Does Jesus always heal?

By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

CAPISTRANO BEACH, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- After Jesus preached the greatest sermon of the last 2,000 years, he came down the mountain followed by huge crowds. He spent the rest of the day in active ministry, healing the sick and driving out demons.

His interactions that memorable day provide important answers to some vexing questions: Does Jesus always heal? In addition, why does he heal some and not others?

In Matthew 8:2, it says, “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’”

First, it’s important to recognize the man came before Jesus with humility. He knelt before him and called him Lord. The word for “knelt” there is a Greek word that literally means he worshipped Jesus.

Notice he said, “Lord, if you will.” If it’s your will, Jesus, you can make me clean. I have often been in prayer groups praying for someone with a serious illness, and I felt guilty to pray, “If it be your will, God, heal my friend.” There were times when I even looked down on others who prayed that way.

But this leper asks for God’s will to be done. Frankly, we shouldn’t be afraid of God’s will in any situation. I really don’t want to step outside of the will of God.

The leper also came with faith.

Survival Guide For Brand New Grandparents

By Joan Adams

Congratulations! You are a new grandparent. There are few thrills in life as magnificent as becoming a grandparent for the first time. Not only is the baby adorable, and your child thrilled, but there is a sense of the circle of life - a deeply spiritual feeling - a sense of being a part of something so much bigger than we are as humans.

1. Remember that you are not the parent. Your role in this child's life is very important - and yet - you are not the parent. You have already been a parent - it's your child's turn to play that role. It can be difficult to remember, but that one fact is the first key to successful grandparenting. Know your boundaries.

2. Take some time to think about what you have to offer this child. Starting regular savings accounts and adding to those for birthdays and holidays is always a good idea. If you are not financially able to do that, what skills can you teach him/her? Are you an excellent cook? Do you play golf or enjoy skiing?

3. Times have changed and with those changes are medical thoughts on baby care. I was shocked to see my first grandchild lying on her back. I would not have dared to do such a thing with my infant. In my day, the doctors insisted that babies sleep on their tummies. And that's just the first of many changes. Again, it's important to remember, this is their time to be parents. We did what our doctors told us, and now they need to do what their doctors tell them -- even when we don't understand. Someone once advised me to just say the word "hush" when I was tempted to tell someone else how to live their life. She was right. Remember to "hush." Silence is indeed golden.

4. Enjoy! Spend as much time with the baby as possible without being a nuisance. If you live close by, you will most likely discover that you are a part of this baby's world. It's such a super boost for a young mom to have someone nearby who can be counted on in an emergency. And it is a total delight to be the grandparent of little ones who live close to your home. Allow these children to introduce you once again to the joys of childhood - and have fun with them! Enjoy every moment!

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What Is the Difference Between Guilt and Conviction?

By Dr Terry W Dorsett 

Many of us grew up in churches that took a hard line on just about every issue. Since the Bible teaches us to have certain standards about various things, the hard line approach we learned as children was not always a bad thing. But it does seem that some churches have taken the whole "hell, fire and brimstone" message a bit far. Some churches try to "guilt" people into doing the right thing. One problem with a guilt-based approach is that while it does tend to work in the short term, it seldom works in the long term. On the rare occasion that guilt does change behavior over the long term, it tends to rob people of the joy and happiness they should find in their faith. Another problem with a guilt-based approach is that most young people, who have a more post-modern worldview, simply refuse to be "guilted" into anything. Therefore, they consider guilt-based churches to be irrelevant and simply ignore them. This leaves pastors and church leaders in an interesting situation. We need to help people learn the biblical principles for godly living, but need to do it in ways that are based on Holy Spirit conviction instead of the human emotion of guilt. This takes a lot of prayer and thoughtful contemplation.

