Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are You a F.A.T. Christian? I Hope So :)!

“ God is looking for F.A.T. disciples, disciples that are faithful, available, and teachable. We can’t teach others what we don’t know ourselves. ” ~Anonymous

I have seen this acronym (F.A.T.) before in a church's leadership training manual. It's easy to remember and it is true. God does not require us to be capable, beautiful, smart, or famous in order to become useful for His kingdom work. The parable of the talents in Matthew clearly shows that the master was pleased with faithful servants. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21) "So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2:10b) Are you firmly and totally devoted to God and God alone?

Are you too busy for God? Do you spend plenty of time with Him (prayer, worship, reading His Word, listening to Him)? Have you surrendered all (your life, desires, dreams, time, talents, treasures, etc.) to Him? When God calls you to do something, do you respond immediately or do you hesitate or even refuse, making up all kinds of excuses? We can learn from Samuel and Isaiah. "The Lord came and stood there, calling, as at the other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' Then Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." (1 Samuel 3:10) Samuel was available; he didn't say...not now, I'm sleeping. Have you been tempted to say...not now, Lord, I'm comfortable where I am? "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" (Isaiah 6:8) Isaiah was available/willing to do God's will. Are you always ready/available to serve God...to obey Him?

I believe another word for "teachable" is "humble". And "unteachable" would equal "prideful". If we are full of ourselves and think we know it all, there's no room for God's wisdom and teachings. God hates pride! We must be humble...be receptive to being taught by the Holy Spirit, God's Word, other brothers and sisters in Christ whom God use to share His truths with us. "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way." (Psalm 25:9) "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:12)

The last sentence in the quote above makes sense, too. We cannot impart what we don't have. Timothy is a good example of being teachable. "But as for you (Timothy), continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God- breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Do you want to be used mightily for God's glory and His kingdom? By God's grace, may you and I always be F.A.T. :)!

~ This week, In Other Words, is hosted by Karen on her blog, In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus.
~ Want to learn more about “In Other Words” (what it’s all about, how it works, how it originated)? Click here!
NOTE: Next week, I will be hosting In Other Words. Hope y'all will come back and link up next Tuesday :).

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil--Giveaway!

Check out Tyndale House Publishers' It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil – Giveaway here!

It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil is a brand new book by Dr. Kevin Leman.

  • 3 Random people will win a prize pack of Kevin Leman books
  • 5 Random people will win a copy of It’s Your Kid, Not A Gerbil
  • 1 Random person will win an iPod Touch
They will announce the winners on September 9th.

Haiku: Breathe

Haiku Heights gives out weekly prompts for haiku. This week's theme is Breathe.

Each breath that I take
Testifies of Your sweet grace
I live for You, Lord!

I breathe deeply in
Your unfailing love for me
Yes, better than life!

(My haiku above is based on Psalm 63:3.)

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:



and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor of The Moody Church since 1980, is an award-winning author of more than 20 books including Walking with God. He’s a celebrated international conference speaker and the featured speaker on three radio programs that are heard around the world. Rebecca Lutzer has used her gifts of hospitality, mercy, and teaching to minister to many women. She is an RN and enjoyed working as a surgical nurse for several years. They coauthored a book on the women in the life of Jesus and how He changed their worlds titled Jesus, Lover of a Woman’s Soul. They have been married for 35 years, live in the Chicago area, and are the parents of three married children.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of the Moody Church, and his wife, Rebecca, encourage readers to reap the blessings of memorizing Scripture in this gathering of relevant verses, 35 topics, insightful explanations, and engaging questions. This foundation of wisdom inspires readers to experience God’s Word in powerful ways.





Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736939520
ISBN-13: 978-0736939522

MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
I own a few books about God's Promises for..../ Promises from God for...., which list Bible verses under various topics from A to W (I notice they stop at W, not Z :)). Even though this book does cover different topics/issues of life in an alphabetical order, it is different from those other books. In this book, the authors list a couple verses at the beginning of each chapter and then explain the meaning of the passages and include questions to help readers apply God's Word in their lives. It's almost like a devotional. At the end of the book, you will find additional Bible memory verses for each topic covered in the book. I love memorizing Bible verses but I'm not doing enough of it. I'm pleased to see this book that encourages Scripture memorization. It's what I need to be more intentional about spending my time on it. 
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




Adversity



Psalm 46:1—God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.



1 Peter 1:6-7—In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.





When we think back to the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed nearly 200,000 people, many images come to mind, but one image that stands out well above the others is that of a young mother being interviewed on television as she held a baby in her arms.



“I lost my son…he died in the rubble.”



“Did you get to bury him?”



“No, no chance; his body was crushed in the rubble; I just had to throw him away.”



Just then the camera zeroed in on her backpack as she prepared to board a bus. Stuffed in a side pocket was a Bible. As she boarded the bus she could be heard, speaking to no one in particular, saying, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…” Her voice trailed off as she disappeared from view.



When the report was over we just kept staring at the television for a while, pushing back tears and letting what we’d just seen sink into our souls. A dead child with no chance to plan a funeral and pay respects to her precious little one, a baby in her arms, and she was boarding a bus that was going she knew not where. Yet she still expressed belief; she still trusted that God is her refuge and strength.



Faith in adversity!



This mother—God bless her—began quoting Psalm 46, which was written as a praise song after God spared the city of Jerusalem from an invasion by Assyrians who were threatening to annihilate the inhabitants. In the midst of a harrowing escape, the Israelites found God to be an unshakable pillar.



God is our refuge. A refuge is a safe place you can run to for shelter when life’s storms are swirling around you. No wonder this dear mother found solace in this psalm, which continues, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (verses 2-3).



Yes, the mountains did give way and fall into the heart of the sea, but God is unaffected by the fluctuation on events of earth; He is always there, solid, unmoved. When the mountains are shaking and the ground beneath you is quaking, run to God, and He will meet you. Yes, even when our world falls apart in the aftermath of a horrendous natural disaster, God is unchanging and remains with us.



In the midst of the devastation, God is our source of supply. The psalm continues, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells” (verse 4). Most likely that refers to a tunnel that had been built some time earlier to bring water into the city in case it was ever besieged. The people of Jerusalem saw this provision as God giving them specific help at their time of their need.



Then the psalm gives us a command: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (verse 10). Let us cease striving and let God be God. Even in adversity He is there; or perhaps we should say especially in adversity He is there!



Adversity should not drive us away from God; rather, it should drive us into His arms. He is there for the grieving mother, and for the family that has experienced indescribable loss. The psalm ends, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (verse 11).



