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Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids: Billy Graham’s God’s Good News

I received this book (no money) for my honest review and that’s what you always get!

Billy Graham remains one of the foremost pastors in America’s history, and parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, and more will want this lovely edition of God‘s GoodNews for the children in their life to show them the way to the cross and to help them begin a lifetime of following Christ. God‘s Good News is a collection of more than 60 favorite Bible stories told in actual Bible text from the New King James Version, including Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus, and the disciples, and each story is equipped with a takeaway devotion from Rev. Graham. The takeaways will help children focus on God’s Word, apply it to their lives, and begin walking with God and sharing the good news from an early age. The striking artwork from Scott Wakefield will help children connect with the timeless Bible stories and messages from Rev. Graham.

Christianity is good news. . . . When we open up the Bible, it is good news from cover to cover. It’s the good news that God loves us.

—Billy Graham

This book is yet another part of the amazing legacy that Reverend Billy Graham leaves behind – him ministering, through book, to the next generation.

Graham starts this capturing Book by talking about what he always talks about – God’s love and how “it passes knowledge.” Graham was big on talking about how much God loves us and that tone is set from the very beginning in this book.

Separated – just as the Bible is – between Old and New Testaments, this story and devotion book prepares the youngest for independently reading the Bible.

Meanwhile, Scott Wakefield’s illustrations are making every story come alive in your child’s mind! His artistic interpretation, while beautiful, is realistic enough that the illustrations do not deviate from the Word while still being child-friendly.

Throughout this story and devotion book, your children will hear words directly from Billy Graham’s writings as well.

I highly recommend this book. I know that shouldn’t surprise most of you as it is the works of Reverend Billy Graham. His legacy and history, though, do not just give him an automatic seal of approval by me. Going through this book, I am very impressed with the stories that were included.

So many children’s devotionals include stories such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Esau, Jonah, and others. Many, however, do not include the Tower of Babel, Jacob’s ladder, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, Ruth, King Solomon, Josiah, Zacharias, the sermon on the mount, Zacchaeus, the prodigal son, the widow’s coins, Stephen, and many, many, more. This story and devotion book has more than 60 of them in it!

If you want to know what a child’s honest first thoughts are of this book, before you buy it, watch this short video:

https://youtu.be/pNTE6KfRFZM

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Bible, bible verse, Children, family, friendship, god, Holy Spirit, jesus, Life, Love, Marriage, Parenting, Uncategorized

What 50 Years of Marriage Looks Like Today

Many people asked that I share what I said at my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary party. It was truly an amazing evening. The awe and happiness had nothing to do with the decorations nor the food. Most all of us were simply in awe of all that my parents had accomplished through Christ and inspired that we can, too!

First, the following is the speech I wrote and recited.

I understand that many of you won’t read this much (“It’s too long!” I said it faster than you’ll probably read it! 😂🏃🏾‍♀️); but, I also understand that there are many among us that need to hear the words within this and know that all things are possible with Christ who strengthens us!

…For those of you still getting to know me, you’re about to find out how – using my parents – God took me from a single mom of a 2 year old at 20 to a woman married to the man God made specifically for her for 12 years.

I could go into great detail but instead I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you some of the principles that I learned through my parents marriage that allowed me to recognize when my future husband found me and that he was indeed my future husband.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about the value of a friend:

9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.

10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Possibly only those of us who have been married for at least a decade know why I would bring up friendship at a wedding anniversary party. You see, marriage…true GODLY marriage is built upon God, trust, and love. With those three principles amongst them how could two people not be or become the very best of friends. My parents have always had many friends such as many of those here this evening. No friend, though, has ever surpassed the title of “best friend” with either of my parents except for the spouse sitting alongside of them. My parents taught both my brother and I at an early age that there was simply no pitting one against the other – they were and are a team. Two are certainly better than one. “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.” I was not a witness to many incidents of either of my parents falling. I don’t believe this is because they haven’t fallen because being 40, myself, I know that realistically that’s simply not possible that they did not fall. No…I truly believe that my parents simply caught one another before the other ever hit the ground. They were just that in tune with one another.

I have seen my parents go through the struggle of losing friends, the struggle of losing parents yet to Heaven, the struggles of Satan‘s attacks against their family. I’ve seen my parents go through the journey that is parenthood. I have seen the stresses of bills, air conditioning units going out, cars breaking down, their church breaking apart, and even a child running away.

