River Region's Journey - Montgomery, Prattville, Wetumpka, Millbrook Joomla! - the dynamic portal engine and content management system https://readjourneymagazine.com Thu, 13 Dec 2018 20:59:54 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Advice from Dave Ramsey https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1221:advice-from-dave-ramsey&Itemid=116 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1221:advice-from-dave-ramsey&Itemid=116

Spouse won’t follow the plan


Q.What can someone do if they can’t convince their spouse to begin planning and saving? I’ve tried for years to persuade my wife to join me in following your plan, but I can’t get her to start thinking about our financial future and stop living in the moment.



A. It sounds like your wife, for whatever reason, is not willing to pay a price for a short period of time. I’m sorry to say it, but that kind of thinking is a one-way ticket to a lifetime of mediocrity. If you’re unwilling to pay a price to win, then you’re going to end up paying the price that comes with never having paid a price.


In essence, you’re asking me how to get her to grow up. I’m not sure there’s a way to convince her at this point. If she’s not willing to delay getting or doing things she wants, that’s a sign of immaturity. You can’t change that within another person. It must be a conscious, willing decision on their part.


Maybe you could try letting her know that being careful with your money and planning for the future doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. It just means you may have to delay certain things for a little while. My wife and I do and have lots of cool things now, because we saved like crazy and sacrificed years ago. We lived like no one else, so now we’re able to live like no one else. In other words, we paid a price to win!




A burden to help?


Q.Do you believe the adult child of a senior citizen, who is physically and mentally healthy but has neglected to plan for retirement, should be burdened with providing financial assistance to that parent?



A. Based on the wording in your question, I can only believe you don’t think the adult child should be “burdened” to provide this assistance. My guess is you’re talking about one of your own parents. I understand that you might be aggravated with a parent who has been irresponsible with their money. But in my mind, there’s a bigger question. How big is the burden?


I talked to a guy recently who was making $1.5 million a year. He was questioning whether he should help his dad — an older man in poor health, who didn’t handle his money well — by giving him $1,000 a month. There’s no question you give that guy money. But if you bring home $2,000 a month, and your family is barely getting by, you’re not morally required to financially take care of a parent who was irresponsible with their money.


Dave Ramsey Says Mon, 01 Oct 2018 20:50:19 +0000
Are You Inviting? https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1220:are-you-inviting?&Itemid=113 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1220:are-you-inviting?&Itemid=113

Recently, I was in Nashville for the annual UNITE event, sponsored by CBA: The Association for Christian Retail, from which conversations have been heard on The Meeting House; there is audio and video material available through MeetingHouseOnline.info.  One guest was Don Piper, author of the best-selling book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, who talked about his forthcoming book, People I Met at the Gates of Heaven: Who’s Going to Be There Because of You?  If you’re familiar with Don’s story, he is someone who was declared to be dead, yet returned from the dead with a story of having traveled to heaven.  In this latest book, he relates that he saw people who had an impact on his life and challenges Christians to impact the lives of others and share what it takes to get to heaven.



A LifeWay Research has been released that explores the concept of inviting people to come to church.  A Baptist Press story about the survey stated:


Nearly two-thirds of Protestant churchgoers say they’ve invited at least one person to visit their church in the past six months, according to a new LifeWay Research study.


“It’s a fairly easy thing for churchgoers to do,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, based in Nashville. “In any six-month stretch, there are major Christian holidays and often other special events that are perfect occasions for churchgoers to invite friends and acquaintances.”


With regard to the frequency of invitation, the article says: “Seventeen percent said they extended an invitation. Twenty-one percent extended two invitations, while 25 percent extended three or more. Nine percent said they didn’t know how many invitations they extended.”


There was also a question about why respondents did not invite people.  The story states:


Thirty-one percent said “I don’t know why” when asked why they didn’t invite more people. Twenty percent said people have refused their invitation. Seventeen percent said they didn’t know anyone to invite, while 11 percent said they weren’t comfortable asking people to come to church. 



Only 4 percent said inviting people isn’t their job.


The consideration of this data can certainly be challenging, and there are several takeaways. One is that we can certainly think about the priority of sharing our faith.  That can include inviting someone to come to church - someone who is unsaved and/or unchurched. People need to hear the life-giving message of Christ and experience His love. We have been commissioned to share Christ’s love and communicate His message.  Simply inviting someone to church can be an important step in what God wants to do in a person’s life. 