God wants to be believed. And our faith is more precious to Him than gold, which perishes. When we continue to trust Him even when there appears to be no reason to do so—and we go on believing God’s bare Word, our faith will “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).



Reverend Henry F. Lyte was a pastor in Scotland who battled tuberculosis most of his life. On his final Sunday, September 4, 1847, amid many tears the congregation sang a song he himself had composed, “Abide with Me.” It spoke of the unchanging God in an ever-changing world:



Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me.



Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O Thou who changest not, abide with me.



Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;

Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.

Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.



The young mother in Haiti—who was clutching an undernourished baby in her arms and had no time to mourn the tragic death of her son—found solace in the God who was still beside her when the earth gave way. “God is our refuge and strength,” she said amid her grief and uncertainty of the future.



In times of adversity, our faith can hold fast. And God is both honored and pleased.





Taking God’s Word to Heart



Reflect on the account of the Haitian mother who tragically lost her son. How has Psalm 46 been a source of strength for you during adversity? What other Scripture passages do you turn to for help in difficult times?

What does it mean to you that God is your refuge? In life’s journey, why is God’s unchangeable nature a source of strength for us?

Recall an instance when God provided timely help for a specific need. What did that experience teach or confirm for you about God’s character?

What are some ways God has used adversity to shape your life?

Why is God honored and pleased when we exercise faith in times of adversity?



Thursday, August 25, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: A Young Man's Guide to Making Right Choices

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:



and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri James, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Jim George and his wife, Elizabeth George, are Christian authors and speakers. Jim, author of A Husband After God’s Own Heart (a Gold Medallion finalist) and The Bare Bones Bible Handbook, has MDiv and ThM degrees from Talbot Theological Seminary. He has served in various pastoral roles for 25 years and on The Master’s Seminary staff for ten years. Jim and Elizabeth have two married daughters and are grandparents.



Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Guiding a young man toward making right choices will equip him to think carefully about his decisions, assuring a more fulfilling and successful life. Help boys to gain the skills they need for facing all life’s challenges.

In this book, Jim George focuses on all the high points of a young man’s life—the things that matter most. Teen guys will learn…

- why prayer and Bible reading are so essential
- what makes for the best kinds of friendships
- how school and social skills contribute to a strong future
- how to stand strong against temptation and peer pressure
- what contributes to healthy and biblical perspectives on dating and purity

Young men will enjoy Jim’s balance of biblical insight, personal anecdotes, and candid forthrightness. And they’ll gain the skills they need for making right choices in response to all the challenges that come their way.

Product Details:
List Price: $10.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930256
ISBN-13: 978-0736930253

MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
Life is full of choices. From the moment you wake up....well, to be exact according to this book, it's before that. The author points out to young men that their first choice for each new day is: whether to get up when they're supposed to or not. Each choice has its consequences. It is very important to make right choices according to God's principles. This book aims to guide young men to do just that. It covers different  challenges that young men face such as communication, friends, girls/dating, temptation, learning, and how they should dress. It addresses the essential basics like reading the Bible, praying, and applying the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). Using "Jason," a typical teen, as a demonstration, the author shows what Jason has done wrong and what God's Word says about each topic, and explains how to make the tough but right choices. Each chapter also includes guy-to-guy questions, more in-depth Bible verses, and a summary of God's Guidelines for Making Right Choices. It's a wonderful, practical book for helping teen guys to live their lives for God and in a way that honors Him. My sons will be reading this book when it's time :).

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Making the Right Choices



Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.  —  Joshua 24:15

Jason, a typical teen guy, was suddenly jolted out of a deep sleep by the clamor of trash cans being rolled to the street curb. At first he was mad, wondering,     Just who do they think they are making all that racket so early in the morning? Don’t they know a busy guy needs his sleep? Then a second wave of adrenalin hit, this time with fear, as Jason rolled over and looked out his window. Oh, no!   That’s Dad doing my chores…again!   I’m really in for it this time!



What time was it anyway?   Jason thought as he looked at his alarm clock. Oh, no, I’m late  —  way late! Did I forget to set my alarm?   He had planned to get up early to finish his English paper, which was due today! Drat and double drat! There were a lot of things he had planned to do last night — finish his English essay, work ahead on his history paper, maybe catch up on his Bible-reading schedule for his church youth group, and finally get around to writing a thank-you note to his aunt for the birthday money she sent several months ago. (That was his mom’s Number One assignment for last night, and he had thought to himself,   No worries; it’s waited this long. Maybe tonight, right?   On and on…and on…Jason’s “Things I Meant to Do” list went.



But Jason had ended up getting a little sidetracked. And why not? The money his aunt gave him had been well spent…on a new DS game. Well, one challenge level led to another, and before long Jason had battled the “forces of evil” so long on his game (a full hour past the bedtime curfew his parents had sent) that his mom had forcefully interrupted and made him end his simulated life-and-death struggles and turn out his light.





Life Is Full of Choices



Jason had begun his evening with great intentions of making right choices. But something pulled him away from those good intentions. And in the end — actually, the next morning — he began to suffer a landslide of consequences due to those bad choices.



As the section title says above, life is full of choices. And the funny thing about choices is that sometimes the same exact choice might be bad for one guy but okay for another. Take, for example, the simple choice of breakfast food. Jason’s friend Marty is trying to make the basketball team. He’s a great shot, but he has a problem keeping his weight down, so he needs to be more disciplined about what he eats. Eating several bowls of a certain cereal each morning with lots of milk and sugar would be a huge caloric problem for Marty, but it wouldn’t be a problem for Jason because he’s as thin as a rail!



Do you realize your choices for each day begin at the end of the previous day, when you decide what time you need to get up and then set your alarm? And the next big choice is actually getting up when you hear the alarm clock…which then leads to getting dressed, doing your chores, eating breakfast, and getting to school on time. Your choices continue right on through your day and include doing your homework and being a good family member when you get home, until you set the alarm again at the end of the day.



Yes, life is full of choices. Someone said it well:



My life is not made by the dreams I dream but by the choices I make.1





Choices Through the Rearview Mirror



You’ve probably been to a camp or retreat or youth meeting where there was a “guys’ sharing time,” a time when those who were brave enough recounted some of the choices they made in their past. It’s as if they’re looking at their past in a rearview mirror. (If you drive, you know all about looking into the rearview mirror to see what’s going on behind you, and if you don’t drive, you will one day!) Now, the guys who shared were no longer living back in their past, but they could still see, remember, and taste the consequences of their choices — both the good and the bad. Their sharing may have included phrases like…



I wandered off the path…



I became like the prodigal son…



I fell away from the Lord…



I got sidetracked in sin…



I lost my first love…



I strayed from the truth…



I made some wrong decisions…



I went off the deep end…



I got in with the wrong crowd…



I’ve sat in on a few of these sharing sessions myself, and I couldn’t help but wonder, What happened? How does someone wander off the path, lose their first love for Jesus, stray from the truth, fall off the deep end, or get involved with the wrong crowd?



