6 Tips for Recognizing Miracles

Many people go through life searching for miracles, hoping to see the existence of such a cool gift from God. Some are able to see miracles left and right, every day recognizing and witnessing the awesome events. Others can’t recognize a single miracle and wonder if miracles even exist because they seem so rare. What is the difference between the two groups of people? Why are people living lives filled with miracles and others not witnessing a single one, or only witnessing them few and far between? The truth of the matter is miracles are happening all the time, all around us in the world. So, how can they be recognized? Here are 6 tips for recognizing miracles:

1. Be Thankful

God loves to be thanked and praised. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that we should be thankful in all circumstances. It doesn’t say to be thankful in only the circumstances that appear good to us, but in ALL. A friend once told me about two sisters who were in a German concentration camp during World War 2. Their cell was full of lice and they chose to thank God for the lice because, well, God says to be thankful in all circumstances. Later they discovered that because of the lice the soldiers passed by their cell each day, not wanting to catch it themselves. The sisters were then able to minister to the others around them and were left uninjured.

Even though there are situations in life that look bleak and unwelcome, people still need to be thankful to God regarding them. We never know how God plans to use the situation for a great and miraculous strategy that is for good. We may never truly understand the reason behind situations, or later God may revealed the reasons- but, the perspective of thanksgiving sure does help put situations into a light that allows the face of miracles to show up better. When God is praised and thanked it seems He works in greater and mightier ways.

2. Have An Open Mind

When the concept of God and everything He can do gets put into a box then the world seems defined to the point that there aren’t any room for miracles. Hope for what can be done in life has set parameters and when parameters are set, there is not room for the impossible to happen; no room for miracles to occur. Yet, when people have an open mind in life and take rules and definitions off of what God can do, then the amount of hope for miracles is increased. The impossible starts to become possible. I love where Jesus says in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Having an open mind and believing that indeed God can do anything will help more to recognize miraculous events.

3. De-clutter and Focus

Modern day American culture is typically one that is fast paced. There is so much to do with so little time it seems. Many are running from task to task in a race against time, and if they aren’t continuously trying to check off the items on their to-do list then they are “unwinding” on video games or social media. Very rarely do people take time to slow down and “smell the roses” per say.

Could it be, that people are missing seeing miracles because they are always thinking about their work or have their eyes glued to screens? Unless a person declutters their obligations in life and designates time to just be with God and hear Him, then a lot of what God is doing and trying to communicate is going to be missed out on. Think about it – have you ever tried to hold a conversation with someone whose eyes are glued to their I-Pad or who is going frantically from task to task? You probably feel like that person is not listening 100% to you or even noticing you, right? It’s because they probably aren’t. How then do you think someone who communicates in the same fashion will be able to notice and listen to God?

Do you want to see miracles? If so you have got to first slowdown in life and then focus. Eliminate the to-do lists that clutter your life and take away from your time with God. Reduce your screen time or anything else that is stealing your attention from being with God. There is nothing wrong with a little quiet in your life so that good conversing skills with God can happen. Hearing and communicating clearly with God allows Him to point out the miracles in life you.

4. Have an Optimistic Outlook

What kind of glasses we look through regarding at life makes a big difference on if we can see miracles or not. Usually a person who wakes up in the morning and puts on cloudy and dark glasses and grumps around always seeing life as a reason to complain will have a hard time seeing the good things in life that happen. That person will always point out the negative regarding situations, even if it is a huge miracle. For example, if there were a miracle of a person surviving a massive automobile accident, instead of seeing it as a miracle the person lived, comments like this come out of the person’s mouth: “Oh man, that car is totaled. Now the auto insurance is going to go up. Nice, I can’t believe we have to pay our deductible now. We don’t have money for that. What a mess.”

However, if a person wakes up in the morning and puts on nice clear glasses and is ready to see the life in a positive, optimistic outlook then the good things will be surely noticeable. This person will be able to recognize miracles more easily because the perspective of life he or she is looking at is that of optimism. Take the same automobile accident as mentioned above. An optimistic outlook will be more apt to see the miracle associated with it and comments coming out of the person’s mouth will be something or like this: “Wow! That is SO awesome that the person survived such a crash! I can’t believe that the ambulance crew arrived so quickly, it is a miracle that they came as fast as they did! Oh, thankfully there is automotive insurance so that the car can get all fixed and drivable again!”

Do you see the difference? How we look at life, the perspective that we take can have SUCH a huge difference on if we can recognize the miracles or not. I sure hope that I can choose to put on optimistic glasses in the morning instead of pessimistic glasses.

