An Encouraging Word

Years ago Kevin Johnson was working in ministry with a pregnancy care organization. He did and still has a heart for people.

 

But Kevin was certain that’d there was an area of ministry of which he would never work. One day while in the Washington Park area, before all the renovations, he told God… “You’d have to put me here to minister in a place like this.”

 

“Don’t ever tell God what He’s gotta do,” laughed Kevin, 46, as he sits in the Queensgate Lord’s Gym where he has served as a chaplain for 11 years.

 

When Kevin was first introduced to Lord’s Gym Ministries, he “immediately fell in love.”

 

“God changed my heart in a way that I didn’t see coming,” Kevin said.

 

He volunteered on his lunch break and when a position became open; He knew it’s where God was going to put him.

 

“God has a heart built in me for men who are broken,” he said. “I want to help them discover themselves and realize they have something to contribute.”

 

That’s what Kevin does at Lord’s Gym.

 

Jody, 41, who has been coming to the Queensgate location enjoys Kevin’s company and his daily devotionals.

 

“He always gives a good message,” Jody said. “He breaks down the Word for us and explains in depth what it means.”

 

Jody said he and others can talk to Kevin about anything.

 

Kevin said he enjoys his work, building relationships and encouraging the broken to never give up.

 

“I enjoy the journey as a whole,” Kevin said. “When I first meet someone I don’t know what challenges they are facing, but then it all unfolds. So many amazing things happen on this journey.

 

“For me, the greatest moments in ministry come under the greatest amount of pressure. You see men hurt. They see your genuinely care and they start to trust. And then, you see them transform.”

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Lord's Gym Ministries Chaplain Kevin

 

Nick had relapsed.

 

Several months ago, he found himself back at the Queensgate Lord’s Gym with chaplain Kevin.

 

The two chatted for a bit.

 

“I appreciate you,” Nick told Kevin. “But you can’t save everybody.”

 

It was a heart piercing statement. Kevin’s first response was to ask if he could give Nick a hug.

 

As Kevin embraced his friend’s worn body Nick broke down in tears.

 

“You still have worth and are worth being loved,” Kevin whispered softly.

 

Kevin also told Nick that he is always welcome at Lord’s Gym.

 

Three weeks later when Nick returned to the gym, he was looking sober and seemed to be contemplating what to do next in his life. Kevin continued to affirm Nick of his value and the purpose he has in Christ.

 

During the gym’s devotional time Nick recommitted his life to Christ.

 

Mid-April, Kevin received and email from Nick. He was off the streets and living at his parents’ house. He told Kevin that his battle was just beginning but he was glad to fight another day.

 

“Words on this screen won’t ever be enough to tell you how truly grateful I am for you and your words of encouragement and wisdom,” Nick wrote. “Thank you brother, I love you.”

 

For Nick, Kevin was a source of life. Kevin looked at his situation and spoke worth and blessing over Nick in a great time of need. This is what our chaplains at Lord’s Gym Ministries do every day. Like Jesus, they speak life.

 

Jesus had a wonderful ability to meet and love a person wherever they were at. At the Lord’s Gym, we put into practice this beautiful action of Jesus every day to save lives – we speak and we show love.

 

Here’s how you can help us continue to speak life https://bit.ly/2FwRxCu.

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Guest blogger Stephanie Schneider

Bookkeeper/Administrative Assistant

 

In our last blog post, Scott Bowers mentioned encountering a woman, Ella, and the beginning of her journey to recovery. Though I had not met her when Scott drafted his post, Ella would soon impact my life. I was unexpectedly called to assist her in getting treatment for a health issue, and though I usually just sit behind a desk. I was happy to be called into action and be able to serve!

 

Ella was persistent in wanting to enroll in a detoxification program, but needed to be cleared by a doctor before she could participate. Forming a trusting relationship with our Chaplin Brandon, Ella promised Brandon that she would go to the doctor with him, so he and I arranged to provide transportation.

