Monday, 30 June 2014

DECLARATIONS & PRAYER for new week:

You are walking through your open doors. You are taking possession of your inheritance. God will preserve, promote and perfect all that concerns you in Jesus name.
Whatever has held you back in the past will suddenly give way. Like David, you too will pursue, overtake and recover all in Jesus name.
No matter who you are or what the physicians have concluded at, your permanent healing will come as a shocker to all in Jesus name
You will not beg to feed, to train your children or run your home in Jesus name
 Life will favour you no matter how hopeless all seem
After all is done here [on earth], the wealth and all, you will not forfeit heaven
!J

Happy New Week from us ASB-World. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

DON’T GIVE UP! THERE HOPE FOR YOUR LIFE

This is a true story of a young woman who went through the most gruesome fire. When you read her story, you’ll realize that your trials are absolutely nothing compared to what this young girl went through.
It was September 25, 2000; Maricel Apatan was an 11-year old girl in Zamboanga. On that day, this little girl went with her uncle to draw water.
Along the way, four men met them. They were carrying long knives. They told her uncle to face down on the ground, and they hacked him on the neck and killed him.
Maricel was in total shock especially that the men were their neighbours. She tried to escape, but the men ran after her.
She cried, “Kuya, ‘wag po, ‘wag n’yo akong tagain! Maawa po kayo sa akin!” (“Don’t kill me! Have mercy on me!”)
But they weren’t listening. With a long knife, a man slashed her on the neck too.
Maricel fell to the ground and lost consciousness.
When she woke up, she saw a lot of blood. She also saw the feet of the men around her, but she pretended to be dead.
When they walked away, Maricel ran back home. But along the way, she saw that both her hands were falling off because the men hacked them too. She cried but she kept running.
Sometimes, she would faint and fall to the ground. But she will regain consciousness and run again.
When she was near her home, Maricel called her mother.
Upon seeing her daughter, her mother screamed in terror. She wrapped her bloodied child in a blanket and carried her to the hospital.
Here was the problem: From her house to the highway, it was a 12-kilometre walk. It took them 4 hours just to reach the highway.
When they arrived in the hospital, the doctors thought Maricel was going to die. For 5 hours they operated on her. It took 25 stitches to stitch together the long knife wound in her neck and back.
Maricel barely survived. And she lost both of her hands.
Ironically, the next day was Maricel’s birthday. She was 12 years old.
But tragedy didn’t end there. When they went home, they saw their home was gone. It was ransacked and burned down to ashes.
Being very poor, Maricel’s family also didn’t have P50,000 for their hospital bills.
But God sent many angels along the way to help them.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, a distant relative, paid for hospital bills and helped them bring the criminals to court. They were sentenced to prison.
Today, she’s staying with the nuns at Regina Rosarii with Sr. Eppie Brasil, O.P.
But this is the incredible miracle. Instead of staying down, Maricel kept running.
Instead of cursing God why she had no hands, she now uses her wrists in incredible ways that will boggle your mind.
Maricel was cited as the most industrious, best in computer and most courteous in the School for Crippled Children.
In 2008, she graduated from a course in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She even received a Gold medal for Arts and Crafts.
In 2011, she finished her education to be a Chef. Yes, a Chef without hands.
Nothing can stop this young lady from reaching her dreams.
Real Winners Don’t Give Up!

Power In The Word

TEXT: JEREMIAH 23:23-32
KEY VERSE: “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).
An Indian found a tract that dwelt on salvation through Jesus Christ. It spoke of the endless eternity of woe that awaited those who neglect the message. The Indian took the paper to the toilet; but as he read it, he could no longer use it to clean himself. He took the tract home and at the end of the day, God used the message in it to save him and his household. Eventually they established a couple of Bible-believing churches in India.
The bane of the success and achievement of the disloyal prophets in our text is their refusal to acknowledge the potency of the word of God. They ignored the word of God and instead fed the people with lies and dreams that originate from their rebellious minds: they effectively used their lies and false dreams to divert the hearts of their hearers away from God (verses 26,27).
We should avoid the danger of falling into the same trap today. There are many preachers today who have relegated the word of God to the background. They, instead, elevated dreams, prophecies and other unscriptural practices in their preaching. No wonder then that there are many churches but righteousness and holy living is fading out in an alarming rate. No assembly can be favoured by God when the word of God is not given the right place. The hardened heart of sinners can only be broken by the power of the word.
God wants us to embrace the “wheat” of the word of God and reject the “chaff” (dreams and visions) of modern day pleasure-seeking preachers. The power to deliver from sin and to keep us rapturable can only be found where the word of God is faithfully preached and lived out.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: There is sovereign power in God’s word.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

