Tuesday, March 31, 2015

REVIEW: Graham Blanchard's "Knowing My God Series Starter Set"



Graham Blanchard Publishing Company, located in Austin, Texas, has a new gift set available:  KNOWING MY GOD SERIES STARTER SET.

I was sent a set of these board books for review, and I REALLY like what I see. The set has 3 books, and each book is based on a different Bible passage. One thing I like about them is the colorful photographs - real world photos, not just cartoon illustrations - that support the text. They are beautifully done. But, what I like even more is the way these books can grow with your children.

1.  When your children are infants, they will be comforted by your voice as you read the text to them.

2.  Toddlers will also enjoy the colorful pictures and interacting with you as you name colors and imitate sounds.

3.  Older children will benefit from the meaning of each Scripture. Each portion of the verses are accompanied by an explanation that you can read to help explain God's Word to them. 

Each set is also wrapped in a colorful keepsake book band made of cardstock type material. On the inside of the book band are some thinking and drawing activities to help your older children reflect on what they have seen and heard. A nice touch to the set.

I recommend these books to anyone who has young children or grandchildren, and would like to have some meaningful interactions with them based on God's Word.

If you plan on purchasing a set, I have a special discount code you can use on the GRAHAM BLANCHARD WEBSITE through April 30, 2015. Just enter this code on the check-out page, and you will receive 15% off  your purchase!

DISCOUNT CODE:   HMRH15


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #13: Remain True


I was a young, 20-year-old college student when I wrote the following poem. I remember feeling alone, I remember feeling like God had left me to fend for myself. But, God had not left me. He was teaching me to seek Him, and to listen for His voice. 

GOD IS THERE
By: Victoria L. Stankus

I was alone tonight.
I needed God.
God was there.
He was there all along.
But, I didn't take time for Him.
That's why I was alone.
And, I needed God.
And, when I called to God,
God was there.
So, I cried to God.
I couldn't cry before.
I was frustrated and helpless.
I needed God.
God was there.
I asked for forgiveness.
I had neglected Him.
I asked Him not to leave me.
He would never leave me.
God was there.
He'll always be there.
He'll always care.
GOD IS THERE.

In Acts 11, Barnabas encouraged a growing church in Antioch to remain true to the Lord. I think, in a world where God seems to be disappearing, and more and more Christians are feeling distant from Him, we need to continue to encourage each other to remain true - to stand firm in our faith, and be loyal to the only One who can give us the strength to keep going.

ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE #10
For this week's challenge, consider sharing an encouraging article or video with someone who might be feeling distant from the Lord. Here are some ideas. Just click on the title to be taken to the site of interest: 

BIBLE.ORG ARTICLE:  When God Seems Distant
Short excerpt from this article: The test of your faith is not when God’s presence is real, when you see God at work in your life. The real test of your faith is when God seems distant. Do you seek Him then? If you seek Him, you will find Him, but if you turn to the world or look for a quick fix for your problems without seeking God, you won’t find Him. Seek God especially when He seems distant.  

Short excerpt from this article:  In our walk as born-again believers, it may seem that God is silent, but God is never silent. What looks like silence and inactivity to us is God allowing us the opportunity to listen to "the still small voice" and to see the provisions that He has made for us by faith. 
 
Quote from A.W. Tozer, mentioned in this video:  "Every man is as close to God as he wants to be."

Short excerpt from this video:  When God is silent, He wants us to learn to distinguish HIS voice.

 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #12: Express Gratitude



ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE #12:
Don't assume someone knows they have been an encouragement to you in some way. If they have helped you, encouraged you, or inspired you... tell them about it! That is this week's challenge. Take the opportunity to tell people how they have encouraged you, and thank them for it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY - Easter Stories: Classic Tales for the Holy Season [Giveaway CLOSED]

Do you celebrate Easter (aka Resurrection Sunday)? If so, do you believe the holiday is about more than just Easter egg hunts and bunnies? If so, do you enjoy reading short stories? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you might enjoy a new anthology of short stories that were chosen for their spiritual value. 

