January 20, 2015

It’s Not About Me

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There’s something wrong with today’s Christianity.

Recently, I was strolling through a bookstore in search of the perfect cookbook to give my mother as a gift. As I made my way to the back of the store where the cookbooks are shelved, I couldn’t help noticing the number of books that were written about me! That’s right, me.

Title after title was about my purpose, my pain, my dreams, and my spiritual success. Last I checked having Jesus was spiritual success. He was all I needed!

I understand God is a personal God who cares about the details. I’m thankful for that in my own personal relationship with Him. On the other hand, while Scripture clearly assures us of God’s love and blessings, the main focal point is not about us. It’s about God. In fact, Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, opens with this. “It’s not about you.”

His book is probably the most honest about our purpose than any other I’ve read. It’s simple.

You and I were created by God, for God. He is a holy God and His ways are right and true. Our main purpose is to glorify Him.

In Isaiah 43:7 God says, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we read, ” So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

If this is true, and it is, why are there so many messages, books, and conferences about this topic?

Could it be that we’ve switched or confused the principle of “doing God’s will” with “fulfilling my purpose?” Isn’t doing the will of God our purpose? Why are we making this so hard? The bible is clear about our purposefulness.

We are to glorify God by being obedient to His will. We are called to…

  • Love God and love others
  • Be a shinning light in our dark world
  • Share the gospel with others

The list is long. And it’s more than enough to keep us busy, satisfied, and fulfilled.

I use to think that God’s purpose for my life was to fulfill my dreams or make me successful. It is not. God’s purpose isn’t to make me healthy, wealthy, and happy either. Nor is His purpose always bright and wonderful as you and I imagine.

What if God’s purpose is pain, loss, or tragedy? Sometimes it is. And when it is our purpose remains the same.

We look to some end when the purpose of our lives is NOW. This minute. It’s the journey of growing and becoming more and more like Christ. When our focus is Jesus everything else takes care of itself.

One of Satan’s biggest schemes is to turn our attention toward self instead of God. Why? It’s to steal God’s glory and stunt the spiritual growth of men and women. I fear this has been our path for a long while. Let’s turn the tide. Let’s be courageous. Let’s commit to the message. Jesus is our purpose. He is the answer.

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I asked my friend, Lisa Whittle, to read this before I posted it because we have similar heart beats. I’ve included a short paragraph of her words. She says it so much better than me.

“I could not agree more about all the books, all the emphasis on worth, even. I’m tired of that conversation because what fruit does it produce? We feel better for awhile, during a retreat, etc, but then we sink back when life goes on as normal and we are again caught up in our insecurities and thoughts. I believe we do give way too much time and attention on ourselves. All the self-help books, seminars on how to be the best whatever, it’s all “me” focused and God is the hopeful result of all our working on ourselves. The problem is: we have it turned around. If we would just pursue God we would be naturally better. This is why I wrote, I Want God.”

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I highly recommend Lisa’s book. It stirred my heart and created a deep desire for God alone. If you’re tried of you, take a fresh look at God.

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January 1, 2015

A New Year Blessing

Happy New Year, friends!

You know, the great thing about walking with God in life is that there is always the opportunity to start anew – God always offers us a new day and a new dawn, no matter what has gone before. At the start of the New Year, why not take a moment to thank Him for last year, ask His forgiveness for where you have failed, and dedicate this new year to Him – to serve Him and love Him afresh.

Below is a beautiful blessing I came across. It is my prayer for you and me this coming New Year!

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December 29, 2014

Winner Announced!

Dear Friends, Thank you for your patience. I know I said I would announce the winner of the NIV Daily Devotional Bible for Women on Friday, but I came down with the flu on Christmas morning. I’ll spare you the unpleasant details. But, needless to say, I was checked out for a while.

The good news is it’s day 5 and I feel much better. I’m well enough to announce the winner of the devotional bible! Yay!

The lucky winner is Linda at dogmom623@gmail.com

Congratulations, Linda! May you use this bible to hide God’s Word in your heart. It will never lead you down the wrong path but take you places you never thought possible. It will lead you to the heart of God!

