Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wait Training 101

"... but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Ever feel like God signed you up for an intense "wait training" class?

You pray. You ask. You anticipate God's answer, but like an Internet page taking a long time to load, you must wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

I had to wait years before I became pregnant. During that time I attended baby showers while choking back tears.

I had to wait nearly three years for our too-expensive-for-our-new-financial-situation home to sell.

During that time, I pinched pennies and lost sleep.

And I'm still waiting on many prayer requests: for a spiritually lost loved one, a family friend in ICU, a plan for my high school son's future. Waiting, waiting, waiting ...

But just as physical weight training builds strength, so does spiritual "wait training." We are promised this in Isaiah 40:31:

"... but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

How can waiting renew our strength? After all, doesn't waiting seem to sap our strength as we worry and fret and drum our fingers impatiently? It's exhausting playing the "What if?" game in our minds:

What if this doesn't work out?
What if God's answer is "No"?
What if the thing I fear the most actually happens ... what then?

All of this worry-laden waiting drains rather than strengthens. How can we turn this around and actually find ourselves renewed?

I have found that to shift my perspective in the waiting times replenishes my strength. I try not to think of those times of seemingly silence from God as waiting in the sense of sitting and anxiously anticipating a response. But as in waiting like a butler, maid or restaurant server.

Those who "wait on the Lord"—as in serve Him, cater to Him, help Him accomplish His work; those who take His order and bring Him what He wants—they are the ones who renew their strength.

They mount up with wings as eagles.

They walk and do not faint.

As we serve, we become more aware of what the One we are waiting on desires. We become alert, attentive, and in tune with His wishes. We begin to take our eyes off of our problems and fix them on the Lord instead. As we do, we get a glimpse into His heart.

Then, instead of the wait sapping our spiritual strength, it is renewed as we seek to do the Lord's will ... to make Him famous ... to give Him glory. Even in those long, hard times of waiting for an answer, we continue to serve Him.

Will you sign up with me for Wait Training 101?

You'll grow stronger spiritual muscles if you do. But we must commit to this perspective: we won't just "wait on the Lord," we'll wait on Him. Trust me, the tips He leaves are out of this world!

Dear Lord, teach me to shift my perspective during those times of waiting and doubt. May I stop fretting and worrying, and busy myself serving You instead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Blog by Proverbs 31 Ministries's Contributor Karen Ehman. For more on this topic, including a Wait Training 101 giveaway, visit Karen's blog.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Church Wide Prayer 

Dear Church Family and Friends,

News and events this week involving loved members of NorthStar Church have prompted the Staff and Elders of NorthStar to call our church to a special season of prayer.  There are many in our church who are in the physical and spiritual battles of their lives – desperate for God to move on their behalf.  We want to fight with them through the power of prayer.  THIS Sunday night (2/24) at 6pm we will host a special prayer gathering at our Sherrill Blvd campus.  Childcare will be available for small children 5 and under.  Galatians 6:2 exhorts us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Please unite with us by praying in the Spirit for those who are hurting and sick among us.

- Pastor Scott

Monday, February 18, 2013

Listen for God's Voice

And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it… —Isaiah 30:21

Most of the time, God does not speak to us in an audible voice. We hear Him in our hearts. Sometimes He speaks by reminding us of a truth or principle from His Word; sometimes He gives us thoughts or ideas we could not have had on our own; sometimes we simply have a strong sense of knowing what to do. We need to quiet all the noise in our lives and become sensitive to God’s still, small voice. We need to choose to listen to God because He will speak to us.

God does not only speak in the urgent or important matters of life. He also guides us in the most seemingly insignificant situations. I was on my way home one day and intended to stop and get a cup of coffee, when I had a strong impression that I should call my secretary and see if she wanted a cup, too. When I called, she said, “I was just standing here thinking, I would love a good cup of coffee right now.” 

You see, God wanted to give her the desire of her heart, and He wanted to work through me. I did not hear a loud voice or see an angel, nor did I have a vision; I simply had an inner sensing that I should offer her a cup of coffee. As a result, we both experienced great joy in knowing God cares about the smallest details of our lives.

Quite often we ignore little things like this. The more we do, the harder it is to develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. If someone is on your heart, I encourage you to pray for that person or call him or her and say, “I was just thinking of you.” You never know how a seemingly small thing like a phone call can alter a person’s day or maybe even change someone’s life. Let me encourage you today to keep your heart sensitive to God’s voice. He will speak to your heart and lead you in the way you should go.

Trust in Him: Remember this: each time we disobey God, it becomes more difficult to hear Him the next time He speaks; but every time we trust Him, it gets easier to hear and be led by His Spirit. What is God saying to you today?

From the book Trusting God Day by Day by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2012 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 15, 2013

To Fly Again

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

I stood on the small ladder with light bulb in hand. The weather was frigid, and changing an outdoor light was not what I wanted to do. But with darkness falling earlier it was necessary.