Well, we both know what happened, don’t we? Somehow, at some time, for some reason, a wrong choice was made. Maybe it was just a little lie. Just a little shading of what’s right. Just a little bending of a rule. Eventually, as this happens again and again, there comes a day when making wrong choices became all too easy. And it’s usually not until then that a guy realizes his life has become a mess.



Checking Out God’s Word



It’s one thing to read a book written by an author about a subject, but it’s quite another to read the Book — the Bible — written by the Author of all things, God Himself. In this book, I’ll share a lot of thoughts and tips with you. Most of them are things I’ve learned over the years. I’ll pass them on to you as a young man who’s in the process of making decisions that will shape your future. But the things you should definitely make sure you take to heart and pay the most attention to are the things God Himself tells you in His Word, His Book, the Bible.



When you get to this section in each chapter — entitled “Checking Out God’s Word” — you’ll find a number of Bible verses. I’ve included the text of the verses for you so you can read them without having to grab your Bible. I also invite you to mark up the verses and make notes. You don’t have to do that if you prefer not to. But don’t hesitate to circle certain words and underline things you want to remember. Put a question mark beside anything you wonder about or want to know more about. You can even draw in the margins. I’ve tried to leave enough space for you to write out your thoughts about what God is saying. Do whatever will help you understand the verses and make them your own. (And of course, it would be a good idea at some time to look up the verses in your Bible.) Here we go, from God’s Word to you.



The Israelites made a choice — Joshua, the leader of God’s people, asked them to do exactly what we’ve been talking about — to make a choice. Listen in as Joshua speaks to the people about choosing between serving God and serving false gods. According to the verses below, what choice did Joshua give to the people? And praise God, if you read further in the book of Joshua you will discover that the people made the right choice, choosing to serve God.



Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).

Lot made a choice — Lot was the nephew of Abraham. Because of the large number of cattle the two men possessed, Abraham asked Lot to choose between two parts of the land. One part was green and with plenty of water — perfect for grazing cattle. The other part was dry hill country and not so perfect. In fact, it was a desert. According to the verses that follow, what was Lot’s choice?



Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered…So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east (Genesis 13:10-11).



Sadly, Lot did not choose wisely. He chose the grassy green pastures — which just happened to be near the two most wicked cities of his day, Sodom and Gomorrah. His choice was based on what looked good. Unfortunately, the consequences of that choice were devastating for Lot and his family.

Joseph made a choice — Joseph was a teenager when his jealous brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. There, in a strange land, Joseph was all alone without family. In time, his master’s wife flirted with him and wanted him to sin with her. After all, nobody was around, she explained. Who would ever know?



How should Joseph respond? Note his choice and the reason for his choice.



He refused…[and] told her…“How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8-9).



Joseph chose to live his life God’s way. He honored God. God then honored Joseph’s choice and made him a leader of the land of Egypt and the savior of his family.



Daniel made a choice — Can you imagine being taken prisoner and forcefully moved to a foreign land as a teenager? And once you got there, you were told to turn away from your religious beliefs and to follow instead the ways of those who lived in the pagan land? Well, that’s what happened to Daniel. In the place where he was taken, Daniel was told to eat foods that were forbidden by his Jewish background. What pressure! What did he do?



Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way (Daniel 1:8).



Daniel chose to live life God’s way — not only on this one occasion, but also numerous times during his many years in this foreign land. At every step and every day, God blessed Daniel and promoted him to high positions of leadership.



Things to Remember About Choices



 — Attractive choices sometimes lead to sin.



 — Good choices have positive long-term results.



 — Right choices are sometimes difficult.





Making the Tough Choices





I’m sure you already know your actions are a matter of choice. Sure, some choices are made for you. They are out of your control, and are made by those who are responsible for you…like your parents, your teachers, your coaches, and your youth leaders. But many choices each day — and almost each minute of the day — are yours to make. Do you yet realize that these choices are a matter of your will? You get to decide what you will or won’t do, how you will or won’t act. You make the choices, which means you can’t blame anyone else for what happens next.



As you prepare to make the tough choices, the choices that must be made, can you think of one tough choice you need to make right now? What’s holding you back? Peer pressure? Fear? Pride?



Pray young Solomon’s prayer right now. He asked God, “Give me wisdom and knowledge” and “Give your servant a discerning heart…to distinguish between right and wrong” (2 Chronicles 1:10 and 1 Kings 3:9). Then make that choice — the one that’s keeping you from living your life God’s way. Make the right choice, however tough it is to do so.





Things to Do Today to Make Right Choices





Read again the section “Choices Through the Rearview Mirror.” Do any of the comments mentioned in the guys’ sharing time fit your life today? If so, talk it over with God. Admit to God any wrong choices you’ve made. Then ask Him for the wisdom to make the right choices starting right now.



Read again Joshua 24:14-15 (see “Checking Out God’s Word”). As you look at your life today, do you think you are making the kind of choice Joshua and the people made, the choice to serve God and God alone? Why or why not? What first right choice will you make to begin choosing to serve God, to live for Him? Is there something you should be doing, but aren’t? Something you know God wants you to do, but you’re not? Be honest. The king and warrior David was brutally honest with God. He asked God to…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).



As you have already read, choices are a matter of your will. You get to decide what you will or won’t do, how you will or won’t act. Think of two or three things you can do daily that will better prepare you to make right choices. Then, of course, begin doing them.

Guy to Guy





Jot down three things Jason failed to do that started his day down the road to chaos.





What could you tell Jason to do differently tomorrow?





Of all the verses shared in this chapter, which one meant the most to you, and why?





In what ways are you like Jason, and what new choices do you need to start making?



Would You Like to Know More?



Check It Out





Read Proverbs 1:10-19. What warning is given to the young man in verse 10?





What is the advice given to this teen guy in verse 15?





What is the end result for those who make the choice to participate in evil deeds (verse 19)?





It’s your turn to read about Lot’s choice. Read Genesis 13:5-11. How is the situation described that made a decision necessary (verses 5-7)?





What did Abraham propose as a solution (verses 8-9)?





What choice did Lot make, and why (verses 10-11)?





