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“Your mind is a battlefield; not a theme park.” -Priscilla Shirer I read this quote the other day in my devotional and it resonated with me on a whole new level. This wise statement, penned by author and speaker, Priscilla Shirer, brought to my attention a serious truth that we need to take hold of. Our minds are at war with us, and for that very reason, we need to be on guard and prepared to fight at all times.  “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 You might be asking the question…but how? How can I fight

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The acid we used in Chemistry class burned everything it touched. It ate a hole in a block of wood, etched deep scars in a metal basin, and permanently marred a plastic tabletop. We put on goggles and gloves and used special beakers designed to hold the caustic liquid, but we were still hesitant and afraid. Our teacher’s warnings had put a healthy fear of injury in our minds. Many opted out of the experiment, and the rest of us performed the necessary steps as quickly and carefully as possible, relieved when we could rid ourselves of the poisonous fluid. Now that I’ve stepped out of the classroom and into the laboratory of life, I’ve discovered a parallel to the acid we experimented with in high school. Psychologists call it a critical spirit. It doesn’t come with a warning label, but its characteristics are similarly destructive. Critical words eat holes in tender souls. Critical minds&

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How do you handle things when your faith is tested? God leads us into situations and allows circumstances in our lives that can feel like walking in a fiery furnace. But just as the story in the book of Daniel goes, the heat will reveal His power and glory in our lives if we choose to trust the Lord. Trials are a refining fire that allow our faith to grow, as we witness the hand of the Lord.God is calling us to stand firm in our faith, regardless of the circumstances that we are facing. Push through, persevere, and continue on the path He has placed you on with faith, hope, and trust in your heart. We've received a brand new study from Christina Patterson, "Unshaken: Standing Firm When Your Faith is Tested." This is a great series to take your small group through, encour

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How to Persevere Like Jesus
by Lauren Gaskill

“You’ve almost got it, Lily!” I cheered, putting on my best coaching face. “All you need to do is keep those feet together and remember to kick from the hips, OK?” The 9-year-old watched as I demonstrated the butterfly kick one more time.“Yeah! Got it, coach!” she shouted and smiled. One, two, three deep breaths she took before pushing off the wall. But her enthusiasm and focus weren’t enough to correct her stroke. She was still kicking with her feet apart, and she knew it. “Coach, I don’t think I’m cut out to swim butterfly. I’m just not any good at it, and it’s really, really hard,” she said after touching the wall. “Oh, Lily, that’s not true. Your stroke is looking so much better than when you first joined the team,” I reassured her. “I know you’re going to be a great butterflyer someday. It’s just going to take a litt

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A consecrated life is a life of joy! True abandonment to God and surrender to His will and ways will bring life to the deepest part of your being. God wants to show us how prayer and praise can transform a weary heart into one that bounds with His energy and strength. God desires for the praise on your lips to be an overflow of the joy that He has put in your heart, and for your prayers to be filled with trust in His faithfulness to answer. If you are not experiencing these aspects of your Christian walk to the fullest, He is certainly willing and able to help. This week, we are featuring, "Fill Up: A Bible Study on the Book of Philippians" by Carol McLeod. Within it lies a wealth of information that will help you and your women's group fully embrace the victory, joy, and pra

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Where Do You Find Contentment?
by Felicia Alvarez

During my teenage years, my biggest goal was to get the main role in a production at my ballet studio. Finally, after many hours of hard work, I landed my first solo. I was thrilled! I danced my heart out and was truly content—up until the curtain closed on the last show. Then I realized it was all over. My bubble of happiness popped. I waited anxiously for the next audition, and my happiness sprang up again when I saw my name listed as a main character. It was a strange cycle of contentment and discontentment—all dependent on when I had a good role. In the book of Philippians, Paul speaks on contentment. He says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am in to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (

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Stop Running from God
by Samantha Villenave

Are you running from God? Are there areas of your life that He is seeking to deal with that you repeatedly hold back from Him? We have all been in seasons where we do not want to obey and yield to the work that the Holy Spirit is calling us to. Whether it be a clear instruction from the Lord that we do not want to obey, or the gentle urge in our heart to open up to Him and allow Him to bring change, the result is the same. We hold ourselves back from Him, and allow ourselves to believe that we can continue on our own path and everything will be fine. But nothing is fine; when you gave your heart to the Lord, everything changed. You entered into a relationship that you cannot break or ignore in the areas that do not suit you. His plan is for your good, and He wants you to be free, joyful, and prosper. It is impossible to walk in the fullness of the blessing of the Lord if we do not yield to Him, obey His instruction, and trust His word.

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“You are stronger than you know.” She hears the words and wants to throw them back in his face. She wants to yell, spit, run. “What do you know?” she thinks. “How can you tell me I am strong when I struggle to maintain a job, or look put together, or be the mother my kids need me to be?“ She can hardly believe the response, “What defines ‘success,’ my love?” “I do. I define success. My success” she tells him. And then she runs. She doesn’t want to hear him anymore. So she runs far away, as far away as she can. Deep into the place where she’s convinced she can’t be seen. The place that is deeper and further away than any physical location on a map. It is the place in her heart, deep inside her, where she tucks herself away. “No one. Not one person can find me here,” she insists. &ldquo

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How to Overcome Unimaginable Loss
by Samantha Villenave

Losing a dear one is one of the most difficult experiences of the human existence. The closer the loved one is to us, the deeper the pain becomes. In a moment, our world can be shattered. How do I go on without my friend, husband, mother, father, son, daughter... or the child that was to be?There are certainly no easy answers and the process of living after a death so near can be an overwhelming task. How can I laugh again? How dare I move forward when the one I love is gone? Why have my friends abandoned me to live out this pain alone? How can I find the desire and will to continue? We must continue, and we must trust that God, who understands the acuity of our every suffering and pain, is able to bear our burden and comfort us in our time of need. He will ensure that you make it though, although it is unlikely that you will make it though the same.

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God's Grace and Our Grief
by Brooke Cooney

I haven’t seen her in weeks. I know her by name but her story only secondhand. An outgoing woman in her sixties, she remembers names and relational details of everyone she meets during her morning workout. This woman lost her young adult son a few years ago. When fellow believers speak of God between sets or steps on the tread meal, I see her anger and bitterness toward a God who would allow pain and the death of her son. For this woman, grief has led to choices which severed her faith in a loving God. A friend of mine lives in the wake of the unexpected death of her husband. She and her children just faced a second Christmas without him. While others fell into familiar holiday rolls and routines, she pressed on to cherish the heart of the Savior at Christmas and chose to focus on the grace of God in her grief.

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