This brought to mind an effort that I have promoted in the past, an initiative organized ten years ago that is pertinent to this discussion.  It’s called Back to Church Sunday and it is celebrated on the third Sunday in September - this year, that is September 16. Its website has these statistics from the past ten years:


• 5,296,234 – Invitations Sent for Back to Church Sunday

• 13,399,472 people reached

• 38 Videos created

• Over 120 different denominations and affiliations have participated since its beginning in 2009

• The average church sees a 25% increase in attendance on Back to Church Sunday – even small churches


You can learn more at BackToChurch.com.  The concept of going “back to church” implies that a person or family may have attended church in the first place and perhaps needs a nudge in the right direction to experience that dynamic of the local church again.


I thought about a conversation I had at the 2018 National Religious Broadcasters Convention with Barry Meguiar of the radio feature heard on Faith Radio, Revival Outside the Walls.  He has launched a companion effort called, Ignite America.  On its website, you can read this challenge: “Move Everyone, Every Day, Closer to Jesus.”  The site states: “We’ve turned our lights off and left the world in darkness.  How are they going to know unless someone tells them . . . unless you tell them?”  That echoes the words of Romans 10:14-15a: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (NKJV)


We can also seek to develop a passion for sharing Christ’s love.  As we grow in our love for Him, we can be so filled with adoration for our Savior that it overflows, radiating to the people with whom we interact.  We can be challenged to fall in love with Him to the degree that He walks with us and through us to touch the lives of other people; people who need to see and experience the hope of the Gospel.

Bob Crittendon Mon, 01 Oct 2018 20:45:00 +0000
What Type of Parent Are You? https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1219:what-type-of-parent-are-you?&Itemid=112 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1219:what-type-of-parent-are-you?&Itemid=112

It’s no secret that parenting is, by far, one of the most difficult jobs in our society. The idea of bringing a new life into this world and raising  that life into a self-sufficient, happy, and healthy adult is not only daunting but, to many, terrifying. One of the most common problems when it comes to parenting is healthy discipline and boundaries. Where do we draw the line? Where do I find the line? What in the world is the line? For many, this concept is clear and traditions of discipline have been passed down from generation to generation. For some, the concept of disciplining children is hazy and anxiety provoking.


 Hebrews 12:11 tells us “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” I believe that this verse puts many parents’ concerns into perspective. As a parent, one has natural instincts of wanting to protect and not harm or punish. The idea of making one’s child uncomfortable or upset is not pleasant, but without it can true discipline be achieved? Can rules be learned and understood without discipline? From a developmental standpoint, the answer is no. Research has shown that healthy attachments to caregivers (parents, guardians, teachers, etc.) are formed through nurturing, consistent, and structured relationships. These relationships are built on trust, stability, and a respect for one another.


In Proverbs Chapter 22, verse 6 we read “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This passage is basically reinforcing the concept that parents have a responsibility to support, nurture, and raise their children but how do we develop a healthy boundary with children while still showing love? There are four basic parenting styles and experts in Human Growth and Development have agreed on the most effective, but let’s first discuss some of the less-effective styles first.


The first is Authoritarian Parenting. This style is characterized by parents having a controlling and power-assertive relationship with their child. While authoritarian parents are high in discipline, rules, and respect they may not pay attention to things like support, fun, and the showing of love for their children. When I think of an authoritarian parent I always think of the character Mr. Banks in Marry Poppins before he has his revelation and becomes kind. 


The second is Permissive Parenting. This style is extremely high in support and love, but lacks much discipline or rules--it is a very indulgent relationship. For this, I always imagine Mr. Salt from Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory. He gave everything and anything to his daughter, Veruca, and we all saw how that ended up.


Finally, and on a more serious note, is a parenting style known as Rejecting-Neglecting. This style is characterized simply as being uninvolved, uncaring, and unloving. All of these styles have their own faults, so what is the best direction?


The theorized answer is a parenting style known as Authoritative. Authoritative parenting is classified as one where a loving and respectful relationship between parent and child is reciprocal. The parents practices loving, nurturing behavior, while also practicing discipline and remaining consistent in their rule keeping. For this, I always imagine Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Research has shown us that this parenting style is, in fact, the most successful at developing strong and secure attachments with our children. It seems clear that the line in the sand can be made but through nurturing, consistent, and structured relationships that are based in love. I think that it is important to remember Psalms 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Parenting is not just a job, it is a privilege and an outlet for all of us to practice God’s greatest gift to humanity: the ability to love.