5. Have Faith

When people have faith, they are trusting that God is working things out for the good, whether they understand God’s reasons or not. Handing over control to God and accepting that He will coordinate events in the world that are needed helps people to wrap their minds around miracles easier. When miraculous events happen, many times they cannot be explained – there is a substantial amount of wonder associated with the events. Often times when people cannot understand things they like to just dismiss them in their minds. Such events can be just written off and not recognized as miracles. However, if faith is exercised, it is easier to accept events as miracles whether they can be understood or not.

6. Rule Out Coincidences

A lot of people will try to reason that there are no miracles in life, just coincidences. Everything that seems like an amazing and unexpected event is given an explanation no matter how accurate or correct the explanation is. The truth of it is that there are indeed coincidences in life – as there are miracles as well. So, how can the two be distinguished?

The main way that an event can be distinguished between a coincidence and a miracle is by looking at the odds. Here is an example: Say you have not seen a certain friend for a decade. You have no way of contacting her but start praying and hoping that somehow your paths will cross again in life. You make an unexpected trip to another state and end up having to stop at a library to print a document. As you make your way to the printer you notice that your friend you have been praying to see again just so happens to walk in the front door of the library. This would be recognized as a miraculous event. The odds of meeting her again were very slim, and the event happened in an unexpected matter.

Let’s now talk about a coincidental event: You have a friend who lives in the same town and you know she goes now and then to the local library. Many times you go to the library as well – some days on the same day as you attend the same function. Unfortunately, you have not been able to attend your normal functions as you have been sick and you end up missing your friend. You decide to drive one day to drop off your books in the drop box outside of the library after hours and you look up and see your friend in the rear view mirror, also dropping off books. This would be considered a coincidence. The odds of seeing your friend at a place you both normal go to was pretty good.

Conclusion

Sometimes we are oblivious to God’s gifts even when they occur right in front of our eyes. These miracles we may indeed miss unless we are thankful, open-minded, and focused. Optimism, faith in God’s mightiness, and the ability to rule out coincidences will also help us to be able to recognize miracles more and more. Perspective is everything in life – when one has the right perspective more miracles are going to be recognized to that person.

Lights UP North writes from deep inside the great Northern Woods in hopes of bringing inspiration, encouragement, and hope to others. Ministering to those who are suffering from eczema and allergies is another strong passion for Lights UP North.

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The One Factor That is Common in Every Miracle

The little boy lay in bed in the middle of the night coughing a barking and wheezing cough. His Mama and sister just finished praying with him that he would be healed of his illness. Through the cough the young boy asked, “We just prayed Mom, but…. I am not so sure that God will heal me.” “God WILL heal you, James,” said his Mom, “You know why? Because the Bible says that if you have the littlest amount of faith, if you believe and trust God even the smallest bit, that any mountain will move. James, your cough is the mountain and I am trusting God will take your cough away.” A couple days later the little boy was breathing well, jumping and playing next to his siblings as if he was never sick.

The Common Factor is Faith

Matthew 17:20 (NIV) discloses that secret ingredient, that factor that is common in every miracle: faith. In the verse Jesus, the master miracle worker says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” We must remember that the mustard seed is one of the teeny, tinniest seeds available on Earth, ranging about 1 to 2 millimeters in size. This is in similar resemblance to a small speck of sand. How amazing is it that something this small can move something that appears to be as big and as immovable in our life as a mountain?

Jesus says that we need faith for mountains to move, but what exactly is faith? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines faith as, “belief and trust in and loyalty to God.” Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is confidence in what we hope fore and assurance about what we do not see. When I read both of these definitions I feel that they are very similar. Both definitions have a hope for something and a trust (confidence) that what we hope for and put into God’s hands He will indeed take care of. Faith is having a small wish and placing that hope, that wish, upon God. Faith is NOT hoping for something and then trying with all of our human might or resources to get that thing to happen. God can and may use you to accomplish a miracle, but only if you allow Him to have the reigns in guiding you and walking you through steps He wants you to do. The bottom line is that 100% trust, 100% confidence must be placed on God for a hope to be fulfilled; that is faith.

Analyzing Eyesight

Miracles are seen in the Bible through many workings and healings Jesus performed. One of my favorite miracles is when Jesus healed the blind man as written in John Chapter 9. The reason why this is my favorite is because I feel it is imagery of the concept of faith. Jesus had put mud over the blind man’s eyes and when the man washed the mud off his eyes it was then when he could see. I don’t doubt one bit that Jesus literally put mud on the man’s eyes, but try to think also about this concept figuratively. How often do we want something to happen so badly that we lose sight of what really needs to happen – that we stop placing our trust 100% on God?

Two of my children suffered from what I call, “modern-day leprosy” as infants. Their skin was raw, red, scaly, rashy, and to one point one of the children completely lost the skin off of his face. Doctors were baffled and had no answers or advice for us. Although I hoped for and prayed for healing in them, it seemed like every time I looked at their skin I took matters into my own hands. I put this lotion and that cream on them, tried numerous healing strategies and none of them worked. As a mom I felt helpless if I wasn’t actively trying to “fix” the skin condition, but in the meantime these attempts may have been making the skin worse.