 

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December 24, 2014

All Is Well

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Merry Christmas! I’m so glad you’re here. I don’t know what brought you to my blog today. Maybe you’re searching for hope. Maybe you clicked over after reading my devotion, God Is With Us. Whatever the reason is, know this. You have been prayed for. I thought about you as I wrote this post. I don’t claim to know what you’re experiencing at the moment, but God does. And I have asked Him to meet you here, to love on you, and to encourage you that all is well no matter your situation.

You may know the song, All Is Well, by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Michal W. Smith. If not, it goes like this.

All is well, all is well;

Lift up your voice and sing,

Born is now Emmanuel,

Born is our Lord and Savior,

Sing Alleluia, sing Alleluia, all is well.

To many that song is comforting at Christmas time. Yet, others are unable to absorb the message because “all is not well” in their lives. Perhaps their lives are in turmoil. Or maybe they’ve recently experienced the loss of a loved one, a job, or their health. Depression consumes them and the cry of their heart is… “All is not well for me!”

Perhaps this is the cry of your heart this Christmas Eve.

If so, you are not alone in your pain. God is beside you and He has promised to never leave you (Hebrews 13:50). He is, Immanuel, God is with us.

He promises that His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9).

He promises to meet all your needs (Phil 4:19).

He also promises you the amazing gift of eternal life (John 10:27-28).

And let’s not forget that there is nowhere we can go that God is not already there (Ps 139).

NIVRealLifeDevotionalBible_1024x1024God’s Word is full of His promises to you and me. As believers, we are spiritually wealthy because of the exceedingly great promises we have in Jesus, our Savior. Because we have His guarantee, we can be certain that no matter what, in Christ, all is well. Hold on, friend. Hold on to His precious promises and though it seems dark now, soon you will sing, “All is well because of my God and His promises.”

Because the bible is full of God’s promises to you, I’m giving away a copy of the NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. Leave a comment to enter to win. The winner will be announced on Friday.

May you experience the love and promises of God this season and all year long.

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December 12, 2014

Read Through the Bible in a Year with Wendy Pope!

Have you ever read the entire bible? When someone asked me that question years ago I blushed. I felt guilty for not reading the entire bible, but MERCY! It’s a difficult book to wrap your mind around, am I right?

What If the bible read like a storybook ? Would you read it? Good news! The Chronological Bible does just that. Unlike your everyday bible and mine, the events are written in the order they happened. This wonderful format helps you read and understand the bible as if you were reading a great novel. In fact, the bible is the greatest story ever told (and written.) It’s exciting that someone developed a time line of bibical events that paints God’s story. That’s not all.

The Word of God teaches us who God is, why we are here on Earth, and the meaning of life. If those questions have ever entered your mind, then you’ll find what you’re looking for in God’s Word. I know did.

I began reading my bible shortly after I was widowed in my early twenties. I’ll be honest. I didn’t pick up the Word of God to know Him better or for any spiritual reason. At the time, I was interested in the bible because I had questions—questions about why God allows loved ones to die.

As I sought understanding and comfort, God didn’t disappoint. Soon my relationship with God deepened. My trust level grew to new heights. My broken heart began to mend. I learned things about God, and about myself, I would have otherwise never known. That’s not all. I fell in love with God’s Word.

So when my church offered to read through the bible using The Chronological Bible, I was all in!

What a beautiful picture played out in my mind as I read the bible in order of events for the first time. It’s a picture of God’s love toward us, and His willingness to provide a way back to Him no matter how far we stray.

wendypopeIf you’ve ever wanted to read the bible with understanding, your opprotunity has arrived. Each year my friend, Wendy Pope leads a group of women through the One-Year Chronological Bible. Now’s the time to join in!

Wendy love’s the Word of God. She is passionate about helping others understand the hope it provides. And she is a gifted teacher.

For the past nine years, Wendy has lead women, just like you, through the bible in a year. Many follow her study year after year! Together they’ve become more than a bible study group. They’ve become a community.

