Jesus Speaks to Me! Does He Speak to You Too?

Jesus said "I speak to my sheep and my sheep know my name."

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

I would not be married to my husband today or be in ministry if I had not recognized the voice of Jesus and listened to Him speaking to me!

While the Lord often uses sermons, books, Scriptures, movies, songs, others . . . to inspire and convey a message to believers, which I’ve experienced many times, I’ve also had the amazing experience of hearing Jesus speak to me loud and clear. I’ve told my testimony on numerous occasions, and unlike Joy Behar and the liberal women on The View, no one has ever called me mental. They call me blessed!

Let’s back up a bit. Last week a discussion on The View went something like this as reported by Brandon Showalter’s article in The Christian Post ‘The View’ Host Joy Behar Claims Mike Pence Hearing Jesus Is ‘Mental Illness’:

“Some of the ladies on “The View” Tuesday mocked Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith, saying they don’t want a leader who ‘speaks in tongues’ or reportedly hears the voice of Jesus, which Joy Behar said was tantamount to “mental illness”.

It started when they were discussing former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman’s comments, who is now a contestant on the reality TV show “Celebrity Big Brother” “I am Christian, I love Jesus, but he [VP Pence] thinks Jesus tells him to say things,” she said, calling him “extreme.”

Co-host Sunny Hostin said she was a Catholic but, “I don’t know that I want my vice president, you know, speaking in tongues and having Jesus speak to him.”

Joy Behar chimed in: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct, hearing voices.”

“My question is, can he talk to Mary Magdalene without his wife in the room,” Behar joked, making a reference to the now widely known fact that Pence does not dine alone with women or consume alcohol at events without his wife present, for which he was mocked in the secular press last year.

Guest co-host Sherri Shepard, who also says she’s a Christian, explained that talking with Jesus is “just par for the course,” for Christians. “You talk to Jesus, Jesus talks back. What concerns me is how long is the conversation with Jesus?” Laughter!

You can watch The View mocking Jesus and prayer segment in Brandon Showalter’s article .

Here’s the points I want to make from their mocking of Jesus and the Christian faith and those who laughed along with the View women:

  1.  Mocking Jesus violates the Third Commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Ex 20:7)  And that’s no joke! The one Conservative on the show, Meghan McCain, did finally interject that she talks to Jesus every morning and He talks to her. The rest have no idea what a relationship with Jesus means.
  2. They automatically assumed that VP Pence is “talking in tongues” because he talks to Jesus. He’s never said that he talks in tongues! More evidence they’re clueless about prayer. I talk to Jesus all day long, as many of you do, and I don’t talk in tongues.
  3. No one can talk to Mary Magdalene. She’s dead. Jesus is alive.
  4. They represent a large segment of the population who are critical and demeaning of evangelical Christians because they’re ignorant of what Christianity means. Any yet, they’re tolerant of other religious beliefs and would never mock them, as they shouldn’t. But Jesus and Christians are fair game.
  5. They’re lost and have no idea who Jesus is or what it means to pray. Or they claim to be Christians but don’t understand prayer or what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. They don’t know how to act and speak like a Christian who honors Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
  6. “Christians” attacking and making fun of other Christians need to ask forgiveness of Jesus and those they’ve attacked, repent, and mature in their infantile faith. The others need our prayers.

Christians can turn this around for good though. The discussion of this sacrilegious attack from the The View has given many Christians, including VP Pence, an opportunity to explain who Jesus is, why we speak to Him and He speaks to us, and defend our faith. Maybe someone will be curious enough to learn more about Jesus and prayer.

For the sad souls mocking and laughing at Jesus, if you only knew that you’ll someday face the consequences of Jesus saying He never knew you either. “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Mathew 7:23.

“Christians” when you deny who Jesus is, you will face the same consequence.

I’ve Heard Jesus, Listened, and Followed

But back to my opening of the distinct times I’ve heard Jesus clearly.

After being a single mom for seventeen years, I surrendered my dating life to the Lord and prayed for Jesus to bring a godly man into my life. Several months later, I met Dave in a small group at church. We dated for a few months and then I broke up with him. He convinced me to go to church with him, and I suggested we go to a Greg Laurie Harvest Crusade after church. I rededicated my life to the Lord that night. As Dave and I sat in the car talking until the parking lot was empty, I distinctly heard the Lord say, “You asked for this godly man. I gave him to you. Now rededicate yourself to this relationship.” I heard, listened, and followed. Dave and I were married five months later. That was twenty-five years ago!

I hear Jesus talking to me and I heard Him say "Feed my sheep."

Several years later, I felt the Lord calling me into ministry, but I didn’t know where. I attended a Women in Ministry Leadership Conference where I heard the Lord say, “Feed my sheep.” I asked “What sheep, where, and what will I feed them when I find them.” I heard again, “Feed my sheep.” I heard, listened, and followed. That was the beginning of the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry twenty-three years ago.

Jesus talks to every Christian in a way that will get his or her attention. It might not be a clear voice, and I’ve only heard Him that way several times, although I pray every morning: “I declare myself—spirit, mind, emotions, body, will—totally open to your voice and totally available to do your will alone.”

In the The Believer’s Code, O.S. Hawkins writes:

“We who are Christ’s sheep know His voice, and of course we follow Him: He is our shepherd. We have a God who speaks to us. Do you hear His voice speaking to your heart through his Word and by his Spirit even right now? God’s voice is recognizable to His sheep. Ask Him to help you hear it.” (Emphasis added)

Are you listening? Have you followed? Please share with us a time you heard and obeyed the voice of Jesus.

If you haven’t read last week’s blog, So That No One Will Malign the Word of God, The View maligned the Word of God.

If you receive this blog by email, please leave a comment here.

“So That No One Will Malign the Word of God”

So that no one will malign the word of God in our culture today, know your Bible

The title of this article is the end of Titus 2:5 (NIV). Other translations read:

so that the Christian faith can’t be spoken against by those who know them. (TLB)

In this way, the Word of God is honored. (NLV)

so that the word of God may not be discredited. (NABRE)

We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. (MSG)

that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited) (AMPC)

Here’s Titus 2:1-5 (NIV) in context, a passage often used in mentoring . . .

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

No other book in history have emperors, empires, authorities, and mankind tried to malign, dishonor, discredit, reproach, blasphemy and destroy more than the Bible, yet still it remains the number one best seller in the world! Those of us who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, often come under similar attacks. The world sees us as ignorant, foolish, drinking the Kool-Aid, stupid, unenlightened, living in the dark ages, not current or relevant . . . even deplorable. I’m sure many of you have been called worse names. I know I have.

Today’s liberal culture believes the Bible needs to adapt to culture instead of the culture adapting to the Bible. Progressive ignorance and blasphemy.