At one point my husband made a comment to me when I was grieving how my precious boys looked. He said, “Do I need to put mud over your eyes?” That comment stopped me dead in my tracks. He was right – I was living based off of my own faulty human sight, not by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we should live by faith and not by sight. Once I stepped back and have the entire situation to God that is when my boys’ skin miraculously healed. After years of pure torture due to this “modern day leprosy” I started hearing God’s soft whispers to me as to what needed to happen for the skin to heal. By obeying God’s voice miraculously the children’s skin is now beautiful. When the trust was put 100% on God, when faith occurred, the miracle was seen.

Conclusion

When it is human nature to always be in control of what happens in our life, when things are taken solely into our human hands miracles won’t be seen. One cannot solely hope without trust or trust without hope for a miracle to occur. When desires are shared with God and then situations are handed over and surrendered to God, that is when faith happens and when miracles occur. Communicating to God and then surrendering to His plan may be hard. His plan may include using you as an instrument to execute a miracle to happen, or His plan may include another method. However, if we hope and surrender that hope over to whatever God sees as the best method to accomplish that prayer a miracle will be seen.

Lights UP North writes from deep inside the great Northern Woods in hopes of bringing inspiration, encouragement, and hope to others. Ministering to those who are suffering from eczema and allergies is another strong passion for Lights UP North.

Lights UP North’s official webpage.

Lights UP North on Facebook.

 

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When God Speaks, Part 3

By Andrey Karmanskiy

[Editor’s note: This is Part 3 and the final installment in a 3 part series of When God Speaks by Andrey Karmanskiy, an emerging author. These are Andrey’s words.]

Read When God Speaks Part 1       Read When God Speaks Part 2

Part 3. Wonderful answer

Once my parents decide to take a trip to the grandmother. On the half way there an unforeseen occurrence happens making impossible to continue our road trip. But God turns the hopeless situation into the glorious one, sending His timely answer…

I did like the trips to my grandmother. We usually travelled there by car being on the move quite a long time. The trips were always very interesting with new places and sights passing by outside the car windows. I had always impatiently expected those trips every time being exhilarated about my parents’ decision to take the road. The travels were highly enjoyable and light-hearted bringing so many vivid impressions. Sometimes some minor car breakdowns might have happened upon the road. Then my father’s skills as a mechanic were just at the right time. Usually he was able to cope with all unexpected defects and engine troubles. But there had been some hardships suddenly arisen upon the road that amazed us with the wondrous way to be solved.

Once when we were half way to the grandmother there had occurred an unforeseen circumstance on the highway that later made me realize the vital importance of the presence of the Supreme Reason, giving timely answers and support. I began to realize how wonderful the life might be guided by God. Some people don’t see this presence or even don’t believe it regarding events and occurrences as sheer luck, they don’t wish to listen to the voice speaking to them. That was the usual summer day on the way to the grandmother. We were driving down the road and it seemed there was nothing threatening nor a sense of acute foreboding in the habitual flow of traffic around. The car passing before us was moving steadily onward. We followed it and everything went smoothly. The smooth running and swinging of our car, the swish of the tires lulled us into a light doze. My father was always all attention. Then suddenly some stones which were here and there scattered all over the road loosed off the rear wheels of the car going ahead and rushed far back towards our car. One stone dashed against the windscreen of our car with the hard dull blow and immediately it turned to a thick web of cracks. As we pulled over the windscreen shattered and shards of broken glass spilt on the floor and front seats. Luckily none of the shards injured us or our eyes and we were safe and sound. But the serious difficulty arose before us – it seemed impossible to continue our journey without the windscreen and we really needed the new one. My father had serious worry about what he should do. He could have easily replaced the broken windscreen with the new one. But this idea faded away every time it came upon us as no windscreen might be found on the highway far away from any town. The dark clouds veiling the horizon in the distance only aggravated the gloomy situation. After all it was decided to go on with no windscreen to the nearest car service station. That seemed the only reasonable decision under the circumstances. Sometimes cars fortuitously going by us stopped and offered help but it was of no earthly use to us. I stood on the roadside with the sad look following cars disappearing from view far beyond the horizon. The long thread of the road running into the distance amongst the plains and hills beckoned with suspense, picturesque sceneries astride.

While we were cleaning up the passenger compartment from the shards of broken glass a lorry moving in the opposite direction pulled over across the road. A man got out of it staring intently at our direction and went across the road towards us. As he came closer we noticed there was a strange intriguing smile on his face. “Don’t you happen to need the windscreen?” the man asked. “I see that yours is broken and this is the problem indeed. But don’t worry about it. I’m just transporting the new sets of windscreens from the manufacturer. Our firm is engaged in spares transportation to car spares stores and service stations.” We all stiffened with astonishment for a moment. My parents couldn’t believe in what that man had said. “God has apparently sent you with your help in the way,” mom said recovering herself from utter amazement.

