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.

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Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing 9/12/17 is available now for pre-order.

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. (September 12, 2017)

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 at:

womantowomanmentoring.com

www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker

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

www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet

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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Would You Ever Forsake God?

I can see a lot of us shaking our heads and saying, “No! I have never forsaken God and I never would!” If you’re a Christian, this thought probably seems shocking and unimaginable. When you saw the title of my new book, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, you might have wondered why I wrote it? Who is the audience? Surely, it must be for unbelievers or the worldly culture because you would never forsake God!

The disciple Peter once said the same thing:

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Matt. 26:33-34

We know, that indeed, Peter did forsake his beloved Jesus. If Peter, who loved Jesus and became the rock that Jesus founded his church on, could forsake Him, how much more could we.

Hmmm … let’s pause for a moment to consider if we have ever fallen away or forgotten God, even for just a little time, and then how we can remember to include God in every aspect of our life in the future.

Here are just a few ways we may forsake God. Do any of them hit home with you like they do with me?

  • Doubted God’s goodness, faithfulness, or provision during times of difficulty?
  • Forgot that God was in control and took matters into our own hands?
  • Failed to give God glory or recognition when He answered our prayers?
  • Didn’t remember God’s past mighty works or intervention on our behalf?
  • Didn’t defend God, when others around us talked disparagingly of Him?

How about in current election and political discussions:

  • Do you consider what God would want in a candidate or what you want?
  • Have you looked at the candidates through God’s biblical filter or just your own?
  • Are you more fearful of economic decline or spiritual decline?
  • Is God’s will your focus or personal preferences?
  • Are you participating more in political discussions or praying for our country?
  • Are you responding as a Christian or trying to be politically correct?
  • Are you looking to the Bible–the only source of truth–for answers–or the biased. often inaccurate, media and social media?

If you answered the above questions honestly, I think you have to agree that our human nature initially tends to focus more on what we want rather than considering what God wants. We don’t always base our opinions, discussions, and choices on God’s Word–we do sometimes forsake God, and that should be a wake up call to every believer.

 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

If we’re ever going to have a spiritual revival in our country, not pre-empted by a disaster or crisis, Christians need to disregard the ways of the world, ruled by Satan, and focus on God’s purpose and design for our lives, thoughts, decisions, speech, actions, and country: “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 NLT).

Last week’s blog post stressed that in Scripture God Does Tell Us How to Vote, and He also tells us how to live as Christians in a fallen world. As Franklin Graham repeatedly says, and his father Billy before him: Only God can heal our land.

Franklin Graham

But as wise President Reagan once said, “We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we can’t expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in our day-to-day living.”

reagan_flags-AB

And as my author friend, Kathy Howard quoted me . . .

Forsaken-God Kathy Howard

True Confession Time

Every author and speaker is motivated to write or speak on topics close to his or her own heart, maybe something he or she has struggled with too. I don’t know about you, but I must admit that sometimes I have forsaken God when I . . .

  • Try to solve things myself without consulting Him first.
  • Worry over decisions that are only in His control, not my control.
  • Forget to pray first, before opening my mouth or taking actions.
  • Don’t always look to His Word for guidance.
  • And so many more . . .

Yes, even those of us in ministry often forget and forsake God, no one is exempt. So my goal in writing Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, is to jog all our memories. Help us recall all God has done in our own life by learning new ways to remember God’s goodness. I hope to motivate us to then share the power of our Great God with a lost and hurting world, especially the next generation . . . especially during this election process.

One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

Here are just a few of my thoughts from Forsaken God? to help put us on a path of remembering our great God today and every day!

Today’s culture is quickly forgetting the goodness and power of our Great God. If we don’t remember what God has already done, we won’t believe what He is capable of doing in the future. Memory builds faith.

The Bible describes the potential destruction to people who forget and forsake God. The dangers are paramount. We read the Old Testament and lament at how forgetful the Israelites were of God’s goodness. Every time he did something good for them, they started grumbling that they needed something else.

God was only as good as the next miracle or provision. A forsaken God.

We wonder at how the Israelites could be so blind and ungrateful. Why couldn’t they trust that a God who provided and protected them in the past, would do the same in the present and future? But are we any different today?

Our memories tend to be very short. God has done amazing things in our lives, but when the next crisis arises, we panic that He might not show up for us this time. Or when prayers are answered, we might take credit ourselves or offer praise to someone else instead of giving God the glory and recognition he deserves.

