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2018 Summer Intern Testimonies: Courtney Baldwin

 

Courtney Sahara Baldwin, affectionately known as “CB”, was one of 8 CTCI Summer Interns for 2018. Here she shares about her time here and how it has changed the lens she looks through of how God the Father views her.

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

Pray In Unity: Day 5 // Blessing the Nation and All Those In It

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 
(Luke 10:5; ESV)
We are about to “enter the houses” of our nation through prayer-our own homes, the homes of our communities, the supermarket, the pharmacy, houses of government, industry, business, and education. Here’s the rule:
If it has a door and a roof, it’s a “house.” Speak peace.
Some of these houses we will enter physically. Many of them we will “enter” from a distance in the Spirit. That’s the power of prayer.No matter the mode of entry, the exhortation Jesus gave to 70 of His followers in Luke 10 is the same one He gives to us today.
Here are some things to remember.
First, keep it simple. Just say the words every time you’re about to go through a door: “Peace be to this house.” Shoot it like an arrow. Spray it around like air freshener, and, like air freshener, let it do its work. In fact,
it will begin to work-for you, in you, in others, and always in favor of what God wants to do on the other side of that door.
Second, don’t make a big deal about who you are speaking peace to. You will never look into the eyes of a person that God does not love. Separate the sin from the sinner. We are not “blessing” the sin; we are speaking the peace of God over people God created for a divine purpose who have been trapped in an unwholesome atmosphere. Speak God’s peace.
By speaking peace to every “house,” we are putting our trust in the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. We are commending the house and its occupants to God and paving the way for them to be touched by His power and presence.
Speaking unwholesome words empowers the enemy to work, not only in the lives of others, but also in our very own lives. By speaking peace and blessings, we will be opening the doorsto the Holy Spirit to fill both us and them with His righteous, healing presence.
In Luke 10:17-18, we read:The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”
Where was Satan falling? To begin with, in the very place where the peace was spoken. In other words, speaking peace is meant to be our weapon of choice to literally push back the powers of darkness that are present right where we are in our own spheres of influence. If there is one thing the evil one cannot stand, it is the presence of God manifest through our peace. Indeed, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet!”
(Rom. 16:20 ESV).
Points for Prayer:
  • Speak peace to your own house, and the households of your neighbors. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Col. 3:15).
  • Spend the rest of today speaking peace and blessing over the houses of business, education, and government, from Washington D.C. to your state, to your county, and to your community. Recite the name of the institution or office and declare, “Peace be to your house!”
  • Recite the names of people you know who are leading in the spheres of business, education, and government, and boldly declare, “Peace be to your house!”
By Dave Thompson
Sr. Vice President, Harvest Evangelism

“Exploit or abuse your family and end up with a fistful of air; common sense tells you it’s a stupid way to live.” ~King Solomon

There is right and there is wrong. We all know the difference. I must remember to stand up for the abused and keep up the good fight for justice.

“Exploit or abuse your family and end up with a fistful of air [inherit the wind]; common sense tells you it’s a stupid way to live.” ~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:29)

And now consider this from Jesus.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” ~Jesus | Matthew 5:21-22