The man smiled in reply and directed his steps towards his truck to take the new piece of windscreen for us. Soon we were ready to continue the trip with the new windscreen on.

“God has sent you,” I repeated quietly looking after the lorry as it disappeared into the distance beyond the horizon veiled with the grey shroud of heavy clouds. The first rolling thunderclap of the oncoming rainstorm reached us. “God always gives the answer…”

About the Writer

Andrey_KarmanskiyAndrey Karmanskiy is the Ukrainian emerging author describing reality in plain but vivid colors aiming to render the mood and character of a person in various situations. Andrey was born on June 7, 1976 in Zelenodolsk, Ukraine (the former Soviet Union). When he was 7 he went to a secondary school where he studied for 10 years. Andrey finished school in 1993 at the age of 17 in a different country, in independent Ukraine (after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991). After secondary school he went to work as a laborer in a plant.

He entered Kiev National Linguistic University in 2003 (English philology department), after 5 years of study graduated in 2008. Andrey then worked as an English teacher in private school; he was an English private tutor.

Andrey has written two short stories: Ukraine. In the beginning… and When God speaks.

When God speaks is the non-fiction story that truly once happened to the author when he was a child. Personal experiences combined with amazing events and inexplicable signs from above make the story interesting not only for children but for everyone seeking sense in life.

Ukraine. In the beginning… reveals the tough reality of a collapsed country and life on the edge. Every event from school life the author had experienced makes the story quite amazing and interesting for everyone who eager to know what was going on beyond the ‘iron curtain’.

Presently Andrey works on his third book entitled The Midnight Train. The story of a boy who was left by his mother and raised in an orphanage. He has enough strength to overcome hardships and, in the end, finds the way to live on and forgive his mother. You may contact Andrey via email:   andreyfriendua76@gmail.com

What is the Roman Road to Salvation?

Have you heard about the Roman Road to Salvation?  What does it mean?  Here is what is meant from the Scriptures about the Roman Road.

The Roman Road

This Roman Road is one of the most often used methods to share the gospel of Jesus Christ because it reveals the depravity of humanity.  As we see in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” so when people say that they are a good person and believe that their works will allow them to go to heaven and to escape the wrath of God on Judgment Day, this verse shows the impossibility of anyone approaching a Holy God with their own good works knowing that our good works are useless before God (Eph 2:8-9).  The fact is that “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6) so anything “good” we claim to have done will never, ever be enough to make us righteous before God.

The Wages of our Sins

Romans 3:23 should reveal how short we come by God’s standard.  All we have done is earned wages worthy of death as it says in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  If you work at a job, you know what wages are.  We earn wages for our labor and we earn wages for what we have done but the wages of sin is something that we will have to pay for.  Since we can never pay our debts off by human works, all we have earned is eternal death.  That’s why there is a hell but the second part of this verse offers part of the solution because “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” but how can we attain this free gift that God offers in Jesus Christ?  That’s why the gospel is known as the good news.

Professing with the Mouth

Romans 10:9-13 are some of the most hopeful verses in the entire Bible and why these verses are great ones to commit to memory as it says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  What is important to note in these verses is not simply a belief in Christ but confessing it with your mouth. Sometimes this confessing or professing is done at baptism to affirm that the believer understands that God has raised Jesus from the dead.  This is a belief that saves since it is “with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

In the Jewish culture, the heart is equated with the whole person’s belief.  It is known as the seat of intellect.  That is, if they believe with their whole heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and we know that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” we can trust God to save that person by their personal and public profession. It doesn’t make sense to simply profess it inwardly but it should be a public, outward profession of an inward belief.  This idea is not just found in the New Testament.  Paul seems to be quoting Joel 2:32a which says “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Isaiah wrote “Whoever believes will not be in haste” (Isaiah 28:16c).

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Maybe you’ve heard the verse “the just shall live by faith.”  It is not just from the New Testament but is an Old Testament idea too as we read in Habakkuk 2:4b “The righteous shall live by faith.” Paul essentially repeats this in Galatians 3:11.The righteous and the just are deemed to be in the same right standing before God.  What is the faith that saves that these authors are writing about?  Paul writes that “a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” because the law served to show us sin (Rom 3:28).  God takes our faith and it is then accounted to us as righteousness as it says “there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (Rom 3:30). Second Corinthians 5:21 says that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” if only we will believe. God says that “my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him” (Heb 10:38). That’s why “it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Heb 11:6).