No matter your parenting style, it is critically important to be engaged in your children’s lives, particularly their school lives.  Think about it, your children are sent off for 7-8 hours per day, five days a week and influenced by a totally different group of adults...teachers, principals, administrative staff.  You need to know these folks and they need to know you. 


Recognizing this need, the Alabama Department of Education dedicates October as Parent Visitation Month.  Check if your school is participating and go visit the teachers, principals, and administrators who will be influencing your child this year.  Get engaged!


Counselors Corner Mon, 01 Oct 2018 20:40:00 +0000
Outside Your Comfort Zone https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1216:outside-your-comfort-zone&Itemid=125 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1216:outside-your-comfort-zone&Itemid=125

A friend of mine, Betsy Hake, has been a missionary in Honduras for almost 40 years. About 20 years ago the Lord burdened her heart to present Christ and His love to those who are the least likely to ever walk into a church. Among those are the women and men prostitutes of Tegucigalpa and their children. Her organization is called Jericho Ministries. The following is taken from both an interview with her and her blog posting of July 24, 2015. It illustrates how God is at work in places we may not want to go.



One rainy night, a few years ago, I could not sleep. I sensed that God was gently urging me to go to the streets. I called our administrator and she agreed to go with me. So I picked her up in our van and we headed for the area of town that we know well. The reason He sent us was because of Juan (not his real name).


There he was, sitting on the curb, in a dress that was way too revealing. He held his head in his hands, a long wig covering his face. His whole body-language cried depression. I recognized him as a transvestite I had tried to reach with the gospel two years before.


He lifted his head when he saw us and called out, “Betsy, you came!”  We got out of the van and sat down with him on the curb. He began to tell us that that night he had made the decision to take his own life. He had just prayed to the Lord, “God, if you are real, send me somebody. Send me somebody that I will know that it is you.”


He said he felt like no one understood him and he was tired of living a life of degradation and shame.  As he wept, we told him of a God who saves. We told him of a God who transforms us from the inside out. We told him of a Savior who died for his darkness and sins, and lives to give him new life. We spent about an hour ministering to him and listening to him.


He didn’t mind us telling him that he had offended God with his lifestyle. He knew it. And right before our eyes we got to witness the transforming power of Jesus. Juan bowed down at the feet of Jesus, recognized his sin, and asked Jesus to come into his life and wash away his old life.


 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” NIV.


Juan is now free to be who God called him to be. I don’t pretend that everything was easy for Juan from that moment on. No, his mind had to be transformed on a daily basis, not to the things of this world, but to the Word of God.


Paul writes to the Romans, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will,” (Romans 12:2) NIV.



That’s Betsy’s story. Over the past 40 years she has been answering God’s call to reach people outside her comfort zone, first as a nurse, then as a church planter, and now as a rescuer of men, women and children who are captives to prostitution and abuse. She has discovered that her sphere of influence is in the streets of a capital city in Central America.


That may not be your sphere of influence. You may not sense that God has given you such a gift of evangelism or that much courage. But God has given you a gift. And He is calling you to use that gift to spread His love somewhere in your life. Out there, outside your comfort zone, someone needs to hear that God loves them and that His Son died to set them free. Someone may be praying for God to send them such a person as you. Why not ask Him?   



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

Pondering the Journey Mon, 01 Oct 2018 20:15:25 +0000
A Sneak Peak Into Your Bucket List https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1215:a-sneak-peak-into-your-bucket-list&Itemid=126 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1215:a-sneak-peak-into-your-bucket-list&Itemid=126

I have a bucket list…a set of experiences and goals that I want to accomplish in my lifetime. Many women don’t even consider what would be on such a list while they are working, raising children, and keeping the family finances afloat with their paychecks.


Creating a bucket list for us women is important because living with expectancy helps create excitement and adds spice in our lives. God created us as dreamers. We think in pictures. Imagination and image is one in the same. Additionally, as free-will human beings we get to choose the image we keep in front of us. And if we, like Jacob’s cattle, stare at something long enough we will reproduce what we keep seeing (Genesis 30:37-42).