Now quickly scan Genesis 19:12-29. What were some of the results of Lot’s choice?





What choice was made by two brothers in Matthew 4:18-20?





What choice was made in Matthew 9:9?





Have you made this choice, or do you need to? Be sure to think about it.





God’s Guidelines for Making Right Choices





Treat each day as being important. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Admit your need for wisdom…and ask for it!    “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5)

Work at developing a deep respect for God.    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

Make sure you have a vital relationship with Jesus.    “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17).

Be willing to pay any price for the truth. “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).





God’s Guidelines for

Making Right Choices



Treat each day as being important. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).



Admit your need for wisdom…and ask for it!    “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5)



Work at developing a deep respect for God.    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).



Make sure you have a vital relationship with Jesus.    “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17).



Be willing to pay any price for the truth. “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Haiku: Weary

Join the fun!
I'm participating in a weekly meme, "Sensational Haiku Wednesday".
The basics: Haiku is simple! It is 3 non-rhyming lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

This week's theme is Weary.

Jesus welcomes you
Who are weary and burdened
He will give you rest

(My haiku above is based on Matthew 11:28.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DVD Review and Giveaway: The Grace Card


The Grace Card
DVD Release Date: 8/16/2011
Rated: PG 13
Website: http://www.thegracecardmovie.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thegracecard

About the DVD:
Everything can change in an instant … and take a lifetime to unravel. When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with God … and just about everyone else. Mac’s rage stonewalls his career in the police department and makes for a combustible situation when he’s partnered with Sam Wright, a rising star on the force—who happens to be a part-time pastor and a loving family man.

Can they somehow join forces to help one another when it’s impossible for either of them to look past their differences—especially the most obvious one? Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God’s grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD … and never underestimate the power of God’s love.

My Thoughts and Review:
Death of a child often leaves parents distraught beyond words. Mac McDonald has a hard time letting go of his deceased son. He and his teenaged son are constantly at odds. His marriage crumbles. Sam Wright, a cop and a pastor, struggles with loving someone who hates him. He starts to doubt his calling. Both men (who get paired up to be partners) desperately need God's healing! The Grace Card is an inspiring film that demonstrates the power of forgiveness and grace. It is at times sad and depressing. I think I cried twice :). It addresses the issues of racial prejudice, grief, anger, hatred, bitterness, blames, and family relationship.

Academy Award®-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. gave a nice performance playing Grandpa George (Sam's grandpa). For most cast members, this was their first film; however, they did a fantastic job. I was surprised to find out that Michael Joiner (who played Mac) is a stand-up comedian in real life. He played a serious role so convincingly! I found the climax to be somewhat predictable but still touching. I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it. Don't expect a Hollywood production quality. If you compare The Grace Card (Graceworks Pictures LLC and Calvary Pictures' first film) to Flywheel (Sherwood Pictures' first film), it is pretty well done. It relied on tons of volunteers just like Sherwood Pictures.

The Grace Card is a faith-based & grace-filled film that is meaningful to both believers and nonbelievers. It's a great reminder that if we love like Jesus, we can't help but extending grace and forgiveness to others no matter who they are or what they have done. God's grace is indeed powerful and beautiful! Don't just receive it; give it, too!


Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the trailer.

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of The Grace Card DVD!

To Enter: "Like" The Grace Card's Facebook page and then leave a comment here including your Facebook name. Make sure you leave your email address, too. Deadline: Sept. 4th at midnight (Pacific time)

For extra entries (please leave a separate comment for each one you do):
- Follow this blog via GFC or NetworkedBlogs
- "Like" my page "Christ Alone" on Facebook
- Follow me on Twitter: @treasuredbyGod
- Share the link to this giveaway on Facebook
- Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter

*If you don't win the giveaway, you can purchase the DVD here.


~“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Selah's Album, "Hope of the Broken World"

I love Selah, especially when they sing hymns :)! They have very beautiful voices. I was so excited to have an opportunity to review their newest album, "Hope of the Broken World" which is released today!

This album includes 12 songs:
  1. On the Mountain
  2. Hope of the Broken World (see a music video below)
  3. Shelter Me
  4. Coat of Many Colors (written by Dolly Parton)
  5. He'll Hold You
  6. Be Still
  7. Moments Like These
  8. I Turn to You
  9. Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (a hymn written by Louisa M.R. Stead, c.1850-1917)
  10. Threshold of Glory
  11. I Look to You
  12. When Love Was Slain
My husband and I enjoyed listening to this album. It consists of various styles of music. Shelter Me (based on Psalm 91) is a fun song with country music feel. Coat of Many Colors is a folk song/story-telling song. Selah did a cool rendition of an old hymn, Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, with a bonus of singing in African language (Did you know that Todd Smith, one of the singers, grew up in Africa?). Moments Like These is such a tender song about children and parents; it made me cry. On the Mountain is an upbeat, catchy song. Hope of the Broken World is a soothing song about Jesus who is the Light and Hope of the World. Some of my favorites are #2, #7, #9, and #12. All songs have great lyrics/encouraging messages. Selah is truly a talented group. I can listen to this CD over and over again :).

Check out Selah's videos on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSelahVideos .
Connect with Selah on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/selahmusic .

Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

You can buy the album at http://www.amazon.com/Hope-Broken-World-Selah/dp/B004Y1QQ4A .


~ I received a copy of this album for free via Buzzplant in exchange for my honest review. Opinions are my own.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Life of John Newton

Life of John Newton
American Missionary Fellowship
9780890516201 Retail Price: $14.99

About the book:
What about the life of an 18th century human trafficker could inspire you?

John Newton found himself the captain of a ship transporting slaves from Africa to England. On each journey, he mercilessly subjected hundreds to inhumane conditions only to be sold if they survived. But in a life-threatening storm, he cried out to God for help. Saved from imminent death, Newton soon realized he had also been saved from himself. Twenty years into his journey of knowing the grace and mercy of God, Newton penned Amazing Grace, unforgettable hymn of redemption.

The Life of John Newton is a biography that will inspire every man, woman and child. His spiritual transformation highlights the unstoppable force of God's love and unlimited grace regardless of one’s own wretched history.

This Christian Classic was originally published in 1831 ASSU (American Sunday School Union). Attic Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing Group, meticulously reproduced each page. With tattered edged pages and a vintage cover, Life of John Newton is now an affordable, timeless classic is for a new generation interested in the foundations of our Christian heritage. It is one of Attic Books “Life of” series featuring biographies of heroes from the 18th century and beyond.

