Category Archives: Recent blogs

Imitate God

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
 
As a dad I look back on years when I was keenly aware that my son was watching me.  Watching to see how I did something, learning how by watching me.  When I realized he was imitating me as he learned how to be a man it made me profoundly panicked.  Suddenly I realized I was modeling for this boy how to live, how to be a man.  It made me look for someone to imitate in my own life so my son would have a good model to follow.
 
That’s when I really understood the words of Paul, “Imitate God.”  It’s an invitation to follow him around, to learn how he does things and do the same things.  It’s an invitation to mold your life to be like his.

But where do I see him to follow him, to imitate him, where do I find those examples?   I realized, quite to my own surprise, that the gospels gave me the pictures I needed.  All I had to do was follow Jesus around in the gospels and imitate him!
 
And that is what Paul is inviting us to do…follow Jesus, imitate him, be like him…do what he did…in other words, be his disciple.  
 
The key thing Paul noted for us to watch for was this- “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.”  In every story of the gospels I see Jesus loving well.  He loved everyone in such a way that they were drawn to him.  Or, they were convicted by him.  His love draws all eyes to God.
 
His love and how he lived it out draws me to follow him.  I don’t do it well, but I’m working on it.  I don’t always say the right thing, do the right thing but I want to…I want to look like Jesus.
 
And, it’s possible as Paul invites us to do it, to “Imitate God” and do it first of all by loving well.
 
Of all the religions ever to touch human life only this one tells of a god who is first of all a lover of men. This God has invited us to imitate him and as we do others will be drawn to him too.
 
Imitate God=loving well.
 
Lord, help me to imitate you well as I encounter others each day. Help me to love them well and show them how much you care for them too.
 
Let my life, my love for others, be a pleasing aroma to you and draw others to seek this God who loves them through me.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Joy is a Choice of My Behavior

respond to life with joy week 4Joy is a Choice of My Behavior Week 4

So many things are out of reach as well as out of our ability to control, but our behavior, that’s not one of those things.

When we are choosing joy, we need to realize that what we say, think, do as well as how we treat ourselves matters.

If it matters to you, then it matters to God.  He cares. 

Kay tells us that “Unresolved emotional pain and brokenness can make choosing joy on a daily basis challenging” and that we need to take care of ourselves.

Choosing joy is not always easy and sometimes can be most difficult, but it is possible to do so and to choose joy daily.

She gives us some practical things that will help us in our desire to choose joy:

  • Look for a Joy Mentor – find someone who is more than just a happy personality, but rather a sister that will find joy in the tears, God in the ordinary and is thankful for the perfect will of God even though it is painful. Release the little girl in you to experience unbridled joy.  I love that she calls children “joy factories,” as they truly do just soak up the precious moments surrounding them.
  • Avoid Small Potatoes – I often remind people that it’s the little things that make life big. While completely true, it’s also the little things that steal your joy.  Traffic, spat with family, flat tires, things not going the way as planned, etc.  Joy thieves are waiting in each instance of your day for one purpose…to steal your joy.  You get to choose if you hand it over willingly or not.  Choose wisely.
  • Rediscover Pleasure – I often talk about ordinary joy and the hidden treasures in our day to day life. I tease my boss sometimes by saying “I want it all and I want it wrapped” but truth is, we do want the best of the best and often miss the greatest joys in the most ordinary of things.   The feeling of stomping through puddles, the giggles of joy when romping through grass, the cheesy look of the full moon as he lights up the darkest night.  When you open your eyes to see the treasures in the ordinary, they quickly become priceless treasures.
  • Express Affection Extravagantly – I’m a hugger. When you meet me, you’ll likely get a hug, huge smile and hearty hello.  Many people can barely make eye contact, much less express affection in this manner.  I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone when in public this week and smile bigger, greet others with a warm handshake or if circumstances allow it a warm hug.  You’ll be amazed at what it does for YOUR heart.
  • See the Humor – I love laughing. Often when I’m laughing, I don’t realize it but I carry a lot of volume, and sometimes my children don’t see the humor in that. Making the best of the worst situations sometimes requires seeing the humor.  Sometimes you are the one that can point it out, when no one else even sees it.  Recently we had our family vacation.  Whirlwind, lots of driving but lots of fun.  On the way home we had a plan to just drive straight through (12 hours) and take one day to rest before finishing up our final trip home, another 13 hours.  Four hours into the trip our tire blows.  We don’t have a special tool we need to change it, so what went from normal 30 minute inconvenience was now an almost 5 hour ordeal.  We “picnicked” on the side of the interstate, laughed and had a good time while basking in the morning/afternoon sun.  We get another 3 hours under our belt and another tire “sounded funny.”  We pull over and sure enough the tread is ripped and the tire needed to be replaced.  We immediately find a Wal-Mart Tire Center, take it in while they are changing the 2nd tire, we shop.  We are laughing at the craziness of it all when my son hugged me and said “Mom, I’m glad you are my mom, because with anyone else, this would have really been bad.” I reminded him we can’t change the situation so we needed to simply enjoy it and reminded him that we may never know what God protected us from.  Find the humor!  Kay reminds us that “when you recognize both the pain and the humor around you, you take another step toward knowing true joy.”
  • Practice Gratitude – Even if we are never blessed with another “great thing” we can always be grateful for our home in heaven, the amazing grace of God and His never ending mercy. There is always something to be thankful for. Question is, will you see it during the storm that rages?  Will you see it in the ordinary?  Will you be looking for it?  When you are thinking about all the great things that surround you, you will be thankful.
  • Live in the Moment – I love those precious moments where joy just bursts into your heart from the most unexpected places! Trouble is, we want to live there all the time.  If we were to never experience pain or sorrow, we could never truly experience great joy.  Stop looking at the trouble you are enduring and focus on the priceless moments of joy and blessings.  If your sorrows are so great, grief so heavy and burdens are so deep, then take time each day to focus on the blessings of heaven, amazing grace and God’s great mercy by way of the gift of the cross. Live in that, even when the storm is raging.
  • Find the Blessing in the Mess – Have you ever watched a child play in the rain, mud or even finger paint? Have you just quietly observed their smile and laughter or do you see just the mess they are making? Inside of every mess we get ourselves into, or the ones that seem to sneak up on us, there IS a blessing.  I have no clue what it could be, but seek it out! Look for it! If you never find the blessing in the mess, then trust God to work it out for your good.
  • Passing the JOY on – Our tag line at Spreading Joy Corporation is “There’s no joy like spreading joy.” There simply isn’t. If you want joy to be at your very core, then “give.”  If you want to have joy flooding your heart each day, then “do.” If you want joy to be a way of life, then “serve.” Don’t think about how you’ll be thanked, who will see, how much value your act of joy is worth, just do it.

JOY is a choice!

Create JOY, Cause JOY and Spread JOY while you are choosing JOY!

Thank you for allowing me the honor of leading this Bible Study.  Thank you for the desire to be men and women of joy!

If you’d like more help and/or ideas about Spreading Joy, you can check out our book here, Spreading Joy Daily as well as our most popular articles encouraging you in JOY listed here.  http://www.spreading-joy.org/site/quick-links/

 

Download your free PDF Worksheet Here 

Discussion Questions

  1. How can you choose joy daily?
  2. What does the Lord is your strength mean to you?
  3. Psalm 126:5 – what does that mean to you? How can you apply it to your daily life

Joy is a Condition of my Heart

happiness requires no effort week 3

Joy is a Condition of my Heart Week 3

Before this study, have you ever really thought about joy being a heart matter?

In our day to day life, there are so many uncertain things, uncontrollable things and scary things.  Those are the kinds of conditions that we simply have no control over.  The condition of our heart is completely ours to control.

You may have heard the saying

J = Jesus

O = Others

Y = Yourself

While this saying is completely true, the problems come in when we forget the “Y” in joy.

As ladies, we are typically so busy being wonder woman wife, caring daughter, fearless mom, awesome employee, awesome employer, leader, blogger, and a whole host of other things that we forget to take some time out for ourselves.

Kay reminds us that to nurture and build joy in ourselves we must:

  • Focus on Grace
  • Trust God for the Future
  • Have Balance in our Life
  • Practice Acceptance

 

“Happiness comes unbidden and unexpectedly and can leave just as abruptly; joy can be available anytime, anywhere, anyplace but it is a result of our decision to choose it.”  ~ Kay Warren

As a child of the King, doing the things listed above doesn’t give us the right to trample all over God’s amazing grace and live a life that will kill our relationship with God, but on the other hand, never obeying the Word of the Lord will also kill our relationship with God.

Choosing joy isn’t always easy, but that is where our faith grows.

All of us at some point will experience great sorrow, but IN that great sorrow is an Almighty God that will never leave us alone.

Doing the things Kay reminds us of will get our minds and hearts in the right direction.  Take time daily to do something for yourself that will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.

We forget that WE are loved unconditionally by our heavenly Father even though He knows the worst in us.  He chooses to love us in spite of our short comings.  Yes, we want to get better, yes we want to reflect HIS love and compassion and yes, we want to ultimately live like Jesus.  As long as we remain in our human body, we will fall short.

Extend yourself some grace while trusting the Lord.  When you fall short, stumble or even freak out over various situations – ask God to forgive you, forgive yourself and then take the next step. Doing this for yourself will allow you even more freedom to nurture joy in others.

