3 Reasons to Stay Up-To-Date on Political News

When most people think of politics, they don’t come up with words that evoke feelings of positivity. Consequently, political news can be tempting to avoid. But there are plenty of good arguments for why you should tune in and listen to what’s happening around the country. Here are three reasons to stay up-to-date on political news.   

  1. Make Informed Decisions When Voting

Political news gives you an in-depth picture of both politicians and keystone issues. Because you are charged with the responsibility of making an informed decision when voting, it is your job to collect as much reliable information as possible. During election seasons, news channels offer debates, town halls, interviews, and more, specifically designed to help you learn more about each candidate. Even outside of election seasons, elected officials regularly appear in the media to update the public on current events. It’s important to keep tabs on the people you vote for to make sure they are executing their campaign promises with fidelity. 

  1. Political News Can Impact Your Daily Life

It may seem like political news focuses only on the politicians themselves and stops there, but that’s not the case. The politicians we vote into positions of power propose laws. They also vote to make (or prevent) changes to existing laws. All of these updates are included under the umbrella of political news. Many of the legislative proposals affect the daily lives of everyday people, so staying informed matters. You can even make an impact in real-time by calling your local congresspeople before important votes to make sure your voice is heard.

  1. Political News Can Impact the Daily Lives of People Around You

Every time a vote or change happens in the country, it impacts someone. By staying up-to-date on political news, you can be more empathetic to people you encounter who may have been affected. Sometimes people are stressed, worried, or upset because of widespread, common issues they are facing that have been recently publicized on the news. Being informed can help you relate to others more easily because you understand the details behind their struggles. 

You have the ultimate control over the type of news you digest. There’s print, podcasts, radio, internet, cable news and much more. Choose whichever platform fits your lifestyle, find a fair and balanced source, then use it to stay in-the-know. Also, remember to mix it up occasionally to ensure you aren’t hearing only one perspective. By staying current on the latest news, you are doing your job as an American citizen to make educated decisions and keep a pulse on matters that affect you and the people in your life.

Jim and Bobbie Puryear3 Reasons to Stay Up-To-Date on Political News
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New Traditions to Start This Holiday Season

Most families have a few long standing holiday traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. We look forward to reliving those time-tested rituals in honor of our loved ones who’ve passed on. But we also hope to mix in some new traditions of our own one day. Why not start this year? Here are three new traditions to start this holiday season.

  1. Put an Extra Gift Under the Tree

This year, encourage each family member to purchase (or make) an extra gift to wrap and place under the tree. Make sure the bonus gifts are easily identifiable and don’t get mistakenly opened by the family. After all other gifts have been opened and only the bonus gifts are left, pack up the car, and hand deliver them to a shelter, the homeless, or a family in need. Taking time to bless people with beautifully wrapped, handpicked gifts will not only brighten their day, but yours as well.   

  1. Go see a live holiday performance

Cuddling up on the couch to enjoy your favorite holiday movies has become a family staple in many households. Why not enjoy some of those same classics live? There’s a unique magic about seeing film come to life on stage. Fortunately, the holidays inspire the production of many dance performances, musicals, and plays. Check your local theaters for holiday event schedules and make sure to get your tickets well in advance (they tend to sell out quickly)!

  1. Open Your Doors

The last tradition is for friends who may be missing their families. We all know someone who lives across the country from their family or recently lost a loved one. Instead of letting them spend the holidays alone, start a tradition of a day of celebration of friends. Pick a day where every family member can invite a friend over. The goal of the day is to make your invited guest feel at home. You can cook dinner, play games, watch movies, or just hang out, as long as everyone is having fun. Hopefully everyone’s friends leave with new friends in tow, feeling more connected and uplifted instead of homesick and isolated.    

Special traditions can make the season that much brighter. Whether they’re ages old or newly adopted, they’re all worthy of being embraced. This year, give these three a try and see if they make the cut!

Jim and Bobbie PuryearNew Traditions to Start This Holiday Season
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What Is a Master Planned Community? Should I Move Into One?

Masterplanned communities are popping up everywhere you look around the new home scene. The trend seems to point to homeowners’ growing desire for tight-knit communities that contain spaces where residents can work, play, and live.

Definition: A master-planned community is a residential development specifically designed with the intent to include commercial areas that meet the needs of its residents. Masterplanned communities can also market to specific groups (ex: active senior communities, up and coming professionals, families, etc.) 

Pros:

Master-planned communities sometimes offer amenities such as exclusive community clubs, fitness/recreational classes, seasonal parties, and outdoor concerts. They may also host events for holidays, local donation drives, and voluntary neighborhood cleanup. Additionally, master-planned communities are purposefully designed to limit your need to travel outside of the community limits for your immediate needs. Grocery stores, schools, doctors’ offices, and entertainment will all be within a few minutes’ drive. Ideally, the house you buy in a master-planned community is one you will be able to stay in for years to come. Consequently, you’ll be able to build a strong network of neighbors, friends, coworkers and family that make up your overall community.  

Cons:

As with all good things, there are a few downsides to master-planned communities. To maintain aesthetics, certain rules and regulations are implemented. They usually control (or restrict) physical changes to the appearance of your home, landscape, or curb. Before making alterations to your home, you may need to get approval from your neighborhood committee, or even get a permit. If you happen to make an unapproved change, fail to maintain the appearance of your yard or violate a rule, you may also face a fine after being warned. Lastly, master-planned communities are often managed by homeowners’ associations (HOAs). HOAs can charge residents a monthly fee to allocate toward the neighborhood’s needs. Keep in mind, monthly HOA dues can fluctuate over time.

Deciding whether a master-planned community will be the right fit for your family requires a careful look at the pros and cons. Visit a few to get a better feel for the atmosphere, meet your potential neighbors and talk to the community leaders. And remember, the community you choose to surround yourself with can greatly impact your daily life. So take all the time you need to arrive at your final conclusion. 

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Tips to Engage in Political Conversations Without Losing Your Cool

Election season is fast approaching and politics are filling our news and social media feeds. Undoubtedly, you’ll encounter discussions with people whose political beliefs differ from your own. While those conversations can be trying at times, the objective is to prevent them from turning into arguments. Here are three tips to help you engage in political conversations without losing your cool. 

  1. Don’t Make “A Changed Mind” Your End Goal

When you have a different point of view than someone else, it can be tempting to try to convince them to see things your way. However, for most of us, our beliefs are deeply ingrained, long-standing, and stem back to our upbringing. In many cases, people’s political leanings are formed around their own life experiences and morals. So, despite a person’s willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints, it’s unfair to expect them to suddenly abandon their deeply rooted beliefs in an effort to find a mutual understanding. You may have to agree to disagree, and that’s okay.   

  1. Be Respectful

Political conversations sometimes touch on controversial topics, sensitive matters, religious beliefs and personal moral compasses. Because broaching such delicate subjects can lead to hurt feelings, judgment and contention, these conversations are prone to heighten emotional responses. Avoid interrupting, raising your voice or being insulting. Instead, remember to remain respectful. If the conversation becomes tense, kindly let the other party know you need a breather. Take some time to attend to your feelings and return only when you’re completely calm.

  1. Know When to Walk Away

Unfortunately, not everyone will handle political conversations maturely. Some people are worthy of your time, attention and thoughts, while others are not. If the discussion is taking a turn for the worst, disengage. There are several ways to escape a wayward conversation. Try one of the following:

  • Diffuse the situation by refusing to offer counterpoints
  • Gradually change the subject to something more pleasant
  • Be honest and say you are no longer interested in continuing the conversation

It’s important to note: if you find political conversations to be divisive, you don’t have to participate in them. Politics are complex and can be triggering or anxiety-inducing for many. So, don’t feel pressured into offering input or listening to anyone else share their own. But, if you do plan to join in, keep these three tips handy.

Jim and Bobbie PuryearTips to Engage in Political Conversations Without Losing Your Cool
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Five Ways to Raise A Responsible & Well-Mannered Child

Every parent aspires to raise children with good and commendable character. We want them to grow up courteous and disciplined. This can be a big challenge for mothers and fathers as kids are always learning, growing and changing. It can even feel like a test of patience at times as children have the tendency to show the not-so-fun sides of parenthood such as dealing with tantrums or not abiding by the rules. It isn’t unusual to see young kids exhibit rebelliousness and disobedience as they are yet to learn how to properly react to situations or manage their emotions. However, since they are still young, you can try out techniques to ensure that they will ultimately outgrow unpleasant behaviors. The following pointers can help you instill discipline and strengthen the character of your children.

