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So far Christina Fox has created 828 blog entries.

Five Things I Learned From My Husband’s Life-Threatening Illness

LEAH FARISH|GUEST “Inoperable.” “Stage 4.”  “Radiation won’t help.” “Aggressive cancer.” These are things I was told about my husband Kent’s sudden, alarming condition two months ago. But I was also told important things from the Word of God. Since those are the things that apply to everyone, those are what I want to tell you. When we thought he had mere weeks to live, we sat together in awe as he sipped bone broth, the only thing he could stomach. He had started chemotherapy the very day he first saw an oncologist, who admitted him straight to the hospital. We murmured in disbelief to see my husband, a physician himself and a dynamo of energy, quickly declining to a wraith who couldn’t walk across the street. I started asking him his passwords, and hired a yard man. Calls and texts started to pour in to my phone with questions and offers of help. One thing we resolved to do was not to criticize or minimize any attempt to comfort or assist us.  I learned not to second-guess messages or gestures of concern, no matter how brilliant or clumsy. We agreed we would take everything that people brought to our situation, no matter how big or small, as straight from God’s hand. We had no desire to use what we thought were Kent’s last days in critiquing ways that others tried to express their love. Love doesn’t keep count of wrongs suffered, so if we had had expectations of what someone should do for us, we gladly dropped them. Since when one member of the Body hurts, we all hurt, maybe wisdom from the pain might come to us through another who was not technically suffering. Kent even started habitually opening his hands upward whenever someone would proffer a prayer or encouraging word. Soon we felt the surrounding cloud of loving support sent by the Body of Christ...

Five Things I Learned From My Husband’s Life-Threatening Illness2024-07-04T15:43:41+00:00

A Call to Steadfastness

KERRY ANDERSON | GUEST Being in the same church for twenty years truly illuminates the saying “being in it for the long haul.” As with all churches, ours has seen difficult times, sweet times, sad times, challenging times, divided times, and unified times. By the grace of God, we’re currently in a season of growth within a warm, happy church culture where body life is thriving. I’ve witnessed God’s hard but refining fire many times over the years and feel grateful for the blessings and answered prayers we’re experiencing now. Time to sit back and relax! Take our feet off the ministry gas pedal and coast for a while. I mean, what is there to do when peace and unity abound but to soak it all in and take a break, right? It sounds tempting, but we know better. What encouragement do you give to a healthy church that seems to be pleasantly rolling along? It turns out, it's the same encouragement that every church needs no matter what their situation is. It’s the same encouragement our church needed in every season through which the Lord brought us. A look at three churches in Scripture shows us the universal call to this command. A Call to Steadfastness To the messy church at Corinth, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). This church was in chaos. So, after reminding them of the hope of the resurrection, Paul calls them to persevere and be steadfast in following Christ because their work will bring eternal results...

A Call to Steadfastness2024-07-04T15:32:17+00:00

How Do We Pray When Prayer is Hard

ELIZABETH TURNAGE | CONTRIBUTOR “Father, please send your angels to protect my mom.” I spoke this prayer on night ten of my mom’s fierce battle with Covid. Five hours later, she was dead. Have you ever received a resounding “no” to heartfelt prayers? Have you prayed prayers for days, months, and years and seen no evidence of change at all? Prayers for the return of a wayward child, prayers for freedom from deeply rooted sin patterns, prayers for relief from chronic pain? Perhaps with David, you have cried day and night but heard no answer and found no rest (See Psalm 22:2). In such seasons, bitterness or cynicism threatens to mute our tongues. How do we pray when prayer is hard? Three Crucial Practices Three crucial practices help us to pray when prayer is hard: learning the language of lament, which deepens faith; leaning into community, which grows hope; and listening for God’s declaration of his unfailing love, which expands love for God and for others. Learning the Language of Lament When prayer is hard, learning the language of lament can help us to emerge with a stronger faith. As Pastor Mark Vroegop explains, “Lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust.”[i] Lament not only expresses our faith in the goodness of God, it also strengthens our faith in its expression. Prayers of lament often process through four categories: turning to God, naming the grief, asking persistently and boldly for help, and expressing restored confidence. Lamentations, Jeremiah’s lament over the fall of Jerusalem, illustrates each of these categories. Rather than turning away from God when relief from suffering doesn’t come, lamenters turn toward God. Jeremiah addresses his complaints to God in raw words few of us would dare to utter aloud: “You have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through” (Lam. 3:44 ESV). Lamenters name their grief, refusing to minimize their suffering: “I am the one who has seen the affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven me and brought me into darkness without any light” (Lam. 3:1). Arguing that their current experience doesn’t seem to match their understanding of God’s goodness and mercy, lamenters ask persistently and boldly for help. Jeremiah keeps crying for help, “Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; look, and see our disgrace!” (Lam. 5:1). In doing so, he expresses his firm conviction that “no one is abandoned by the Lord forever” (Lam. 3:31). Not always, but often, lamenters turn from complaint, expressing restored confidence that the Lord will redeem and restore again. Jeremiah’s turn comes in the familiar assurance: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:21-22). As Vroegop asserts, lament “stands in the gap between pain and promise.”[ii]  Learning to lament helps when prayer is hard...