But, take a moment to consider what achievements I might see if I were to be afforded a privilege to peak into your bucket list? What would the scripted pieces of paper tucked in your bucket reveal about your priorities? What do you see yourself doing?



• Want to see the world? Where would you want to go first?

• Jump out of a plane?

• Achieve an ideal weight?

• Be a wife and a mother?



Your dream can become your reality if you tackle your list one bite at a time


People can respond to dreams differently:


Some don’t dream…


Many are afraid to dream again due to past disappointments. The Bible says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. These precious sisters experience what Langston Hughes says, “What happens to a dream deferred, it dries up like a raisin in the sun.” Many dreams have seemingly dried up and so disappointment has darkened their screen. Therefore these people occupy their minds only with safe images that don’t require much faith. I can’t count the single ladies I have counseled over the years who are heartbroken over not finding their soul mate. Some have lost hope and dare not dream again.



Some dream inappropriate dreams…


I used to run track as a young girl and beat everyone in my neighborhood. I  am now a 61-year-old woman in relatively good shape, but it would be a waste for me to develop a dream of becoming an Olympic gold medalist in track before I die. I may have a chance at a Seniors Olympics, but I dare not dream of outrunning 18 year olds.


Our dreams must be appropriate and realistic by some measure. By this I do not mean we don’t need to dream seemingly impossible dreams. But such impossible dreams should be divinely inspired. If God whispers dreams into our heart we should say, “Amen!” and embrace them. Scripture tells us that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think. Our internal dreams should at least make sense. You’re probably not going to achieve a space walk without a space suit in your lifetime, so there’s no need to fantasize it.



Some have unclear dreams


Some people don’t take time to make their dreams clear enough. The concept of image, imagination, and dreams means that you picture them clearly with specificity. Folks have dreams such as” I want to succeed.” Or, “I want to be famous.” Such general desires need to be cultivated until they are so clear you see yourself doing it. There must be a tangible element in the dream…like “I desire to own my own clothing line” instead of “I want to impact the fashion industry.”


Let me encourage you to form your own bucket list. If you already have one, update it. When we leave this life, let’s leave with no regrets.


Sit down now or within the next few days and dream with God about your future. Think deep and wide, and think big! Use your faith. Decide what you would like to do. Then write it down. This step is vitally important. There is something about writing the dream that makes it more genuine so that you run toward it. Perhaps Habbakuk understood this when he echoed, “Write the vision and make it plain so he may run that reads it…” (Hab. 2:3) 


Share your bucket list when appropriate only with those who will desire your success. Sharing our bucket list items puts us on the hook to accomplish them. You feel the importance to deliver on what you advertise.


Lastly. “Get Er Done!” After you create your bucket list start moving toward your dreams. As Les Brown said, “You don’t have to be great to start but you must start to be great.” Dream, write and then when opportunity arises, go forth. 


Pastor Kemi Searcy Fri, 28 Sep 2018 12:56:29 +0000
Michael Jernigan, Jr, Assistant Manager, Sam's Club https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1214:michael-jernigan-jr-assistant-manager-sams-club&Itemid=124 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1214:michael-jernigan-jr-assistant-manager-sams-club&Itemid=124

RRJ:  As a manager at Sam’s Club, what does your job entail?



Michael:  I assist and develop in directing our management team in all facility operations. I assist in providing supervision and development opportunities for members of management and hourly associates. I assist in directing and guiding members of management and hourly associates on proper member service approaches and techniques. I contribute to membership and sales growth. I coordinate, complete and oversee job-related activities and assignments. I ensure compliance with company policies and procedures and support our company mission, values and standards of ethics and integrity.


I also increase the quality of our members’ experience. I monitor the financial performance of the facility. I participate in community outreach programs and encourage and support associates in serving as good members of the community. I provide supervision and development opportunities for associates.



RRJ:  In what ways are you able to shine for Christ at work?



Michael: I treat everyone the same way I want to be treated. I pray daily before I enter the doors of Sam’s Club and trust that God will lead me in His ways and not my own. When I hear gossip at work, I distance myself from it or change the subject. Monday through Friday I have a 9 o’clock morning meeting where I go over our sales numbers with my associates/management team, upcoming birthdays, work anniversaries and I give a motivational spiritual word or quote from the Bible to uplift, motivate or inspire my co-workers for the day.



RRJ:  How do you see Jeremiah 29:11 being played out in your life?