This Woman Had Her Face Photoshopped In Over 25 Countries To Examine Global Beauty Standards

Esther Honig, a freelance journalist based out of Kansas City, sent an unaltered photograph of herself to more than 40 Photoshop aficionados around the world. “Make me beautiful,” she said, hoping to bring to light how standards of beauty differ across various cultures.
The project, titled Before & After, originally came to Honig while she was working as a social media manager for a small startup. Her boss introduced her to Fiverr, an international freelancing website where anyone can hire freelancers from around the globe to complete almost any task imaginable. While browsing the site, Honig realized the prevalence of those offering Photoshop skills. “It immediately occurred to me that in this pool of workers, each individual likely had an aesthetic preference particular to their own culture,” Honig told BuzzFeed. Thus, the idea for Before & After was born.
Working with freelancers in over 25 countries, Honig expected that the images would differ from country to country, but was herself caught off guard by just how drastically some of the images were altered. “Seeing some jobs for the first time made me shriek… Other times images, like the one from Morocco, took my breath away because they were far more insightful than I could have expected,” Honig said.
To be sure, the images Honig has collected so far are interesting as individual images, a unique portrait of the standards of beauty in each country. However, when taken in totality, the project becomes much more striking, an interesting launching point into a global conversation about unattainable beauty standards around the world. “What I’ve learned from the project is this: Photoshop [may] allow us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive.”


Below are the photographs that Honig has collected thus far. Note: Some countries have multiple images from different artists. Honig continues her project on her website.
Source; www.buzzfeed.com

YOU ARE SO SPECIAL

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1
What you believe about yourself your self-esteem, your sense f value, your sense of worth sets the limits for your life. 
We can see ourselves from different points of view.
• We can see ourselves as the world sees us: this makes us slaves of other people.
• We can see ourselves as we see ourselves: this can make us either arrogant or timid.
• We can see ourselves the way God sees us: this frees us to be the best we can be. When we see ourselves the way God sees us, it enables us to live our lives the way God created us to be.
The problem that many people have today is they don't really even like themselves. They constantly focus on their faults and shortcomings and then wonder why they don't enjoy life or have any enthusiasm or why their relationships aren't working.
Understand that you cannot be negative toward yourself and expect to live a positive, faith-filled life.
In order to love yourself so that you can love others, you first of all accept that God loves you unconditionally. That thought will liberate you from any sense of inferiority or arrogance.
It focuses your identity on God and not on what you have or do not have. If you'll get your thinking corrected and start thinking like a beloved child of the Most High God, who is crowned with favour, you'll be amazed at what will happen.
You will rise from the life of a loser to the life of a winner in Christ. When you allow thoughts of acceptance and love fill your heart and mind, it will spill over onto the people around you.
As you live and love the way God intends, you will find peace, joy, and victory.
Prayer: Thank You Heavenly Father, for loving me without reservation.
Scriptural Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

Haters are not outside, Enemies are not strangers!

Haters are not outside, enemies are not strangers. This is a post I read somewhere on facebook. We naturally have two sets of people, those that believe everybody is the enemy and those who believe otherwise. Each believes the other set is too extreme. Today's passage is about an enemy who was not a stranger, who was In-fact a blood relative, a son, a most loved son!
2 Sam 15 : 1-6.
Absalom didn't just create an uprising against his dad, he planned it for years. He strategized and worked towards his goal. All through what was to bring the a-shame, disgrace, defeat, death of his dad, David remained ignorant of the plan that was sure to end him I'm sure many can identify with this.
 I know when your trusted confidants are the ones plotting against you and you remain in their midst unaware. There is nothing we can do to eliminate such people from around us totally, as the bible says the heart of man is desperately wicked, and there is a saying in literature that says there is no art that knows the heart of man. How then do we keep safe in the light of this? David had an informant, even among the plenty people that decamped to Absalom's side. Who is your informant? 

Who tells you of secret things to come? Who do you depend on in the camp of the enemy to let you in on plans against you?vs 13. David developed a strategy immediately, the strategy was to remove himself to a safe place together with his household which included his servants, i.e protection of life was urgent. What happens to you in time of trouble? Do you fall apart? Weep endlessly? Complain to people who've got no solution? Or take immediate action to protect yourself and your household. He personally monitored those who crossed over to safety with him
 vs 19-22. He placed people in strategic places to ensure he was kept up to date with the activities of his enemy. He prayed, he placed a mole in the camp of the enemy. Who is your mole? All those who remained faithful to David Sid not start being faithful that day of trouble, he had earned their loyalty over time before then. What is your relationship with the Holy Spirit? Would you just call on him out of the blues on the day of trouble? Would you even understand how he speaks when you've not accustomed yourself to hearing? David refused to be distracted by opposition on his way to safety, he still hoped in God, he never lost hope, even though he was removing himself from danger. His prayer became answered, Ahitophel's counsel was turned into foolishness and God gave David victory. What happens to you when it seems the gates have been opened to your oppositions? Stop weeping, take action, prayerfully bring yourself to safety, don't loose hope in God, you will win this battle.
By Dunni