Something fluttered inside the lamp, which made me hesitant to reach in and unscrew the old bulb.

Peering in, I saw a bird at the bottom of the lamp with its wings pressed close to its side, and spindly legs twisted around the base of the lamp. How had this bird made its way into the lamp? How long had it struggled to be free?

For the next several moments I removed burned out light bulbs and debris, carefully trying to release the bird from its entanglement. As I tried to lift it to freedom with two fingers, it pecked furiously at my hand.

I wrapped my glove around it, and carried it to the front of my home where a birdbath filled with fresh water and a bird feeder awaited.

Upon setting the bird down, it hobbled and nearly fell over. But after some furious flapping, it launched itself into the air, made it to the birdbath and took a long drink. It then fluffed out its wings as if admiring them, and flew up to the birdfeeder.

It looked like the little bird would be all right.

Sometimes unforgiveness can make us feel like this small bird. Something happened to us that shouldn't.
A person said something hurtful or vengeful. Or an unfair situation caused us harm. Those events can make us feel angry or bitter, and those emotions make us feel trapped, affecting our marriages, our understanding of God, or our trust in others.

Scriptures like Colossians 3:13 may feel less a path to healing and more an affront. Forgiveness seems impossible. Especially when you are waiting for someone else to apologize, or change, or you just keep on with your heart guarded and closed off.

Why would God ask us to forgive? Perhaps God sees that we were made for something besides being hurt and trapped.

We were made to fly.

Forgiving allows God to remove the debris, carve a path to your heart, and gently lift you to freedom.

Just as God sees the sparrow (Matthew 10:29), He sees you. He knows how hard it is; He knows that you've resisted forgiving others because it seems too hard.

You won't be on this journey alone. God waits with open hands. Today is the day to begin to forgive. He is prepared to set you on a new path where you can walk again, and one day to fluff your wings and fly.

Dear Jesus, forgiving has seemed impossible. But today I will hop into Your hand, no longer resisting where You desire to lead me. Instead, I'm opening my heart to forgiving the past so that I can fully live. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Blog BY:  Suzie Eller's blog for an opportunity to win a copy of her new release, The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Give Your Spouse a Closer Connection for Valentine's Day

Chocolates melt, flowers die and jewelry can be broken or stolen. So why not give your spouse a Valentine's Day gift that will improve your marriage and result in a closer connection?

I (Hugh) did this for my wife without even realizing it.

After attending our first marriage conference, I wanted to do something tangible to remind me to put into practice what I’d learned. I’d been discovering that Cindi responds well to words of affirmation and physical touch. But sometimes at the end of the day, I’m still thinking about unresolved issues at work or how hungry I am and I don’t come through the door thinking about what she needs. So I printed out a phrase on a strip of paper and taped it to my car dashboard: “Talk more, touch more.”
Cindi saw it one day and asked “What’s this?”

“That’s a reminder to me of what you need every evening when I come home,” I said.  (Now guys, I probably don’t need to tell you that I scored big time on that one.)

Our wives need our words…even if just to say ‘how was your day?” or to say “my day was rough, that’s why I’m not talking much.” And our wives need our touch  in a way that says “I care about you” and  “I consider you my best friend.”

Guys, sometimes when we talk, it’s about us. And when we touch, it’s for us. But when “talk more, touch more” is for your wife, it goes a long way in affirming to her that she is on your heart.

I (Cindi) wish I could say that “talk more, touch more” is something I offer Hugh, as well. After all, that would be quite easy for me. But actually, “listen more, understand more” is what he needs from me in this season of his life. On a day when he is wiped out, physically and emotionally, from dealing with a lot of demands at his job, I need to let him talk less and I need to be understanding of his need for silence – or at least less commotion – at times.

Lest you think we are stereotyping, you might be the couple in which he wants “talk more, touch more” and she wants “listen more, understand more.” That’s okay. The key is for you to understand what it is your spouse needs to feel affirmed and loved, and not only offer that on a daily basis, but post it in front of you, if you need to, as a reminder to offer that to each other.

Can you both come up with a phrase or a reminder to yourself of what your spouse needs from you the 

Cindi’s brother and his wife quote to each other the phrase “We’re on the same team” to keep tension from arising between them. It’s an instant reminder that they are not enemies and they are working for the same goal when things begin to get hectic in their home.  

Similarly, at the “Weekend to Remember” Marriage Conference that we’ve attended a few times, we are reminded of the truth “Your spouse is not your enemy.” There are times when I (Cindi) have to remind Hugh – and myself – that truth: “I am not your enemy. We’re in this together. We are on the same team.”

Our friends, Scott and Patti, are well aware of what each other needs when tension gets high in their home.

