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Tragic Alesha, six, was 'raped and murdered before her body was dumped in woodland on the Isle of Bute' - as family friend, 16, appears in court over her killing

    Boy, 16, is understood to have been known to victim Alesha MacPhail's family
    Little girl's body found in woodland in grounds of abandoned hotel on Monday
    Teenager was arrested on suspicion of murder before being charged yesterday
    Appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court today after being kept in custody overnight
    Prosecutors today revealed he has been charged with both rape and murder

By Claire Duffin For The Daily Mail and Mark Duell for MailOnline

Published: 13:23, 6 July 2018

A  teenager has appeared in court charged with the rape and murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail who was found dead on the Isle of Bute.  The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, is understood to have been known to victim Alesha's family.  The little girl's body was found in woodland in the grounds of an abandoned hotel on Monday.  The teenager appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court today after being kept in custody overnight.  The hearing was private, but the boy is understood to have made no plea and was remanded in custody ahead of an expected second court appearance next week.  The charges, released for the first time today, mean prosecutors believe Alesha was raped before she was killed.  Yesterday, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston paid tribute to Alesha's family and thanked the community of Bute for their assistance with the 'challenging' inquiry.  'I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Alesha's family who have shown incredible bravery through what has been an unimaginable ordeal during these past few days,' he said.

'I'd also like to thank local people for all their support and assistance during this major investigation on the island.  The response to our appeals was significant both from those living here and the wider community of Scotland.'

Alesha's body was found by a member of the public at 9am on Monday morning. She had been reported missing just hours earlier when her family found she was not in her bed at 6.25am.  Alesha had been staying with her paternal grandparents Calum MacPhail, 49, and Angela King, 46, and father Robert MacPhail, 25, at a seafront flat near Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.  The six-year-old lived in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, with her mother, who is estranged from Mr MacPhail, but spent holidays and weekends with her father on Bute.  Her murder has rocked the community, which is home to just 6,500 people. It is the biggest investigation ever undertaken by police on the island, which is 15 miles long and three miles wide.  Investigations continued at the seafront flat yesterday, and on the beach in front the property, where officers could be seen combing the sand with sticks.  Det Supt Houston added: 'Officers and staff from across Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority have been involved in what has been a difficult and challenging investigation during which they have worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are today.  Incidents such as this are extremely rare and, while the police investigation will continue, I hope that today's announcement brings some reassurance to everyone in the local community.  Recent events will have shocked communities across Scotland, no more so than on Bute and in Airdrie. Argyll and Bute and North Lanarkshire councils have services available for those who may have been affected.'
Story / Angels In The Alley
« Last post by La Bamba on July 06, 2018, 10:00:48 PM »
Diane, a young Christian University student, was home for the summer. She had gone to visit some friends one evening and time passed quickly as each shared their various experiences of the past year.  She ended up staying longer than planned, and had to walk home alone. She wasn't afraid, because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away.  As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked "God" to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it, however, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for "God's" protection. Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped around her, she felt as though someone was walking with her.  When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely.  The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young girl had been raped in the same alley, just twenty minutes after she had been there. Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy and the fact that it could have been her, she began to weep.  Thanking the Lord for her safety and to help this young woman, she decided to go to the police station. She felt she could recognize the man, so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a lineup to see if she could identify him. She agreed and immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the alley the night before. When the man was told he had been identified, he immediately broke down and confessed.  The officer thanked Diane for her bravery and asked if there was anything they could do for her. She asked if they would ask the man one question. Diane was curious as to why he had not attacked her. When the policeman asked him, he answered, "Because she wasn't alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her."
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by La Bamba on July 06, 2018, 09:53:49 PM »
A Different Kind of Gratitude
Jul 05, 2018 | Holley Gerth