Jesus didn’t come to conform to the culture; he came to reform the culture! Now we’re to go and do likewise, but sadly many are following the culture instead of following Jesus’ example.

My heart sank as I heard Tucker Carlson on FOX news interview a liberal Episcopalian pastor who was convinced that Jesus would be in favor of taking gender out of the Bible and no longer seeing God as the Father image, but a gender-neutral God. The pastor’s words seared my heart, “We’re not taking anything away from the Bible, we’re just adding to it.”

I screamed at the TV, Tucker, remind him of the last words in the Bible . . .

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Do you, like me, find it inapprehensible to live in a culture that openly, and without reproach or conscious, maligns the Word of God from politicians, officials, congressmen, media, progressives, and yes, even many churches? We’ve forsaken Paul’s warning to Titus to teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine to men and women, and likewise teach the next generations.

It’s so easy for Bible-believing Christians to scoff at the culture and bemoan liberalism, but should our churches and ourselves look in the mirror and assume some of the blame?

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:22-24

As we watch liberalism and progressivism try to eliminate genders and the roles God assigned them, normalize same-sex unnatural relations and promiscuous sex, promote slaughtering babies in the womb, and the next generation accepting these atrocities, are Christians doing anything tangible to make a difference?

It’s not always comfortable to stand up for what you believe, but when you know the Truth and take to heart that many who are deceived today will spend eternity in hell instead of heaven, how could it be comfortable to remain silent?

The Bible is the only source of Truth

How Can You Stop the Maligning of God’s Word?

  1. Know your Bible! Relate to it. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Share it.
  2. Practice and role model the Bible’s teaching in your life and with your family.
  3. Engage with the next generation by teaching or mentoring them using God’s Word as your guide.
  4. Ask God to give you new insights into His Word and a hunger to learn more.
  5. Remember how God’s Word has changed your life and share your testimony whenever God gives you the opportunity. If you’re wondering how to do this, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten offers life-application ways, ideas, and prompts.

Obey the Word of God. If you hear only and do not act, you are only fooling yourself.—James 1:22 NLV

I know I’m preaching to the choir, and I commend the ministries you’re involved in and the ways God has led you to grow His Kingdom here on earth. For those who feel challenged by today’s blog, pray that God will show where He needs you to make a difference. 

For me, it’s a personal attack when I hear anyone belittling or maligning my precious Lord and Savior and the Bible He’s given us to know how to live as believers during the time He gives us on earth. Our world today is not an easy place for Bible-believing Christians, but we must not let that stop us. Jesus told us we would be persecuted, just like He was (John 15:20), but all He asks us to do is defend His Word, the Bible, and prayerfully share His gospel message with grace and love. God will do the rest.

The Bible assures us: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9), and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8).

Please share with us how God has led you to stop the maligning of His Word.

If you received this post by email, please leave a comment here.

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Note: In the book I’m writing now, Get Your Brave On: Women of the Bible Show Us We’re Braver Than We Think, you won’t be surprised that there is a chapter on Bold Faith. I would love to hear how God has lead you to stand up for your faith and the Bible. Please email me at info@womantowomanmentoring.com for more details.

Remember the goodness of God so you don't forsake Him in your life.

Forsaken God?

Four Ways to Close the Communication Gap with Your Husband By Cindi McMenamin

My dear author friend of twenty years, Cindi McMenamin, has a new book out 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband.  If you’re married, engaged, know someone married, or mentoring a married woman, you’re going to want to pick up this valuable book full of experience, suggestions, and tips. We all want a happy communicative marriage, but if you’ve been married for very long, you know that takes work and lots of prayer.

Four Ways to Close the Communication Gap with Your Husband by Cindi McMenamin

Four Ways to Close the Communication Gap with Your Husband

By Cindi McMenamin

As I’ve mentored women over the past two decades, I’ve seen one issue continue to plague wives, regardless of how long they’ve been married – a communication gap in their marriage that leads to emotional distance.

Can you relate? Have you heard, or said yourself, the following statements?

I don’t know how to talk to my husband without him becoming defensive.

I’ve tried everything, he just won’t talk to me.

No matter what I say it comes out wrong. Is it me or is it him?

Whether you’ve heard other women say that or you’ve said it yourself, that gap – which can leave a husband and wife feeling isolated from one another – is more serious than you may realize.

A lack of communication is now the No. 1 cause for divorce in America. Just a decade ago it was adultery, but today failing to communicate, communicating poorly, or just letting the emotional gap widen between a husband and wife can be most fatal to marriages.

Eliminating the communication gap is essential to experiencing more in your marriage. That is the primary reason I wrote my newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband. You and I can be experiencing more trust, more passion, and yes, more communication with our husbands when we understand what motivates them, as well as what wounds them.

For years, my husband (Hugh) and I struggled with this communication gap because of our many differences. He is an introvert. I am an extrovert. He came from a family that stuffed and stifled their feelings. I came from a family that verbally over-communicated their feelings. To this day, Hugh will readily admit he is not the communicator in our marriage. I am. But just because I’m a writer, speaker, and therefore a communicator by profession, does not necessarily mean I communicate well with him. In fact, because I know how to communicate in general I figured I had it made when I got married. I was so wrong.

Through the years (three decades of marriage, in fact), my husband and I have both had to figure out how to communicate well with each other.

We did that by developing an awareness of what was causing us to close off from one another. And get this. We weren’t even aware that we were reacting to one another out of unresolved issues in our lives.

Reacting Out of Our Pain

A counselor friend of mine shared with me that it’s human nature for couples to react to one another out of their pain. Certain words or situations will trigger pain in us and we end up reacting defensively. It’s natural, then, to filter our life’s experiences through that grid of pain and sometimes end up seeing our spouse – rather than an unhealed issue in our lives – as the problem.

Here are some ways to identify and let God heal the issues so you can better communicate and close the gap with your husband:

  1. Realize the deeper core wound that is driving the problem or argument. When you and I first understand our own pain and insecurities and then develop a greater understanding of what causes our husbands’ pain, we can work to better communicate and reconnect. Instead of thinking my spouse is just an angry man, say “I had no idea that my husband struggled so much with feeling he was not succeeding in the relationship.” What we focus on grows. If we focus on what our husbands are doing wrong, that will grow. If we focus on the fact that he’s a good guy that will heighten our awareness to see that.

  1. Resist the urge to be defensive, accusative, or angry at your husband’s words, actions, or responses. People who hurt, hurt people. When your husband lashes out or says something unkind, it’s possible he is feeling lashed out against. Be open and curious. Tell yourself, “My husband is a good man, he is loving and is maybe acting like a jerk right now, but what is going on inside of him?” Practice Ephesians 4:29 and make sure, even in the heat of the moment, that you don’t let “any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).

