by Joe Mintz
Ice Church in Romania Receives Inaugural Blessings from Priests
by Joe Mintz
Priests from different Christian denominations inaugurated a church made out of ice blocks in Romania, in what's become an annual tradition, the Associated Press reports. The church is located at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), at the Balea Lac resort in the Fagaras mountains...
Your Stress Is Harming Your Spiritual Life
by Andrea Lucado
I’ve noticed a theme since entering adulthood: it’s stressful. Becoming a grown up means grown-up responsibilities. You go to work, where maybe you have a difficult boss, or strict deadlines, budgets to make and presentations to give. After work, you go home, where you’re trying to keep up with things like grocery shopping, bills and cleaning. And on top of keeping your work and home life in order, you are trying to maintain a decent social life, stay up-to-date on pop culture and follow the news.
It’s a lot. It’s stressful. And, pretty quickly, we grow accustomed to the stress. We talk about being stressed out with our friends. We learn to go about our day with a constant weight on our shoulders, with neck pain and tension, with shortness of breath, or however it is your body manifests stress.
At some point, we just learn to live with it, get the occasional massage, and move on. But I wonder if we’re growing too comfortable with the amount of stress we have in our lives. I wonder if we realize what it is actually doing to us, not just physically, but spiritually.
When we’re stressed, our reaction is to search for peace. But I wonder if what we should be looking for instead is trust.
I think stress, at its core, is feeling worried about things that aren’t going your way presently, didn’t go your way in the past, or might not go your way in the future. I went through an intensely stressful time recently in which I was worried about all three of these things at once. I felt myself spiraling. I got anxious and just held onto the anxiety. In the stress, I began to doubt God’s power, and I began to doubt His goodness. If God is good and cares about me, why do I feel this way? If He is all-powerful and all-knowing, why isn’t He improving my situation? Simply put, I was not trusting God...
A Lent That's Not For Your Spiritual Improvement
by Kevin P Emmert
"Every year more and more evangelicals seem to be observing Lent. We’ve recognized it as a time of profound reorientation. We all are, as the hymn “Come, Thou Fount” aptly puts it, “prone to wander.” We are frail, sinful people who need to often reconsider our priorities, motives, and commitments. And fasting, which has both historical and biblical precedent, is a great way to foster reorientation.
"In Scripture, we see that fasting is a sign of sorrow over sin (Deut. 9:9, 18; 10:10; Ezra 10:6), a sign of repentance (1 Sam. 7:6), and an aid to prayer (Ezra 8:21–23; Acts 13:2–3). This discipline of abstinence, therefore, is often described as a way to grow closer to God. It prompts us to recognize our weakness and sinfulness, and it tangibly reminds us of our constant need for God’s grace and strength.
"Lent is also a time to imitate Christ and participate in his life in concrete ways. Lent, after all, commemorates Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness. For many, it is a spiritual journey whereby we identify with Christ, hoping to become more like him.
"All that is good, but many wonder if this hyperfocus on personal holiness is always healthy. Could it not turn into so much navel gazing? Perhaps we’ve lost sight of a vital aspect of Christ’s wilderness fast.
"If we want to truly imitate Christ’s fast and participate in his life these 40 days, perhaps we should consider fasting for the sake of others..."
What Does Ash Wednesday Really Mean?
by Kimberly Winston
Chances are you’ll see a bunch of folks walking around with shmutz on their foreheads this Wednesday (Feb. 18). What does having a dirty forehead have to do with being a Christian and why this ritual is gaining in popularity?
Q: Excuse me, but why do you have dirt on your forehead?
A: Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the day many Christians mark as the first day of Lent, the time of reflection and penitence leading up to Easter Sunday. Clergy all over the world dispense ashes, usually made by burning the palm fronds distributed on last year’s Palm Sunday, making the sign of the cross on the bowed foreheads before them. As they “impose” or “dispense” the ashes, the pastor or priest reminds each Christian of Genesis 3:19: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return...”
Christian, in yourself there are times "when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees." You have a peculiar power in prayer; the Spirit of God gives you joy and gladness; the Scripture is open to you; the promises are applied; you walk in the light of God's countenance; you have peculiar freedom and liberty in devotion, and more closeness of communion with Christ than before. Now, at such joyous periods when you hear the "sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees," is the time to rouse yourself; now is the time to get rid of any evil habit, while God the Spirit helps your infirmities. Spread your sail; but remember what you sometimes sing...
I can only spread the sail;
But God must breathe the auspicious gale.
by Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
"It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the LORD will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines."
2 Samuel 5:24
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
There is no worse feeling than feeling a distance from God. When we cry out in prayer, we need to feel His presence with us. When that feeling is absent, hopelessness and despair set in. We need to know, however, that the Lord has not really gone far from us, but we have pushed Him from ourselves. The Lord is always as close as a prayer, and we need but open our hearts to Him, and His presence will be felt once again. The Lord never hides His face from us, though often He will wait; stepping back like the loving Father that He is, to see whether or not we can struggle through a problem on our own. God wants to see us grow, and He often has to let us struggle a bit in order to allow that growth to occur. Even in those times of trial, however, the Lord is never far away, and He will not allow us to be tried beyond our endurance.
Wisdom from the Psalms, Inspirational Library
by Dan R Dick
God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.
All Scripture at Annie's Blog
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