Recapping the Roman Road

The sinner and in fact, all who are not saved come up infinitely short of God’s standard of holiness; Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

All we have earned in this life are wages that will be due on the day of our death that God has appointed for us all (Heb 9:27); Romans 6:23a “For the wages of sin is death.”

We are not left helpless though because “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” but how can a sinner receive this gift?

The only way you or I can be rescued from the wrath of God is “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead” and only then “you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).  It is “with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10) which is why in both the Old Testament and the New it is “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13).

Conclusion

Until a person is humbled by the wages of our sins which have earned us eternal death and until that person sees that we all fall short of God’s perfection, they will never see the mercy of God as relevant.  This is why God resists the proud but gives grace only to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5) so it is the law to the proud and then grace to the humble.  God will never offer His grace to those who are proud and don’t see their sinful depravity and the need for forgiveness.  Only if they see their hopeless situation will they cry out to God for mercy and then call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.  There have likely been millions over the years who have been saved by people using the Roman Road and countless others who came to saving faith by reading the Book of Romans.  That’s why we must show people their sins (Isaiah 58:1) and why we must not be “ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:16-17).

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Trending Church

By Rod Jonas

A Majestic Stampede

The Trending Church 3Have you ever heard the sound of a stampede of wildly free mustang horses running through an open terrain as the ground began to tremble under your feet? Neither have I but as a kid I’ve been close enough to them to experience their majesty. In massive groups they are awe-inspiring. Thanks to the innovative invention of camera’s like GoPro Hero Series and Sony’s POV Action Cam we have video footage from points of view that we couldn’t possibly have ever imagined. Our world is changing.

The Trending Church 1Technology has given us the ability to tell stories and share experiences in a far more creative and compelling way than ever before. Sharing our lives with each other is an undeniable part of the human experience. How beautiful is that? The almost constant need of sharing our experiences, good or bad, with the world has made social media arguably the most influential media medium today. But where did our passion to share moments of our lives come from?

In the book of Psalms the writer often conveys his love for the testimonies of God as his delight. “My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly.” (Psalms 119:167)

How powerful is our testimony? How influential is your story? Over 95 percent of companies use social media to tell their brands story and engage with consumers. There’s social media sites like Facebook, The Trending Church 2Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and more trending everyday with over a billion users or members. But this is not an article about social media. This is the story of us. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11)

The church changing and like the sound of a stampede I can feel the momentum building as the church begins to embark no the creative experience like we were always intended to. It’s already happening and everyday more and more people are being impacted as a result of our efforts to share the stories within us. Christian organizations like “I am Second” and “Rapzilla” combined have generated over 1 billion impressions sharing personal testimonies, music videos and more. Neither of these organization are actual churches but as members of the church have begun to raise their creative voice.

In Orange County California a state of the art event center was built to serve and help develop the creative arts community and mentor them along the way. Millions of dollars were donated to refurbish a warehouse and convert it into a home for the eclectic. The best part about this venue called The Vault is that it’s a part of a church yet open to the public to use. It’s outdoor skate park has become the back yard to the local skateboarding community with walls covered in paintings featuring the art of some of countries best graffiti artist work. The word is out and The Vault is often booked with album release concerts and other special events with people from all over filling the building to capacity. A unique environment created to experience life apart from the dangers that usually come with events like these.

The Trending Church 4Coca-Cola may have said it best in their mission statement, “The world is changing all around us”. While it is said that we are in this world and yet we are not of it, the road map for winning is coming together in unity. If we can expel our fears of losing the strength of our influence to another God is using then supporting each other and the work God is doing in each of us will be without pause. However, the ambitious desire of becoming a Christian celebrity or maintaining your influence over your community is not easily overcome.

The social media revolution is enticing the church to exist without walls and it’s the younger generation who has embraced it is leading the way. In an article written by Shea Bennett in the Social Times, he cites a survey undertaken by Common Sense Media, who polled more than 1,000 13-17 year olds around the USA. Their study shows 90% of teens have used social media and 51% visit a social site daily. However, 49% of them prefer to communicate in person while 33% prefer texting. This is the generation that was raised with the social experience of Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter yet they still value the close personal encounter. Could this mean social media is primarily used to share content?

In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries names ’selfie’ the word of the year. It’s a snap shot of a moment in our lives. It’s a posed picture saying, “Check me out!”. So what’ll happen if the moments we share and the content we create is a greater reflection of Christ in us than a trending headshot? The momentum is climbing and we are the conduit. Together, as we use media to share our stories of redemption and life with Jesus Christ we trend. We can be the influence this world needs.

So next time you log in to Facebook or check the latest YouTube video trending on your mobile phone consider joining the movement. Search for God inspired content from faith based media and entertainment companies next time you find yourself surfing the internet. Key words: Jesus, God, Faith, Hope, Love, or Live GodF1rst.