  1. Reject the lies that get you off course and create division between you and your spouse. Your husband’s wounds aren’t the only ones in the picture. We wives get triggered by a situation or by certain words and then we believe our lie: I am alone. I am devalued. I’m not appreciated. I’m not respected. We end up responding to our husbands because we believe a lie that doesn’t have anything to do with them.

  1. Receive the truth of who you are in Christ. Once you receive the truth that you are not alone, you are valuable in Christ’s eyes, and you’re deeply loved by God, you can be more emotionally regulated and attuned to your husband. John 8:32 tells us “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Instead of getting anxious, withdrawing from, or lecturing your husband when you feel hurt, you can remember the One who has redeemed your life and say, “I realize when you said this I felt devalued and started to shut down, but now I realize I am valued in Christ and I can choose to be connected and get close to you.”

Each of us has to feel emotionally safe in order to start moving toward the other person to close the gap. Our only safety is in our relationship with Jesus. When we understand who we are in His eyes and we feel safe in Him, we can feel safe with others, too. And then, we can start actively closing that communication gap.

Which of these steps do you find is the most challenging?

Leave your comment below and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of Cindi’s newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband: More Trust. More Passion. More Communication. (U.S. mailing residents only please). Winners will be notified via email on February 12.

If you received this blog by email, please leave a comment here.

4 Ways to Better communication with your husband by Cindi McMenamin

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of 16 books who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She has been married 30 years to Hugh, a pastor and introvert, who shared his insights in her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, upon which this blog is based. For more on her ministry and discounts on her resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website:www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Love Your Body in the New Year!

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

(Love Your Body is a series I write the last Monday of each month on living healthy)

I started out the New Year having a third eye surgery which is still healing, so I’m going to update and resend a post I wrote in 2015. For some this will be new to you and for those who’ve been with me for awhile, it’s always good to start out the year with a refresher. I pray for each of you that it’s a healthy 2018! 

This week marks the last week in January, and if you’re like millions of people you’ve started making some changes in your life in 2018 (Five Ways to a Fresh Start in 2018). You may have overindulged throughout the holidays with the consolation that you’ll get back on track “next year.”

As I contemplated what to write to you today, I reread what I wrote two years ago, and it’s exactly what I want to say to you again this year. So I’ve updated it and hope if you’ve had some successes by reading Love Your Body Monday blogs, you’ll share those with me, like Janie did below and some of you have in my past blogs. I’m looking forward to sharing some new ideas for you to get healthy in the New Year.

As an avid gym member for many years, I always noticed how crowded the gym was the beginning of January. Those of us “regulars” would complain that it was hard to get on the equipment and the classes were packed. But we comforted each other with the knowledge that it wouldn’t last. Soon all the New Year enthusiasts would be gone and we’d have the gym back to ourselves.

Sound familiar?

What Goes Wrong with Resolutions?

Wikipedia describes New Year’s Resolution as:

New Year’s resolution, a commitment that an individual makes at New Year’s Day.

Notice the use of the word “commitment.” I think the reason many people fail at keeping their New Year’s resolutions is because they’re not making the “commitment” to anyone who will keep them accountable. It’s way too easy to give yourself a ton of grace and slack on the commitment you’ve made just to yourself.

If you want to make a change in your health and lifestyle, I’d like to propose that this year you make a three-fold commitment to God, another person, and yourself.

Commit to God

Journal or write down a letter to God delineating the changes you want to make. Keep this letter in your Bible and make it part of your daily quiet time. Maybe it will help you have a regular quiet time—that might be one of your resolutions. Read this letter every day for the next year. Be specific and ask God for His help in keeping you faithful to making the changes you’ve listed.

Commit to an Accountability Partner or Do a Bible Study Together

If you don’t tell your resolutions to anyone else, you may not be disciplined enough to stay faithful to your commitment. Tell a family member or friend your resolutions and ask them to help keep you accountable. Let them know how you would like them to do that and ask them to pray for you to stick to your commitment.

Commit to Yourself—Love Yourself Enough to Change

Do you really want to live a healthier lifestyle? Do you want to lose weight? Reduce your cholesterol or blood pressure? Prevent diet-related diseases? Exercise more? Eat healthier? Only you can motivate you. No one can make you live healthier no matter how many “resolutions” or attempts you make. But you do have a choice to make those resolutions a reality not just dreaming.

I have to admit that as I write this Love Your Body blog post, I often wonder if anyone has made any healthy changes—does anyone care enough about themselves to try any of the suggestions I’ve been sharing? Seldom does anyone leave a comment, so I was asking God, “Am I talking to myself?”

The Lord answered in a very tangible way. The weekend before Thanksgiving 2014, my daughter and I spoke at the Nazarene Church in Ontario, Oregon. The first night, Janie Morey came up to me and told me that she had been reading my Love Your Body series and she and her husband decided to make some major diet and exercise changes with amazing results. I asked her if she would write a comment in Love Your Body During the Holidays blog post and she did. I’ve copied it here to encourage you to make 2018 the year you get, and stay, fit:

Thank you for the helpful ideas for loving our bodies to be healthy. Several months ago, I read your similar writing and was reminded that God loves us so, every part of us, including our bodies. I began praying for His help to get to a healthy weight. I have lost 22 pounds! Everything is better physically, but more importantly, my faith has been strengthened. For me, fitting exercise into every day is key. If I am not walking, I am doing physical work at the Love INC thrift store or doing Pilates (good for me at 64 years old!). Variety in exercise and food helps to keep up my healthy behaviors. Have you tried Farro? So delicious and whole grain! Cutting down on sweets and fats has sparked my appetite for the fresh vegetables that fill most of my plate these days. I use the app My Fitness Pal to keep track of what I eat. This app shows me that a cookie once-in-a-while is acceptable and my goal of healthy and balanced meals daily is possible. And lastly, I suggest getting a health buddy for support. Mine is my husband who has lost 35 pounds! Thanks Janet for reminding me to ask God for help…He loves us so!

I Want to Help You Have A . . .

I hope that Janie’s story inspires you. She started exercising, eating less sweets, eating more fresh vegetables, keeping track of what she ate, and most importantly, she enlisted the support of what she calls a “health buddy” and he got healthier too!

If you want me to pray for you to make healthy New Year’s resolutions, and keep them, leave a comment below with as many specifics as you feel comfortable sharing and I will commit to pray for you to be successful.

Commit to God—commit to a friend/family member—commit to yourself —commit to me. Together let’s make 2018 the year you Love Your Body like God loves your body!

Happy Healthy New Year!