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: THE VALUE OF TIME

Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400.
It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.
What would you do?
Draw out every cent, of course!!
Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you.
Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success!
The clock is running. Make the most of today.
To realize the value of one year, ask a student who has failed his final exam.
To realize the value of one month, ask the parent of a premature baby.
To realize the value of one week, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of one day, ask a daily wage laborer who has a large family to feed.
To realize the value of one hour, ask lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who has missed the train, the bus, or a plane.
To realize the value of one second, ask a person who has survived an accident.
To realize the value of one millisecond, ask the person who has won a silver medal at the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time. And remember that time waits for no one.
VALUE YOUR TIME!!!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

This is dedicated to anyone going through one storms/problems or the other listen to this song specially the lyrics and be bless. see the video below:




"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

THE JOY OF THE LORD

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:4 
It is tragic to go through life with a stone face.
The enemy has convinced too many into thinking that they need to be always sombre and serious in order to be a Christian. Don't fall for that trick.
God wants you to be joyful and happy.
In fact, He prescribes laughter as a medicine for our souls. "The joy of the Lord is our strength." It is God's great prescription for living a long, healthy, and happy life.
Recent studies have shown that a joyful disposition boosts the body's immune system, reduces stress, reduces the risk of heart attack, and even acts as a natural tranquilizer. Those are health benefits everyone needs.
The "medicine" of laughter is within everyone, but you may need to start taking it before it works in your life.
It is important to note that the joy of the Lord is not simply bursting into laughter because you heard a funny joke. Neither is it a fake pretense at being happy or giggling senselessly.
The joy of the Lord has a spiritual source. It is produced by the Holy Spirit and is produced from within our hearts by Him.
Because it is supernatural in nature, it cannot be controlled by our circumstances.
Four factors influence our joy:
• Our salvation. We are joyful because our sins are forgiven, and our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
• Our security. We are joyful because we know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We are safe in Him.
• Our service. We are joyful because we allow the Holy Spirit to use us to touch other people's lives. Our lives are useful.
Most importantly, we are joyful because of our earnest expectation of the glory of God when Jesus Christ comes.
Prayer: Joyful, joyful we adore You Lord of glory, Lord of love.
Scriptural Reading: 1 John 1:1-4

Ten Marriage Trials and How to Survive Them

Marriage is tough. It's a given. This list covers most of the common troubles, but your situation is unique and the key point here is to face the hardship whatever kind of struggle it is together with your wife.
OK, if you haven't watched the "Ian and Larissa" video, then stop reading right now, watch the video, then come back to this list. Seriously, you have to watch it.
Do you remember your marriage vows?
"For better, for worse..."
"In sickness and in health..."
"For richer, for poorer?
These promises presuppose tough times. My wife and I went into our marriage with our eyes open, so there's really no excuse for not bringing everything we have to the table when things once in a while get dicey.

Here are 10 ways to overcoming hardships in marriage. Remember first and foremost, however, that prayer is the biggest key. You and your spouse should be praying together every day and trusting that you can overcome anything if you trust in the Lord.

