3 Steps to Kicking a Habit

By Jesse Becker

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Samson’s first recorded action in Judges 14 was seeing and desiring to marry a woman in Timnah among the Philistines. In his parents futile protest they asked Samson, “Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” (emphasis mine)

The word “never” jumped out to me as I read this. It seems from that word that Samson’s desire for companionship with people outside his own countrymen was not something new. It must have been a reoccurring issue. For whatever reason, Samson wasn’t attracted to the ladies among his own people. If we allow ourselves to speculate, Samson may not have found them exciting or a challenge, or perhaps he simply wanted to rebel against his parents and God. At any rate, we can be sure that this was not the first Philistine girl he desired, nor would it be his last. Samson apparently had a habitual attraction for the forbidden.

We all struggle with sins of habit—those things we know are wrong, but over which we never get lasting victory. What are the things in your life that you habitually do or think or say that are against God’s will? Are there harmful attitudes that you harbor? Do you have the same reaction to certain situations?

Chances are that you have dealt with these sins before. We know we are to confess and forsake and ask God for help. But many times these sins find their way back into our lives. After identifying and confessing a sin, there are some practical things we can do to beat them.

  1. Identify the trigger that usually occurs right before you give in. Once you know what triggers that attitude, that sharp tongue, or that wrong act, then you can get one step ahead of it. Make that trigger your cue to pray for help, recite a verse, or take another action. Along with identifying the trigger, try to avoid it if at all possible.
  2. Replace your habit with something good. Once that trigger occurs, you must already have another action, thought, or reaction ready to use in place of the bad one. This will take forethought and practice. Write down your trigger and your best response.
  3. Don’t give up on yourself. As with practicing anything, nothing is perfect the first time or stays perfect. But as a wise preacher once said, “Stick and stay, and make it pay.” We are all growing in certain areas of life. Give yourself grace and time to get better at defeating your habit.

God wants us to have victory. We must believe this and remind ourselves of this, then put a plan into action to kick that habit.

Two Are Better Than One

By Pastor Dorrell

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Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

As travelers through life, God never intended that we make our journey alone. There are simply too many obstacles and challenges to navigate without the help and assistance of others. Plus, life is simply too grand not to have someone to share the joy and wonder of it all with!

The Blessing of God’s Presence

By John Mardirosian

God's Presence

Have you had a question and you didn’t know where to turn for answers? Have you ever been lost, and experienced the sinking feeling in your gut that goes with it? Have you ever been unsafe, felt vulnerable, and didn’t know where to find protection?

God doesn’t want his children to feel helpless, without answers to life’s biggest questions; He doesn’t want them to feel lost, without direction, and He doesn’t want them to feel vulnerable and unprotected. He tells us in Psalms 16:11 “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” The Lord will provide us with security, direction, and protection. We see this clearly with the children of Israel as they set out to cross the desert to the Promised Land. In Numbers 9:15-23 we see God enacting a plan to communicate with his people as they made this long journey.

1. God’s presence as a source of security.

God chose to reveal himself to his children with a cloud above the tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire above the tabernacle at night. This served as a constant visible reminder that He was with them throughout their journey. I remember as a kid how comforting it was for me to know that my dad was home from work, or that he was in the room next door when I went to bed at night. God was providing his children with this same sense of security. For us as Christians today, He has given us his Holy Spirit to indwell each believer, and our understanding of this gift should give us an overwhelming sense of security.

2. God’s presence as a source of direction.

God clearly and repeatedly tells his people in these verses that they are to rely daily on him for direction and leadership. Psalms 107:7 says, “And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.” We see that God was willing to provide direction to his people if they were willing to follow. God gives each of us daily direction through his word, through prayer, and through fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We need to take time in the course of the day to receive that daily direction.

3. God’s presence as a source of protection

In the next chapter of Scripture, Numbers 10:9 God assures his people of his continued protection. For each of us that dwell in the presence of God, we are assured of his protection. If we choose to live apart from his presence we are open to the attack of Satan, the temptations of this world, and the weakness of our own flesh.

It is important for each of us to take advantage of the security, direction, protection that is granted to us if we walk daily in God’s presence.

Can Music Be Right or Wrong?

By Jesse Becker

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I was recently asked about the morality of music. In other words, is there good music and is there bad music? This question has been asked a lot and answered in many different ways. This short discussion is not going to address the lyrics, but just the music underneath.