Start 2018 living healthyYou might consider doing this study I wrote for First Place 4 Health!

Mentoring Includes Allowing Women to Suffer by Kathy Collard Miller

Mentoring Includes Allowing Women to Suffer to let God refine them.

So often I hear from parents and mentors who step in to try and shelter their mentee or children from suffering pain. It’s a natural protecting instinct. But Kathy Collard Miller asks us to consider: Are we getting in the way of God?

Mentoring Includes Allowing Women to Suffer

by Kathy Collard Miller

Over many years, I have taught small group women’s Bible studies and mentored many women. I’ve gone through the gamut of thinking my words will protect a woman and blaming myself when a woman doesn’t respond the way I’m leading. I’ve learned a prominent principle: trust God for a good plan even if God allows her to suffer difficulties.

God the Father loved his only Son well to the maximum, but still asked Jesus to leave heaven’s joys to demonstrate the Father’s love for sinful humanity. All for the sake of bringing glory to the Father. God also suffered himself watching his beloved Son suffer. He provided darkness to cover his Son’s unbearable pain on the cross.

The physical suffering Jesus endured wasn’t the most painful aspect of his crucifixion. No, the most painful and important aspect was the indescribable emotional agony Jesus suffered by being separated from his Father’s fellowship. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit had always enjoyed perfect fellowship, unity, and joy in each other. When Jesus took on the sins of the world, though he had lived a sinless life he became sinful, which separated him from perfect fellowship in the holy Trinity. That separation was the ultimate suffering. God’s heart grieved, yet he had a purpose in Jesus’ crucifixion.

God Knows His Purposes for Us Struggling

I can’t imagine any of us willing to send our mentee to a cross. But we don’t need to willingly send anyone into difficulty because we’re all challenged more than enough in this sinful world. Yet God’s purpose is often to purify through trials. Cooperation with God’s purposes means we resist rescuing others, and especially excusing their sinful choices.

Think of James 1:2-5.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Recently, I meditated on those verses from a different angle. When I try to protect or rescue anyone I’m mentoring, in a sense I’m standing before God exclaiming, “You may not speak James 1:2-5 to her. You may not challenge her to count it all joy. It’s just too much for me to think of her suffering. You aren’t capable of using this situation for her good. You being glorified through her difficulties is not as valuable to me as her comfort and ease.

Isn’t That Shocking?

Are you shocked to think of it that way?

Here’s something even more shocking. In a sense, we’re demanding, “You must remove those verses from the Bible. They aren’t true.”

Shocking, yes, but we deceive ourselves thinking shielding our mentees is for their best. God doesn’t agree. He loves each one of us perfectly, and yet he says, “You will suffer and count it all joy.” Why? Because then, as the passage says, the payoff is strength, steadfastness, wisdom, growth, and maturity.

Aren’t those qualities what you desire for the woman you are mentoring? Only God’s use of difficulty will produce those benefits.

I’m not saying we never help or assist, advise, or support. But we must be honest about our motives in order to know what’s best for them. Sometimes we don’t want them to suffer because it hurts us to see their pain. Or if they struggle, it might reflect upon our own mentoring abilities. Desiring God’s glory clears up those muddy motives.

Over these many years, this principle has not only allowed me to get out of the way of God’s purifying work in others’ lives, but it has given me peace by trusting that God works through difficulty.

How has such a principle been helpful for you in your mentoring of others? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

Enter a book drawing for Kathy’s new book, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s GloryEnter by January 29 by leaving a comment here along with your email address. The winner will be drawn on January 30. (US addresses only can win.)

Kathy Collard Miller author of Pure Hearted discusses letting mentees suffer as God uses their trials to strengthen them.

Learn more about starting a mentoring ministry in your church at womantowomanmentoring.com/mentoring/

For how to mentor women in all seasons of life and be a mentee in all seasons of life my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness will be helpful.

Kathy Collard Miller writes about letting God work through suffering in mentoring.

Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books that include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, and Bible commentaries. She is a speaker who has shared in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US states. Kathy and Larry have been married for 47 years and are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California and often write and speak together. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com. She would love to hear from you.

This guest blog is adapted from Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. Filled with biblical principles, practical instruction, and motivational stories, Pure Hearted is written for women. Every chapter includes a profile of a biblical woman along with discussion questions for groups or individuals.

Order Pure-Hearted at: http://amzn.to/2jzYdWi

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How Can A Word Change Your Life?

“My word for this year is peace,” my friend texted me.

Hmm, I’ve read on social media about many people choosing a “word” for the year, but this hasn’t previously been a habit of mine. I talked last week about how I prayerfully set goals for the year. If you haven’t read it yet, the topic was “5 Ways to A Fresh Start in the New Year.” I also spoke of starting a daily devotional that I had requested for Christmas: The Believer’s Code: 365 Devotions to Unlock the Blessings in God’s Word. Each day’s devotion has a “Code Word,” which is a devotional thought on that day’s Scripture passage. So God had been putting the idea in my mind of a daily word from His Word, but I hadn’t considered a yearly goal word.

As my friend and I texted back and forth, I reflected on last year. God did give me a word for 2017—hope. I wrote a blog about how hope helped me traverse through a difficult health year: I Didn’t See This Coming!

How a Word Can Change Your Life, mine for 2017 was hope.

So after prayer, I decided my word for 2018 would be “calm.” If you know me personally, or have ever heard me speak, you know this will be a huge stretch for me! But hey, I wrote last week that goals shouldn’t be too easy and should cause you to stretch. My husband responded to my word, “That’s going to be a challenge for you!”

I’m a very excitable person. If they used the term ADHD when I was a kid, my mom would’ve used it to describe me! She wouldn’t tell me about fun and exciting things we were going to do because . . . well, she didn’t want me getting so excited! Since childhood, I’ve had the gift of discernment, so the minute I saw her starting to get ready, I knew something was up. Then she had to deal with my overly enthusiastic reaction. I’ve always felt I missed many opportunities to enjoy and savor anticipation.

As a public speaker, audiences tell me they appreciate my passion, enthusiasm, and excitement.

Those are positive qualities in the right context, but I can also use them in a negative way to win a disagreement or prove a point. Or I can become agitated anticipating the future. In my mom’s defense, I was such a conscientious student that I almost had an ulcer at twelve-years old! I also have IBS, which only flares up when I’m in nervous anticipation. When the situation arrives, I’m usually centered; but leading up to it can cause turmoil in my tummy.

My husband is the opposite temperament, as God often does in matching couples! We took a personality test when we were engaged, and you couldn’t get any further apart on paper than our results. And we would both admit that twenty-five years later, I still have to work at tempering my responses and he tries to rise a bit to my level of enthusiasm. He’s the calm one; I’m the whirlwind.

