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.

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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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Seeking A Season of Spiritual Maturity

I recently learned that pilot whales are very social and their offspring stay in their mother’s pod for life. The young swim alongside old, knowledgeable whales and learn from them how to feed, mate, and migrate in open waters.

The species is so good at following that occasionally they follow a bad decision by one of the lead whales, and they’re all in for trouble. This is rare. Overall, the younger whales learn from the wisdom and experience of the older whales.

While it might be hard to relate to whales, how about Jesus leading His disciples. In The Team That Jesus Built, I describe how Jesus took fishermen, a tax collector, and eventually arrived at twelve ragtag men and told them to “Follow me.” They followed Jesus around, watched, asked questions, listened, and gleaned from Him, and slowly they matured in their faith and understanding of what it means to be a true follower of Christ.

When Paul was growing the New Testament churches, he challenged believers in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow me as I follow the example of Christ.” Like the disciples, Paul hadn’t lived an exemplary life, but he had turned his life around and had one incredible testimony! Still he never felt he had arrived. He was always fighting the good fight, running the race, and willing to share with others everything he learned in his seasons of spiritual growth. He begged people to follow his example, not because he was so great, but because he humbly was following and learning from Christ.

What Can We Learn From Whales, Paul, and the Disciples?

As Christians, we’re continually growing and maturing in our faith, or at least we should be . . . right? No one ever “achieves” or arrives at total spiritual maturity. We never know enough or all there is to learn about the Christian life. But do we sometimes live as if we do? Do we spend more time focusing on the world’s teachings than Jesus’s teaching? Like the 650 whales beached on New Zealand’s shoreline when they followed the wrong leader whale, our spiritual life can be beached too when we follow the wrong leader.

But we can get off the “spiritual beach” by seeking spiritual guidance. Maybe at a Bible study or retreat or deciding to have a consistent daily quiet time, we experience a newfound hunger to grow deeper in our walk with the Lord, but we’re not sure how. There are so many unanswered questions and portions of the Bible still confusing. We live in fear with the circumstances of the world, and yet we know our faith should sustain us, but it doesn’t seem enough right now.

Paul had the answer when he said in Titus 2:3-5 to have the women in a spiritually mature season teach and train the less spiritually mature. Some try to interpret those verses as strictly chronological age, but in mentoring we want to learn from someone spiritually older, not necessarily older in years. A great truth the Lord revealed when I was starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.

Many mentoring ministries fail because they simply match older women with younger women without looking at their seasons of spiritual maturity. A woman might become a Christian at sixty-five and have worldly wisdom but not spiritual wisdom. Her mentor might be fifty but has walked with the Lord for many years.

We don’t know the ages of the disciples, but since Jesus was only thirty when He started His ministry, there’s a good chance they were older than Him. But they had so much to learn and only three years to spiritually mature. You and I are Christians today because Jesus mentored them to go into the world and teach what He had taught them.

Your Personal Spiritual Maturity Season

Sometimes I hear Christians say they feel spiritually dry. That saddens me because Jesus is ready and willing to give us living water from a well that never runs dry. If we drink from His well, we’ll keep growing in spiritual maturity (John 4:10-15). Many of you know this already and someone in your life needs to hear how you continue maturing in your relationship with the Lord.

I’m afraid there’s a growing epidemic among Christian women today to worry more about their own spiritual maturity than sharing what they know about Christ with a newer believer. I’m not referring to Bible study leaders, but the women sitting under their teaching in every church or Bible study group. Are they sharing what they’re learning with the many women around them who need help with their spiritual maturity?

It goes beyond just inviting them to the Bible study for the leader or facilitator to teach them; it means helping them live a godly mature life outside the groups in daily life. It means more than inviting them to church on Sunday; it means praying and studying with them during the week.

It means every believer a mentor!

In Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, I share stories of mentors who have met spiritually younger women at Bible studies and church and offered to mentor them. I encourage spiritually mature women to think about the role models in their life who helped them come to faith and spiritual maturity. We all have them. Women we admire who took the time to disciple us and share some of their life with us. Hebrews 13:7 tell us to: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

“Imitate their faith.” Exactly what Paul told the church and Jesus told His disciples.

Mentoring is that simple. How someone reached you with her faith is probably the way you will be the most effective in pouring into someone else who is younger in her faith.

In Mentoring for All Seasons, there are points to consider of how God could use you as a mentor and how to select a mentor. Here are just a couple.

If you’ve been a believer for a while:

  • Who challenged you and helped you grow in your faith?
  • How did she model Jesus to you?
  • Who needs you to do that for them? Consider also someone who might be a long-time believer but is going through a season of doubt.
  • Who do you need to invite to follow you and help her mature in her faith?
  • How could God enhance your spiritual maturity by mentoring and pouring into someone else?

If you’re a newer believer and eager to learn and grow in your faith, or going through a spiritually dry time, God tells us two are better than one (Ecc. 4:9-10).

  • Who do you admire for her faith and the way she lives it out in daily life?
  • What about her faith would you like to emulate in your own life?
  • What’s stopping you from asking her to mentor you?

Often, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:2

Paul the great mentor of the New Testament reminds us that mentoring is always a two-way relationship and reward.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” [a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:14-17

Mentoring for All Seasons is available for order now on Amazon or Kindle version or Signed by the Author

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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Use The Solar Path of Totality to Share the Path of Eternity

Use the Path to Totality to Share the Path to Etenrity helps put into perspective that God made both the sun and the moon and only He makes the total solar eclipse which lasts only a couple minutes but eternity is forever!

We live in a tiny mountain town in the “Path of Totality” for what many are calling “the great American eclipse” August 21. I even saw T-shirts with the moon eclipsing the sun and Charlie Brown and Linus sitting on the roof of the doghouse with large letters “Idaho Path of Totality.” Actually, the whole state of Idaho isn’t going to experience the total eclipse, not even partially, but hey, that’s marketing.

But we are going to experience it, and we’re so small that our city doesn’t appear on the map showing the coast-to-coast path of totality, but somehow people have learned it falls directly over us. And they’re coming! By the thousands to a town that’s barely 2000 residents, with one stop sign (not stop light) two lane and dirt roads, one gas station, a couple of small restaurants, the two small motels and B&B sold out for a year . . . you get the picture. There will be far more of them than there are of us.

People coming are willing to pay crazy prices to arrive, rent a room or cabin here or in surrounding cities, or at a nearby ski resort, even reserving seats on the ski lift during the eclipse. That’s the last place I would want to be! This is going on all along the “Path of Totality,” for an event that is only going to last two minutes!

I was reading an article by Zoe Schlanger, Witnessing an eclipse is so overwhelming it has created a global community of “addicts”. Schlanger interviewed “eclipse chasers” who admit it is addictive and a lifestyle of a “close-knit community of like-minded souls” who spend thousands of dollars and plan eclipse-watching trips. They describe the awe of what they call a life-changing experience.

Looking at the Eclipse Through God-Focused Eyes

I recently heard jokes that liberals were complaining the total eclipse was mainly passing over conservative states that voted for President Trump. As I looked closer at the map, with a few exceptions, like Oregon, that’s true. However, locals say the spot in Oregon used to be quite conservative.

That means many descending on our Midwest conservative cities will have the opportunity to see how the majority of Americans actually live. They’ll come and spend money, which will boost the economy of every city in the eclipse path, but we’ll also have a chance to shower them with hospitality, kindness, friendliness, and share Jesus with any who might not know Him as their life-changing Savior.

Regardless of what state you’re in, and whether or not you’ll see the eclipse, everyone should admit only God creates a total eclipse of the sun! He created the moon, the sun, the stars . . . the entire universe . . . and as hard as some will try to explain Him away, we can’t let that happen. Instead of participating in the hype of this great phenomena, we need to remind everyone that this is God’s doing.

Since the beginning of time, God ordained when and where all eclipses would happen. Scientists can study it, but they can’t change its course or change the effects. Only God.

Atheists can try to deny God and claim evolution, but they can’t explain who created their own body and breathed life into it. Only God.

God, the Creator of earth and all that’s in it decides when and where a total eclipse of the sun by the moon will happen. Only God.

What Can Christians Do to Put the Eclipse in Proper Perspective?

Where are the t-shirts, hats, and banners saying “Only God Can Make a Path of Total Eclipse”? Or maybe with Peanuts telling Linus, “God made the sun and the moon.”

I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to view the eclipse, but I’m suggesting we use it as an opportunity to share the Creator of the universe and watch it with awe for our Great God.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

14And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

The Bible records a time in the Old Testament when King Hezekiah was dying and he begged God to give him more years of life. God said he would give him fifteen years and as proof God turned back the sun: “‘This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’ So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.” Isaiah 38:7-8

Then Hezekiah praised God in a testimony. Here is a portion of it—

In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.
19 The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness. Is. 38:17,19

Job gives testimony of the total control God has over the sun, moon, stars, day, and night . . .

If someone wanted to take God to court,[a]
would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
For God is so wise and so mighty.
Who has ever challenged him successfully?

If he commands it, the sun won’t rise
and the stars won’t shine.
He alone has spread out the heavens
and marches on the waves of the sea.
He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky.
10 He does great things too marvelous to understand.
He performs countless miracles. Job 9:3-4, 7-10 NLT

Use the Eclipse to Share Jesus

Sometimes the first verses in the first chapter of the Bible are so familiar they lose their awe-inspiring, magnificent, amazing, indescribable impact that King Hezekiah and Job understood so well: our Holy God is totally responsible for everything in our universe. Now that’s a phenomena we all should be sharing and what better time than now?!

When the conversation turns to the eclipse, how about inserting discussion starters like:

  • Isn’t it amazing that God made this total eclipse happen right over us!
  • Since God created the sun and the moon, He decided August 21, 2017 was the exact time in history for another total eclipse across America. That’s incredible don’t you think?!
  • The eclipse is exciting, but it’s only going to last two minutes. As believers, we’ll spend eternity in heaven with God, the Creator of this eclipse. Now that’s something to get excited about!

“And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.” Deut. 4:9

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Remember Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is available for pre-order and release date is getting very close, September 12!

What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Life Season

What Do You Do When You Don't Like Your Life Season? Cry yell scream get depressed? None of those things are going to change things. God tells us in Ecc. 3:1-8 that there's a time for every good and difficult season under heaven but read and discover how God and mentoriing can help you survive this season!

We’ve all heard it said, “There’s a time for everything.” Or “You’re just in a season, it will pass.” In fact, it’s Scriptural—

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The good and pleasant seasons sound wonderful and just what God wants for us, right? It’s so easy to think that God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. And yet this Scripture passage tells us that God made both, and while we’re alive, we’re going to experience every season—the good and the bad—under heaven.

Pastor Rick Warren often says that life is like a roller coaster: if you’re going up and experiencing a good season, brace yourself because in about three weeks you’ll probably find yourself going down into an unpleasant season, screaming all the way!

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace. But when the not so good times roll, we need to remember that God has not left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons, and that’s when a mentor is so helpful to remind us that she made it through her tough seasons and we will too.

The focus of my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture has Forgotten is for us to remember how good God has been in all the seasons of our life. God never abandons His children. This is a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during these challenging times we live in today.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually we don’t like our life season because:

It’s painful or uncomfortable.

We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.

We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.

We’re discontent or discouraged.

We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season that we never want to end. Many life seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers and the culture would try to make you believe differently. They set us up to fail either way by thinking if we just drink the right cola, take the right pill, own the right car, use the right cosmetics and anti-aging products, eat the right food, reach success . . . every season of our life will be heavenly. The aging clock is going to stop and somehow God made our life to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season that everyone will experience.

What to Do When We Don’t Like Our  Life Season

We probably feel like crying, screaming, maybe yelling, getting depressed, ignoring, or trying to get out of it. If we’re honest, we’ve all been there.

But soon we realize that the only thing that works when we don’t like our life season is to ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often He’s talking, but we’re not listening.

Someone on a friend’s Facebook post asked how my Christian friend knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does! Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

While writing this post, I met a woman whose husband has cancer. As she shared her story, I heard in my mind hug her and pray for her. Mind you, we had just met, and I had already told her I would be praying for her husband and their family since I understood having had breast cancer three times. But as she kept talking, I knew I was to pray for her now. So I said, “Let me pray for you,” and stepped forward to hug her; but she didn’t realize that I meant right then. I knew God meant right then! She needed it and she was so grateful.

I had tried to talk myself out of it, and how many times is God trying to tell us what to do “right then,” but we’re dismissing His words of wisdom to see us through this season and on into the next one. That’s when a mentor can step in and do just what I was able to do for this woman, even though we barely knew each other. Can you imagine how much comfort can come from two women who have a personal mentoring relationship?!

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone, but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom. That’s why in Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture to study together that applies to the various issues women might experience in that season.

Being a mentor, or a mentee reaching out to another woman for guidance, doesn’t mean the mentor has all the answers or the Bible memorized. It just means she’s willing to search God’s Word and pray together for Him to tell you both what to do in the life seasons you might not like right now; and then, you both reach out and help someone else going through something similar.

And that’s exactly what Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us we need to do when we’re going through a life season we don’t like!

What to Do When You Don't Like Your Life Season? Find a mentor who has experienced it already and let her support and encourage you. Read some helpful tips on how to survive those unpleasant life seasons.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is available now for order or Kindle or signed by the author.

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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http://www.linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring/

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https://twitter.com/AHWministries

What Does Brave Mean to You?

What does it mean to be brave?

I’ve been asking this question as I write my next book. Women typically don’t consider themselves brave. When I ask someone if she has a brave story to share, I often receive a blank or questioning stare. But these same women instinctively and bravely protect their loved ones, and maybe even strangers. Most women wouldn’t hesitate to push a child from the path of an oncoming car and take the hit herself. We fight fiercely for justice for children and families. But brave? No, we wouldn’t consider ourselves brave, just doing what comes naturally.

However, in today’s volatile, liberal, progressive culture women may think twice before voicing an opposing political or spiritual opinion for fear of facing harsh pushback or criticism.

When President Trump invited Carryn Owens, the widow of Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens, to attend the President’s address to a joint session of Congress, Mrs. Owens probably didn’t consider her attendance brave. Her husband was the brave one in the family, as President Trump referenced John 15:13, “Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom — we will never forget Ryan.” It might have taken bravery to tell her father-in-law, who wasn’t even willing to meet with President Trump, but she went to proudly honor her fallen hero husband. She probably couldn’t have imagined how difficult it would be to stand for two minutes with the world watching her grief-etched face, while she relived her agonizing loss as she cried out, “I love you baby” looking repeatedly to the heavens.

As she heard the echoing applause and the kind, comforting, and praising words of the president, I doubt she looked down to see any who refused to stand again to honor her hero as the audience broke out in a second round of applause at the president’s comments. And how could she have ever imagined the bravery it would take to see her tear-stained, tortured face on talk show programs and media broadcasts becoming the brunt of callous, brutal, cowardly criticism. Liberal bullying men and women pundits and media, who turned a sacred moment into a political secular opportunity for their own vengeance against a president they detest. Those accusers were the users. They were the ones making it political. They were the cowards.

I was the child of a brave widow whose husband laid down his life in the line of law enforcement duty, so I know that Carryn’s brave days started when she married a Navy SEAL. Now as a widow with three young children to raise on her own . . . not one of those clapping or criticizing has any idea the bravery it will take for her to get out of bed and face each new day . . . alone. Many will be there to help her, but woe to those who made her burden harder.

What Is Your Brave Story?

Some call me “brave” simply for defending Jesus, conservatism, and morality in today’s secular culture, something I don’t think twice about, just doing what comes naturally. But like many of you, I do sometimes encounter hostile reactions, but I count it all part of the cost of serving Jesus and doing what’s right.

In my new book, Get Your Brave On: Women in the Bible Encourage Women of Today to be Brave, I explore women in the Bible who took a brave stand for justice, for their families, and for God. Some we aren’t even told their names. We’ll learn from these women of the Bible how to inspire and encourage spiritual bravery in women of today’s world.

Also, I share modern day stories. I would love to share your brave story.

Times when . . .

  • You couldn’t have made it without God
  • God asked you to do something you didn’t want to do or had no idea how to do
  • You did something just because it was the right thing to do
  • It was dangerous
  • You were afraid
  • It took all your strength physically, emotionally, or spiritually
  • You overcame a fear, an addiction, a trial, an illness, a hardship . . .
  • You shared your testimony in public
  • Whatever is brave to you . . .

We all define brave in different ways.

An Example of Biblical Bravery

When Jesus was arrested, all His disciples deserted him. Only John returned and was with him at the cross, but women who had been his followers were bravely there for him, “Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.” (Mark 15:40-41) They showed a courageous faith. It was these same brave women, not the men, who were first at the empty tomb (Mark 16:1). They had such a deep love for Jesus that they were not afraid to follow their heart. They are brave role models for us today.

I Will Be Including My Brave Stories

When I reflect back over my life, I too never thought I was brave, just doing what life demanded. Or after rededicating my life to Jesus . . . following God’s direction. Even now, when someone thanks me for being brave for Jesus, it surprises me because I think well isn’t that what we all should be doing? Isn’t that what it means to be a Christian? Then, I remember Jesus had to return after the crucifixion and give the disciples a pep talk before they got their brave on, and sometimes we need our bravery bolstered. My prayer is for this book to be that encouragement. Women will see Jesus at work in other women’s lives—in the Bible and in modern day—and it will bolster their faith enough to get their brave on too.

If you would like more information about sharing your story, please contact me. You don’t have to be a writer. I’ll do the editing, and I only use first names or I won’t use your name if you prefer.

The women who gathered at the cross had no idea that we would still be talking about their bravery today. They just did what love does. Jesus needs us to show up for Him today in a brave and bold way in our world. Our families need us to help them set a moral compass in a world that is resetting the compass back to the days of Noah. Our girlfriends and other women need us to take a brave stand for modesty, morality, civility, and ethics. Our single friends need support in living godly lives, and single parents need encouragement in the brave roles they’re undertaking alone.

Doing everything for the glory of God in a Godless world is brave!

I can’t wait to see what God puts on your hearts to share. I know there are so many stories. Maybe you’re in the midst of a brave battle right now, my heart goes out to you. What is sustaining you? What gives you hope? How can we pray for you?

I treasure you, and I’m praying the Lord will speak to many of you to work with me on this new writing project. It’s a joy and pleasure to chat with you each Monday morning, and it warms my heart when I hear from you.

Here’s my latest Crosswalk article encouraging all to be brave and Let Us Change the World Rather Than Being Changed By the World.

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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

February is the month of valentines, flowers, candy, and love. It’s also National Heart Health month, and at our house, we’re hoping we’ll begin to see the snow start melting and glimpses of spring around the corner.

As I thought about what to write this week, the Lord kept giving me the line from an old song “What’s love got to do with it?” If you read my January 30 blog post, Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity, I emphasize that God designed sex to be an expression of love in marriage between a man and a woman, His creations. So love has everything to do with sex!

I’ve also written an article for Crosswalk.com on the importance of asking God and your spouse for forgiveness for sexual encounters before you got married, even with each other. I hope everyone has, or will, take that important step. It could save a marriage.

When I think about love, my mind always goes to Jesus. Yes, my husband and I make plans to do something special to celebrate our love on Valentine’s Day, but we both know that Jesus is our first love. We wouldn’t have made it through the stresses and trials of a blended family if we hadn’t put Jesus at the center of our marriage; but most importantly, at the center of each of our lives. We don’t want to ever forget who is our First Love, Jesus Christ. (Rev. 2:4)

Recently at church, the pastor asked the children how we know Jesus is alive today. The answer: He lives in each believer’s heart. That’s true love!

So whether you’re single or married, I want to share three important points about what love has to do with our witness for Jesus, especially as we look at the tumultuous times we live in today.

Christians Need to Love Each Other

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17

Jesus was talking to his disciples in John 15:16-17, and we are Jesus’s disciples today. God chose us to bear fruit and we can’t share a message of love if we don’t love each other. We can’t have dissension in the church or among church members. Sadly, Satan has used the current political unrest to pit brothers and sisters in Christ against each other. In the Bible, there are no Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, Liberals, Conservatives . . . There is only One timeless Word of God (John 1:1, Heb. 13:8). There is also only one kind of Christian: “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).

As born-again Bible-Believing Christians, we’re appointed to go out and bear testimony to the world together. We should unite as one in agreement on . . .

  • Whatever allows us to share the Good News that Jesus saves we’re for; whatever prohibits that freedom or tries to silence us, we’re against.
  • Whatever upholds the teachings of the Bible we’re for; whatever prohibits or alters those teachings, we’re against.
  • We stand together for the sanctity of human life, marriage between a man and a woman, God creating us as men and women, and we’re not afraid to lovingly bear that fruit for Jesus.

Anything separating us on those issues isn’t from God!

Christ Loves Us with a Never-Ending Love

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39

Sadly, we only have to look at divided churches, families, friends . . . all proclaiming to be Christians separated by issues where they should be united, and Satan wins because that compromises our witness. That’s a shame! There’s a lost world that needs to know the love of Christ displayed through a body of Christ that shows the love of Christ by agreeing on what it means to be a Christian. Today that’s not the case. The good news is that nothing we do can ever separate us from the love of God for those who have truly accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

I had a man on Facebook tell me he had been a Christian for 50 years, read the Bible numerous times, been to church, talked to pastors, been in Bible study groups, and now has decided Christianity is a farce, doesn’t work for him anymore, and he told me I needed to know that Jesus is not returning. Two things came to mind: (a) you can leave Jesus, but He will never leave you. (b) you can be a Christian in name only, but never have experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ. His words were so harsh I fear he was in the latter group.