Yet through it all, they were and are a threefold cord just as in Ecclesiastes 4:12. My mom is a strong piece of twine. My dad is an equally strong piece of twine. But until we all recognize that it is taking those two pieces of twine and wrapping them around that third piece, we will never truly attain what is God seeks for us to attain in our marriages. Because it is most definitely God that is the third of that threefold cord. And, every time my dad could be heard praying in the den… every time my mom could be heard on her knees in her bedroom… There was never any doubt in my mind that they were and are a threefold cord wrapped around God.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is a passage we all know so well. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

I want to talk about “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” You see, God will truly never give you more than he is prepared to equip you for and, man, did He equip my parents. One of their children was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at a time when no one had a clue what Tourette Syndrome was. Their other child was diagnosed with severe clinical depression at the young age of 16 which disrupted not only that child but the entire family. I can tell you that there are many adjustments, many battles, many hurdles. Yet, I will say that Love (that is God) bore it all. He bore all of the things. Love caused my mom to believe when she prayed and her prayers availed much. Their love hoped for all things – even the complete restoration of our family of which God provided. Love surely endured all things during that season. Love covered a multitude of things like words that can’t be taken back, actions that had consequences. And lastly, that love never ended – even to this day. That love has only grown stronger. Only the love of Jesus, the authentic love that is God, can do that.

1 John 4:16 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” and Colossians 3:14 says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” My mom and dad showed me that God is love and if we would simply “put on love” and abide in Him – everything would come together in perfect harmony. That principle has been a strong one that has bound my husband and I together in the very toughest of times. It is a principle that has taken four individuals and turned them into an unbreakable family unit. No matter what the family went through….my parents always abided in Him as will David and I, as will Jocelyn and Elijah.

For just a moment I want to give you a little piece of insight into who Charles and Valree Miller are:

Song of Solomon 8:7 says, “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.” If you asked my parents what they would go back and change, they would say nothing. There is no thing on earth that can quench their love nor is there a thing that can drown it because it is a perfect love forged in the fires that this world has forced them through and – just as the Bible references many times – their love has been refined and come out gold.

Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” The day my dad set his sight on my mom (or rather her legs as he would tell it) that day at the phone company so many years ago, he didn’t know to what extent but even then he knew he had found a good thing. Since then, He – as well as the rest of us – have obtained favor from the Lord because of her. Whether it has been her never questioning my dad anytime that he said God had spoken to him, whether it was any time my mother needed to speak confidence into my brother or I, whether it was the need of any family member that my mother would race to meet… Because of her we have obtained favor.

John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” That verse reminds me of the time that my father told me that He had God’s ear. He had obtained an honest-to-goodness audience with God Almighty and God asked him what he wanted. Did my dad ask for the bills to always be paid? For a promotion? No. He said he wanted my mother to have her promotion. He asked that she have His blessing on her career in Home Interiors and my mother received it that same day. My mom went on to earn everything from grandfather clocks to diamonds all because she was walking in the favor of God that my dad had asked for her. Her customers not only respected her but they loved her and many still treat her as family. What greater love is this?

When I was a single mother I quickly went to God and said, “You have to be everything now! You have to be my best friend, my Father, my Helper, my daughter’s Father,….everything!” Why? How did I know to run to Him immediately? Because my parents had taught me Psalm 143:8 through their own actions so very early on in life: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Their lives are a testament that if you so choose to entrust your life to God, He will never fail you and you will reach heights you never imagined.

So, (to my mother and father) “Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. And may we all follow in your footsteps.

Second, I kept hearing the same word all night – sweet.

I want to make sure I say that because if you look in God’s Word you’ll find two things: good things are like a sweet aroma to Him and He likes sweet incense; and there are many, many, things of God that are sweet.

What a wonderful testament to hear, and feel, throughout the evening – that my parents were “so sweet!” I imagine God found them very pleasing, especially on this particular evening.

https://youtu.be/jhRmtpZbC60

*The topper on that cake was from my mom’s mom and dad’s 50th anniversary!*

I want to encourage you today to always choose the sweet way.

Finally: legacy.

Their daughter spoke of God.

Their granddaughter honored them by singing beautifully.

Their six-year-old grandson recited John 3:14-19 by memory.

Praise God His promises are Yes! and Amen!

Bible

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

No. I’m not going to talk about Nike, nor am I going to talk about Colin Kaeperinck. Though, I will admit, as a childhood athlete, a football fan, and a former military dependent I could say plenty. I’m going to do what I wish many would do – NOT make this about me.

Believe in something.

My first problem is with “something.” So…just any ol’ thing? Can I believe in unicorns? Leprechauns? What if we get serious here… Can I believe in racial supremacy? A one-world government? I mean “something” is a very general term when you’re talking about a message that is going around the entire planet!

Something, by definition, means “a thing that is unspecified or unknown.” If this world needs anything right now it’s certainly to know what, or WHO, they should believe in.

We live in a world where people are believing in themselves, politicians, governments, celebrities, and more to literally solve all of their problems.

You cannot solve all of life’s problems.

Your president can not solve all of life’s problems.

Your government causes more problems than it solves.

Celebrities don’t know or even understand most things you would consider a problem!

Now, you want to believe in equality? That’s great! You want to believe in peace? Awesome idea. You want to believe in others’ beliefs not being forced upon you? Me, too! You want to stand up for taking care of your fellow man? Most of us would probably agree.