But I have calmed and quieted myself. Psalm 131:2

Of course, right after deciding to stay calm when more appropriate than an outburst, I was tested. The first few times, I did well . . . but then I heard myself losing my cool and I had to determinedly focus on being quiet and calm.

So calm won’t come easy and so it shouldn’t. It will keep me dependent on God to advise me when it’s appropriate to let my natural enthusiastic, passionate personality shine through, and when I need to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and let God shine through with a quiet and gentle spirit . . . something few people would describe me as possessing.

You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:4 NLT

I will have to pray this Word from God often: He [God] says [Janet], “Be still, [calm] and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Even more important than focusing on a “word” is focusing on The Word of God—the Bible—daily. If we really want our transformation into a new creation in Christ, then we must immerse ourselves in His Word. There is no other way. Often people say they want to get closer to God and His Son, Jesus Christ, but that will never happen without reading His communication to us through His Word.

In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
  He existed in the beginning with God. John 1:1-2 NLT

For the word of the Lord is right and true;

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33: 4,6

We’re so fortunate to have many ways today to access God’s living Word: online, electronics, kindles, IPads, phones . . . and hard copy in numerous translations available for purchase at bookstores and online. Often something readily available in abundance isn’t properly valued.

  • How many translations of the Bible do you own but seldom open?
  • Do you have a phone app so the Word can be with you always?
  • Have you spent time on websites like Biblegateway.com or Blueletterbible.org where you can read the same passage in numerous translations and research commentaries?
  • How often do you read God’s Word?

If we say God takes priority in our life, shouldn’t we want to talk to Him and hear from Him over all the chatter of the world and of others? I know you know the answer is yes!

So whether or not you arrive at a word for 2018, commit to spending time in God’s Word and you know what will happen . . . you won’t find it so hard to stay true to a specific word, or even need one, because all of God’s Word will guide your life.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

If you want to pick a word as a spiritual discipline this year, in addition to immersing yourself in God’s Word, Tammy Keene’s comment on last week’s blog is a true testimony of how a word from God’s Word can change your life.

Instead of resolutions, I have chosen to focus on specific words for the year. In December 2014, I was challenged to state a word God had given me. With everything that was going on in my life, I knew the word was Trust. In 2015, I trusted God and found myself looking towards 2016 and a new word for the year. My word was Faithful because God was (and is) faithful. My word for 2017 was Able from Ephesians 3:20-21. God has taught me that He is trustworthy, faithful, and able. My word for 2018 is trust His timing. I still struggle with this; however, since I have learned to Trust Him that He is Faithful and Able, I can rest in confidence that His timing is best.

If you have a word for 2018, would you share it with us in the comments? Telling others is a good way to stay accountable.

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5 Ways to a Fresh Start in the New Year

God's grace is how I find 5 ways to a fresh start in the New Year

First, let me extend to each of you a Blessed 2018! We’re only one week into the New Year, and I’ll admit I already want the year to slow down. I always feel that way as I watch January slip away and the exhilaration of starting a fresh new year morph into an overwhelming “there’s so much to do” feeling.

If you’re like me, I relax during the week between Christmas and New Year’s and enjoy a rest from activities leading up to Christmas. I don’t take my decorations or lights down till after the New Year because I still enjoy reflecting on the past year and the warmth of Christmas lights. Every year it seems the month of December just goes a little too fast, even though we put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving!

Some of you prefer to move past Christmas quickly and take everything down the next day or week. I’ve seen many on social media say that it feels good to have the house back to normal after what can sometimes feel cluttered with the trappings of Christmas. You’re ready for a fresh start in your home and the new year.

I have to admit that while I’m writing this note to you on January 5, I haven’t taken down one decoration yet, and my heart is a little sad and reminiscent as I consider putting it all away tomorrow for another year. Maybe those like me aren’t quite ready to bring closure to 2017’s Christmas memories

We each have our own way of ending one year and moving on to the next; but ready or not, 2018 is here!

Five Ways to a Fresh Start in the New Year!

Aside from taking down Christmas decorations, here are five ways that help me get a fresh start in the New Year. Maybe some of what I do and the reasons why I do them will help you too!

  1. Priority one for me is to pray about how God wants me to commune with Him in a fresh new way. For a number of years, I’ve started January reading the Bible in a year. To keep it new and fresh, I choose a different translation and reading plan each year and even read the Chronological Bible one year. Every time I do this, the Lord reveals new insights and speaks to me through His Word in ways I hadn’t seen before, even in familiar verses. I love how His Word is new every morning.
  2. I start a yearly devotional to accompany my Bible reading program for the year. This year I’m reading Women of the Bible: A One Year Devotional Study by Ann Spangler & Jean E. Syswerda, which also doubles as research for writing my new book Get Your Brave On! I also asked for Christmas The Believer’s Code: 365 Devotions to Unlock the Blessings in God’s Word by O.S. Hawkins. Sometimes I’ll pull one of my previous devotionals off the bookshelf to read again because I see the authors’ thoughts in a new and fresh way depending on what’s happening in my life or maybe what book or article I’m writing.
  3. Yes, I do set goals, rather than resolutions. Goals seem more positive to me, and I like to frame my aspirations as doable. I’m more goal oriented than resolution motivated. According to Wikipedia’s definitions . . .

Resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. The destination of a journey. (I especially like thinking of my goals as a journey to a destination.)

Our wedding anniversary is December 19, a perfect time for us to set new yearly goals for our marriage, and I set personal goals for the upcoming year. I write these in my One Year Walk With God devotional, which I’ve read so many times it’s literally falling apart.

Sometimes previous year’s goals carry over to the next year, and the next year . . . I don’t feel condemnation, just a fresh motivation to achieve them in the upcoming years. It’s important to set achievable realistic goals: not so high we give up, or too easy we don’t stretch.

On Facebook many have asked if anyone sets New Year’s resolutions and often the answer was no because they don’t want to break them or be disappointed. However, I did see a few setting goals. Progress doesn’t happen without a goal and a plan to achieve it. We never succeed at what we don’t try. I hope I’m encouraging you to set some goals for 2018. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

  • Do you set resolutions or goals each year? Why or why not?
  • What’s one goal you kept that changed your life?
  • What area of your life has God asked you to surrender to Him in the new year?

If the Lord does lead you to set new goals, or work on last year’s goals, refer to them regularly during the year and pray asking God’s guidance on where He wants your focus to fulfill His purpose for your life.