Nurturing Joy in Others:

  • Believe the Best about Others
  • Offer Nonjudgmental Love
  • Empathize with other’s Feelings
  • Appreciate Other’s efforts

 

When we have been hurt by others, beat down or even unappreciated, many find it difficult to extend their heart to spread joy to others.  It’s painful.

Sometimes believing the best about others will turn out that we were completely wrong in our beliefs.  They control what we see, they show us only what they want us to see, and then the truth comes out (it always does) and we are hurt because we are taken advantage of.  Don’t let this stop you from making a difference in the heart and life of others.

We need to push past our hurts, our fears and the things that hold us back from making a difference for others.  We will disappoint others as well as be disappointed.

We also need to push past our guilt when trying to make a difference for others’.  Many of us desire to do more or value what we do for others based on the “cost/price” we had to pay.

Look at the few things Kay listed for us and tell me the value.  Believe, offer, empathize and appreciate are all things that will not cost us a single penny, but are priceless!  When we are giving these types of gifts, we often negate their value and as a result, feel guilty for “not doing more.”

At Spreading Joy, I’m always reminding people that everything you do impacts hearts.  Everything!

When you are making a difference for others, train your heart not to look at the price tag.  Look at the smile of those you are spreading joy to!

If finances are an issue, I have written over 100 ways to make a difference without spending a single penny.  http://spreading-joy.org/site/50-ways-to-make-a-difference-without-spending-a-penny/

 

Use them freely.  There is a free pdf at the end of that article as well as a link to an additional 50 ways to make a difference without spending any money.

Have fun spreading joy to others!

 

Download your Free PDF Worksheet here

Discussion:

Answer any or all of the following questions

 

  1. On a scale of 1-10 how regularly do you trust God for the future
  2. On a scale of 1-10 how readily do you believe the best about others
  3. On a scale of 1-10 how readily do you forgive others
  4. On a scale of 1-10 how often do you applaud others’ efforts

 

 

 

 

Joy is a Conviction of my Mind

Will I surrender to God week 2

Joy is a Conviction of My Mind Week 2

Welcome to another week of Choosing Joy.

This week we’ve taken a deep look into our own heart and mind.  If we are honest, it’s not always pretty there is it?

I love the verses found in 1 Thes 5:16-18 because they are crucial to the heart that desires true joy.

They tell us to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks!

This starts with determination.  We must decide “do do” this because we are certainly not going to be “feeling” this.

Kay reminds us that “joy begins in the mind” and is ultimately how we respond to life.

So many things bring us great joy but those things can and sometimes will bring great sorrow.

People – The very same people that bring you the greatest joy will one day bring you more tears than you ever imagined. We are all human and we will disappoint…it’s just a matter of time.

Places – Not every place we travel to or explore will bring us the joy we thought it would.  Sometimes, it simply isn’t all our heart imagines.

Possessions – Keep in mind just how miserable the “Hollywood” crowd often is.  They have the nicest of things, shop in the greatest stores but often swim in great misery and pain.

Positions – In this day and age, positions come and go.  Many who hold this as a source of joy will often find themselves discouraged.

Personality – Shy, awkward and backwards people can have just as much joy as the most outgoing extrovert you’ve ever met.

The good and the bad go hand in hand.  Joy and sorrow are right there in the midst of all of these situations and it is our choice to let go of the high expectations of perfection and greatness that keep us pinned down and often miserable.

When we realize one fundamental thing, we’ll be able to start seeing and choosing joy in nearly everything.

JOY is in our heart, simply because Jesus is there.

 

When we look at the everyday with the knowledge that Jesus is in control, Romans 8:29, Jeremiah 29:11 and Eph 2:10 still hold true and that our hope is in the One who spoke this world into existence, then joy will not be as elusive as it once was.

Where is your heart at these days? Matthew 6:21 tells us that “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 

Have you ever really considered that Gods Will can be painful?  I have, but this year it has hit home more than ever. As a mom, I treasure my children and want the best for them.  My son is currently in the middle of God’s will, serving and seeking where God will use him as a Youth Pastor.  You think…wow, that is wonderful Marie! Congratulations!  And it IS wonderful….but at the same time, painful.  This year will be his last year in college and the pain comes in that I simply miss him.  I miss the hugs, the laughter, the jokes, and the silliness.  I miss his serious when necessary side.  I miss him.  But this IS God’s will for him and there isn’t a single day that goes by that I’m not thankful for him being where he is.

Sometimes a period of darkness is God’s will for us as well.  I’ve been there.  It’s difficult, scary and we wonder if we’ll ever make it through.  But we do and we are never alone.

I wrote an article a while back about peering into the darkness and what we see there.

What do we typically see in the darkness? 

  • Nothing…and in abundance
  • Fear
  • Intimidation
  • Hopelessness
  • Despair
  • Loneliness
  • Danger
  • Enhanced Pain (pain is always worse at night isn’t it?)
  • Discouragement
  • Shame
  • Guilt

And I literally could go on and on because “SEEING” the negative is so much easier than seeing the positive in every situation.

We forget that our darkness is another way for our Lord and Savior to remind us that HE Lives! He lives in our darkness along side of us!

 When you peer into the darkness KNOWING that God is with you, you’ll see:

  • Peace that surpasses all understanding
  • JOY unspeakable
  • Light that brightens up the darkest of nights
  • Hope, never ending
  • Mercy, renewed each day
  • Grace, marvelous grace
  • Courage, because your Father HAS you
  • Comfort, knowing you are not alone
  • Faith, because HE will never leave you

 

It is a natural thing to fear the darkness and takes work to get to a place where we can see God there.  But like Kay tells us, it starts in the mind….

Will you surrender to God in the Darkness?  Will you believe that you will find treasures of joy, blessings and meaning there?  Will you cling to God’s promise that HE will never leave you, even when you feel completely alone?

Remember Kay’s prayer “may the pain I am in push me toward a great passion for you and a greater joy in you.”

My daughter spent 5 years fighting a painful battle – Gastroparesis. Her stomach was paralyzed.  She experienced flu symptoms every time she ate.  Take your worst stomach flu, the cramping, the pain and aches and the vomiting and when she eats, that is what was happening.  She had about a year where she only had the pain and she celebrated that! She loved that she could eat without the vomiting and pushed past the pain and just enjoyed each day.  Then out of nowhere it returned.  We now know that when she is under extreme emotional distress her stomach muscles will stop working and she can only drink liquids.

Will she use this pain to fuel her passion for the Lord? I don’t know.  She trusts Him, she still lives and serves the Lord but all of this is hard for me to process, much less a (then) 17 year old mind.

I don’t know what God has in store for her, but I do know that HE is in control and I trust Him.

My prayer for you is that you’ll look for the good in the bad, the light in the dark and God’s hand in everything.  Treasure the beauty in the ordinary and the little things in life that make it big!

Dwell on this – What are some of the little things in your life that make it big? Do you treasure them?

Remember, I’ve got JOY in my heart, because that is where Jesus lives!

Download your Free PDF Worksheet

Choose to answer any or all of the following questions:

  1. Think about a time of deep sorrow in your life, one that has passed. What treasure did you find?
  2. “God values character over comfort, faith over fear, mercy over judgment, justice over injustice, people over possessions, truth over falsehood, humility over pride, hope over despair, love over apathy.” Where did you see the value system of heaven in your life?
  3. What false sources of joy trap you? Is it people, places, possessions, positions or personality?
  4. What would it take for someone to describe you as a woman of joy?

 

 

Joy is my Inheritance

Jesus was a compassionate man week 1

Joy is my Inheritance

What an exciting introduction to Choosing Joy by Kay Warren!  Have you ever taken time to ponder the thought that Joy IS our inheritance?  Pure joy as we walk the streets of gold, as we live in mansions prepared for us, as we finally see our Savior face to face?  That inheritance is waiting for us AND if the Lord did nothing more for us while we were here on earth, that would still be reason enough to choose joy in our daily lives!

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t stop with the joy of heaven?  The mercy and grace that He gives to us each day is simply amazing.

I love the authentic honesty that Kay Warren starts out this study with.  I love the fact that she lays it all out for us saying that Joy is a choice and that yes, even though we are Christians, we still struggle to find joy in the most difficult, darkest times of our lives.

We tend to forget about the verses that tell us to “Count it all JOY” when we face trouble, like James 1:2 reminds us to do.  Also John 16:33 tells us that we WILL have tribulation in this world, but it doesn’t end there, it also reminds us that Jesus has overcome this world.

When we are struggling to see joy in our trials and we fail to, it brings about guilt, depression and makes us wonder within our heart “why bother.” That guilt weighs us down and wears us out to exhaustion and then we are no longer effective for the Kingdom of the Lord.  If we are doing nothing but drowning in guilt and depression, then the enemy has won that battle.

Keeping in mind what Kay says “Joy and sorrow will always be linked” we can truly step back from our trials and remember Romans 8:28 “ALL things work together for good” even if we can’t see it right now, or if it’s been many years, we can always trust God to work it out for our good.

As Kay points out that yes, even though Jesus was a man of sorrow, He was also a “vibrant, compassionate man, a man of both sorrow and joy who could enter fully into life with all its brokenness.”

Let’s strive to be like Jesus this week and be:

  • A Woman of JOY through our Attitude – We can’t change what happens, but we can control how we react to various situations.
  • A Woman of Joy through our Words – Words are lasting! Good or bad, your words will linger in someone’s heart!
  • A Woman of Joy through our Actions – Jesus was a servant! As you are making a difference for others, your heart will be flooded with great joy!

As you go through your week, seeking to choose joy, remember Kay’s definition of joy.

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

 

What have you allowed to hold you back from living a life of joy?  Before I answer this, I want to remind you that pain is pain…regardless of what kind – it ALL hurts.  Many feel that there are big hurts, little hurts and everything in between, but, keep in mind pain hurts.

Even though I’m a pretty joyful, roll with it kind of gal, I struggle with seeing the good in the negative just like many others do.  The worst time was when my father died.  I knew it was coming, the doctors told us he had 6 months due to a worn out heart.  I tried to prepare others, get cousins, family and friends to come and see him and say what they wanted to say.  I moved in with him to help him with various physical limitations he had towards the end.

I thought I was ready.

I thought wrong. 

For nearly 2 years afterwards, I was such a deep depression that I hardly remember any of it.  There was no scrapbooking, no journaling, no nothing.  I went to work or church and came home to sleep.  That was it. It wasn’t until I started pouring myself into others that needed help, senior ladies in my church that wanted to be a “secret sister” but couldn’t afford to.  I asked people to donate things they could use and started praying more, covering the pain and guilt of not being able to “fix him.”  I knew that I had done all I could for my dad, but the loss was so great that it stole my joy for a long time.  He would not be happy with that as he was a “giver.” We never had a lot growing up, but we always gave to others and helped where we could.

Do one thing a day for someone else.  This will take your eyes off of your pain and troubles for just a little bit and allow you to see the needs of others.  Also, do something you enjoy daily.  These things do not have to require money, but the decision and determination to do them.

The lack of “Things” will try to steal your joy, people and their attitudes will try to steal your joy, and circumstances that are beyond your control will try to steal your joy – but remember…you have a choice.  You can choose joy.

It’s ok to choose joy in the middle of pain and sorrow.  It’s ok to let go of the guilt and give yourself permission to be happy.  It’s ok to say, “I don’t understand, but I believe God has me” and simply trust HIM.

Look to your inheritance, don’t focus on the fear or sorrows that surround you, focus on the Father!

Download your Free PDF Worksheet

Discussion – choose to answer any or all of the following:

  1. What do you allow to hold you back from living a life of joy?
  2. What does your faith-life reveal about the depth of your relationship with God?
  3. How does it make you feel to understand that God dances over you with joy? Is that easy for you to believe? Why or why not?

 

**Make sure you check the box to receive the followup comments so you can communicate with others during this study

Choose Joy Bible Study

Choose Joy bible study

I’m personally inviting you to this Choose Joy Bible Study. If you don’t have the book, I encourage you to hop on Amazon and get a copy or head over to your local Christian Bookstore and grab one there.   I’m so excited about this 4 Week Bible Study!  Joy doesn’t come easy for many of us and with the issues that we face daily, sometimes we wonder if we’ll ever see/feel or have joy again.

The truth of the matter is that we can, and on a daily basis.  Choosing joy is possible, regardless of darkness that seems to surround you.

It is my desire that as we go through this study together you’ll not only choose joy but that you’ll daily display that the JOY of the Lord is YOUR strength!  Neh 8:10.

I know how painful day after day of troubles and trials are.  I know just how frightful and discouraging life’s issues are.  I know firsthand financial troubles, health issues with children and how the sting of unemployment affects families.  I know the loneliness and fear that can consume your heart during those times of complete darkness and sorrow.  I know how tightly discouragement holds on to you, rendering you powerless to even lift your head sometimes.   I know the pain and grief of families being torn apart and loved ones dying, never to hear their sweet voices or see their precious smile again.  I know how guilt and shame leaving you feeling like you have no right to blessings.  I know how the pain of any situation is enhanced when night falls and the silence of darkness surrounds you.

But….

I also KNOW the ONE who is right beside me as I’m struggling to choose joy and trust His will!  As I’m traveling through the darkness, HE doesn’t mind living there to protect me, to strengthen me and to guide me.

 

Our darkest days are no surprise to HIM.  Our tears of pain, aches of discouragement and feelings of failure are no surprise to Him.  Our anger and questions screamed at the top of our hearts because we simply don’t understand does not cause Him to worry or wonder what will happen.

I know how choosing joy through all of that is possible!  It’s not us it is HIM.

Joy Is

Can you imagine how your heart will be swimming in true joy, even when you wonder just how things will work out at all? 

Can you imagine the joy that others around you will experience, because joy is highly contagious?

Can you imagine living a life of joy, simply because you choose to? And we know that we can do all things through Christ. Phil 4:13.

Each week there will be a pdf to download with a Memory verse and some open questions to get your heart focused on Choosing Joy.

Let’s strengthen our resolve by studying this together and choosing joy together.

Can’t wait to see you and study this with you.  Dive right in and choose joy!

 

 

Prayer Works

We see example after example in the Bible where people went to God in prayer and had miraculous prayers answered, yet we doubt that God can still do that today.

God is the same as He was then.

Put Verses about Prayer throughout your home.  Commit them to memory and you’ll have them at a moments notice.

Even when the answer is NO, God always answers.  We may not understand, just like our children do not understand when we say no, but we know without a doubt we can trust Him.

Praying for a loved one to accept Christ, don’t stop

Praying for a loved one to return to Christ, don’t stop

Praying for healing, for a miracle, for yet ANOTHER miracle – do not stop!

Prayer Works!

We hope you’ll pin these verses, share on facebook and use them to remind your heart when the enemy says don’t bother, that God Hears and Answers Prayer

 

We are not alone john 16.32

 

 

 

prayer of a righteous person has great power james 5.16

 

prayer isnt the least you can do

 

Pray for your enemies Matthew 5.44

 

O Lord I pray deliver my soul Psalms 116.4

 

love endures all even a cruel cross 1 corinthians 13.7

 

Gods word is forever isaiah 40.8

 

God WILL Hear You Jeremiah 29.12

 

God will heal America 2 Chronicles 7.14

 

encourage others hebrews 10.24

 

ask and it will be given Matthew 7.7

 

What are your favorite verses on Prayer? 

Do you have verses scattered throughout your home? 

 

The Smell Of Smoke

Have you ever sat by a campfire and found, that even hours later, the smell of smoke had permeated your clothes?  It lingers, it clings and others can smell it too.

Often, as I live in a world that reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah, I’m aware that the smell of the culture has clung to me, that I’ve sat by their campfires too long.

I know, having experienced it, that by simply walking by a campfire the smoke of it easily and quickly permeates your clothing and the smell goes with you.  Some of that is unavoidable as we live in a world walking away from God, but it’s not the aroma I want others to smell in my life.

Paul writes of another aroma, another smell that permeates a Christian, that’s what I long to smell like,

 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” 2 Corinthians 2 

I live in a world that smells of smoke, the smoke of rebellion against God, but in the midst of that aroma God has given us a new fragrance, the smell of Christ, the aroma of life.

Lord, help me to live in the world, but not smell like it.  Let me smell like you, having walked by the fires of your Spirit burning in the lives of others, and may that aroma linger with me, the smell of Christ, and might it be a sweet aroma that draws men to you.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Most High God

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;

    wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;

    he deposes kings and raises up others.

He gives wisdom to the wise

    and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;

    he knows what lies in darkness,

    and light dwells with him.”

Daniel 2

Believe it or not there is a King in heaven in charge of everything.  He rules the kingdoms of this earth.  He raises up one leader and removes another.  HE is in charge, he rules the Universe…every molecule of it.

HE is King.

Then why are we afraid?  Why are we fighting over this politician or that one?  None of them can help us.  None of them can fix our problems.  They are just men placed there by God.

Why are we so angry, so afraid?  Why all the frustration, the name calling?

Is there a God in heaven or not?

If there is a God who rules then trust him.

If there isn’t then you aren’t fearful enough!

I’m saddened by what I see in the Christian world as “Christians” verbalize their fears in the public forums as if a man will be our solution.  Why do we trust in man?  Even David wrote of the foolishness of trusting in the strength of men.

Like Daniel, I’m so glad there is a sovereign and he does not rule from Washington or any other city.  He rules from heaven!

One of the worst kings of all time said this about that God, words that came after God humbled him,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.

“The Most High God”

There is a ruler over the affairs of man.

Oh that we would trust him and rest in his care.

He is in charge of everything, even who rules this little nation of ours.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Are You “Walking on Eggshells” in Your Marriage?

I remember the first time a friend took advantage of me. We were sitting in the theater, around age nine, and I had a box of Junior Mints. Because of the noise involved in opening and dumping the candy out, I had most of the box contents poured out onto my palm. As I sat there, I realized my friend might want one. She didn’t bring any money to the show, so I whispered, “Hey, do you want some?” I held my hand out, piled high with the little brown orbs of peppermint yumminess.

I thought she’d take a few and be thankful. She proceeded to scoop them off of my hand and into both of hers.

I was surprised. Shocked. Confused. Angry. I couldn’t believe she had done that. I wanted to say, “HEY. I meant a few of them! What’s wrong with you?” But I said nothing, because I was afraid I would upset her. And I didn’t have any experience with exercising my voice – I thought the only option I had was voicing my anger, which seemed mean, so I kept my mouth shut.

I didn’t realize at the time that I neither had a boundary of what she could take from me, nor had I communicated it to her. I was also missing a healthy way of dealing with her behavior.

