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Posts in Young Adults

“I’ll be a preacher, I’ll be a teacher, a helper of mankind. I’ll be a walker, I’ll be a talker, I’ll keep the mountain people on my mind.” ~Rufus Morgan (via Chelle Rose)

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46 years ago I had the privilege to learn how to hike from Rufus Morgan. He is known as the Modern Moses. As the song says, may I also  “be a preacher, I’ll be a teacher, a helper of mankind. I’ll be a walker, I’ll be a talker, I’ll keep the mountain people on my mind.”

I started going to the Inn of the Last Resort in 1973. The exact date I arrived for the first time was July 8, 1973. I owe my life to the program. I would return for two more summers to be on staff. Eventually I would be able to serve on the Board of Directors. Now I am on the staff. What an honor and privilege it is.

One of our highlights at the time was to hike up Mt. LeConte. High atop Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is LeConte Lodge. After our hike up, we would stay there. It is the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States. It is situated on an open glade just below the summit of Mt. LeConte at an elevation of about 6400 feet. The Lodge serves as a grandstand for the entire Park and commands spectacular views of the Smokies.

Skills you learn at the Christian Training Center are applicable in so many areas of life. Learn how they are.

Skills you learn at the Christian Training Center are applicable in life. Learn how they are.

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Apologetics Conference – The relevance of Genesis with Tim Chaffey

Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is the foundation of all Christian doctrine. In it, we learn about the triune God, the origin of all matter, the nature of man, why suffering and death exists, and the reason Jesus came to sacrifice His life for us. Genesis also contains accounts of the creation, the Global Flood, and the Tower of Babel – accounts that many Christians don’t see the importance of taking literally. 

But if Genesis is not true, how can we trust the rest of the Bible?  Join us as Tim Chaffey of Answers in Genesis gives compelling arguments for the first 11 chapters of the Bible and their importance to our modern world.

Learn more here.

How innovative ministries are bringing millennials back to church  

Here is a great article about faith among young adults. For many teens and young adults,  they only have a limited amount of experience in their walk with Jesus. The article points out that young adults are in need of mentorship from those in their congregation who have decades of experience as devout Christians.

The Christian Training Center’s young adult program is focused on personal and spiritual development for young adults. While immersed in a way of life that emphasizes the Word of God, prayer, relationships, family, servanthood and personal discipline, you will be renewed, trained, and challenged to walk with God in a deeper way. Learn More and Register.

Despite belonging to a church-attending family, 24-year-old Danielle De Guzman is among the many American millennials who struggled throughout adolescence to find relevance and trust in the church or Christianity.

After high school, she would at times still attend her parents’ large church in Collin County, Texas, but admits that she would just sit in the lobby and wait for the service to end because she just didn’t see the point of going into the service.

Although she spent years going to the church, she struggled to get plugged in or even develop personal relationships with others in her congregation.

Eventually, she began telling her parents that she had to work on Sundays so she could get out of going to church. Her parents respected her freedom and De Guzman stopped going to church for a period of time. Going to college locally, she spent a lot of time — like many other college students — partying.

The experience had by De Guzman is not unique among millennial adults who grew up in the church.

Read More Here:

How innovative ministries are bringing millennials back to church   – The Christian Post



If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | — Sept 2 – Nov 9, 2019 | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. ow.ly/Nhag30oRYRK

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program — Oct 20 – Nov 2 | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. http://ow.ly/l5SU30oS5pQ

How to Handle Authority: Yours and Others | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

Good morning from all of us here at the Christian Training Center International. This is another beautiful day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Please join us as we wrap up this three part teaching by Jay Fesperman about authority. Today we see how our entire culture is affected by WHO is actually in authority.

All the members have been given gifts, a call, and authority to exercise those gifts. But they must be under someone’s control; otherwise there will be chaos. Thus, as the Church, the Body of Christ, is growing up and maturing into what she has been called to be and do, all the functions of ministry must be under the rule, the government which the Lord has set in place. Sometimes, there are restraints prematurely put upon the flow of ministry. But we have to remember that everyone in the church was a rebel, and that characteristic has not been totally removed. We still want things “our way”, to “do our own thing”. We haven’t put way childish things. But both forms of authority are given, that we might all come to maturity. So Paul tells Timothy that a man must manage or RULE his own household well and get obedience and respect from his own children. At home or in the church, ministry and rulership both must be established. A very simple principle evolves within this distribution of authority: The more effective the MINISTRY is exercised, the less GOVERNMENT is needed. So, top priority should be given in ministry.

The Lord is Molding This Guy

Welcome from all of us at Christian Training Center International. Today we would like to share a testimony from one of the students who attended our spring 10-week Heroes Semester Program. Actually, he came 6 months early to volunteer here at the ministry, then he stayed on after the program to continue volunteering and helping us out here through the busy summer. We are so very thankful and grateful to the Lord for sending Ian to us! You can hear his take on it by clicking on the video below.

 

Father God, it is only by Your grace, mercy and favor that we even exist. We thank You so much for Ian, he is such a blessing. We also thank You for the opportunity to share Your gospel and Your love with families and young people here at CTCI. As You send people to us, we pray that all of our efforts, teaching, and work, would be for Your glory and honor only, amen.

If you would like information about how we may be able to help you and your family or details regarding our ministry or any of the programs we offer, please go to our website at http://www.lifeisrelationships.com or fill out the contact box below and we will get back with you promptly.

If you would like to donate to CTCI please click here.

 

 

How to Handle Authority: Yours and Others | Jay Fesperman (2/3)

Good morning from all of us at the Christian Training Center International! What a glorious day that our Lord has given us today, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Please join us today as we continue in the second part of Jay Fesperman’s teaching about authority and let’s see how it flows down from the HEAD (Father God, Jesus Who has been give all authority) to our earthly authority in the church as “ELDERS”. What a responsibility, may we recognize and respect all authority as God has created and allowed it!

. . . in the closing words of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus told His disciples, “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me!” (emphasis mine). In His prayer to the Father in John 17:2, Jesus said, “For you granted [me] authority over all people”.

Paul says in Colossians 2:10, “. . . you [we] have been given fullness in Christ who is the Head over every power and AUTHORITY”. So all authority comes to man from God, the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son. Thus, Jesus Christ has AUTHORITY over ALL authority. For example, in Matthew 10:1, “He called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them AUTHORITY to drive out evil spirits, and to cure every kind of disease and sickness”.

How to Handle Authority: Yours and Others | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

Good morning from all of us here at the Christian Training Center International! This is another beautiful day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Please join us as we begin to look at what it means to submit to authority, namely our Father God to start! This will be the first of three Wednesday teachings by Jay Fesperman on this topic. May God bless us all as we seek to live a disciplined life in Christ!

It seems that the Lord wants us to share about something that we have been sharing [on] for several years. We have reached a stage where the Lord wants us to dig and probe deeper into this subject (as well as other subjects). This is so important a matter, in the face of what God is doing in the church throughout the world. Lately, within this contemporary renewal in the work of the Holy Spirit, great emphasis has been put on things we had forgotten or laid aside as not being all that important. The subject: HOW TO HANDLE AUTHORITY: YOURS AND OTHERS.

Growing Up to Hear God | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

Good morning from all of us at the Christian Training Center International! This is another beautiful day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

We all want to hear God more and more! Here are a few things to consider when we struggle to hear our Lord. We should often consider if we are in the right heart and mind, and if we are not let’s take the time to get right! Please join us as we read the 3rd of Jay Fesperman’s series on Hearing God. May you be blessed by the insight!

Growing Up to Hear God | Jay Fesperman (2/3)

Good morning from all of us at the Christian Training Center International! This is another day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Please join us today as we see how important exercise is! Exercising our faith that is! If we want to master anything, then we have to practice that thing many many times. It is the same truth with our faith. In this part 2 of Jay Fesperman’s series, we will learn the importance of training and consistency in building our faith strong.

That verse – Ephesians 2: 8 – goes on to say of faith, “It is a gift of God.” Now, just as the parental “gift” of milk to the baby is gradually replaced with solid food, so the basic gift of FAITH becomes “solid food”. But your FAITH, that solid food, being for the mature, requires constant use, and, as we use it, “We are trained by it.” (Hebrews 5: 14).

So God lays back so that we can be exercised by the use of our GIFTS in order to “distinguish good from evil” – making correct decisions for ourself. And, as we constantly exercise the GIFT of FAITH, we find that we have come to trust God! Almost as much as He trusts us!

What does it mean to be “Set Apart for the Lord”?

Good morning from all of us here at the Christian Training Center International! We invite you to join us as we study, through God’s Word, what it means to be set apart for the Lord. We will see what we can do (and not do) to be obedient to this holy calling.

Be Holy. If you have chosen Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then be holy. He says to do this, and He provides the ability to do this. The Lord has, even from the beginning, been telling His people to be holy because He is holy.

Growing Up to Hear God | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

Good morning from all of us at CTCI! This is another beautiful day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Please join us today, and the next two Wednesday’s, as we study a teaching from our founder here at CTCI, Jay Fesperman.

Have you ever been discouraged by what seems to be the disappearance of God from your horizon, the inability to hear His voice? I believe one of the most wide-spread problems that young Christians face is that they seem to lose touch with the Lord. That intimate fellowship with Him fades away, and “I just cannot hear the voice of God for my life anymore.” As they move along the path of maturity, many young Christian men and women come into times when confusion creeps in, and it becomes really difficult to know what choice to make or who to listen to.

Testimony from an intern here at CTCI

Once in a while we like to share about how people considered their time here at the INN! Here is a testimony from one of the interns that spent some time with us and had something to say about it!
When I came to CTCI several summers ago, I came not knowing why God had led me there. All I knew was that He wanted me to go and, once I understood…the idea was from Him, I immediately signed up.
Upon arrival, I sensed that the Lord would use those 3 months to shape me on the inside. I carried a lot of hurt and insecurity with me to “The Inn”. Without hesitation, [God instantly confronted those obstacles]. He surrounded me with loving relationships that challenged and grew me. As a result, my faith increased as a consistent inpouring of truth addressed my fears.

Obeying God cost me in many ways, but it was not without reward. During my time as an intern, I experienced a peace and clarity that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I heard God’s voice. My spirit knew that what was placed in my heart that summer was something worth protecting. I wouldn’t change my decision to go to [CTCI]. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made since becoming an adult. Now, I understand that life is relationships. I hold a richer perspective on the importance of community, the need for discipleship, and the urgency of evangelism.

I’d go back to CTCI without question if God led me back there. I also encourage anyone who has trouble hearing God’s voice to spend some time at “The Inn”. I promise…that if you consecrate yourself to Him, if you are sincerely desperate like I was, you will find Him again. Rather, He’ll find you.

the building blocks of maturity | jay fesperman (3/3)

Please join us as we finish strong with this series by Jay Fesperman!

As we continue to work with young men and women out of today’s society, we are constantly made aware of the out-of-balance condition of so many young lives. “God put the solitary in families” for the maturing of each one into a well-balanced person who can stand and serve Him, however He may call us. And the Lord doesn’t make mistakes! His ORDER is that we mature in five main areas of growth: RELATIONAL, SPIRITUAL, EMOTIONAL, MENTAL, PHYSICAL. This is God’s PLAN!!

the building blocks of maturity | jay fesperman (2/3)

Please join us in part two of our series as we learn from the teachings of Jay Fesperman!

This is the same Son of God of whom Isaiah spoke in his prophecy when he said, “On His shoulders would rest the GOVERNMENT of the universe.” Jesus said in Matthew, “ ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to ME”. Now, this is the same authority God gave to Adam when He made the first man, and said, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and RULE over it” (emphasis mine). God had made man in His own image – male and female – and then He commanded Adam to fulfill “husbandship” ([see] Jeremiah 31:31). “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.” Out of his husbandship, Adam was called into fatherhood. Then he was told to RULE – to establish order; to take authority.

Established Boundaries | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

This is the 3rd part of our series about boundaries. Please let us know how this truth can help you by commenting below?

Paul told both Titus and Timothy not to appoint leaders in the church whose house was not in order. A man who has established clear boundaries for himself will most likely make a good father. A man whose family is not living within the boundaries he has set is very likely to be a poor leader.

The writer of Proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old HE WILL NOT DEPART FROM IT.” Peer pressure among teens is powerful. If disciplinary patterns have not been set before children go out to school, they will find it virtually impossible to stand against this pressure. One teenager recently said in a letter, “The inescapable pressure exerted by peers are often too hard to handle. The only answer,” he continued, “is to have a source from which to draw strength. This strength can only come from the home. A weak home produces weak kids, unable to defend themselves.” Setting the boundaries AND supervising the results is what good training methods consist of – at home, in business, IN CHURCH.

The Building Blocks of Maturity | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

We are so blessed to have these words of wisdom spoken in past years by Jay Fesperman through years of his study and heavenly anointing, available to us for our continued growth in our Lord! So, please join us for this three part series the next few Wednesday’s!

Often I get “hooked” on a word that I see used but rarely in the Scriptures, and I enjoy looking through concordances and commentaries to determine the full meaning of this word. Recently, I noticed such a word was underlined in my Bible in Colossians 2:5. That word in English is “ORDERLY”. I had written in the margin the word “discipline”. To quote the full verse, Paul says to the Colossian Church, “I delight to see how ORDERLY you are and how firm is your faith in Christ”. (emphasis mine)

Established Boundaries | Jay Fesperman (2/3)

Here is part 2 of the three part series. We encourage you to comment below and interact regarding this important topic! We would love to hear from you!

As children of God we are given God-ordained boundaries. The Ten Commandments, the behavioral laws, the way to relate to others in the Body of Christ, or the way to relate to those “of the world” with whom we cross paths. If we didn’t get good training at home under clearly defined boundaries set by our parents, we’re likely to have some difficulty in getting established in the Church, and ultimately, in God’s Kingdom. Some of these difficulties show up in many ways. Let me share with you a few that I have observed.

Established Boundaries | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

This is the first of a 3 part series by Jay Fesperman. It is a valuable group of letters to us all!

David, a 16 year-old, sells sex to men and women on the streets of New York. He ran away from home at an early age. David tells kids, “Stay at home and be a child for as long as you can. Don’t grow up too quick.”. . .an article on the cover of a well-known women’s magazine: “The High Cost of Growing up TOO FAST.”

An expert in child-rearing, on staff at a famous medical center, says, “We have come to the realization that a parent’s role is to show youngsters discipline. At the point a child gets proactive, the parent should know that the child is looking for a LIMIT – a BOUNDARY. And the parent had better provide that limit. The child will be reassured for having limits set. They need limits clearly spelled out; it’s the only way to learn.”

The Substance of Things Hoped For | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

The Lord told Solomon to ask for whatever his heart desired and He would grant it. Solomon asked for wisdom and God gave him great wisdom, but He also gave him all the wealth and riches for which he had not asked. God proved to be faithful to Solomon, and He proved to be faithful to me. Jesus said to His disciples, “Ask anything of the Father in My name, and He will grant it.” So, in the FAITH that is ours “in Christ”, we can ask the Lord God for anything “in the name of Jesus” and then we can expect the Lord to give it. But what is the KEY? It is the FAITH that we have, but we must be sure that we have it “IN CHRIST”. You see, as we have said, everybody has “faith”, because it is built into the system which makes us tick in every way. But to exercise that faith for the things of God, our FAITH must be “in Christ”.

The Substance of Things Hoped For | Jay Fesperman (2/3)

But HEAR THIS! It’s very important. I heard a lot about Jesus Christ, and I read a lot about Jesus Christ before I came to know God. What was there within me that kept me from knowing God in those days when I was hearing so much about God and Jesus? My carnal mind – that is, the mind of my “nature” – was reading and hearing all this. It did not suit or please my “nature”, because my “nature” knew that a major change would take place and that the “natural man” would not have the last word. That element of faith within me was doing nothing but looking out for my safety in the natural, and it totally ignored the spiritual me. My “nature” was on the throne, and it didn’t need or want a God. My “nature” was god, and I was in subjection to it.

The Substance of Things Hoped For | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

On many occasions I have been thrown together with a person whose language was completely foreign to me, and mine to him. Trying to convey a thought to another under these circumstances is most frustrating. The ability to understand one another demands a commonly understood language. My conversation sounds like so much gibberish to someone who only speaks and understands only German or French or the Lunda tongue of southern Africa. And theirs to me. It’s wild babbling!

We talk about hearing the Word of God. What language does God speak? Before you try to answer that, with what kind of mouth does God speak? Do His words have some kind of physical effect on my ear drums and I hear WORDS? Just what IS the Word of God?

Giving Tuesday

Dear Friends,

As a great reminder to all year-end contributions, Giving Tuesday was designed to ease the strain of last minute donations during the Christmas season. What is exciting for CTCI is your donation this year will be twice the value. That’s right! Every dollar we receive will be matched up to $100,000.00.

Now is the time to give. Not only are you helping to restore families from around the globe, but hundreds of young people are also being transformed through our Heroes of Today challenge programs.

This is the season of Thanksgiving. We are so thankful for the many faithful donors who help enable us to continue this work.

Would you prayerfully consider donating to the ministry of CTCI? Every dollar counts, and this year, twice as much!

God bless you and your family during this time of thanking our Lord for His many blessings.

Most Sincerely,

Larry F. Pons, CTCI Executive Director

To donate now and find more information about the lives affected by your giving at CTCI click here. God Bless!

2018 Summer Intern Testimonies: Faith Morton

Faith Morton’s family moved to Franklin from Port St. Lucie in 2017 after her sister’s family, Madison and Dustin Ortiz, joined our staff. She shares about the importance of duty vs intimacy, obedience vs sacrifice, seeing the monuments of the Lord’s goodness in our lives, and how much her Heavenly Father truly loves her.

If you would like more information about the summer internship or our upcoming spring semester you can go to:

Summer Internship – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroesinternship

Spring Semester – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroessemmester

2018 Summer Intern Testimonies: Daniel Ricks

Daniel Ricks came to join the 2018 Summer Internship in order to serve and strengthen his relationship with the Lord prior to leaving for Army Basic Training in September. During his time here his relationship with the Lord was made even more personal with the revelation that he always “has his Father’s ear.”

If you would like more information about the summer internship or our upcoming spring semester you can go to:

Summer Internship – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroesinternship

Spring Semester – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroessemmester

2018 Summer Intern Testimonies: Sydney Giaquinto

Sydney has been a part of the church fellowship at CTCI since she was young but stepping into the roll of an intern this summer was a completely new world for her. Throughout her time here she was able to find a release from fears and anxieties and experience life with a new confidence as a daughter of the One True King.

If you would like more information about the summer internship or our upcoming spring semester you can go to:

Summer Internship – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroesinternship

Spring Semester – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroessemmester

2018 Summer Intern Testimonies: Micah Whitehouse

Micah joined us as a 2018 Summer Intern and came all the way from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Micah shares about the biggest area of change in his life was his ability to communicate as he opened up throughout his time here. As the Lord worked in him and increased Micah’s communication skills He also increased Micah’s desire to share the Gospel and to evangelize.

If you would like more information about the summer internship or our upcoming spring semester you can go to:

Summer Internship – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroesinternship

Spring Semester – http://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroessemmester

2018 Summer Intern Testimonies: Mackenzie Kubal

Mackenzie came to CTCI during our Appeal to Heaven conference hosted with Intercessors for America. When the conference was done she felt called to stay with us for the rest of the summer and complete the internship team. Here she shares with us about life before the internship, where God met her personally, and renewed vision of her self worth as a child of God.

If you would like more information about the summer internship or our upcoming spring semester, please follow the links below.

Summer Internship – https://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroesinternship

Spring Semester – https://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroessemmester

2018 Summer Intern Testimonies: Ethan Penton

Ethan is a North Carolina native who joined the CTCI Summer Internship for 2018. He shares about the impact of the teachings on fatherhood from Train to Reign, how his life was changed through his time here at CTCI, and his renewed faith as he returns home.

If you would like more information about the summer internship or our upcoming spring semester, please follow the links below.

Summer Internship – https://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroesinternship

Spring Semester – https://www.lifeisrelationships.com/heroessemmester

CTCI messages now available!

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Skin Care & Soul Care (Part 2)

Following up from my last blog post (you can find it here)…

4) ARE YOU USING THE RIGHT PRODUCTS?

Each person’s skin is different. Though there are similarities – and on the grand scale the skin design is the same – we are all unique. That being said, this is the downside to skin care. No one product will work for everyone. Or even for your whole face (ahem – combination skin types). Or necessarily for a long period of time (sometimes the skin adapts and you have to change products). This is where knowing your skin and being knowledgable about ingredients and their purpose comes in handy (or at least have a chart that breaks it down for you). For instance, you don’t want to put a product on your face with ingredients that control and limit oil if your skin is already really dry. (Duh.) The problem is that most of the time we aren’t knowledgeable. (I know I was pretty clueless.) That’s when we fall into the trap of buying products that aren’t good for our skin type or are just part of the newest “skin trends.” It might actually be an amazing product, but it may not work for you. We get so desperate, or we’re just clueless, that we’ll fall for anything. Ladies, how many products have we bought that have just been plain duds (ok, let’s not keep count…)? They promised to do exactly what we wanted, and even the packaging looked inspiring and hopeful – but when we tried them the result was less than pleasing. We check reviews online (all or mostly negative) and realize that we’ve bought into a scam. Why didn’t we do more research first? Why did we buy on impulse? Job well done, marketing team. Bravo.

So in our lives, where have we bought into scams? Everything around us promises to fulfill us, to make us happy, to make our lives easier, to give us peace, to fix our problems, to make the pain go away. Things like the newest electronics, the coolest car, killer careers, an amazing house, beauty and fashion, or that guy you think is so amazing. No? What about these: the approval of people, your ministry, your friends, drugs, online shopping, revenge, your hobbies, your favorite tv shows, pornography, your workout routine, politics, medicine, alcohol, music, a family, food, sports, travel? Still no? Hmm, how about these then: feminism, the world’s claim that you can choose to be whoever or whatever you want to be, ”me-time”, religion, or – my personal favorite – “follow your heart”? Any of these ring a bell? Now, I’m not saying that all of these things are bad in and of themselves. In fact, some are necessary for life and relationship, or are good for being healthy, etc. What I am saying is that none of these things – I repeat, NONE – can or ever will fulfill us or do any of the things the world promises they will do.

The ONLY place where we find true and lasting fulfillment, joy, hope, peace, love, restoration and shelter is in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s it. If you don’t believe me then feel free to try everything listed above. Maybe you already have. If that’s the case then the chances are you feel empty and broken. I know how you feel. I’ve been there – I think we all have. So I can tell you from experience that Jesus is the only one who has successfully healed my wounds, bound my brokenness, brought me peace in the midst of complete chaos, loved me when I was unloveable, was faithful when I felt abandoned, and satisfied my soul. He is the only one who has willingly given His life for me. He’s the only one who has taken on the full punishment for my sins – past, present and future. He’s the only one who has given me victory, because of His death and resurrection. He’s the only one who knows the depths of my heart, even more so than I do myself. He’s the only one whose kindness has led me to repentance. He’s the only one who has fought and won for me. He’s the only one who deserves my life – not a portion of it, but the whole thing. He’s the ONLY ONE. There is no one and nothing else that can do what He has done. And it’s the same for you. He’s the only one who makes good on His promises. We can look everywhere and try everything, but without Jesus our souls remain starved. (John 4:7-26; John 6:32-35; Psalm 107:4-9).

5) YOU’LL GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. What you put – or don’t put – in your body is reflected in your skin. Too much sugar? Acne. Not enough water? Extra dry, maybe even patchy, skin. Lots of water and healthy foods? Radiant skin. You get the point – this one is pretty easy. So what’s in you? Is it kindness? Is it an infatuation with some guy? Is it anger? Is it the desire to be “hot stuff”? Is it patience? Is it a sailor’s mouth? Is it gossip? Is it the Word of God? This is the point where we can easily become a pharisee and get tangled up in legalism. Legalism is definitely not part of the heart of God – but neither is an undisciplined life. This is where we have to be mindful and attentive to the Spirit of God on a moment by moment basis so that we are aware when He prompts us that something we are doing, saying or thinking about isn’t pleasing or honoring to the Father. Or maybe something is ok for everyone else right now, but it’s just not healthy for you personally in your current season. This is a simple and short point, but vitally important so I did not want to skip over this one. Be mindful of what you are allowing in, because that will produce the fruit of your life. (Mark 7:14-23; Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 27:19; Matthew 12:33-35).

6) SURFACE LEVEL OR GOING DEEP

When you cleanse your face what are you trying to accomplish? Are you just trying to clean off the oil, dirt, and makeup of the day from the surface of your skin, or are you thinking about the surface as well as the “depths” of your skin? Or do you not care at all? Sometimes we just go for cleansing the surface because we’re lazy when it comes to skin care and sometimes it’s simply because we don’t know any better. I was actually a combination of the two – both lazy and skin ignorant – and when I was a teen I gave up caring since nothing I tried ever cleared up my skin. So I figured why try at all. But once I started to learn and understand more about the skin and what goes on both on and underneath the surface I began to take action. I took simple beginner steps (steps like identifying my skin type, identifying issues I deal with often, choosing the correct cleansers for me, and beginning to discipline myself in a regular routine) in order to cleanse and care for my skin properly (and with a prevention mindset!).

It is the same in our lives with the Lord. Are we concerned only with what people can see, or do we give Him full access to cleansing the deep places of our lives, or do we not care at all? This relates back to the “quick fix vs. the long run” that I mentioned earlier. “Cleansing” only the surface level of our lives won’t prove to be very effective or healthy for us in the long run.  Actually, all of the issues that are there will only get worse with time. If you don’t see them now, just wait, they’ll show their nasty heads in the future and you’ll wonder how they got there “overnight” as well as how you can make them disappear overnight. But you can’t. It would now be a long process you’ll have to walk through to dig out all of that deep-seated dirt that you let build up under the surface. But take heart! If this is you, don’t be discouraged. Where the Enemy would love to see this bring shame to your life and push you further from the Father, use it as an opportunity to draw closer to Him. It’s not too late, I promise! It will be a process to let Him uproot all that has gone untended, but it will be worth it! (Matthew 23:25-26; Psalm 139:23-24).

Then what does it look like to give Jesus full access to the deep places of our lives? I’m glad you asked, because this ties in perfectly with my next point.

7) GOING TO THE SPECIALIST

There are times when an issue on our skin needs special attention and care, or maybe we just want to better understand our skin, so we go to a dermatologist or an esthetician. They observe our skin or – better yet – put us under a black-light to reveal any possible damage under the skin that can’t be seen with the naked eye until years later as a larger problem if it remains untreated.

Jesus is our Specialist. He wants us to come to Him when there is an issue that needs taken care of. Even if we can’t see anything, He wants us to come to Him so that He can put us under the black-light of His Word to reveal any inklings of sin that might be subtle, yet growing, under the surface. If we’ll just let Him do this, then He will give us the prescription we need to get rid of it. In other words, by His great kindness He will lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4) and allow His Holy Spirit to guide us throughout the day to help us take the steps necessary to walk out of the sin habit that was beginning to take root. If we stay in His Word, He will continually help us to renew our minds. Are you willing? Will you let Jesus into the deep, unseen places? He is the safest, most knowledgable, and most trustworthy Specialist there is. He’s waiting for you. Oh, and you don’t have to make an appointment and you won’t have to wait in line – just walk right in. (Psalm 51:1-2 & 7; 1 John 1:5-10; Matthew 8:2-3).

So what’s the outcome of learning about your skin, purchasing the right products for it, and staying disciplined in your cleansing routine and eating habits? Although it will never be absolute, one hundred percent perfection (sorry, we are human after all), the result will be clean, smooth, radiant skin (yay!). And what’s the outcome of seeking Jesus, letting Him cleanse us and digesting His Word every day? A woman (or man – if you’re still reading this, gents) after His own heart. As I said before, these are just a few of the points the Lord has shown me recently, and my hope is that they have encouraged and challenged you as they have me. I’ve heard some say that this is a scary prayer – and it is, because I know the Lord will answer it. But my desire is that my heart, and yours, would be like King David’s when he said:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Skin Care & Soul Care (Part 1)

Ok ladies, recently I’ve been reading a lot – and I do mean A LOT – about skin care (so if you’re reading this, gents, bear with me). I got tired of regularly doing all the things I thought I was supposed to in order to take care of my skin, yet never seeing results. Or worse – everything that was wrong with my skin just got, well, worse. Even new problems started popping up. That was it. I began to surf the web for anything that might be of help. As I searched I stumbled upon a book about skin care that had AMAZING reviews, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I bought the book and within a few days it had arrived. That same night I sat down and started reading. Chapter after chapter, I kept reading. I was learning so much and just couldn’t put the book down – even though it was high time I got some sleep.

The best part in all of this was that I was beginning to understand why I had never – despite my efforts – had clear skin before and how I could achieve it. Someone who had a wide knowledge base on the subject was explaining to me, in a way I could easily understand, all about skin (it’s design, function, how and why to properly care for it, skin types, etc.) and how different ingredients and products either harmed or helped it. I started to get (dare I say) excited about taking care of my skin, instead of it being just another morning and night chore.

Here’s the kicker though – the more I read and began applying the things I was learning, the Lord started to speak to me. He used skin care as an analogy for how I should care for my myself and my relationship with Him. Well, the analogy clicked and made such an impression on me that I wanted to share it with all of you. Here are a few points of the parallels between skin care and soul care:

  1. MENTALITY

First, is mentality: are you prevention minded or treatment minded? In skin care you’re usually one of the two. Even cultures as a whole tend to fall into one of the two categories for their general public. Basically this means that you either take care of your skin before you see any signs of problems in order to prevent them from occurring, or you wait until you see issues pop up (i.e. acne, wrinkles, large pores, dark spots, etc.) and frantically run to the store (or online shop) to buy a product that promises to treat and relieve the issue – or that will simply cover it up. Now, I know that even if you live in the prevention mindset unwanted issues can sneak in that you have to treat. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about in general. On the grand scale. The way you generally view and think about things.

It is the same in our walk with the Lord. We either live in such a way with Him that we keep sin from gaining a hold on our lives, or we run scared to Him when sin runs rampant in order to “get right with God.” “Prevention” in our lives looks a lot like spending set-apart time with the Lord, reading and meditating on His Word, conversing with Him, being willing and ready to listen and obey when He speaks, as well as having those in our lives to whom we stay accountable and who will always point us back to Jesus and His Word. “Prevention” is life lived with the Lord on a daily basis, and only comes out of a place of love and reverence for Him. (Psalm 1:1-3; Hebrews 11:5).

“Treatment”, however, looks a lot like a lazy relationship with the Lord. Or none at all. Or keeping ourselves so busy that when the thought of setting apart time for Him – and Him alone – comes up, we push it aside, maybe with a twinge of guilt, thinking that we’ll get to it later. But when “later” has come and gone, Jesus still remains on the back burner. And then, like slathering makeup on a blemish infested face, we listen to a few good worship songs, maybe toss up a prayer in hopes to sway God from being angry with us for neglecting Him, and if there’s time, read the verse of the day on our Bible app. “Treatment” looks a lot like living life our way, then running to Jesus when we get into a mess, hoping He’ll pull us out. We aren’t really interested in the long-haul with Jesus. Not really willing to discipline ourselves on a daily basis and spend the time necessary to stay in a right and loving relationship with Him. In fact, we probably don’t really even care about Him at all. We’re probably in this relationships just for us, not for Him. All we want is the quick fix we hope He will give us if we ask in just the right way. I guess you could call this “selfish salvation” or being lukewarm. So which are you: Prevention or treatment? (Revelation 3:15-16).

2) SKIPPING = DAMAGING

We all have those days that we are completely exhausted by the time we get home and all we want to do is collapse in bed and sleep as long as our internal clock will allow. Even though we have the muck and grime of the day (makeup, oil, sweat, pollution) squirming around on our face, we’d really rather not take the time to take care of it. (Fun fact: every night that you neglect cleansing your face to get the gunk out, it ages you seven days – yuck!) I mean come on, we’re exhausted right?

Well, often times that’s how we are in our lives as well. We have busy lives and crazy circumstances which we all-too-often allow to run us into the ground. We get overwhelmed, frazzled, driven to our wits-end, and just plain exhausted. In the midst of all of that, it’s possible that we – at some point – gave sin a foothold in our day. Or maybe we’re so run down and weak that we relapse into past struggles. Or possibly it’s just the attitudes and atmospheres of people we’ve seen and places we’ve been that tried to cling to us throughout the day. Whatever the case, there’s grime and it’s clogging our pores. When the pores are clogged, the skin can’t breathe and function properly. The parallel in our lives is that our souls feel bogged down and grimy. Each day we have a decision to make: are we going to be cleansed by washing with the Word and spending time with the Father, allowing Him to purge everything in us that isn’t from Him, or are we just going to go to sleep? Unfortunately, the longer we wait to let Him wash us, the more aged and tired our lives become. Also, if you’re wondering why you have no impact when trying to help tired, thirsty souls, it may be because you yourself are tired and thirsty, in need of a cool splash of the Word of God. (Psalm 143:6; Psalm 51:10; Psalm 46:10; Psalm 119:9; James 4:8; Matthew 6:6; 1 Peter 1:22).

3) IDENTIFYING YOUR SKIN TYPE

Oh, the journey of identifying what kind of skin you have! I don’t know about you, but for me it was a pain. I always thought I had super oily skin, so naturally I would be an oily skin type. But then, as I actually started to pay attention to my skin, I realized I had areas that were super dry while other areas were super oily. Ok, so combination skin. Then sometimes my face would be tight and dry – even with oil all over it! Ugh! What in the world is my skin type?! Finally I got it figured out: combination skin, with extra dryness due to dehydration (not a lack of oil) as well as ingredients in the products I was using that were drying to my type of skin. The weather also played its part in affecting my skin. And, according to my dermatologist, I lack a protein that helps with skin elasticity, causing extra dryness and lines in my skin. Ok, good. Got that figured out. I learned that misdiagnosing your skin can cause you to mistreat your skin, leading to more problems than before.

How does this relate to your life, you might ask? Well, we all go through seasons. Some are short, maybe lasting only a few days, while others are long, possibly lasting years upon years. If we neglect identifying what season the Lord has us in, then we’ll have an even more difficult time trying to walk through it, or maybe we’ll completely miss everything that season has to offer. Is your season one of hardship? Then let it pull you further into the arms of the Father, not further away. Is it one of ease and smooth sailing? Then dig into prayer and ask the Father what it’s purpose is. Is it time to train someone else up? A time to prepare you for the next season? A time to learn to rely on Him even in the smooth times? Remember, it can be so effortless to neglect spending time with the Father in the seasons of smooth sailing, but these are the times to strengthen your foundation in Christ so that when the storms roll in you’re not swayed or knocked down. Walking through life with unidentified seasons brings confusion, frustration and unpreparedness. There is a numbing that comes from walking apart from the Lord, so walk with Him on a daily basis and allow Him to show you your season. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, you never know what the Lord is doing in the big picture. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Also, read through the Psalms and see how each of the psalmists went through different seasons of life and encountered the Father in each one).

To be continued… In the next post I’ll discuss a few more parallels about skin care and soul care. Stay tuned!

The Evil of Compromise | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

Many young people are asking, “Where do I belong in the Body of Christ? How can I be sure of where God wants me?” I believe one of the most important priorities would be to find a body of believers who are maturing into a solid church, whose leadership is strong; a leadership who:

  1. Knows God’s PURPOSE for that particular group (MOTIVE).
  2. Knows how to order the PRIORITIES of individuals, families, and Church.
  3. Has established and are following a clearly defined SYSTEM to accomplish God’s purpose for HIS Church.

The Evil of Compromise | Jay Fesperman (2/3)

As a management consultant to industry, I was once asked to sell a large portion of my time to a company that was losing several million dollars each year. After several years of success they were now about to go down the tube. My reply was that nobody outside of the company could do the job. It would take dynamic leadership from within to effect a turn-around.

The Evil of Compromise | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

“When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’?” (2 Corinthians 1:17).

A lot of people have blamed the “Charismatic Renewal” for causing division in the Church. Yet I have never seen anything more divided than was the Church before this unique outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place. More than a hundred denominations! And within each of them a polarization of liberals and conservatives; some deeply and primarily involved with extremism, either in social-action programs or in fundamental theology! And these extremes carping at each other, and then often coming together only after much, much COMPROMISE. And that’s the ultimate weakening force in any institution – COMPROMISE!

Growing Up to Hear God | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

Those of us who have been or are parents remember how, when they were small, our kids wore their feelings “on their sleeves” so to speak. Now, as they grew older, their thoughts and attitudes became more subtle, more hidden, stuffed down inside. But if we were doing a thorough job, we knew them well enough to read their attitudes fairly well. Because, when the kids tried to camouflage their true reactions, they were put in judgement by the rules and regulations we had laid upon them. God says in His Word, “. . .My Word judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4: 12).

Growing Up to Hear God | Jay Fesperman (2/3)

That verse – Ephesians 2: 8 – goes on to say of faith, “It is a gift of God.” Now, just as the parental “gift” of milk to the baby is gradually replaced with solid food, so the basic gift of FAITH becomes “solid food”. But your FAITH, that solid food, being for the mature, requires constant use, and, as we use it, “We are trained by it.” (Hebrews 5: 14).

So God lays back so that we can be exercised by the use of our GIFTS in order to “distinguish good from evil” – making correct decisions for ourself. And, as we constantly exercise the GIFT of FAITH, we find that we have come to trust God! Almost as much as He trusts us!

Growing Up to Hear God | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

Have you ever been discouraged by what seems to be the disappearance of God from your horizon, the inability to hear His voice? I believe one of the most wide-spread problems that young Christians face is that they seem to lose touch with the Lord. That intimate fellowship with Him fades away, and “I just cannot hear the voice of God for my life anymore.” As they move along the path of maturity, many young Christian men and women come into times when confusion creeps in, and it becomes really difficult to know what choice to make or who to listen to.

The Fullness of Life | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

Finally, Paul tells Titus (Titus 3:14): “Our people must learn to DEVOTE THEMSELVES to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities, and not live un-productive lives!”

Here then is the principle upon which the Kingdom of God will be built. Like the human body, the Church – the BODY OF CHRIST –  will thrive and grow up, until “We all reach UNITY in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become MATURE, attaining to the whole measure of the FULLNESS OF CHRIST!” (Ephesians 4: 13). Jesus said, “Whoever tries to keep his LIFE will lose it, and whoever LOSES his LIFE will PRESERVE IT. . .” (Luke 17: 33).

The Fullness of Life | Jay Fesperman (2/3)

God’s highest purpose for man is. . .”FULFILL OTHERS!” Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” This is the first and greatest requirement of God’s law. And the SECOND IS LIKE IT: “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF!” All other laws hang on these two.

In order for man to grow up into this kind of citizen, God knew he must be brought forth in such a way that he would be TOTALLY DEPENDENT on other people. A human baby comes into the world totally devoid of the capacity to supply his own needs in response to the natural laws inherent in his being. Without a total contribution from others than himself, he will surely die. So, as he grows up into maturity, most of the support systems are governed and controlled by other people; so “God set the solitary in families.” He establishes us in relationships with others; father and mother, brothers and sisters. As these relatives – members of our family – nurture us out of our state of helplessness and our self-gratifying nature, we learn how to live. As we mature, we develop the capability of following the natural laws and, equally important, we come to see our roles of responsibility as members of a family, imparting life to others. We learn how to RECEIVE life; therefore, we learn how to GIVE life. . . God’s basic, most elementary structure of society then is the FAMILY.

The Fullness of Life | Jay Fesperman (1/3)

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have LIFE and have it to the FULL.” (John 10: 10). One of the most deceptive things the thief, the devil, is bringing forth in the world today is the idea that DEATH is the solution to many social problems. The highest court in the land, by its 1973 decision, opened the floodgates to abortion, and millions of children have been murdered. Many of these deaths, it is said, are “for the convenience of society”; either the family, the community, or the nation. Now, serious consideration is being given to PLANNED LIFE-TERMINATION for the elderly, the poor, and the maimed. . .Wars and terrorism all over the world continue unabated – indeed, are on the increase. In many of these instances, people in certain religions are told that dying in a “holy war” will assure their eternal destiny. Elsewhere, life is cheap and expendable; the state owns its people. . .and so forth!

Our Devoted Things | Jay Fesperman (3/3)

Now is the time for each of us to take a look at those things we don’t want to give up. While I was into an extended fast to begin this year, I really thought the Lord was going to give some vitally important answers to many questions I had laid before Him, but essentially, all I got from Him was a forward phrase, “GET BACK TO JESUS!” I found I was seeking to coerce the Lord into dealing with things I thought needed His and my attention, but He made it clear to me that my need was to get away from all MY needs and get back into the purity of fellowship with Him. God wants us to get down to business with Him and turn our devotion towards Him and His plan! Let’s take a look at some of the DEVOTED THINGS that are hindering our FULL fruitfulness in and from the Body of Christ. Let’s make it personal!