I remember singing a song as a little girl “I have the love of Jesus love of Jesus down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart to stay.”

How Much Love Do You Have to Give?

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18 The Message

Do you Love Jesus Enough to Share Him with others or Are You Keeping All the Love To Yourself?

Another woman on Facebook wrote this:

FB woman: “There are many other religions who do not make Jesus/Satan part of their belief system. All destined to damnation? It’s a big world out there, and much of it overcomes the negative.”

Me: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

FB woman: “Written by John a century later, an evangelist trying to convert the world to his new religion. PBS and History Channel do wonderful educational shows on the origins of the Bible. Check them out. I have read the Bible extensively Janet, I just haven’t drawn the same dark conclusions. And the shows I mentioned are created by scientists and historians with no agenda but discovery. I wouldn’t want to rest my eternity on what someone else says.”

This woman was confused, but I was able to point out to her that John was actually with Jesus, not a century later, and she was resting her eternity on what scientists and television said rather than letting God speak to her through the Bible. Maybe I made some headway. My heart breaks for those misled by the liberal progressive godless agenda and the many “belief systems,” and the Christians who have forgotten their first love. Love says we will take the time to share the truth.

During the election and since Donald Trump became POTUS, many have been mean, vicious, and vile on social media. I often have to remind myself that Jesus died for them too, and it’s my job to let them know that in a loving way. It’s up to them to make the choice. I don’t try to convince them, because you can’t reason with someone blinded by evil. If they’re not following God, they’re following Satan. Those are the only two roads; there is no middle path. But now they’re accountable for knowing there is another way and maybe someone else will share a little more love down the road. Who knows, they just might decide that heavy load of anger, bitterness, revenge, meanness, bullying, whatever that has turned their heart so hard, just isn’t worth carrying around anymore.

No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
    but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.

Psalm 25:3-5 NLT

What does love have to do with it?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor. 13:6-7

Opening picture from crosscards.com

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Take Hold of the Faith You Long For By Sharon Jaynes

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Sharon Jaynes is an author/speaker friend of mine with an awesome new book Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go. Move Forward. Live Bold. Sharon shares my passion to mentor women in living faith-filled lives and living boldly for Christ. I know you will enjoy her blog post below where she shares vulnerably that she once was stuck between wanting to live for Christ authentically and not superficially. Isn’t that what we all want? I know I do.

Take Hold of the Faith You Long For

Sharon Jaynes

I was alone, or at least I felt that way. Women huddled in happy clusters chatting about first one thing and then another. Some propped babies on their hips. Others clutched Bibles in their hands.

Most wore smiles on their faces. I wore one too. But it wasn’t a reflection of what was in my heart. The upturned lips were simply the camouflage I wore to blend in—to avoid being found out.

That I wasn’t really all that I was cracked up to be.

What I really wanted to do was run and hide. On the outside I was a well-put-together church mom with cute shoes and snappy jeans, but on the inside I was a little girl cowering in the far recesses of the playground hoping no one would notice me.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Why don’t I feel the joy these other women feel? What holds me back from experiencing the confidence and assurance they seem to experience?

Why do I continue to act like the same old me, struggle with the same negative emotions, and wrestle with the same old sins?

I wonder if you’ve ever felt that way?

The problem was I was stuck. Yes, I had professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I knew I was going to heaven when I left this earth.

But I had a niggling feeling He meant something more than heaven when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Have you ever watched a circus performer on a flying trapeze? The aerialist swings out, swings back, and then usually on the peak of the third swing he takes hold of another bar or performer.

That’s when the fun begins as backflips, somersaults, and triples twists wow the crowd.

But what if, when the trapeze artist took hold of the second bar, he refused to let go of the first?

He would be left hanging in the middle. Stuck. That would not be the greatest show on earth.

And that’s where many of us spend our lives…stuck…dangling over “life to the full” but never quite letting go of what holds us hostage to a mediocre “less than” faith.

