River Region's Journey - Montgomery, Prattville, Wetumpka, Millbrook Joomla! - the dynamic portal engine and content management system http://www.readjourneymagazine.com Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:48:34 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Dave Ramsey has the Answers to Your Questions! http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1170:dave-ramsey-has-the-answers-to-your-questions&Itemid=116 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1170:dave-ramsey-has-the-answers-to-your-questions&Itemid=116

Keep Your Money in Your Own Pocket


Q.  I just filed taxes, and it looks like I’ll get a pretty big refund this year. A friend of mine told me I should adjust my withholding, so I don’t get a refund. This seems pretty dumb to me. Why would I change my withholdings when I’m getting money back?



A.  The only reason you’re getting a refund is because you had too much taken out of your paychecks in 2017.


Let’s say your refund is $3,500. Basically, you loaned the government $3,500 of your own money, interest-free. A refund isn’t a gift or reward, James. It’s your own cash that you get back because you paid in too much during the previous year. In your case, that adds up to almost $300 a month!


Instead of loaning the government money that you worked hard to earn, wouldn’t it be better to keep it in your pocket?



Debt and Income Crisis


Q.  I received a call the other day from a company saying it could negotiate the balance on my credit cards to a lesser amount. The caller also said they could get me a zero-percent interest rate until the debts were paid off, and then the accounts would be closed. I’m kind of starting over again financially, because I sold a company I had run for almost 15 years, then got into real estate and lost almost everything. I’m making just enough to squeeze by, and my credit card debt totals $40,000. Would this be a good idea?



A.  No, this is not a good idea. You’re looking at two major problems with a company such as this one. One, they will absolutely destroy whatever credit you may have. Their plan is to take your cash, and spend some time beating down the credit card companies until they agree to accept a lesser amount. Then, they use your cash to settle loans you will have — by that time —defaulted on. This will put you in a situation very similar to if you had filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Stay away from these people.


You have an income crisis, in addition to a debt crisis, at this point. For starters, I want you to start living on a tight, written, monthly budget. I’m talking rice and beans, no vacations, and no eating out until you pay off this debt. Where your income is concerned, maybe you should consider getting back into the kind of business you ran previously for a while. Look for a managerial or supervisory position in that area, at least until you’re able to get back on your feet and save some cash.


Finally, cut up the credit cards, close the accounts, and put as much money as you can spare toward paying off that debt using the debt snowball system. Never go back into debt again!



Dave Ramsey Says Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:09:25 +0000
God is in Your Pain http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1169:god-is-in-your-pain&Itemid=126 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1169:god-is-in-your-pain&Itemid=126

I have been greatly perplexed lately, in need of a six-figure financial miracle. I had no idea of any possible source of that amount of money. It all came crashing down on me last weekend when I realized that the deadline for the money was quickly approaching. I couldn’t sleep well and woke up with a bad headache.


As a distraction to my turmoil, I decided to clean out the drawers in my computer desk. As I pulled opened the first drawer, my eye caught a small red booklet with the inscription, “Keep Calm and Trust God.” The words seemed to jump off the page. I was in awe. Where did this booklet come from?  Why am I just seeing it?  What are the odds that I find it today when I really needed the message it conveys?


That tiny booklet may have been there for many weeks and possibly months, but just as I needed to see it God highlighted and used it to speak to my heart. God will use any means possible to get His message across to you, because He loves you ever so passionately.


God is in the pain you are experiencing. The Bible tells God’s people that in all their affliction, He was afflicted (see Isaiah 63:9). Never think for a minute that you are alone in what you are facing. Jesus is always with you. He is the silent listener to every prayer. He collects the tears of His saints into a bottle (see Psalm 56:8).  “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses…” (Hebrews 4:15).


That little red book encouraged me to: Keep Calm and Trust God. Does this sound a little too simple for your situation?


You may be going through the harsh reality of divorce. Perhaps the doctor has given negative health news to you. Maybe you have a child that could be facing jail time, if convicted. You may be crushed by news of a family member’s choice to live an alternative lifestyle. Perhaps, like me, you have a financial challenge. Trouble finds us all. It’s an equal opportunity stalker.