My Thoughts and Review:
Amazing Grace, the most popular hymn of all times...who hasn't heard it? Some also know who wrote it. I wonder how many really know the dramatic life of John Newton, its author. I myself had heard his story before. But what a treat it was for me to read this book/his biography and learn more about him! I was stunned to find out how many times he had near-death experiences (at least 7 times!...I counted them). Talk about God's providence...John Newton saw it over and over again. John Newton was born in London on July 24, 1725. His life had gone through lots of challenges and difficulties starting as early as when he was a preteen (a rough, corrupted seaman). From being a troubled teen at its worst to working like a slave under a mean mistress to becoming a slave trader himself! But no one including John Newton is beyond God's grace, mercy, and redemption! His life was such a powerful testimony.

I really enjoyed reading this inspiring book. Did you know that he couldn't swim (which contributed to the fact that he was on the brink of death many times considering his line of work :))? Did you know that he was a romantic guy :)? He wrote beautiful love letters to his wife; they were also filled with Biblical insights and eternal perspectives. Here is an example (he wrote to his wife when he was ill and didn't know if he would live or die): "Should it therefore please God, to make my death the happy occasion of fixing your dependence, hope, and desire, upon him alone; surely I can say, Thy will be done. My heart bleeds when I represent to myself, the grief with which such an event would overwhelm you. But I know that he can moderate and sanctify it, and give you cause hereafter to say, it was good for you to have been so afflicted; and ere long, the time will come, when all tears shall be wiped, both from your eyes and mine." (p. 92) Did you know that he knew 5 languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French, and English? John Newton was humble, encouraging, and loving. He was a major influence on William Cowper (who struggled with depression most of his life), a fellow hymn writer. They worked together and produced the famous Olney Hymns hymnal in 1779.

John Newton died at the age of 82. He never ceased to be in awe at God's grace and if you read this book, you'll totally understand why. Shortly before his death, John Newton said, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!"

"The power of God can reclaim the most hardened offender, but no one has a right to expect it will be exerted in his favour, if he persist in that which he knows to be wrong." (p. 6)
"I can see no reason why the Lord singled me out for mercy, but this, 'that so it seemed good to him;' unless it was to show, by one astonishing instance, that with him 'nothing is impossible.' (p. 56)

~ I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the trailer.

Friday's Fave Five #56

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-

1. We are so thankful for modern technology, especially a prepaid cell phone. Our 18 yo daughter, Alyssa,  was able to call and email us during each layover. It's so good to be able to hear her voice, receive her emails, get her photos, and get updated. She has landed safely in Penang, Malaysia and been transported to the Logos Hope. Thank You, Lord, for watching over my girl!

2. We enjoyed playing Hear Me Out. A very cool board game!

3. We traded our van (Toyota Sienna) in and got a Toyota Tundra. We're happy with our decision and with a great deal we got :).

4. Chocolate dipped coconut macaroons. Yummy!

5. Free devotional book by John MacArthur. Offer expires 8/22.

P.S. I have a giveaway on my other blog, "Fruitbearers." No entries yet! FoundIt is a company that makes it easy for people to return your lost items while keeping your family's identity safe. You can enter to win a free MacDaddy package(valued at $24.99) which includes a set of 62 stickers, 2 key tags, 3 bag tags, 1 luggage tag/ID card, 2 round tags (great pet tags!), and 4 years access to the FoundIt Network. Ends 8/21

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blog Tour: Too Blessed to be Stressed by Debora M. Coty

About the book:
Do your to do lists have footnotes? Has your fam suggested a rabies shot because your bite has surpassed Rover’s?

Maybe it’s time for a healthy dose of truth gift-wrapped in humor. With her own offbeat brand of wit and near-wisdom, inspirational humorist Debora Coty addresses the heart-needs of desperate women drowning in the churning everyday stress-pool of busyness.

In Too Blessed to Be Stressed, you’ll find simple, practical steps for attaining the peace that you crave as you struggle with the stresses of finances, health, career, relationships, self-image and family. You’ll discover healing, refreshment, and revitalization for your own spirit, body and mind through heart-changing real life stories, biblically based insights, and short chapters for on-the-run convenience.

About the author:
Debora M. Coty is a humorist, columnist, speaker, writing workshop instructor and award-winning author of over 100 internationally published articles and ten inspirational books. She has also contributed short stories and devotionals to numerous anthologies. Debora's passion is sharing her offbeat blend of humor and hope, wit and near-wisdom with women of all ages. As a piano teacher for twenty years, she acquired the skill of auditory long-suffering and has helped countless people as an occupational therapist specializing in orthopedics for over three decades. Mother of two grown children, Debora currently lives and loves in central Florida with her husband and desperately wicked pooch, Fenway.

My Thoughts and Review:
Do you feel like stress is sucking peace, joy, strength, and sanity out of you? No need to be stuck in that state! Too Blessed to be Stressed is an uplifting, light-hearted, and insightful book that aims to relieve your stress one chapter at a time. The book is divided into 4 sections: Time Management, Develop a Sense of Humor, Cultivate Relationships, and Focus on Faith. Each chapter starts with a Bible verse and ends with questions to help you think of ways to destress yourself. The author uses real-life examples and God's Word to encourage readers (smiles and laughter are almost unavoidable :)). Check out this lovely book; get a healthy dose of inspiration and humor today! Indeed, you and I are too blessed to be stressed. Just remember to focus on God and His blessings.


Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Too-Blessed-Stressed-Inspiration-Stress-Pool/dp/1616263466?ie=UTF8&tag=widgetsamazon-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969
Too Blessed to be Stressed is a fun-filled read overflowing with insights and practical tips. Perfectly delicious for living happily ever after! 
-Rhonda Rhea, best-selling author of Whatsoever Things Are Lovely

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

About the giveaway and party:
To celebrate the release of her latest laugh-out-loud book, Too Blessed to Be Stressed, Debora Coty is hosting the Too Blessed to Be Stressed KINDLE Giveaway!
Debora has created a “Too Blessed” prize package worth over $150! One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen

* Too Blessed to Be Stressed by Debora Coty (for KINDLE)

To enter just click one of the icons below. Hurry! The giveaway ends August 25th. Winner will be announced on the evening of the 25th during Debora's De-Stress Facebook Party! Debora will be hosting a "life-preserver" chat (it’s okay if you haven’t read the book – who knows, you might WIN a copy!), testing trivia skills, swapping funny stories, handing out some decom-stress tips, and giving away tons of great stuff! (Chocolate, books, and more!) Hope to see you there. Bring your friends and join the fun on August 25th at 5:00 PM PST (6 PM MDT, 7 PM CDT, & 8 PM EDT).