I know it’s where I spent many years…until God challenged me to take hold of the truth and make it mine. Her name was Mary Marshall Young–and older, wiser woman in my church. One day she challenged me to learn about my true identity in Christ.

Then she did something even harder…she challenged me to believe it…to take hold of it and make it mine. And that made all the difference.

The apostle Paul wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

And in order to take hold and make our own everything that Christ has taken hold of for us and placed in us, we need to let go of everything that keeps us from doing so.

If we would grasp and make our own what Jesus has already done for us, and what He had deposited in us, our lives would look very different than the tepid faith of the average churchgoer.

God’s power, provision, and purposes are for “who so ever will” (Mark 8:34 KJV).

Will what? Will let go of all that holds you back from experiencing the abundant life of the adventurous faith and take hold of truth that makes it so.

So here’s what I’m challenging you to do:

  • Let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity as a child of God.
  • Let go of the scarcity mentality that says that you’re not enough and take hold of God’s abundant promises that say you have everything you need.
  • Let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.
  • Let go of shame-filled condemnation and take hold of grace-filled acceptance.
  • Let go of weak-kneed worry and take hold of sure-footed confidence.
  • Let go of comparison to others and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.
  • Let go of debilitating discouragement and take hold of your next assignment
  • Let go of timid reluctance and take hold of bold believing.

I know that’s a tall order, but I know you can do it. I’m here to help you get there.

It’s what God wants for all of us.

So today, let’s ask ourselves if we’re hanging on to something that God is calling us to let go of. Shame? Resentment? Condemnation? Unbelief? Ingratitude? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? A false sense of who we are?

If He brings something to mind, let it go, move forward, and live bold.

The faith you’ve always longed for is just a decision away.

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Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker and author of 20 books, including her latest, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go. Move Forward. Live Bold. Her passion is to mentor women from all walks of life by equipping them to live fully and free in Christ. To learn more visit www.sharonjaynes.com or www.takeholdthebook.com.

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Remembering the Reason for the Easter Season

Easter cross

A common aphorism at Christmas time is “Remember the Reason for the Season.” It’s a great reminder that Jesus, Our Savior, was born on Christmas day to come into the world as a baby to die as a man on a cross and resurrect three days later on Easter. So at Easter season, why don’t we say: “Remember the Reason for the Easter Season”?

I don’t recall ever hearing that slogan used at Easter. Do you? It’s not on flags, banners, buttons we wear, or even Easter cards or mentioned in Easter sermons. I wonder why not?

The “Easter season” has similar distractions as Christmas that can take our focus off Jesus and His sacrifice for you and for me. Easter commemorates the foundation of our Christian faith. Without Easter, there would be no hope. Easter is the reason we have forgiveness for our sins and the assurance of eternal life. As the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians:

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.—1 Cor. 15:1-4

In my new release, Forsaken God?:Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, in the chapter on Remembering His Sacrifice, I wrote:

As Christians, we understand the extreme sacrifice God and Jesus endured: God gave his One and only Son who became the last sacrificial lamb dying in atonement for our sins. Jesus died a painful and horrific death on a cross for you and for me. At Easter, we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection three days later, and he lives today at the right hand of God—preparing a place for his followers who will someday join him in eternity. And he lives within the hearts of believers.

How could we ever forget such a sacrifice, but we do.

crucifixion

During the Easter Season, our focus can turn to church services, performances, cantatas, pageants, new clothes, brunch, family gatherings, special dinners, decorating, egg hunts, Easter baskets . . . all good things. But before we know it . . . one of the most meaningful days of the year is over. We probably went to church, said a prayer before meals, maybe even read some Bible passages about the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. But did we take time to solemnly remember and praise God for…the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus . . .

39 lashes

A crown of thorns

Hands and feet nailed to a cross

The 10,000 angels he could have called to rescue him

The world’s sins he took on himself

Feeling forsaken

The torn veil

Shed blood

The final cry, “It is finished!” (Pg. 217, Forsaken God?)

I pray this Easter season finds you refreshed and renewed in your relationship with Christ, and the purpose He has given each of us to keep the memory of Easter alive and vibrant, every day in our hearts, speech, and actions. Let us never forget:

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)

Hallelujah!

Happy Resurrection Day!

Janet

Other Easter Posts:

What Does the Moon Have to Do with Easter?

Share the Good News of Easter

How to Share the Easter Message with You Children and Grandchildren

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