Guess what? All of those things Christ would agree with too!

“What?! No! Jesus hates different people! He wants to make me into something I’m not and unhappy!” you may say.

You couldn’t be more wrong. Jesus talked to a woman at a well that would normally be treated like a dog. Not only did he partake of water from her paws…hands but He went on to offer her a solution to her life’s problems that included self-respect and love.

Peace? When Christ was about to be dragged away and punished for crimes He had not committed, His friend cut off the ear of one of the oppressors and Christ said, “Yeah! We can take’em!” No. Christ replaced the soldier’s ear, healed him, and chastened his friend.

“But…He wants to shove Christianity down my throat!” No. Actually He doesn’t.

See? His idea was to just keep going until you find someone receptive.

“Well, I’m more about worrying about others rather than myself.” Well, settle down Sanctimonious Sally because so was Jesus. Don’t believe me?

John 13:34

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

1 John 4:19-21

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. …

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …

I think you see where I’m going with this. The whole Bible is about love because God IS love!

Remember…

So, now that I’ve strategically shot down all of that, let’s talk about the rest.

Even if it means sacrificing everything.

Really?

I can’t.🤦🏻‍♀️ No, wait. I can. I actually, really, can.

Sacrificing everything?!

Sacrificing friends is part of life. It’s sad but true. As you change, many will fall by the wayside.

Sacrificing endorsements? How about never able to get anyone in earthly power to endorse you.

Sacrificing your career? How about sacrificing YOUR LIFE?!

How far have we fallen when we really think that a guy who makes millions and then millions more in endorsements is “sacrificing” ANYTHING?!

Jesus Christ was and is sinless yet He heaped upon Himself the sins of the entire world, was persecuted and made fun of, sneered at by His own hometown, and still He healed and delivered those that would crucify Him. He didn’t stop there, though! He took the ultimate punishment doled out. He had His flesh shredded, thorns shoved into the crown of His head. He was spat on, kicked. He was bruised, beaten, and had a spear shoved in his side. He had nails hammered into his wrists and feet.

He had His clothes ripped from Him and a mocking sign put above a His head. He died with no dignity whatsoever though He died for us!

How dare we think we know anything about sacrifice?!

So…

If you want to believe…believe in the One who has always believed in you – Jesus.

Even if it means sacrificing everything, because it very well could.

…and the list goes on.

I don’t care about shoes. I don’t care about headbands, shirts, basketball shorts, or Jordans. I believe in Jesus. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

http://youtu.be/wWl27j3V-rA

animation, Bible, bible verse, Birthday, Book, Church, college, family, Friends, friendship, gifts, girls, Giveaway, god, Graduation, Holiday, jesus, Life, Love, Ministry, Mother’s Day, review, teenagers, Uncategorized, verse, women

Book Review & Giveaway: The Study Bible for Women

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Stop stressing out looking at the Macy’s catalogue and don’t even consider getting another vacuum this year. This may be the VERY gift you’re looking for this year for Mother’s Day – whether it’s to give or receive. Yes, I was given this book to review; and yes, that’s what I’m doing. BUT! You guys know I’m always honest. If I disagree with the doctrine, if I just plain think it’s cheap,…whatever! I’m 100% honest with you guys, and I’m honestly telling you I’m keeping the one they sent me. Sorry. You’ll have to get your own from the giveaway below or from the store or HINT LIKE A CRAZY PERSON that you want it for Mother’s Day. (Hint: You don’t actually have to be a mother to celebrate Mother’s Day. There’s all kinds of ways around this)

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Tell me, GO AHEAD, tell me that you’ve seen a more beautiful Bible. I won’t believe you. It’ll have to be hand-painted by an angel from Heaven, descending from on high simply to place in your hands the one Bible above all others. This thing, while not stitched together by Gabriel, is GORGEOUS! I mean… are you looking at these pictures?! Granted, I’m not the best photographer but this Bible is inspiring in artistry and beauty. The colors are soothing and feminine while not choking you like a department store perfume….a perfume of which would NOT be as good a gift for Mother’s Day as THIS BIBLE!

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Okay…my melodramatics and quirky sense of humor aside, I really do dig this Bible. First off, I love that it’s hardback. I beat the TAR out of a Bible, y’all. True story. Eventually, the leather starts flaking off everywhere. It’s like Bible dandruff in Church and it’s embarrassing. This thing is sturdy; and, I don’t know about you, but if there’s something I need to be sturdy in my life it’s the Word. Just sayin’.

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Now, for those of you who prefer a specific translation. I get it. I do. This Bible is translated in Christian Standard Bible (CSB). This is a modern English Bible translation from Holman Bible Publishers and is considered Protestant. The first of this translation was published back in “99, I believe, and that was the New Testament. It’s been received very well, over the years, as a great “everyday” translation. I would agree with that. While I prefer to study in New King James, sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with an easy read of the Bible.

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Another great thing about this Bible is that new Christians and young Christians find it to be a great Bible translation to be introduced to. So, if you’re looking to gift a Bible to a new Christian, this may be the one you should take a look at. Additionally, this would make an outstanding graduation gift to any young woman.

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What sets this Bible apart, though, has actually little to do with the translation and more to do with the way this Bible is put together. Hear me out:

I’m this strange kind of hybrid… Christian… human thing… that likes to read her physical Bible, read a Bible app, and read and study in several translations. I also like to have commentary, reference back to the Talmud, Hebrew translation, and all that your mind can conceive at my fingertips. So, one of the most cool things about this Bible is the extensive commentary notes, doctrinal notes, maps, charts, and timelines that are right there on the page they relate to. In other words: if I want to know where else a specific verse is mirrored, it’ll most likely be right there at the bottom of that page I’m on. Further, if I can’t wrap my mind around where all of the “ites” are located, I can start picturing it in my mind with the help of a provided map.

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This Bible also has things like word studies, answers to hard questions, character profiles (I especially love this), “Written on My Heart” applications, book introductions (which are especially helpful to keep you between the navigational beacons or help a new Christian), presentation pages, a concordance that includes ALL the women of the Bible, and more!

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Look, I know it sounds like I’m trying to sell you on this. I am. But, not for the reason you may think. If you’ll recall: I’m not monetized. One of the reasons for that is because God was very clear when He showed me that I would begin stressing about helping my family with money and would get distracted from simply sharing His word. There are lots of bloggers out there that can balance both. Right now, I’m not one of them. Another reason however is so that you always know that when I’m excited about something – I’M REALLY, GENUINELY, EXCITED ABOUT IT!

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Can you imagine what would happen in this world we live in if every woman…. let’s say 12 and older…. was given this Bible as a gift? Women are world-changers. Look at Ruth: because she was selfless she gave birth to the lineage of King David. Look at Esther: she saved God’s people by being courageous. When King Josiah had questions, who did he go to? Huldah, that’s who! I could go on and on. With a Bible in the hands of every woman on this planet, lives would be saved and nations would turn their eyes toward God. How do I know this?

It’s like Maria said in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the neck any way she wants.”

We need good women, women after God, turning the necks around us to see God! I hope you’ll consider this Bible, this year. I hope you’ll consider it for yourself, for a friend, a family member, your daughter, or maybe you just want to gift a complete stranger a life-changing book. If so, there are several places you can purchase this book and you can find out more here: CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE OR LEARN MORE. (Hint: Look at all of the links because some are a little less than others!)

If you’re getting this as a gift, go ahead and buy it now. If you want to try and win a copy for yourself, click below!

studybible

Bible, Life, Ministry, Uncategorized

Understanding the Bible

Understanding the Bible can be challenging at best and discouraging at the worst. It’s frustrating when you want to know more about God, be a better person, have a better life, and yet you can’t understand the manual. If you feel that way – or know someone that may feel that way – this post is for you!

First off, don’t feel like a freak. Everyone – at some point in their journey – has read the Word and gone, “Huh?”

Most people simply don’t announce that but it’s common place. Even myself, even the elders that I know, sometimes spend days or weeks on one passage trying to understand it by delving through concordances and Hebrew translations.

Reading the Bible is truly a journey. You’ll read a passage and it will mean one thing to you. Many years later, it will be more complex and mean something even deeper to you. That’s one of the most amazing things about the Word of God to me – that the Word never changes yet somehow it always adapts and becomes what you need in your very personal season because it’s alive.

Secondly, God wants you to understand and know Him so He wouldn’t give you a book that you couldn’t understand. He loves you and He want you to succeed.

So, here’s a sort of game plan for you…

1️⃣ Call on God

Don’t just open up the Word and expect it to make perfect sense to you. Don’t open up the Word and expect it to pertain to your moment. Instead of expecting the word of God to apply to what you think you need, go to God and ask him to open your heart and open your mind to what he would have that passage teach you no matter what’s going on in your life right now.

2️⃣Never give up

Often times, when something is difficult, we just want to give up. Reading the Bible is one of those things that, once you get going, you can’t seem to put it down. Unfortunately common too often, it’s that “once you get going” part that’s the challenge. As crazy as this may sound, the devil doesn’t want you to read the Bible. If you believe in God, you must believe in the devil. He knows that if you read the word of God you will become stronger and you will be armed for battle. So, you will find that distractions will occur, confusion will happen, exhaustion will come against you,… and it’s your job to stick to it and not give up.

3️⃣Trust God

You may feel like, “What does this have anything to do with?” when you are reading the Bible. That’s OK. Just trust God. Usually you will find that the information that you’re receiving, that your etching upon your heart, will be there when you need it though that time may not be right now.

4️⃣Not sure? Test it!

Don’t know if that passage was for you? Test it!

Ask your elders that are more wise than you, those that God has placed in your life!