I spent the rest of the movie feeling sad about my three leftover pieces in the box, and lied to myself that it was all fine. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what.

I know now what my negative feelings were that day – they were caused by a combination of being taken advantage of by another, and failing to speak the truth.

Feeling taken advantage of hurts because of two reasons:

  1. The person who is treating us poorly is failing to love well in that moment, and
  2. We betray ourselves by failing to communicate our injury

The residue of inaction damages our self-esteem. It’s important that we deal with these little situations as they occur – but do so in a way that doesn’t trample on the esteem of another person.

Many wives often feel as though they are taken advantage of by their husbands. They feel as though they are carrying the weight of the housework, the relationships, the kids’ activities, etc. They also may be working part-time or full-time and are physically exhausted. What’s interesting is that many men also feel the same way – burdened by providing for their families, responsible for the more strenuous and physical home care items, and then expected to participate in relationships at a level that often frustrates and confuses them. All too often, conflict ensues between husband and wife, voices raise, and unhealthy and even damaging behaviors start spilling out onto the family landscape as a result of stress and lack of self-control.

What we don’t easily acknowledge is that far too often, the behaviors of either spouse can fall into the categories of verbal or emotional abuse – even if neither spouse intends to do the other harm. Repeats of these behaviors often cause the damage that occurs in abusive relationships – regardless of the intent of either spouse.

There’s a trend in our culture to label everything – and to espouse answers from positions of the extremes.  If you are in a marriage where you have some of the signs but know your spouse doesn’t intend to hurt or dominate you, some healthy changes and awareness can help a lot.  I’m going to suggest today that we fear GOD, instead of fearing our spouse. It is the beginning of wisdom, and it is Biblical. We know He hates divorce, so we should keep that in mind as we deal with these issues. Check the following “signs” below – if you have those in addition to fear, if there is a sense of “walking on eggshells” in your relationship, keep reading to learn how you can help your marriage heal.

Sign #1 –

If you have emotional control, you go to her and say something like, “I know you love me, and I know you didn’t mean to, but when you did ‘A’ it made me feel ‘B’ and I’m really struggling with what to do about that,” and she responds by discounting your feelings, arguing with you, defending what she did, minimizing or mocking you.  If she turns the discussion into how you’ve hurt her and suddenly you’re the one apologizing, and this is how it goes most of the time when you bring up an issue, then guess what? You have some REALLY unhealthy stuff going on – things that can damage a person’s soul, things that are labeled in the culture as “abusive.”

Sign #2 –

If you are excited about something good that happens to you, or you have an interest that feeds your soul and you are met with degrading, mocking, put downs, name-calling, or other remarks that make the clear point that there’s something wrong with you, what you like, or the success that you achieved – this is also unhealthy and harming to a person. Ideally, BOTH spouses should be enthusiastic and supportive of the other – regardless of how different or similar to the other they are.

Sign #3 –

When you are sad, sick, discouraged, etc., and you are demeaned or dismissed instead of being helped or treated kindly.  When your spouse behaves in an unkind way toward you regardless of how you are feeling – the absence of kindness (If anyone knows the good he should do and does not do it, sins.  James 4:17) or the presence of general unkindness is also damaging.

Much information exists in the realm of psychology about how these behaviors (and many more) damage the esteem of another. Tons of research and writing has been done on outcomes of abuse and what happens to victims. So we know what damage occurs, and we know how to help both the abuser and the victim – BUT – there’s a problem with the “labeling” of either.

 The culture we live in recognizes “abusers” as people of heinous motives. The signs above assume he or she is trying to control, trying to coerce, trying to manipulate.

I don’t believe the majority of Christian “abusers” are doing these things with the intention to harm their spouses.

This would never fly in a marriage, but how often have you seen men work out their issues with each other by physically going after each other in basketball, etc.? I don’t get it, but it’s a thing. They don’t naturally do conflict the way we do. I’m not excusing their behavior in marriage, nor am I intending to discount abuse victims (I’ve been one, just so you know. This post barely skims the surface of the bullying of my school years, nor does it cover the rape…) but I’m asking us to be wise enough, afraid of God enough, to see the whole picture, not just see what things look like from only our own perspectives. To not label, which is a form of judgment. I think this is also mature, healthy behavior.

Esteem IS destroyed – as is the case in the traditionally labeled “abuse” case – and the behavior may be classified as “abusive” BUT – the motives of the abuser aren’t evil, and too often, the “victim” (and I’m using quotes out of respect for those women (and men) who truly are victims, ones who are being beaten on a daily basis and those women who are raped in their homes, etc.) the “victim” in these other situations is actually contributing to the high levels of conflict and abusive behavior by responding in kind, AND by lacking healthy boundaries.

In other words, if we will learn how to stop responding abusively back and consider that “silence” and “lack of affection” – natural responses to being screamed at – are also listed as abusive behaviors, and set healthy boundaries for ourselves, not as a parental and punitive response to our spouses, if we’ll do those things, we can change our marriages. I know this to be true.

Want more proof?

I personally know women who have been in these situations, some which classify as legitimate abuse, including some with husbands whose motives were even questionable – and they’ve overcome these situations and God has healed them and their marriages!

The other thing we need to remember is that Shaunti Feldhahn’s research in The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages shows that “thinking the best” and “giving the benefit of the doubt” are MAJORLY important.

So know this: if you label your spouse as an “abuser” and yourself as the “victim” you are adding an element of toxicity to your marriage that will infect it like a plague. Seriously. There are a number of ministries and authors who work to help women (and men) who recognize that their spouse is treating them in abusive ways – here’s the problem – I’ve talked to many of these authors and some of the ministry folks… and their success rate for restoring the marriages is very low. Less than 5% of the marriages are healed. Most end in divorce.

What we are suggesting instead, is an approach that combines Biblical truth of not accepting abusive behavior, protecting yourself and your kids, but also heals your marriage. It is not easy, but neither is the path walked by ascribing intent to your spouse and labeling him an abuser, which often results in divorce.

The choices become fairly clear when we look at things this way.  We can:

  1. Judge our spouse’s intentions and label him/her an “abuser” and ourselves as a “victim” – which most of the time leads toward divorce
  2. Choose to label both of us as “sinners” then do the hard work of establishing healthy boundaries, while still loving and respecting our spouse
  3. Actively pursue healing for ourselves if we have been on the receiving end of unhealthy and damaging behaviors

I’m suggesting #’s 2 and 3.

Most of the men I talk to who have hurt their wives have done so unintentionally, however, if your spouse DOES intend to hurt you, control you, destroy you, then you are dealing with something completely different and you require the help of a licensed psychologist, preferably a Christian. Even with that, some of the second and especially the third options above will still help a lot.

What I’m saying is there’s actually something we can DO about unhealthy behaviors – including the ones from others that result in a destruction of our esteem.

Interactions with our spouse may leave you feeling worthless, suicidal, damaged – BUT he or she may or may not be intentionally “abusing you.” If your spouse claims to be a Christian, Matthew 18 is there to help – although most people will not do the hard work of walking through it, or do so with someone who is ill-equipped to help.

What solves these problems in marriage is both spouses establishing healthy boundaries, while treating themselves and their husband or wife with love and respect. When both of you get on the same side of the fence to protect the marriage, you can work in the same direction. Labeling your spouse an “abuser,” even if his or her behaviors fit in that category, do not help the marriage. Dealing with your own mental health to heal from these behaviors by joining Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, or our Strength & Dignity eCourse (for women) will help you find healing.

I started our free Strength & Dignity eCourse to deal with these issues in a meaningful and life-changing way.  I see too many families being destroyed by good people who mean well who are missing some healthy alternatives to interaction AND are being coached in all the defensive ways to deal with being “abused” or “get control” of their families.  These tactics “work” by getting the women to safety, BUT – the marriage is destroyed. I want better options than that for us all.

May we all love and respect better today.

Nina Roesner is the author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a deeper connection with God & your husband (Thomas Nelson, 2012), and leads the free Strength & Dignity eCourse for wives who are suffering in verbally and emotionally difficult marriages. You can read more of her work at www.NinaRoesner.com .

Suicide

This morning a friend asked me to address suicide and my thoughts on this topic.

It’s a very personal topic for me.

My niece took her life several years ago and the thoughts of her are still near to all of us.  Suicide leaves questions for those have chosen it and for us left behind.

Why did they do it?  Was their life that bad?  How could they leave us like that?  And for us left behind, will the pain ever diminish?

As one author described it “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  If only they had asked for help, if only they had waited till morning, if only…..but all we have are unanswered questions that leave us empty and hurting.

And, in the area of faith and eternity these questions arise,

Is suicide a sin?

Can someone who commits suicide be forgiven?

Many have written that this is an unforgivable sin because we don’t have an opportunity to repent of it.  It’s a final choice, taking our lives into our own hands, leaving us no opportunity to repent.

One wrote that this situation leaves the person without forgiveness…doomed.

But let me address this topic in light of what Jesus did on the cross.
(Let me make clear that I’m speaking in reference to a Christian who would take their life.  If we are speaking of a person who hasn’t trusted Christ we have a completely different discussion to work on.)

Here are a series of questions that will help us get to some basic answers, are you ready?  (If you want all the scripture references do ask, but I’m leaving them out for the sake of brevity.)

1. When Jesus died on the cross how many of our sins did he die for?  If you know the bible the answer has to be “all of them”.  (Do you remember his last words? “It is finished.”  The total price was paid….it’s called “grace”.)

Hebrews tells us Christ died “once for all.”  (7:27, 10:10, 12, 14) What that means is that he made one sacrifice for all men, for all time, for all sins.

2. Now, if he died for all sins, when he died how many of your sins were still future?  If you’re thinking you have to respond, “all of them!”

3. So, when you trusted him as savior how many of your sins did he forgive?  You can see where I’m going, can’t you?  Again, you will have to reply, “all of them!”

I’m sure you are asking what does this have to do with suicide?  But be patient, we will get there….you can’t deal with such a difficult issue so easily.

One person wrote that when you commit suicide you don’t have a chance to repent and they are right, but based on what I have asked you already, what does repentance have to do with forgiveness?

Did you understand the implications of what I just asked?  IF you have trusted Christ then all your sins, past, present and future are forgiven already.  All of them!  Even my last choice of taking my own life.

Some will quote 1 John 1:9 in this discussion.  I’ve heard it many times as a response to grace, but read this verse in context and you will see it’s a once for all verse-  “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 fits perfectly with what we have discussed already.

Repentance is important, but it’s a response to forgiveness, not a way of getting it.  Forgiveness was done at the moment you trusted Christ.  Repentance is the right response on my part to sin and deals with my relationship with God, not my forgiveness.

Am I giving approval to those thinking about suicide? Not at all!

God forbid!

It’s a sad, terrible, painful choice that scars those left behind….but for the one who has chosen, in that dark moment, to take their own life and not trust God with the days ahead, they will still find themselves with the Lord, forgiven of sin, regretting their final choice to not trust God with the situation they faced.

Is a Christian who commits suicide forgiven and in heaven? YES!

Do they regret their choice? YES!  Because, in light of eternity, they realize they didn’t wait to see what God could do with their terrible situation.

I’m sure my niece wishes she could undo her choice, but she can’t and we live with the pain….missing her daily.

Are you thinking about taking your own life?  Please don’t!  Get help, tell someone, wait till morning…you will never regret the choice to trust God, but for the dear saint who is so broken that they sin and commit suicide you will see them in heaven.  And we will rejoice at a wonderful savior who provides all we need, even when our last choice is the worse one of all.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Key To Everything

Christ is the key that unlocks the mystery of history.

Poetic, isn’t it? The quote above, in part, is from a German theologian.  After writing more than 17,000 pages on the Bible and Christ these are his concluding thoughts.

The key to everything is Jesus Christ.  If you leave him out the box remains locked, the mystery still a mystery, the reason for our existence still uncertain.

Jesus himself told the religious leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” That’s either the most arrogant thing ever said or the most profound truth ever revealed.

Your response to Christ is the most important decision you will ever make.

Years ago I spent some time with the great Major Ian Thomas.  He was a wonderful man of God, crusty to be sure, but he loved the Lord.  Once, before he spoke, I made the mistake of asking him, “What are you going to talk about tonight?”

He replied, with a bit of irritation, “I’m going to talk about Jesus, what else is there to talk about?”

And he’s right.

In the last book of the bible these words begin the text, “The revelation of Jesus Christ.”  In five words we get a hint to the theme of this last book, to the entire bible, and in this book revelations about Jesus are in nearly every chapter.  It’s about him.  He’s the key to everything!

Without Christ, without knowing him, life remains a mystery. Without him we have no purpose, no meaning, no reason for being.

Jesus Christ is the key to everything. Do you know him?

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Precipice

The Precipice - When Everything you know Changes

Having known TC Avey via Social Media (@TCAvey1 on Twitter) for several years now, reading her blog and interacting with her socially, I was very excited to find out she was writing a book.  I was gifted a copy of The Precipice: When Everything We Know Ends in exchange for an honest review.

I read the book in ONE sitting. Easy to keep up with,expertly written and I have to say, each scenario is completely possible in this day and age.

While this book is a work of fiction, TC has done her homework with these three short stories and honestly the things in her book could become reality for many.

These stories easily get your attention as specific freedoms are challenged. 

I would suggest using the Reality Check section at the end of each story in this book in a Bible study settings to prompt discussions about the events she covers as well as family time discussions.

As you read her book, search your own heart and think of what you would do should everything as you know it….change.

Here is an interview TC has graciously given me.  

1.  What prompted you to write this book? 

I’ve always been passionate about Current Events, History, and the Word of God. A few years ago God began tying these together so that each news story or history lesson I read, I saw God at work.

I was troubled when I began to see the path America, and the world, is on.

I found comfort in 2 Chronicles 7:14 but I felt compelled to do more.

But what was I to do?

After church one day, God gave me this message. It took months of prayer, research, and seeking God before this book became a reality. More than once I tried tabling this book and saying it wasn’t the “right time”, but I had no peace when I did this.

Continually God brought me back to Jeremiah 20:8-9. I can’t keep this message inside. It must be spoken. How it is received isn’t up to me. I must do my part and trust God to finish what He began. God is speaking to His people…are we listening?

2.  Each person has gifts given to them by God to aide in their calling. How did you know you were called to write?

I’m not sure. Some people hear a voice from God. Some people know from a young age. There are countless books/resources out there to help you discover your gifts. Each Member in the Body of Christ has gifts and those gifts are meant to bring glory to God.

For me, I can’t NOT write. I love writing. I love reading. I love learning. Those are things God placed inside me. But I’ve not always used them for His glory.

I wrote for years, but it’s only been since 2011 that I’ve been courageous enough to share my writings with the world through my blog, Wisdom of a Fool.

I guess my answer to those seeking to know their gifts and calling is ask yourself, what passions has He placed inside me? What do I enjoy doing?

When I began my blog, I had no idea God would lead me to write this book. But this book takes all my passions (reading, writing, research, God) and brings them together, hopefully all for His glory and not my own.

3.  Explain how your book encourages people to be more active in their faith. 

When we accept Christ as our Savior we are a New Creation. That New Creation longs to please God, to do good works, to bring Him glory.

We can never earn our Salvation, but when we begin to grasp all that God has done for us, we can’t help but share that Good News with the world.

Our flesh wars with our spirits and this world does a wonderful job of distracting us from the Great Commission we are each given.

It’s my prayer that people will read my book and be inspired to KNOW God more. To follow Him. To dedicate their lives, energies, talents, time and so on to the One who gave Himself for us (John 3:16-17).

Truth is, our lives aren’t about us. They are about the One who purchased us, who redeemed us from our fleshly desires.

It’s time we wake up and stop living our lives for ourselves and begin being a City on a Hill.

I hope my book helps people analyze where they place their trust. Anything other than the solid foundation of Christ won’t stand.

4.  If people take one thing away from your book, what do you hope it is? 

Not to fear the trials and pains of this world, but cling to the Word of God. For God’s Word to be ALIVE in them. Jesus says that in this world we will have tribulation, but we can have hope and joy because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

This type of hope and joy can only be found in a RELATIONSHIP with Christ, not a religion. 

5.  How can people maintain their joy when there are so many troubling things in the world? 

By NOT focusing on what is transpiring in the world. Focus on the Word of God.

This seems contrary to much of my book highlighting Modern Events.

However, it’s true. God’s Word must be our source and foundation. That being said, I think it’s imperative people also know what is going on in the world.

How can we know how to pray? How can we see the signs described to us in Matt 24, if we don’t pay attention to the birth pangs transpiring around us?

How can we encourage others, if we don’t know what it is they are burdened with?

God’s Word must permeate our minds and souls, but we can’t neglect to stay informed if only so we can help others who are burdened down with the cares of this world.

Also, one must never operate their lives from a position of fear. Fear is satans tool to immobilize us. But God, who is perfect love, casts out fear. Cling to that Love. Stay in the Vine.

BIO-

TC Avey is a Christian devoted to God, family and friends. She is passionate about encouraging Christians to live a life dedicated to Christ as well as helping them understand the importance of preserving our national freedoms through knowledge and love. She blogs at Wisdom of a Fool (tcavey.blogspot.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (TCAvey1). Her book, The Precipice: When Everything We Know Ends, is available on Amazon.  You can also check out her book on GoodReads.

 

I highly recommend this book. I hope you’ll read it, spend some time in thought with regards to the events listed in the book and then share it.

Thanks TC for this opportunity to share The Precipice: When Everything We Know Ends.

*No compensation was received in exchange for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to give a positive review. 

 You can purchase a copy via Amazon here. 

What will you do when your basic Christian Freedoms are challenged? Get the book, think about it.

And Others….

Faith is an essential part of the Christian life.  We came to God by faith, we live by faith, all we have is the result of faith.

Faith in God is at the very heart of the Christian experience.

There is a chapter in the bible that speaks exclusively of men and women who lived by faith, trusted God, made choices, built boats…all by faith.  They believed God, acted and saw the results of their faith in their lives.

But others (and this is where we struggle with the passage) lived by faith and died, lost everything, struggled, were tortured and seemed to fail.

We have a problem with that because we have adopted the belief that if we have faith good things will happen, prosperity will come, prayers will be answered, mountains will move.

But not for everyone, not all the time.

Some will live by faith and have nothing,

be hungry,

struggle to live at all

and others will lose their lives.

All these things will happen in the lives of people of faith!

How can this be?

Doesn’t faith do things?

Doesn’t it have good results?