Easter Stories includes favorite short stories from world-famous storytellers such as C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, Selma Lagerlof, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Goudge, Maxim Gorky, Ruth Sawyer, Anton Chekhov, and Walter Wangerin – as well as many you’ve probably never heard before.

As Easter approaches, I have been reading these stories out loud to my kids. Each of the stories has a hidden meaning, or a moral to it, and one of our favorites is "The Ragman" by Walter Wangerin, Jr. - a timeless classic about a man (symbolic of Jesus) who took away old rags and gave new ones in return. We understood this story and enjoyed reading it, but there are others we didn't quite understand. With that in mind, I think the book could benefit from having a section that actually explains what each of the stories means.

If you would like to add this book to your library, enter the form below for your chance to win one. It will be directly sent to the winner by FlyBy Promotions. Giveaway ends Saturday, March 21, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. CST.



"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #11: This World is Temporary



ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE # 11:  
Encourage fellow believers with a reminder that, some day soon, we will be with the Lord. It helps us reflect on eternal things and gives us hope that this world we live in, and all the struggles that come with it, is only temporary. It also helps us remain focused on our purpose here on earth - that we are only here for a little while and should be using our time wisely for the Lord. Here are some songs that can encourage us with this message. Pass one or two along to a friend and encourage them to keep looking up! 







Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What the Bible Says About IDOLATRY

A Christian in India has been reading this blog and mentioned there is much idolatry in that country. I was asked to provide some Biblical information that can be shared with those who practice idolatry there. I hope this is some helpful information to them, and to anyone else who is interested in this subject.

First of all, it is important to define what idolatry is. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, there are two definitions for idolatry.

1.  The worship of a physical object as a god.
Which means an idol can be a carved image, a statue, or any physical object that is worshiped as a god. 

2.  An immoderate attachment or devotion to something.
Which means an idol can be ANYTHING in your life that you believe is more important than anyone or anything else.

Next, if you believe the Christian Holy Bible is the Word of God, it is important to understand that the Bible tells us there is only ONE TRUE GOD, and only one way to have eternal life. Pay close attention to the following verses:

1 John 5:20 - And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (NAS)

John 17:3 - "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (NAS)

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (NAS)

It is also important to know what God's Word, the Holy Bible, has to say about idolatry. According to the following verses, worshiping anything other than the one true God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is not acceptable in His sight:

Exodus 20:3-6 - You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (ESV)

Leviticus 19:4 -  Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.
 
Deuteronomy 27:15 -  Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret. And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’ 

Carved objects or statues made of precious metals and jewels cannot hear us when we pray to them. They cannot answer our prayers. They are speechless and meaningless. Here are two verses written about this: 

Jeremiah 11:12 -  Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble.

Habakkuk 2:18 -  What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! 

If you think idolatry is only mentioned in the Old Testament portion of the Bible, let me show you some verses in the New Testament also: 

I John 5:21 - Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

I Corinthians 10:14 -  Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.  

As mentioned in definition #2 above, there are also things besides physical objects that can be idols in our lives: 

Colossians 3:5 - Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  

To sum it up, anything or anyone that replaces the one true God is an idol. Worshiping that idol is considered idolatry. Likewise, worshiping an idol along WITH the one true God is also idolatry. We should be devoted to serving and worshiping ONLY Him.

I will close with the greatest commandment of all:  

Matthew 22:36-38 - “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #10: Send a Video Reminder of God's Promises



ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE #10: 
We all get discouraged from time to time. Sometimes, even when we know the truth, it helps to just have a simple reminder of the promises of God. So, for this week's challenge, share a favorite inspirational video on Facebook (or send in an e-mail) that will remind someone God loves them, cares about them, and will give them the strength they need to make it through the difficult times.  If you need ideas on what to share, here are a few of the songs I like. Maybe these songs will be an encouragement to YOU this week, also:






 






Thursday, March 5, 2015

GUEST BLOGGER: Debbie McCray

Please welcome Debbie McCray as she shares a touching, personal story about her favorite song... 

