by Jor-El Godsey, President
Ever wonder how the craze that is the “Keep Calm” posters, memes and variations came from? The history is interesting and, actually, relevant for pregnancy help leaders today.
During the Second World War, the British Government entrusted the Ministry of Information (MOI) with the responsibility for publicity and propaganda. In late 1939, after the outbreak of the war, the MOI was appointed to design a number of morale boosting posters to be displayed across the British Isles during the war, the threat of invasion and potential occupation.
The posters were required to be similar in style, colorful and feature the symbolic crown of King George VI along with a simple yet effective font. The first two posters, ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ were produced by His Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO).
These two were posted on public transport, in shop windows, on notice boards across Britain. The third and final poster of the set was again very straightforward and to the point - it simply read ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. The plan in place for this poster was to issue it only upon the invasion of Britain by Germany. As this never happened, the poster was never released.
At least not until recently. The unpublished posters languished in storage for more than 50 years when they were re-discovered and released. The originals became collector’s items and the theme hit the UK and then the world.
In our own culture war, our traditional values have been attacked on every front. The pregnancy help community, operating with a faith motive and godly imperative, can rightly identify with the first poster, ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory.’ Nehemiah tells us (chapter 8:10) “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” It is for the joy set before us that we can operate with courage, cheerfulness and resolution.
The latest battles against religion and, in particular, pregnancy help efforts calls to mind the second MIO poster, “Freedom is in peril.” In a legal sense, our freedom to speak life and proclaim life everlasting unhindered is very much at risk. Our opposition is intent upon diminishing and, ultimately, silencing our message.
Fortunately for the British, the third poster, “Keep Calm & Carry On” as a response to the actual invasion of enemy forces was not needed. Unfortunately, that is not true of our war today. Since Roe v. Wade, Big Abortion has grown increasingly stronger politically and financially over the past forty years. The culture of death has overwhelmed our land and the message of the third poster is especially applicable to us.
Amazingly, in recent years the polls have shown a shift to the pro-life position. More and more legislators are passing meaningful pro-life laws. More lives being saved through innovative and faithful pregnancy help efforts. Keep calm and carry on.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
In Illinois, Senate Bill 1564 is raising more than a little concern for pregnancy help organizations. Americans United for Life, in its press release opposing the bill, points out that under SB1564, PHOs would be forced to "participate in potentially conscience-violating services by requiring the provider to refer or transfer a patient or provide information to the patient regarding other healthcare providers who the provider reasonably believes offer the objected-to healthcare service."
Further, Americans United for Life reminds us the bill would force pregnancy help organizations to inform patients of "legal treatment options" and of the "benefits of legal treatment options."
Bad news, right? Of course. Once again, PHOs face a battle of conscience, ethics and government intrusion into our work.
Yet there is good news.
Looking at the larger picture, let's ask, "Why the attack?"
Tweet this! Looking at the larger picture, let's ask, "Why the attack?" @KirkWalden @PHC_News
The abortion industry may have an agenda that is diametrically opposed to life, but those in the industry are not stupid. They know a threat when they see it. We are that threat, because we shine the light of truth on abortion; on what abortion entails and on the miracle of every human life.
When those who come in our doors see that truth, they choose life far more often than not.
This is the "why" behind this bill. The abortion industry is nervous; their cash cow is being challenged. While we will never see the financial spreadsheets of the industry, all we need to see is what they do. And the industry's tactics tell us all is not right for Big Abortion.
Tweet this! The abortion industry is nervous; their cash cow is being challenged. @KirkWalden @PHC_News
So, they attack. In this case, the attack appears in the deep recesses of a bill being moving through an Illinois Senate committee.
While this bill presents another challenge for all of us, it is also a cause for renewed determination. Through love, through truth and through hope, we are advancing a culture of life. We must be taking ground, or those who oppose us would not be fighting so hard to stop us.