 

When we picked her up, Ella looked unwell and hurting. Despite how she may have been feeling at that time, she was very kind to me and Brandon. We discussed her children and it was very obvious how much she cared for them. I noticed she was wearing a pretty purple earring in one ear, and when I mentioned it to her she smiled, showing me her other ear and explaining that she had two different colors, one for her birthstone and the other her daughter’s.

 

I called around to local clinics and found that the Elm Street Health Center would be able to see Ella right away. The health center is a great facility with lots of great resources, so we headed there. The staff was very kind and seemed to be willing to do anything so that Ella could be seen.

 

As we went to fill out the paperwork, Ella started looking at brochures to give to her friend, who is expecting a child. When she came back, we tried to encourage her to complete the paperwork. However, it was obvious that she just wasn’t comfortable there. We instead took Ella to a hospital that she was familiar with. She was seen there and has been successfully enrolled in the detox program.

 

The very next day, I went to serve with Brandon in our street outreach ministry bus. I immediately began feeling ill and then had indescribable pain which I later found out was being caused by a kidney stone. Thankfully, our kind chaplains made sure I got to the hospital and even continued checking up on me later in the day.

 

It was a reminder that we all need help. At certain points in our lives, we all need someone to help us through something that we just can’t handle on our own. Ella handled her situation much better than mine. Though she was also unwell, she took the time to care about her friends and think about her children.

 

I’m so glad that Ella is persistent in changing her life and not afraid to reach out for help when she needs it. She reminds me that I should lean on others when I need to, but I also need to be ready to be leaned upon because we all need help at some point in our lives.

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Guest blogger Executive Director Scott Bowers

I was driving the street outreach ministry bus the other night, and we had met with about five or six people. One was a young man, dressed as a woman, struggling with his identity. We encounter him/her on a regular basis offering non-judgmental love and encouragement. We provided a meal, small talk, and prayer – especially for their safety.

As we drove up and down Warsaw Ave, I saw a woman heading in the opposite direction. (It was starting out as most STORM bus encounters.)

I sensed the woman we drove past was someone who would respond to our presence, so I turned the bus around and pulled into a parking lot 50 yards past her. Joyce, who was serving on the bus with me, recognized our friend immediately and went out to greet her. Apparently, what I had been sensing was the Holy Spirit nudging me to turn the bus around.

When she got on the bus and saw me, she asked, “Where is Brandon?” I think she was disappointed. Immediately I was reminded at how effective our Lord’s Gym chaplains are at connecting with people and forming meaningful relationships. I will come back to this thought.

Upon sitting down and consuming some fine JTM cuisine (thank you JTM), our exhausted friend, Ella (not her real name) said that she was DONE! She wanted off the streets! Woohoo – music to our ears. She had been trying to call people for help; she had run out of minutes. Next thing she knew, The Lord’s Gym bus came rolling past – a direct answer to her prayers! She was not praying, but God knew; he sent us to her.

For the next hour and a half, we called different places to get her into detox. Our best option was going to be at noon the next day. That was 17 hours away since it was already 7:00 pm. My heart sank. My batting average was zero. Women just don’t return to follow up appointments the next day. She insisted that she would meet me at 11 a.m. the next day, if we promised to take her. I told her I would personally see to it, and I promised her. She then called around to make some arrangements. She told her friends that she was on the bus with the church people.  I love that.

I would much rather someone believe in their heart that the church, the body of Christ, is reaching out to her. It is the church, through the power of God, showing her love. The Lord’s Gym is just the name of an organization. Indeed, it was the church in action.

A friend, Keith, came to get her. Upon leaving, I said I was looking forward to helping her tomorrow at 11. The expression on her face was blank. I sensed she had an uneasiness with me. Therefore, I asked her if she would prefer if Brandon met her tomorrow and took her to detox. That blank stare blossomed into a smile. I smiled. “Done”, I said.