Michael: I grew up on 103rd and King Drive in Chicago IL, a pretty rough area on the southside of Chicago known as the WILD HUNDREDS. I remember hearing my mom praying as a kid that she wanted me and my brother to be successful. My mom always ensured me that I didn’t have anything to worry about because I was covered in the blood of Jesus. I was an usher at my childhood church (St. John De La Salle) and I remember my parents telling me that if I couldn’t make it to church that I couldn’t go roller skating or play my video games. So, I made sure I was serving every Sunday and getting the Word. Now the same rules apply for my two boys in my household because my wife and I are raising them to be successful, God-fearing, family men as well.



RRJ:  How have sports, especially golf, had a role in your journey?



Michael:  I used to play basketball in elementary school until one day I witnessed my best friend getting hurt at our neighborhood playground, tearing ligaments in both his knees. Once he recovered he got a job at the new golf course not too far from our neighborhood, and shortly after I started working there too. My boss took a liking to me and gave me my first set of golf clubs, and since I worked their they let me play all the golf I wanted for free. The sport of golf helped me get three scholarship offers to play golf for Tennessee State University, Alabama State University and Virginia Union University. I chose Alabama State University because my parents used to drive to Union Springs every summer to visit my grandparents, and I knew I would still be close to family.



RRJ:  You mentioned three tragic life events that all happened in one week in March 2013.  What helped you get through those trials?



Michael:  The last week of March 2013 was a very difficult week for me and my family. On that Monday, my in-law’s home burned to the ground, that Wednesday I got laid off from Coca-Cola after working there for 10 years, and that Friday my father passed at the age of 59. Needless to say, my faith was definitely tested, but I knew that God wouldn’t give me more than I could bear. So, I prayed and leaned on God more than ever and He helped me get through it all. At the time my parents had been married for 39 years, so I had to be strong for my mom and younger brother.



RRJ:  You come from a home where family is important. How have your parents molded and inspired you to live a solid life for the Lord? And can you see your parent’s influence in you as you are leading your family?



Michael:  My dad married a strong woman of God and I wanted to do the same. The first time I saw my wife, on the campus of Alabama State University in 1999, I felt like she was going to be my wife. When my college friend, Darain Goshton, invited me to visit his church I saw her again and that’s when I knew she was going to be my wife. The fact that she loved the Lord as much as I did left no doubt in my mind that she was the woman God made for me.


My parents inspired me to live a solid life for the Lord by being a great representation of Christ, by walking and living in love. And, yes, my parents influenced how I lead my family because I saw how my they loved and respected each other, which kept them happily married for 39 years.



RRJ: How do you stay focused on living your best life for God?



Michael: Well, every night my wife and I read scriptures from our Bible together before we go to sleep, and we’re both very active in our church. My wife is on our church finance team and I am a PPA (Pastor Personal Assistant) formy church. Every opportunity we have to serve for the Lord and do God’s work we take it. We both especially like serving the mobile food bank at our church.



RRJ:  You and Ruby have been instrumental in planning a couple’s trip for several years during Super Bowl weekend with friends from your church. What is something special that you practice while on this trip?



Michael:  We enjoy fellowship with our married Christian friends from our church, so for the past five years we have been planning couple’s trips in different states during Super Bowl weekend. Every year we set aside some time to discuss what’s been going on in our lives and our future goals. For the past two years we decided to put our goals on paper and create vision boards. God’s word tells us to write the vision and make it plain, and ever since we started setting aside time to create our vision boards during our trips, our friends’ goals, as well as ours, have been manifesting. Since it has been such a positive experience, creating vision boards is something that we will definitely continue to incorporate into our trips.



RRJ:  What advice do you have for our readers about living for Christ outside of the church walls?



Michael:  My advice would be to take the same teachings and principles learned in church and apply them to your everyday life outside of church. We should pray and seek God daily. We should also live as God has called us to live. God wants us to live a happy and successful life. I would also encourage others to adopt good habits of reading their Bible and spending time with God at least 5-10 minutes every day to understand the life and love of Jesus in our everyday lives. Share your faith and love for Jesus with everyone you meet. Seek the presence of God daily and always remember that living for Christ is far more meaningful than living for ourselves.Establish a relationship with God first, keep God first in all that you do, and have strong faith.