Today then, take heart. When one of us (or in this case, an entire state of PHOs) is attacked, it is yet another reminder that we are moving forward. Life is winning again. If we don't believe it, let's take a look at those who oppose us. Their actions tell us all we need to know.
by Debra Neybert
And Jesus answered them, The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified and exalted. I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest. John 12:22-23
There is a wonderful truth in this verse....when a natural seed falls into the ground, it dies, and the hard outer shell breaks away, in that breaking, new life comes forth, eventually bearing much fruit.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
Bobby Connor, author and minister, writes in his book, Empowered by God about an experience he had one day while in the deep woods of Texas. He was resting against a massive oak tree and enjoying all the sounds around him when he heard the sound of an acorn falling through the tree branches. It fell softly on his leg coming to rest by his foot. He heard the Lord tell him to pick it up. Then the Lord asked him, "What is that in your hand?" Bobby writes that he was somewhat confused by the question and responded, "It is an acorn." Then he heard the Lord reply, "Strange, you see only a small acorn, but I see a whole forest."
In that little acorn God saw a forest.... for the joy set before Jesus, He endured the cross seeing beyond death and shame to His greatest inheritance, you and me! He gave His life so that in Him, we too might bear much fruit.
Fruit-bearing usually comes after a season of death and pruning.
Tweet this! Fruit-bearing usually comes after a season of death and pruning.
When Jesus descended into the heart of the earth, He went down as that grain of wheat, only to come up, leading a "host of captives." He led captivity captive! He conquered and triumphed over all the powers which would ever hold us in captivity, so that captivity itself was taken captive. (Ephesians 4:8)
As we allow the Lord to take us to the place where we fully submit to the process of becoming more like Him, we ultimately will experience the death of self, that outer shell breaking away so that new life can come forth, ultimately bearing much fruit for the Kingdom of God!
Jesus said, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (Jn 15:8).
The breaking of the outer shell, or brokenness, is surrendering your will to God, knowing that, without Him, you can do nothing. It is a total dependence on Him in every aspect of life. It is a deeper understanding of how much we can trust Him when we really do not understand our circumstances and know that we can fully depend on His unfailing love.
The next time you see a seed, be encouraged and know that God is always at work to fulfill His great purposes in your life!
by Julie Parton, Ph.D.
Like natural earthquakes, moral earthquakes don't just happen! They too, are preceded by secret faults, little cracks in character below the surface that eventually erupt into moral earthquakes. When one of these dramatic schisms occurs in the life of someone we know, or work with, or go to church with, how do we respond?
Of all the groups of people on the face of the earth, Christ-followers have the greatest opportunity to be about the ministry of restoration. We, better than anyone else, understand the pervasiveness of sin ("ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23) and the availability of forgiveness ("If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9). We also understand that there are consequences to be dealt with, and very often folks need help in dealing with those. And besides, who among us hasn't at some point needed a new beginning, a second chance?
Paul gives us three steps to follow to go about all this.
Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. Carry one another's burdens. Galatians 6:1-2
by Amy Ford, President & Co-Founder of Embrace Grace
From my heart to yours, I want to say thank you.
Working with girls with unintended pregnancies, I get to see the fruit of your labor. Whether you are a pregnancy center or a maternity home, I see the transformation that begins to happen in each mothers' life that all started with the seeds you planted at the very beginning of their pregnancy journey.
I work with churches across the nation, providing tools and curriculum needed for them to provide small groups within the church to support and encourage young women with unplanned pregnancies.
Local churches partner with local pregnancy centers by referring girls to each other in hopes that she will get plugged into a church family. Embrace Grace groups are a safe place where they can meet young women going through the same situations as they are and hear about a heavenly Father that loves them so very much.
I see these young women sitting in our chairs with their sweet baby bellies. They are scared and nervous but feel hopeful because of the programs and people that pour into them and tell them, "You can do it. You will be a great mom."
Almost all of them tell me it was because of their local pregnancy center that cared for them at the very beginning, they loved them and gave them hope, is the reason why they chose life. When I ask them what specifically meant the most to them, I hear them say, "They accepted me for who I was." "They told me I could do it." "They prayed with me." "They gave me gently used donations for the baby." "They gave me the sweetest picture of my first sonogram." "They said it was okay to be scared but to be brave too." "They seemed to believe in me even though they had just met me."