We would never intentionally forsake God, but if we’re honest, we do unintentionally forget Him. 

We live in a world today that is quickly trying to eliminate God from the public square and even in the private domain. Christians must help a lost world remember God and that starts with remembering him ourselves.

We need God

Questions to Prompt Your Memory

Use the following questions to get your memory flowing. Have a journal or notebook ready to record what God brings to mind:

  • What has God been doing in your life?
  • How did you become a Christian?
  • How does God help you through the day?
  • How did God answer a prayer request?

Helps to Remember in the Future

Now with some past memories firmly in place, let’s be purposeful in recognizing and remembering the things God will do in the future, and specifically how He wants believers to respond and react in the current political climate.

Here are several of the over 50 ways suggested in Forsaken God? to capture those memories and use them to always remember our Great God:

  • Take pictures
  • Journal
  • Read our Bibles
  • Receive Communion
  • Keep an ongoing “thankful list”
  • Join a small group
  • Share with others

What other ways can you think of to remember and share the goodness of God?

Leave a comment with your contact information to enter a contest to receive a free signed copy of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

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The most effective encouragement for trusting God in the present is remembering his power in the past. (Quote from Forsaken God?)

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Ways to Remember Your First Love!

Balloon with cardJesus Loves You

I don’t have to tell you that yesterday was Valentine’s Day—the universal day for showing and sharing love. Red and pink hearts were everywhere and it was fun to see many of the women, and some men, at church wearing red and pink. The bouquet of red roses next to the Bible at the front of the church, reminded me of how appropriate it was that Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday this year, because we were in church honoring our First Love: Jesus Christ.

The children of our church will never forget this Valentine’s Day either, and Who we should love above all others. When the congregation walked out of the sanctuary into the fellowship hall, the children’s ministry during Sunday school had decorated the entire ceiling with heart shaped balloons and streamers. At the end of each streamer was a card with a handwritten note from the children: “Jesus loves you” and “God loves you.”

The children were so excited to see us all walk into the room and ooh and ah over how beautiful the room looked.

Balloons on ceiling

My heart swelled as I thought about the precious Sunday school teachers who helped these children focus on Jesus as our First Love and serve the congregation. In Forsaken God, Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I stress how important it is for the next generation not to just hear about the love of Jesus, but to experience His love personally and then to share it.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Love is a word we use freely….

  • I love pizza!
  • I love pink!
  • I love my husband!
  • I love my kids!
  • I love my new vacuum!
  • I love my new shoes!

Obviously, if we were prioritizing that list, we love our husbands and kids more than we love pizza or shoes. But would we put Jesus at the top of the list?

If you’re married, how could you possibly differentiate between your husband and your children as your first love? If you have more than one child . . . how could you determine which one of them you love first? You can’t.

But when you make Jesus your FIRST love . . . He gives you the ability to have limitless love for Him and for others.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” —Matthew 22:37-40 The Message

Remembering Jesus, Your First Love

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 21 in Forsaken God?, “Remembering His Love”:

************

One of the first verses we learn as children or new believers is John 3:16. This verse emphasizes how much God loves the world and wants everyone to have an opportunity to trust in him and his Son, Jesus Christ, and have eternal salvation. It’s hard to imagine how anyone would turn down this kind of sacrificial love, but you and I both know people who don’t accept God’s love invitation. Sadly, they don’t understand the consequences of rejecting God’s love. The Message translation of John 3:16-18 clearly states their fate:

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.

Loving God is a lifetime relationship. He never falls out of love with us; but believers who have fallen away from God, or who don’t love him the way they did at first, are cautioned in Revelation 2:4-5 to remember and repent … or else:

But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent. (AMP).

Do you remember the zeal and excitement you had as a new believer? How grateful you were for salvation and Jesus’ love and the intensity of your love for him … the thrill of feeling forgiven. You wanted to tell everyone about Jesus, until you realized not everyone was receptive to hearing about your new love. You became more cautious about sharing your faith for fear of rejection or ridicule. Your enthusiasm waned and soon you didn’t talk about Jesus unless you were with believers, and maybe not much then either.