Perhaps the first step in the process is

Grace and Girlfriends

Ladies, we all need a change of routine now and then and here's an opportunity. If you live in the northwest Missouri or northeast Kansas area, take in Grace and Girlfriends. You'll enjoy the anointed worship of Charlotte Bell, and inspiring messages from Pamela Sonnenmoser of Fresh Cup Ministries and Shanna Groves (Lipreading Mom). This event offers the added benefit of being live-captioned for those with hearing loss.

Attend Grace and Girlfriends at Theatre Atchison located at 401 Sante Fe, Atchison, Kansas. Tickets (only $10!) can be purchased online at

Being Rude By Saying "I Don't Mean To Be Rude"

By Dr Terry W Dorsett 

A few weeks ago I was eavesdropping on a conversation of a group of teenagers that had gathered after our church youth group. No, I am not a stalker. But I realized a long time ago that I can learn a lot if I stand a few feet away and just listen to teens talk. If I barge right into the conversation and start sharing my ideas, teens often stop sharing theirs. That seldom helps me learn what they are really thinking and makes me less effective in my efforts to assist them in navigating the difficulties of life. That means that sometimes eavesdropping can be helpful in learning how teens really think and relate to each other.

This particular conversation was between some girls who were not getting along very well. The tension between them had been building for a few weeks, so I thought I would try to help them resolve their issues once I understood them better by listening in. As the conversation continued to become more and more tense, one of the girls said "I'm not trying to be rude but..."

The Need for Human Touch

By  Cindy Laverty

No prescription medication can take away loneliness or the feeling of isolation. There may be no words that can make an elderly or ill person feel better, but non-verbal connections, such as a kind touch, can make an elderly person feel as though you care in a way that words, or even deeds, cannot. Often, the elderly do not want to talk and this can be frustrating to a caregiver who is spending days on end doing things for a loved one. Try not to take silence personally. When things around the elderly are moving at a rapid pace, it can be difficult for them to keep up; so they go quietly into their thoughts, which are usually in the past. You don't have to have conversation to make a connection. A hug, a hand or shoulder massage, an offer to comb or brush the person's hair, or holding someone's hand can make all the difference in the world. Human beings all need to experience human touch until the end of our lives. Old skin is just that, old skin. Unless someone has a skin infection or a contagious disease, there is no reason to avoid physical contact.

So often when I went to visit Bob (my ex father-in-law whom I cared for for almost 6 years), he was completely non-communicative. He usually sat in his chair with his eyes closed. There were days when I had maneuvered traffic,

Take a Break

By Linda Gilden

I held the dripping book by one corner. Water poured from between its pages. How could that have happened? Until this moment I had never even gotten a cover wet.

For years the bathtub has provided my favorite literary getaway. Preparation for bath time means gathering the essentials: a glass of cold water, one towel for drying, a small one for drying hands occasionally, a flashlight, eyeglasses (a fairly recent addition to the list), and a good book.

You may not be a bathtub reader but finding a daily time for yourself is important and reading enhances that special, individual time. Making the effort to have personal time each day has great benefits.
  1. Keeps you grounded.  The best way to start every day is with a personal time of devotion. Making a connection with God when you first get up gives you a solid foundation for the day. This time may include Bible reading, your favorite devotional book, and a time of meditation and prayer.
  2. Recharges your “batteries.” We were not created to go and go and go. We need a break. Life is busy if not frantic for most of us and burnout lurks just around the corner. A few minutes away from the family, workplace, and the demands that go along with them gives you new strength, energy, and perspective to face your day.
  3. Provides a time for enjoyment. Everyone needs to have a little fun every day. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. So relaxing with a good book, whether in the bathtub, under a tree, or wrapped in a blanket in the recliner gives me a few minutes of enjoyment and entertainment.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Gilden is an author, speaker, editor, and writing coach. She has written hundreds of articles as well as the Love Notes series, Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, and has ghostwritten or contributed to over three dozen books. Directing the CLASS Christian Writers Conference in Abiquiu, NM, she encourages others to clearly communicate God’s love to the world. Linda lives in SC with her family – a great source of speaking and writing material! In March, the CLASS website will release news of the 2012 Christian Writers Conference: Come meet Linda and the rest of the CLASS faculty there!