The morning, I received a text from Ella saying she was planning on meeting us today at 11 at the same parking lot. Brandon reached out to BLOC Ministries’, Weightless Anchor, who also knew Ella. Andrea agreed to ride with Brandon. Having two core relational individuals taking Ella to detox would be two spirit filled individuals offering words of encouragement, prayer, and love. Wow! We all met as agreed.

Interestingly, I arrived first, and saw Ella walking toward the parking lot. She paused. When Brandon arrived, he walked toward her, and she resumed her approach to the parking lot. I told Ella how good it was to see her and how much I respected her courage. The three of them got into Brandon’s car and they left for detox. I was thrilled. I drove back to the office thanking and praising God.

PLEASE join me in praying for Ella. She is in good hands; yet, detox and rehab are journeys wrought with pitfalls. Pray that she resists the temptations and pain that will ensue. Stand firm.

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At Lord’s Gym lives are changing. From miraculous instant change to change over time. Staff and volunteers, with your support, are making a difference in so many lives.

 

Phillip, for example, spent most of his time drunk. He’d visit Lord’s Gym on occasion, pouring out his heart and asking for prayer. Johnny, a Lord’s Gym volunteer, took an interest in Phillip. Those initial “Hey, how are you” conversations grew into a friendship. Johnny took Phillip under his wing.

 

Things changed drastically.

 

The last several weeks Phillip has shown up sober and is helping clean and organize the Price Hill gym. Phillip has found purpose, friendship, and grace to begin living a different life.

 

Phillip’s life isn’t perfect and he still has his ups and downs, but as Lord’s Gym Price Hill Chaplain Brandon Welch always says: “We’re in it for the long haul.”

 

Lord’s Gym Miniseries is more than a gym. Ministries like the gym, the Family Activity Center and the Street Outreach Ministry (STORM), are building people in our communities up. Together we are growing strong in the Lord.

Just as Paul says in Ephesians 6:10-11 (NKJV): “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God...”

 

God has given us the armor. We just have to make the decision to put it on. At Lord’s Gym we’re helping our friends put on the full armor of God, as well. You, our supporters, are an essential part of this process. Here’s how you can help.

 

1. Pray with us. First Thessolanians 5:17 (KJV) says: "Pray without ceasing." Here’s what you can pray for.

  • Open hearts

  • Protection

  • Boldness

  • Provision

  • Thank God for what He has, is and will do.

 

2. Serve with us. Take some time to mingle and get to know our friends. Mother Teresa said that yesterday’s gone, tomorrow isn’t here yet; so, what are you going to do with today? Why not come to our Price Hill, Queens Gate or Covington locations to learn more about those we are helping. You’ll find it to be a blessing in your life. Click here for more information.

 

3. Share. Tell your friends, family, everyone you know about Lord’s Gym Ministries and how we’re making a difference in people’s lives and even your life.

 

4. Give. At Lord’s Gym Ministries we shower our friends with practical acts of love… spending time with them, giving them food, and a safe place. This is all done with heart of God.

God has blessed us with so many wonderful opportunities and gifts. Luke 12:48 (NKJV) says: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

 

Please, if you are able, show us your support, click here.

 

God bless and all our love.

 

 

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Johnny outside of The Lord's Gym in Price Hill.

 

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV

 

The sun shined and children giggled. Adults sat in conversation at and around picnic tables in Olden Park in Price Hill April 24. They were gathered for the weekly cookout at the park organized by The Lord’s Gym.

 

It seemed like a typical evening until Johnny, a volunteer at The Lord’s Gym, spotted a car parked near the park.

 

I thought to myself: “Something ain’t right.”

 

The car eventually pulled away and the fellowship continued. About an hour later as Johnny and other volunteers were wrapping up the cookout, the car driving by.

 

“The guy in the backseat stuck his hand out the window like this,” Johnny said making a gun symbol and waving his hand.

 

The next thing Johnny knew the man in the back seat opened fire.