Today's Truth

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

Friend to Friend

The sky outside is a dense, soaked grey today. It reminds me of earlier this year when my husband and I watched from our living room window as menacing clouds rose up in the distance then  stretched their fingers tentatively toward the ground. We live in tornado country and we don’t take such sights lightly. Flipping on the television, we heard the weatherman telling us to find a safe place as he pointed to splotches of red on the map. We went to our designated spot and took a moment to pray as the tree limbs began to sway outside.  The dark masses soon gave way to brilliant blue again. The wind quieted, and we stepped back into the rhythm of our routine.  It was not until hours later as I curled up in my cozy bed under a pile of warm blankets that it occurred to me to say “thank you” to God for what didn’t happen that day.  I mentally scrolled through the list of other disasters I’d narrowly missed in life. The bad-news boy I had a huge crush on as a teenager. The suspicious test results that worried the doctor but turned out to be nothing at all. The countless times I’ve asked God to keep my husband safe as he headed out for a bike ride and then watched him walk back through the door sweaty and smiling hours later.  And, yes, I understand that even if the storm wreaks havoc, the unwelcome diagnosis comes, or the heart gets broken we are still to say thanks. I have experienced firsthand the mysterious, hard beauty that can come from tears and ashes. But the place where I seem to most often miss an opportunity to be grateful is when everything turns out fine and I just go on my merry way.  God invites us to say thanks then, too. First, simply because He is worthy of it. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good” (Psalm 106:1).

What He prevents in our lives is just as full of gifts as what He allows.  Also, this kind of gratitude can cure so much of our discontent. When I think of how I could be suddenly homeless after a storm, I smile a bit more at the roof over my head and don’t notice that stain in the carpet as much. When I recognize I might be in the hospital instead of sitting in a little coffee shop with my computer, it puts that envy-provoking picture on social media into proper perspective. When I think of all the turns my story could have taken, the rocky patches in the road of my relationships don’t seem quite as much like boulders.  I want to remember to express my appreciation for all that’s right in front of me many provisions, memories being made, dear friends and family. But I also want to thank God for all that isn’t there, for what could have been if things had gone another way or even if I had always gotten my way.  Yes, gratitude is about what we can see. But I’m learning it’s also about what, thankfully, will never be.
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on July 06, 2018, 09:38:55 PM »
Choices Determine Destinies
Jul 04, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Matthew 25:21

Friend to Friend

One day Jesus told a parable to a group of listeners. We’ve come to know it as the Parable of the Talents, but it is really more the Parable of the Three Choices. Jesus was explaining what the kingdom  of heaven would be like in common terms.  For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Matthew 25:14-18)  When the master returned home, he was well please with the two servants who had invested and doubled their talents, but he was furious with the one who hid his one talent in the ground.  ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents’ (Matt. 25:26).

This story gives me chills every time I read it. For you see, God has given each and every one of us gifts gifts that He has purposed for us to use, invest, and multiply. And I’m not just talking about money, but gifts in our inner being. He has given you talents and abilities that He expects you to use to further the kingdom and minister to others.  So what kept the servant with one talent from doing so?

Fear. Giving into fear prevented him from investing what he had. I think the master would have been more pleased if the servant had said, “Lord, I invested the talent and unfortunately lost it all.”

At least he would have tried. At least he would have made some effort. But the master saw him as evil and lazy.  Fear makes us lazy. Think about that a minute. A fearful person does little.  Moving forward despite the fear gets the spiritual couch potato out from under the afghan and into the life she was meant to live.  So here’s what I want us to think about today: Are we investing the gifts and talents that God has given us, or are we hiding them because of fear.  I don’t know about you, but I want to invest all I have and live bold. We’re going to pick back up on this in my next devotion, but for now, let’s ponder which servant we want to be.
Humour, Sillimess and Games / Re: Jokes
« Last post by Philippa on July 06, 2018, 09:22:56 PM »

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)  Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).  We will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. It will of course be someone of proper English lineage, such as Dame Judi Dench or Michael Caine, but most certainly not Simon Cowell.  Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.  To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer.  They are also part of the British Commonwealth see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

14. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save The Queen
Christian Talk & Advice / Can We Preach The Tithe?
« Last post by Philippa on July 06, 2018, 09:06:23 PM »

Can We Preach The Tithe?
By Dean Shriver on Oct 22, 2008

Tithing I believe every Christian should do it.  But can I preach that? 

Like you, I’m committed to preaching only what the Bible clearly teaches.  Unfortunately, I’ve always found the Bible’s teaching about a believer’s responsibility to tithe to be fuzzy around the edges.  Off the top before taxes? 

Off the bottom after taxes?

All to the church (ours in particular!)? 

Off of income or off of possessions? 

Of course, the problem isn’t with Scripture.  The problem is me.  When it comes to giving, my own preferences, opinions, and training make it hard for me to approach relevant texts with a clear and teachable mind.  On the one hand, I know that the tithe is “law” and that, in Christ, we’re no longer under the Law.  Still, it’s hard for me to fathom how anyone can honestly taste the sweetness of God’s grace only to turn around and “Scrooge” God by giving Him less than 10%.  The very idea makes me want to raise my voice, pound my pulpit, and thump my Bible!  Which is exactly why I’m not yet ready to preach that sermon on tithing.  But I’m getting closer.  On a recent jog, I began to think again about the issue of tithing.  It occurred to me that there’s more than one way to tithe. In fact, three distinct forms of tithing are practiced in the Bible. Only one is legitimate for the believer.   The form of tithing most often addressed in Scripture is “tithing as covenant.”  This practice of tithing was specific to Israel as the covenant people of God.  It was part of the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-32; Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Under the Covenant, God promised to materially bless Israel for obedience and, conversely, to judge them (strip them of their prosperity) for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28 and Malachi 3:8-12).  This model for tithing has no direct relevance to us as New Testament believers.  In Christ, we live under a new covenant.  Our lives are not governed by the written code but by the indwelling Holy Spirit who writes His “law” on our hearts (Galatians 5:18; Hebrews 8:7-13).  The Bible also describes a second kind of tithing that is both condemnable and, I fear, far too common “tithing as legalism.”  In Jesus’ day, it was the religious leaders who practiced this perversion of Israel’s covenant tithe.  Christ’s condemnation of legalistic tithing was absolute:  “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.  These you ought to have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24)

In His relationship with Israel, God intended the tithe to be an avenue to blessing.  The religious manipulators of Jesus’ day turned the blessing into burden.  Instead of expressing faithfulness to God and oneness of heart with God for ministry and the poor—the tithe became little more than a means to satisfy “religious obligations.”  Such satisfaction leads to pride (Luke 18:9-12) and, in the end, restricts giving.  After all, once our “obligation” is satisfied, what more could God want? 

It’s no wonder Jesus so strongly denounces legalistic tithing.  Yet, how easily the sin of the Pharisees can become our sin, too!  Effective ministry requires money money that comes from God’s people.  Believers need to give for both their own sake and the sake of the Kingdom.  Since they need to give, we need to preach about giving.  When we do, however, we must be careful not to turn blessing into burden.  We must refuse to preach “tithing as legalism.”  So what’s the alternative?

Tithing as worship!  In Scripture, “tithing as worship” was practiced prior to both the establishment of “tithing as covenant” and the perversion of “tithing as legalism.”  The principle of “tithing as worship” is “pre-Law.”  It’s established in Genesis 14:17-24 where Abram gives a tenth of his plunder to Melchizedek, King of Salem.  Melchizedek, in turn, blesses Abram.  Hebrews 7:1-10 defines the significance of these acts, declaring that it is the superior who blesses the inferior, and the inferior who pays tithes to the superior.  “Tithing as worship,” then, is first an act by which we acknowledge that God is both our superior (the Sovereign Lord) and the source of all blessing.  But “tithing as worship” does more than acknowledge God. It expresses our personal allegiance to Him.  We see this in Genesis 28:10-22.  Here, God reveals Himself to Jacob in a dream.  In response, the patriarch vows, “the Lord shall be my God and of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” 

For Jacob, the “tithe as worship” became a natural expression of his decision to follow the God of His Fathers.  In the same way, the “tithe as worship” becomes an almost instinctive way for us to express our allegiance to the God of our Salvation.  A third, and critical, element of “tithing as worship” is thanksgiving.  “Tithing as worship” expresses overflowing gratitude toward God.  It breaks free from guilt as the motivation for giving.  Its ultimate focus is the condition of one’s heart not the percentage of one’s income.  On the topic of percentages, I find the words of John H. Walton and Andrew E. Hill to be practical.  They write, “How are we to show our gratitude to God other than by giving back a portion?  If 10 percent was considered an acceptable portion by God as an expression of gratitude then, why should we view it any differently today?  We might consider 10 percent as a benchmark just as we consider 15 percent a benchmark for tipping.  The extent of the customer’s gratitude and appreciation is demonstrated in the size of the tip.  It would be considered the ultimate rudeness or the consummate insult to leave no tip at all.  So it is to God if we return no portion to Him.  In addition, there are occasions when the situation calls for a contribution exceeding the benchmark.” (Old Testament Today; Zondervan: 2004, 270-271)

Again, it must be said ultimately, “tithing as worship” isn’t about percentage of income.  It’s about the overflow of one’s heart.  Second Corinthians 8:5 is clear.  When we first give ourselves to the Lord, any act of giving pleases Him whether above or below the “benchmark.”  “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12)  How, then, can we preach the tithe? 

First, we recognize that “tithing as covenant” has no direct relevance to New Testament believers.  Second, we acknowledge that “tithing as legalism” is just plain sin both for those who practice it and those who preach it. Only the principle of “tithing as worship” remains.  That’s the tithing we can preach!  “Tithing as worship” is our opportunity to acknowledge that God is God.  He is ruler over our lives.  He is the source of every blessing we enjoy.  More than that, “tithing as worship” expresses our allegiance to God in a very personal and concrete way.  And finally, “tithing as worship” manifests a heart overflowing with thanksgiving toward God.  With this in mind, perhaps we should be less concerned with whether people tithe and more concerned with why they tithe.  Ultimately, tithing isn’t about percentage of income or money in the plate.  It’s about worship!  Tithing as worship I think that will preach!
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Kiwi on June 24, 2018, 10:57:35 PM »
Let it Go!
Jun 11, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.   Psalm 62:5

Friend to Friend

As we drove through the scenic mountains of North Carolina, I could feel my soul begin to settle and my spirit grow quiet. It was a welcome feeling one that was a long time coming.   We had been vacationing at Lake Lure since our children were toddlers. Now Jered and Danna are married and have children of their own. And we were about to meet all of them for a whole week of vacation together!

1. Could. Not. Wait.

But I really needed a little time to just be still. To set aside the busy schedule I had just left behind. To reset my heart and mind on the precious lives and legacy about to arrive, yelling “Mimi” as they scampered into my arms. 

Dan and I drove in comfortable silence, occasionally commenting on the beauty of the familiar mountains and rolling valleys. Sweet memories made us laugh as we spotted places we had taken our children when they were young. Now we would take our grandchildren to those same places and make new memories. Yes, it was going to be a great week.  Flowers of every color dotted the hillsides, and I commented on the beauty of the lush green ground cover. Dan said, “Honey, that is Kudzu.”

Whatever Kudzu was, I thought it was beautiful and told him so.  Dan seemed determined to burst my Kudzu bubble, “Honey, Kudzu is nasty and nothing more than a deadly weed. The plant climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so fast that it kills them basically by suffocating them.”

I was not convinced, so I Googled Kudzu. He was right! Kudzu is a menace. According to Wikipedia, Kudzu is a serious invasive plant in the United States. It has been spreading in the southern U.S. at the rate of 150,000 acres annually. Its introduction has produced devastating environmental consequences and has earned the nickname, “The vine that ate the South.”  What?

How could something so beautiful be so deadly?

The Holy Spirit whispered to my weary soul, “Oh, you know how.”

And I did.  I had just spent nine months traveling at break-neck speed speaking, writing, teaching and mentoring all beautiful things. But my schedule had become deadly. I was so tired. So what is a girl using the term “girl” loosely to do?

I am 68 years old, have been diagnosed with scoliosis, and battle clinic depression every day. God works through the amazing doctors He has placed in my life and through the medications and therapies they prescribe. Over the past few years, those doctors have have helped me hone in on what works best. And every one of them is telling me to slow down. So I am.  I am slowing down to sit at His feet this year. Setting new priorities, planting and carefully tending new hedges of protection. I have recruited some people who are not afraid to look me in the eye and say, “Stop it!”

I am already sensing some radical changes on the horizon.  Cutting back on my travel schedule.  Taking a year off from teaching Bible Study just a year.  Learning to be more creative in the way I mentor women.  Staying home.  Creating margins.  Beginning a new ministry that will still allow me to interact with women across the world without packing a bag and getting on a plane.  Cutting away the Kudzu.  And so excited to plant new seeds new dreams that the Father will grow. Not my seeds, you see. They are His alone and will not be a burden. In fact, they will be replenishing and energizing. When we work and serve within our gifting, God empowers and gives us everything we need to do what He created and calls us to do.  Yep! Taking my hands off. Letting go. Resting in Him. No ambition and absolutely no hope for worldly gain or fame. Wow! The freedom that comes from that place is startling.  How about you?

Do you need to stop and just breathe?

Today is the day. Take the time to sit at His feet and ask Him not anyone else ask the Father what His plan is for your life. Let go of everything that does not fit that plan. Then rise to your feet and do it.
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Kiwi on June 24, 2018, 10:46:23 PM »
What Beats Fear Every Time
Jun 08, 2018 | Holley Gerth

Today's Truth

There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear  1 John 4:18

Friend to Friend

“I still feel fear. I do. If you were hoping for a perfect, brave, bold, amazing and beautifully clad woman wearing the badged heart of courage I am not your gal. I am gaining ground, but I have miles  to go.” – Kelly Balarie

When I read these words on an ordinary Wednesday morning I got tears in my eyes. Because sometimes what you need is not information; it’s consolation. Sometimes you just need to know you’re not the only one. You need not the “how-to” but the “me too.”

Because you are battle-worn and tender and have already fought as hard as you possibly can for now.  I’ve recently been wrestling with fear again and I feel shame when I fall back into this place. I‘ve written a book about God-sized Dreams, after all. There’s a whole chapter about fear in there. And last fall I released a book called Fiercehearted. It seems I should have wrestled fear to the ground like a wild alligator by now. I should be riding it, one hand on its collar and the other in the air like a cowgirl on a bucking bronco.  I tell myself I should be totally over this by now don’t we all?

But this is not how it is to be human, not how it is to deal with fear. So here is what I’m reminding myself of on this Wednesday morning and what you might need to hear too…  Fear is inevitable, but shame over it is optional. Fear is wired into our very brains, into the most primitive part of us. This is not a mistake on the part of our Maker. It is strategic so that we survive. God knows this and He has compassion, not condemnation, toward our fear. I discovered when He says, “Do not fear” to someone in Scripture it is almost always to someone who is already afraid. It is not a rebuke but a reassurance.

Fear is a message about what matters to us. For example, I feel afraid in social situations where I’m not sure what to do or how to act because I want to love well. I feel fear before a book launches because I really want the message to reach your hearts and make a difference. I value relationships. I value you. Our fear is not weakness; it’s a sign that our hearts are alive and open and risking.  Fear is a Chihuahua that sounds like a Doberman. I first said this in You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and I go back to it over and over again. This pup sits right next to whatever matters most to us and the closer we get to it–a dream, a goal, a person we love the louder fear barks. But here’s the secret: it’s toothless. The worst it can do is scare us away from God’s best for our lives. It has no real power. Face it with faith and it will back down every time.  Love always defeats fear. “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18a).

When we’re afraid, it can be easy to come up with our own defense. For me, I think if I can just try harder and do better then I’ll stop being afraid because surely if I’m perfect everyone will like me and all will go well. But this never works. What I really need to know to defeat fear is this: I will be loved no matter what.  Yes, as long as we are on this spinning earth we will experience fear sometimes. But it is not our identity. We are not people of fear. We are people of faith. We are stronger than we know, braver than we feel and loved more than we can even imagine. 
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Hannahs prayer on June 24, 2018, 10:38:30 PM »
Do I Really Have To?
Jun 07, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.  James 4:17

Friend to Friend

Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. Case in point.  My husband asked if I could run to pick up his dry cleaning while he was on a conference call for  work. Sure. So I drove across town, paid, grabbed what they gave me, and then headed home.  “Are my suit pants cleaned too?” Brad asked when I brought the dry cleaning in the house.

“I’m sure they are, honey. I remember seeing them in the bag when I dropped them off.”

I checked. No suit pants.
“There are only shirts here, Brad, but I do remember there being a dark pair of pants in there last week when you gave me the bag!”

“I definitely had pants in there,” he replied. “Can you please call the dry cleaners and find out where they are?”

Sure.  “Hello, mister dry cleaner man. When I dropped my husband’s clothes off last Wednesday there was a pair of suit pants in the bag. I just picked up his laundry a little bit ago and the pants are not with his order. Can you please check on those?”

“Mrs. Smith, our records show that we took in 18 shirts, but no pants. I’m sorry.” He said matter-of-factly.

“Sir,” I responded as my pulse began to rise, “My husband and I both remember there being a pair of his suit pants in the bag when I dropped it off on Wednesday. There must be a mistake and we need to figure this out. Are there any pants around your store that are unaccounted for? The missing suit pants are navy with a thin blue pinstripe.”

“Ma’am,” he began with an abrasive, defensive edge, “we don’t have pants just ‘lying around.’ We only took in 18 shirts. Beyond that, I don’t know what to tell you. People think they drop things off all the time, but we very rarely ever lose anything.”


I was more than agitated at this point. “Well, sir, what I know is this: my husband and I both remember his suit pants being in the bag that I dropped off to you last Wednesday. He can’t wear a suit without pants. This is pretty important. Can you please take my number and call us if and when you find them?”