About the Writer

Rod Jonas is an experienced marketing and branding professional with 8 years of experience working with developing and established businesses. A two time award winning writer and Maggie Award winning Photo Editor in 2006, digital content creation is just one of the vehicles he uses to reach his audience. As a Project Director with Stephen Gould Corp he has a hand in manufacturing and packaging for some of newest products in the market. Rod is also the Co-Founder and CEO of GodF1rst LLC, a christian clothing and media company committed to creating and sharing faith based fashion designs and media content. One of his keys to success personally and professionally is to know yourself and know your message.

To get in touch with Rod check him out just about anywhere on the web:

Linkedin: rod-jonas     Facebook: rodjonas     Website: www.GodF1rst.com
Facebook: God F1rst Clothing   Instagram: @liveGodF1rst    Twitter: @liveGodF1rst
YouTube: GodF1rstClothing

Resource: Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Duck Dynasty and A&E: Who Needs Whom More?

First off, I’d like to say that I’m a huge fan of Duck Dynasty and love their Christian values. I’m also a fan of free speech. You’ve probably heard that A&E fired or suspended Phil Robertson recently after he did an interview where he expressed his personal view on homosexuality.

I don’t want to start a debate on Christians and homosexuality. I do however like what pastor Perry Noble said in his blog:

“There are people in this world who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and who really do deal with same sex attraction.  If I could personally sit down with everyone who would categorize themselves in one of those ways I would communicate three things to them.  

#1 – I am SORRY for the way you have been treated by the church and by people who claim to be followers of Christ.  There is no excuse for those who hold up signs that say “God hates fags” or who use insensitive phrases such as “that’s so gay.”  The way many of you have been treated is detestable to me, but even more than that, I believe it is detestable to Jesus–and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.   

#2 – You matter to God!  He loves you, created you in His image and has AMAZING plans for your life…and His plans are always so much greater than our plans.  

#3 – You matter to me!  Recently, I preached an entire message in our church dealing with this subject (here’s the link) and in preparing for that message I spent hours with a group of people who identify themselves as gay in order for me to better understand how to communicate what I truly felt need to be said…but in a way that showed compassion and care.” 

Read the rest of his great blog post HERE

“The church that the Robertson’s attend and where Phil Robertson is an elder, White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La., has received hundreds of phone calls from fans across the country,” said Mike Kellett, the senior pastor.

“It seems to me people are tolerant of views except Christianity,” Kellett said. “I don’t have anything to say about the wording in it. I would express things differently, but that’s Phil.”

The Robertson’s are part of Churches of Christ, a conservative denomination of 13,000 U.S. congregations that says “God remains consistent in His condemnation of homosexuality as He does for all other sins.”

Members of Churches of Christ generally believe that God reserves sex for a marriage between one man and one woman. 

A&E is free to do what it wants with the show, Kellett said.

“It’s a free country,” Kellett said. “We’re not a protest kind of people. We don’t go out in front of people’s office with signs.”

Southern Baptist leaders Russell Moore and Al Mohler, as well as advocacy groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council, also came to Robertson’s defense, saying he should not be suspended for voicing his views.

“Free speech is endangered species; those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all,” tweeted former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.” Read more from Religion News Service HERE.

Albert Mohler had some wise words about why would Robertson agree to an interview with GQ Magazine and cautioned him to be careful how he addresses sensitive topics. But Mohler makes a great point:

“Another interesting parallel emerges with the timing of this controversy. The current issue of TIME magazine features Pope Francis I as “Person of the Year.” Within days of TIME’s declaration, Phil Robertson had been suspended from Duck Dynasty. Robertson’s suspension was caused by his statements that homosexual acts are sinful. But Pope Francis is riding a wave of glowing publicity, even as he has stated in public his agreement with all that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, including its teachings on homosexual acts.

Francis has declared himself to be a “son of the church,” and his church teaches that all homosexual acts are inherently sinful and must be seen as “acts of grave depravity” that are “intrinsically disordered.”

But Pope Francis is on the cover of TIME magazine and Phil Robertson is on indefinite suspension. Such are the inconsistencies, confusions, and hypocrisies of our cultural moment.” For more from Mohler, read HERE.

Others are more fired up and bashing A&E for their taking away Robertson’s right to free speech. Matt Walsh had some harsh and sobering words for A&E that you can read HERE. I agree with Walsh in that when you take on Christians and their values, you can expect a battle and a huge showing of support (like we saw with Chick-fil-A). You can see this as in a matter of 24 hours, the ‘Boycott A&E’ Facebook page got over one million likes. Wow!

My guess is Duck Dynasty will get pursued by other networks that care about good ratings more than a small minority of people that have no idea what tolerance is. USA Today’s article said, “The ‘tolerance’ society demands from Christians really is silent compliance.