What is my favorite song? Without hesitation, my answer is, I Will Rise, by Chris Tomlin. The words are a wonderful reminder of what we leave behind here on earth to enter the glory of heaven in God’s presence. As a believer in Jesus Christ, the words are rich. As a follower of Jesus Christ, the words are significant because of God’s timing in my life.

I received a call from my brother-in-law informing me that the doctors had given my mom less than twenty-four hours to live. Taken by surprise and living out of state, my husband and I did the only thing we knew to do: pray, quickly pack, pray, get in the car and drive and pray some more. As I walked out the door, I grabbed a handful of CDs to play during the trip.

The miles passed slowly as I cried, prayed, texted with my sister and listened to music, including Chris Tomlin’s song. The words of I Will Rise touched a tender spot in my heart. Tears cascaded down my cheeks as I thought of my mom’s death. Part way through the song, I smiled uncontrollably as I realized afresh that the resurrection followed death. My mom would experience her resurrection into God’s eternal life with no more pain, sorrow, failing flesh, grave or darkness. Like a rainbow breaking through dark clouds, a comforting peace began to fill my heart.

At my mom’s bedside, we knew the time was soon. To fill the heavy quiet in the room, we softly played music. The words of I Will Rise hung in the air. The second time through the song, my mom took a deep breath and was gone. In my heart, I heard my mom respond to Jesus’s invitation as she grabbed hold of his hand. And I will rise when He calls my name. No more sorrow, no more pain. I will rise on eagle's wings. Before my God, fall on my knees. And rise, I will rise.

Epilogue: After the song ended the second time, we prayed as a family thanking God that my mom had risen to fall on her knees before God. This beautiful song was shared at my mom’s memorial service. Even today, two years later, every time I hear this song, the words bring tears of joy to my eyes. I will see my mom again.

--------------------------------------------- 
Debbie McCray is new to blogging, but has been writing stories about God's grace for many years. She loves to encourage others by sharing lessons learned through her struggles and victories. Everyday God surprises her with unexpected joys from placing her trust in Him.  You can read more from Debbie over at her blog:  SNOWDROPS FOR FAITH
---------------------------------------------

 Songwriters:  Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Matt Maher, Louie Giglio

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say, it is well

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle's wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle's wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing
Worthy is the Lamb
And I hear the cry of every longing heart
Worthy is the Lamb
And I hear the voice of many angels sing
Worthy is the Lamb
And I hear the cry of every longing heart
Worthy is the Lamb
(You are worthy, You are worthy)
Worthy is the Lamb

I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle's wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise, I will rise


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

FREE BOOK: No Longer A Slumdog

http://www.gfa.org/book/?cm_mmc=FlyByBloggerNetwork-_-Blog-_-Post-_-B9You may already know about a ministry called GOSPEL FOR ASIA. It is a ministry that shares the love of Jesus and the Gospel message with people of all ages in South Asia. The majority of the world's Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists live in this area.

K.P. Yohannan, the Founder of Gospel for Asia, has written a book called, "No Longer A Slumdog:  Bringing Hope to Children in Crisis." It is an eye-opening book about the heart-breaking stories of children who were born into the low end of a Hindu caste system. This means their Hindu social status makes them "good enough" for only living in the slums to beg and work for pennies. Some are abandoned unexpectedly, and some are sold into slavery. And, as long as they remain followers of the Hindu religion, there is no chance for them to change or move up the ladder. They are stuck.

The beginning of the book was very disturbing to me. I did not like reading about the horrible lives these children are forced to endure. But, these stories are necessary to show what life is like for these people. Further into the book, hope begins to arise as the author shares the work of Gospel for Asia and how they are making a difference in so many lives.

You can get a FREE copy of this book and read for yourself the work being done through Gospel for Asia, and also find out how you can help. Both the book and the website list different ways for us to get involved with this ministry and be a part of rescuing these children from hopelessness and despair.

Get your FREE COPY here:




Sunday, March 1, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #9: Send an E-Card


ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE #9 
There are a few different places online where you can send a FREE “electronic” greeting card to your friends and family, and can also add a personal note to most of them at the end. Choose one of these sites to send an encouraging card to someone this week: