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On Milestones, Maps, and How God Directs our Paths

By |2023-04-24T17:02:41+00:00April 24, 2023|Blog, Encouragement|

ELLEN DYKAS|CONTRIBUTOR Are you a journaler? I’ve been one since age thirteen and now, ninety-two journals later, my story is there with all its dreams, foolishness, heartbreak, life-in-Christ surprises, and…HOPES! As a teen, I dreamed of writing books and traveling the world to help people. Little did I know how God’s amazing plans for me would unfold! For starters, the first two books I wrote both had some form of the word “sex” in the title…I mean, I seriously did NOT see that coming when I was thirteen years old! When my first discipleship workbook, Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness, was published in January 2013, I was thankful and expectant. Thankful because producing this resource had been a long, somewhat challenging process and finally, after more than three years of book “pregnancy,” the workbook was born. I waited expectantly to see the response and impact on women’s lives. One message came in on publishing day from a woman: “You do know, right, that 99% of women in the church will never engage [with] this? Most churches won’t even consider this!” Initially, I felt frustrated and angry. I didn’t want balloons and accolades—but perhaps a little encouragement and thankfulness! But GOD...

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Standing on Their Shoulders: Our Sisters in the Faith

By |2023-03-24T17:48:51+00:00October 3, 2022|Blog, Book Club Recommendations, Reading|

Last fall, my sister and I had the great opportunity to travel up the beautiful Rhine River valley. Armed with a shared love of history, we ventured down side streets, through museums, and into countless churches in search of as many Reformation era sites as we could find. In Strasburg, we made a point to visit the church where John Calvin served as pastor from 1538-1541. While standing in the lovely church courtyard, my mind started wandering. We had visited a number of sites which gave account for men who had served and suffered for the Lord's church, but what about our church mothers? What history has been recorded of the women who have helped shape our church history—the women upon whose shoulders we now stand...

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Your Unwanted Journey: Facing Your Husband’s Pornography Struggle

By |2023-03-24T17:50:49+00:00August 15, 2022|Blog, Marriage|

“God, I come to you very weak and broken. Grieved over the sin of my husband that I just discovered. Shocked—feeling betrayed—angry—distrustful—sad at sin’s corrupting power—very aware of my own desperate need for grace as I must confront him.” I wrote these words in a journal entry when I discovered evidence on my computer’s history that my husband had been visiting pornographic sites. Although I knew of his struggle prior to our marriage, I naively assumed that he was done battling pornography and that our marital bliss would provide the antidote he needed against temptation. My dreams of a happy, secure marriage in which I felt compellingly beautiful to my husband were instantly shattered that afternoon—barely more than a year into our marriage. It was made worse by the fact that just the day before I had asked him if he had been struggling lately with pornography, and he said, 'No.'” I remember getting the call from this woman. She was devastated, confused, and angry. Pornography usage is an unfaithful behavior that breaks the sacred promise: I am devoted and faithful to you alone. We might even call it treason of the marriage covenant, though some may think this too dramatic or stern. But aren’t husbands called to faithful oneness to their wife, to lay down their lives for her? She, of course, is called to the same, but why is it that church leaders can minimize the traumatic impact of porn, as well as the grave sin of sexual infidelity—which porn viewing is?...

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John 16: Peace in Jesus

By |2023-03-24T17:58:18+00:00April 21, 2022|Blog, Last Words to Live By Series|

ALLISON VAN EGMOND | GUEST The world news blares updates about recent warfare. An email alert chimes with bad news from a doctor. A mom yells in frustration. A pastor is persecuted for speaking the truth. A teen is plagued with suicidal thoughts. A kid screams for attention. A couple quarrels regularly. A woman struggles with falling into the same sin. There are many daily concerns that threaten to steal our peace. Longing for Peace Our chaotic lives can cause us to feel overwhelmed and unsettled. We are surrounded by various forms of suffering. Sometimes in the midst of the turmoil in my own life, I dream about lounging on the beach with a book in my hand, a salty snack to nibble on, and the soothing sounds of the ocean around me. Perhaps you’ve had a similar daydream. When life seems to swirl in chaos around us, we tend to want to escape the noise. We dream about another world, another place where there are no demands on our attention, no noises filling our ears, no fears or sorrows filling our minds. We long for a break. A pause button. Peace and quiet.

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Resilient Hope

By |2023-03-24T17:58:31+00:00April 18, 2022|Blog, Hope|

BECKY KIERN | CONTRIBUTOR Think of your favorite book, film, or TV series: if there were no conflicts or obstacles to overcome, what would remain of the story? Would we know the name Harry Potter if there were no curse to battle; Jane Bennett if there was no pride (or is prejudice her vice, I can never remember) to overcome; Frodo without an evil ring to destroy, or Cinderella without a cruel step-family from which to escape? Conflict may be the driving force for story development, but the best stories are not simply fables of conflict avoidance. What pulls on our heart strings is the resilience and growth these beloved characters undergo in response to the adversities they face. Will Luke Skywalker give into his father and the power of the Dark Side? Will Elsa choose to stay isolated in her ice castle or will she choose to love and be loved by her sister? Conflict may provide the impetus for a story, but the resilience of a character is what teaches us to have courage, value friendship, or to love another.

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