In the beginning of your faith walk, you had enthusiasm without knowledge. Don’t let knowledge and time diminish enthusiasm. Spiritual maturity should intensify adoration, not spawn complacency. Otherwise, your light will dim, as will your relationship with Christ, and you won’t effectively share Christ’s love with others. Remember, Jesus extinguishes lights that don’t shine brightly for him (Rev. 2:5).

God wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus Christ and He wants that love to motivate everything we do and say and never forget how much He love us and we love Him. Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart, can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. His love fuels us to be better wives, mothers, and grandmothers. Jesus helps us serve our families—and Him—lovingly, not dutifully.

************

Ways To Return To Our First Love

Periodically, we have to rekindle and reignite first-love fire in our relationship with Jesus. The following acrostic for L O V E helps me keep Jesus in first place in my life and I hope it helps you too

L-inger with Him!

“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” —Psalm 119:97 NLT

Let’s find ways to have a quiet time with the Lord daily and talk to Him all day long as we go about our life.

Obsess Over Him!

“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.” —Psalm 34:1-3 NLT

The dictionary describes obsession as:

  • Preoccupied
  • Dominated
  • Fixed
  • Immersed in
  • Gripped by
  • An Infatuation
  • A Passion

Let’s be deliriously, madly, obsessively, and passionately in love with Jesus!

V-alue Him!

“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.” —1 Chronicles 16:23-25

Synonyms for value:

  • Worthy
  • Worship
  • Love

Let’s show Jesus how worthy He is of our love through our worship and praise.

Enjoy Him!

“I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.” —Proverbs 8:30 NIV

Let’s enjoy being a Christian and let the world know we LOVE Jesus!

When we L O V E Jesus Christ with total abandonment, our hearts change—we can then love others as Jesus commanded:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

—John 13:34-35 NIV

Share with us ways you’ve found to keep Jesus first in your life!

If you received this blog by email, leave comments here.

*Excerpts of this blog are from my new release Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

 

2nd ceiling balloons

The Urgent ‘Affluentza’ Epidemic

wallpaper of cross

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We are an affluent society laboring under the tyranny of the urgent: marketers prey on our “don’t-want-to-miss-a-great-deal,” “gotta-have-it” obsession. If there’s a limited time to buy, then the product must be worthy of our time, energy, and finances. Our culture suffers from an urgent affluentza epidemic that has now invaded our churches and Christian lives.

The Lord recently pointed out to me how affluentza epidemic is transmitted virtually through the numerous emails I receive with subject lines like:

last chance, sale ends at midnight, discount ends tomorrow, only 48- hours left to buy, free shipping for the next three hours, exclusive in-store offer, exclusive online offer, exclusive holiday offer, today only, final days, clearance sale, order now before it’s too late, sale ends, last minute buy, flash sale, today’s deals, one time only, last day, you’ve been chosen, trending gifts going fast, hurry, don’t miss. limited time offer . . . .

You get the picture because you could add to the list. I found these in my email “trash.” That’s what I think of most marketing emails. As soon as an “urgent” sales campaign is over, another one starts.

I remember a friend once looking at the newspaper and exclaiming, “Wow look at all these sales. Maybe we should go shopping before the sale ends.” I laughed and said, “Don’t worry, tomorrow’s paper will be full of more ‘great buys.’”

When we moved to the mountains with no shopping centers, a city dweller said, “You’re going to miss all the sales in town.” I responded: “There will always be a sale going on somewhere any day I’m in town. And I’ll save so much money and time not running all over for the next big deal.”

Marketers use our desire to think we’re getting a great deal with a limited buying window to seduce us into buying things we don’t need with money we shouldn’t be spending for things that often end up stashed away in the garage or back of the closet.

What is ‘Affluentza’ Epidemic?

If you’re wondering if I made up the word affluentza, I did. But I couldn’t think of a better word to describe how salesmen, companies, and marketers entice us to think their product or gadget is something we can’t live with out, when you only have to drive by a garage or moving sale to see how many of those things were actually worthless.

We live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, but we always want more. This need to acquire–the affluentza epidemic–started with the most affluent couple in the Bible: Adam and Eve. They had everything in the world, and wanted for nothing. So how did Satan tempt them? With the only thing God told them they couldn’t have: to be like God.

And man has been in a power struggle with God ever since to: own more, make more, acquire more . . . .

The next time you see one of those adds that entice you into thinking this product will bring you contentment, joy, peace, happiness, wealth, a better life, health, wisdom . . . ask yourself: Is this from Satan or God?

There’s Only ONE Urgent Offer That Matters

This Christmas, don’t buy into the urgent affluentza marketing hype. There’s only One truly urgent offer; it’s free and you’ll never want again. . . but it’s an offer that won’t last forever. We don’t know when Jesus will return and we don’t know the number of our days. We all have friends, family, neighbors, workers, mentees . . . who don’t know Jesus . . . that’s the ONLY “time-is-running-out,” “must-have” offer that should get our attention.

There are people in our sphere of influence who have passed away without believing in Jesus. Maybe they were even affluent in earthly possessions, but they were spiritually bankrupt, and we didn’t seize opportunities to create a sense of urgency for them to make decision for Christ. We thought there was time, but there wasn’t.

That may be a sober way to look at Christmas, but in the wake of the senseless, random killings in our world today, how could we think of Christ’s birth any other way? He came to earth to offer the One and Only Gift worth our time, energy, resources, and urgency because this salvation offer does have a time limit . . . an hour, the next three hours, today only, tonight, last chance . . . with our last breath or Jesus’ return to earth.

If you’re a Christian, God chose you to do everything in your power this Christmas, and every day, to share Christ’s free Gift of Salvation with a world where the end time could be near.

I appreciate each of you who follow this blog, and I pray your Christmas makes a difference in someone’s eternity.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Here is a poem that I wrote a few years ago, and many ask me to share it every year because it has an urgent message we need to apply in our lives every Christmas and every day!

Time To Sit With You

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.

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Would Anyone Know You’re a Christian?

Grampa Dave giving grandson, Brandon, a golf lesson!

Grampa Dave giving grandson, Brandon, a golf lesson!

“Darn it!” my husband Dave muttered after hitting his golf ball into the woods.

He was playing golf in a scramble game with a group of men he’d never met before.

“Is that all you have to say?” asked one of the men.

“Yes, that’s it,” said hubby.

Later in the game, Dave made a birdie putt that earned his team a 3rd place finish. The team captain was elated, “Somebody buy that man a beer!”

Hubby, “Thanks, I don’t drink, but a Diet Coke would be great.”

A man in the group,  “Are you LDS?”

Hubby, “No, I go to the Community Church.”

When my husband relayed these conversations to me, God put several thoughts on my mind:

  1. My husband’s actions were a great witness on the golf course.
  2. But why did they assume that because he didn’t swear or drink that he was LDS? Why didn’t they ask if he was a Christian?

Actions Speak Louder Than Our Words, or in this Case, Lack of Words

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Saved to follow ChristI’ve heard many Christians justify their actions and words by saying they can reach more people for Christ if they “fit in,” but you’ll never find that practice supported in the Bible. Instead, the Bible instructs us to put off the old way of life and put on the new. It also tells us that we’ll be in the world, but we’re not to conform or “fit in” to the world.

18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Ephesians 4:18-25

In last week’s blog post, How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God, I mentioned that corrupt tax collectors, Zacchaeus and Matthew, each invited Jesus to their home and He went. Many people like to use these two scenarios to justify their own actions in participating in worldly activities. It’s true, Jesus did receive criticism for hanging out with sinners, but He had a mission and a purpose. He didn’t go to their homes to party with them and participate in their sins and corruption … he wasn’t going to cheat people out of their money like these two men or celebrate and condone their deception with a drink and a toast.

Zacchaeus and Matthew had invited friends to their houses and Jesus had a readymade audience. He went there to tell them about the Gospel and how they could turn from their wicked ways and sins, ask for forgiveness, and become new men in Christ. He went into their world to tell them about His world–to make them His followers, not to follow them! A caveat many people miss.

 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13

The Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20, commands us to go to those who don’t know Christ, but our mission is to share Jesus with them, not hide our faith.

Daily Walk Devotional, August 4, 2015, Suggests an Enlightening Exercise:

Think back over the last seven days and count the number of people you have talked to: family members, coworkers, classmates, friends, neighbors, service people, store clerks [golfers or other sports participants]. Don’t forget those you communicated with by phone or e-mail, or over the back fence.

Now subtract the number of those who are already Christians. How many are left—5, 10, 20, or more? That represents the number of opportunities you have each week to offer hope, encouragement, and a word of witness to a lost world.