Do something life-changing for your life. Join Wendy’s study, Read Through The Word, and discover God’s heart toward you.

To learn more or sign up, visit Wendy at www.WendyPope.org

To order your copy of One Year Chronological Bible click below http://www.p31bookstore.com/collections/bibles/products/the-one-year-chronological-bible

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December 10, 2014

Character Matters

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Character is willing yourself to do what God says is right no matter the personal cost. We are called to mirror His image to a lost world. That’s easier said than done especially if you’re a college student.

I’ve had long talks with my daughter on this subject. In college, she’s asked to compromise her godly character everyday, sometimes more than once a day. My heart goes out to her. No matter what season of life we’re in, challenges come our way that tempt us to fit in instead of stand out for the glory of God.

A person with godly character walks away from juicy gossip about a friend.

A godly person comes in when the whole world has walked out on her neighbor, child, husband or friend. Godly character chooses God’s way over the world’s way.

On the other hand, when we knowingly compromise our character, a change takes place deep within. In that moment, we become highly aware of our disparity between God’s standard and the one we have just lived out. All of the sudden, we feel unworthy and distant from God. You may have recognized this feeling. We call it guilt.

What happens next is we begin avoiding God altogether. This makes God seem even more distant than before. We also begin entertaining thoughts such as, “I’ve really messed up. God will never take me back now.” Others aren’t as hard on themselves. They feel messing up simply means sitting on the back row of heaven. Either way instead of facing the problem, we avoid it as if God isn’t there.

Nothing is further from the truth. Ps 139 tells us that God is everywhere all the time. That means there is nowhere you can go that God isn’t already there. This is a very comforting promise when you long for the comfort and presence of God. When you’re trying to avoid Him, it’s a different ballgame.

The fact is God is not distant or uninterested in you. But when our purposes and priorities don’t match His, your relationship will suffer.

God’s purpose for your life and mine is to bring our character into line with that of His Son’s. The good news is that’s what the Holy Spirit is doing inside of us everyday! When we focus our attention on that truth, no matter our failures, we’ll begin to see and feel the presence and power of God at work in our life.

Maybe you need to pause right here and talk with God. Tell Him your sorry for compromising your relationship with Him. Thank God for His forgiveness and willingness to work daily in you so that you become more and more like His Son.

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October 13, 2014

Winner of Magnetic/ 10 Things God Says About You!

10 Things God Says About You

1.)  You Are Loved (John 3:16). God so loves you he withheld nothing—giving his only Son to die in your place.

2.)  You Are Chosen (1Peter 2:9). Before God created the heavens and earth, He chose you to be his very own.

3.)  You Are Wonderfully And Fearfully Made (Ps 139: 14) God designed you in your mother’s womb. He planned your eye color, hair color and skin color to fulfill a specific purpose that is yours alone.

4.)  You Are Beautiful In His Sight (Song of Solomon 4:7, Gen 1:31). You were created in God’s image, and He declares all his work is wonderful! Including you!

 5.)  You Are Forgiven (Eph 1:7). God doesn’t draw back from your sin. He draws near and forgives all.

6.)  You Have A Future (Jeremiah 29:11). When you think you’re at the end of your rope, you’re not at the end of hope. God has promised you a bright future.

7.)  You Are Part Of A Royal Priesthood (1Peter 2:9). You have purpose. God calls you to minister to others as he has ministered to you.

8.)  You Are An Overcomer (1John 4:4). Hang-ups, habits and hurts can’t keep you down because greater is the Spirit in you than the spirit of this world.

9.)  You Are Empowered (2Corn 13:4).The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you daily!

10) You Belong To God (John 1:12). You are a child of God because you have believed in Christ.

I love these truths. I challenge you to mediate on them. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp the meaning and then seal it into your heart.

NOW THE WINNER OF MAGNETIC IS…..

Patricia Fancher
patriciaann173@yahoo.com

CONGRATULATIONS, Patricia!! Please send me your mailing address.

Wishing all a wonderful week!