  1. Stay in the Moment—this is probably the hardest one for me. We all need a bit of forward thinking and planning, but I tend to let my mind race ahead to all that must be done in the future, which distracts me from what I need to do today. I watch with dread as the days of the month slip by and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished enough. My husband is always reminding me not to worry, but trust God with the details. Can I hear an Amen?!
  2. When plans and goals get sidelined! 2017 was an extremely difficult year for me, as many of you know. Nothing I could have expected or planned to happen. On Christmas day 2016, I fell and started 2017 with staples in my head and a concussion, which left a continual ringing in my ears that God has not chosen to remove. Just as the concussion was subsiding, I had a horrific side effect to a medication and had bladder and kidney surgery that downed me for two months. Then in the fall, I had cataract surgery in both eyes that was supposed to be a “piece of cake!” But I had a reaction to the eye drops, and one of my new lenses has shifted, so I’ll be having another surgery on January 16 to rotate it back in place.

My plans to write the next book were “sidelined.” But in the midst of all the pain and setbacks, God birthed Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness and blessed me with an amazing launch team and caring compassionate editor who understood when I couldn’t meet all the editing deadlines after the kidney surgery.

Then to my surprise and delight, I was offered an opportunity to be on the teaching staff at Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference in March 2018! Mount Hermon is where I learned to write and I’m honored and humbled by this invitation.

My point is that even when the year doesn’t go like you expect or want, trust God to meet His expectations and purpose for you and let Him turn what seems so bad into good. Ask God for forgiveness and grace for last year’s mistakes and blunders, and set a new goal of living for Christ and His ways in the new year. Be sure and give Him all the glory for the things He has done in and through you, no matter how it turns out.

And that’s really how to start fresh and stay fresh every day of every new year: Establish a fresh new perspective on our relationship with God who knows our future and reminds us that our eternity is with Him!

I know I’ve probably left some important things I do off this list, but a fresh start for 2018 is achievable for all of us. Won’t you share in the comments what helps you feel motivated and enthused with the prospect of a new year!? Often the first step is telling someone else.

5 ways to a Fresh Start in the New Year helps focus on what's really important in 2018!

PS I’m still receiving stories of God calling on you to be brave or do something you couldn’t do without Him. Contact me for more information.

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*Opening graphic courtesy of Our Daily Bread which I subscribe to and read daily.

Unity Only Comes Through the Prince of Peace

Jesus the Prince of Peace is the only answer to world peace!

This will be my last Monday Morning Blog for 2017 since Christmas and New Year’s Day falls on Monday this year. I hope you’ll be enjoying those Mondays and not spending time on electronics! So I wanted to close out the year with a Christmas poem I wrote December 2001, three months after 9/11. With all the unrest and fear in our nation today about North Korea and terrorist attacks again, I thought this poem was still appropriate.

Everyone is looking for someone or something to bring lasting unity, peace, and justice to our world, but that will never happen through mere human efforts. Just like one human or one thing doesn’t cause division and injustice in our world.

Sin causes division in people groups, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23 NLT)

Only Jesus can restore unity.

Sing along with Petra in this YouTube video, “When Will the World See That We Need Jesus?

“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” (Ephesians 2:14 NLT)

Remember that true peace is found in only One Person (Luke 2:8-14) and Truth and Justice (John 14:6) is fulfilled in that same Person, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[a] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NLT)

CHRISTMAS POEM 2001

Never Forget 9-11

 

We call on You in times of trouble,

Some sense to make amongst the rubble.

But as the ashes form a heap,

Normal life is what we seek.

 

‘Oh My God,’ is soon replaced

With don’t put Jesus in our face.

Prayers once heard throughout the land,

Now return to being banned.

 

God displayed on screen and lawn,

Soon will fade into a yawn.

A cycle repeated year after year,

As the final trumpet call draws near.

 

A Babe was born on Christmas day,

So you and I could be saved.

What will it take for all to heed,

Jesus Christ is all we need.

 

Lord, help us gathered in Your sight,

Make a difference in this plight.

Give us boldness to proclaim,

Peace on earth is why You came!

Janet Thompson  12/11

This was the note that went along with the poem my husband and I sent out Christmas 2011. Like the poem, it’s still applicable to our times today!

Reading Chapter 5 of Isaiah inspired this poem. Our small group is [was] doing a Bible study titled “ISAIAH: Trusting God in Troubled Times.”* Amazing how the book of Isaiah in the Bible parallels the world’s happenings today! No one could have forecasted the events of our times more accurately than God, the Creator of our world. We encourage you to read the book of Isaiah.

With so much talk about survival kits and what to do in an emergency, we can tell you from our experience, the only survival kit for anything that will ever happen in your life and our world is all found in one place—the Bible. Is a modern translation on your Christmas list?

Do you know someone who needs a Survival Kit for Christmas? Are you wondering what to get that hard person to buy for on your list? Do them a favor that could save their life—buy them God’s Survival Kit and manual for life—the Holy Bible.

Our prayer is that your Christmas focuses on Christ and relationships more than ever before! That you experience the peace, joy, and hope that comes from personally knowing the Babe in the manger. He’s all grown up now and so in love with you. Celebrate each day of life as a gift from Him, and in return, give Jesus Christ the gift of your life.

Merry Christmas and Happy Blessed New Year, Janet and Dave Thompson

*Isaiah: Trusting God in Troubled Times by Howard Peskett; Inter Varsity Press  A LifeGuide Bible Study

*Picture shared from Church of God of Prophecy

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10 Ideas for Simplifying Christmas

Jesus is God's Best Gift at Christmas and Ten Ways to Simplify Christmas

We’re now in the countdown days to Christmas and many of you might be in panic mode. I remember those days well. I even remember crying to my husband that I just couldn’t do it as our family continued to grow with our four children’s marriages and grandchildren. I needed his help, but he had a bewildered, “I don’t know what to do?” look in his eyes.

I wanted to enjoy Christmas. I was excited about having a large family and grandchildren. When Dave and I married, I went from having one child to four. That was manageable. When the four got married, we doubled. Still doable. Then the precious grandkids started coming and coming and coming, and I was still trying to do all the things I did when we were a small family!

Added to the mix was leading Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, my career, attending seminary for the first few years of our marriage, and writing deadlines!

I was trying too hard to make everything perfect. I was assuming all the responsibility and thinking I could do everything with a family of 21 that I did with a family of two!

As much as I tried to keep my focus on Jesus, the Reason for the Season, I was focusing on:

  • trying to keep the same number of gifts for all the grandkids,
  • getting everyone the perfect gifts,
  • decorating the entire house,
  • sending everyone I knew a Christmas card,
  • making amazing Christmas goodies,
  • hosting Christmas parties,
  • trying new recipes,
  • pulling out all the best dishes . . .

You get the picture because you’ve been there . . . maybe you’re there now.