Establish rules.

Even at a very young age, you can teach your children the rules they need to abide by. This is a practice that is applicable later on in their life as we all have to abide by rules everywhere we go. Discuss these rules with your children and explain why there are things that they are not allowed to do. It will help if you let your kids know that your rules are not meant to punish them. Instead, teach them that rules are necessary to achieve order. To encourage your children to follow the house rules, make them aware of the rewards that come with following the rules such as an organized home (by cleaning up after themselves) or good school grades (by having a daily study time).

Set consequences.

Setting rules won’t achieve anything if breaking them does not incur consequences. This is very important because sometimes children try to break the rules just to discover your reaction. These consequences should be discussed along with setting the rules so your children know the risks involved when they don’t follow it. If the rules and the punishments for breaking them are clear from the start, your child will learn that every action has a consequence.

Be vigilant and consistent.

Many parents resort to scaring or threatening a child about a possible punishment for misbehavior; but few actually enforce them. Kids can be mischievous and may try to test you in order to see what they can get away with. However, letting a wrong deed pass will only encourage your child to do it again. Parents who want their child to really learn from breaking the rules should be stern and consistent to help them learn from their mistakes. Consistency in enforcing consequences is equally important as well. Your effort in instilling discipline might go down the drain if you will get upset over a bad deed today but then let your child go away with it the next day.

Be a good example.

Parents who want to raise disciplined kids should begin by examining their own behaviors. As they say, you can’t give something you do not have. Strive to practice the good traits and values you want to teach your kids. You can’t make a child keep a tidy room if he or she sees that your room looks like a mess. Raising a child who values good health will also be next to impossible if you don’t follow a well-balanced diet. Let your daily actions serve as examples and set you up as a model for your child to emulate.

Recognize and reward good behavior.

It is important to notice when your child is being disciplined and polite. Don’t hesitate to let them know that you’ve noticed their good behavior or when they’ve been consistent in following the rules. You can even offer rewards to help encourage and incentivize them to continue to follow the rules. This will further reinforce positive behaviors and can help it become a natural habit.

There are many ways for parents to demonstrate their love and care for their children. One of the best ways is by instilling discipline and strengthening their character. Your kids will surely be grateful for this as they grow older and apply their childhood leanings on discipline throughout their life.

Jim and Bobbie PuryearFive Ways to Raise A Responsible & Well-Mannered Child
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Is Your Faith Slipping Away? Four Tips To Hold On To It

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” – Thomas Aquinas

Regardless of your principles or religious upbringing, faith remains a vital factor in life. Faith is what allows you to see the good even in the worst of situations. It is the force that keeps you positive even when you are surrounded with negativity. In many ways lack of faith is similar to lack of purpose. Without it, we may find ourselves wandering aimlessly and miserable in life. It can manifest into problems such as depression, self destruction or apathy. Since faith can be essential to leading a fulfilling life, tell-tale signs that faith is slipping away should be a cause of concern. The following four tips can help keep your faith strong and steadfast no matter the circumstances.

Never stop praying.
To utter a prayer is an obvious sign that faith is working in your life. This is why people with strong faith make it a point to include prayer time in their daily lives. So to prevent faith from drifting away, never forget to set a regular time for it. This simple habit will keep you strong and calm even in the worst of situations. Praying will also keep you humble as you are constantly reminded that there is a higher power that is guiding you through life.

Stop focusing on yourself.
Finding your life’s purpose may take a while if you keep your vision on yourself alone; including your own desires and troubles. On the contrary, shifting your gaze onto others will make you realize that faith exists everyday. The world is full of tales proving that miracles do happen. These stories will inspire you to keep on believing that an invisible power is real and present. Showing a genuine interest in others will also help you realize that you can be of help to others in many ways. Doing things for others will give you a sense of purpose and strengthen your faith.

