BPA, are found in plastic, and making a simple change to microwave your food in glass instead of plastic can help reduce your exposure to this toxin.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Liudmila Chernetska

Woman rolling her eyes

2. Stop Complaining and Commiserating for Lent

Complaining reveals a lack of trust, faith, and hope in God. Instead of focusing on the good, a complainer expresses dismay, ingratitude, and discontentment with life and all God has provided. It goes against the joy we’re supposed to cultivate in the Holy Spirit. In Philippians 2:14-15, the apostle Paul urges,

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

While expressing our feelings is not harmful and can be healthy, complaining and dwelling on the negative puts us in a bad mood and diminishes our appreciation for God’s blessings. Studies also show it can hurt our health. It can impact the people around us, making them feel negative also.

When something upsetting or difficult occurs, it’s OK to acknowledge this quickly—but for Lent, experiment with stopping the cycle right there. Instead, train your brain to think about what might be good about this situation or time or remind yourself of other blessings you have despite this difficulty.

By reframing our perspective and focusing on the positive and good, we’re centering ourselves in the Lord and gratitude and thanksgiving for all he does provide. Even in the struggles, we can do what the apostle James advises: to “count it all joy” when we experience trials of any kind (James 1:2 ESV).

In his letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul urges the new believers to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).

When we focus on thanksgiving and gratitude, we can better cultivate the fruits of the Holy Spirit in us and, therefore, do God’s will better (Galatians 5:22-23). When we do God’s will better, we can draw more people into God’s kingdom and increase his impact.

Photo Credit: ©Pixabay/Robin Higgins 

man looking bored while texting

3. Give up Laziness for Lent

We’re busy people. Most of us work all day. Then we work some more when that work is done. Maybe we work out at the gym, or we work to clean and care for our homes or put food on the table for the people we love.

By the time all that work is done, we might be inclined to plop down on the couch and binge-watch television all night or spend our weekends lazing around doing as little as possible.

But the Bible warns against laziness, saying a lazy person hates work. This leads to downfall, we’re told. Proverbs 18:9 warns, “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys,” while Proverbs 13:4 says,

“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

While we cannot earn grace through our work—it is a gift from God—we know God wants us to work hard. As the apostle Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Note that laziness is not the same as rest. Rest is both good and godly. God urges his people to keep a sabbath day, a day of rest, every week to honor him and for self-care reasons. As the Lord said in Exodus 20:9-10, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.”

Still, a day of rest aside, consider what you can do to eliminate laziness during Lent. If you have free time, instead of mindlessly scrolling on social media, can you have an encouraging conversation with a coworker? Can you mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn or take out their trash cans?

Photo Credit:GettyImages/Motortion 

asian woman pointing to self conceit

4. Set Yourself Aside for the Lenten Season

This sounds impossible, of course—how can we give up ourselves for Lent? And honestly, as much as we try, we probably cannot ever achieve this one. But the truth is that most of us value ourselves and our own selfish interests, needs, worries, and concerns far more than anything else in this world, God included. In our heart of hearts, we put ourselves above the Lord, leaning to our own understanding instead of God’s. Today’s culture often idolizes the self, not God. But Jesus, when asked what was the greatest commandment, said,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40

God first, and then others “as yourself.” It’s a lot tougher than we can imagine to do this consistently day after day.

I’ve seen a T-shirt that lists what we should prioritize, and I love its simplicity:

“Daily priorities,” it reads. “One, God. Two, others. Three, self. In that order.”

Most of us are so accustomed to putting ourselves and our families first that we leave the leftovers for God and other people in the world.

That’s why putting yourself last in priority—or at least trying to—can be a beneficial Lenten practice.

When we put God first, our head and our heart align with the Lord. We want what he wants, and everything else falls into place—perspective shifts.

It makes it easier to look around us and see other people in the world, our “neighbors.” Note that “neighbor” doesn’t mean the people who live near our home. This is anyone in our community. Indeed, since the internet has made the world an increasingly small place, it can apply to anyone we encounter in the world. This includes believers and unbelievers—or, as I like to call them, “not-yet believers.”

Adopting a mindset to care for others before ourselves helps increase our capacity for love, empathy, and generosity. This can look as simple as when we grow hungry and pull out a sandwich for lunch. We might glance around to see who is in our vicinity. Perhaps we might offer half of that sandwich to someone sitting nearby.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Khosrork

5. Give up...Giving Things up This Lent

5. Give up…Giving Things up This Lent

That’s right.. instead of giving something up, consider adding something to your life. While sacrifice can build character and help us live better, healthier, holier, and more disciplined, adopting a new and more Christ-like practice is often a far better thing to do during Lent. For instance, you might adopt a practice such as prayer journaling for Lent or giving a ministry an extra dollar a day. If you have not been a disciplined Bible reader, you might consider reading a chapter daily during Lent. (Incidentally, I did this myself during Lent about a decade ago and am a daily Bible reader today because of it.)

Other ideas include donating one item from your home every day to charity (this is also a great way to declutter an overstuffed house), making a meal for someone daily, doing a Bible study or daily devotional exercise, volunteering daily or prayer-walking, where you take a walk in silence while appreciating the Lord and his creation (also a great way to squeeze in more exercise).

These practices can continue after Lent and become a godly habit that helps you draw closer to the Lord and become more like Jesus. Colossians 3:23 urges,

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

It’s important, especially in a Lenten practice, to fully embrace the new activity or habit you are taking on. If it’s a commitment to prayer journaling, don’t just get it done so you can check it off your to-do list. Honoring Lent isn’t a way to earn God’s favor or prove our worth to others. Do it with all your heart, diving into the exercise so that you can grow and learn.

There are many other ideas of unique things to give up for Lent, and these are just a few. Pray and see what God is calling you to embrace this year.