We Should Never “Fit In,” There Should be Something Different About Us!

Set  yourself apart. You weren't made to fit in. You were born to stand out!

“Set yourself apart. You weren’t made to fit in. You were born to stand out!” Jim Caviezel

Jim Caviezel is the actor who portrayed Jesus in Passion of the Christ. As I was writing this blog post, the Lord got my attention on Facebook with a picture of Jim in an article that talked about his Pro-life commitment and adopting two Chinese children with brain tumors. But as I read further, I came across a video of Pastor Dave Cooper interviewing Jim at Rock Church in San Diego. As I listened to the interview, Jim said exactly what I had already written here in this blog! In the heading above, I had used the same words he uses in saying that Christians should never “fit in.” I would encourage you to watch the entire powerful interview. Here are several quotes from Jim Caviezel, a follower of Jesus:

“We all have a choice. Freedom exits not to do what you like, but to do what you ought.”

“God doesn’t send anyone to hell; they choose hell.”

Many Christians want to be a little bit pagan to fit in. They don’t want to be Holy”.

“You have to take Jesus with you in your life every day. He’s part of you. People need to see God in you. They’ll want what you have.”

When you live in holiness, when you really try to stop sinning, you become braver. You become more courageous, you become a man of your word. You become a man of conviction that you’re not willing to sell out and you’re really a true knight in shining armour.” [From another related article]

How Do We Take Jesus with Us?

  • When others are laughing at dirty jokes, we don’t laugh and change the subject.
  • When others are cussing or taking the name of the Lord in vain, we don’t. We might respectfully say, “Hey, that’s my Father [or God or Jesus] you’re talking about there. Is He yours too?”
  • When others are getting drunk, we don’t. We sip on a nonalcoholic beverage.
  • When offered a drink, and we don’t drink, we say, “No thank you. I don’t drink, but I’d love a glass of water.”
  • When someone asks us to do something we know isn’t right, i.e. take drugs, watch a movie full of sex and bad language, cheat, hang out with the wrong crowd … we refuse and try to get them to not do it also.
  • When others accept something we don’t accept—abortion, gay marriage, couples living together—we don’t go along with the conversation, which insinuates we agree with them. We kindly let them know we’re not in agreement and why.

Silence conveys confirmation.

We don’t give in on the little things or the big things.

12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Why Did They Ask My Husband If He Was LDS?

The short answer to that might be because we live in a heavily populated Mormon area. But the long answer is that many Christians have let the world influence them instead of them influencing the world. Christians don’t stand out from the crowd anymore. They should, but they don’t.

Christians differ with Mormons on theology, but the one thing you can’t differ with is that you don’t see Mormons drinking, swearing, or telling dirty jokes, and they make their family a priority. Maybe you’ve see some who differ from this, but I live amongst them and I haven’t seen it yet. They are kind and generous, and I don’t think they would ever be mistaken for being “worldly” or trying to “fit in.”

So what’s wrong with Christians? We know the Truth. We know that Jesus is the son of God, He went to the cross to save us from our sins, and Jesus is the ONLY way to eternal life with Him. It’s a personal decision no one can make for us, and no amount of works or being good will save us. But familiarity can lead to complacency. We’re bombarded by tolerance to sin today, even the legalization of sin by our government.

Christians can become desensitized to sin around us and in our own spiritual life.

Desensitization: a process by which a patient with allergies receives injections containing an increasing amount of the substance to which that patient is allergic. As a result, the body in time becomes accustomed to the foreign substance and is no longer irritated by it.

Because Christians rely so heavily on grace, it’s easy to become complacent and tolerant of sin in the world and in our own life, despite the apostle Paul’s warning in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

We’ve seen in the world, and even in some Christians lives and churches, sins once considered unthinkable are first tolerated, then condoned, and ultimately openly endorsed. Instead of the Christian faith influencing the world to turn from their sins and wicked ways, many Christians have let the world influence them to accept and condone some sins.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

Those men on the golf course knew from my husband’s actions and words that he was a man of faith and they respected him. He can still play the game of golf and be in the “world,” without compromising his beliefs, faith, or conservative standards. And guess what, they still want to play golf with him; he still “fits in” the golf world even though he doesn’t swear or drink with them and they now know he’s a Christian. What a mission field he has.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:1-3 

What ways do you see Christians trying to “fit in” with the world?

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