1. Financial Struggle. The stress associated with money problems can be overwhelming. But, in the end, it's only money and money has no power over your commitment to your relationship.
  • Commit to a plan 
  • Live simply
  • Never keep financial secrets from your wife
2. Challenging Children. Even the "best behaved children in the world" present challenges, and the number one casualty is always the relationship between mom and dad. So remember this, "The marriage comes first." Not the kids, but the marriage. Nurture your relationship with your wife and you will be better equipped to deal with whatever it is the kids dish out.
3. Immaturity. Great relationships are supposed to mature over time. If you still relate to one-another the same way you did when you first married, then it's past time for the marriage to grow up. Get involved in a couples group at your faith community. Love one-another "out loud." Invest in the marriage as if your life depends on it because it does.
4. Unfaithfulness. Marriages run into this hardship often. We may not sleep with other women, but we're all guilty of being unfaithful when it comes to time, attention, priorities, the way we use our resources, and so much more. One way to deal with this is to recommit yourself to your wife. Woo her all over again. Make it clear where your priorities steer your time and attention.
5. Moving. It's a fact. Most Americans change careers several times. That often means moving across the state or across the world. Moving is a huge stress. Regardless, if it's because of your job or if it's hers, make the decision to be 100 percent supportive and flat-out refuse to whine. Do what it takes to get invested in the new community quickly. Find a church. Get involved. Live forward.
6. Sickness. We forget how much we rely on one-another until someone breaks down physically. If you're the one still standing, do everything in your power to be a servant to your spouse. Sure it's tough to do everything, but your attempt with an obvious willing spirit is going to make all the difference.
7. Depression. Everyone goes through "the blues" at times in their lives.  Here, again, it's about having the heart of a servant, about going the extra mile, about putting the needs of your wife ahead of your own.  Look to God for your source of happiness, be a conduit of that joy to your spouse, and seek medical attention.
8. Disinterest. Sometimes it happens the first year. Sometimes it takes a decade or so. Regardless of where we are on the time spectrum, disinterest or boredom can easily set in. Not feeling special about the relationship is a hardship for everyone. But it doesn't have to be. Our job is to be intentional about the relationship. She didn't fall for you in the first place without any effort on your part—so why stop now?
  • When was the last time you took her out on a date?
  • Have you told her lately how stunning she looks?
  • What about a day off (the entire thing) devoted to her?
9. Career. We've already talked about moving, but career issues can cause hardship without a change of location. Keep her in the loop. Ask her opinion about what you're up to. Do everything in your power to protect family time and to promote a work-culture that respects family values.
10. Empty nest. We invest a lot in the kids. If we're not careful, our relationship with our spouse gets neglected. First, guard against that day by investing in your wife now. Then, rather than mourn the children after they leave, try celebrating the freedom you now have to invest more time and interest in your marriage. Again, it's all about being intentional.
Huddle up with your wife tonight and say: "I want you to know that I still am committed to my marriage vow and I will love you for the rest of my life."

The Powerful Promises of Living in Agreement

 1) Unity brings down all walls and releases peace. "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation" (Eph. 2:14).
2) Unity forges a new humanity with tremendous possibilities. "Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace" (Eph. 2:15).
3) Unity was won by Christ on the cross as He endured all our hostilities against each other. When we live in hostility toward our fellow believers, we crucify Christ again. Instead, we must be crucified to divisive behavior toward others. As Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
4) Unity gives us access into God's presence. "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Eph. 2:18-21). We became the new temple of God!
5) Unity brings the highest level of spiritual fullness and power. "In whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22). When we are "built together," God lives in us! What awesome possibilities flow from such anointing.

Source: www.charismamag.com

Monday, 23 June 2014

Prayer for new week

God will delete all irrelevant people from your life In Jesus Name, Every virtue you have lost in previous years shall be regained in double this year. You are destined to shine ! God's favour comes with supernatural abundance. Get ready for increase and divine surprises. It's your season of unusual provision and speedy perfection in Jesus name.
God will lead you in the path of righteousness and He shall preserve you from lying tongues and downcast spirits. Your soul is lifted above the happenings around you. You will witness a great encounter with the Almighty God before the end of this month in the mighty name of Jesus!J

Happy New Week from us ASB-World. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Divine Displeasure

TEXT: JEREMIAH 22:13-30

KEY VERSE: “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work” (Jeremiah 22:13).

Members of the public in an African nation were disappointed that some business men entrusted with the grave responsibility of clearing refuse in the metropolis brought in rickety trucks for the job. They did not deliver and soon the city became a huge dump site, worse than what it used to be.

False prophets, projecting themselves as custodians and proclaimers of God’s word are not in any way better than the disused trucks highlighted above. Though they profess to speak for the Almighty, they taught people to sin by their examples and false prophecies which give the people false hope of peace. They hold the name of the true God on their lips but walk in falsehood and lies. Yet, they are so audacious in the way they go about it. They give prophecies from their vain imaginations and yet present such in the name of the Lord to deceive the ignorant and simple-hearted. Their ministries are such that have no simple righteous influence on their hearers but leave them to slip deeper into sin without caution. The claim of God about them is found in verse 21: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran, I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied”. In His displeasure, God threatened to punish these prophets for their wickedness, falsehood and pretence to show others the way while they themselves abode in darkness. From verse 22, we learn the attribute of a God-ordained ministry. It is such that warns men of the evil of their doing and turn them to righteous living.

False prophets, prophecies and ministries abound in these last days. They are already succeeding in drawing away disciples after their pernicious ways. So, any so-called prophet who seemingly speaks for God, without stressing the Cross of Christ and a life of self-denial is an enemy of your soul; hear him not.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: False prophets are familiar soul-damning harvesters around you.

SUNDAY FASHION: UNIQUE & CLASSY ASO EBI STYLES!!