We also had an annual birthday parties for Jesus, and one year 300 people attended in our 1800 square foot home! I tried parceling out some of the work, but you know how that goes when it’s at your house. I loved it. Everyone loved it and still talks about them. But every year I tried to add a new element to the party and come up with even better party favors and different food than I had the year before.

Looking back, I was competing with myself. Could I top the last party? Could we give the grandkids the best gifts? I worried that we weren’t giving them as many pricey gifts as the other grandparents?!

Then it all came to a screeching halt the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and started radiation December 17, 2002, two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Oh yes, did I forget to mention I also planned our wedding on December 19! It seemed like a great idea the first few years, but then adding in an anniversary getaway or celebration in the middle of Christmas preparations added another activity to my already overbooked schedule.

The unexpected breast cancer diagnosis coincided with a kitchen and living room remodel and all the family “coming home for Christmas.” No kitchen counters or sink because they cut the counter tops wrong. The dishwasher was still in its box in the middle of the kitchen! The new hardwood floors were in, but I had no energy to figure out how to protect them with our traditional live Christmas tree. That year changed everything and actually brought sanity to our Christmas.

Here are some changes I made that “radiation Christmas” that might help you too. Don’t think you have to do all of them, but maybe pick a few that give you more time with Jesus and reduces Christmas stress.

  1. We used decorative paper plates, plastic silverware, and paper cups. Everyone loved how easy cleanup was after a meal. (We put a tablecloth over the dishwasher box and the kids joked that I had always wanted an island in the kitchen.)
  2. We set up a small manger scene instead of putting up a Christmas tree. After that year, we switched to a beautiful artificial Christmas tree, but also added a manger scene to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas. The grandkids decorated the tree. To this day, I let the grandkids decorate the Christmas tree. They do a great job!
  3. First grandchildren usually get many presents. You’re so excited to have a grandchild. As more came, we decided on three presents each like the three Wisemen. But as we hit eleven . . . we had to scale down to one nice present each.
  4. Instead of doing the full birthday party for Jesus, which I wrote about last week and in a blog last year, I ordered online children’s costumes for the Christmas story and had the grandchildren play out the manger scene while I read it from a Children’s Bible. Here’s a YOUTube of a live enactment. Then we kept the Birthday Bag for Jesus under the tree and maintained the tradition of having guests fill out a card with a gift they would give Jesus. On Christmas we have a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
  5. 5. Scale down your Christmas card list or send by email. I love getting Christmas cards, but noticed we received so many with just a signature, nice but not personal. So I had been writing a poem every year for our Christmas card, but our list seemed to double every year.

  6. When we have a dinner party, it’s potluck. When we first moved to Idaho, we had a small dinner for our “neighbors” in the mountains. Then as we met more people, we started inviting neighbors and friends. Soon, I was back to having large groups that didn’t fit into our house! It’s hard to curtail a sanguine. So now we’re back to small, intimate groups.
  7. I mentioned in the blog post Love Your Body: How to Survive Holiday Eating, that I curtailed the baking frenzy. I make something when we’re invited to a party, but now that we’re empty nesters, we don’t need all the goodies sitting around to tempt us.
  8. I still love to decorate the house and have lights. But I don’t feel like I have to bring out every box, every Christmas, and have something in every crook and cranny of our house. Even still, I always get the comments that our house looks Christmassy, warm, and cozy.
  9. Since we now live an hour from town and shopping, we order many gifts online. I say “we” because I include hubby in the shopping. We also wrap presents together, after all, they are for “our” family, and he’s actually a better wrapper than I am. We put something on TV and sit in front of the fireplace by the Christmas tree. Two are definitely better than one!
  10. Start everyday reading a part of the Christmas story or a Christmas devotional. It helps you focus all the day’s activities around the ONLY reason we celebrate Christmas. It reminds us that Jesus doesn’t want us stressed or in a frenzy. He came into the world for one reason, to offer those who believe in Him eternal life, not to add a burden to our life but to lighten our load: “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I’d love to hear how you lighten your burdens and simplify Christmas. Please share with us.

I’ll close with a timeless poem I wrote in 2004. You may have read it in previous years, but sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and read it again.

Time To Sit With You”

CHRISTMAS POEM 2004

Lord, so many things to do,             

No time to sit with you.

There’s presents to buy,

And I must bake a pie!

 

 But isn’t it all about Me?

What’s closed your eyes to see.

The purpose of Christmas day,

Isn’t how much you pay?

 

Lord, each year we hear that said,

Yet, still it comes with dread.

Anticipating all to do,

No time to sit with You!

 

This is MY day.

Don’t I have a say

In how you spend your time?

Remember, you are chosen…Mine!

 

But Lord, relatives will soon be here,

And the lawn Santa still needs reindeer!

There is so much to do,

Still no time to sit with You.

 

Relax and enjoy Me this season,

Let your activities have a reason.

This is My Birthday celebration,

And all I want is your attention.

 

Oh, Lord, we’ll make it all about You.

Do You think we should have fondue?

We’ll read the Christmas Story,

And give You all the glory.

 

Sit down and read My Word.

Your craziness is absurd.

Come spend some time with me,

Forget the Christmas tree.

 

Oh, Lord the cookies are all baked,

I have such a headache.

I know I need to pray,

But I’ve had such a day!

 

Lives are waiting to be saved.

Did you hear Me when you prayed?

It is certainly no wonder

Your world is all asunder.

 

No, God, I didn’t hear a word,

I was busy stuffing the bird.

I want to just slow down,

But I feel I’m losing ground.

 

You’ve made it all about you,

And all your parties too.

My message to the lost,

Overshadowed by homemade cranberry sauce.

 

Lord, that’s not true,

You know I do love You.

It’s just I feel a call,

To make this the best Christmas of all!

 

You’re wasting your time.

Do you think you could top Mine?

I had a virgin birth,

As my entrance to earth.

 

Oh, Lord, I’m beginning to see,

How You want to use me.

Telling Your story to all who will listen,

Is the true Christmas mission.

 

Spending time with Me,

Is the only way to flee

The world’s strangling control

On your time and very soul.

 

Oh, Lord, Your music softly plays,

As the candle glow displays,

The beauty of time spent

With our Gift heaven sent.

 

You’ll go against the flow

Taking time to help a lost soul.

But when the day has come to end,

You’ll have the joy of a new friend.

 

Oh, Lord, forgive me please.

Help me put down my car keys.

It really is so true,

There’s ALWAYS time to sit with You.

Our prayer for our friends and family is that you focus your life on only those things that will have Kingdom value. It’s the only legacy worth leaving. Merry Christmas, Janet & Dave

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Why is “Merry Christmas” Controversial?

God's gift at Christmas is Jesus Christ so why is it so controversial to say "Merry Christmas"?