5️⃣You were meant to understand His Word

As insulting as this may sound to some of you, the Word was written even for the most simplest of minds. Christ spoke in parables so that anyone and everyone could understand. We do not teach children in Sunday School for no reason. If they are capable of understanding the word of God so is any adult that so desires!

6️⃣Understand that you may understand His words, but may not understand all

Sometimes God reveals His words to us just when we need to understand them the most. Sometimes we hide a word in our hearts and at just the right moment the Holy Spirit reminds us of that word and it all suddenly makes sense. Then there are other things such as the idea that God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit… How can one God be three entities yet one God? If we could all answer these questions, we would have no need for God. All of these things will be understood once we’re with Him. Until then, we have to come to terms with the fact that on this plane we will not understand it all.

7️⃣ Taste and see…

Challenge yourself. Give yourself a deadline. Test Him. Say to yourself, “I’m going to try this Bible reading thing for one year.” In my life, and all the people that I’ve met from around the world, I have yet to meet a person that has told me that the Bible returned void.

8️⃣ Testify

When you see that the Word is good and that it has changed your life for the better, remember where you were before the Word touched your life. Don’t just bury that. Go out and share your testimony so that someone else can have their life changed.

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Yes, you NEED the Holy Spirit

….but you don’t have to have Him. You don’t have to have or do anything. God’s funny that way. He’s a gentleman, never forcing Himself on anyone.

I believe we all need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When Christ left this earth and ascended into Heaven He said that He was leaving us a comforter. If Christ left me something, or someone as it were, I’m going to follow that – since my whole life is based on following Him and being as much like Him as humanly possible – by receiving whomever or whatever that thing may be! We know that whom Christ left us was the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul writes, no matter what our diversity of gifts in the Spirit are, it is the same God who works within all of them. He goes on to say, in addition, “but the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”

Now, I should be clear that what you’re about to read – my thoughts, God’s word, here is not referring to some willy-nilly unorganized chaos of emotion that so many Christians nowadays call “an outpouring” and that you may have been witness to in person, on television, or the internet. There are certain things that must line up for an outpouring and often times (more often than not, I’m afraid) these things simply do not line up; but, rather people are overcome by their own emotions. That is not always the case though. We must be vigilant to not have the audacity to put God in a box while still cross referencing occurrence with His Word.

I only have a few things to say about this (I’m sure I’d have more but I’ve forced myself to only say three): 1) If your church is having such an “outpouring” that you haven’t heard a message delivered in weeks… you may want to really seek the Lord and ask Him for some discernment in regard to that. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit will be like throwing pearls before swine if the church hasn’t even been fed.

2) You don’t live like the world Monday through Friday and then speak in tongues on Sunday. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is only possible through having a relationship with God and then making it an intimate one. Think of the most intimate earthly relationship you have. Now, compare that sort of communication, love, understanding, forgiveness, etc. to your relationship with God. It’s incomparable; yet, we almost never even attain that level of intimacy with our Father.

My husband is not going to feel as if we have such an intimate relationship that he wants to share unimaginable gifts and truths with me if I’m dancing with another man just two nights before. We should not expect God to be any different.

3) I do believe that you have days of outpourings but God is organized, orderly. He is, in most all things, a gentleman.

His word says, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”

He also lays it out in Deuteronomy by telling us that one way leads to blessings and one ways leads to death; and, then He says, “…choose life that you and your descendants may live.”

See, God has given us the authority to make our own decisions in life.

He will honor those decisions without interfering. He does not force Himself upon us. If a number of individuals within a church are actively living under the anointing of an intimate relationship with God, and then they collectively come together within a church (or any gathering place) and find themselves unified – of one mind, there God will be. Now, He’s been made welcome. Now, if He sees fit to share with us knowledge, prophesy, etc. He will speak to us.

On the flip side, if you are content simply believing that structuring your life around the Word of God – rather than doing that along with believing God moves, heals, and speaks to His children in real-time – that’s your choice. There’s no judgment here. I would be remiss, however, if I did not share with others what they may be missing out on simply because they can’t conceive of God doing and moving miraculously right before their eyes.

So let me share my thoughts by starting with Romans 8:26, since I feel so strongly about it, where we are told that “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” I cannot imagine knowing of the hell that I have been through in my life and knowing that there is an interceder for me (Jesus) and not going to him.

Further, I cannot fathom knowing that there is a sort of conduit, for far lack of a better term, in the Holy Spirit that He would actually pray for what I truly need rather than what I think I need so that I could find true happiness and success… and me not doing everything I can to access Him.