"They told me congratulations."
We work with maternity homes as well. They send girls over by the van-full every week to their local church groups. It's so beautiful. They are a family.
Because of you they now have stability, love, food and shelter. Because of you they can dream again. I hear them say, "Since I never really had a family of my own, I learned what a healthy family looks like." "A maternity home saved my life and my baby's life, and as a result inspired me to surrender my own life to God." "I have friendships that will last a lifetime." "I am now confident in myself." "They loved me without judging me, even when I didn't deserve love and inspired me to start loving myself again."
You are saving lives two heartbeats at a time. The generational impact on what you are doing is changing the world. Saying the words, "thank you" seems too simple of words of appreciation when we are talking about saving lives and saving hearts. But when I hear these mommas speak from the depths of their hearts to express how very thankful they are for have chosen life as they look into their babies eyes, I hear them saying thank you – and that is all because of you. Whether you are working with pregnancy centers, maternity homes or in any pro-life area, you are changing the world!
Galatians 6:9 So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.
by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. Esther 6:12
The book of Esther is an amazing account of the sovereignty of God. Although God is never mentioned by name, His hand is seen throughout the account as He uses the lives of Mordecai and Esther in tandem to turn a wicked plan of the enemy on its head!
God knows how to position us for great personal and corporate victory. Mordecai was positioned at the king's gate and Esther in the king's palace. The best and most blessed place to be is positioned where God has assigned you... and one place always stands out, in the gate of His presence, at the feet of Jesus. In the book of Esther, Mordecai is continually found sitting at the King's gate. It is referenced 10 times.
So let's take a look at Mordecai and his role in exposing the plans of the enemy.
In the second chapter of Esther, we find Mordecai sitting at the king's gate when he overheard a plot to kill the king. He told Queen Esther, who reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. (Esther 2:21-22) Acts of loyalty were normally rewarded immediately by Persian kings, but Mordecai would wait about 5 years before the king would honor him; a wait that would prove how God makes all things beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Often God works behind the scenes as we wait. We must trust that all things (not just one event), work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).Mordecai was positioned to hear the plans of the enemy, similar to when Elisha would tell the King of Israel the plans of the king of Aram. "Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard..." (2 Kings 6:12).
Sometimes we're in a season when sudden attacks have come, both in the natural and spiritual realms. When we take the time to come into His presence, He will speak to us. At times that will include a "heads up" on the plans and strategy of the enemy.
Sitting by implication means to dwell, to remain, and to abide. It speaks of intimate fellowship. There is something about being in His presence that changes everything! In His presence is fullness of joy and it is joy that gives us strength to overcome. In His presence we can hear Him singing songs of deliverance over us, and can see beyond our natural circumstances. He is inviting us into the place where He covers us with His wings!
Mordecai and Esther ultimately uncovered the plans of Haman (a descendant of Amalek, and an enemy of Israel), who had it in his heart to not only destroy Mordecai, but to annihilate all the Jews. (Esther 3:8)
When Haman saw Mordecai sitting at the king's gate unwilling to bow down and honor him, he became enraged. (Esther 5:9) When the enemy sees us positioned at the gate of His presence, he sees his defeat coming. Our praises are a weapon! And as the song proclaims, "Let our praises rise like a weapon in your hand, let our praises rise, Oh God."
When you spend time positioned at the gate of His presence, you are changed from Glory to Glory. You begin to look like Him, sound like Him, and your walk aligns with His purpose for your life. Mordecai and Esther were assigned a place for a season. Their role and position had great significance because together they shifted the destiny of a nation! And in the midst of that shift, through their obedience, they walked into their new identity. "When Mordecai left the king's presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen." (Esther 8:15)
Be encouraged, as Mordecai remained positioned at the king's gate, he uncovered the strategy of the enemy, was instrumental in the deliverance of his people, and became all God intended him to be. We have been called for the same purpose, for such a time as this!
by Anita Keagy, JoyShop Ministries
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear ... but seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:25 & 33
I will never forget the day when Jesus got my attention as I cried out to Him for abundant life. Up to that point I was living the lifestyle of a hamster running on the ever-spinning wheel! I was tired of worrying about my life, my husband's and children's spiritual lives, as well as keeping up with all the responsibilities that continually filled my day. It was one big burden!