When trouble hits, relax, calm down, and consider the answers to these questions:


1. How can worry help my situation?


Worry can never help. Worry leads to fear, fear escorts us to anxiety, and anxiety releases a high stress hormone that is detrimental to your physical wellbeing. The Apostle Paul understood this: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).


Corrie Ten Boom, prisoner of a German death camp, understood how to live in what appeared to be a hopeless situation saying:  “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empty today of it’s strength.”


2. Is it possible to hear God’s voice in the midst of my anxiety?


You could be an idea away from your breakthrough, but that idea may elude you while you remain fretful. Have you ever searched frantically for a key or other necessary item and someone behind you points at it right in front of you? This happens because you were so frantic in your mind, your eyes glazed over it. God has been itching to give you a solution to your problem. You must calm down long enough to hear His voice.


3. But can God really be trusted?


If I were to release my worries in the hands of the Lord I want to know He will not let me down...if this is your fear I challenge you to look back through times past when you have struggled. How far has God brought you through until now? From what kinds of problems has He delivered you? How has He sustained your health? How many times have you blundered and He pulled you up, unscathed? While it is true, you may have bumps, bruises, debt or circumstances that may remind you of your problems long term, you are still a living proof of His goodness…you are alive! Your situations shall pass, no matter how bad it looks.


Keep calm and trust God! He is faithful! 




Pastor Kemi Searcy Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:00:23 +0000
All Lives Should Shine http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1168:all-lives-should-shine&Itemid=113 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1168:all-lives-should-shine&Itemid=113

A few years ago, Joni Eareckson Tada shared a radio commentary which encouraged listeners to allow the light of Christ to shine even through hardships.  She included a reference to a passage in Philippians 2.  She writes:


The apostle Paul is writing from a dark

prison cell and he tells his friends: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...”


For years, the Gerber company has been displaying the famous baby picture on its products. And, now, each year, the company, according to Bill Partyka, chief executive and president of Gerber, “...we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s long-standing heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby...”

That quote is from a Townhall.com story about the latest Gerber Spokesbaby, Lucas Warren, who was selected from 140,000 entrants.  Lucas is very unique - he has Down Syndrome. 


Writer Leah Barkoukis states:


In a world where far too many people and countries (like Iceland) don’t believe in the value of every human life, Gerber’s decision should be celebrated.


Many parents, particularly those who have children with Down syndrome, did just that.


Lucas is from Dalton, GA, and his dad, Jason Warren, told the Today show: “We’re hoping this will impact everyone — that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited,” adding, “They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.”


The DailyWire website reported that the state of Utah is considering a ban on the abortion of pre-born babies with Down Syndrome, joining Indiana, Ohio, and North Dakota.  An article on the site quoted from the LifeNews website:


Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities are discriminated against at astronomical rates. Parents whose unborn babies have Down syndrome or other disabilities frequently report feeling pressure to abort them by doctors and genetic counselors.


Earlier this year, a CBS News report shocked the nation with its exposure of the discriminatory abortion trend. According to the report, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the United Kingdom and 67 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2011, according to CBS.


This is totally unacceptable, and completely ignores that every life is a creation of God, special, unique, reflecting His image.


Tim Tebow is devoted to showing teens and adults with disabilities that they are special by sponsoring a series of proms called the Night to Shine.  Last Friday, CBN News ran a story about the concept:


The event is called “Night to Shine” and it was created by the Tim Tebow Foundation to share the love of God in a practical way.


“Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. On one night, February 9, 2018, more than 540 churches from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 90,000 honored guests through the support of 175,000 volunteers!” the foundation says on its website.


The article continues:


Each special needs youth invited to the prom is called a “king” or “queen” and the whole community gathers to treat them like royalty for the entire evening.


“We get to celebrate a lot of people with special needs and hopefully change a lot of lives,” Tebow said in a video Friday.


Just Google, “Night to Shine,” and you will see extensive local press coverage. 