Nurture your body.
Wondering why your faith is dwindling? It can be due in part to your poor health. Staying faithful is undoubtedly more difficult if your mind and body are feeling sickly and weak. In a way, you can’t really separate maintaining strong faith and keeping a strong body. If you stick to healthy habits, you are also doing things that nourish your soul. A long-term study even showed the correlation between attending church services and life longevity.

Seek help from a friend.
Feeling completely lost and out of faith? You don’t need to go through the journey of making your way back towards faith alone. To revive your zest for life, sometimes all you need is someone to remind you that you once had it. A friend who will inspire you to move toward rather than walk away from faith. This person will be ready to listen to your woes and offer any assistance he or she can give. You may also find it beneficial to hang out or join a group that will keep you glued to your faith.

You can allow yourself to be swallowed by life’s complexities and give up on faith. Or instead, you can empower yourself and others by being a living, amazing testimony of faith. To live in faith or lack of it is a choice you make everyday. Do your best to live on the side of faith and see how its positive effects can impact your life.

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Not Active In Your Community? Ways You Are Missing Out

Unless you are residing in a far-flung and isolated island, you are surely a part of a community. You can create your own little world in the privacy of your abode, but it will not exempt you from the rules and regulations set by society. Whether you like it or not what happens to society affects you. And it may not seem so obvious, but in some way, everything you do affects society as well. The truth is that society plays a huge role in your choices and decisions. Sometimes it can even define the lifestyle you lead.

Since it is quite impossible to separate ourselves from society, you are likely to benefit from being an active community member. While no one can persecute you if you wish to detach yourself from everything that is happening around you, remember that by being oblivious about your community, you are missing out on a lot. Listed below are reasons why you should be active in your community.

You are wasting a chance to create wonderful relationships.

Do you want to meet new people and widen your social circle? You can scour the list of events in your community and inquire on how you can participate. It is a great way to have fun and at the same time meet folks who share your interest and passions. Who knows? You may create lifelong friendships because of it.

You miss opportunities to flaunt your skills.

Do you have a talent or skill to share? Your local community may be the perfect place to hone it. You can hold a workshop if you are an artist or volunteer to cook a hearty dish if you are a good chef. As the city hall organizes various events, you are likely to find something where you can display whatever talent or skill you may have.  

You are giving up your chance to be an influencer.

As an ordinary citizen you may feel powerless regarding implementation and amendments of policies in your local community. This may change once you decide to check out your town hall’s office. City council meetings are generally open to all (except for some meetings which are closed to the public), so you can listen and observe as officials assess and deliberate a certain policy proposal. In some cities you can even share your opinion and ask questions during a city council meeting. Attending these meetings will increase your knowledge about issues affecting your community and at the same time you get the chance to influence a lawmaker’s decision.

You are not boosting your self-esteem.

Even in a small way, being able to help or contribute in the community will give you a sense of purpose. This is such a great way to boost your confidence because you are also taking small steps to improve the society you live in. So if ever you feel inadequate or incompetent, you may want to spend some time doing community service. You may just give yourself a healthy dose of self esteem in no time.

If the amazing benefits listed above sparked your interest to engage in community activities, then what are you waiting for? Make good use of your time by finding out how you can make significant contributions to your local community today!

Jim and Bobbie PuryearNot Active In Your Community? Ways You Are Missing Out
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How To Squeeze In More Quality Family Time Everyday

If you want to have a lasting marriage and a happy family life, you need to learn how to use your time well. Your amount of time and how you spent it plays a crucial role in building and maintaining relationships. Unfortunately, the hectic pace of the modern world makes it a real challenge to make every moment count.

With so many tasks waiting to be accomplished, it is so easy to set aside family time for later. If you are not diligent enough, that family time you promise for later may never come. Your children may grow up hardly noticing your presence and your marriage may crumble and you will not even get the chance to save it.

First things first: Daily bonding time is doable!If you find yourself constantly wishing for more hours in a day just so you can spend more time with family members, you may need to consciously make an effort to make time for it. With a little creativity, you can come up with ways to bond with your kids and spouse daily. The following are simple ideas you can try in order to squeeze in more quality family time everyday:

Dine with family.