As I looked to the heavens and asked God for the abundant life promised in John 10:10, He immediately brought Matthew 6:33 to my mind. I heard His whisper over my anxious heart, "Anita, you have been living life backwards for many years. Every day you wake up, your day is about you and all you feel you need to get done. You are always trying to squeeze some time with Me and reading my Word into your busy schedule and it's not working. Every day your first priority is to be Me! Time alone with Me and My written Word should be the most important accomplishment for the day. Plan your other activities and many responsibilities around our time together! If you live a lifestyle of seeking Me FIRST, then you can be sure that all the things that you are worried about will be taken care of by Me!"
All of a sudden I saw the truth of how I was living. My daily focus was on all I had to get done that day along with worry and anxieties over the future. But God was asking me to change my focus to seeking intimacy with Him first and then leaving the future to Him.
But what does it really mean to seek first His kingdom? To answer this question I grabbed a dictionary and looked up the key words of this verse.
To "seek" means "to look for, to search intently for, to want to find"! I had to get honest with myself and ask the hard questions: Am I really looking for God? Do I take the time to search for Him? Do I really want to find Him?
Next I looked up the word "first." It is defined as, "Earliest in time or order, foremost in position, rank, or importance." To seek God first means that I will either do it first thing in the morning before I start my day or that I will organize my day around my time with Him! What part of "first" do I not get? First is first!
The word "kingdom" is defined as "a realm where the king's word has full sway." What the king desires is what happens. Every time I open my Bible, I am putting my heart under His sway where my King can get what He desires from my life!
For me, choosing a lifestyle of seeking God FIRST means that every day I am given the gift of waking up, I'm going to begin my day with Him. He is all that matters!
Tweet this! I'm going to begin my day with Him. He is all that matters!
Everything else will fall into place. I want to know Him, find Him and keep seeking intimacy with Him. I have been actively living a lifestyle of seeking God FIRST since that day. This simple discipline has brought the abundant life of Christ and His joy back into my heart! Only one thing is needed: order your day around intimacy with God!
Anita Keagy founded JoyShop Ministries in 2006 with one simple mission: To get people to spend time with God every day through Bible reading and prayer. Since then, she has traveled nationwide and internationally, sharing her message of seeking God first each day as the key to abundant life and joy. Thousands of people have heard and responded to her dynamic message at conferences, retreats, schools and churches.
With a compelling story of how God used a very difficult situation in her life for His glory, Anita shares candidly how she became pregnant as a teenager – all the more “scandalous” because she was a preacher’s daughter – and made the difficult choice to place her daughter for adoption. With tremendous support from family, she heroically bore her child and made an adoption plan. Anita never stopped yearning to know her first-born daughter, even as she married and had four more children. Through a file of letters and the help of her adoption agency, Anita finally met her firstborn 21 years later. God used Anita’s own desire to know her child to impress upon her how much He wants to know His children – us! With that knowledge, a ministry was born that is now thriving and impacting lives every day.
Discover more at www.joyshop.org.
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Eph. 2:10
As I reflect on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, I am reminded of this beautiful verse from Ephesians. How wonderful that we are created like poetry – with workmanship.
The words, "Poetry in motion" are generally defined as someone moving gracefully. It's a phrase used to describe anyone from a fabulous dancer to the moves of an elite basketball player.
Most believe that the term began with the 1961 song Poetry in Motion, by Johnny Tillotson. The idea however, may have started much earlier, in the New Testament.
Paul writes in Ephesians that we are God's "workmanship," this particular word coming from the Greek word "Poema." This is the same word of course, from which we glean the idea of a poem. It is not a stretch then, to say that we are in fact, God's poem. We are created to do good works to change our world.
Tweet this! It is not a stretch then, to say that we are in fact, God's poem.