Most of us grew up in a culture that embraced Christmas. We said “Merry Christmas” as a joyful greeting, decorated Christmas trees, made Christmas cookies, sent out Christmas cards, gave Christmas presents, watched Christmas specials, participated in Christmas programs, and sang Christmas carols, not just at church but at school too!

Then subtly and slyly, the way Satan works, the concept of Christmas became culturally and socially controversial, even taboo. Stores and advertisers started removing the word “Christmas,” replacing it with “Holidays.” Sales personnel instructed to say “Happy Holidays,” if anything at all. School Christmas programs called “winter programs.” People sued for publically displaying nativity scenes. And on and on . . . .

What’s wrong with saying “Happy Holidays”? Well nothing, except what are the “Holidays?” On New Year’s, do you say “Happy Holidays” or do you say “Happy New Year.” To our Jewish friends, do we say “Happy Holidays” or “Happy Hanukah”?

Do we send out holiday cards or Christmas cards? Do we buy holiday presents or Christmas presents? Do we put up a holiday tree or a Christmas tree? Does our pastor preach a holiday message or a Christmas message?

A progressive liberal culture has attempted to remove Christ from Christmas and replace it with a generic “holiday”. But that’s impossible! Yes, many nonbelievers celebrate Christmas for secular reasons, which is fine as long as they don’t try to mess with the origin of Christmas.

Christmas is a Christian celebration. Without the birth of Christ, there would be no Christmas.

So what’s the controversy about saying “Merry Christmas”? I believe it’s because the secular world doesn’t want to admit they’re participating in a Christian celebration, so they try to neutralize Christmas to accommodate their nonbelief. Retailers commercialize Christmas to make money and don’t want to “offend” customers, even though those that eliminate Christmas in their advertising, offend every Christian, or at least it should.

The War on Christmas

Many are trying to find fault with President Trump bringing back “Merry Christmas” into the public square. They claim there’s never been a “war on Christmas.” False! There is a war on Christmas, and you’d have to be naïve, manipulative, or deceitful not to acknowledge it.

That’s why many of us started wearing buttons several years ago, “It’s Ok to say Merry Christmas.”

It's OK to say Merry Christmas so say it loud and clear!

The war on Christmas is why the Wash. D.C. transit system banned the Catholic Church’s Christmas Ad even though: “while the Archdiocese of Washington may not be welcome to advertise on public buses, the transit authority is more than happy to promote other enterprises – like gay hookup websites.”

The transit executives stated their reasons: “issue-oriented advertising could provoke community discord, create concern about discriminatory statements, and generate potential threats to safety and security from those who seek to oppose the advertising messages.” Seriously?! The message of Christmas is a threat to security?! (Quotes from Todd Stearns article “DC Transit Ban Catholic Church Christian Ad”)

When Martha MacCallum reported on her Fox News show, “The Story,” about this discrimination of the Catholic Church’s ad, she commented on the double-standard of DC billboards sponsored by atheists that say, “Christmas is a hoax.”

There’s a war against Christmas. There’s a war against the Christian faith.

That’s why when we hear President Trump wishing the nation and the world a Merry Christmas at this year’s national Christmas tree lighting ceremony, noting that the birth of Jesus Christ “forever changed the course of human history,” we should thank God we have a president who isn’t afraid to acknowledge Jesus as the Reason for the season. He went on to say, “There is hardly an aspect of our lives today that his [Jesus’] life has not touched: art, music, culture, law, and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person everywhere in the world.”

President Trump also recalled the 1870 legislation signed by President Ulysses S. Grant making Christmas a federal holiday. He added, “And I sort of feel we’re doing that again. That’s what’s happening.”

 Listen to President Trump live at the  Christmas Tree Lighting.

I posted this Tree Lighting message on Facebook and was amazed at how controversial it became. Some saying this was a political stunt. Really? Christians don’t make up the majority of the electorate. In today’s secular culture there were probably more offended than thanked God for his message. President Trump boldly stated the truth, refreshing in DC.

Those worrying about “political correctness” and inclusiveness on a clearly Christian “holiday” are the ones pulling the political stunts. And sadly, it’s worked. That’s why Christians find themselves today fighting not only to keep Christ in Christmas, but also to hold on to our religious freedoms.

What’s Our Role as Christians at Christmas?

Last Christmas, after President Trump’s election, I saw a dramatic change during the Christmas season. Clerks were saying Merry Christmas again. They didn’t look shocked when I told them Merry Christmas, or whisper it back fearfully looking over their shoulder. Christians need to use this time of Christian favor in the Trump administration to win back the ground we’ve lost.

Here are some ways:

Remind the world that every time they write 2017, or soon 2018, they acknowledge the birth of Jesus.

When someone tells you “Happy Holidays,” kindly and lovingly respond with “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Have a Birthday Party for Jesus and invite your neighbors and friends, especially nonbelievers. (I wrote a blog on how to do this Celebrate CHRISTmas with a Birthday Party for Jesus)

Put a birthday bag under your Christmas tree and when someone asks whose birthday, proudly say, “It’s Jesus’ birthday.”

Put a Birthday bag for Jesus under your Christmas tree.

Greet everyone you meet, and in all your correspondence, with “Merry Christmas.”

Use every opportunity to share the true meaning of Christmas and the story of Jesus’ birth.

Speak up when schools and communities try to remove the word Christmas and Christmas celebrations. We must not be silent. Voice your opinion. Be willing to take a bold stand for Jesus. Don’t let apathy or fear snuff out the light of Jesus.

When I asked my husband why Merry Christmas has become so controversial, he said, “Because the other side speaks louder than we do!” Sadly, that’s true.

Jesus was controversial when He walked the earth. They crucified Him for daring to say He was the Son of God who came to earth to save mankind from their sins. He told us that we too would not have it easy sharing our faith and the Gospel, but He also said whoever denies Him on earth, He will deny in Heaven.

32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:32-34 NLT)

One year, as a single working mom before I rededicated my life to the Lord, I was hurriedly trying to get out my Christmas Cards. I signed all the cards “Merry Xmas.” Only one friend boldly admonished me in her Christmas card that I had left “Christ” out of Christmas. I still remember that.

Will you join me and other Christians in making sure the world remembers that Christmas has only One reason: celebrating and giving thanks for Jesus Christ, coming down to earth as a lowly baby born in a manger to die on a cross at Easter and rise again three days later to offer eternal salvation to those who believe in Him.

Merry CHRISTmas

You’ll find more ideas in how to be bold about your faith at Christmas, and every day, in Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness would make a great Christmas present to help mentor each other in how to be a Christian in today’s culture. It’s also a perfect time to take advantage of the publishers offer of 50% off on orders of five or more. This offer is only good until December 31. Contact me for the coupon.

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