It will be hard to go through the day without eating, so making sure to share at least one of those meals with family will hardly take up much of your time. Aside from that, family mealtimes are a great way to catch up with each other. You may need to wake up earlier to have time for breakfast at home or forego overtime work so you can bond with your family over a hearty dinner. Work schedules can be erratic and hectic but it will be worth it to ensure that you get to eat with your family at least a few times a week.

Take your kids to school.

If the school where your children go happens to be on on your way to work, you have another reason to wake up earlier in the morning. That is so you can still have time to take your kids to school. It is an easy way to stay present in your kid’s life and to keep track of their school activities. This initiative may even get your kids excited about going to school.

Beat traffic with quality time.

Traffic jams can be annoying, but you cannot do anything about it most of the time, so you might as well beat it. On occasions when you are stuck on traffic and your family is with you, you can turn the frustrating time on the road as instant quality time. Instead of ranting or being idle, you can share stories with your kids or discuss something with your spouse. If the traffic is so bad, you can even play a mini game that you can all  conveniently do in a car.

Make good use of technology.

Instant messaging and social media have the tendency to steal precious family time if used in the wrong way. However, if you use it the right way, you can use technology to stay closer to your family members. On days when your schedule is full, you can still allow your spouse and children to feel your presence by leaving a surprise note on their social media account or simply texting leaving a message on their phones. It is an easy way to tell your family that you strive to make an effort to find time for them even on your busiest days.,

Take your family to work.

Companies know the importance of family, so there may be events and parties where you are encouraged to bring your kids and spouse. Watch out for these family-friendly company events and do not hesitate to take advantage of it. It is a great opportunity to create memories with your family.

You also hit two birds with one stone because at the same time you get to be an active participant in company affairs. As the saying goes, “Time is gold and it flies.” It is definitely one thing that you can never buy or take back, so you better make the most of it. One of the best ways to use time is with your family. You will surely not regret showering the people closest to you with your time.

Jim and Bobbie PuryearHow To Squeeze In More Quality Family Time Everyday
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Unexpected Benefits You Get From Active Community Involvement

Community service may sound like hard work and some may even see it as a form of punishment. Yet undeniably, once you realize the positive impact that your action can do to society, it can also be one of the most fulfilling and enriching experiences. Since you do it primarily to help others or give back, it is easy to assume that all the benefits solely pour on the side of society while you get nothing out of it.

It might then come as a surprise that community involvement can offer a multitude of wonderful rewards that can tremendously enhance your life. If you are yet to take an active role in community service, the following unexpected benefits you can get from doing it may just provide the motivation you need:

Improves Physical Health & Well-being

It may not seem so obvious but active community involvement can bring tons of health benefits. Some volunteer work can be tiring but it provides a form of exercise that can reduce stress levels and prevent many diseases. Furthermore, to know that your effort, no matter how small, can greatly contribute to the betterment of the community can be a source of pride and achievement. This wonderful sense of accomplishment results in a happier disposition which in turn leads to better health. The conclusion of years of research done by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) indicate that volunteer activities have a positive correlation with lower chances for depression and lower mortality rates.

Widens Your Skills & Knowledge

The need for continuous learning is essential if you want to move forward in life. Fortunately, altruistic activities can be an avenue for free education. Some organizations provide volunteers with training so you get to increase awareness and knowledge on a certain cause and may also acquire new skills in the process. You may also discover a good way to share your talents with the community if you offer help for a certain cause that is related to your interests.

Builds Up Your Resume

Students who choose to devote their free time to community activities increases their chance to land a high-paying job later on. Moreover, affiliations in reputable organizations is a clever way to beef-up your resume when you are a fresh graduate with no past employment. The claim that community involvement makes you more attractive to employers is backed up by research. In 2009, a UK-based organization, TimeBack, formed a partnership with Reed, a recruitment agency, to conduct a survey on how employers view charitable activities. The study revealed that 84% think charitable activities help job seekers get hired. Likewise, more than 70% of employers believe that that volunteer experience increases the chance for promotion and salary increase.

May Open Up Travel Opportunities

You only want to offer whatever assistance you can give to a cause but you may end up going places and experiencing new things as well. Travel privileges is indeed a possibility if you are really committed to offer your services. At the same time, the opportunity to be in a new environment and meet new people can broaden your mind and perspective on things.