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October 10, 2014

Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants–Giveaway!

magnetic_coverWhen I first saw the title “Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants” I wasn’t so sure I wanted my girl to be “magnetic”. She’s on a college campus! I don’t want her attracting the wrong attention.

That was before I started reading Lynn Cowell’s new book for young women, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants”. I began to understand the true meaning of Magnetic when I read this excerpt.

“How I wish I had known sooner that I was created to be loved perfectly and unconditionally, made to have my heart filled each and every day with love from the perfect Man – Jesus.

Then I could have spent my time, energy, and emotions, not on a guy I didn’t have, but on the One I did. I could have moved from obsessing over why I wasn’t wanted to becoming the type of girl a godly guy would want. Not just someone to date but someone he’d want to spend the rest of his life with.

I remember making the list, a gargantuan description of everything I was looking for in the guy I would marry one day. The more powerful list would have described the woman I wanted to become, the woman he couldn’t resist!

What would happen if you made the switch now? Shifted your focus off a guy and onto the Guy?

What if, together, we discovered an irresistible beauty deeper than designer clothes, jean sizes, and flaw-free skin? A confidence so attractive, nothing could cause us to lose it? A glamour simply magnetic?

In my quest to discover true beauty, I began to see gorgeous as much more than the face in my mirror. Gorgeous is not skin-deep but heart-deep, a beauty that develops as my heart discovers and returns True Love.

This beauty, this attractiveness, is found in the girl who has what I call “captivating characteristics”—what the Bible calls “the fruit of the Spirit.” These heart traits are described in Galatians 5:22–23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Now I can’t wait to give it to Peyton!

Today, I’ve asked Lynn to join me and answer a few questions that came to my mind as I was reading Magnetic.

Why is this age group so important to you?

Like me, I would guess if you could go back to your life when you were a young woman, you would teach yourself a thing or two! My heart is to invest in girls today, pour God’s truth into their hearts, helping them to make wise choices and change the trajectory of life many have already started.

You’ve just written a new book, Magnetic. What does it mean to be “magnetic?” 

Magnetic: a young woman who has switch her focus from what this world calls “beautiful” to God’s definition which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

3.) How can a young women become “magnetic” in a world that calls her to simply fit in?

I think it begins with making a choice; pre-deciding she will choose to reach her fullest potential. She can do that when she partners with God to be best version of herself He made her to be.

4.) I’ve noticed girls base their identity on whether or not they have a boyfriend. Is this true?

Unfortunately, our culture teaches all women “Guy + Me = Valuable”. It is true – the Guy is Jesus. Jesus + Me = Unconditional Love

5.) Where should a girl’s identity come from?

We need to build our identity not on someone, someplace or something – we can loose all of those things. We need to build our identity and confidence on the One we can never loose – Jesus! (Graphic on blogger site)

6.) Why is important for girls to chase after God instead of a boy? (Graphic on blogger site)

Do you remember how unpredictable a boy can be? When a girl basis her joy and happiness on that boy, she never knows what she’ll get. God is the same yesterday, today and forever! Secure and stable.

7.) How can a young woman break free from all the girl drama that dictates who she is and what she needs?

Recognize that much of drama has it’s foundation in jealousy and insecurity. If she builds her life on God’s truth, she doesn’t need to be a part of girl drama to “fit in”. She’s already in!

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October 9, 2014

Winner Announced/ Our Living Hope

What a great post by Ashley Linne! If you haven’t downloaded the 3 free chapters she offered in this post, you’re going to want to do that. I can’t wait to get my hands on the entire book!

The WINNER of Inseparible is …. Miztii! Congratulations!! Please send me your mailing adress!

Our Living Hope—Today’s post

We prepare for everything. We prepare dinner, we prepare for vacation, we prepare to go to the doctor, to teach Sunday school, for work, or to run a race. Did you know that most people spend four to eight years of their lives studying for a vocation? While we spend the majority of our time planning for something, there are those who won’t spend five minutes to prepare themselves to meet God. They decide, whether they are conscience of it or not, to just chance the here after without realizing that this life is merely a dressing room for eternity, and yet they do nothing to get ready. I often wonder what their hope is in?

