Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beyond Discipleship (Illustration by: Dr. James L. McIntosh)

The word of the week is DISCIPLE
Noun:  A person who learns from another, especially one who then teaches others : an active follower of someone
Verb:  To train, educate, teach 

Seven years ago, my dad was a guest blogger here, and he shared an illustration about what it means to be a disciple. I want to share it with you again. After reading it, take a moment to consider where YOU fit in as a follower of Jesus Christ.

While teaching a class in our small Bible Institute, one day a student asked what it means to be a disciple and how that relates to going to heaven. The Lord provided me with a good answer, as we have a fire department across the street.

In response, I told [the students] how one could become a “disciple” of the fire department. (They do like visitors, you know.) Each week, I could go there and learn what they have to do to put out fires. They could teach me about cleaning the equipment, getting it all ready for the next emergency, and what wax to use to polish each item. They could show me what mask to use for each kind of fire and what tank to use to breathe properly in each situation. They could teach me how to put the hoses away. They would call me by name and be glad I came, as we all are friendly. However, when the bell rings and they leave, I would be left behind. You see, I am only a learner, or a disciple. Not a part of them.

Each week, we have in our churches the same situation. Many friendly folk come and are learners. They can tell most of the facts of what Jesus Christ did for mankind. They can tell of His virgin birth, sinless life, death, burial, resurrection, and even ascension. Yet, when it is time to leave this earth and go to heaven, they will be left behind, as they were only learners. They were not a part of Him.

A disciple is a "learner." A true Christian (not in name only) is a "truster." Knowing about what Jesus did for you, and trusting in what He did for you are two different things. Place your TRUST in Him today.

  Read more here about what it means to TRUST in Christ:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Say & Pray Devotions by Diane Stortz [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Hardbound, 40 pages
Age range:  4-8 years
I remember reading picture books to my kids when they were very young. They loved cuddling on the couch next to me, and looking at the pictures as I read aloud to them. Some books were about God and/or the Bible, some were just for fun, some were educational, and some were all of the above. This new book, SAY & PRAY DEVOTIONS, by Diane Stortz fits the description of "all of the above" because it:
1.  teaches about God's love and how He provides for us
2.  has colorful pictures with adorable illustrations
3.  and, is full of sight words that help young children identify the words that go with specific objects.
If you are already familiar with SAY & PRAY BIBLE, this new partner book features the same fun style of artwork and educational elements. I love the small size and sturdy pages, perfect for little hands to hold. And, I especially love the included Bible verses and simple prayers that can help young children grow in their faith. If my kids were still young enough for this book, it would be at the top of my list to read together with them.

Enter below for a chance to win a copy of this book to share with your children or grandchildren. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, October 29, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. CST. One entry per mailing address. Age 18 or older.

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.  Or 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, October 23, 2016

Serve the Lord with Gladness

The word of the week is SERVE
: to be in the service of; work for : to be useful or of service to; help : to render active service to (a sovereign, commander, etc.) : to render obedience or homage to (God, a sovereign, etc.)

It is good to be actively doing something for the Lord, isn’t it? Whether we are teaching a Sunday School class, being a good listener, or washing dishes and changing diapers, shouldn’t we all be using our gifts/talents to benefit others and to help share God’s love? Most definitely! But, as you are busy for the Lord, are you serving Him with gladness? Or, have you become distracted from your purpose and are serving with a grudge?

We can see in Luke 10:38-40 that Martha was serving with a grudge. It might not have started out that way. I'm guessing she was happy to be using her gifts of hospitality, and excited to make her guests feel welcome but, as she took her focus off of what was most important, her attitude changed:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”(NIV)

If you keep reading, you will see how Jesus answered Martha in a loving way, explaining to her how Mary had chosen what was better - spending time with Him over "busyness" - and it wasn’t going to be taken away from her.
Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Doing things for the Lord is a good thing; Jesus does want us to be busy for Him. But, He would rather we focus our attention on HIM first of all. If we aren’t spending time with Him and keeping our focus on Him, then the things we do will only be an act of “busyness” rather than what they should be: an act of service.

Serve the Lord with gladness.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fight For You - A New Song by Grayson|Reed About Fighting For Our Marriages

The word of the week is FIGHT
:  to put forth a determined effort

I was recently asked to share a new lyric video with all of you, and I agreed to share it because I believe in its message. It is by Grayson|Reed, a brand new husband and wife Christian music duo, and the song is about fighting for our marriages. Marriage is not always easy, but it is something worth fighting for. The song is not about having a perfect marriage, but it is about doing everything we can to keep our marriages bonded. It's about building each other up, keeping God at the center, and choosing to fight (being determined to work things out) when things get tough. Take a look at the song here and let me know what you think:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Are You Being Honest with God?

The word of the week is CRY or CALL
: to shout or say something loudly

There is so much pain in this world. Just about everyone I know is going through something that is really hard and uncomfortable to deal with. Some of us are even feeling strong emotions, such as anger, disappointment, confusion, and frustration. But, are we being honest with God about these feelings? Do we cry out to Him in our distress?

As Christians, we sometimes think we should just ignore our true feelings and come to God with perfect little prayers, being sweet and calm, because we are afraid we might offend Him. But, God is not offended by our true feelings. He made us and knows us, so it only makes sense for us to be honest with Him. It is when we are  dishonest that He is offended.

If you read the book of Psalms, you will notice it is loaded with distress calls, outbursts of confusion, and agonizing laments. Here are just a few examples:

Psalm 13:1 - How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

Psalm 119:147 - I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Psalm 61:2 - From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

There was a time when even Jesus cried out to God in a loud voice. It was when He was dying on the cross. The sins of the world were laid on Him and His Father God had to turn away from Him. The burden on Jesus was so overwhelming to bear that He cried out to His Father in distress.
Matthew 27:46 - About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

If it is acceptable for Jesus to cry out to God with honest thoughts and feelings, then why do we think it is not acceptable for us?

Crying out to God won’t always immediately take away our pain. But, it does help us to acknowledge several things:
1. We need God in our lives.
2. We want His help.
3. We trust Him enough to be honest in our prayers.
4. We trust Him to hear our prayers.
5. We trust Him to give us the answers that are best.
6. We know He is able to strengthen us in our need.

"If God is big enough to be worth yelling at about your situation, He is big enough to take your pain, hear your lament, and somehow use it to comfort you in the confusion. ~ Andrew and Rachel Wilson, The Life We Never Expected, page 54