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Evaluating your Journey with God
Have you ever thought about how you are growing in Christ, here are some ways you can evaluate your spiritual growth. One way is to think through your prayer journey, are you praying more? Since prayer is talking with God, is your communication with Him is getting better. I encourage you to take the time to think through your prayer journey. The following is what I have found to help me know if I am growing spiritually:
Am I trusting God and His promises more than I did twelve months ago? “Up to this time, you have not asked a single thing in my name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full” (John 16:25).
Am I asking for specific things, or do I pray generally? You will recognize when your prayers are answered if you ask specifically. “For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him. And then helping you do what He wants” (Philippians 2:13).
Am I praying for others on a regular basis? “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1Timothy 2:1).
Do I have a quiet heart? Panic and peace cannot occupy the same place. “When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?” (Job 34:29).
Do I trust and rest in God, or do I let circumstances determined my feelings? “But I have stilled and quieted my soul…” (Psalm 131:2).
Do I dress myself with the armor of God each day? “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 5:12).
Talk to God about everything. “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
“The real reason for prayer is intimacy with our Father.” – Oswald Chambers
Ministry Assistant Miracle Inspires South County Baptist
Vicki Stamps, Contributing Writer
Published in The Pathway News Journal
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
ST. LOUIS—April Brooks, ministry assistant at South County Baptist Church here, and the daughter of Jairus have a lot in common. Both were dead and the faith of others ignited the power of prayer to bring them back to life.
On Oct. 6, 2010, Brooks, 38, left the church after work to visit her parents who live nearby. As she drove the familiar route, Brooks suddenly slumped over the steering wheel as she suffered cardiac death. Her heart stopped and the car she was driving crashed into a pole.
Witnesses and rescue workers filled Brooks in on what happened next.
“The 911 call went out at 4:42 p.m.,” she said. “The first responders arrived at 4:46 p.m. and they had to bust windows to get me out. I was cyanotic (blue), no pulse, no heartbeat, and unresponsive. God directed their hands. My pulse returned after CPR and being shocked twice.”
Despite the heroic efforts by EMT workers, John Childers, South County Baptist pastor, described the scene in the waiting room after the doctors examined Brooks. “When the doctor joined us to give a report of April’s condition,” Childers said, “he was very pessimistic. He wasn’t giving April much hope to live and if she did live, he expected severe brain damage.”
Brooks also described the prognosis.
“I went into a coma and I was on a ventilator because I was not breathing on my own,” she said. “At the beginning, they put me on a cooling machine to bring my body temperature down to 93 degrees to prevent any further damage. My husband was told that I had less than a 5 percent chance of waking up and if I did, the best case scenario would be severe brain damage.”
The stage was set for a miracle.
“Within a few minutes of the news,” Childers said, “about a dozen-plus family and friends were gathered around April’s bed in intensive care praying for her. We put her in God’s hands and trusted Him with the outcome.”
Childers said that in addition to the group of family and friends praying at the hospital, he sent the request out on the church email prayer chain. Also Ed Moncada, who is jointly employed by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and is a member of South County Baptist, was at a conference in Atlanta. He was able to announce the prayer request from the podium for the 13,000 pastors in attendance.
“Ed is a prayer warrior himself,” Childers said, “but, this multiplied the prayer dramatically for April.”
Childers also told of the tight bond between her and the congregation.
“She is the first one anyone talks to when they call the church,” he said. “She is a wonderful blessing as she gets to know each one in the congregation personally. Everyone in the congregation felt like it was their little sister in need of prayer and the family came together to pray.”
The response from God was almost immediate. She spent nine days in the hospital and came back to work Oct. 22.
“I really surprised everyone when I awoke with no brain damage,” Brooks said. “My family was so relieved when I identified that I knew who they were.”
Apparently the medical field also had a surprise.
“Even the medical personnel,” Brooks said, “believed a higher power definitely intervened.”
Childers said the numbers of people in the intensive care room indicated the serious situation.
“I learned from an intensive care nurse later,” he said, “that the only reason that they let all of us go into her room to pray was because they didn’t think she would make it through the next afternoon.”
According to Brooks, doctors didn’t have any explanation for her heart suddenly stopping. As a prevention measure, they implanted a pacemaker and cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) in her chest before leaving the hospital.
Since her hospital stay, Brooks is filled with gratitude for God’s mercy to her.
“Sometimes as I’m standing during worship time at church, I just send up a ‘thank you, Jesus’ for each breath that I’m able to take,” she said.
Brooks also has become a strong believer in prayer.
“I’ve started praying for Christians who are persecuted for their faith,” she said. “Our family has always been close, but now, my sister says, ‘I love you … bunches.’”
Childers also said he sees a difference in the church family.
“We’ve seen God move in significant ways in our congregation,” he said. “When we see something like this happen to someone who is the picture of health, it is God’s reminder to His people that they need to step up and serve Christ in the passion of the moment. The church has been brought together with a focus on Him.”
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Proverbs 17:22 (KJV) A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Practice Good Health take time to LAUGH!! Dr. Goodman from the state of NY: “If people could laugh 15 times a day, there would be fewer doctor bills” So here is your medicine:
Out of the Mouth of Babes The boy listened closely as the rabbi read the Bible. “May I ask a question?” he asked. “Sure, go ahead” replied the rabbi. “Well the Bible says the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, the children of Israel built the temple, the children of Israel did this and the children of Israel did that. Didn’t the grownups ever do anything?”
