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April Motl Christian Blog and Commentary

April Motl

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April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the joint efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April writes and teaches for women. When she’s not tapping away at the computer writing, or trying to catch up with the laundry and dishes, she is busy serving as a pastor’s wife. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. Her passion is to bring God's liberating truth to His Beloved. She teaches God's Word with real life illustrations, humor and practical application. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary (MRS) and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com

Excerpt from My Reflection in His Eyes

While putting together the details of our wedding, people would occasionally sing the “dun dun dun dun” of the wedding march before inquiring about the progress of the preparations. In my mind I would always hear “here comes the bride, all fat and wide.” And I just couldn’t imagine walking down the aisle hearing “see how she waddles from side to side” in my head. Instead of the “Wedding March,” we played another classical piece that had no first grade school yard lyrics attached to it.

Sometimes, the music of our lives has some rather unpleasant lyrics. In Christ there is freedom to choose what tune will play through your life. In Christ you have the choice to fill your mind with truth that cleanses your past and propels you into the good future God has for you.

Reflect for a moment about some of the truths you have learned about how God sees you… click here to download the rest of this lesson.

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Excerpt from - Face to Face: Seeing God Through the Eyes of Those Who Met Him Face to Face.

I am a shield to you. Genesis 15:1

God had asked a lot of Abram. The Lord laid out an adventure for Abram that required him to leave his father’s house, journey to an unknown land, forget the ways and practices of his people and serve the Lord alone in a polytheistic culture where monotheism was unheard of. It was more than a step of faith--it was miles and miles of faith as Abram travelled to the land God had promised.

The Lord appeared to Abram in a vision, telling him that one day he would be the father of a great nation. Scripture records that Abram believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Abram’s faith--and our faith--mattered most to God. It’s by faith that we unwrap the gift of salvation and by faith we grow in the grace and promise of God. Faith is the thing God has delighted in most--not our emotionally distant fulfilling a list of do’s and don’t. But a life centered around a heartbeat of authentic faith. 

When God spoke to Abram on this occasion, He greeted him saying, “I am a shield to you.” The word shield can mean a shield as we know it in our modern western context, but the word can also mean king/ruler, protector/warrior. Is God personally and experientially your shield? Is He the King of your heart and Ruler of your life? He is faithful to keep His promises, even in the situations where you cannot see Him working. 

Abram had no children, both he and his wife we old and yet God’s promise of a child indeed came to pass. God renamed Abram based on the fulfillment of His promise to him--Abraham means father of a multitude

Ask God to show Himself to you as the faithful One who is your shield and great reward. How can you make the Lord the King of your heart in even your smallest decisions today?

Read Genesis 15 and Hebrews 11.

For more encouraging words, order the 31 day ebook devotional Face to Face: Seeing God Through the Eyes of Those Who Met Him Face to Face. 

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... And I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. Philemon 6-7 NAS

Sharing life isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s messy and emotional. But often times it can be an absolute joy. 

Last year, I had a decade changer birthday. The day before I took the plunge into a new season, I asked a few delightful sisters in the Lord if they would come out with me for a night of fun... I just needed to squeeze in one more bit of fun before I said farewell to this decade. It hadn’t been the decade I expected it to be, and life lately was just begging for some fun injected into it. So I told them I just needed to make one more fun memory before the calendar changed. We had dinner at one gal’s house (amazing dinner! she’s such a great cook!) and then headed to the beach to a fondue restaurant for dessert. It was such fun I think I was smiling inside for two months after. 

A week or so later I realized how often I spend my “people energy” on the harder situations. Ministry (or any people-helping occupation) requires a lot of social interaction that isn’t meant to be for your personal pleasure. People have issues that they need an ear to sort through, sometimes they feel the need to have a good cry or holler, and serving people means being a shoulder for their heart needs. But that night of fun was just easy joy. No troubles to sort. No burdens to lift. Just women enjoying each other and chocolate (praise Jesus!). 

After that evening I realized I needed to put a little time and energy on reserve for fun “people energy”... yes, my husband had been telling me this for forever, but I finally felt it. 

Even the apostle Paul, who I image was like the Energizer bunny of God’s servants, cultivated relationship that refreshed his heart, brought him joy and comforted his soul (that’s what he says in the verse above to Philemon). We were made to live in community. I have been so blessed by mentoring relationships (both those I’ve discipled and those who have discipled me). As a young teenager, women’s ministry really meant a ton to my heart because it was a place I found those extra “moms” I needed along the way. The opportunity to watch women in community and share life with them was like water and fertilizer for my heart. I honestly can’t imagine the wild direction my life might have taken without those women who were funnels of love, truth and blessing. And I still have need for women to speak into my life and heart--and so do you, my friend! Whether it’s a mentor or just a sister along side, we all need someone to share our everyday with... and perhaps share some chocolate, or tea, or cappuccino, or a side-splitting-laughing-fit!

So what are you doing to cultivate some sweetness with sisters in the Lord? Summer is a perfect time to hit pause and insert some relationship building time. Perhaps you need to spend some effort and time with your spouse or children that is just for fun and joy, perhaps it’s friends or extended family who refresh your heart. Whoever and whatever, may you find the Lord’s refreshing through those near and dear to you!

Click here for a set of fellowship themed Bible verse cards. Right click the image below or follow this link to download a fun facebook cover. Enjoy!