If you have been praying, and it seems as if nothing is getting through to Him – it’s as if you’re praying to the walls and the words are just bouncing off of the sheetrock – I encourage you to look at Romans 8:26 as if it were the first step in God’s list of instructions on “How to Pray.” It is my thought that we, as a whole, simply do not know how to pray to God. I say this based on two things, specifically, that the Bible has told me: 1) In Luke, when John asks Jesus how they should pray, Jesus doesn’t respond, “Oh, you guys do just fine. Just keep talking and He’ll hear ya.” Rather, He gave them specific words to say to God. These words were sort of a catch-all. “The Lord’s Prayer,” as it has been dubbed, covers everything from worship to provision to sin!

I believe He gave us this prayer in order to supplement our prayer lives until we each have come to the place that we have attained that divine entity that would pray for us (Romans 8:26-27). I should add here that of course I’m not in any way inferring that when you talk to God He’s not hearing you. I know that God hears every word you utter. I’m simply trying to draw attention to what is available to all of us.

I’m trying to open your mind – just as the disciples asked Jesus – to ask God, “How should I pray? I know what I want to pray for; but, what would You have me pray?”

As for praying in tongues…. I recognize that a lot of my followers are not as they would describe “Pentecostal.” I pray that you would read this with the understanding that my focus is on your obtaining the power of the Holy Spirit within you that God wants you to have, more so than any outward display.

Paul says to us, in 1 Corinthians 14, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”

Wow, that’s a lot to digest for anyone. The fact is clear, though, that Paul wants us all to speak in tongues. Further, Paul wishes that we would desire, and attain, the ability – through the Holy Spirit – to prophesy because it edifies (instructs or improves (someone) morally or intellectually) the church, rather than simply edifying ourselves.

However! Don’t miss this:

While Paul wishes the new Church all spoke in tongues, He wishes even more greatly that we would prophesy because that is edifying for the entire Church!

After all, this would go hand-in-hand with each and every Christian’s first and most important calling – to share the gospel. What could be better for this world than the gospel than God’s current, spoken, word? A rhema Word as it were…

I must admit that to be in the presence of God, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit is powerful and … awing. If the presence of the Holy Spirit is nothing else, it is that – awing.

Through my teenage years, for mostly medical reasons, my relationship with God became a struggle for me. Thankfully, by the time I was 18 and had a brand new baby girl, I was able to focus on what everything else in my life hinged upon – my relationship with God.

Over the years that followed God showed me how He could be everything to me – husband, father to my child, father to me, best friend, provider, healer, teacher, etc. I had no idea that a person could have that kind of a relationship with someone. It was literally as if He were my husband. Communication now goes both ways between me and God. Through that progress in our relationship the Holy Spirit – within me – was growing all the while; and, I can honestly say that the Holy Spirit has used me in some powerful ways since then.

And, yes, during this relationships of ours (God and mine), I have watched Him heal each of my children. I have heard His voice delivering me from any thought of suicide. He has woken me in the middle of the night to address a spiritual attack from Satan on my husband. That is what having the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life means to me.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying THIS is what the anointing of the Holy Spirit means to me. I’m saying this is available to you. Answered prayers are attainable. Knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is hearing you is possible. Praying over a perfect stranger and God meeting their need is totally possible. And, this world is going to hell in a hand basket all around us. What does it say about us if we’re not trying to change the world?

If you want to change the world, then you must be greater than it. The only way to be greater than the world is to have God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) residing within and acting through you.

That’s it. That’s all I’m saying. You can be a cog or you can be a spectator.

If you want to know more about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit – but would prefer to hear it from someone more unbiased (as I grew up in a Pentecostal Church), I encourage you to read the book They Spoke with Other Tongues.

This book, from a sceptic’s point of view, shares with you historical and biblical accounts of who the Holy Spirit is and how He can and has operated. I so want someone’s life to be changed that I’m giving away a copy of this book. I am not giving this book away as a promotion. I am not even going to promote this on social media other than to share this blog post as I do all of my posts. I just ask that you comment below that you would be interested in winning a copy of this book because you are interested in what it has to say. I will then take all of those peoples names and let Rafflecopter choose a name.

Please, if you have any questions drop them below. I love all of you and want us to get our job done – changing people’s lives through God – the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Bible

Choosing to depend on God

When circumstances beyond our control come at us in such a way that we are faced with having to depend upon ourselves or God, sometimes it’s easier than at other times. 

Allow me to give you an example:

You’re in a car wreck and can’t get to your loved ones. All you can do is depend on God. There is no other choice; so, the choice is easy.

Alternatively:

You’re told there’s a growth and chances are that it’s not malignant but you won’t know until it comes out. And…it’s not coming out for weeks. Now it’s not as easy.

When time is extended, when circumstances are not panicked, we often find ourselves running to the phone instead of the throne. We want to be wrapped in the loving arms of our spouse or our parent rather than the loving arms of our Father. Hey it doesn’t make you any less of a Christian. It’s much like how a child has to learn to not burst into tears simply because they saw the sight of blood. As we mature, as we endure various types of strife, we practice holding it together and going straight to God rather than going straight to man. I’m 39 years old (about to be 40), have known God all of my life, and I still run to my husband first thing. I give some slack to myself on that because I truly do believe that in God’s sight two became one; so it’s not as if I am running to a friend but rather the other side of myself. Still, though, I’m looking for comfort from someone other than my Creator. 