“Patti needs my friendship and my strength” Scott said, whether she’s facing a difficult day, health wise, or worried about a doctor’s appointment or just needing understanding after a rough day.   Patti, likewise, knows what Scott needs from her. “He needs my spontaneity and my stability,” she said. “I’m the planner, so he likes that I know where we’re going and what’s going on. But he can tend to be too much of a planner so I bring the fun to his life through my spontaneity.”

So if Scott is in the doldrums, Patti’s spontaneity becomes a blessing in his life. And if he just needs things to slow down and get quiet, that’s when her stability ministers to him.

By keeping in the forefront of our minds what our partner needs, we are esteeming them above ourselves. We are showing grace. And we are more likely to give them more of what they need – and less of what they don’t need – at precisely the right time. This Valentine's Day, consider giving the gift of what your spouse needs most. It will let him or her know that you are listening, you are trying and you are determined to achieve a closer connection.  

What is the slogan (or slogans) you two need to adopt to help remind you to offer to your spouse what he or she needs? (Ours are “talk more, touch more” and “listen more, understand more” but yours might be vastly different.) Be creative and have some fun coming up with these. Turn your slogan into a gift by writing it on the card you'll enclose in her bouquet of flowers, printing it on the box of dark chocolates you'll give him, or writing it in a card that tells your spouse your heart is set on meeting his or her needs this year.
Blog By: Hugh and Cindi McMenamin are the co-authors of When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection. They have served actively in ministry together for more than 20 years -- he as a senior pastor and Bible teacher, and she as a pastor's wife, national speaker, and author of several books including When Women Walk Alone, When A Woman Inspires Her Husband and Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs. For more on their ministry and for free articles of encouragement to strengthen your soul or your marriage, see

Sunday, February 10, 2013

“Conversations” returns Saturday morning March 16th!

The Ladies of NorthStar will get together on Saturday, March 16 for a yummy breakfast and our guest speaker Lisa Iovine will be sharing her heart with us.  We will also be introducing some of our fun new informational segments like “That’s So Cool!”- “The Essentials” and more...

Join us at the Sherrill Campus where child care will be provided if you reserve space by calling the church office by Wednesday afternoon March 13th at 3pm 865-539-2222

Sign-up starting Feb 9th in the lobby or online at

See you Next Month!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How Do I Know If I'm Called

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

I stood at the sink and gazed out the window. In that moment, the Lord impressed the strangest words on my heart: "Wendy, your house will become a house of prayer and teaching."

The thought of opening my heart and home to share Jesus was not even a blip on my radar screen. I did not know a soul in this new town and had no idea what God meant by those words. Was He really calling me to teach and pray for women?

As I sought God's will for that time in my life, He led me to Ephesians 2:10: "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." It was the start of God confirming His calling in my life at that time.

Here are some steps the Lord showed me to know I was hearing Him correctly:

Humble your heart before the Lord.
Humility is necessary for a teachable heart. To discover our calling, we must set aside our agendas and surrender to God's. We cannot have a predetermined plan and then invite God to complete it. We need to ask, "What are You calling me to do right here and now?"

Examine your life experiences and current circumstances.
God uses life experiences (family, education, vocation, spiritual gifts, trials, etc.) to mold, train, and equip us. Sometimes what we want to hide - the horrible trials we want to forget - are the very things God wants to use the most.

We all suffer trials. Sometimes we surrender and lean on God. When we do, we come out the other side victorious and God is glorified. Nothing is worthless. Everything has value. God uses it all to shape us for our calling.

Apply your gifts, talents and abilities.
Gifts and abilities will give you the strongest indication of what your calling is. God will match your calling with your capabilities. He equips those He calls.
In determining your calling, look at your gifts:
  • What are your strengths?
  • What brings out your passion?
  • How do people respond when you act in your giftedness?
Read, study and pray God's Word.
As we seek God's calling, He will direct our steps and confirm what He says. The most common way He does this is through His Word. He can also use avenues like pastors, friends, and Bible studies to direct us, or even things in the culture around us.

Trust in God's timing and in His answer.
God will lead you to do things that require you to TRUST in Him. They will always be perfectly orchestrated and timed to display His honor and glory.

The more you need God to do a task, the more you will rely on Him. If you feel rushed, unorganized, and lack inner peace, these are signs you are not in His will or it is not in His timing.

As I opened my home for my first Bible study, joy and amazement filled my heart as the women came through the door one by one. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I remembered God's Word to me that first day in my kitchen. "Wendy, your house will become a house of prayer and teaching."

What has He told you that you are called to do?

Father in heaven, thank You that You have good plans for us. You know our every need, deepest desires, and hurting places. Lord, as we seek to know You and the calling You have on us more, would You open the eyes of our heart to see the wonderful things You have planned? In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Blot Written By Wendy Blight.  Wendy has taken her years of wisdom learned from leading Bible studies and shares them in her life-giving book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner.