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Also - be sure to check out Debora's series of Stress-Buster videos at her website: www.DeboraCoty.com. She’s also hosting a photo caption contest on her blog for a chance to win a copy of Too Blessed to Be Stressed.

~ I received a free copy of Too Blessed to be Stressed from Litfuse Publicity Group n exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Haiku: Home

Join the fun!
I'm participating in a weekly meme, "Sensational Haiku Wednesday".
The basics: Haiku is simple! It is 3 non-rhyming lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

This week's theme is Home.

Hope beyond this world
My true home is in Heaven
Christ prepares for me

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: A Woman's Secret for Confident Living

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:



and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishing for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Karol Ladd is a gifted Bible teacher and a bestselling author. Her more than 20 releases include A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God (book and DVD) and The Power of a Positive Woman. She is a frequent guest on radio and television and regularly posts positive messages and videos on her website, http://www.karolladd.com/. Her most valued role is that of wife and mother.



Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





Bestselling author Karol Ladd shares powerful truths from Colossians and reveals an exciting path to confident living through God’s grace. With an inspiring belief in God’s purpose for each woman and insightful study questions, Karol helps individuals and groups experience their God-confidence through transformed perspectives, relationships, thoughts, and dreams.








Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929657
ISBN-13: 978-0736929653

MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
Don't judge the book by its title :)! I almost didn't choose to review this book because of its title. It sounds like another one of those self-help/self-improvement books (which I'm not interested in). I'm glad I did. I love the book of Colossians and I have even memorized Chapter 1 before. Therefore, I was quite excited when I learned that this book is based on Colossians. I'm also pleased to see that the author points readers toward God-confidence, not self-confidence. Each chapter ends with a section called "Confident Steps." It includes additional Bible verses to read, a Confidence Defeater (lie/false idea), a Confidence Builder (Biblical truth), Choices, and a Deliberate Plan. You will find discussion questions and pages for you to take notes at the end of the book. I really enjoyed reading this book and I appreciate all the truth/wisdom nuggets. When you know Christ intimately and know who you are in Him, you will be Christ-conscious, have high God-esteem, and walk in God-confidence. This book is great and helpful for either an individual Bible study or a small group study. Did I tell you I love Colossians :)? I once wrote a poem based on Colossians 2:8-10, "Complete in Christ".

"We can walk confidently when we know we are walking on the foundation of His will. But how do we know His will? We begin to know it when we turn from thinking like the world thinks and instead focus on what God says. The Bible is our source to know what He says. He uses godly people and wise counsel in our lives as well, but we must always consider their words in accordance with His Word." (p. 38)
"In order for us to discover who we are in Christ, we must first know who He is. Our journey to confidence begins with Him." (p. 49)

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Where in the World Is Truth?



“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



“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”



A.W. Tozer







When our daughter told us she wanted to major in philosophy at college, I was a bit concerned. Philosophy? What does a person do in life with a philosophy degree? I pictured men with long hair and beards sitting around on stone benches discussing the meaning of life. Having never taken a philosophy class in all of my years of schooling, I wasn’t quite sure what a degree in philosophy really looked like, so I went to the bookstore and picked up a few books on the topic. Philosophy for Dummies was actually my favorite—quite an insightful read and very helpful in my incredibly intellectual pursuit of understanding philosophy. Unfortunately, the books I read never did answer the question about what a person does in life with a philosophy degree, but at least I was able to carry on a slightly coherent conversation about the Socratic method with my daughter.



I do want you to know that our daughter’s college experience had a positive outcome. During her years of study at Baylor University, she became increasingly sensitive toward the needs of the impoverished families in the city of Waco. More importantly, she recognized the common condition of the poverty of the soul (I think that’s a philosophical term), and so she began to reach out and serve the children in her community through the connection of visual arts. She went on to start Waco Arts Initiative, an afterschool art program for the kids living in the government housing projects. There you have it—there’s one perfectly wonderful thing you can do with a philosophy degree!



So what is the study of philosophy all about anyway? The term philosophy actually means the love of wisdom and knowledge. The Greek root word philos means loving and sophos means wise. In a broad sense, philosophy is an investigation into the principles and laws that regulate the universe. More specifically it refers to a system of belief or doctrine about truth, existence, natural laws, theology, and morality. Our personal philosophy colors the way we understand the world, how we think about ourselves and, most importantly, what we believe about God.



Thousands of years ago Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle made philosophical waves in their own community, and the ripple effects of their ideas are still felt today. Throughout the ages, philosophers concerned themselves with the existence of God and His influence on creation. In our postmodern culture it may seem like philosophy is distant and irrelevant, but the significance of knowing what we believe and why we believe it has never diminished. Our pursuit of wisdom and knowledge must be grounded in truth and not in the winds of current trends or popular ways of thinking. As we dive into Colossians, we find that the believers were battling the influence of popular philosophies of their day, and Paul was deeply concerned about their knowledge of the truth. He wanted them to know with certainty the truth about Christ. Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians in order to strengthen their understanding and philosophy of life based on Christ and the truth of God’s Word. We too need to establish who we are and what we believe in order to develop a foundation for our confidence.



Colossal Confusion



Recently for my fiftieth birthday (and I can’t believe I just told you my age) my husband, Curt, decided to take me on a celebration trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Have you ever been there? It is quite a cross section of people and beliefs. Although Christianity seems to have a strong presence, with several beautiful cathedrals in the square, New Age mysticism and Native American traditions also dominate the culture. The city is what I would call a bouillabaisse of philosophies and ideas. Now my friends always laugh at me when I use the word bouillabaisse because it’s not a term people use every day. I perhaps overuse the word to describe anything filled with variety. Bouillabaisse is actually a French word that describes a stew or chowder made with several different kinds of fish. It’s the perfect word to describe different concepts and ideas blended together in one place.



Interestingly, the city of Colossae back in Paul’s day had some similarities to modern-day Santa Fe, as both cities seem to be Meccas of merging ideas. Oddly, both cities were known for their merging roads as well as their merging ideas. In its early years, Santa Fe served as a crossroads for two major trading thoroughfares: the Santa Fe trail, extending from Missouri to Santa Fe, and El Camino Real, which was a supply route from Mexico City. In a similar way, in the fifth century BC the city of Colossae was significantly situated at the junction of the main trade routes in Asia going east-west and north-south. By the time Paul came on the scene, the main roads had been rerouted to the nearby city of Laodicea, which led to the gradual decline of Colossae. The Colossians lost most of their commerce and industry, yet they still remained at the crossroads of philosophical ideas.