So… if you haven’t figured it out, I’m in a holding pattern. The ultrasound technician found some things. The doctor will have to remove them. There’s no way of knowing how serious it is until it’s removed. Chances are everything is fine, just painful. Unfortunately – and sadly I am in no way being pessimistic 😂 but rather completely serious when I say that my life tends to be ran by both God and Murphy’s Law. In other words, if in 3% of the population it’s not so good, then you guessed it! I tend to fall in that 3%. 🙃

Before my husband married me, I not-so-jokingly warned him that my life was ran by Murphy’s Law. It didn’t take long for him to see what I meant: If it might be broken, it is. If I may need surgery, I do. If I get my hair cut and styled, it’s storming. If I finally get that rare craving for ice cream, the whole family ate it in one day and there is none. It’s honestly laughable. There have been so many instances when something really cruddy happened; but, it was so astonishing that it even did happen that we all had to laugh. I digress.

So, I don’t say any of this in a “woe is me” way. I honestly have a very humorous look at my life. I sometimes make the joke that I’m God’s little science project. That IS a joke, by the way. I know Him better than that!

Credit: reverendfun.com

So, since I received the news (of which the Holy Spirit had already prepared me for), all that first day I alternated between crying and hearing the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear, “Depend on me. Lean on me. No matter what.” It’s that “no matter what” part that’s getting me. Not the way you may think though. I’m actually not having a hard time giving this to God even if it winds up being “bad news.”

Confession Time: I’m having a hard time of letting go and giving it to God. 

I am a person who likes to research, find solutions, and expeditiously apply the solution. In this case, I have absolutely no control over anything other than how I respond to it. 

Let me just get to it:

It’s as if God wants me to depend on him right now. I mean, it’s as if He wants me to stop and depend on Him, trust in Him, right now – before the tears, before the next procedure, before arriving at the hospital, before the anesthesia, before the removal, before the results are relayed to me. And of course He does. His Word tells us that over and over. It’s hard to remember, though, when the storm is raging, though. Isn’t it?


I feel in my spirit that He wants me to know I’m taken care of – whatever that may mean – right now before even assessing the situation. After all, if I want to give God the glory for saving me…. isn’t my act of faith larger if I give him the glory for it right now than giving it to him after the doctor tells me, “It looks as if we took care of it”? 


Shortly after the findings were relayed to me, I was watching Jentezen Franklin live on Facebook and he challenged me. He was talking about the disciples in the boat after the miracle of the loaves and fishes. He was talking about Jesus’s disappointment in them that they had missed the miracle. And…Franklin said (I’m paraphrasing), “You’re walking around in the midst of your storm with the crumbs of your last miracle still on your shirt!” In other words, I still have the memories of every good and perfect thing God has ever done in my life, yet I’m walking through the storm as if I don’t have access to the God of all creation, as if He hasn’t already proven Himself. The disciples were in the midst of the storm, in a boat with the leftovers from a miracle; and, even with the reminder of a very recent miracle, they were operating in fear, oblivious to Whom they were in the presence of.


I don’t want that to be me. I don’t want that to be you. So, together…right now…let’s agree that we’re going to give whatever it is to God because He’s already proven Himself though He doesn’t have to. 


It’s my experience – in life and in reading the Word – that miracles come after desperation and/or an act of faith. 


Let’s not wait for desperation. The Holy Spirit is drawing us near to believe in God’s plans long before we ever feel desperate.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, You are the Great I Am. You are Alpha and Omega – where we see a dead end, You are a new beginning. You created us all, the very blueprints of our lives. We come before You, in one accord, asking for You to help us lay our burdens at Your feet and to not pick them up again. We ask that you imbue us with such a level of faith that others around us must ask us, “What is it that makes you believe so firmly? What gives you such peace?” We ask that you take our storms and turn them into stories – testimonies of Your delivering power and mercy. We give You all the glory because You are King of Kings and nothing in our lives has caught you unaware. We worship You now for what You will do tomorrow. Thank you, God, for loving us so much, so incomparably. May we learn to love You more and more each day. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Bible

The Good Samaritan Challenge

Luke 10:30-37 The Good Samaritan
This poor guy was left on the side of the road beaten, half dead. How many times have you felt half-dead? Physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally? 


This priest sees him. The priest looked the other way because he can’t get caught up in that. He can’t get dirty. He’s got a sermon to prepare. He ain’t got time for drama. That’s what other people are for: police, counselors, associate pastors. 

Then a Levite comes by, a neighbor. He even takes time to look at the carnage on the side of the road but then “keeps driving” so to speak. He hopes the guy is okay, maybe, but he’s got some place to be. He’s got his own problems. 