When it comes two gorgeous wearing traditional attires, some people know the nitty gritty of how well to go
about it, how to combine the colors, gorgeous accessories that will complement the amazing attire and especially how to tie the 'Gele'. Enjoy and have fun ....
See photos below ----





















Friday, 20 June 2014

Recipes: Chicken Casserole

Paula Deen's chicken casseroleIngredients:
2 cups cooked chicken, cut in small bite-sized pieces
4 cups pasta, cooked and drained, approximately 2 cups uncooked (penne, cavatappi, rigatoni all work well)
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup sour cream
1 cup milk
3 cups cheese, grated (cheddar, cojack, Swiss or a combination) – save just a little bit for sprinkling on the top
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the inside of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes) stirring occasionally. Add the flour and whisk together for about 1 minute (this will allow the flour to cook just a little before adding the other ingredients). Add the sour cream and milk, and continue whisking until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and add all but ½ cup of the cheese. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir together, then layer evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top of the casserole and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Remove the casserole and let it sit for about 15 minutes prior to serving.
Paula Deen's chicken casserole

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Single Women: You Were Made for More Than a Ring

I just really want to be a wife and mom," said the pre-med college student who had come over for tea. She wanted to chat about her career options and her new boyfriend and she was much more excited about the boyfriend than a possible medical degree.
I said the same thing during my early single years, and I've heard the same thing over and over from many young women. So many women, particularly Christian women, envision the house, the kids, the loving husband, the dog and the yard. They long for the days filled with baking cookies, raising kids and greeting their husband at the door after a long day's work a Leave It to Beaver episode that plays and replays in their minds.

And, you know, there's nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, it's perfectly natural for women to daydream about weddings and husbands and kids. The problem comes when that is all we dream about, when our dreams end at the altar and we think the wedding alone is our destiny.