How Do We Pray When Prayer is Hard2024-06-23T18:49:09+00:00

Look Up in Faith

JESSICA ROAN | GUEST It was another early morning. The 5:20 alarm went off as it always does, waking me for another day of teaching. On my way to school, I drove with my eyes fixed on the road, praying I would be ready to meet my twenty-six early morning students in just a few minutes. And then I saw it, a pinkish orange hue highlighting a sky full of cotton puffs. I couldn’t believe it. How many years had I been making this drive and I just now noticed? If I’m honest, I’ve always had a hard time looking up. On a particularly chaotic day at the treatment center I once worked at, I remember asking our sage psychologist: “What do we do? It’s crazy out there.” His answer? “That’s why the psalmist says, ‘I lift mine eyes to the hills’ (Psalm 121). We are supposed to look up, not at the world around us.” The students we worked with were displaying such severe behaviors, but God needed me to keep my eyes on him, not the events around me. There are many times when this brief conversation has come to mind, and often when it's much too late: I’ve already stressed, and even despaired at the circumstances around me. As Christians, we are called to keep our gaze on Christ. To look up for hope and help. To look away from ourselves, and to the One who controls all things We Look Up When We Lack Faith Noah was well-respected and righteous. One fateful day, God gave him a seemingly unreasonable command. He was to build an ark that was about 31,000 square feet (Gen. 6:17). God said he would flood the earth because the world was filled with evil. While many scholars believe it was 120 years from the command to build the ark until the flood, others believe it took merely 75 years. In any case, for Noah to work so diligently on a project for so long without understanding the significance of why he was doing so, could not have been easy. For decades, he risked his good standing in his community. His actions must have appeared strange to those around him. Interestingly, Noah has no dialogue in the Genesis account. This passage simply says, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). While we don’t know what Noah said to God, we do know what he did. He trusted and obeyed God: “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7) He “looked up” and waited for something to happen just because God said it would. This is a testimony to us in our own seasons of waiting for God to move in our lives. We continue to “look up” to God, trusting in his promises, even when they seem slow to come to fruition....

Look Up in Faith2024-06-23T18:45:33+00:00

The High Calling of Finding Our Identity

.TARA GIBBS | CONTRIBUTOR Who am I? What defines me, motivates me, and practically shapes the thousands of small and big choices I make each day? Identity is the word for who we are and how we derive meaning. Every person either consciously or subconsciously answers the question: “What makes me “me”? When we introduce ourselves, we might tell someone what we do for work or fun. Although we might not realize it, a deeper look at daily choices might reveal unexamined ways we pursue identity—staying fit and toned, wearing hip clothes, accumulating Instagram likes, being affirmed for kind things we do, etc.  Sometimes we even seek to build identity through a performance-based Christian life. A sad story is told of a young woman who became involved with a church while in college. She came to recognize herself as a sinner in need of forgiveness and soon became a leader in the ministry. She wanted to pursue missions, but first she did some graduate work in psychology. The more she studied, the more suspicious she became of what her Christian ministry taught her about her identity as a “worthless sinner.” Through her studies in psychology, this young woman began to again see herself as a person of value. The more she studied, the freer and less burdened she felt. She began to feel less guilty and more “healthy.” Her family rejoiced to see the return of their “happy” daughter. Yet this “freedom” and “health” were at the cost of her Christian convictions because this young woman had a fundamental misunderstanding regarding a Biblical view of Christian identity.[1] God’s Word tells us true identity will not be found in jobs, possessions, the pursuit of happiness, or even trying to be “good enough for God,” but rather as we gain a deep, heart knowledge of God’s goodness TO us...  

The High Calling of Finding Our Identity2024-06-23T18:40:10+00:00

Daughters of the King

LAURA TUCKER |GUEST “This must be your twin!” I hear this often when I am with my mother. She is my mother— not my sister—and she is in her 70s and I am in my 40s. In some ways, this comment makes me wonder, “How old do I look,” but it is a compliment…she has great skin, hair, and style!  She has passed down genetic traits and characteristics, so, as her daughter, I do in fact resemble her likeness. But more than genetics, years of time spent with her has formed my facial expressions, mannerisms, and word choices in such a way that more and more I often hear, “You look just like your mother,” or “I know whose daughter you are!” Created as Image Bearers As much as I bear the image and likeness of my mother, there is One, the Lord our God and the Creator of all things whose image and likeness we all bear. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that from the very beginning, the pinnacle of creation is in fact us, people, male and female made in the image and likeness of our Triune God. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Out of all God’s creation, it was mankind he declared was very good indeed (Gen. 1:31). God made us and gave us a purpose to fill the earth and subdue it, to have dominion over all creation. In the very beginning, we see the beautiful, purposeful design with which God created us to bear His image— His likeness in His kingdom. Fearfully and wonderfully made, each of us are knit together and formed, after the likeness of our Creator God. We were made to be fully known by Him, and in turn for us to know, love, and enjoy Him. More, we were made to be known as belonging to Him and to be recognized as His people in His kingdom...

Daughters of the King2024-05-31T15:51:53+00:00

Engaging Culture With Wisdom and Grace

MARIA CURREY | CONTRIBUTOR “If only one more page, one more encounter, one more embrace,” your heart moans. When you find someone or something engaging, what is it that makes you want more? Maybe it is their compelling and charismatic personality? It might be a book or movie which grips your attention—when no matter how many other tasks beckon for your attention, you cannot help but turn the pages or watch it through to the credits, and you feel like a best friend moved away when it ends. The characters linger, the impression of that special person remains long after bidding farewell. In sharp contrast, we often find ourselves in a culture of criticism, cruelty, cancelling, and cut-throat competition, so, how do we take the myriad tensions and reconcile them with our Christian calling? How do we engage culture with wisdom and grace? Bury your head in the uncountable sands of Scripture and wait for Jesus to return? As comfortingly cocooned as such an action-plan may be, the losses would be countlessly grievous—both to our hearts and to a lost swath of culture needing and waiting for Jesus’ winsome love. What if you and I are the pivotal story of Jesus to be watched and read for those who are eternally lost? What if the Holy Spirit has a special assignment for the pages of your life to be the unfolding of wisdom and grace? God’s gifts perfectly crafted through your uniquely designed life. Remember the Psalm 139 promises that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made;” the images of His handiwork are the wisdom and grace of God in you! Why are wisdom and grace critical hooks in our life stories?...

Engaging Culture With Wisdom and Grace2024-05-31T15:47:54+00:00

A Backwards Birth Into Heaven

SUSAN TYNER | CONTRIBUTOR I watched my Daddy be born into Heaven today. We were all around him as he lay dying in his bed at home. I squeezed his hand on one side while Mama grasped the other, my sister balancing on the mattress at his head while my brother held his feet. With our spouses and his many grandchildren crowded around, we sat with him one more time in his bedroom. We were no strangers to this room—there for about fifty years we had yelled at Ole Miss football games on the TV, nursed coffee during early morning talks, climbed into the warm covers while he read his Bible in a close by chair, even played tic-tac-toe in lotion on his back. Decades of normal breathing and living. And so, it was a blessing that when he needed to die, we could be in that familiar-made-sacred space together. I never saw someone die before, and it’s amazing how the human body will struggle to stay alive. We held our breaths as we counted his. He would pause breathing and we would look at each other, is this it? only to see him gasp air again. This happened so many times that once we laughed because it got comical for such a heavy moment—or maybe we just needed to release a tension we were not used to holding for so long. The hospice staff told us he could hear us even though he couldn’t respond, and Daddy proved them right when he squeezed Mama’s hand, responding that he loved her. His clavicle strained just like my little boy’s did when he had croup. We felt his pulse slow, lagging only a little behind his breath. At some point we attempted to comfort him by reciting Psalm 23 as a group. I think we added thirty minutes to his life because we flubbed it so bad my mom had to take over like the school teacher she is. Again, we laughed. How terrible for Daddy to hear us collectively fail a basic test when he had invested his adult life teaching us the Bible. Here we had been telling him to go and not worry about us and he’s lying there thinking, WHAT? My kids can’t even remember The Lord is My Shepherd?? What kind of shape am I leaving them in? Then, although we knew he was leaving, it was weird when in one moment after midnight, he did not catch his breath. Suddenly, he was gone. And, we did not feel like laughing anymore but going to our corners of the house to be quiet and do whatever one does after watching your role model leave your world. What seemed like only moments later, the funeral home is on site, desecrating our sacred bedroom. As I fill out paperwork, the hospice nurse tells me that Daddy, who practiced medicine for the hospice company, actually had worked earlier that week for them. I shouldn’t have been surprised. He pushed and tackled cancer’s pain the way he played linebacker at Bentonia High School. Whether it was football, medicine, church, or a good Mississippi snow day, Will Thompson left it all on the field. Why would his death week be any different? I see them put Daddy’s body in a plastic bag. As a doctor, he saw death a lot and this scene would not shock him. I did not know at the time it was shocking me. I assumed my head knowledge that he was in a better place would inoculate me from shock—that the theology I had been taught would cushion the impact grief causes....