Then…a Samaritan comes by, someone seen as lesser than the man beaten, an outsider, possibly even an interloper. 


This Samaritan doesn’t just see the beaten down guy. He actually bandaged his wounds. He didn’t call someone and say, “Hey, could you…uh. Could you take care of this?” He poured oil and wine on his wounds. He even gave him a ride on his own ride. He then took him to an hotel. It doesn’t end there, though. He went in and took care of him. Then, when the Samaritan left…he paid the hotel manager and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.”

So, today…I challenge you: be a Good Samaritan. Stop right now and think: Who hasn’t been around? Who do I know is going through something? Who might be hurting?

Then…


1. Go to them: Don’t just call or text. You can do those first but then physically GO TO THEM. 

2. Attend their wounds: This may mean literally. This may mean saying, “Lets look in the Bible together, right now.” This may mean bringing them food, talking with them, and praying with them. 

3. Then “come again”: That means follow up. Go back and check and see if they’re healing.

4. Challenge someone else to do this. Can you imagine if a Good Samaritan Challenge went viral?! How insanely awesome would that be?!

But it starts with you.


You could change someone’s life. You could SAVE someone’s life

This isn’t merely a suggestion nor a trite challenge made by yours truly. This was a tactfully directed commandment made by the Son of God.
“Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:30-37‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Bible, family, Uncategorized

It’s time: Put your big boy britches on!

In Joshua Chapter 1 it says, “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: “Moses My servant is dead….” How many feel that way right now? Moses was not merely a man but a ministry. He was a vessel, used by God – a man that was broken and rebuilt. So many of us feel that way about our country right now – we built something, a nation under God, and now that…the idea…the plan is dead. 


GOD DIDN’T STOP THERE. He went on to say to Joseph, “…Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses…” 


God’s all, “Look, he’s dead but I’m not! You’re fretting over a person, a thing, an idea. I’M STILL HERE. I’M THE THING, THE PERSON, THE IDEA. Focus! Put your big boy pants on because it’s time to keep on with the plan I already gave you.”


That needs to speak to our hearts, today – we have the same job today that we had yesterday, last week, last year. You think missionaries in other countries stop their objective when they realize the government they’re in promotes idol worship and slavery? No! They become more adamant! They become so desperate to rid themselves, their flock, their country of the sin that they humbly devour God and His word like ravenous dogs. Are you sitting there like a bump on a log or are you even hungrier for God and to do His works more today than ever before?!


God goes on to assure Joseph that he carries the SAME PROMISES that He had given to Moses,”…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage…that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you;” Stick to the game plan! One of the greatest attributes a Christian can have is steadfastness. Do you have it? Of course you do! 

God is careful to remind Joseph and us, “…do not turn from it (His law) to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.” Don’t try and make your life easier by going along with the world. Don’t try and explain away what God “really” meant in His word. It’s plain. It’s clear to all that are filled with His Holy Spirit and it is a right, good, and perfect word. We need not add to it nor subtract from it.

He instructs, “…This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” He says it clearly here – mediate (to calm and empty the mind in order to concentrate on one specific thing) on His word so that you will naturally observe It! It will be second nature for you to do what His word says if you’re daily meditating on it!

(Sidebar: For those of you thinking, “…but New Covenant! Jesus!” Remember this: Christ said, ““Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”)


“For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” THIS is how you do it. THIS is how you find prosperity, peace, success – to simply follow His word! And, then again, He reminds, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9 NKJV)

I assure you that when the pilgrims set out to start new lives unhindered by their government and religious chains, to have a real relationship with God through His word alone, they didn’t stop their plight halfway through. The Israelites, even through their grumbling, didn’t pitch permanent tents in the dessert though many began worshiping golden idols in the middle of a pilgrimage. We might pause to remind ourselves, however, that losing their focus on who would bring them out and looking at each other, their situation, and “stuff” caused them to be in that desert an entire generation longer than they should’ve been! Oh, God, help us not to pitch a tent in the desert but to run through that sucker on ATVs!

Finally, when Christ himself appeared to have died, to have left this world, His followers got three days. They got THREE days to feel sorry for themselves, to mourn, to question, and to worry. BUT THEN CHRIST GOT UP

If you are followers of Christ then hear this: 

YOU HAVE HAD YOUR THREE DAYS! NOW GET UP!!

Life won’t get easier. It’ll be hard and messy! Life didn’t get easier for the apostles! God didn’t promise easy! He promised life eternal, love, peace, and so much more than we could ever imagine…IF WE WOULD FOLLOW HIM! 

It’s money where your mouth is time, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to love them like He loved us when we all are so undeserving.

It’s time for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to change the world, starting at home so that our children will change the world. 

It’s time to flip this planet on its axis like Christ did. Christ said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and GREATER a works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12 NKJV)”

So…what greater works are you striving for? Or, are you content sitting on the sidelines?

photo credit: Baptist Courier