Michael Jernigan, Jr. is Assistant Manager at Sam’s Club. He is happily married to Ruby Jernigan for 13 years and they have two sons, Michael III (12) and Tyler (9). They are active members of True Divine Baptist Church in Montgomery.



Faith @ Work Thu, 27 Sep 2018 19:43:12 +0000
Practice Neighboring https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1212:practice-neighboring&Itemid=105 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1212:practice-neighboring&Itemid=105

Occasionally I have the blessing of hosting international visitors in my home, especially from the small African nation of Malawi.  At the end of the trip I always ask several debriefing questions, one of which is, “What disappointed you most about what you saw in America?”  Without hesitation, it is almost always the same answer: “That you could go the whole day and not speak to your neighbors.”  I’m privately thinking, “A day? I can go a month without even trying!”  Such is the nature of our isolated North American culture.  But it is a convicting statement that I need to be reminded of by my African friends.  

We often don’t even know our neighbors names and are content with an occasional wave from a distance.  All the while we are neglecting our calling by Jesus to love our neighbor.  Sure, our “neighbors” can be anyone we share the planet with. 


But what if Jesus really means for us to love those in closest proximity first and foremost? 


A few years ago I noticed my across-the-street neighbor’s yard was in decline.  The leaves were pilling up.  They are an older couple I would frequently see walking their dogs.  But it had been a while since I had seen them out and about.  Then one day my next door neighbor told me the lady had been struggling with breast cancer and was undergoing treatments.  I felt like such a jerk!  Here I was in direct proximity to serve them, but was sitting comfortably across the street while my neighbor was struggling.


My wife and I were convicted by our international friend’s comments and many instances like these.  We began to make some changes in our lives to reorient ourselves to making ourselves available to our neighbors.  In 2014 we launched out to plant a new church in the growing Redland community-- focused on blessing and reaching neighbors.  We experimented with an ice cream social in the front yard.  Our kids walked down the street delivering invitations for the following Saturday.  And even though it was an unusually cold spring day, neighbors came!  We watched as neighbors who have lived on the same street for 15 years met each other for the first time.  Then a few months later we hosted a block party in our yard with some music, hot dogs, and an inflatable for the kids.  Our neighbors loved it and asked when we would could do another.  We began to make it a habit to learn the names of all our neighbors within a few houses of ours.  We posted them in a place so we could remember to pray for them.  I make it a spiritual discipline when doing yard work to turn off the lawn mower when a neighbor is walking by and say hello.  My wife attends HOA meetings and I eventually joined our volunteer fire department (check out the excellent book, “The Art of Neighboring” for more ideas).  All of this is not some strategy to build our church, but to really live out the call of Jesus to love our neighbors.  In the process WE have been transformed.


Unfortunately it is all to often that we only think about our neighbors when something bad happens.  We may notice the ambulance in the driveway or even see our own street on the news.  Recently our community was devastated by a murder/suicide of a school teacher and a precious young lady.  As if often the case, many neighbors never knew anything was wrong.  But it was a neighbor’s house that one of the young girl’s ran to in order to call 911.  That call certainly saved additional lives. 


Could your home be a place of refuge for struggling neighbors?  Is there someone suffering on your street that God may have you in the perfect position to serve?  I’m sure there probably is.  But how will you serve them if you don’t know them?  The greater question is, “Will we rise to the call to love our neighbor as ourself?”  When we do, entire communities are transformed.


Wes Gunn is head pastor of Redland Hills Church in Wetumpka, Alabama.


Pastor's Perspective Thu, 27 Sep 2018 19:16:20 +0000
Dave Has Answers https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1211:dave-has-answers&Itemid=116 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1211:dave-has-answers&Itemid=116

Allow Them to Earn It



Q.  Our daughter just turned 10 years old. Is now the right time to start giving her an allowance, and start teaching her about money?



A.  I’m glad you’re going to teach your daughter about money. But in my mind, there’s never a time for an allowance. I believe that kind of thinking, and using words like “allowance,” are some of the best ways to instill an attitude of entitlement in a child. I don’t think you want your daughter growing up with the idea she deserves money simply because she’s alive.


My advice is to develop a method by which she can earn commissions. Write down a daily or weekly list of jobs around the house that are age-appropriate she will be responsible for doing. Then, at the end of the week, she gets paid for jobs she completed — and she doesn’t get paid for the ones she didn’t do. The idea is to teach her that work creates money, and teach a healthy work ethic at the same time.