“Yep. I have your number.” Then he finished with this smug gem, “I don’t expect them to show up, but will call you if they do.”

“Great. Thanks.”

I was in a tizzy. Brad and I began to discuss the fact that we both knew his pants were in the bag and then a thought came to my mind which took me to the garage. And there, on the floor behind my drivers seat were his navy, pinstriped suit pants. Still dirty and blending in with the dark floor carpet of my car. Ugh! I walked back in the house and updated Brad.  “Do you think you should call and let the dry cleaner know that you found them?” He asked.

Inside I knew I should, but didn’t want to.  “No. I don’t want to. I don’t like him.” I replied childishly.

Almost instantly the Word of God convicted me. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17)

Doggone it. I have to call him back.  I reluctantly dialed the number again.  “Hello! Dry cleaning company, how can I help you?”

“Hi. We talked a few minutes ago about my husband’s suit pants, and I am calling back to let you know that I found them in the back floor of my car. They must’ve fallen out of the bag. I’m sorry.”

His voice softened. “Well, thanks for calling back. Most people wouldn’t do that. I appreciate it. Have a good day.”

My brow was still furrowed when I hung up. No halo hovered above my head and my grumpy ‘tude still had a grip on me. Taking that step of obedience meant swallowing my pride and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to do it. But I know it was required in response to my love for Christ.  Why is it sometimes hard for me to do the right thing?

Why is it hard to WANT to do the right thing sometimes?

I ponder the questions, yet know the answer: because on my own, I’m stubborn and self-seeking. Thankfully, by grace God’s Spirit works within to lead, correct, and guide.  Obedience to God is a battle that can only be won by surrendering. It’s a constant battle: my will versus God’s will. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him. (John 14:15, 21,23) Even when and if we don’t want to.  Where does this find you today? Is there anything that you know you should do, but haven’t done?
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Hannahs prayer on June 24, 2018, 10:29:55 PM »
When You Tell Yourself, “I Can’t Help Myself”
Jun 06, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”   2 Peter 1:3

Friend to Friend

Jennifer stood in front of the mirror staring at the overweight woman looking back at her. Just two years ago she’d lost 120 pounds, and now 80 of them were back. I can’t keep this weight off, she thought. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I just can’t do it. I’m always going to be fat. I’m just going to accept it and quit trying. What’s so bad about being fat anyway? I just can’t help myself.  Rachel loved Travis, she really did. Though they were both Christians, they found themselves staring at the ceiling in her bedroom after a night of passion that led to a morning of regret. We’ve tried to remain pure, she mused, but we love each other so much. It’s just natural to feel this passionately about the person you love. Once we start kissing, we can’t stop. But I know it’s wrong. I feel sick to my stomach every time we have sex. I just can’t help myself.  Martha could hear her six-year-old son crying in the next room. She was crying too. Her words of anger yelled at the top of her lungs just moments before bounced off the walls of their home. Oh, God, Martha prayed, why can’t I control my anger?

Why can’t I control the words that come out of my mouth?

I’m destroying my family with them. I’ve tried to control my tongue, but the hateful words come out anyway. What’s wrong with me?

I just can’t help myself.  Maybe you’ve found yourself saying these same five words: “I just can’t help myself.” Or maybe you’re given up and said, “That’s just the way I am.”

If you have, you’ve been telling yourself a lie.  Yes, maybe you can’t help yourself by yourself. But guess what. The power of the Holy Spirit working in you can. The key is, we must cooperate. The Bible says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

The one thing He won’t do is force you or me to change anything. He has given us the dangerous gift of free will, but also the power of the Holy Spirit to follow through.  Paul was a man who knew what it was like to struggle with the lie of “I can’t help myself.”

Listen to what he wrote to the Romans:  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:15-24)

Paul was a mess and he knew it. I’ve been right there with him, haven’t you?

I’ve known I needed to exercise, but taken a nap instead. I’ve known I needed to talk to the woman beside me in the airplane, but opened a book and read. I’ve known I should give my husband grace, but given him the cold shoulder and turned my back to him in bed. What a mess. In each case, I could have made a different choice, but I chose not to.  How do we move past the lie of “I can’t help myself?”

Paul was so excited to tell us the answer to that question that he couldn’t even wait until Romans chapter 8, but blurted it out at the end of chapter 7. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” he cried. And then came the answer: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

Exclamation marks all around!  “I can’t help myself?”

Don’t believe a word of it. God has given you everything you need to make right choices through the power of the Holy Spirit.
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