Here are the words from this chapter on faith that we try to ignore,

“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—  the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,”

These were men and women of faith and it appears their faith “didn’t work!”  But faith is not a gum ball machine…put in your coin and get your prize…it’s trust in God with no idea of what will happen next.

It’s living with eyes on God regardless of the outcome.

Faith is trust in God.  It’s not a magic lamp I can use for my desires, but it’s a decision to trust in the God who loves me no matter what happens!

So what if I’m one of the “others”, those who don’t see their faith “work?”  What if I trust God and lose everything?  I still win!  I’m trusting God, even if I have nothing at all, even if I’m tortured, even if I lose my life…I still win and my faith in God will take me into eternity!

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

God Fashioned

Created-For-More-Front-Cover-FINAL-682x1024

 

God Fashioned by Author and Biblical Life Coach Bridget Haymond 

Is a remarkable daily devotional divided into 10 weeks that covers various topics to help you clearly see that you were fashioned by God for more than you could have ever imagined.

In this crazy world we live in you are easily reminded of your faults, your issues, your troubles but THIS devotional has been written to help you see the best in yourself so that you can focus your energy on what God wants you to be and His desires for your life.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll keep saying it, the negative is so easy to see! Author Bridget Haymond has written this devotional in such a way that each day you’ll be able to see beyond the negative as you look deeper into what God truly created you for.

She has crafted daily devotions that are easy to read with thought provoking questions at the end that are for men, women and even teens.  Your pre-teen looking for their purpose, for direction? Get this book for them and take time daily to read and discuss it with them.

She has laid it out with topics that flow from day to day in such a thoughtful way so that you are not overcome, yet you are looking into the positive, the talents and good that God has created you for.

I love that she ends each week with a weekly reflection.  This is awesome for the group discussions, or parent/teen discussion that you can have.

Your youth group will benefit from it, your Sunday school, small group or even your personal daily devotional time.

This study can easily be broken down into a 4 week study by reading 2 pages a day. Many feel that they cannot maintain a long 10 week study, but this book will not leave you feeling that way.  You can easily modify this to fit your study group’s need.

What are your needs? Do you feel that you are looking for more from God? Do you feel that He has fashioned you for more and you just don’t know what it is? Then you should get this book and dig in! 

I’ve know Bridget for years and have had the privilege of sharing many cups of coffee, laughs and the warmest hugs with her! Her coaching skills are amazing, her love for helping people to draw closer to the Lord makes my heart smile and I KNOW that you and your group will love her devotional!

YOU Were Created for more! God Fashioned you for such a time as this!

You will want to Get your copy today from Amazon here. Paperback copy or Kindle Version 

I’m giving away a copy of her book! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment. Winner will be drawn August 24th 2015. That’s right…nothing to fill out, nothing to click, nothing to extra other than say hello in the comments below. I just love easy! Brings me great JOY.

 

Some of my favorite quotes: 

  • Rather than merely seeking gifts from the Lord, make it your goal to enjoy a vibrant relationship with Him first and foremost.
  • God offers us real life with the added benefit of friendship with Him.
  • Ultimately, choices reflect heart attitudes and values.
  • Daily renewing your mind with the word of God will help you recognize those things that aren’t His best for your life
  • obedience to Him is not an imposition, but a joyful expression of your love, trust and respect for Him
  • Your life is intended to be a light that points the way to Jesus
  • While growing up in Christ requires self-control, faith and endurance, it also involves learning to rest in His grace.
  • When you make room for God to work in and through your life, He can give you unique strategies and the strength to overcome obstacles and bring good out of bad situations

Here are some ways to get to Know Bridget Better, and honestly, I hope you do.  You’ll be glad you did. 

Website: http://bridgethaymond.com/

Twitter: @Bridgethaymond

Facebook: Bridget Haymond Christian Life Coach

 

lighthouse

 

 

 

Verses on Comfort

verses of comfort

 

Sometimes when our heart is in so much pain we can’t think of verses that will bring comfort.  Bookmark this page, print out these verses and keep them in your Bible or pin this page.  Whatever you need to do to help keep the verse handy.

Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 71:21 – You will increase my greatness and comfort me again

Psalm 77:2 – In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

Psalm 86:17 – Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 119:50 – This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life

psalm 119 50

 

Psalm 119:76 – Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant

Jeremiah 31:13 – Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

2 Corinthians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort   (Did you catch that dear Christian? the GOD of ALL COMFORT!!) 

2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you

1 Thessalonians 3:7 – for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith

2 Thessalonians 2:16 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace

 

What Verses do you turn to for comfort?

Do you have any printed out?

Will you share them in the comments below?

May the JOY of the Lord fill your heart today!

 

Week 5 Bible in 90 Days

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We’ve come a long way through our Bible! I’ve enjoyed getting to know old characters again, being reminded that even though many failed and failed BIG that they were still mightly used by the Lord because they were willing to be used.  I’ve enjoyed hearing many, many times – do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.  I hope that you are enjoying the journey so far as well!

This Weeks Schedule:

  • Day 29 1 Chronicles 1:1 – 1 Chronicles 9:44
  • Day 30 1 Chronicles 10:1 – 1 Chronicles 23:32
  • Day 31 1 Chronicles 24:1 – 2 Chronicles 7:10
  • Day 32 2 Chronicles 7:11 – 2 Chronicles 23:15
  • Day 33 2 Chronicles 23:16 – 2 Chronicles 35:15
  • Day 34 2 Chronicles 35:16 – Ezra 10:44
  • Day 35 Nehemiah 1:1 – Nehemiah 13:14

Books we’ll encounter this week:

1 Chronicles Overview:  Covers much of the same ground as 2 Samuel. This book was written after Judah returns from exile and is intended as an encouragement to the returnees. Its emphasis in on the more positive events/aspects of the reigns covered.

2 Chronicles Overview:  Covers much of the same ground as 1 & 2 Kings.  Like Chronicles, it was written after Judah returns from exile and is intended to encourage.

Ezra Overview:  When Cyrus became king of Persia, the Lord led him to free teh exiles to return to Jerusalem. Ezra, a teacher “well versed in the Law of Moses” arrives several decades later to discover that many from Judah have been intermarrying with the neighboring peoples.

Nehemiah Overview:  Whereas Ezra is a teacher and scribe, Nehemiah is a leader. The book of Nehemiah celebrates the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls against significant odds. The behavior of the residents when Nehemiah is in residence and when he is not harkens back to the era of the Judges.

Consider:

1.  How does the Lord use the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12?

2.  Does David immediately realize the significance of Nathan’s story about the rich man?

3.  What does David’s response in 2 Samuel 12:13 say about his relationship with God?

4.  What were the consequences of David’s sin?

5.  Has there been an “aha” triggered by your reading this week that you have been able to immediately apply to your life?

Do you know that we are going to be halfway through the Old Testament? *Clapping* GOOD for YOU!!  If you have fallen behind, don’t give up!! Keep reading. Keep at it! You’ll be glad you did!

Click here to Listen to the Bible as you read it.

This Weeks Study Guide. There is good stuff here, don’t pass this by!

When you finish this week you are 1/3 through this lesson! The best way to maintain an awesome relationship with the Lord is to stay close to Him by staying in His Word!

 

 

Week 4 Bible in 90 Days

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As we near completing our first month of Bible reading, I’m excited that this goal is actually possible.  I’m still a little behind, but working diligently to catch up.   I hope that you are still on track and are enjoying your journey.  If you are behind, still work on it.  Think about it…how bad its it to have read through your bible in 100 days? hmmm?

You can do this.  I have faith in you.

Bible Reading Schedule for this week:

  • Day 22 1 Samuel 28:20 – 2 Samuel 12:10
  • Day 23 2 Samuel 12:11 – 2 Samuel 22:18
  • Day 24 2 Samuel 22:19 – 1 Kings 7:37
  • Day 25 1 Kings 7:38 – 1 Kings 16:20
  • Day 26 1 Kings 16:21 – 2 Kings 4:37
  • Day 27 2 Kings 4:38 – 2 Kings 15:26
  • Day 28 2 Kings  15:27 – 2 Kings 25:30

In the early 1990’s H. Jackson Brown wrote Life’s Little Instruction Book. His son was going to college and he watned to share some gems of wisdom that he had gleaned over the years. He collected 511 gems of wisdom that were to guide his son’s life.  For instance – learn to make great chili, never buy a house without a fireplace, overtip breakfast waitresses, be brave – even if you’re not, pretend to be – no one can tell the difference etc etc.

His son responded enthusiastically and the document made its way to a publisher and became a best seller. It’s hard to know whether anyone was transformed by this  – but the Bible…that’s a different story.  Billions of people have been changed by its message of hope and salvation.

Books you’ll Encounter This Week:

1 Kings – The book opens with the region of Solomon, a time when Israel enjoys a great deal of influence, wealth and worldwide recognition.  Yet, even as the world’s wisest man, Solomon is corrupted by worldly matters and the faiths of his wives and concubines. At his death the kingdom becomes divided.

2 Kings – Continues the account of the kings and the divided kingdom through the fall of Jerusalem

Reading Tips:

Many new people and names are introduced that can be hard to distinguish from one another.  Some events are described more than one and the kings of Israel and Judah are handled in rapid-fire succession.  To minimize confusion, slow down, read attentively.  Notice the patterns of behavior by the various kings.

Discussion:

1. Why do you think there is such a disconnect between modern Christians and the Bible?

2.  How is your perception of the Bible changing as you read each day?

3.  What questions evolved from your readings this week?

4.  Our reading shows us many instances when Israel only partially follows God’s commands. What are some examples and the results?

5.  Based on our reading to date, talk about what God tends to do whan a society turns to him for help.

6. List the tragedies and unfortunate events that befall Naomi and Ruth in the Book of Ruth. Does any good come from all of this?

7.  What are some examples of tragedy or hardship from which good has emerged?

8.  Do you have any “life instructions” you’d like to share?

Click here to Listen to the Bible as you read it.

This Weeks Study Guide. There is good stuff here, don’t pass this by!

 

Please print out the Lesson! It will help you so much as you journey through the Bible!

What are your thoughts so far?

How are you doing?

Week 3 Bible in 90 Days

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Starting Week 3 of our Journey through the Bible.  I have to confess, this is quite the challenge.  Of course everything has gotten busier to the Nth degree and reading 12 pages a day is difficult.  I have been reading everyday, but I must confess….I am behind.  I will be caught up by the end of this session.

How are YOU doing? Are you ahead? Are you behind? What are your thoughts so far?

Reading Schedule for this week:

  • Day 15 – Deuteronomy 23:12 – Deut 34:12
  • Day 16 – Joshua 1:1 – Joshua 14:15
  • Day 17 – Joshua 15:1 – Judges 3:27
  • Day 18 – Judges 3:28 – Judges 15:12
  • Day 19 – Judges 15:13 – I Samuel 2:29
  • Day 20 – I Samuel – 2:30 – I Samuel 15:35
  • Day 21 – I Samuel 16:1 – I Samuel 28:19

This Week’s Reading Tips:

Pay attention to the following people in your reading this week. How do these people interact with God? How faithful are they to God’s will?

  • Joshua: Joshua, Rahab
  • Judges: Deborah, Gideon, Samson
  • Ruth: Ruth, Naomi, Boaz
  • 1 Samuel: Samuel, Saul, David

Books You’ll Encourter This Week:

Joshua Overview: Moses’ former assistant becomes leader of the nation of Israel. The book celebrates the many victories that God brings to the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership. At the same time, the failure of the people to follow completely God’s plans plants the seeds for future failure.  KEY TEACHINGS: God kept his promise, giving the land he had  promised to Abraham many centuries earlier.   God is the one who brings victory; there is no foe that can withstand him.  God expects obedience.

Judges Overview: this book clearly delineates the impact of leaders who follow God from those who do not.  Some of the favorite Biblical personalities from children’s Sunday School are found here – Deborah, Gideon and Samson.  Key Teachings: God is patient, just and merciful.  God is able to accomplish his plan even through flawed individuals. God held the Israelites accountable to his expectations of them.

Ruth Overview: Ruth’s story of faithfulness is remarkable in its own right, made more so considering she was from Moab, a nation considerd an enemy of Israel. Ruth and Boaz are ancestors of Christ.  Key Teachings: God remained faithful to his people even when the times were characterized by unfaithfulness.  God provides for those who are faithful.

1 Samuel Overview: Samuel is not only a priest, prophet and judge, but a kingmaker. At God’s behest, Samuel anoints Saul the first king of Israel after the people call for a king.  God later directs Samuel to anoint Saul’s successor, David, which sets up a series of conflicts between Saul and David.  Key Teachings: God provided a king for his people.  God Reigns!  God’s power and sovereignty are demonstrated through his king.  God will punish even his chosen ones when they disobey.

Think about it:

“A young man asked God how long a million years was to him. God replied, it’s like a single second in your time. Then the young man asked God what a million dollars was to him. God replied, it’s like a single penny to you.  Then the young man asked God, Could I have one of your pennies? God smile and replied, sure…give me one second.”

God perceives time differently than we do. God gives us the same amount of time and the question isn’t if we have the time to read 12 pages a day, it is if we choose to.  How are we choosing to use our time?

Questions for discussion:

1.  Are you reading the Bible instead of other things in your life or in addition to?

2.  If you are still struggling with your reading, what activites can you eliminate? Where can you squeeze in more reading?

3.  What advice would you give to others who are just beginning this journey or are struggling to keep up.

Digging In:

4.  Refer to Leviticus and list the 5 main sacrifices

5. God lays out the elements and purposes of these offerings with some specificity. Is there too much detail here? What does this suggest about God’s involvement with his people’s lives?

6. What happens to Aaron’s sons in Leviticus 10: 1-2? What does this tell us about how God expectus us to interact with Him?

Applying it:

7.  In Numbers we find God’s people wandering in the wilderness for several decades after failing to believe God would lead them to victory.  Have you ever experienced a similar delay due to fear or similar lack of belief? How can we apply this to our lives today?

Click here to Listen to the Bible as you read it.

This Weeks Study Guide. There is good stuff here, don’t pass this by! Do you worry a lot? You’ll want to get this study guide.

 

Just seeing this post? No need to worry. Pick up here and join us as we walk through the Bible. You can always circle back around and finish up after the last lesson.

Getting closer to the Lord is as easy as getting into HIS Word.

 

Week 2 Bible in 90 Days

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Wow, what an exciting week we’ve had so far! I’m glad that you are along with me on this journey! Here is the main landing page for our study The Bible in 90 Days.  It has all of the links of the various resources and will have each week linked to it at the bottom.

Here is a Free Study Guide for week 2.  This has some great information. I hope you’ll grab it.  Here are a few thoughts taken from the study guide for this weeks reading:

Have you ever experienced a wilderness, a time of wandering and dryness in the desert, where you felt deserted by God?

  • A financial circumstance that is burying you
  • Waiting for an adoption to be finalized
  • Lacking clarity after graduation
  • Attempting to sell a house that has been on the market way too long
  • An illness that won’t go away
  • A family member who is rebelling
  • A dream that is turning to disappointment

Survival Skills for the wilderness – 1.  Don’t Whine Numbers 11:4-6 (speaking directly to me!!) 2.  Get Help – Numbers 11:10-15  3.  Grow Strong Numbers 11:16-18

These things and more are discussed in the free weekly study guide. Enjoy!

Reading Schedule for this week:

  • Day 8 – Lev 1:1 through Lev 14:32
  • Day 9 – Lev 14:33 through Lev 26:26
  • Day 10 – Lev 26:27 through Numbers 8:14
  • Day 11 – Numbers 8:15 through Numbers 21:7
  • Day 12 – Numbers 21:8 through Numbers 32:19
  • Day 13 – Numbers 32:20 through Deut 7:26
  • Day 14 – Deut 8:1 through Deut 23:11

Biblegateway on the computer or Youversion on your phone allows you to listen to these chapters! I hope you’ll take advantage of it.

 

Think about it:

Unless you’ve adopted, you don’t get a choice about the children you have.  One difference between God and us is that He does know who his children will be.  Yet He creates us and gives us a free will, despite that knowledge.  A question we might ponder while reading the Bible from cover to cover is, “knowing what HE knows, why would God create each one of us? Why did God create me?”

 Reading Tips:

  • Remember what our goal is: “To read, attentively, every word of the Bible in 90 days.”
  • As you encounter repetition in the Bible, consider it an opportunity to more firmly plant important writings in your mind.
  • Do not obsess with capturing everything you are reading. Absorb what you can, God will bring it back as you need it.
  • If you’ve gotten behind in your reading, don’t give up! Catch up by reading a little more each day or take Sunday and catch up.

Leviticus Overview:

This book of rules gives direction to the Levitical priests in the rituals necessary to maintain holiness for the children of Israel. While modern readers may marvel at the seeming harshness of some directives, it also includes God’s earliest command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (and we are always kind to ourself aren’t we?)

Numbers Overview:

At the beginning of this book, the Israelites number 603,550 at the end they number 601,730. What occurs in between is a lessonin the pitfalls of failing to submit to God and his plan.

Deuteronomy Overview:

With the Israelites finally approaching entry to the promised land, many elements of the previous four books are revisited here, including the Ten Commandments. Moses gets to view the promised land from Mount Nebo but dies before his people enter it.

 

Some discussion questions:

1.  What did you modify (if anything) this week to make sure that you  did your Bible reading? .

2.  When/how did you read? Did you do it all at once, break it up? Read in the mornings, evenings?

3. Ok…honesty time – you ready for this? Did you complete all of your reading? hmmm?? If yes, was it easy for you? If no, what can you do to try and get back with it? Please don’t give up.  We are in this together.

4. What are your suggestions to help others that may have found the first week difficult?

5. So many emotions in last weeks reading.  Did you relate at all? Have you been angry with God? How do you handle it? Is the God you read about in Genesis and exodus the God that you “know”.

6. Adam and Eve blew it. Cain blew it.  What can we learn from it, because it’s just a matter of time before we blow it.

7.  Can you recall the 10 Commandments? You don’t have to list them here, but just for the fun of it…try.  Don’t be afraid, because there is NO way your memory is worse than mine!

Please feel free to list any “aha” moments, any verses that spoke to you.  I hope that you’ll listen to the audio notes as far as the discussion goes.  Speak yer peace….what say ye? hmmm? *grinning*

Keep drawing closer to God! Stay in the Word! You are developing great habits of reading/listening and moving closer to the Lord each and every day!

 

Week 1 Bible in 90 Days

bible study

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey through the Bible in 90 days.  I hope that you are excited and as we near the end, that you’ll be thrilled to have made your way through the Bible from cover to cover.   I’m so excited! I have a lot of resources for you to get started with, so let’s dive right in!

Here is a pdf version of the schedule that you can print off and use to track your reading.

Here is a free study guide for this week.

Reading Schedule for the Week:  tip: Bible Gateway has Audio. Listen to some of the chapters.

  • Day 1 = Genesis 1:1 – Genesis 16:15
  • Day 2 = Genesis 17:1 – Genesis 28:19
  • Day 3 = Genesis 28:20 – Genesis 40:11
  • Day 4 = Genesis 40:12 – Genesis 50:26
  • Day 5 = Exodus 1:1 – Exodus 15:18
  • Day 6 = Exodus 15:19 – Exodus 28: to end
  • Day 7 = Exodus 29:1 – Exodus 40: to end

 

Please download the Free pdf lessons.  Listening to some of the chapters will help you stay on track each day.  This weekend, I’ll come back here and answer the discussion questions and share with you.  Feel free to add in any suggestions, comments and things that have helped you with your study this week.

Would love to hear any blessings or encouragements that helped you as well!

Story:

A deeply religious man lived in a house by the river, but one day the banks burst and the house was flooded. As the water level rose alarmingly, the man climbed onto the roof of the house. A Boat came by. “Climb aboard.” called the captain.  “No, I shall stay here,” said the man. “God will take care of me.”  Twenty minutes later, the waters sill rising, the man climbed onto the chimney. Another boat came past. “Jump aboard,” said the captain.  “No, I shall stay here,” said the man. “God will take care of me.”  With the water up to the man’s waist, a helicopter suddenly swooped down.  “Quick!” shouted the pilot. “Climb aboard!”

“No, I shall stay here,” said the man. “God will take care of me.” The water level continued to rise,  soon the man was swept away from the chimney and drowned.  Up in heaven, he sought out God. “I thought you said you would take care of me,” he complained. God said, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?”

Do you have any questions for me? If so, please ask away.

Group discussion questions: 

1. Have you tried to read the Bible in its entirety?  Did you make it? How long did it take?

2.  What challenges did you face? If you didn’t get all the way through, how far did you get?

3.  What is the biggest challenge you are facing in this study (if any)?

4.  What have you found rewarding so far in your attempts to read the Bible regularly?

5.  If you’ve started to read through the entire Bible but have never finished it, what has kept you from finishing your goal?

6.  What excites you most about the prospect of reading the entire Bible in 90 days?

7.  Why do you believe it is important to read the entire Bible? What do you expect to discover in terms of practical living, spiritual growth, knowledge of history or other areas?

Reading Tips:

  • You’ll be reading the Bible on your own. Set your schedule and plan to read each day. In 90 days, you’ll have accomplished your goal.
  • We’ll meet here on the blog post and discuss anything you need to cover.  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but we will find them together if need be. I’m hoping that as others chime in and discuss what they read, that any questions will be answered that way.
  • Try to read at different times to see what works best for you. Most of all, do not give up – even if you fall behind.

Understand what you can while reading, but remember – different things will “jump out” at you at different times.

Books you’ll encounter this week:

Genesis – The adventure begins. Creation of the universe and all things in it.

Exodus – Slavery and the deliverance from Egypt.

If it’s helpful to do so, print out this page, put it in your Bible and check off the schedule as you go along. Jot down some notes highlighting what you’ve read. Any knowledge gained, verses that spoke to you or just favorite passages.

Leave any comments, questions and items you’d like to discuss below. Also, please do take time to answer the discussion questions.  You never know how you’ll encourage someone to keep going after their goal!

If you are replying to someone, please include their name.  If you are on twitter, please leave your twitter name, so others can follow you.  I love getting to know others this way!

Let’s do this!

 

 

Bible in 90 Days Study

 

bible in 90 days

The Bible in 90 Days 

I’ve done this study a few years back and wanted to do it again with you! Many feel you can’t “get anything” when you read through the Bible in this fashion, but I submit to you God Promised HIS Word will NOT return void.  So, what do you have to lose?

Each week I’ll post the schedule, some discussion questions and a FREE study guide for us to follow along/help us out with.

We will start Sunday 6/21 but you can Join us at anytime!

You do NOT need to purchase another Bible.

Each week I will be posting the schedule for the week, some thoughts, questions and such.  But, should you want to, here is a link for products in this study that has a NIV Bible with the pages marked with start and finish.  There is also a participant guide you can purchase for $8.99. Personally I like the participant guide, but feel free to use a journal or notebook to write things down in.

You will be able to participate in discussions about what we read by answering questions, leaving comments, asking questions and having a fun time as we soak up the history of so many wonderful people, times and miracles listed in the Bible.

We’ll be reminded that even great men failed to believe, do the right thing at the right time and even got angry, disobeyed direct commands, yet still were mighty men of faith.  We’ll see the beauty of relationships restored, faith increased and tears of joy through out this study.  Are you committed? Are you a little nervous? Are you with me?

If you use the Bible from the link above, you’ll read 12 pages a day.  Just 12.  You can do this. WE can do this.  Many may wonder about reading through so “quickly” and not retaining it.  Well, if my math is correct – you’ll be reading through your Bible 4 times a year.  I don’t know about you, but I’m expecting growth from this!

What can you expect as we journey through the Bible together?  These are just a few of my own personal observations, but I feel that you can expect:

  • “Things” to get in your way and you’ll fall behind. If this happens, take the time to read a few extra pages a day, or set time on Sunday to get caught up.
  • Work to pick up and tiredness will be a factor. Read while you rest!!
  • You’ll make it through the Bible in 90 days having learned/felt something that applied to right where you are, right now. Growth, hope and inspiration.
  • You’ll find new friends that are supporting what you do here. Even if it’s just me ;-)
  • Questions that may lead to more questions. But, together, we’ll find the answers.
  • More admiration for the Lord
  • A deeper, closer walk with the Lord.
  • Joy in your heart from overcoming your fears of failure in this area.

I’m hoping by the end, you’ll have a desire to do it again. Each time you read through the Bible, you’ll get something different, as you are in a different place in your life.  It will be an awesome accomplishment by the time a year ends and we will have read through the Bible 4 times!

There are study guides that give extra insight in each week. I hope you’ll grab them and make use of them.

 

You can also read through your Bible ONCE in this year by using THIS schedule

If you want to Join me on this 90 Day Bible Adventure, please leave your name, twitter handle (if you have one) and State/area below so that we can interact together.  I’ll be posting things in the comments about my adventure, and hope that you’ll do the same!

Make sure you check back to catch up on any comments that are made here.

We can do this!

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

 

 

The Captain’s Face

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to go sailing with a good friend of mine. Ray was an oil man who had literally gone from struggling to pay the bills to millionaire overnight. In the 80’s it happened to a number of guys, but Ray was a Christian and a friend, so we talked about our faith, God’s provision and his blessings often.

After his new fortune Ray bought a boat he had always wanted, it was a 38′ sailboat. He had it delivered to Grand lake in eastern Oklahoma. It’s a large lake and a great place to sail.

There was a day one spring when we both had some time and Ray asked me to go sailing with him. I was thrilled to join him. I had never sailed before and looked forward to the experience. We met at the lake and got on the boat to get underway. Slowly we motored out of the inlet into the lake and then put up the sails. It was a great experience! I loved the sounds of the wind in the sails, the waves on the boat and the experience of sailing by wind power alone. We had a great time and a wonderful visit.

Then it happened.

Suddenly, and really without warning, a storm came up. It was a big one. 50-60 mile per hour winds and gusts, 3-4 foot waves, black clouds moving overhead. Quickly the lake cleared of other boats. Within minutes we were in a storm I can imagine the disciples experienced on the sea of Galilee when they woke Jesus and declared, “Don’t you care that we are drowning?” I think I understood the fear they experienced.

Our boat was leaning with the storm winds at 50 degrees or more. The waves were washing over the deck. The skies were black. The rain was intense. I WAS AFRAID!

But then I turned around and looked at Ray as he steered the boat across the lake. HE WAS SMILING!

I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t he see what I saw? Didn’t he know this was bad? In my amazement I yelled through the storm, “How can you smile in this storm? Don’t you see the wind and the waves?” I heard the disciples in my own voice as I said, “Don’t you care that we might drown?”

Ray smiled back and said, “You don’t understand. I know my boat. It has a 9,000 pound keel. This boat was built for the oceans. This storm is nothing! We are fine! Relax, enjoy the ride.”

Suddenly, my fear subsided. I had looked at the captain’s face. He knew things about our boat that I didn’t. He knew we were fine.

Within a few moments my fear turned to calm. Because I trusted the captain I began to enjoy the ride. Nothing had changed….the wind still blew, the rains still came, the waves still washed over the deck, but something was different….I had seen the captain’s face.

The Christian life is much like this little adventure of mine. We are often caught in the storms of life and fear for our lives, our finances, our health. This life is often overcome by a storm when we least expect it. Fears overwhelm us. Death feels close. Panic is in our voices…..but then, with fear growing, we look at Jesus and discover that he is smiling! How can he smile in this storm? Doesn’t he know we are about to go down? And he replies, “You don’t understand. I know this boat. I know what I have planned for you. We are fine. I’ll bring you safely home. Enjoy the ride.” It’s funny how a glance at the face of our captain, Jesus, can change a fearful storm into an exciting adventure. A look at the captain’s face makes all the difference! …

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.