 Of course, there are some things a child should be expected to do without financial reward. Everyone needs to pitch in, and do certain things to help when they’re part of a family. And once you’ve taught her about the importance and rewards of work, make sure to also teach her about the three uses for money — saving, spending, and giving!



Step by Step



Q.  When is the right time to buy a house when someone is following your Baby Steps plan?


A.  That’s a good question. Let’s start by going over the first few Baby Steps.


Baby Step 1 is saving $1,000 for a beginner emergency fund. Baby Step 2 is paying off all consumer debt, from smallest to largest, using the debt snowball. Baby Step 3 is where you increase your emergency fund to the point where you have three to six months of expenses set aside.


Once you’ve done all that you can begin saving for a home. I’ll call it Baby Step 3b. For folks looking to buy a house, I advise saving enough money for a down payment of at least 20 percent. I don’t beat people up over mortgage debt, but I do advise them to get a 15-year, fixed rate loan, where the payments are no more than 25 percent of their monthly take-home pay.


Doing it this way may take a little more time, and delay your dream of becoming a homeowner a bit, but buying a house when you’re broke is the quickest way I know to turn something that should be a blessing into a burden!

Dave Ramsey Says Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:40:38 +0000
Not Idly By https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1210:not-idly-by&Itemid=113 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1210:not-idly-by&Itemid=113

A pastor in Washington state concluded his Father’s Day sermon recently by praying this: “Lord...don’t let us be content as men to just let life go by, to see the world around us burn. God, instead, help us to get involved.”


The Chicago Tribune reported that as David George, pastor of the Oakville, Washington, Assembly of God Church, concluded his sermon on “The Value of MENtoring,” which the story said was “about how much difference an individual can make in the lives of others,” a new adventure was about to unfold.


Later that day, Pastor George, his wife, daughter, and granddaughter went to a Walmart over 25 miles away to Tumwater, WA, to make an exchange.  As they stood in the checkout line, he heard the sound of gunshots.  The Tribune reported that a “crime rampage was unfolding.”  The article stated:



A man was firing a handgun at the store’s locked ammunition case to grab more bullets. He had already carjacked a vehicle that day and attempted to hijack another one, firing shots and wounding people along the way, Tumwater police say. Now he was stocking up on ammunition for more carnage in the store’s parking lot.



The shooter then went into the parking lot and tried to carjack another vehicle - the driver resisted and was shot twice.  He then broke into another vehicle, when he was confronted:


At that point, Tumwater police said, an armed civilian confronted the shooter, drawing his handgun, firing and killing the gunman. That same armed civilian then administered medical aid to the carjacking victim until help arrived.


Where was Pastor George?  He was the civilian who took out the shooter! 


The Tribune reported that:


He is also an Oakville volunteer firefighter and EMT who happens to be licensed to carry a concealed firearm and is specifically trained to use it against a desperate gun-wielding criminal. A credentialed firing-range safety officer, George said he had received active-shooter training.



The pastor did not publicly reveal himself as the hero in the story until four days later.  He said in a statement, “I was sure it was gunshots I heard...and I was familiar with how I should respond, while considering mine and the public’s safety in the setting of this large store.”  He was cognizant of his family’s safety, as well as those in the store.  The pastor also stated: “I acted on Sunday to protect my family and others from the gunman and his display of deadly intent,” adding, “This is in accordance with both my training as an emergency responder and calling as a pastor, husband, father and grandfather.”


The pastor’s prayer that morning was about involvement, and he asked the Lord to enable him and the men in attendance that Father’s Day to not just be content “to just let life go by, to see the world around us burn.”  This is consistent with a concept I like to share about being ready and responsive - we can be sensitive as God opens opportunities.  It may not be an opportunity to save a life; fortunately, Pastor George had the training and knowledge to be able to intervene here.  But, our responsiveness could result in someone coming into a divine encounter, including the possibility of coming to a saving knowledge of Christ.  Who knows what God has in store - but He desires for us to walk in that state of willingness for the Spirit to move through us.


It does seem that the world certainly is burning – replete with fiery rhetoric and the potential for conflict.  In response, we can consider how we as believers can infuse our culture with grace.  That doesn’t call for backing off the truth, but we can set a different tone. We are called to boldly proclaim our position on who Jesus is and what He has done.  But, we can do so in a compelling manner. We can follow a principle of “disagree, but not demonize.”  I think of the concept that leading Christian apologist Greg Koukl talks about: “diplomacy, not D-Day.”