This is a great example of the Church being the Church and shows how Christians value every life, and in unselfish acts of love, make people with special needs truly feel special - please notice that the anticipated number of volunteers was almost twice the number of guests expected.


The takeaways are simple - one, is that we should always come to the defense of life - in the womb, throughout a person’s life, and even until the end-of-life.  God is the author of life, and as humans, we are not authorized to take life.


We also can be grateful for what people with special needs, who struggle with disabilities, can teach us.  You hear inspiring stories of people who are disabled who provide an example of determination against sometimes overwhelming odds.


The Church has a special opportunity to speak and to act on behalf of the vulnerable.  There are excellent ministries, such as Joni and Friends, Hope Heals, Rooftop Friends, and others who are dedicated to making communities and churches more aware of the needs of those who are challenged.  



Bob Crittendon Fri, 06 Apr 2018 15:47:23 +0000
Dark Night of the Soul http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1166:dark-night-of-the-soul&Itemid=112 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1166:dark-night-of-the-soul&Itemid=112

In Christian theology, there is something called “dark night of the soul”. This refers to a feeling of despair and no known way to end suffering.  This term is also used in in the world of psychological dynamics seen as depression, despair and anxiety when they become so severe that they interfere with having a life that has moments of joy as well as difficulties.  There are many perspectives of “a dark night of the soul,” but as a therapist and a Christian, I have come to view a feeling of separation from God as a “dark night of the soul”.


As Christians, we have recently observed Lent and celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  During Lent, we prepare for Easter. We do this by giving up something, praying, adding a spiritual ritual to our daily lives or spending time daily contemplating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His Father.  Years ago, I focused on giving up certain foods or habits during Lent. As time passed, I began adding a service to others rather than some type of fasting.  What I finally realized is that the blessing in observing Lent and becoming self-disciplined was that in doing so, I was closer to God.  I felt more connected to Him, and this was comforting to me. It remains so.


It is my observation that when we are in despair, we “feel” separated from God. I have great respect for the power and importance of feelings. They teach us things that we need to know.  They awaken in us needs, losses and joy. However, it is important, in my view, that we move out of feelings into our thinking in order to understand them and facilitate change or accept something wonderful. If I “feel” separated from God, I must remind myself that He is never separated from me. I am experiencing a feeling that is not based in reality.


“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)


And… “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am sure that neither death or life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8: 37-39)


We all experience “dark nights of the soul”.  It is unavoidable on this earth. In order to survive and thrive, we have the choice to identify our fears of separation from God. When we do so, it is again our choice to realize His love for us and His desire for us to be well and whole. When we are able to have insight into our fear and hopelessness, we are able to work to connect with God and His love.


Lent gives us the opportunity to actively work for an awareness of our connection with God every year during the 40 days before Easter. Unfortunately, “dark nights of the soul” come far more often than during those 40 days. The gifts of Lent are many fold. We are given the opportunity to sacrifice in recognition of Jesus Christ’s giving of His life for us. We are able to incorporate spiritual regimens into our daily life that we don’t employ during the remaining days of the year. We are given the choice to prepare for the joy of Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We are also given the choice to strengthen our spiritual muscles so that we are more able to move beyond a “dark night of the soul” by strengthening our understanding of God’s connection to us through his abiding love.



Counselors Corner Fri, 06 Apr 2018 15:30:24 +0000
Sunlight and Butterfly Dust http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1164:sunlight-and-butterfly-dust&Itemid=125 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1164:sunlight-and-butterfly-dust&Itemid=125

Butterflies are beautiful, but fragile. In fact, it has been said that if you touch a butterfly’s wings the creature may actually die. In the past few years, biologists have discovered why that’s true. If you catch a butterfly and release it, you will see a bright yellow or green iridescent dust on your hand. That shining dust is critical to the butterfly’s ability to fly. Without it, it cannot live.


What scientists in California and Germany discovered in 2017 was that this dust is not really dust at all, but thousands upon thousands of thin, microscopic solar cells. The ribs in each butterfly’s wings are really elaborate solar panels that provide radiant heat to the creature and dazzling color to our world. And within every panel, each cell is different in size, shape, and angle to maximize the absorption of light. But wait, solar panels? Why solar panels?


Butterflies only fly when their body temperature is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But, being cold-blooded animals, their internal temperature corresponds to the air above them. Thus, the need for external heat. When a butterfly hangs onto a leaf with its wings outstretched, it is storing up energy. It is stoking its internal furnace and fueling up for flight. So, even if it is only 70 degrees on a spring day, you may still see a butterfly pollinating from flower to flower on energy harvested from the sun.


It reminds me of a passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:24) NIV.


None of us can fully comprehend the intricate design of the butterfly or any of the thousands of species around us. But if we look closely at ourselves or any other creature, we have no excuse for not worshipping the God who created us. How can we ever doubt that God designs, maintains, and cares for us all? One would think scientists, of all people, would be the most devout followers of Christ.


Butterflies are beautiful, but they are not just for show. While those little wispy creatures shimmer in the sunlight and decorate our gardens with color, they are pollinating our flowers and crops. They are literally spreading life everywhere they go.


And so should we. God has put within those of us who have placed our faith in Him, hope, love, peace, joy and a thousand other blessings that reflect the glow of His love. As we spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word, we store up the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We then have the energy to reflect that radiance to everyone around us. We can bring hope and love to people in a dark and lonely world, where everyone needs Someone to believe in.


Paul said it this way to the church in Philippi: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:14 – 16) NIV.


That’s our job, to bring light and hope to our little corner of God’s garden. He has made each of us differently and yet we all have a place in His plan. And He provides the strength, patience, and courage we need to reach those around us.


Our Creator is the Light of the world. We can choose to reflect that Light in our daily lives, not in our own power, but in the power of His Spirit.


In the words of the psalmist: “For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!” (Psalm 92:4-5) NIV.


What a joy to be part of God’s creation. What a joy to join with Christ in bringing light and life to our world. And to think we could learn all this from a butterfly.



**Sam Whatley’s latest book, Ponder Anew, is now available at the Frazer Bookstore located inside Frazer Memorial UMC.




Pondering the Journey Fri, 06 Apr 2018 14:40:25 +0000
Jason Isbell, VP of Legal and Governmental Affairs, Alabama Bankers Association http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1163:jason-isbell-vp-of-legal-and-governmental-affairs-alabama-bankers-association&Itemid=124 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1163:jason-isbell-vp-of-legal-and-governmental-affairs-alabama-bankers-association&Itemid=124

RRJ:  Jason, you have worn many hats in your professional career… from being a lawyer for politicians to being a lobbyist for bankers.  What is one standard you live by no matter what “hat” you are wearing?


Jason:  The phrase “honesty is the best policy” might sound like an old cliché, but it’s a statement that has served me well.  If the general public made a list of trustworthy professions, chances are high that “attorney” and “lobbyist” would not be near the top.  Knowing that, I’ve worked especially hard to try and cultivate a reputation of being an honest broker.  To me, that means not only telling the truth but also presenting the opposing viewpoints so that folks can see all sides of the issue.  There are times when that standard might cause you to lose a battle, but it will never cause you to lose the war. 



RRJ:  In regard to the path you’ve been on professionally, how does Jeremiah 29:11 speak to you?


Jason:  For the Christian, verses like Jeremiah 29:11 provide an unspeakable amount of comfort.  Even if I didn’t necessarily know the next step in God’s plans for my life, the fact that He loves me enough to give me “hope and a future” gives me such a peace. My entire career path can be traced to a campus-wide email that I received 20 years ago as a college sophomore.  And from then until now, every stop along the way has been a wonderful place to work: great bosses, hard-working co-workers, and office cultures that didn’t require your character to be compromised.  Equally as important, any career transition that I’ve gone through has been on my own terms and has been a positive development.  I can’t help but see God’s hand at work in my professional path.



RRJ:  You are a talented orator and gifted in building relationships.  What opportunities has God placed in your life to be able to use your gifts?