The question is: Who needs whom more? I think A&E needs Duck Dynasty (their best show), far more than the millionaires starring in Duck Dynasty need A&E. Do I feel sorry for Phil Robertson? Not necessarily. He’s a millionaire and has a great life. These are first world problems. I only take issue with the people that scream tolerance for their lifestyle, but offer none to people that disagree with them or hold to a conservative theological viewpoint.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with how A&E has treated Phil Robertson? Do you think he should be silenced for speaking out about his personal religious beliefs? Do you think Duck Dynasty will remain on A&E? Here is the official statement just released from the Robertson family.

Greg Atkinson

GregAtkinson.com

Editor of Christian Media Magazine

Twitter: @GregAtkinson

Do Anything Good

Source: garymo.com

Do anything.

Do anything today.

Do anything good today.

Do anything good today that will make you feel a little uncomfortable.

Do anything good today that will force you to act like fear isn’t involved (even though it is).

Do anything good today that might surprise the recipient of your good.

Do anything good today that will bring hope to people, not critique those without it.

Do anything good today that forces you to stand alongside someone who has no one standing alongside of them.

Do anything good today that’s generous.

Do anything good today that’s lovely.

Do anything good today that gives a reason for the hope that’s within you.

___________________

Why is it vitally important that you do something good today? It’s simple, really. Every day we wake up, we can either be contributors or commentators.

As commentators, we can look at the world and point out everything that’s wrong with the it. For people to become commentators, it only takes an opinion and a social media account. There’s no love or compassion needed to be a commentator. When I choose this role, I simply stand on my self-made platform, and I scream critique at people who disagree with me. I can even call it “prophetic” or “Christian” or “defending my faith”. It’s easy, and requires very little empathy on my part. There is blame here. There are excuses here. There is religious piety here.

But as contributors, we actually agree to partner with God in bringing good into someone’s life. We contribute to their lives, and in so doing, we acknowledge the truth and the implied mandate of 1 Corinthians 1:9…

“God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We recognize our role in the MIDDLE of God’s Story – a Story that begins with humans being given rule and reign in our world, and one that ends with a vision of humans ruling and reigning together with Christ. In this, we understand that our role in the Story is far greater than we can ever imagine, and far more crucial than we can ever hope.

And it all begins with doing something good today.

So when I hear and act upon the shout of God’s whisper to simply DO ANYTHING GOOD TODAY, I’m not simply responding to a self-help program or an Oprah moment (I like Oprah, by the way).

Every time I do anything good, I’m partnering together with God to bring the aroma of Christ to the nostrils of people who need a good snort. I should probably edit that out, but I’m gonna leave it.

___________________

So do something good today.

In your art.

In your leadership.

In your family.

In the guy’s life who’s standing in the line in front of you.

In your writing.

In the children you lead.

In the staff you lead.

In your Facebook posts.

Just do anything good today. Discovering the will of God isn’t nearly as difficult as we make it, and is (much of the time) discovered in the middle of our smaller moments when we’re simply doing anything good.

Temptation-Free Stock Photo Site for Christians

Launched in late November 2012, Lightstock is a faith-focused, safe-searching, carefully-curated stock photography website geared for the Christian community. Its royalty-free images are perfect for any number of church or ministry uses, whether its sermon slides, worship backgrounds, websites, or video illustrations. Plus, every time an image is downloaded at Lightstock a New Testament is donated.

Founders, Jon & Josh Bailey explain what compelled them to create Lightstock. "Christians need a safe place to find images tailor-made for the organizations and communities they serve. Frankly, it's a pain searching other stock sites for images that don't even work that great. At Lightstock you'll find cheesy-free images of figures from the Bible, as well as contemporary Christians living their faith.

Blake Atwood, of Faith Village sums it up well, "Lightstock is a site that's much needed in the Christian media world. It's a place that will help to tell the old, old story in brand new and visually arresting ways."

CHECK OUT LIGHTSTOCK FOR YOURSELF!

 

Kirk Cameron’s “Unstoppable” couldn’t be stopped

Kirk Cameron is not just Growing Pain's young Mike Seaver. He is now a seasoned director who unapologetically creates Christian media in attempts to spread God's fame on the earth. His new film Unstopabble looks very intruiging to me. So much that apparently Facebook and Youtube tried to "block" or "stop" it.

The following is from Kirk's Facebook page:

"Calling all friends of Faith, Family, and Freedom! Facebook has officially "blocked" me and you (and everyone else) from posting any link to my new movie at UnstoppableTheMovieDOTcom, labeling the content as "abusive", "unsafe", and "spammy"! I can't even write the real link here, or Facebook would block this post too!! Try to post it yourself and see! We have been officially shut down by Facebook and unable to get any response from them. This is my most personal film about faith, hope, and love, and about why God allows bad things to happen to good people. What is "abusive" or "unsafe" about that?! Please help us encourage Facebook to unblock our website soon by sharing this post with your friends so more people can see this transparent, faith-building project."