 

“Some… even parents ran, leaving their kids. Others just stood there,” Johnny said. “My first thought was the kids. ‘We’ve got to get these kids out of the way.’ I yelled, ‘Hit the ground!’”

 

Other volunteers pulled kids from the playground equipment to the ground and shielded them with their own bodies.

 

“I was in Vietnam and I saw a lot of stuff, but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen something like this,” he said. “We had so many kids there.”

Later, a bullet was pulled out of one of the pieces of playground equipment where children had been playing until volunteers pulled them to safety. Another bullet hit a young man in the ankle and he was taken to the hospital. None of the children or volunteers with the The Lord’s Gym, however, were harmed.

 

“God is good,” Johnny said.

 

Johnny knows first hand that work in ministry is a blessing. However, even in Cincinnati, it can be dangerous. The Lord’s Gym staff and volunteers are on the front line. Sometimes the battle is in the form of physical bullets, other times it’s darkness of man’s heart.

 

Often in battle, a soldier will sacrifice his or her own life for another. According to Jesus, in John chapter 15, there is “no greater love.” Jesus was referring to the sacrifice He would soon make on the cross, but also a sacrifice His followers are to be willing and ready to make.

 

It’s a sacrifice on April 24, that The Lord’s Gym volunteers were ready to make. It’s also a sacrifice they make everyday. They give of their lives… their time, their heart, their talents… to reach people for Jesus. To not only tell them of His great love, but to show them His great love.

 

The next afternoon, Johnny was back at the park, passing through to get to The Lord’s Gym that’s next door.

 

Johnny said he found the courage to come back for the kids.

 

“It’s all about the kids,” he said. “The Lord’s Gym has got it going on. I thank God for this place.”

 

Arah, 14, a regular at The Lord’s Gym in Price Hill, witnessed the shooting and called 911.

 

“My heart was outside of my chest,” she said. “It was scary.”

 

But deep down, she said, she knew she was safe. She’s been going to The Lord’s Gym for three years and it’s like home.

 

“They let you be you and have fun,” she said. “And they protect you.”

 

The Lord’s Gym is more than gym. It’s a shelter. A shelter in a swarm of bullets, a shelter in the storm of life. A shelter where you’re clothed and fed, both literally and spiritually. A shelter where “no greater love” is lived everyday.

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What do you think of when you hear the word courage? A military hero? A police officer, EMS, or firefighter? Maybe it’s someone fighting a terminal illness? I ask the question, because it is on full display throughout our ministries at the Lord’s Gym.

 

I am most impressed with those who have come to face their drug addiction head on. I marvel at the woman who, after years of drug abuse and self-inflicted harm, turns her back to the street and receives the help so lovingly extended to her. She willingly bears the pain, trauma and shame in order to embrace the new life that is waiting for her. I see strong and courageous women who are striving to let sobriety take root in their lives. I had planned to share the story of one woman, but after thinking of the others who have graced our doors, I was reminded of the common trait they experienced and shared with us – courage! They had the courage to act, submit to those who can help, and trust God for the healing.

 

It’s an interesting process. We take the initiative, by faith, to receive help. Then, God shows up to provide his healing power to overcome and restore. In Matthew 12:13, Jesus tells a man with a withered hand to extend his hand. Once he takes the initiative to extend and present his hand, Jesus proceeds to heal and restore his hand. I appreciate the witness of our friends who are demonstrating such fundamental courage and faith. May we all have such courage!  Blessings, Scott

 

 

Scott Bowers

Executive Director

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As we close out 2018 and look forward to what God will do in 2019, I want you to know that all of us at FOCAS/The Lord’s Gym Ministries are thankful and grateful for your partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of sincere gratitude I offer to you the following encouraging words and prayer found in Ephesians 3:14 – 4:6 from the English Standard Version Bible. I copied this from Bible Gateway.

Prayer for Spiritual Strength

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.

Ephesians 4 English Standard Version (ESV)

Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Amen.

 

Blessings and Happy New Year. - Scott

 

 

Scott Bowers

Executive Director

FOCAS

513-621-5300

 

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 5099

Cincinnati, OH 45205

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Please join us for our annual fundraiser breakfast for some great fellowship and an inspirational program about how God is changing lives in some of our most violent communities through the Lord's Gym in its 25th year of ministry. You will be introduced to our leadership, a highly motivated staff, and you will hear from the actual people who have overcome remarkable odds. The program lasts for 60 minutes and starts at 7:30am sharp.
 
Please RSVP by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 513-621-5300.
 
 
 

Lord’s Gym 2018 Community Awareness Fundraiser Breakfast Event

 

Wednesday, October 17th 

Sharonville Convention Center

11355 Chester Road

Sharonville, OH 45246

 

Registration/Breakfast 7:00 am to 7:30 am           Program 7:30 am to 8:30 am Sharp

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Are you interested in another easy way to support FOCAS/The Lord's Gym? Participate in the Kroger Community Rewards program. All you have to do is enroll your Kroger Plus Card online at Kroger's secure website, www.krogercommunityrewards.com. All the details are on the website and it is very easy to do. New members can enroll by searching for FOCAS or our account #QR306

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Make sure you check out our Facebook Page for daily posts for the Tour de Falls bike trip. Teens and adults are on their way to Niagara Falls. That's over 500 miles. You won't want to miss the details of this journey!

 

Click on this link to read an article in USA Today about the journey.

 

 

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Your shopping makes a difference. Amazon donates to Foundation of Compassionate American Samaritans when you shop Prime Day deals at smile.amazon.comWould you consider helping us out?

 

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NEW!!  NEW!!  NEW!!

Workshops at the Cafe

by The Lord's Gym & City Gospel Mission

2 classes Starting in October

Click Here to get the details and Register!

 

VOLUNTEER TRAINING

If you have been or want to be a FOCAS/Lord's Gym/STORM volunteer please attend!

This training is for new or present volunteers.

Please RSVP with Bob at 513-207-7744 if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

6:00 pm - 7:15 pm

The Lord's Gym Cafe

City Gospel Mission's Campus

1211 York St

Cincinnati, OH 45214

 

 

 

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    IT’S WORKING

Community Awareness

Fundraiser Breakfast Event

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Sharonville Convention Center

11355 Chester Road

Cincinnati, OH 45246

Registration / Breakfast 7:00 am to 7:30am

Program 7:30 am to 8:45 am Sharp

**********

Open House/Fundraiser

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Thursday, October 19th

The Lord's Gym

811 Madison Avenue

Covington, KY 41011

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

**********

NEW!!  NEW!!  NEW!!

Workshops at the Cafe

by The Lord's Gym & City Gospel Mission

2 classes Starting in October

Click Here to get the details and Register!

 

 

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Consider this question as it pertains to the placement of the idea of future.  Where is your future?  Often, when asked this question, the answer is given from a perspective that is limited by circumstantial evidence beyond personal control and is viewed as separate from the individual and is viewed as in a distant place. 

Never confuse explaining the details of your future with where the future is.  Perspective is defined as a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view. Perspective is the result of what is believed in the mind and becomes the reality of a life lived. When speaking of your future, it is inherently a projection of thought formed into ideas, explained through words from within you. 

If I ask you, what are your plans for the future? You would give an explanation that projects something separate from your present state of being thus defining your future as separate from where you are. The future comes from within the individual and is wherever the individual goes. It is good to have hope for a future that is greater than present circumstances. It is important to know that hope exists in the future as a projection of a vision from within you.

Think about this statement, the future of an apple seed is to become an apple tree, even though the seed itself is a by-product of the circumstances surrounding it, (i.e. dirt, water, sunlight, compost) but it’s potential to become more, is not.  The seeds future is trapped within itself.  Circumstances have influence on the development of the seed but they do not determine the nature of what’s inside the seed nor the location of what’s inside the tree. Wherever the seed is, the tree is always their inside of the seed. This is called the principle of potential. 