8 Tips For Building a Marriage That Thrives

By Poppy Smith © 2012

The mega-millions spent by Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, and Katy Perry and Russell Brand, on their lavish and exotic weddings failed to guarantee a long and blissful union.  But they are not alone. Recent statistics show a decline in couples getting married and staying married for more than a few months or years.

Can marriages survive in today’s culture? Long-wedded author, Poppy Smith, says “Yes.” Here are Smith’s tips for building a marriage that not only works, but thrives:

  1. Readjust your expectations. You didn’t marry your clone. Naturally, your partner will view some things differently. Be willing to flex and accept their right to be themselves.
  2. Appreciate your different strengths. Analyze your personalities, your backgrounds, and what’s important to each of you. Identify each other’s strengths and affirm what these add to your relationship.
  3. Learn to communicate so you’re heard. Women tend to explain and expand.  Men tend to edit. To be heard, communicate according to your spouse’s desired style, not yours. 
  4. Understand each other’s feelings about money. Does money signal fun? Symbolize success? Guarantee security? Or ensure power? Knowing what it means to both of you helps in settling money battles.
  5. Practice a conflict resolution style that works for both. Clarify what the conflict is about. Listen to each other’s reasoning and feelings without interrupting. Then decide what best builds your relationship.
  6. Recognize the emotional needs of your mate. Both men and women want to be valued, admired, respected, and listened to. Discover what makes your spouse feel loved and special, then find ways to meet that need. 
  7. Prioritize romance and sexual intimacy. Sex matters. It gives physical and emotional pleasure, strengthens love, and deepens commitment. Make time to play or be silly or sensuous in bed. It pays rich dividends. 
  8. Share your Dreams. What is it each of you longs to achieve? Are there some dreams you want to accomplish together? Be encouragers to each other and discuss steps you can take now toward your goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) uses colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages others to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives. Watch for Poppy's upcoming book release, Why Can't He Be More Like Me: 9 Secrets to Understanding Your Husband.

Strip These Two Words from Your Communication

By Beverly Caruso
Special to ASSIST News Service

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- The young couple across the restaurant aisle were obviously angry with one another. The portion of their conversation reaching our table was peppered with two common phrases. "You always get home late." "Well, you never have dinner on time any way, so what difference does it make?" "Why should I if you're never there to eat it with us?"

We tried to ignore their conversation, but it was so familiar. Not the "late to dinner" part. It was those phrases "you always" and "you never" that clanged so loudly.

As senior pastors for thirty-five years and now ministers-at-large, we've counseled our share of couples. Most folks know that poor communication is the greatest source of problems in marriages. Few realize that small changes can make drastic improvements in their communication resulting in greater marital harmony and less stressful daily life.