Pray In Unity: Day 4 // Passionate Conquering Love

You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12; GNT)
As God’s people move into deeper relationships with Christ, the stark contrast between us and the world of darkness will increase. The Spirit of God is already illuminating and revealing the inequities, deceptive practices, and strategic plans of the enemy like we have never seen before. The challenge we face is to intercede without becoming angry or belligerent toward those blinded to the truth, even those in positions of authority.
We must set our will to love those who would hate us and spitefully use us, knowing and believing they will be impacted by a love that goes beyond the normal reaction of humanity. We have an opportunity to become part of the answer to Christ’s prayer for unity-Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one (John 17:11 NIV)-but also to be a part of His commissioned servants, equipped withgreat commandment love(Matthew 22:37-39) to go into our world with His authority, making disciples and teaching them the Truth that will dispel their darkness and reveal any deception (Matthew 28:18-19).
Do not be discouraged if you encounter conflict and adversity in any arena of your life and ministry. The danger of strife also threatened the New Testament church because they were such passionate people of conviction and belief. The greater the enthusiasm people have, the greater the danger of colliding with one another every now and then. People who apathetically sit in neutral gear are not likely to run into any kind of warfare within or without the community of believers.
Armed with the understanding that love and truth will ultimately triumph over hate and deception, pray the following Scripture-based prayers.
Points for Prayer:
  • God, as Your chosen and beloved people, enable us to clothe ourselves with tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering, not compromising our standards of truth and righteousness, but willingly and gently sharing with those who have been deceived. Raise up leaders in authority who will embody godliness and holy lifestyles, speaking truth and exemplifying integrity (Colossians 3:12).
  • Savior and Lord, show us how to walk in love and forgiveness as we let the peace of God rule in our hearts. Help us to live grace-filled lives, so that whatever we do, it is in the name of the Lord Jesus, not for the sake of nationalism, denominationalism, or political and personal agendas (Colossians 3:13-17).
  • Holy Spirit, position people to serve in our executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, who have a personal relationship with Christ and knowledge of His Word that brings wisdom and understanding.
  • Praise and worship God for His ability to give life to the dead and call into existence those things that seem impossible (Romans 4:16-19).
By Kay Horner
Awakening America Alliance

Pray In Unity: Day 3 // Walking, Praying, Voting // The Church in Unity

I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one: I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me. (John 17:22-23; GNT)
We are standing here in a moment of time that was only produced by the prayers of His saints. The upcoming midterm elections are critical for so many different reasons. We want to see God continue to move throughout this nation. The unity we are currently seeing across the Body of Christ in America is what will move the heart of God to act on our prayers. He loves it!
As a strategy of unified intercession for our nation, we believe God is calling us once again to prayer walk our neighborhoods. In 2016, we had up to 10,000 people report that they were prayer walking in one way or another, and now, from September 28 through Election Day, November 6, we will be prayer walking again.
We are going to ask the Lord to anoint our coalition to be able to stand together, pray, and vote, and continue to shift the nation in a righteous direction. If the leaders of the churches and prayer ministries make this call for prayer together, it is as if we are blowing a shofar loud enough to wake the Church up, at least to the nation’s need of prayer.
Points for Prayer:
  • Thank the Lord for increasing unity across many diverse streams of the Body of Christ.
  • Ask God for an increase of this love and unity.
  • Call forth the prayer walkers. Call forth tens of thousands of them to pray for their neighbors, blessing them.
  • Intercede for the praying Church to also be the voting Church.
  • Commit to intercede and prayer walk through Election Day, November 6. Go to PrayInUnity.org, sign up to prayer walk, and note on the map where you are praying.
  • Tell your pastors and other prayer leaders about this initiative. Put it on social media and tell everyone you know to sign up!
By Dave Kubal, Cindy Jacobs, and Dave Butts
Dave Kubal is the President of Intercessors for America
Cindy Jacobs is the President and Co-Founder of Generals International
Dave Butts is the Chairman of the National Prayer Committee

Pray In Unity: Day 2 // Repentance // The Key to Revival

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14; KJV)
As we seek the face of God to restore and renew our people and to prepare for the upcoming elections, He leaves clear instructions to achieve this goal. Those directions are listed in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If My people”: “If” indicates that this is conditional and depends upon our response.
“Which are called by My name”: God is not calling the nation to repent, only His people.
“Shall humble themselves”: We must yield our pride and our stony hearts, so God can do His healing work in us.
“And pray”: YES! Pray!
“And seek my face”: Seek Him, not the ways of the world. He then reveals our sin to us, that we might be rid of this obstacle and draw closer unto Him.
“And turn from their wicked ways”: We turn around and go in the direction He shows us (for example, from stubbornness to yieldedness).
“Then I will hear from heaven”: Hallelujah! Yes, Lord!
“And will forgive their sin”: Only God can do this for us.
“And will heal their land”: When each one of us, His living stones in this nation, obeys this command, then the healing of the land will come as the “jigsaw pieces” of our hearts are joined. Amen.
Points for Prayer:
  • Father, help me to allow You to look deep within my heart, that I might repent of any hidden sin.Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.(Psalm 139:23-24 KJV)
  • Lord God, help me to overcome any fear I might have of coming to You. Help me, instead, to trust You in all my ways and in all my days.Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)
  • Lord God, help me to be quick to recognize the sinful ways that You show me and to find the strength to stop, take stock, and turn back to You.And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.(2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV)
  • Lord God, help me to rejoice that You are hearing my prayer!Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place.(2 Chronicles 7:15 KJV)
  • Finally, Father God, help me to remember that You are always there for me.I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.(Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
By Sara Ballenger
Founder, Capitol Hill Prayer Partners

Pray In Unity: Day 1 // Worship Him!

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (John 4:23; ESV)
There is no better way to begin a 40-day season of intercession for the United States of America than in worship of our God and King! Let us be conscious of the fact that we are blanketing the nation in worship from sea to shining sea, over Alaska and Hawaii–setting up a canopy of His presence.
Many years ago, the Lord gave me a vision of a huge chuppah–a Jewish bridal canopy-covering America. The result of this level of honoring God was the release of a great move of God that swept across the nation. That vision has stayed with me and many others over the years.
On September 27, worship tents went up in almost every state capital, across many college campuses, and in Washington, D.C., the heart of our government. Worship began to rise across the nation and will be maintained 24 hours a day through tomorrow night. This is the vision of Tent America. May it never end! May our voices rise in praise to our God. May our faces bow low in worship of our King! He is worthy! To Him be the glory! Exalt Him in unity, brothers and sisters in Christ – every race, tongue, age, and economic situation. Take it from your homes and churches to your city’s streets.
Let the name of the Lord Jesus be lifted high above the United States of America!
Points for Prayer:
  • Fix your eyes on Jesus. He alone is the object of our worship!
  • Start at Psalm 145 and worship through Psalm 150. Let your heart receive His love as deep calls to deep.
  • Be conscious of the thousands of believers worshipping with you today. The Bride is in worship today! Don’t you feel the joy of that?
  • Let your own songs of worship rise up to Him.
By Dr. Cindy Jacobs
Co-founder, Generals International
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Transitioning the Nation: Daily Prayer Guide

As a part of the 40 day prayer push leading up to the midterm elections we will be sharing resources from Intercessors for America and Pray in Unity. They have created a day-by-day prayer guide to help us all stay focused and on track with key prayer points. Join us, and believers around the nation, in praying for those in office and those to be elected!

Invitation to Pray in Unity

Intercessors for America is an important prayer ministry that helps to inform us at CTCI how to be praying continually for our nation each week. Dave Kubal, IFA President, is also our keynote speaker for the annual Appeal to Heaven Conference at the Inn.

The following article is from Dr. Cindy Jacobs is an open invitation to join believers around the nation in praying for the next 40 days leading up to the midterm elections. Join with CTCI, IFA, and believers around the nation in this 40 Day Prayer Push!

Pray in unity with thousands of intercessors praying together in unity for next 40 days before the midterm elections.

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Phil 2:2; NASB)

Pray in Unity. Go to the blue button that says, “Sign Up.

When we look around America today, we know that we are in a crisis; we’ve reached a tipping point. In the last election, many Christians got out and voted; however, many spiritual leaders across this nation have been saying one thing: “We’re concerned the church has gone back to sleep.” I know some of you have a similar concern in your heart.

The midterm elections are coming up. The Christian turnout for these elections will reveal whether we are truly going to be able to turn the nation and fully establish cords of righteousness, or if we’re going to slide backwards.

I want to encourage you. If you believe that abortion is wrong, if you believe that the blood of more than 60,000,000 aborted babies is crying out from the ground of the United States, and if you knew that turning the tide of a nation was within our grasp, even by one vote – would you vote? Would you pray?

I’m asking you to do both—pray and vote. Pray and act. I’m asking you to join us, as we prayer walk America, as we cry out for the nation. We know that God wants to do extraordinary things through our prayers. If we will pray, God will act.

We have developed this very important website called “Pray in Unity.” Here, you can sign up to adopt your block in prayer. You will also find a daily devotion covering all kinds of topics related to the midterm election. In addition, you can sign up to receive a weekly email containing the prayer devotions for each week.

It’s a 40-day season, beginning September 28 and continuing through Election Day, November 6. You can also visit many of the supporting organizations’ websites that are listed for additional national prayer resources. You will be praying in unity with thousands of different intercessors from across America, connecting with a coalition of prayer leaders that are standing together, and saying, “We are concerned about America.”

Would you join us? Pray in Unity. Go to the blue button that says, “Sign Up.” We’d love for you to participate. Let’s turn the tide!

Jesus, Our Source of Life

On Friday’s at the INN we take time to pray for the ministry and to proclaim the many truths of Jesus Christ. Join us in praying for the ministry and remembering the many benefits and blessings found in Jesus.

I choose LIFE, You have set before me today LIFE and prosperity…You will make known to me the path of LIFE; in Your presence is fullness of joy: in Your right hand there are pleasures forever… You Lord are the defense of my LIFE; whom shall I dread?… For with You is the fountain of LIFE…You redeem my LIFE from the pit…In You is LIFE, and the LIFE is the light of men…Jesus came that I may have LIFE, and have it abundantly… Jesus You are the bread of LIFE…and You said “I am the resurrection and the LIFE; you who believe in me will LIVE even if you die.” …As sin reigned in death, even so grace will reign through righteousness to eternal LIFE through Jesus Christ my Lord…I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 You the Son of God, who loved me and gave Yourself up for me… For I have died and my LIFE is hidden with You…So that being justified by His grace I would be made an heir according to the hope of eternal LIFE…His divine power has granted to me everything pertaining to LIFE and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called me by His own glory and excellence…

 

Deuteronomy 30:15, Psalm 16:11, Psalm 27:1, Psalm 36:9, Psalm 103:4, John 1:4, John 6:48, John 11:25, Romans 5:21, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3, Titus 3:7, John 10:10, Romans 6:23, 2 Peter 1:3

Silver and Gold

alex-chambers-394969-unsplash.jpg

This is a poem that was written by staff assistant, Ian DeBoer, who one morning during his devotions was inspired by Psalm 33.

“Silver and Gold” by Ian DeBoer

Silver and gold, silver and gold

How much more valuable is the counsel of the Lord?

Proven more profitable than position and power

Found to be more fantastic than fame and fortune

 

Yes, it is provision for those in peril;

it prospers the poor in spirit

Yes, it is a fix for disfunction;

a fount for those found lacking

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,

The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

Family — Is it the foundation of relationships in God’s Kingdom?

Family — Is it the foundation of relationships in God’s Kingdom?

By Michael W. Wilson

Family is extremely important in the Bible, bot

 

h in a physical sense and in a spiritual sense. The foundation of family was introduced in the very beginning, as we see in Genesis 1:28.

God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’

Heaven — Is it a Real Destination after Death?

Image result for heavenWhat is the deal with heaven? It seems to be a somewhat complicated biblical concept with lots of opinions on it over the years. My hope is in Jesus and I know that I will always be with Him. I have eternal life.

The question to begin with is does heaven exist and is it a real destination after death for followers of Jesus?

The disciples of Jesus can sometimes sincerely disagree on minor matters — although you should never forget that all the disciples agree on those things that are really important, such as the divinity of the Messiah, His death on the cross for our salvation, His resurrection from the dead, and our hope of heaven.

Jesus Our Salvation

This is our proclamation of the Salvation we have through Jesus Christ!

There has been born for us a SAVIOR who is Christ the Lord…The Son of Man has come to SAVE that which was lost…SALVATION belongs to You Lord…The SALVATION of the righteous is from You…If we confess with our mouths Jesus as Lord, and believe in our hearts that You raised Him from the dead, we will be SAVED…For by grace we have been SAVED through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is Your gift…You are our strength and song, and You have become our SALVATION…You Lord are our light and our SALVATION; Whom shall we fear? Our souls waits in silence for You only; from You is our SALVATION…You only are our rock and our SALVATION, our stronghold; we shall not be greatly shaken…On You our SALVATION and our glory rest…Our hearts shall rejoice in Your SALVATION…Our spirits rejoice in You our SAVIOR…If while we were enemies we were reconciled to You through the death of Your Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be SAVED by Your life…We have fixed our hope on You the living God, who is the SAVIOR of all men, especially of believers…You SAVED us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to Your mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…You are able also to SAVE us forever as we have drawn near to You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us…We will sing to You Lord, with all the earth; proclaiming good tidings of Your SALVATION from day to day…That Your way may be known on the earth, Your SALVATION among all nations…

Luke 2:11, Matthew 18:11 Psalm 3:8, Psalm 37:39, Exodus 15:2, John 10:9 Romans 10:9 Ephesians 2:8 Psalm 27:1, Ps 62:1, Psalm 62:7, Psalm 13:5, Luke 1:47, Romans 5:10, 1 Timothy 4:10, Titus 3:5, Hebrews 7:25, 1 Chronicles 16:23, Psalm 67:2

Backlot Barbecue!!

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 11.04.56 AM.pngCome join us for our Backlot Barbecue Event at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts on October 12, 2018, starting at 6:30pm.

Your ticket includes a delcious BBQ sandwich meal (by Hog Wild BBQ), a donut roast over an open fire, fun and games. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to enjoy Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ (a live action movie) under the stars. All proceeds go to help restore families around the world!

#ctcilife #lifeisrelationships #hogwildbbq #familiessupportingfamilies

https://www.lifeisrelationships.com/backlot-bbq

A Heart of Gratitude

Psalm 100 – A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

What a beautiful outpouring of praise and thanksgiving from the psalmist! What a wise and fitting response on this Thanksgiving day :).

The Life I Live

“To life by faith is to trust and obey – if you trust AND obey that’s a living relationship. There is intimacy. There is growth. There is vitality.”

On November 5th our dear friend, Herman Weits, came and shared with us about the life of his ministry.

Herman and his wife, Ross, lead Bali Christian Retreat Center which is a ministry of Words of Hope International and he came to spend some time with us while on a visit back to the states.

WATCH the full video HERE.

 

The Power of Testimony

“Your testimonies; the things the Lord does in your life, good and bad because in God there is no bad. He takes the bad and turns it into good. They are your prophecies. They’re the stories you have to tell wherever you go, and God will use them to touch multitudes.”

This Sunday we were blessed to have Bill Eubank, longtime friend of the ministry and CTCI board member, share with us on the blessings the Lord has given us through the testimonies He has given us and their impact on others.

WATCH the full video HERE.

 

2 Peter: Freedom

“When the Holy Spirit changes our earthly nature into a divinely inspired one then we are free from this world of its corruption and its lust.”

In this message, Larry Pons continues to our walk through 2 Peter and shares how we have been given freedom through faith and the Holy Spirit.

WATCH the full video HERE.

 

2 Peter: Glory & Excellence

“He has called us by His own glory and excellence so we are called therefore into His glory and into His excellence.”

In this message, Larry Pons speaks about Peter’s teachings and how the knowledge of God and our faith in Him is where all spiritual strength is conveyed to us.

WATCH the full video HERE.

 

2 Peter: Faith

“Faith makes no distinction to whether you’re a slave or an apostle. Every true believer is by faith justified in the sight of God and forgiven of all his sins.”
In this message, Larry Pons continues to walk through 2 Peter and challenges our thinking on what we actually have faith in Jesus for.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

Is God in Control?

“We could continue to look at Scripture for hours…and it would declare one great reality that is hard to face, and that is: God is in control.”
In this message, Casey Wilson addresses the question that so many of us often ask when disaster happens: Is God in control?

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

2 Peter: The Value of Faith

“The meritorious obedience of Jesus is what gives faith its value and preciousness.”
In this message, Larry Pons begins a series on 2 Peter and speaks on the value and gift of faith.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

1 Peter: Sanctification & Purification

“We cannot come into the presence [of God] if Jesus hadn’t shed that blood. He tore the veil from top to bottom, ripped it open, that we would have access to the very presence of God Himself.”
Join us as Larry Pons goes over the main points of First Peter in this final message of the series.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

1 Peter (Recap)

“The motives that drive us to sin can never be greater than the motivation to avoid sin because of what Jesus did.”
In this video CTCI director, Larry Pons, takes us through a recap of some of the main points in 1 Peter.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

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).

Who Are You Listening To?

“Who we listen to and who we obey, we honor. The more we listen to them, the more that we obey them, the more powerful they become in our lives.”
Guest speaker, Tim Dailey, asks the question, “Who are you listening to?” In this message he talks about the three main “channels” in our lives that we tune into: the “me” channel, the “Satan” channel, and the “God” channel.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

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!

Father-heart of God

“Knowing God brings total security. A home without a father cripples it and leaves it deprived. It robs them of security and confidence.”
Join us as our guest speaker, Paul Thompson, shares with us what the Word has to say about God being a Father and how God has established this in his life.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

Colossians 2: The Victory of Christ

“Never had the kingdom of darkness suffered such a mortal blow than when Jesus burst through the grave.”
In this message CTCI director, Larry Pons, takes us through Colossians 2 and reminds us of the glorious victory of Jesus Christ!

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

1 Peter: Summary (Part 2)

“We are to feast on the Word of Truth and let its seed within us bear the future fruit of righteousness, which nourishes this new life. It’s by the Word of God that we’re fed.”
In this message, CTCI Director Larry Pons takes us through a summary of the book of 1 Peter.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

1 Peter Summary

“The foundation of our faith is a living hope because of what [Jesus] accomplished on the cross. There is now, and forevermore, an inseparable union between Him and us.”
In this message, CTCI Director Larry Pons takes us through a summary of the book of 1 Peter.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

Testimony: Ministry in Romania

Guest speakers, Pilu and Hadassa Hadarean, share about life and ministry in their native country of Romania. They touch on issues regarding the history of Romania, running an orphanage, and ministering to the Gypsy community.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

Choices

“God has sent His Spirit to lead us in everything that we do, but we have a choice to either allow Him to lead our life or to do our own thing.”
In this message our guest speaker, Burket Farrell, reminds us that God is always constant, always approachable, and also brings attention to the importance and impact of our daily choices.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

1 Peter 5:1-11

“The eternal victory is ours, regardless of what we have to face. It doesn’t matter what we’re facing – faith is being readied to rule and reign with Him throughout eternity.”
In this message, CTCI Director Larry Pons takes us through the book of 1 Peter.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

1 Peter 5:1-7

“Humility is the preserver of peace, not only in the Church, but in the family.”
In this message, CTCI Director Larry Pons takes us through the book of 1 Peter.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

1 Peter 5:1-4

“To lovingly lead His people into righteousness by faith – that is the role of a leader.”
In this message, CTCI Director Larry Pons takes us through the book of 1 Peter.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

LISTEN to the Full Audio HERE.

1 Corinthians: Losing Sight of Who’s in Charge

“As soon as we start comparing and competing, then that’s the first sign that we lose sight of Who’s in charge.”
Continuing in the series on 1 Corinthians, guest speaker, Fauger Baptista, reminds us of the importance of saying focused on the Lord and working towards His plans instead of comparing ourselves to those around us and using the Lord’s foundation for our own plans.

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LISTEN to the Full Audio HERE.

The Light Shines in the Darkness

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.     (John 1:5 ISV)

Larry was busy hanging lights around our Christmas tree this weekend. We had purchased some new strings of lights to make our tree even brighter. So, to add to the lights already on the tree, he painstakingly placed them on a few bare spots.

The thousand shining lights staring back at us were gorgeous for about thirty seconds…and then…BOOM! Darkness. The circuit was obviously overloaded!  So, he rushed to Lowe’s and purchased a new circuit breaker and BOOM! All was bright and shiny again.  The beauty of the lights on the tree lit up the darkness of our living room. We loved it!