It’s All About What You Believe



So what in the world does philosophy have to do with you and me and our lives today? It comes down to this—what we believe about God affects how we function in this world. If we think of God as an angry and demanding dictator, then we function as fretful and hopeless slaves. If we see Him as a careless Creator who keeps His hands off what happens in our world, then we tend to see life as purposeless and haphazard, and ourselves as insignificant. Yet if we recognize God our Father as the High King of heaven and Creator of all, the One who cares about the details of our lives and sent His only Son to give His life on our behalf, then we value our lives as holy and dearly loved children. We also value the lives of other people as well.



If we want to live with confident hope, then we must be firmly established in our philosophy of God. We must know what we believe about Him. Typically, I’m not a big watcher of television reality shows, but one show recently caught my interest. The premise of the show is built around the CEO or president or head honcho of a major corporation working incognito in the lower ranks of their business. Picture this: the CEO of a national waste management company cleaning out porta-potties with the service guys, or a president of a popular hamburger chain flipping burgers at the restaurant. Usually the boss returns to the corporate offices with a great appreciation for what the workers do day in and day out, and they also begin to implement changes and improvements in the field.



My favorite part of the show is at the very end, when the field personnel are called into the corporate offices and are told the truth about the identity of their mysterious co-worker. The employees are usually shocked because they had imagined the upper-level management to be a bunch of stuffy, distant slavedrivers who didn’t understand them. But once they got to know the head of the company, they felt differently about working for them. Suddenly they felt like they had hope, and that their daily challenges were recognized. They felt understood, and they realized the leadership of the company wasn’t so bad after all.



It makes all the difference when you know the one at the top. It changes everything! In the reality show, hopeless employees were transformed into hope-filled employees who were proud to work for their company. In a similar way, the apostle Paul desired nothing more than for believers to know the God of all the universe in a personal way. He wanted them to know Christ—not just know about Him, but to really know Him. Paul recognized that as the Colossians grew to know Christ, their lives would be transformed from hopeless followers of popular ideas and beliefs to hope-filled followers of Christ. We too have the opportunity to get to know the God of all creation. As we come to know Christ personally our lives can be transformed with a confident hope.



Simply Radiant



When I first met Ellen, I was struck by her radiant smile. At first I didn’t notice her cane, but as she gracefully made her way over to meet me I could see that she walked with a slight limp. Ellen told me that she had been diagnosed with spina bifida at birth. Yet she was able to walk, and she was still thriving at 70 years of age. Ellen is literally a walking miracle because back then most children with spina bifida were not expected to live into adulthood. Ellen was able to be the recipient of a very experimental procedure at a young age, which enabled her to walk. When I told Ellen I wanted to write her story she said, “Well, make it all about Jesus, not about me.”



Ellen’s focus is not on herself; it is on the God who loves and cares for her and continues to shine His light through her. Ellen views her physical limitations from a positive perspective. She recognizes that her challenges offer her an opportunity to reach out and serve other women who have disabilities…and we all have disabilities of some sort. Ellen is a beauty consultant and uses the platform of makeup and outward beauty to talk about the importance of the inner beauty that comes from knowing the Lord. Here’s her mission statement:



Making a DIFFERENCE in women whose lives have been touched by disability, assisting with their choice for their eternal destiny, one lipstick at a time!



Ellen realizes that no one is perfect, and our imperfections lead us to a perfect God. It is in Him that we experience strength and joy in life. Ellen’s understanding of who God is makes a significant difference in her life. One more thing I must tell you about Ellen is that she loves to pray. She looks to the Lord as her strength day by day, moment by moment, as she visits with Him through prayer. Several times as I was engaged in conversation with Ellen she stopped to say, “Let’s go to the Father in prayer about this.” Right then and there she prayed. And what a beautiful prayer it was, filled with love and trust and joy in her heavenly Father. Ellen is an example of a woman who lives with a confident hope in the Lord. She lives with a perspective of thankfulness for the opportunity to serve God with her disability. She also lives with a heavenly focus, knowing that this world is not her home and that one day her earthly body will be transformed into a glorious one.



Perspective is everything, and it is a choice. We can view our frustrations and our disappointing circumstances with anger toward God, believing that this life is all we have. Or we can view difficulties from the perspective of “Lord, my eyes are on You. Use me in these circumstances for Your glory. Help me and give me strength along the way.” With an eternal perspective we can live with confidence, knowing that this life isn’t it. We can look forward with confident hope toward heaven and place our confident hope in the God who will care for us here. Ellen is a radiant woman with an eternal perspective. I want to view the world like Ellen!



What’s Your Worldview?



One of the big in-vogue words today is worldview. The term worldview in some ways comes down to our own personal philosophy in life, meaning the way we view the world in terms of the nature of God, man, morality, knowledge, and even death. For believers in Christ it is important to be aware of other people’s worldviews, but what is most important is to know our own personal worldview. Pastor John Piper wrote, “Wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. And wimpy Christians won’t survive the days ahead.”   I want to be a confident Christian, not a wimpy one. How about you? Churchleader.net described the importance of our worldview in this way:



Worldviews act somewhat like eyeglasses or contact lenses. That is, a worldview should provide the correct “prescription” for making sense of the world just as wearing the correct prescription for your eyes brings things into focus. And, in either example, an incorrect prescription can be dangerous, even life threatening. We are faced with a smorgasbord of worldviews, all of which make claims concerning truth.  



It may not be on the top of your to-do list this week, but it is important to consider your personal worldview. What do you believe about God and how He interacts with creation? Have you considered what your purpose is in this world and what God has created you to do? Have you considered where you go from here? Just as the early philosophers began their speculations of life with their view of God, so our journey to significance begins with our view of God. We must seek the truth about Him.



I believe the truth about God is revealed in the Bible. In this matchless book we not only discover the attributes of God, but we also learn how He deals with mankind and what His relationship is with creation. My worldview begins with the Bible. I have a biblical worldview, which means I see the world through the lens of what God revealed in His Word. The Bible is a rock-solid foundation to stand on when it comes to seeking knowledge about life and God. As a young girl I memorized a short verse in the Bible that said, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”** Philosophies, religions, and cultural beliefs will come and go, but not the precepts of the Bible. It has stood the test of time and will stand as a sure foundation for a worldview throughout all generations.



From the Old Testament we can sense David’s biblical worldview:



The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.



The precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.



The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure

and altogether righteous.



They are more precious than gold,

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

than honey from the comb.



By them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.