Everything created by God, carries the fruit of life, and is already packed with the fullness of life.  Every seed is full of what it will ever be. Every baby is full of the material to produce a grown male/female, and you have something lying dormant on the inside that is bigger than your present physical circumstances.  Don’t allow your mind to receive the limitations that hardship seeks to place on you. Instead, place limitations on hardship by thinking out of the limitless potential you possess.  Previously I said, “Circumstances do not determine the nature of the seed.”  This is important to know because inherency of a thing, is the nature of a thing, therefore is inseparable from itself. 

Your nature can be seen through the expression of instinctive response to external circumstances.   We are creatures of reason therefore understanding self in nature, is illuminated by understanding the nature of source.  The strength of a power cord is only as affective as the source it’s plugged into.  If stronger light is needed, a deeper connection into the source is required. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.  John 15:5

No one else can think for you. You are unique, an original, and a one-of-a-kind.  Take responsibility of your mind and decide to access the vast resources from within.  You are equipped with everything necessary to manifest something great in your lifetime.  Don’t waste it on self-defeating thoughts because your future depends on it!  Time is not the servant of procrastination however choices and actions can be.  Don’t waste this season of life on doubt, fear and unbelief. Instead seek to maximize the God given limitless potential within.  God established eternity within you when He spoke your name throughout the heavens.

Kevin Johnson – Chaplain Covington Lord’s Gym

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Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.  When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!

 

Verbiage above compiled from Scripture (ESV):

Ephesians 4:29, James 1:26, Proverbs 10:19, Proverbs 12:18, Proverbs 25:15, James 3:2, Proverbs 4:23, Proverbs 15:23

 

Bob Clarke – Director of Ministry Operations

 

 

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And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.   Romans 12:1 (NLT)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

Whether we eat healthy or not has a lot to do with our perspective. How do we look at food? Do we allow food and situations to control us? Do we go to an event or special occasion where there is lots of food and overindulge? Do we make the excuse that there was nothing healthy available? Or, do we use self-control and select what is healthy?

When learning healthy eating habits, we should always be ahead of the game and prepare ahead of time. Take something healthy with you at all times. I recently went to a graduation and all that was available was a salad. That worked for me and then ate a healthy meal later. On vacation there were plenty of opportunities to overindulge but, I didn’t and as a result I lost weight and still had a great time with my family. Learning how to not let the situation dictate to you how you are going to eat takes self-control. It takes a decision to want to change. God helps us with that. We must ask Him to give us strength to have a healthy perspective of food, to help us use self-control, and have a mind that is determined to have healthy eating habits and not be controlled by the situations or special occasions we participate in. We can enjoy the healthy food we eat, our families, vacations and special occasions while still keeping our healthy eating habits.

Life is about relationships and enjoying family and friends. It is all about the time and the experiences we share with them. It is not about food. Food is fuel to keep us alive. It is so true that we are what we eat. If we have unhealthy eating habits we are going to feel poorly and eventually suffer the consequences. If we want to be healthy we have to change our perspective on food, use self-control, and learn healthy eating habits.

 

Vicky Gentry – Administrative Assistant

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When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10:4

“The Lord is my shepherd, I have all I need” Psalm 23:1

I did some research on "sheep" in the Bible. We, as Christians, are sheep. We are called to follow Jesus, our Shepherd. I like how John 10:4 states that, “When he (being the shepherd) has brought out all his own (meaning his sheep), he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice”.  

The chapter goes on to say that the sheep won’t follow a stranger because it is a voice they do not know! How cool is that?!?! Then I began pondering that. Do I know the voice of the Shepherd or am I willing to follow a stranger because I don’t? 

The Bible tells us in Psalm 100:3 to “Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” 

Oh, so it is that easy. We know that the Lord is God and that He made us and that automatically makes us His! WRONG!! It isn’t that easy. It requires a little more from us to know the voice of the Shepherd. 