For anything to have a position on a morality scale there must be a standard by which to measure. We know that God’s Word is the only valid ruler we can use with confidence. It is the only place where we can find truths and principles that remain intact through all societies, trends, and fads. They can be applied and they can guide no matter which direction the shifting winds blow. These principles remarkably work in many areas of our lives as well.

I use two primary principles to guide the music I listen to personally and use for corporate worship.

1. The battle of the flesh and spirit

Throughout the bible we see a battle between our flesh and our spirit. When we are saved we become God’s possession, both body and spirit. To please God we must submit to the Holy Spirit and deny the flesh daily. Those that are not saved can only submit to the flesh because, as the Bible puts it, their spirit is dead.

The world, who can only submit to the flesh, has an overriding sound to the music they create and consume. It contains the sounds that feed and bring attention to the flesh. In a nutshell, it is heavy with rhythm. Across all the genres the overriding characteristic is lots and lots of rhythm. Rhythm is scientifically shown to bypass the thinking mind and speak directly to the body.

So, does that mean all rhythm is bad? Let’s look a second principle to help us figure that out.

2. Balance or excess

Ephesians 5:18 tells us of this principle in reference to not being drunk with wine wherein is excess. When someone has excess in their life there is an imbalance, and imbalance can cause all sorts of problems. The apparent excess of rhythm in the world’s music is out of balance with melody and harmony. And knowing that rhythm speaks to the flesh, we can see where this imbalance leads. Another area of imbalance in popular music is the repetition of harmony. A typical song with this imbalance uses about 4 chords over and over and over again. It becomes hypnotic and the mind ceases to be challenged to think.

Verse 17 of Ephesians 5 tells us to not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is. And then verse 19 talks about making music to the Lord! If you desire to strengthen your walk with God you can apply these principles to determine what music is good for you. Music that feeds the heart and spirit and the flesh in reasonable proportions is a good place to start. We strive to keep the music in our church services balanced so that they can be lively, yet appropriately reverent and engaging.

Character Matters

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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In a recent conversation with someone I was reminded of a principle that we would all do well to remember.  We were talking about some of today’s great college athletes who never fulfilled their potential.  Though exceptionally talented; they failed to succeed in both sport and life.  The reason was because “their talent took them to a place where their character could not sustain them”.  Think about that principle for a moment; talent is not enough.  Undergirding all we do is our character and if it is deficient in time it will be exposed and we will come tumbling down.  Every year we hear about athletic stars who get themselves into trouble and lose a scholarship or millions of dollars in the pro’s because of poor character.  We too can lose much when placed in positions of leadership or responsibility and then because of undeveloped character we break a trust, or talk poorly of someone, or fail to do right.  The place we held could not be sustained because we lacked what was most important…character.  Be careful not to let your talents, abilities, intelligence, or even relationships take you where your character cannot sustain you.  The friendship we have, the talents God gives, and the abilities we develop are all wonderful gifts, but all must be supported by character.   It matters!

How to Develop an Effective Summer Routine

By Daniel Fleet

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Determine your priorities. What do you care about? How can you develop in those areas? Have goals for personal health and productivity. Think about ways to spend time with family.

Develop your schedule. After determining what is important, work those goals into your schedule. If it’s not scheduled, it probably won’t get done. Break down your areas of responsibility and make sure there is balance.

Discipline your schedule. The top priority is your relationship with Jesus. Next, aggressively tackle your tasks for the day. Have a planning system if it helps to stay on task, but all planning systems boil down to one simple principle: writing some things down, and getting them done.

Deal with interruptions. After carefully determining your priorities and developing your schedule, God will interrupt your plans. This is okay. God will bring up needs which we were not aware of. Ask Him for wisdom on how to best handle the situation and step back into your schedule.

Es Tiempo de Hablar

By Angel Meléndez

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“Y les mando que no le dijesen a nadie; pero cuanto más les mandaba, tanto mas y mas lo divulgaban” (Marcos 7:36)

Vivimos en tiempos de silencio. En los matrimonios nadie quiere ser el primero en hablar para solucionar los problemas, Sabemos que algo anda mal con nuestros hijos pero simplemente preferimos quedarnos callados y no intervenir, Como cristianos ya no queremos hablar a otros sobre Jesús por miedo a ofender o a incomodar.

Gifts Grandparents Can Give

By Jim Ramsey

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How did it happen so fast? It seems like yesterday our three daughters were still at home and our lives were caught up in the daily project of seeking to steer them in the right direction in life. We now have twelve grandchildren and despite the normal challenges that come with the territory, we love being grandparents. What a privilege and what a responsibility as well! They have been entrusted to us and, as grandparents, we can help them by giving them the following gifts: