This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

At first glance, you might not see anything special about this week’s picture.  But look closely.  Yes, it is just a highway lined by trees.  But those trees, those gigantic trees, called Ponderosa Pines, line this highway near the Pacific coast of Oregon.  Look at the size of the trees in reference to the car on the highway.

A tree is just a tree.  Well, no, it isn’t.  Each part of our country is different.  I grew up with a yard of very large oak trees.  Today, my yard and most of those around me are full of just plain pine trees.  Certainly not the same shade providing variety of tree I played under as a child.

You will walk your routine this week as a tree.  You may be straight and narrow like the pines in my yard.  You may stand mighty and fierce like a grand old southern oak.  You may flower and sway like a crepe myrtle.  Or you may stand way above the rest of us like a Ponderosa Pine.  None of that really matters, as long as you stand.

Winds and storms come.  Dig your roots deep and stand.  Human forces may seek to destroy you.  Plant your roots and stand.  Other trees may fall your way.  Hold on strong and stand firm, reaching to the heights that are meant for God-fearing people to reach.

Yes, you may just be a tree.  But just look how tall and mighty and unbelievably strong you are compared to the world at your feet.  Be the strong person you are called to be this week.  Tower above the world’s problems, and stand.

Just a thought.

Weekly Inspiration

By Ryan Kelly –

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

Never give up on any fight in life. Always work hard, always rise to the challenge, and never back down. Through Christ, you can be victorious in any battle.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I’ve shared many signs with you in the past few years, but here’s another.  It says, “Please Keep Off The Walkway, Don’t Handle The Fish”.  Now, those of you who know me personally know that my middle name is ‘sarcasm’.  I read this sign and immediately think, “Well, if the fish didn’t want to be handled, they had no business being on the walkway to begin with!”

Of course there were no fish on the walkway.  This sign was posted at a fish hatchery.  We were free to wander the grounds, but not to be on the walkways between the large fish tanks or to lean over the edge and bother the fish.  I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to, anyway.  However, most signs are indeed posted for a reason, and the reason is usually because someone has tried to do the very thing that is being warned against.

As you wander in your daily work, how hard is it for you to remain focused?  Are you easily distracted by the things around you, even to the point of putting your hands and efforts into things where you have no business?

Allow me to challenge you to remain focused this week.  Love your neighbor.  Lend a helping hand.  But be careful not to neglect your own duties as well.  If you stopped to “handle all the little fish”, too many others would too.  And that isn’t good for the fish.  They must learn to swim and survive on their own.  To some, that might sound cruel.  To the fish who never learns to swim, it is detrimental.  And another thing — if you wander those walkways so closely between those fish tanks, and you slip and fall into one, not only have you possibly injured yourself, but you have greatly disturbed the inhabitants of the tank!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Especially when I have nothing pressing to do, I love to hop in my vehicle and ride.  Doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter why.  Just ride and enjoy the scenery.  I usually take my camera along, so I might stop here and there to snap a photo, or I might not.  I just enjoy the ride.

This particular road pictured here is part of the historic Columbia River Highway in northern Oregon.  That is a particularly beautiful ride, going along the mountainside past waterfalls, overlooks, and high above the river.  Just God’s beauty everywhere.

I could sit in my chair at my desk staring at the computer screen while I work.  That is productive.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But if that’s all I do, then I’ve missed some great opportunities to see and be elsewhere.

Your “road” in the week ahead may have twists and turns, potholes and speed bumps.  It may lead directly to where you expect, or it may not.  Regardless of where the road of life takes you this week, I pray you take the time to focus on the God-given blessings that are passing you by.

Focus on what needs to be done, certainly.  But look up, look out, get out, and appreciate His blessings.  Take a ride.

Just a thought.

Weekly Inspiration

Grace That is Greater Than All Our Sin

By Ryan Kelly

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

One thing that I have asked God to give me recently is the vision to see people’s pain. This isn’t in any way to pry into their past or to know things about them that are private, but rather so that I can better understand that we all have “skeletons” in our closet that hold us back.

Why would this be helpful? Because in order to address grace, you must first address the need for grace. There is not one single perfect person in this world today. Some may seem “better” than others, but every single one of us deserves a first class ticket to hell because of our acceptance of sin and rejection of God.

Fortunately for us, God does not force us to have what we deserve. And this is where grace comes in. We do not deserve salvation, but God gives it to us anyway simply by accepting the ultimate sacrifice for sin in the form of Jesus.

God’s grace is greater than all our sin. No one is beyond salvation in Jesus.

So, when you are held back by the hauntings of the past or feel inadequate for the good things that God produces for you and in you, remember that we all fall short of the glory of God. But His grace is sufficient for us all, and it is given to ALL that believe and worship in the one and only Son of God.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

A farmers market is always an interesting place to visit.  You might see any number of home grown vegetables and produce like these pictured here.  This particular market in the Pacific northwest was full of home grown veggies, fresh breads, homemade soaps, handcrafted woodwork, and live music, among other things.  Everything on display or for sale had to do with the work of someone’s dedicated hands.

The kiddos are headed back to school.  Many little ones will be in new classes with new teachers and meeting new friends.  But there are always those who seem to have a tougher time making friends, fitting in, or adjusting to new surroundings.  I’m also aware of a couple of friends who are beginning new jobs, perhaps facing the same things our little friends will in the school setting.

Perhaps they each just need a touch from someone’s dedicated hands.  The children depend on us to help show them the way, teach them right from wrong, and be there for them when troubles arise.

Aren’t you thankful that we serve a God Who so lovingly does all of that for his precious children?  We are products of the greatest farmers market ever, handcrafted by the Master, on display for the world to observe.  Put your best foot forward this week, helping others along the way, always thankful for Father Farmer’s loving care.

Just a thought.

Weekly Inspiration

By Ryan Kelly –

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3

How often do you view a stressful or challenging situation as a joyful occasion? Normally we will not, but will rather pray that God will end the situation so that the “joy” may return. I certainly have been one to pray that the pain of a bad situaion will end quickly, and certainly don’t think that there is anything wrong in doing so.

However, what is more important is that we attempt to see God’s work in all areas of our life…good and bad. Bad situations are never fun, but they do not have to be exclusive of seeing joy in life. Rather, finding joy through the pain or difficulty is often the best way to glorify God.

How illogical is it to glorify God when everything seems to be going wrong? How much will the world see your faith by doing so? When you can find joy in Christ’s sacrifice for you even through the trials, it eases the pain and allows you to focus on the bigger picture of what is happening in the moment. Doing this takes practice, but the result is a wonderful thing. Focus on the bigger picture of what God is doing and what He has done for you. It will ease the pain and give God glory through the good times and the bad times.

Tips for a Christ-Centered Family Life

By Ryan Kelly –

One of the most important things that we can do in our lives is to support our marriage and our families. God has ordained this for each of us, and we must protect it and grow it continuously.

The following are Biblical tips on how we can best serve our spouses and children.

 

Date your spouse

“Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ ” (1 Peter 4:8).

“Be kindly affectionate to one another … in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).

Continue to date your spouse like you did before you married.  Successful marriages don’t just happen; they must be developed. Don’t take one another for granted or the resulting monotony could harm your marriage. Keep your love for one another growing by expressing it to each other; otherwise, love might fade and you could drift apart.

Remember that God joined you together in marriage.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. … So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5, 6).

Don’t forget that God joined you together in marriage, and He desires that you stay together and be happy. He will bring happiness and love into your lives if you will obey His divine commandments.

Pray together

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

“Pray for one another” (James 5:16).

Praying together is a wonderful activity that will help your marriage succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Kneel before God and ask Him for true love for one another, for forgiveness, for strength, for wisdom—for the solution to problems. God will answer. You won’t be automatically cured of every fault, but God will have greater access to change your heart and actions.

Guard your thoughts

“As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

The wrong kind of thinking can profoundly harm your marriage. The devil will tempt you with thoughts like, “Our marriage was a mistake,” “She doesn’t understand me,” “I can’t take much more of this,” “We can always divorce if necessary,” “I’ll go home to mother,” or, “He smiled at that woman.” This kind of thinking is dangerous because your thoughts ultimately govern your actions. Avoid seeing, saying, reading, or hearing anything that—or associating with anyone who—suggests being unfaithful. Thoughts uncontrolled are like an automobile left in neutral on a steep hill; the result could be disaster.

 Never go to bed angry with one another.

“Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).

“Confess your trespasses to one another” (James 5:16).

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

To remain angry over hurts and grievances—big or little—can be dangerous. Unless addressed in a timely manner, even little problems can become set in your mind as convictions and can adversely affect your outlook on life. This is why God said to let your anger cool before going to bed. Be big enough to forgive and to say, “I’m sorry.”

Keep Christ in the center of your home.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

This really is the greatest principle, because it’s the one that enables all the others. The vital ingredient of happiness in the home is not in diplomacy, strategy, or our effort to overcome problems, but rather in a union with Christ. Hearts filled with Christ’s love will not be far apart for long. With Christ in the home, a marriage has a greater chance at being successful. Jesus can wash away bitterness and disappointment and restore love and happiness. 

Agree that divorce is not the answer.

“What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

The Bible says that the ties of marriage are meant to be unbreakable. Divorce is allowed only in cases of adultery. But even then, it is not demanded. Forgiveness is always better than divorce, even in the case of unfaithfulness.

Keep the family circle closed

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her. … She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11, 12).

“The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your … (Malachi 2:14).

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

Private family matters should never be shared with others outside your home—not even parents. A person outside the marriage to sympathize with or listen to complaints can be used by the devil to estrange the hearts of a husband and wife. Solve your private home problems privately. No one else, except a minister, a very close prayer partner, or a marriage counselor should be involved.

Always be truthful with each other, and never keep secrets. Avoid telling jokes at the expense of your spouse’s feelings, and vigorously defend each other.

Be temperate

“Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25).

“Love … does not seek its own [selfish advantage]” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5).

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“I discipline my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts, and do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin” (Romans 6:12, 13).

Overdoing will ruin your marriage. So will underdoing. Time with God, work, love, rest, exercise, play, meals, and social contact must be balanced in a marriage or something will snap. Too much work and a lack of rest, proper food, and exercise can lead a person to be critical, intolerant, and negative.

The Bible also recommends a temperate sex life (1 Corinthians 7:3–6) because degrading and intemperate sex acts can destroy love and respect for one another. Social contact with others is essential; true happiness won’t be found in isolation. We must learn to laugh and enjoy wholesome, good times. To be serious all the time is dangerous. Overdoing or underdoing in anything weakens the mind, body, conscience, and the ability to love and respect one another. Don’t let intemperance damage your marriage.

 

 

 

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

The owners of this old bicycle placed it in front of their business, added some flowers and extra touches, and gave it a new purpose.

I had a neighbor tell me once that his wife bought junk and sold antiques.  As funny as that sounds, I think we can all relate to that type of re-purposing.

Perhaps today you are one of those friends who finds yourself wondering what God is up to, trying to see some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, or just realizing some unanticipated changes in your life.  I cannot pretend to know what is going on in your world today, but I can guarantee that sometimes the Lord seeks to repurpose us into different places or positions and certainly into different people.

Thank God He chose to take my life several years ago and repurpose me for something greater — being a child of His!

Allow me to challenge you for the week ahead to commit to grow where He places you.  That may mean a different place with a slightly different purpose, but shine for Him wherever that is.  And remember to be thankful that He finds us useful at all!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Where are you planning to go in the week ahead?  What has your focus?  Where would you like to be?  The choices are as great as you can imagine, because there are any number of things that can tempt or encourage us.

This particular directional sign was found on a fruit farm we visited recently in northwest Oregon.  As you can see, several arrows point to different locations in each direction.  The choice was ours.  And what’s interesting is that none of the choices would necessarily have been bad ones.  They each just offered a different vantage point for the view.

As you head full-force, no doubt, into a brand new week ahead, I pray that you will take the time to stop and read the directional signs.  What are the choices you must make?  Would one particular place be a better fit for you and your personal ministry to others this week?  Maybe your week will afford you the privilege of being in several different places.

The point is, if we don’t stop to see where He is leading, we may just miss something spectacular.  Don’t let that happen.

Just a thought.