Grow Your Network of Friends

Getting out there and immersing yourself in the community is an effective way to meet people who share your same interests and passion. They say, true friends are hard to find – but you may not find it so difficult if you regularly participate in community outreach activities.

We are all a vital part of the society we live in so in a way, we are all required to contribute something for the betterment of the community. This responsibility may sound challenging but participating in community activities is a win-win situation – the society benefits and you get rewarded as well.

Jim and Bobbie PuryearUnexpected Benefits You Get From Active Community Involvement
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Four Faith-Building Testimonies to Share with Others

Belief is delicate and life is tough. Even the most seasoned followers endure trials and tribulations that test their faith. In those moments of uncertainty, it’s beneficial to have a support system to aid in the process of rebuilding that faith. If you are blessed with opportunity to counsel someone through the most vulnerable point of his/her walk, these 4 testimonies can help.

  1. Share a Testimony About Your Biggest Obstacle. Explain How Faith Helped You Overcome It.

Offering an anecdote about your biggest life challenge creates common ground. It’s important to let others know that even you, the person they look to as a strong pillar of faith, went through (what felt like) an unbearable situation. You were delivered from it, and came out stronger than when you went in. This type of testimony creates understanding and works toward canceling the feeling of isolation and guilt that your mentee may feel. By specifically stating how faith played a role in your triumph, you illustrate the necessity of its role in problem solving and endurance.

  1. Answer the Question: Who Helped Build Your Faith?

By nature, people are social. We learn by seeking guidance from people who are already skilled in the areas that we aspire to excel in. Discussions with others help us navigate through our thinking and processing. Leaders also share teachable lessons on best practices. Similarly, these interpersonal benefits ring true in faith-based scenarios. God created us to be interdependent. For most of us, there was someone who helped answer our questions, point us to the most applicable Bible verses, and to hold us accountable. Whether that was your pastor, a friend, or someone in your family, that person played a vital role in building the base of our faith. Try sharing a testimony about the spiritual leader who did that for you. Make sure to include the biggest takeaways you gleaned from his/her counsel.

  1. Answer the Question: When Was Your Faith at Its Lowest? How Did You Recover?

This will undoubtedly be a vulnerable exchange. As Christians, we often feel a certain level of shame or regret about the situation that caused us the greatest level of doubt. Nevertheless, it was a critical life moment that, once it passed, provided a lot of clarity in your Christian faith. Sometimes when you begin to doubt the very thing that used to help you keep going, it can feel like you’ll never come out on the other side. This is why it’s meaningful to share an account of the feelings you personally experienced when you were in the midst of your lowest lows. It’s comforting to know that other believers prevailed in spite of their setbacks. Focus on explaining why your faith decreased in that scenario and the steps you took to rebuild your assurance. Lastly, expound on what currently prevents you from returning to the mind state you were previously in.

  1. Share a Testimony Detailing the Ways That Strong Faith Has Changed Your Life for the Better.

Finally arriving in a place where your level of faith is the best it’s ever been, is a wonderful feeling. Having the confidence of being able to fully trust God and cast all your fears and problems on Him is freeing. That freedom comes with daily benefits. Maybe increased faith has helped heal your marriage or given you greater mental health. Maybe your high level of faith changed your perspective on life. Think about the day-to-day benefits that make you grateful for reaching the level of faith that you currently enjoy. Share those victories with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Your joy-filled spirit will be infections and make others eager to attain the same for themselves.

Other Interventions That May Help

If you are struggling to think of impactful testimonies that will be helpful, don’t fret, there are plenty of other avenues that lead to the same result. Below are a few faith-building suggestions that you can pass on:

  • Bible study
  • Support groups
  • Seeking prayer for renewed faith
  • Center friend groups around people who have reached the faith-level you desire
  • Seek pastoral guidance

Faith is the backbone of Christianity, yet most believers will struggle with faith at least once during their journey. Sometimes life knocks us down and it feels impossible to get up. However, we don’t have to bear our burdens alone. We are charged with the responsibility of lifting up our brothers and sisters when they cannot stand for themselves. Witnessing through testimony is a surefire way to stand in the gap for those among us who need encouragement in strengthening their faith.

Jim and Bobbie PuryearFour Faith-Building Testimonies to Share with Others
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