"Victory!! Friends, you did it! People tried to stop "Unstoppable" on Facebook, and because millions of us joined together as one voice, Facebook has apologized and and welcomed us back! You all just demonstrated to the press (they are all calling me to talk about your amazing response!) that the communities of faith, hope, and love are, well… unstoppable. 

Now can you all talk to YouTube?? They have blocked and labeled the Unstoppable trailer as "spam", "scam", and "deceptive"! We did it once, we can do it again. Please share this post with all your friends and encourage YouTube to unblock my UnstoppableTheMovie trailer.

www.UnstoppableTheMovie.com"

"You did it again!! Because of your firm, loving, and clear voice, not only did Facebook welcome us back, YouTube also removed its block on our Unstoppable movie trailer. We are back online with full access. Thank you!! Fox News, Huffington Post, Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Drudge, and others have heard about your accomplishment and my phone is ringing off the hook to talk with me about how powerful the faith community is to accomplish good things when we put our hearts and minds together. They are listening!!

Now let's make sure NOTHING stops UNSTOPPABLE from coming to a theater in your town on Sept. 24th. Buy your tickets today. If we sell out all the seats in your neighborhood theater, NOTHING can stop it from playing there. Theaters full of people who love God, even in the midst of tragedy is a powerful witness to EVERYONE that life is stronger than death, good is stronger than evil, and faith is stronger than doubt."

WHY TV MINISTRIES STILL MATTER

I may be one of Christian TV’s loudest critics, but one of the most disturbing trends in the ministry world is the disappointing lack of interest in using TV as a tool for impacting today’s culture with the message of Christianity. Back in the seventies and eighties in particular, men like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Rex Humbard, and others reached vast audiences through television. In spite of some later embarrassments, in many ways those years were considered a “golden era” in Christian broadcasting, and gave birth to numerous global television networks. But a number of high profile sex and financial scandals helped turn a younger generation of pastors and leaders against the medium – and far too many cheesy, corny, and low budget programs didn’t help. For many church leaders today, much of what they see on Christian television is frankly an embarrassment.  If that’s what TV ministry is, they understandably want no part of it.

As a result, many of these pastors have turned to the Internet and mobile apps as evangelistic and discipleship tools – and aren’t remotely interested in broadcast TV. But in spite of the phenomenal growth of the Internet and mobile devices, I still believe television will continue to be an incredibly important medium for the Church. After all, over the last century, radio never displaced movies, and TV never displaced radio. Everything finds it’s level in the media universe. So while the number of households watching traditional TV fell by about 1.2 million last year, television is still the last truly “mass” medium.

The recent and growing demand for TV commercial spots just confirms that statement. After fears of the web stealing ad revenue, TV ad dollars are rising, and that’s why the average cost of a network TV spot has grown 17% during the last TV season. Major advertisers are still looking for the largest possible audience, and this has enormous implications for ministry. The truth is, while there are many people unplugging from traditional TV and gravitating to the web, two things are important to remember:

1. Great numbers of those people are simply viewing popular TV programs on their laptop. They may not be using a traditional TV set, but they’re still watching “American Idol,” “Glee,” or the NBA playoffs. I sat on a plane recently next to a woman watching a Joyce Meyer program on her iPad. I’d seen the same message from Joyce a few weeks earlier on TV. While short films on websites like YouTube are extremely popular, a vast and significant audience is simply trading hardware – not looking for different content.

2. While more and more people are on Facebook, blogs, and various websites, it’s a scattered and splintered audience. There are more than 600 million Facebook members worldwide, but they’re not viewing the same content. It’s essentially millions of people interacting with millions of individual – and different – friends.

TV has become the last great American campfire.  That’s why to reach a concentrated, mass audience, television is still the medium of choice. Even though local satellite and cable systems have many channels, the most popular by far number only a handful. As a result, TV has become the last great American campfire. One place where an entire nation – and indeed the world – is focused on virtually the same information and entertainment.

So what does that mean for ministry? It means TV isn’t dead – either as an entertainment medium or evangelistic tool. If the Church is going to impact the larger culture, then television should be a priority. Obviously, a total evangelistic, advertising, or marketing campaign needs to embrace multiple platforms, but to reach the largest single segment of people, don’t leave TV out of your plans.

But remember the lessons from the past. More poorly produced preaching programs or cheap interview shows will only make your message more and more irrelevant. Changing today’s culture isn’t just about getting on the right platforms – it’s about original ideas that capture people’s attention.

That’s enough writing. I need to go check tonight’s TV schedule…

BTW – do you agree?  Do you think TV has untapped potential for sharing our faith with the culture, or have TV evangelists of the past made that influence impossible?