You were made for more than a ring.
Wake Up to the Real "More"
I remember the day I was, for the 400th time, bemoaning my singlehood. A good friend challenged me: "Nicole, what else do you want to be besides a wife? What does your life look like outside of the home?"
I sat dumb. I couldn't answer her! I always knew in my head that life was multifaceted, but I realized deep down that I was hoping a husband would be my panacea, my savior—not only from loneliness but also from purposelessness and boredom.
My friend's question challenged me, and the Holy Spirit began to speak to me: "A husband will never give you purpose. Your life is about more than being a wife. Simply being a wife will never fulfill you."
That sobered me and propelled me to take hold of the garment of Jesus and beseech Him. I cried out, "What have You called me to do? What have You made me to do? What can I do uniquely that no one else can do?"
That day I realized that even though I desperately wanted to get married, my life was meant to be about more than domestic bliss—and the same is true for you.
Face Up to the Church Challenge
Let's face it, though: The church world doesn't help us out much in this area. Christians often treat single women like they have some sort of disease. They keep them at arm's length and forget about them in their sermons, social gatherings and prayers. Sermon illustrations are filled with examples appropriate for married people but totally irrelevant for singles. Churches organize all kinds of activities for stay-at-home moms and couples, but singles are left to fend for themselves—or, worse, are called on to provide childcare for the marriage activities. This can leave singles feeling lost and invisible.
The truth is that many Christians get married very young, so they simply cannot relate to being 35 or 45 or 55 and single. How many of you single women have had a married man ask, "Why aren't you married yet?" As if you knew! As if you're somehow too prudish or too snooty or too picky or too something to get a man. You walk away sure you must be the problem. You assume that in some unknown way you're warding off men. You feel condemned and confused.
Many married women don't know what to say either. They have never lived alone or made a major decision alone. And some make insensitive comments or suggest perhaps you have the "gift of singleness." Some assume you're on the hunt for a man—and they hold their husbands a little closer when you're around.
Part of the problem is that family has become an idol in the church. Christians have reacted to the feminist movement's exaltation of career over family by doing the same thing in reverse—exalting family over everything else. The family is so highly esteemed in the church that, with no effort at all, we can conclude life before marriage is suboptimal living, like a winter season to be prayed through and left behind as quickly as possible.
Winter, though, is a season of death. The trees look dead; the grass looks dead; flowers are dead. Wildlife is hidden away and sleeping. Potential life lies dormant beneath the surface, but no life is visible.
How different the single life should be from this!
As a single woman, your life is ripe for bursting with vitality and energy. This is a time for pursuing God, for traveling, for sowing eternal seeds in people's lives, and for investing in your career and in those you love.
Family is incredibly important, and the breakdown of marriage and family is the cause of many of our social ills, for sure. I do not think, however, that a married person is more important than a single person or that getting married makes you more spiritual or more special than a single person.
So challenge the status quo. Decide that even if you long for a mate, those who look at you will see spring, and you will indeed know life and fruit on a regular basis.
Take Up Responsibility
As a single person, it's your responsibility to find out the "more" God has for you. Even if your greatest desire is to be married, open your mind and heart and start desiring something else too. If you die tomorrow, will you leave anything significant behind, or is your free time spent only in daydreaming and indulging in discontent?
If you're in your 30s or 40s or 50s and aren't married, perhaps you are supposed to do something else before you wed. After you say "I do," your time, energy and money will be divided multiple ways. What can you throw yourself into now that will make a significant impact on an eternal soul?
I've heard it said a woman's highest calling is to be a wife and mother. I disagree. I think the highest calling for you is to be in the will of God. I certainly don't think Gladys Aylward or Corrie ten Boom were less important than my dear friend who stays home raising her seven children. These women are all heroines who have poured themselves out for other people and changed lives for the good.
What is God calling you to do? I know He's whispering an assignment in your ear and trying to stir a passion in you other than the sexual passion you dream about. He has something for you to focus on other than the left ring finger of every man you meet. He has something for you to be excited about other than the hello of the handsom man in your office.
Sister, you're too smart to think only about your figure, and you're too precious to spend your days strutting your stuff and hoping for male attention. You are more than the number of nods you receive from men and the number of dates you've had this year. You are a princess, not a prisoner of singleness.
Stand Up and Move Forward
If you are single, the goal for you right now is to figure out why you were created and to move forward with a sense of purpose. The key word for you is focus. Identify the call of God on your life, and set your face like flint, pursuing Him and that purpose for which you were created.
Don't worry. You won't intimidate your future husband. You won't scare him away. You won't miss him. Like an Olympic runner, set your face on the finish line and refuse the distraction of what others are doing ("How come she gets a boyfriend?" "Why can't I have a man like that?"). Claim the truth that God is no respecter of persons and that He has blessings in store for you, too, and move forward.
When you get married, your highest call will be walking in the will of God—which will include being the best wife and may include being the best mother you can be. But it will also include more. If your life ends at the wedding altar, if you get married and just settle in, if you stop pursuing God and cease investing the talents He's given you, you will fall short of the purpose for which you were created. You will become stale. And your marriage will suffer.
Our lives should be moving, dynamic and anointed, and that can't start when we get married. It has to start now. Once you get a glimpse of the bigger picture, it will focus your time and attention and give you purpose and goals other than catching a mate.
By my late 20s, I realized God was calling me to be a writer and speaker. He wanted to use my mouth and pen to communicate the truths of His Word and encourage others. This was confirmed when I spoke at my first conference overseas. I was in Ghana, West Africa, at a women's conference, and as I stood at the podium ministering to hundreds of beautiful women, I felt like I had come home. This was what I was born to do. Similar to Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire, I realized I "feel God's pleasure" when I speak.
I didn't know how opportunities would come, but I did know those single years were prime time to invest in the talents God had given me. I had enough married friends to know I had more time on my hands than they did. I knew evenings free of distraction and quiet Saturday afternoons were a luxury and that I should invest some of those hours honing skills and pressing into God. I determined to be ready in season and out of season, and I spent many evenings with my Bible and my laptop open. I had purpose, and this guided my time and focused my heart.
If you have no idea what your destiny is, let me ask you this: What has God put in your hand? Like the boy with the fishes and loaves, if you offer even small things to God, He can multiply them and use them to feed multitudes. So can you write, play an instrument, sing, organize, teach, cook, research, program, build or sew?
Now is the time to discover gifts, no matter how small, and begin to invest in them. Now is the time to ask the Father for a bigger picture of your life and for guidance on how to work toward it.
This is also true for my sisters in their twilight years or those who are single again after being widowed or divorced. It's never too late to discover purpose. If you are retired and your kids are grown and gone, praise God! You still have time to dream a new dream. There is another volume of your life to be written. Don't shut down and assume the best is over. No, my sisters, the best is yet to come!
Do you remember Anna, in the book of Luke? The Bible says she had only been married seven years when her husband died. How sad! And yet she chose to throw herself into purpose and make something beautiful of her life. She spent her days in intercession, prophesying and waiting for the Messiah. And she got to see Him! At 84, she received a most incredible gift. (See Luke 2:36-38.)
Sisters, don't limit God. Remember, a single man wrote half of the New Testament. God wants to use you to change history—perhaps not world history, but at least the history of a child, a church, a community, a family or an office. What He is calling you to is life-changing for someone somewhere, and it is vital you discover it. Your mate will come alongside you and complement the work you are already doing. He will add to it and make it better, but there is much for you to do in the meantime.

Seven Honest Questions You Need to Ask About Your Marriage

Karen and I have been married 40 years, but the first three years of our marriage were miserable.
We thought once we were married, things would be great and we would live happily ever after. Were we ever wrong! And our naïveté almost ended in divorce.
Thankfully, it didn't. And that's due in large part to our commitment then—and now—to marriage maintenance. Yes, that's right: I included now in that equation. Because whether you're on the brink of divorce or thriving in your partnership, marriage requires continual upkeep. Karen and I learned that the hard way, but hopefully you don't have to.

Have you checked under the hood of your marriage lately? Here's a seven-point checklist to keep your marriage well-oiled and running smoothly.

1) How is your relationship with God?
Your spouse can't meet your deepest needs, and you can't meet theirs. That may fly in the face of what our culture wants you to believe, but it's true. When God paired Adam and Eve in the garden, He walked with them in their midst. That's the picture of how marriage works—with God at the center. When Adam and Eve rebelled, their marriage suffered as they lost the garden God had created for them to share.
When Karen and I married, we were believers but didn't know how to rely on the Lord daily. Because of that, we tried to get our deepest needs met through each other, which only resulted in frustration and bitterness. We thought we'd made a mistake in marrying each other—but we didn't. Our mistake was in trying to squeeze God out of each other.
The most important thing Karen and I do for our marriage every day is to start each day with prayer, the Bible and seeking God. That's where we take our cares, needs, hurts and desires. In that daily prayer time, the Lord heals, fills and empowers us with His incredible love.
Because here's the truth: Our deepest needs are acceptance, identity, security and purpose. These driving needs motivate us daily whether we realize it or not—and only God can meet those four needs on the deepest level of our lives. When we lack a relationship with Him in which those needs get met, we automatically transfer that expectation to our spouse, thus setting up our marriage and our mate for failure.
The most important issue in your marriage is your personal, daily, dynamic relationship with God. If you're rusty in this area, you probably need to apologize to your spouse for putting too much pressure on them—and to the Lord for not keeping yourself in well-tuned, daily fellowship with Him. When you've been with God, you can love your spouse properly. You'll find your expectations right, your heart healthy and yourself ready to love out of the overflow of God's love that's already in you.
2) How are your marriage disciplines and traditions?
In marriage, it isn't what you can make happen but what you can keep happening. Many married couples become distracted after a period of time and stop caring for each other's needs. Then they begin to fight and a big blow-up hides just around the corner. If they work through it, they may go for a second honeymoon or romantic getaway. But once that phase is over, they go right back into the negative cycle of distraction, fighting, making up and so on. The longer this cycle recurs, the more dangerous it becomes and the harder it gets to make up and keep going.
Good marriages prioritize regular disciplines and traditions that ensure the right things keep happening. For example, almost all good marriages include a date night or date day in the weekly or monthly routine. It isn't in response to a fight or a crisis. It is a proactive discipline in the relationship.
Early in our marriage, Karen and I walked together every morning for an hour and a half. We would pray for 45 minutes and talk for 45 minutes. It was one of the best things we ever did with each other.
Do you have a date night (or day)? Do you prioritize your marriage and protect the time and energy you have together? Don't wait for a convenient time. Make it happen, and keep it going.
3) Are you emotionally bilingual?
You're no doubt familiar with the old saying "Marriage is about becoming one." But maybe you haven't heard the cynical response: "Yes, but which one?"
In many marriages, a battle is forged to see which language gets spoken in the home—the man's or the woman's. But we are different by God's design, and we have different needs. Men need honor. Women need security. Men need sex. Women need nonsexual touch and affection. Men need to be friends with their wives. Women need open and honest communication. Men need their wives to be domestically centered. Women need their husbands to lead.
The essence of romance is speaking in your spouse's language as you meet their needs in love. Romance is not a language lesson; it's a language demonstration, where you enter your spouse's world and speak love the way they understand it. When a husband and wife both do this, they are in heaven. But many marriages never make it to that point.
For your marriage to succeed, you'll need to meet needs in your spouse that you don't have. And they'll need to do the same for you. The greatest marriage is two servants in love who sacrifice for each other. The worst is two selfish people who demand to be served.
Again, we are different by God's design, and it is unchangeable. Because of this, one key to a great marriage is becoming emotionally bilingual. Don't speak love in your own language; speak it in your spouse's language. As you do, you'll see them light up and respond.
Are you emotionally bilingual? What's your spouse's language? How can you speak it today—and every day?
4) Do you make decisions together as equals?
Marriage is about sharing. Yet it's amazing how many couples don't share decisions. Either one spouse dominates the relationship or both people share the same house but live separate lives.
Karen and I make all our important decisions together, and this is crucial to the intimacy and goodwill of our relationship. We don't bully each other or make each other pay a price for being honest. When we make decisions, we first submit them to God and pray. Our marriage is not a battle of wills; it is a search for His will. Then, because we share all the big decisions, there's no chance for resentment or division to creep into our life together.
Do you and your spouse make decisions together? Do you respect your spouse's input? Are you willing to compromise, or is it your way or the highway? This is a big issue with a big payoff when you make the commitment to slow down, pray, talk and agree.
5) Who are your friends?
Paul doesn't pull any punches when he says, "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits'" (1 Cor. 15:33). Your friends are your future. You become like the company you keep. If you don't believe that, you're deceived.
Karen and I are committed to our local church and Christian friends. None of our friends are perfect, and we aren't perfect either, but we're all committed to living for Christ and to our marriages. In 40 years of friendship with dozens of couples, only one of those couples has divorced—and prior to that divorce, the husband left church and developed a close friendship with a ungodly man.
We live in an immoral, evil world. There's never been such a strong pull of sin on all our lives. In response, we must be honest about our vulnerabilities and need for each other. I doubt Karen and I would be together today if it weren't for the support and encouragement we received when we needed it most from our church and believing friends.
Realize that the "company we keep" includes entertainment, computers, Facebook and television. We must be careful and accountable about these things, as they have become prominent features in our culture and can be just as impactful on us as our friends.
Are you a committed member of a local church? Do you have friends who are committed believers and committed to their marriages? Are you accountable concerning your entertainment? The degree to which you take these things seriously is the degree to which your marriage has a chance to thrive.
6) Are you empathetic to your spouse?
Marriage research reveals one of the most important features in successful marriages is the ability to empathize with one's spouse. That simply means we are sensitive to them and "feel for them." It means we care about how our actions affect them. It means caring for what they are going through and just caring for them in general.
When we date and fall in love, we are naturally empathetic to the other person. We work hard at trying to please them. We're sensitive and try to do things to make the other person feel good.
But then life happens. And in the process of paying the bills, of children, of sickness, of money stress and work stress, of in-laws and the IRS, we wake up one day to find issues crowded between us. If those issues aren't dealt with properly, we end up hardened toward the other person. The empathy we once felt becomes frustration. We focus no longer on our spouse's feelings but our own.
When Karen and I were on the verge of divorce, I had become very angry with her. I felt mistreated and that I'd made a mistake in marrying her. It was all about me. As issues accumulated between us, I began focusing on the negatives in her and feeling sorry for myself. The young man who was so tender-hearted toward Karen when we dated became a hard-hearted husband who couldn't care less about how my behavior affected her. I was convinced that if Karen would just change, everything would miraculously become fine.
Even as I believed that, Karen suffered from my dominance and verbal abuse. The change in our marriage only began when God broke through my hard heart and let me see myself as I really was. At that moment, I realized how domineering and damaging I had become. Standing at the brink of divorce, I finally began to empathize with Karen again. I put myself in her shoes and came to the stark realization of what it must have been like to be married to me.
Being empathetic is a choice, not an emotion. Regardless of the condition of your marriage, start thinking about how your spouse might be feeling. Forgive them, and ask the Lord to give you the grace to act above your emotions.
7) Is your marriage first?
Genesis 2:24 says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and be joined to his wife." As I'm sure you already know, marriage requires leaving and cleaving. In other words, for marriage to work, it has to be first in your life. It won't work any other way.
Back when Karen and I were on the verge of that divorce, I was addicted to golf. I played almost every day. Karen complained about it because it kept me away from our family, and when I was home I was exhausted. Even though I told her she was first, it wasn't true. In real terms, golf came before her.
Part of the healing of our marriage came when I hung up my golf clubs for Karen. In doing so, I expressed to her in real terms she was first. The result was a resurrection in the garden of our love that had been destroyed through my distraction.
In real terms, your marriage must come before your children, your church, your friends, your smartphone, your family, your work and everything else going on in your life. This is the way God designed marriage, and it simply won't work another way.
Making your marriage first means saying no to other things. It means saving time and energy for your spouse every day and protecting your marriage from intruders. It means doing little things like turning off your phone when it's time to talk to them, ignoring incoming calls and texts, making eye contact when they speak, turning off the TV or computer to spend time together and putting down the newspaper so you can have a real conversation.
Does something else come before your spouse right now? Is your marriage really first? Keeping your marriage first—along with all these other checkpoints required for healthy maintenance—is crucial for keeping your marriage on the open road.
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