Matthew 16:24 tells us that as Jesus was talking to his disciples He said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me”. And even before we do that, Romans 10:9 says that we must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that He was raised from the dead, then we will be saved. And the best news of all is that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Following Jesus does require a little on our part. We are to call on His name. We must understand that we are sinners and Jesus was raised from the dead. We must be able to say that out loud. By doing all that, we learn to do away with ourselves because it is all about Jesus. We must take up our cross set before us (which could be a multitude of things). Then, as the sheep hear the shepherd, we too, will hear our Shepherd. 

When we can clearly hear our Shepherd, we can follow Him and not a stranger because we will not know that strangers voice!

Thanks be to God!!

Maintain the Faith Family,

Larry Spellman – Chaplain Family Activity Center

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Recently I was reflecting with Dick Taylor, Founder, about FOCAS (Foundation of Compassionate American Samaritans) turning 30 years old. I asked him why he chose the words: Compassionate and Samaritans? He said, “It was the most intense example in the Bible of how we should treat each other.” He added compassion to intensify an already powerful parable of Christ’s sacrificial love.

The story of the Good Samaritan, in the book of Luke, is told by Jesus to an expert in the law. He asked Jesus who is his neighbor? (He had just answered Jesus’ question about the law to “love your neighbor”.) Jews and Samaritans didn’t like each other? Here’s Jesus casting the Samaritan in a positive light, as being compassionate, brave, and generous to a stranger. Jesus tells the man to go do the same – show love like the Samaritan:

Recognize a person in need.

Get personally involved.

Don’t be afraid.

Invest your time and resources.

Since 1999, I have seen countless FOCAS staff, volunteers, donors, AND patrons embrace this spirit of a compassionate Samaritan. They recognize needs, they get involved, they go to the more dangerous parts of town (and Haiti), they invest their time, talent, and treasure. They repeat, and repeat, and repeat the process. Thank you for being a compassionate Samaritan.

 

Scott Bowers – Executive Director

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Abuse comes in many forms but the power of a spoken destructive word can break the spirit and crush the soul. Physical wounds may heal and leave scars but words that penetrate the heart can echo throughout the eternal being of a person. This type of wound is almost impossible to recover from when left unattended. For many who read this section, I know it hits home with you and you can relate in many ways. I understand the difficulty of attempting to break free from haunting memories that seem impossible to be released from but I can assure you there is hope in the right word. There is a spoken word for your hope that is found in the word of God.  Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the contrite of spirit.

Building blocks of the soul begin with affirming words received in the heart established in the truth of God’s word. When was the last time you stopped to be grateful for your ability to speak life to yourself and others through God’s word?  

Words are often taken for granted like breathing.  It’s often not given much thought until you can’t breathe. So is it with our words, when words are spewed out based on sudden emotional strain, or opinionated based thinking, insensitivity can be the result followed with a potentially destructive outcome. 

Everything begins and ends with the creative force of words.  This is why our words must be given careful thought and consideration before releasing them into the atmosphere.  Matthew 12:35-37 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Words are like water, they can just about penetrate anything given enough time and pressure. Speaking life over yourself is water for the soul and builds perseverance for the spirit. The lack of speaking the right words over yourself can result in doubt and a lack of faith in the face of adversity. Speaking life is a part of creating a way of thinking that develops a perspective and perception of seeing adversity as opportunity to establish the life you choose.

Strength is a result of choosing to speak the right words over our circumstances, which accelerates the process of unleashing your mind. The next time circumstances press against you to the point of breaking, remember these words, your break down leads to your breakthrough. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Never stop the good confession of your faith over your life. The power of a consistently spoken word produces desired results in due time. A can do attitude changes everything, here are a few confessions to practice on yourself;

             I am a man/woman of purpose

             I am equipped to do great things in life through Christ

             God’s love has empowered me to change the way I see myself

             I was born to succeed

             I am victorious not a victim

 

Kevin Johnson – Chaplain Covington Lord’s Gym

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