A Backwards Birth Into Heaven2024-05-31T15:52:57+00:00

Created to Glorify God

CHRISTINE GORDON | CONTRIBUTOR Glory be to God! We say it and we mean it; we want our lives to reflect God’s glory. According to the Westminster Catechism, part of our creation design as humans is to glorify God. But what exactly does that mean? What is a Biblical definition of glory? And how do we give it to God? This word “glory” is all over the Bible, used in different eras and contexts. In the Old Testament it is the Hebrew word “kavod” meaning weight, value, honor, or respect. In the New Testament it is the Greek term “doxa,” from which we draw our word, “doxology.” The Glory of Christ John 16 and 17 are great places to settle in and investigate in order to understand “glory” in the context of Jesus and his church. In these chapters, Jesus just shared the Passover meal with his disciples and was teaching them one last time about why he had come and what was soon to happen to him. After promising the Holy Spirit would come and minister to them, he described the Spirit’s ministry in John 16:14: “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The ministry of the Spirit is to make clear to the world the person and work of Jesus. Like a bright light shining through a dark December night onto a beautiful Christmas wreath, the Spirit highlights the beauty of Christ. The Holy Spirit takes what belongs to Jesus and show it to his followers. The Spirit displays Jesus’s power, moral excellence, love, grace, and beauty. He platforms the holiness of Christ. Jesus’s glory is all that he is and all he has done. It is his resume and his person.[1] It is the overflowing radiance, intensity, and energy of divine life and holiness.[2] All of these things are revealed to the people of God by the Holy Spirit...

Created to Glorify God2024-05-31T15:16:28+00:00

The Greatest Father

KATIE POLSKI | CONTRIBUTOR I had a good dad growing up. He was a little quirky, but he was a good dad. He often brought a smile to the mundane and laughter into hardship. One day, while in the middle of cancer treatments, dad called me into his room because he had something “really important” he wanted to tell me. My stomach turned; I didn’t want to have “the talk” that I felt like was inevitable when someone was facing a dire illness. I walked into his room with my shoulders stooped and sat down next to his recliner.  He leaned forward and said, “Guess what? I pulled the ‘cancer card’ for the first time. And it worked!” What my father simply could not wait to tell me was that he got out of a speeding ticket because he told the cop, in what I imagined was a dramatically strained voice, “I have cancer.” Definitely a little quirky, but he was a good dad.  The Imperfect Love of Our Earthly Fathers While I had a good father, he wasn’t perfect. No one single father is. And while I imagine many share my gratitude for having a loving dad, there are many who did not experience this kind of care. There are sons and daughters who did not feel loved because of a dad who was absent. There are grown children who are working through the emotional pain from abuse. There are others who never really knew their father because work took priority over family. I have wept with these friends, reflected with them, and mourned over their scars.  Father’s Day carries an array of emotions for children who grew up in all different circumstances. The temptation, no matter what the experience, is to compare our earthly father with our heavenly One. But believer in Christ, there is no comparison. Whether we celebrate good dads this Father’s Day, or mourn broken relationships, there is hope in a Father who loves perfectly and completely, and this heavenly Father calls you His child...

The Greatest Father2024-05-31T15:54:50+00:00
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