Jason:  I’m blessed to serve on the board of directors of the agency my parents used when adopting me in 1980, Agape of Central Alabama, as well as my college alma mater, Faulkner University.  There’s nothing in my life that doesn’t point back to one or both of those entities, so it’s incredibly humbling to now have a role in their futures.  Music has been a part of my life for many years, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to lead worship at my church.  And I thoroughly enjoy public speaking, whether it’s emceeing charity events or serving as an announcer for sporting events.  You don’t earn certificates or diplomas in “building relationships,” but I firmly believe it is an innate skillset that to some degree all of us have.  I’m thankful that God has given me ample opportunities to use my talents, and hope He’ll continue to keep my eyes open for future chances, too.



RRJ:  Having been adopted at 3 months old, you must have a deeper understanding of how precious adoption is.  Romans 8:14-17 speaks of us, believers in Christ, as adopted by God.  Can you shed some light on how wonderful that news really is?


Jason:  There’s no such thing as an unwanted adoption.  In any situation involving an adoption, you have a parent eager to give love and an adoptee eager to accept that love.  No caveats.  No exceptions.  In the same way, a Christian is wanted.  God the Father has chosen us, and we belong to Him.  He pours out His love on us without limitation, our flaws notwithstanding.  What could be better than that?



RRJ:  What do you feel is the most important part in sharing your faith with others?


Jason:  Authenticity.  There’s not an aspect of our lives where we don’t come into contact with people who could use our help.  Even at church.  Our preacher routinely says, “There’s a heartache on every pew.”  And he’s exactly right.  Christ compels us to try and help the hurting, wherever they may be.  But if that person believes you’re just “going through the motions” and don’t genuinely care about them, you’ll never be able to take the next step and form a solid relationship with them. 



RRJ:  You mentioned that your wife, Kim, is your best friend.  How do you encourage each other to be the best versions of yourselves?  How important do you think it is for children to see their parents getting along in a loving relationship? 


Jason:  My wife is genuinely my favorite person to be around.  She’s funny and personable.  And when she wants to light up a room, I’m thankful to have a front-row seat.  There’s no one on Earth I want to impress more than Kim.  Since we became parents, it’s always been important for us to be “on the same team” in front of the boys.  And we’re very protective of each other when dealing with our children.  But Maddox and Griffin will never, ever wonder if they grew up in a home where Mom and Dad loved each other and cared for each other.  We work to say it and show it every day.  Like everyone, Kim and I fail each other at times, but thankfully as Christians we know what grace and mercy look like and feel like.  And we know the value of extending it to each other when we need it, even if we don’t deserve it. 



RRJ:  In the Gospels, Jesus mentions how important it is for believers to have a child-like faith.  How have you seen your childrens’ faith in action?


Jason:  Even at a young age, our boys have unfortunately dealt with several deaths, not only in our family but also at their school.  It’s been such a faith-builder to see how they’ve reacted to those tragedies, especially when my grandmother passed away.  Their words and thoughts during that heartbreak were as comforting to me as anyone’s.  It’s also wonderful to see them interact with other children.  Unlike adults, they look past race, age, socio-economic issues, handicaps – if you want to be their friend, they want to be your friend. Maddox and Griffin are such great examples to their parents; we’re blessed they’re ours.



RRJ:  What encouragement would you offer Journey readers who are struggling to live out their faith beyond church walls? 


Jason:  Two things.  First, don’t do it alone.  Kim and I have a great group of friends who hold us up and keep us accountable.  We constantly see how they are able to live out their faith at home, at work, in their families, and in the world.  They’re such an encouragement to us, and I hope we are to them.  So, if you’ve already got a core group of people in your life, don’t just make sure they know how you feel about them, make clear that you expect them to lean on you and that you expect to lean on them, too.  It’s Solomon’s three-fold cord approach from Ecclesiastes.  Second, don’t be so hard on yourself.  You’re not doing it wrong; being a Christian in this world, much less a Christian parent, is supposed to be hard!  Even when you might think differently, know that you ARE worthy enough to share your faith with others.



Jason Isbell has been married to Kim for almost 14 years and they have two sons: Maddox, 9, and Griffin, 6.


Faith @ Work Fri, 06 Apr 2018 14:31:32 +0000
Seven Steps to Renewing Your Mind http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1161:seven-steps-to-renewing-your-mind&Itemid=105 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1161:seven-steps-to-renewing-your-mind&Itemid=105

The human brain fascinates me. Its computing power is truly remarkable. Just one brain generates more energy (electrical impulses) in one day than all the cell phones on the planet. An unbelievable amount of activity occurs 24/7 in our brain; most of it is not at the conscious level. In fact about 90 – 99% of all brain activity happens in the non-conscious area of our brain at the speed of four hundred billion actions per second.The conscious level only accounts for about 10% of brain activity at two thousand actions per second.


These amazing facts tell us that much of who we are is programmed in our mind. We rarely think consciously about our actions and reactions. They are rote to a certain extent. The question is where does the programming come from that dictates our behavior?


The answer: our thoughts. Research shows that 75 – 98% of our mental, physical and behavioral health comes from our own thought life. This means only 2 – 25% of our mental health comes from the environment and genes. So much for blaming our parents for our mental issues! This also proves Proverbs 23:7 is true, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he…”


What if the programming loaded by our thoughts is wrong or at least out of date? Can we do anything about it? Absolutely. This is where Paul the Apostle’s valuable wisdom declares, “…Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).


The beauty is that we can change the programming of our brains whenever we want to. Our minds can be renewed. Here is a seven-step process toward mind renewal.



1. Slow down

Our 21st century pace is too hectic and possibly mentally unhealthy. The mind functions best and changes more when it is at rest. When we go into intentional rest we enhance and increase the activity in the non-conscious brain:


* Gamma waves increase memory and


* Coordination between brain networks increases

* More activity happens that is linked to happiness


Activities such as: meditation, ruminations, imagination, self-perceptions, thinking things through, letting your mind wander in a focused way, sleeping, deep thinking, and prayer all enhance the mind’s ability to change and become healthier. Take a few minutes daily to slow down and allow your mind to “chill.”



2. Gather Information

We should now ask some questions about our “chill time.” What has been happening in our mind? What are our thoughts and feelings? Are we tense? Has our breathing been shallow? Has our attitude been poor?

Psalm 4:4 says, “Stand in awe, and sin not: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” As we commune with our own heart we will gather information about ourselves.



3. Reflect with Focus

Select one area or one thought, preferably something that needs to be changed or reprogrammed. This is a disciplined way of thinking that silences all the chaotic, competing thoughts. Consider one item and all of its ramifications. This kind of thinking is the beginning of redesigning our brains.



4. Write

Now we should write down our thoughts. Writing has profound effect on brain alteration. It also imprints a visual on our brain. Write down negative and positive thoughts. Feel free to be creative in writing. Draw pictures, link word groups, or create “origami” with words. Just let it flow.



5. Revisit

We should now read what we have written, paying special attention to the areas that we desire to change. This will alert our brains to areas of focus. This causes our thoughts to become more changeable.



6. Act

Exhibit some form of mental or physical action related to the destruction of the old thought and the establishment of a new one. For example, if we have been fearful we might imagine the fear disappearing as a puff of smoke, quoting, “God has not given us the spirit of fear…” (2 Timothy 1:7).



7. Pray

Ask God to help with the process. He created the mind so He is capable of helping to reshape it.

Use these seven steps for each thought, one at a time, 10 minutes a day, for at least three weeks. If we do, the experts tell us that we will have made great progress to reshape our brains for the better.



Kyle Searcy has a passion for developing a new generation of leaders. He is a recognized and highly respected leader, bishop, prayer warrior, teacher, and author. He serves as senior Pastor of  Fresh Anointing House of Worship, Montgomery, Alabama. Kyle is married to Kemi and they have four childen and three grandchildren.


Pastor's Perspective Fri, 06 Apr 2018 13:56:27 +0000
Dave has Answers to Your Money Questions! http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1159:dave-has-answers-to-your-money-questions&Itemid=116 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1159:dave-has-answers-to-your-money-questions&Itemid=116

Quit Job for School?