It can be tough, especially when we are confronted by what I see as an exclusionary mindset that has permeated society today. Unfortunately, Christians all too often find themselves on the receiving end.  From speech codes on college campuses to attempts to force believers to adopt and express positions with which they disagree, people of faith have faced extraordinary challenges regarding free expression, which becomes an inhibition to the spread of the gospel.  But, we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated.  The fact is, we are called by God, we belong, and our faith is part of the fabric of our society.  So with boldness, tempered by the character and compassion of Christ, we can make people aware of the presence and principles of the Lord. 


Bob Crittendon Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:22:59 +0000
Being a Godly Mother-in-law https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1209:being-a-godly-mother-in-law&Itemid=126 https://readjourneymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1209:being-a-godly-mother-in-law&Itemid=126

As I reminisce on the goodness of God, I cannot help but to thank him specifically for His unwavering love for me, my family and especially my loving husband. Without a doubt, I know my husband is who he is because of his mom’s Godly influence.


Please join me in saying “thank you” to the mothers who gave us our husbands. Our mother’s-in-law deserve our praise. I came across a poem that stood out to me:



 “You were the one who held his hand when his life had just began, the one who taught him everything, who raised such a loving son. You were the mother he turned to with his questions and his fears, the person who was always there to guide him through the years.


I am the one who took his hand to walk with him through life, the one you lovingly embraced, and welcomed as his wife. I am the one who is grateful now for the job that you have done, blessed with a wonderful husband, the man that you call ‘your son’.”



The Lord blessed me with an amazing mother-in-law, a woman who loved and feared the Lord. Even though she’s no longer with us on Earth, her matchless handiwork testifies of her sweet spirit, gentle demeanor, and relentless love and affection for her children.


As I sit pondering the life of Mildred Searcy, I am reminded of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Their poignant story can be found beginning in the book of Ruth. This story begins with Naomi’s Jewish family consisting of a husband, wife, and two sons. The family moves from Israel to live in Moab because there was a famine in Israel. The boys grew up and married ladies from Moab. Later, Naomi’s husband and her two sons died, leaving their mother and their wives Ruth and Orpah in a bad financial situation. After the mourning period, Naomi heard news that the famine in Israel was over and her people had started prospering again. She decided to move back home to Israel.


When Naomi told her two daughters-in-law her plan to return home, they both decided to go with her. Naomi tried to dissuade them. She told the wives that their homes were in Moab. Moabites were idol worshipers with temples dedicated to many gods, where as Israel worshiped the only one, true God Jehovah, of whom the wives knew nothing. Since Naomi did not have any more sons for the women to marry, the future for them in Israel could be bleak with a culture that was foreign to them. She pleaded with them not to follow her. Orpah agreed, hugged and kissed her mother-in-law, and returned to her people.


But we read in verse 16 of chapter 1 that Ruth said to Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you, for wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried.”  Wow!


I have read this story dozens of times and it has never ceased to amaze me. The question I ask myself each time I read Ruth’s story is what type of relationship did Naomi and Ruth have prior to this event that caused the young woman to be so devoted to the older woman? Even though the Bible doesn’t explain Ruth’s actions, I truly believe that Naomi must have lived such an exemplary life before the young wife that it left an impression on Ruth so great that it altered the course of history.


There are so many types of mothers-in-law in this world. When it comes to their sons, many mothers-in-law don’t think any lady is good enough for them. The question I ask myself is, Kemi, what type of mother in-law are you going to be?



1. The Snob – The one with an elitist attitude, who looks down her nose at everyone, and criticizes everything.


2. The Entitled – The one who feels her daughter-in-law owes her something just because she’s the mama. She is going to call every hour on the hour and everything better stop to her beckoning call.


3. The Possessive – The one who is so possessive, no one will be happy living with her son.



My prayer is that I will be as Naomi – so kind, loving, and supportive – that the fragrance of my life will transform the life of my daughters-in-law and sons-in-law, no matter who they are or whatever their background.


Thank you, Mildred Searcy, for being my “mother in-love.” May I leave the same legacy as you have!




Pastor Kemi Searcy Sun, 19 Aug 2018 21:07:04 +0000