Woman of the Year

By Kat Crawford © 2011

“The church pianist quit today,” Gary told me when we walked into the parsonage after our third Sunday in a new pastorate. “The board members tell me there is no one in the congregation that can read music, much less play the piano.” He didn’t volunteer any more information that afternoon, but Monday morning Gary said, “You’ll need to play the piano for next Sunday’s service.”
“I can’t play in front of people!”
“Sure you can. You graduated from a hymn playing course at Bible college, you can handle it.” Gary handed me his choice of songs for the next week. “You’ll only need to fill in until we find another pianist.”
Two weeks later when our 13-year-old son brought his teenage school chums to church, our youth group quadrupled in size. One day after church Gary said, “There isn’t anyone in the congregation that wants to take on a bunch of unchurched teens.” When I raised my eyebrows he added, “You only need to fill in until we find a youth director.” 
When the teens brought their parents and siblings, the church grew. Gary arrived home one Tuesday night after a board meeting. “Tonight we talked about the need for a women’s ministries group. If you’ll serve as the director until….”
I finished the statement for him. “I know, until we find someone else.”
A year passed.
I turned 40.
It didn’t matter that I’d made many friends in the congregation and for a year I’d managed to be successful in all the roles I filled until someone came along to relieve me, I truly felt old and unsure of myself. Then on a Monday morning I received a phone call.
“Mrs. Crawford,” a well-modulated voice I didn’t recognize said her name, her title, what sorority she represented and then she said, “We’ve chosen you as ‘Woman of the Year.’”
“We’ll hold a banquet next month. Will you be able to attend and accept the award?”
No longer did I feel over-the-hill-forty. I quietly jumped up and down while I checked the calendar.
“Why yes, I’ll be able to attend,” I replied in a sweet preacher’s wife voice. Wait until Gary hears this. And Mom and Dad and…I stifled my giggles while the sorority chairperson told me the planned events for the special evening. Before she hung up she sighed deeply and said in a breathy relieved voice, “Oh, thank you for accepting. You are the third woman I’ve asked. The others couldn’t make it.”

Prayer: Thank you Lord for trusting me to create a difference in the lives of others—and keeping me humble in the process. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kat Crawford is the author of “Capsules of Hope: Survival Guide for Caregivers.” She is the mother of three and grandmother of six. Her desire is to share life’s humor and encouragement. Read more of her story and

Where is God when Tragedy Strikes?

By Naomi Cassata

One thing is true about tragedy, it is common to all men. It comes in all forms: death, sickness, pain, despair, failure etc. We can all personally relate to any one of these and we will all agree that life, at times, can and will be difficult.

A wise king once said "time and chance" happen to us all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Bad things do not only happen to bad people and good things are not only stored up for good people. Good and bad happen to everyone just because we are humans living in an imperfect world. The level of your righteousness does not necessarily determine whether you will have a bad or good day. Things happen in life, but it's how we deal with them that matter the most.

Moses was one man who dealt with his share of troubles despite his obedience to God. After he led Israel out of Egypt and they neared the Red Sea, it looked as if Israel was closed in. The Egyptian army was pursuing after them on one side and the sea was on their other. From Israel's viewpoint, God had abandoned them when they needed Him most. Fear set in. They thought they were going to die by the hand of the Egyptians in the middle of the wilderness. Where was God now? Moses had a message for them "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace" (Exodus 14:13-14). Moses reminded the people that God was with them despite what things looked like. God was faithful to His people. He delivered them through the midst of the Red Sea and swallowed up their enemies.

When we are in the middle of our tragedy, it is hard to see past our feelings. Depression, fear and loss of hope envelope our being. Our focus is not on God, but instead our desperate situation. We too begin to wonder "God, where are you?" We tend to separate God's nearness from our despair as if He stepped away and then tragedy stepped in. We can't see how God could allow this and conclude He has abandoned us when we needed Him most. Then we, like the Israelites, doubt God's presence.

What kind of God would we serve if He left every time something awful happened to one of His children? God doesn't fly the coop when things get messy. When my children hurt themselves, the first thing they do is run to mommy or daddy to find comfort. Most times it is something minor, but just being in our arms brings them so much comfort. I would never send my kids away when they needed me the most. God's arms are much larger and His heart is filled with much more love. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you (Isaiah 66:13).

When tragedy strikes, we are told three things, according to Exodus 14:13, to get us through 1) Do not be afraid, 2) Stand still and 3) see the salvation of the Lord. The difficulties we face are not meant for us to bear alone. The Bible simply teaches us to look to God as our salvation in every circumstance. No circumstance we face catches God by surprise nor is it too big for God.

Moses ended his statement with "and you shall hold your peace." Having peace in the middle of a tragedy sounds like an oxymoron, but when we look to God, rather than our calamity, we will find exactly that.

We cannot always foresee tragedy happening, but we can find peace in the midst of it when we rest in the knowledge that God is actually nearer to us during those times

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