As Christian’s we have hope. Faith in Christ is our living hope. God in His boundless mercies allows us to have everlasting life through Christ. Since Christ died and rose again, we, too, have this wonderful expectation.

When anyone comes to Christ and puts their faith in Him, he or she is born anew. This is our story, our hope. Peter tells us in the Word of God “we have been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (l Peter 1:23). We have a living hope because this new birth doesn’t come from earthly parents. It comes from an eternal living God. Hope is confidence in God’s gift of grace, and it is secured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This wonderful hope is confirmed again in the book of Revelation, “Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One, I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and Hades.” (1:17-18). We don’t have to fear death, because when we turn from our sin and turn to Jesus in faith we are turning to the one who holds the keys to life and death. We have a living hope that rest in the fact that Jesus died and is now alive, and if He lives then so will we!

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October 7, 2014

Being in Christ is a Make it or Break it Kind of Deal

 

1401680232-317x475Today, I’m excited to have Ashley Linne as a guest on my blog! Ashley’s new bible-study, Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ, is part of a the Inscribed series. What’s that? It’s a collection of studies by women inspired by Proverbs 3:3.

In today’s post, Ashley provides a link where you can download a free chapter from ALL 3 new books!! That’s not all! I’m giving away a copy of Ashley’s book to a lucky winner when you leave a comment!!! Yay!!!!

Now, let’s hear from Ashley… 

One of my biggest pet peeves is exclusivism. You know, the “us” and “them” mentality. It drives me insane.

I’ve probably been cliquish more often than I realize, because that’s the way it goes, right? We seem to be guilty of the things we dislike about others the most? But really… that attitude that someone has to be a certain kind of person to fit into a group or be in a club… I just can’t stand it.

Nothing against sorority sisters individually—I have a few friends who are loving, Christlike women and were in sororities—but my college campus Greek system was one of those things that always irked me. My freshman year I experienced my first rush week. I figured it would be only a matter of time before I was bombarded by sorority girls asking me to come to a party and be in their group. Well, it never happened. I went all four years of college and was never invited to a sorority or fraternity party. (It was probably because I wore Daria t-shirts and silver combat boots and practically wore a sign that said “I don’t want to” but, still.) I felt like I wasn’t good enough for them.

Aren’t you glad Jesus doesn’t have a criteria for the sort of person He wants to be around?

I think we can all agree that Jesus wants everyone to know Him, love Him, and be rescued from their sin. When we come to Jesus, we don’t have to worry about being a certain type of person or in a special club. Thank God!

But what about eternity?

What about “getting into heaven?” Is that an open-invite party?

The key to eternal life is being in Christ. And it’s a make-it-or-break-it kind of deal. That part of me that hates exclusivism would like to think that in the end everybody makes it to heaven. But if that were the case, why in the world would the Son of God go through torture and crucifixion?

The fact of the matter is, “God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 HCSB). Jesus’ message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17 ESV). The word “repent” literally means to change one’s mind or perception; to stop pursuing one direction of life, turn around, and go in a different direction. We can’t be going our own way and going to heaven at the same time.

I believe it is important to focus on the fact that anyone is welcome, just as he or she is, to be in Christ. But the reality is that not everyone will choose to be in Christ. It is one of those things that keeps me awake at night. What about this dear friend, or this beloved family member, or people in this language group who have no access to the Gospel? What if…?

There are lingering questions I will probably always have about how eternal salvation works. But if we’re in Christ and He is in us, we can rest assured that our future is secure and also know we have a job to do in calling others into the fold.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ.” (Phil. 3:8–9 ESV)

Excerpt from Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ by Ashley Linne. Download a FREE Chapter from all three new Inscribed Studies Here.

About Ashley:

Ashley Linne is a wife and mom who loves to write, sing, and travel. She is passionate about discipleship, mentoring, and sexual abuse prevention. She has been leading small group Bible studies for over 15 years is the author of Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ. Ashley lives with her husband and son in Bellingham, WA

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing with us today!

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