Q. My wife and I have $72,000 in debt from student loans and a car loan. We’re trying to pay off our debt using the debt snowball system, and we each make about $45,000 a year. She’s a teacher, and she’s planning on going back to school for her master’s degree, but she’s thinking about quitting her job to do this. She’ll be able to make more money with the additional education, and she would only be unemployed for two years. The degree program will cost us $2,000 out of pocket per semester for two years. Does this sound like a good idea?


A. There’s no reason for your wife to quit her job to make this happen. Lots of people — especially teachers — hold down their jobs and go back to school to further their education. I’m not sure trying to make it on one income when you’re that deep in debt is a good idea.


Whatever you do, don’t borrow more money to make this happen. Cash flow it, or don’t do it. We’re talking about $8,000 total, and you’ve got $72,000 in debt hanging over your heads already. My advice would be to wait until you’ve got the other debt knocked out, then save up and pay cash for school. You could slow down your debt snowball, and use some of that to pay for school, but I’d hate to see you lose the momentum you have when it comes to getting out of debt.


The choice is yours, but don’t tack on anymore student loan debt. I know her income will go up with a master’s degree, so from that standpoint it’s a good thing to do. But if you do a good thing a dumb way, it ends up being dumb!



Rent-to-own Ok?


Q. Is it okay to buy something using a rent-to-own plan?


A. I advise against rent-to-own deals. Rent-to-own places get people in the door with promises of low monthly or weekly payments. But when it comes to rent-to-own furniture, washer and dryer sets, and that kind of thing, you’ll end up paying much, much more than if you saved up and bought item outright. The amount you’ll pay out of pocket is even more ridiculous if you compare it to buying the same item, slightly used, somewhere else.


I don’t recommend rent-to-own scenarios when it comes to buying a home, either. Most of those offerings are listed at full retail price and then some. Plus, the contracts are tilted toward the seller’s side of the equation.


When it comes to real estate deals, the only thing I would consider is leasing with an option to buy. That’s different than rent-to-own, because in a rent-to-own situation you’ve committed to purchase. On a lease with an option to buy deal, you have the right to purchase, but not the obligation.

Dave Ramsey Says Mon, 12 Mar 2018 13:17:04 +0000
Standing Alone http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1158:standing-alone&Itemid=113 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1158:standing-alone&Itemid=113

Standing alone has the potential to get attention and enact lasting change. On The Meeting House on Faith Radio recently, I interviewed Joyce Im Bartholomew, who is a singer who has recorded a pro-life song; the video of that song was banned from YouTube, and so she took legal action against the Internet behemoth. Even though she initially lost her challenge, others who had experienced restrictions came forward, as well. Ultimately her video was allowed to be posted. 


I related the story of Greg Schiller, whose story was told in a WORLD News Service story on ChristianHeadlines.com.  He “began to minister to the homeless, first in his garage, and this year in his better-equipped basement.”  The article continues:


But city officials in Elgin said Schiller’s basement didn’t meet its “sleeping regulations” code. When police officers inspected and shut down the basement “party” space last week, they cited the ceiling height as too low and the windows as too high and small to be used as an egress.


So here you have one man, taking action - in this case, exhibiting compassion for the homeless. But, that action resulted in the city taking steps to provide for those homeless in need.  The article states:


After the showdown at Schiller’s home, the city is now helping lead the creation of new shelters and has even offered the police department lobby for people with nowhere to go, including those who have a criminal record that keeps them out of shelters.


One man, standing alone – providing leadership in his singular focus and action.


There’s also the story of a former gymnast who took a series of bold steps.  Esther O’Reilly wrote at The Stream about Rachel Denhollander, one of the many athletes abused by former Michigan State and Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, who, according to the article, “received the maximum sentence of 175 years in prison for multiple counts of sexual assault on his patients. He already faced 60 years for possession of child pornography.” O’Reilly rightly stated:


If there’s one single person who can take the credit for finally bringing Nassar down, none have a better claim than Rachael Denhollander: victim zero, first to speak out and open the floodgates of justice. In 2000, Nassar repeatedly abused her over the course of a year after she sought his care for back pain at the age of 15. Confused, afraid, and assured by the responsible adults around her that nothing was amiss, she kept silent for years. Now married with three children, she has become an advocate for sexual assault victims.


Rachael was the final witness to speak against Nassar before he was sentenced.  Because of her Christian faith, she was able to give an eloquent and stirring perspective of the gospel.  She said, in part:


Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.


I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt, so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.


In the midst of her own pain and brokenness, Rachael has been involved in advocacy for sexual assault victims in another context - in the Church, according to a gripping Christianity Today article.


The Church is no doubt being challenged in these days in its response to matters of sexual abuse. Reflecting on what Rachael said in the Christianity Today article, I would say that people do not have to be afraid to enact church discipline for those who have sinned in this manner for fear that somehow their own reputations or the reputation of the church or the gospel itself would be damaged.  God’s reputation and His glory are far greater.


We can reflect on these three individuals who have been willing to take a stand, and in their respective stands, they encouraged others. We can be reminded that standing alone can make an impression.  Joyce Im Bartholomew challenged the policies of YouTube and others came forward.  It took a bold step.  Greg Schiller took a bold step and provided a home for those who had none – and influenced city officials.  Rachael Denhollender came forward to speak out on assault and to share the gospel and extend forgiveness to her own abuser.  Remember, sometimes compassion calls for a bold step.


We can check our hearts to make sure that we are open to the promptings of the Spirit. Bold steps can contribute to changed hearts, and as people are influenced and embolden by acts of faith, there are infinite possibilities. 


Bob Crittendon Mon, 12 Mar 2018 13:05:44 +0000
Prayer, Fasting and the Hands and Feet http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1157:prayer-fasting-and-the-hands-and-feet&Itemid=112 http://www.readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1157:prayer-fasting-and-the-hands-and-feet&Itemid=112

Spring has sprung!  The azaleas are in bloom, and new life sprouts all around us. 


For Christians, the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate spring – the reminder of the new life we have in Christ. Many Christian traditions observe Lent, the 40-day period before Easter of self-examination and reflection that can prepare us for the full joy of Easter.  Observation of Lent is an ancient Christian tradition, a season of penitence, repentance, prayer and fasting leading to a renewal of the soul to allow for greater dedication to serving God and others in the coming year.


Fasting reminds us of our mortality and can lead to greater recognition of the sin and brokenness of our earthly life and remind us that the resurrection of Jesus foreshadows a time when the broken world will be healed.  Our self-focused lives are interrupted as fasting reconnects the body to the mind, emotions and soul and our priorities are challenged.


Lent is designed for self-examination, so that we can identify areas in our lives that need correction and growth, as we are called to renew our dependence on God’s help. Lent is designed to take us out of our comfort zone to prepare for Easter with gratitude and joy.


Fasting in Lent follows the example of Jesus.  After his baptism, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.  (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). At his physical weakest, he was tempted repeatedly by Satan to give in to his natural human desires.  Using the word of God, he resisted and was victorious over sin.  


Jesus fasted to prepare for his ministry which changed the world forever.  Service to others was a central focus of Jesus’ ministry, and Christians today are called to follow his example.  Prayer, fasting and service are practices during Lent that draw us closer to God and our purpose in this earthly life.


Fasting and service can be beautifully blended.  I suggest that this Lenten season, we especially focus on the needs of the heart and soul. Many of us and those around us have a deep yearning to experience the fruits of the Spirit – in ourselves and from others. As Paul exhorts in his letter to the Galatians: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). Lent is a wonderful time to prayerfully seek the fruits of the Spirit and share them.



Fasting and Service Suggestions from Pope Francis:


1. Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

2. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

3. Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

4. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

5. Fast from worries and trust in God.

6. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

7. Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

8. Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.

9. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

10. Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

11. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.


Fasting reminds us of our brokenness and, although this fallen world will not be redeemed until Jesus comes again, we are called to be his hands and feet on earth.   Lean in to the hearts of others and be blessed.  Happy Easter!




Counselors Corner Mon, 12 Mar 2018 12:43:56 +0000