Bulletin / Newsletter Bloopers From a church newsletter in Georgia who have a special remembrance service for elders who have passed away in the previous year. ‘Only a small number of deceased elders has been sent to us. You can still bring yours with you to the service to be added to the list’
From a church bulletin in North Carolina: ‘If you choose to heave during the Postlude, please do so quietly so as not to interrupt those remaining for worship and meditation’
From a church bulletin in New Jersey: ‘There will be blessing of expectant parents on Sunday after all Masses. All expectant parents please go to the front pews and wail for the priest.’
Quote from a tongue tangled Pastor in Blue Springs, MO at a New Years Eve Midnight Service “Now let us stand and sing ‘Another Deer is Yawning’”
Even though we live near the Niangua River surrounded by 80 acres of woods, we have never owned a dog. We didn’t want an inside dog and always thought the wild animals would kill an outside dog. Why let your heart get wrapped up in a dog, only to have one taken away? If we ever decided to get a dog, it certainly would not be a dachshund! God has a way of changing our hearts doesn’t He? As it happened, on our 43rd wedding anniversary, a starving dachshund shows up on our doorstep, a pitiful little creature. So tell me, how could we not feed him? Okay, feeding led to a doghouse on the patio, which led to a trip to the vet for a checkup. We were told he was a purebred and in excellent health. At this point my heart has softened to this little guy, I couldn’t stand the thoughts of him spending the nights outside, so we bought a crate and he sleeps in the basement, snug and dry! Isn’t this the way with God? We come to him helpless and starving. Does He turn us away? No. Does He make sure we are fed? Yes, with food for our body and His Word for our soul. Does He provide us a place to sleep that keeps us warm, dry and safe? Yes. It is up to each of us to seek Him out, just as Zach chose us. God tells us, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden.” God will pour his love out to you, just as we have done for Zach. He will make you a beautiful person, just as Zach made himself a beautiful dog to me. Remember, I didn’t like dachshunds!
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day, and OH! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Where has the time gone? Do you find yourself asking this same question? You seem to think you have some “spare” time to get “caught up” only to find that it too has somehow come and gone. This seems to have been the course of my life since we were all together last October for the annual BSAM meeting. No excuses, just the facts, time has slipped up on me and gone faster than I was ready for it, and I’m still playing catch-up.
I have recently talked with several other ministry assistants that have expressed the same feeling. We all seem to be buried under too much to do with no time to get it all done. Not only the normal workload, but also all the expectations of those we work for. Perhaps the ice and snow of December, January, and February contributed to the feeling of being “buried”. The gloomy overcast days that swallowed up any sunshine or ray of hope of “getting things done” seem to have taken their toll. However, as my mother used to always tell me, look for the silver lining, it will be there.
That saying has always been a motto of mine, which I have tried to pass on to my children, and I want to share with you. It seems that just when I feel overwhelmed, God brings someone or something into my path, to brighten my day or remind me that I have a lot to be thankful for. I am never alone, He is always there. Each time I’ve shoveled the driveway this winter, which by the way was more than once, I have seen Him in the beautiful snowflakes that only He can create or the gorgeous frosty trees in the early morning mist or the glistening ice and snow in the bright sunshine. Our God is an awesome God! Though it is work to shovel the snow, I delight in the time of quiet to reflect on how much God loves and cares for me. He provided the time for me to work, without distractions so I could commune with Him in His world. (Somehow, no one seems to bother you when you are shoveling snow.) When I finished I felt refreshed and renewed (perhaps a little tired), but with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. The snow shoveling was my silver lining.
We do not always know why things happen but invariably God will reveal it to us in His time. It is usually when I am looking forward that I can see what God has done in the past to get me to where I am; “that other silver lining”. My husband is a Director of Missions and in February, I had the opportunity to attend the DOM Winter Retreat with him in Branson. We awoke the second day to be literally snowed in at the motel. This was the only day scheduled for us to finish early so we could have a free late afternoon and evening on our own. All the outlet malls were closed. For those who were able to maneuver out of the parking lot, most returned to say that almost all the restaurants were closed as well. So we cleaned off the car and returned inside to eat at the motel restaurant and spend the whole evening just relaxing. God knew we needed that time. We had been so busy with “stuff” we had not taken time to just relax and rest, no work, no meetings. It was wonderful!! Again, the silver lining was the snow.
Oh, I am still trying to get caught up with work that seems to keep piling up. And people still expect me to get lots of things done for them, but I am trying to find the silver lining in the pile on my desk. I know I have to take everything one-step at a time, just like shoveling the driveway, one shovel full at a time, but it will eventually be cleaned off. Oh, it will be covered over again, but I can be assured this too will pass. Only God can create the world in seven days, it will take me a lot longer to create a clean desk, let alone a clean office.
I say all that to say this: Remember we all need to take a break once in awhile and reflect on how far God has brought us and how far He wants to take us. When you get overwhelmed, look for that silver lining, it is there somewhere, waiting to be uncovered.
James 4:7 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
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From the kitchen of Connie Derks
Brown 2 pounds of hamburger or ground chuck with one large chopped onion.
After meat/onion mixture is browned, add: 2 tablespoons flour, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 small bottle of ketchup and 1 cup water. (Hint: pour the 1 cup water into the empty ketchup bottle and shake. This gets all the ketchup out!) Simmer 15 minutes – add: 1 can of corned beef (broken in pieces), 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Stir frequently as it will stick