If you are seeking wisdom and knowledge; if you hope to find meaning and truth; if you desire to know who God is and how he wants you to live—begin with the Bible. It will light your path and lead you along your journey in life. Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”**



The philosopher Immanuel Kant is quoted as saying, “All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions:



What can I know?

What ought I to do?

What may I hope?”  

The Bible firmly answers each of those questions. What can I know? In the Bible I learn the truth about God and how He relates to His creation. I know I am loved and have a purpose in this world. What ought I to do? In the Bible, I learn how God wants me to live, and how He wants me to relate to others. I learn I ought to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself. I learn that if I want to be great in God’s kingdom, I must learn to be the servant of all. What may I hope? This question is addressed throughout the Bible. I have hope for a glorious future in heaven one day. I have hope that a God who loves me will give me strength and comfort as I walk through the challenges of life. I have hope that He will never leave me alone. I have hope that He knows my needs and hears my prayers.



The Bible answers a lot of questions, doesn’t it? So what about you—do you have a biblical worldview? I like how Myrtle Grove Christian School in Wilmington, North Carolina, describes their worldview:



One of our chief aims at Myrtle Grove Christian School is to instill in students a biblical worldview that is based wholly upon God’s Word, the Bible. By worldview, we mean a person’s mental framework for understanding the “big picture” of reality, based upon conscious and unconscious assumptions about God, creation, humanity, morality, and purpose.



We believe that the Bible describes the world as it really is. In other words, the Bible answers not only man’s religious questions but also the major philosophical questions for which man has always sought answers. The student with a biblical worldview has a system of thought that is unified, logically consistent, and relevant to every area of life. The propositions below provide a brief description of a biblical worldview.



GOD

There is one triune God who is eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is infinite, personal, sovereign, all powerful, all knowing, and perfect in love, justice and mercy. God is not silent but has revealed Himself to mankind through the Bible, creation, and the person of Jesus Christ.



CREATION

All things were created by God and are sustained by God. Creation consists of a physical realm and a spiritual realm. All of creation was originally good but is now in a fallen state due to the sin of man.



HUMANITY

Humans were created by God in His image and likeness. Consequently, all human life has intrinsic value. At the same time, man lives in a fallen state as a result of sin. Man’s sinful condition alienates him from God and renders him unable to worship God properly, live righteously, understand spiritual things, and recognize that all truth in creation reveals the Creator. People can be restored to relationship with God through Jesus Christ.



MORALITY

Morality is based upon the character and nature of God, not upon the consensus of society or culture. It is absolute, not relative. God’s moral law is revealed in Scripture, and God commands our compliance with that law.



PURPOSE

God has commanded mankind to have dominion over the earth. Believers are to seek for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and are to be witnesses of Christ to their culture. History is linear, not cyclical, such that humans have only one life to live, and their decisions in that life will affect their eternal destiny.



Now there’s a school that knows what they believe! I applaud them for stating it clearly and boldly. Despite the plethora of philosophies rolling around in our culture today, we too can have a clear foundation of what we believe. We must examine everything and hold it up to the light of God’s Word to separate God’s truth from man’s ideas. Just as the Colossians faced the intriguing influences of their culture, so it is tempting to buy into the religious concepts du jour. What’s on the menu today?



One of the prevalent schools of thought in Colossae during Paul’s day was the early forms of Gnosticism, which emphasized a special, secret knowledge that only a few elite intellectuals possessed. (The Greek work gnosis means “to know.”) Those who followed the early stages of Gnosticism believed that God was good, but all matter was evil. They didn’t believe that Jesus was God, because all created forms are evil, so they declared that Jesus was merely one of a series of emanations descending from God. In their belief system, Jesus must be less than God. They believed in a secret and higher knowledge above the Scriptures. We see similar belief systems in our culture today, yet knowing the God of the Bible can bring clarity to our lives. As you study Colossians, you will grow to know what you believe and be able to walk in a confident knowledge of who you are in Christ.



Paul challenged the Colossians to live lovingly and boldly, and to reflect Christ in what they did and said. I think we could stand to have that reminder as well! All in all, Paul wanted the early Christians to be set apart by their sure faith and unwavering hope in Christ alone. I’m going to make an assumption here, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to lead an empty life based on meaningless philosophies and ideas. I’m guessing you want to live a fulfilled and purposeful life based on truth, God’s truth. That’s one of the many important lessons we will glean as we journey through this book together. Religious relativism leads us only on an endless search for hope and purpose, but the foundational truths of Christ and His Word lead us to the true source of hope and purpose.





Confident Steps



Additional Reading: Psalm 119—The transforming power of God’s Word





Battle for the Truth:



Confidence Defeater—I have no absolute truth on which to base my life.



Confidence Builder—Confidence is established when we base our worldview on the sure foundation of the Bible.





Choices:



Seek the truth about God in the Bible, not in current philosophies.

Examine what you hear and read and hold it up against the light of Scripture.

Be alert and aware of cultural influences that tend to do battle with your confidence.

Discover who you are, by getting to know Christ and what He did for you on the cross.

Live with a heavenly perspective.

Know your own worldview and what you believe.



Deliberate Plan: Write out your worldview.



Take some time to reflect on your own worldview. Consider the worldview provided in this chapter and write your own statement of belief below.



What I believe about:



God—







Creation—







Humanity—







Morality—







Purpose—

Monday, August 15, 2011

Haiku: Whisper

Haiku Heights gives out weekly prompts for haiku. This week's theme is Whisper.

God can still the storm
To a whisper...hush the waves
He calms and He guides

(My haiku above is based on Psalm 107:29-30.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday's Fave Five #55

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-
1. We had a blast at Oaks Amusement Park on Saturday! Fun family outing before Alyssa's departure to Malaysia to serve onboard the Logos Hope next week.

2. A nice visit from my mother-in-law, my kids' cousin and her boy. We had a fun water-squirt guns war! Wet and wild :)! Lots of running, laughing, and screaming!

3. Staying up late and spending time with my daughter, Alyssa. She has been adjusting her sleeping pattern so that she won't be having a jet lag when she arrives in Malaysia.

4. I like this quote: "When a husband is happy, his wife is happy. When he is treated like a king, respected as a man, admired like a hero, and inspired to be all he can be, his wife reaps the benefits." (from the book, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband by Cindi McMenanin)  Marriage is not about getting our needs met; it's about dying to self and practicing what it means to truly love like God does (unconditionally/1 Corinthians 13) and living out Philippians 2:1-16 daily.

5. John Piper's video below. We have only one life to live. Let's not waste it! Are you living for self or living for God?


A Must-See Video for Every Christian

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