Hop over to Wendy's blog to learn more about and sign up for her On-Line Bible studies.

Reflect and Respond:
Humble your heart before the Lord.
Examine your life experiences and current circumstances.
Apply your gifts, talents and abilities.
Read, study and pray God's Word.
Trust in God's timing and in His answer.

Power Verse:
Philippians 1:6, "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." (NLT)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Let God Strengthen You

My life dissolves and weeps itself away for heaviness; raise me up and strengthen me according to [the promises of] Your word. Remove from me the way of falsehood and unfaithfulness [to You], and graciously impart Your law to me. Psalm 119:28–29

We need to be strengthened and renewed on a daily basis. We need to be strengthened physically, mentally, and emotionally. We need to be strong so we do not fall apart every time we have to face some situation we had not planned on.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever and He expects us to develop stability in our lives. We can be strengthened and renewed by drawing strength from God, by exercising our faith, and by doing what He tells us to do.

From the book Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2003 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Day I Started Acting My Age

By: the Everyday Life Blog & Becky Kopitzke

Few things humble me like shopping for new jeans. There’s something about squeezing one’s bottom half into starched denim that makes a gal uncomfortably aware of her, uh, soft side, know what I mean?

As a stay-at-home mom of two young daughters, my job requires a lot of crouching to assemble Legos and change diapers. Every pair of pants I own eventually succumbs to holes at the knees. So on a reluctant mission to replace my favorite jeans, I discovered just how much motherhood has changed me—and I’m not talking about my shape.

The trendy teen store wasn’t a place I’d normally shop, but I heard it carried hard-to-find tall sizes. I ventured past the window display of mannequins in mini-skirts and set my sights on a pile of folded jeans marked “sale!”

“Can I help you find something?” A young sales clerk scanned the fruit snacks poking out of my purse. She twirled a jeweled lanyard around her index finger, and I caught a glimpse of blue fingernail polish. Her ID badge said “Poppy.”

 “I need jeans. I don’t care about the label,”—I’ve never heard of these brand names anyway, although I imagine they’re all the rage among the prom court population—“I’m just looking for a good fit.”

“Got it.” She headed for a stack of denim near the back wall. “You want low-rise, right?” Apparently this is the obvious choice.

“Sure,” I drawled. I am a foreigner. I do not speak the language. “Just not too low.”

 “Try these for starters.” Poppy tossed me a pair of distressed jeans with frayed holes peppering both 

“Um, no thanks. Holes brought me here in the first place.” I pointed to my thread-bare knees.

“Oh, okay, well, I’ll just bring you a variety of styles in your size, then, and you can see what you like.” 

She ushered me to a fitting room and flung pair after pair of funky blue jeans over the door. I pulled one on, buttoned and zipped, then gawked at the mirror. You’ve got to be kidding me. The waistline plunged nearly to R-rated territory.

I peeked around the corner. “These feel like they’re falling off. Do you have anything a little higher on the waist?”

Can you believe she snorted? Dissed by a sales girl half my age!

“Poppy?” I stood my ground. “Have you ever mooned your children when you bent to pick Cheerios off the carpet?”

Her eyes bulged then darted back and forth. “I don’t have kids.”

Right. So you have no clue what kind of fashion can survive them. I flashed a smile and handed back the jeans. “Something a little higher on the waist would be super.”

She raced to the denim rack and returned with what looked like a promising pair of hip momma jeans. 

“Try these. They’re the mid-rise cut.”

Much to my relief, the jeans slid on easily and rested a safe distance above the pelvic line—which is the fit I’d grown accustomed to, formerly known as low-rise. But this is mid-rise now, eh?

I remember when mid-rise meant a daring half-inch past the belly button. Now I suppose they call those granny jeans. If this is the future of fashion, I resolved, I’m taking up sewing.

When I stepped out of the dressing room, I came face-to-face with Poppy—and with my own maturity. For the first time, I realized I’ve become that older woman who distrusts youthful trends and prefers the comfort of modesty and old-fashioned values. And I also realized that is not a bad thing.

What separates generations is not fashion, philosophies, technology, or fads. Perhaps the real difference between younger me and grown-up me is confidence. Call it wisdom, or nerve—to go against the grain, to choose by preference rather than popularity. It comes with experience, I think. It comes with age. It comes with knowing who God created me to be, and the influence he has given me over the next generation (Psalm 71:18).

As I strolled out of the mall with my new jeans, I chuckled at my awkward fitting room victory. The lady in the mirror was not a teenager anymore, nor does she want to be one. I look forward instead to being the mom shopping with teenage daughters—and begging them to please wear a belt with those low-rise designer drawers.

Becky Kopitzke is a freelance writer, devotional blogger and family cheerleader. She and her husband enjoy pushing swings and pulling sleds for their two lovely daughters in northeast Wisconsin. Read more at