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“Will you be my best friend?”

The question - a precious question - came from the sweet lips of a dear little one on her first day of kindergarten. One of my friends’ daughters just wrestled through her first week of school. After having recently moved across country twice, this sweet-as-pie little girl was on the hunt for new friends. With each petition, came the same answer, “I already have a best friend.” Twenty of the thirty kids in the class had all been through preschool together and also, already selected their best friends. As my friend related her daughter’s tearful experience, I couldn’t help but relate. Her mom did too. 

A loved one recently came through a number of soul-scorching circumstances. After relating the pain, the final words bubbled to the surface - and I don’t have any real friends. Not the kind who don’t need you to be strong or polished or pretty for. The kind of friends who don’t need explanations or perfection. The kind who understand and will still take you when you’re a mess. 

It’s not easy finding friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re five or fifty. There are a lot of ingredients that go into true friendship. And if too many of the ingredients are missing, well, it’s just not as good! 

When I was a teenager, I remember telling my grandma about some of my “friends.” She said, “Honey, those aren’t friends. Those are acquaintances. People who treat you like that aren’t real friends.” But they’re all I have, so they must be friends, I thought. Years later, as a youth pastor’s wife, sitting at my pastor’s wife’s house for fellowship and Bible study, I shared a story about a little dinner gathering we had at our house and about something my friend did. I was uncomfortable with what she did, but considering what good friends we were, I just overlooked it. Her actions weren’t the main point of the story just a fringe part of how all the pieces came together. My pastor’s wife looked at me and said, “You said your friend did this? Honey, no friend ever does something like that. What she did is more like what someone looking to get you in your sleep does!” I was shocked at the bluntness of her words. But after turning them over, I’d have to say, she was right. I’d grown up with this young woman, would have given her anything, loved her to pieces and trusted her implicitly. Yet her actions and words were never really that of a friend. And my trust had never been earned, just cheaply, blindly given because I wanted her to be my friend. Like my grandma said, she was truly more of an acquaintance. No matter how much heart we pour into a relationship, sometimes the ingredients just aren’t there to make it a true friendship.

As I prayed for my two loved ones who were in need of a true friend, and remembered my own struggles in the friend department, two things came to mind.

First, just because we want friendships or emotional intimacy with people, doesn’t mean wanting it makes it safe or healthy. My grandparents used to say, “Be the kind of friend you want have.” Good advice. Sometimes I was that kind of friend, but invested that friendship in unhealthy relationships. We are wise to invest our hearts into healthiness. 

Healthy love and friendship looks like this:

Healthy Friendship says:

If you need me, I’ll be there to the best of my ability. You can count on me to love you without judgement and pray for you through whatever comes your way.

Unhealthy Friendship says:

I’m here to be your rescuer - I know you couldn’t make it through anything without me to pull you through.

Healthy Friendship says:

If you messed up, you need to do what you can to own up to it and make things right. I’ll stick by your side as you go through this because I love you. 

Unhealthy Friendship says:

I will always cover for you. You don’t have to take responsibility for what you’ve done. 

Healthy Friendship says:

I love you, want the best for you and am happy for you when you share sweet times of friendship with other people.

Unhealthy Friendship says:

I am your only friend. You can’t have any other friends beside me - and everyone needs to know that I am your only friend.

Healthy Friendship says:

It’s fun when we like the same things! What joy to share life with you!

Unhealthy Friendship says:

You have to like what I like. (Or I have to like what you like.) We can’t have individuality. We have to only like the same things.

 

Unhealthy friendships aren’t built on the basis of trust, respect or Biblical love. They serve the purpose of self. Real friendships will help you grow (Proverbs 27:17), spur you on to love God and His people more (Hebrews 10:24) and they will portray sacrifice (John 15:12).

Secondly, Jesus is the only friend we will ever have who won’t disappoint us, won’t entangle us in some unhealthiness and who will consistently love us. 

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you”  (John 15:12-16 NAS).

What an amazing thought to be God’s friend - almost sounds scandalous, doesn’t it? Yet we easily let the value of this friendship slip from our thoughts as we yearn for a friend to sip coffee with, or scrapbook with into the wee hours of the night or for a knowing, understanding, audible voice on the other side of the telephone. Jesus gave His life for us and offers us His friendship. Let’s not miss out on the best friendship of our lifetimes!

It’s normal to want and need community. We were wired that way. Yet it is perhaps just as normal to experience times when we feel the emptiness of true friendship in our lives. I know I’ve gone through seasons of loneliness because God wanted me to just focus on our relationship. Jesus promises to never leave us (Hebrews 13:5); to accept us freely (Romans 15:7); He takes particular interest in the smallest facets of our life - like the hair on our head and the number of tears we’ve cried (Matthew 10:30, Psalms 56:8) and thinks about us constantly (Psalms 139:18). He’s a good friend. The best friend. And He is worth cultivating a deep relationship with!

If you are in a season of loneliness, take heart. Perhaps God just wants you a little more to Himself (for your good). Perhaps He knows what lies ahead and that you need deeper roots. Perhaps He’s protecting you from the unhealthiness of a relationship, even though you are still pining for it. Lean into your best and truest Friend. And in the meantime, I’ll be praying the Lord provides a dear friend for your journey very soon!

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