Years ago I heard a children's poet tell a class of elementary students that when writing a poem he often went through more than 100 drafts before finding the words, the rhythm, and the connection his readers needed so that he could say, "Finished."
I doubt God needed 100 "drafts" when creating us. I'm sure He got it right the first time. Yet, we can be assured that just like a poet, God took great care in creating each of us—and Paul tells us He did so for a reason: Good works.
If nowhere else, here we can see the sanctity of our own lives and all human life in God's careful creation!
Serving in a pregnancy help organization truly reflects a desire to do these good works, works God created for us to "walk in them."
Every client, every patient, every resident, every single person we come across is an opportunity to walk in a good work God desires for us to complete.
So take heart. We are God's poems – created in his workmanship – and as we move forward to serve, assist and walk alongside those we see, we are truly "Poetry in Motion."
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:5–8)
At Christmas we are often drawn to the account of the Lord's humble birth, and certainly He came into the world in unpretentious circumstances, but His humility had an even greater impact. Jesus made Himself of no reputation, removing His royal robes, so that we might be adorned with the garments of salvation.
Andrew Murray captures it well, "Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us."
The Word tells us to put on, or clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 13:14). We are invited daily to slip into the garments He provided, taking on His character, disposition, attitude, and His righteousness. True humility is seeing ourselves as the Father sees us. We are the righteous of God in Christ. Yes, there are the human frailties and wounds, but the Father is always speaking to our potential; which beckons us to become more like Him!
The scripture in Romans implies putting away selfishness, the more room we make for God in our lives the more we will be imitators of Him. When we choose to step aside and esteem others better than ourselves, we can say, "It is no longer I that lives, but Christ who lives in me." (Galatians 2:20) As He is made larger on the inside of us, love and humility become more evident. When we choose to love in the most difficult of circumstances, it protects us from the circumstances getting on the inside of us. Pride wants to protect itself, humility allows for God's protection!
Jesus is humility; and being full of grace and truth He was able to overlook all that came against Him; He walked in such a way that it could not touch Him. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up." (James 4:6-7, 10)
How do we emulate His love and humility? When we choose to fix our eyes on Him, worship and adore Him, we become more and more like Him. Ancient rabbis would say a true worshiper of God was putting on the cloak of the Shekinah. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 2:18)
Tweet this! Jesus is the gift of humility and so much more!
Jesus is the gift of humility and so much more! He made Himself of no reputation so that we might have the greatest reputation of all....sons and daughters of the most High God! Let us rejoice this season in The King of all Glory, who reigns in us, through us. Emmanuel, God with us!
But he answered them, 'My father is working until now, and I myself am working." John 5:17
We know the story of the healing at Bethesda, a miraculous moment where Jesus comes upon a pool where a sick man is sitting beside the water, hoping for healing.
Jesus asks the man, "Do you wish to get well?" and after the man offers that he is unable to get into what is known as the pool where healings take place, Jesus heals him—no water required!
Imagine the scene for a moment: A man, sick for thirty eight years, finds healing at the hand of one seeking to do nothing more than heal and assist. Can you consider with me how exciting this must have been? Can we see in our minds the people gathering around with joy and astonishment?
And yet, there is more to the story. Suddenly the religious leadership happens on the scene and become "The Sabbath Police." With a miracle in their midst, they complain because in their minds, Jesus chose the "wrong" day (the Sabbath) to do good. If their response was not so arrogant, it would be comical.
Yet toward the end of the story there is a joyous truth we can grasp today. In response to the religious leaders Jesus says, "My father is working until now, and I myself am working." The truth? Jesus is working . . . Now.
Where is it that I need Jesus' work in my life? Where do I need healing, or hope, or courage? For what situations do I need the peace He brings, even when there is tribulation all about me?
Tweet this: Every day, every hour, every moment, Jesus is working on our behalf, as is His Father.
Every day, every hour, every moment, Jesus is working on our behalf, as is His Father.
So take heart. Regardless of the circumstances, and no matter the date, help is on the way. A man sitting by a pool in Bethesda saw this first-hand. We can, too.
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