How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part three}

My final tip in my three part series on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life for your family. This is by no means all that you can do. These are just 3 easy tips for you to start with now. See previous posts for the other tips. 

3. Third, have fun! Nothing makes faith seem more out-of-place and awkward than when it feels forced, contrived, or boring. After over 25 years in ministry, we’ve learned that uncomfortable, scripted sermons or trite, cheeseball lessons are a drag for everyone. 

When you make faith interactive, interesting and imaginative, however, the truths from the Bible really stick. Kids who have fun with faith when they’re young experience rich relationships with Jesus as they get older.

So brainstorm creative ways to retell Bible stories, look for inspiration in the natural world around you, tap into your child’s interests, and have fun!

#Faith #Family #Children #EverydayFaith 

How To Make Faith A Natural Part Of Your Everyday Life {Part Two}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. Here is my second post in a three part series of a few tips on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family. 

2. Second, readjust your expectations of what “making faith a natural part of your everyday” looks like. In other words, you don’t have to be perfect. Faith does not eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them. 

Your kids don’t need the appearance of perfection. What they need is real authenticity, and a genuine desire to chase after God – especially from you. 

We all make parenting mistakes. You’re going to make several and so am I. But listen, you don’t drown by falling into the water. You drown by staying there. When you mess up, apologize and grow from it together as a family. If you stumble and fall, fall forward, get back up, and keep running the race God has set before you. Let them see you do this with a genuine love for God and a desire to run after Him. 

God didn’t mean for parenting to reflect perfection from us. He meant it to be a clear reflection of His love. Our job as parents is not to put on a perfect show. It’s to point them to the Perfect Savior. 

As always, feel free to share away. You never know who is on the other side of the screen waiting on a word of encouragement. 

#God #Faith #Family #Parenting #EverydayFaith

How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part One}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. I’m going to post a tip a day for the next three days on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family.

Here’s the first one:

1. First, as parents we have to model faith. If you’re suddenly picturing someone who can quote the Bible from memory, who prays constantly, and sings in the hills wearing a nun’s habit (a la The Sound of Music), RELAX–faith isn’t always easy, but it can be simple.

You don’t necessarily need to come off like a pastor to your kids. You just need to show them the simple ways you’re practicing your faith. For example, let them see you pray. Let them see you read the Bible. Talk about Jesus. Talk to Jesus, out loud, around them. 

Even if your faith hasn’t been a natural part of your family life, start now. No matter how old your kids are. Just start.

As always, feel free to share away. Sharing is caring. You never know who is waiting for a word. 

#Faith #Family #EverdayFaith 

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow {Study of Esther Chapter 1}

Esther

 

Click on over and read: Esther Chapter 1

There was some major partying going on here. And a lot of pride and showing off of the goods by the King. Queen Vashti was throwing a separate shindig for the girls because, according to the Oriental fashion, the sexes do not intermingle in society, the court ladies were entertained in a separate apartment by the queen.

As the feast days advanced, the drinking was more freely indulged in, so that the close was usually marked by great excesses of revelry. The King sent for Queen Vashti. It’s a popular belief that he wanted her to appear wearing ONLY her crown.

The refusal of Vashti to obey an order which required her to make an indecent exposure of herself before a company of drunken revelers was unbecoming of both the modesty of her sex and her rank as queen; for, according to Persian customs, the queen, even more than the wives of other men, was secluded from the public gaze. Had not the king’s blood been heated with wine, or his reason overpowered by force of offended pride, he would have perceived that his own honor, as well as hers, was consulted by her dignified conduct. King Xerxes made a rash, half-drunk decision, based purely on feelings. His self-restraint and practical wisdom were weakened by too much wine. The issuance of that decree to the entire empire is ironic because it ensured that everyone in the empire would know about the King’s marital struggles, and not just the “noble women” (Vs. 18).

King Xerxes’ hurt pride turned to anger. Anger often blinds us from doing what is right and causes us to become vindictive. 

Poor decisions are made when people don’t think clearly. Our decisions and actions can cause irrevocable damage, too. We should base our decisions on careful thinking, not on the emotions of the moment. Impulsive decision-making can lead to severe complications.

Obviously, a law cannot possibly cause women to respect their husbands. Respect between a man and a woman is a matter of the heart – from mutual regard and appreciation of each other as people being made in God’s image, not from legal pronouncements and orders. Forced obedience is a poor substitute for the love and respect that wives and husbands should have for one another. For the same reason, instead of forcing us, God gives us free will to CHOOSE to love and follow Him. Beautiful.

We are all “Kings” and “Queens” of our homes too, and our little “empire” is watching us. As a wife, I need to be mindful of how I respond to my husband whether he’s right or wrong because our little “kingdom” is widely affected by my actions, too.

They look to us as an example. We do influence those around us – especially our family. I need to be prayerful and mindful of any pride rising up in me in how I treat my husband and in all of my relationships. Do I respect him? How do I respond to him? Will I contribute to the rise of my household, or to the fall of my household – here today, gone tomorrow? Because a house divided will not stand and pride crushes. Pride absolutely does come before a fall.

Prayer: God, I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to know You and follow hard after You and the person You intended me to be when You created me. Before I even know all that entales, I say yes to You. Help me be the wife and influencer You have in Your heart for me to be. I want to be a woman after Your own heart. I want to be the person You would be if You were in my place or in my shoes. I accept it. I recieve it. I cherish it. May I live each day expecting to experience You. In Jesus name. Amen.

{Equip} Link Up for the Best Selling 100 FREE eBooks on Faith!

20140108-010117.jpg

We are constantly influencing those around us. Whether our sphere of influence is a church, a Bible Study group, co-workers, our spouse, children, family, online and social media community, or a class – we owe it to those around us to equip ourselves with great tools to love and lead them well.

Leaders are readers.

I highly recommend that you arm yourself with loads of encouraging, equipping, and empowering books on faith that inspire you to stretch yourself. To help you love and lead like Jesus.

However, we don’t need to read a bunch of books about the Bible instead of actually reading the Bible. I love a quote by Charles Spurgeon: Visit many books, but live in the Bible. There’s nothing, nothing, nothing like reading God’s Word.

There are lots of tools you need to be successful in the new year and save money doing it. Yesterday I told you here about 16 free books by one of my favorite teachers, Beth Moore. There are links in that post for iPhone, iPad, Nook, Kindle, ePub, and more. That offer is only good through January 10, 2014 so be sure and hurry over to that post for all the links to grab those jewels. Don’t forget to pass on my blog link for others to enjoy.

Today I have more goodies for you:

Amazon has posted 100 BEST SELLING books on faith for FREE on Kindle.

For those of you that do not have a Kindle, don’t fret. There is a free app for Kindle in which you can download all Kindle eBooks just as someone would do on a real Kindle device. And, just because I love you…and I want you to get these books…here’s the link to grab that app

This is 100 FREE eBooks, friends! Even better – it’s 100 FREE BEST SELLERS ON FAITH! What a great big, toe tipping kiss from Daddy! I’m not sure how long this deal will be going on, so run on over with this link and get them while you can.

Don’t worry, we’ll get back to posting devotions and Bible studies here. I just had to tell you about these delicious finds and couldn’t dare keep them for myself!

(FYI: I in no way receive any money for recommending these to you. I haven’t been solicited by Amazon to tell you about it. There are no affiliate links in this post. I just love you all and want to bless you with my finds 🙂 )

#Amazon #Free #ebooks #Kindle #Christian #faith

A Good Time of Year For Letting Go

20131228-200307.jpg

It’s a good time of year for letting go. Let’s not drag all our regrets into 2014. Let’s repent, make amends where we can and move on with Jesus -Beth Moore

Two Steps To Begin Using Influence Wisely

20131209-033428.jpg

Influence.

We all have it. We are impacting those around us all the time. This is a great thing when we learn to use the influence God has given us wisely. We start by learning the art of speaking and listening with these two steps:

1. We must listen in such a way that others love to speak to us.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue..(James 1:19-21 MSG


How significant is listening? Listening is the fullness of hearing. It is possible to hear someone talk and not listen. In order to hear and listen, one must be paying attention. It’s so unnerving to talk to someone who isn’t listening. It quickly turns people off and turns them away. People love to talk to good listeners. James 1:19 in the NIV version says it this way: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Don’t make snap judgements. Don’t assume. First, listen well.

The world is in need of a Savior and there is only One. We must carry the Gospel message out to the world. We must hear those who are asking for help, we must listen to them to give them what they need. You have the Source of help. Are you listening?

2. We must speak in such a way that others love to listen to us.

She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26 HCSB

Her words are wise, gentle, and dripping with love. Wise words (not a smart mouth), spoken and motivated by the greatest gift of all (Love) is exactly the way Christ teaches us. The best way to do that is through compassion. If we first place ourselves in their shoes for a moment and think of all the ways God is loving and patient with us, how could we be any less with others? After all, it is only by the grace of God that we aren’t struggling in their area……. or that we once were and are no more.

God drove this truth home for me this week in a big way. Let’s word that in another way: God taught me a lesson this week. I was in the middle of several sticky situations and with some people who were dropping the ball in a big way. I was tempted to lose patience with them when I got that Holy tap on the shoulder that reminded me: God meets us ALL where we are. These people aren’t mature enough to handle this well, but they could be one day. Teach. Don’t preach. Once I walked that out, things ran more smoothly, and they walked away encouraged.

She delights to talk of the Word of God and does so motivated by love: the greatest gift. She is careful in WHAT she says and HOW she says it. 

How, when, what, and to whom I speak matters. Truth spoken in the wrong spirit of things can repel people AWAY from God rather than TO Him. Remember Job’s friends? This is where they went wrong. Overwhelmed and in agony with all he was suffering, Job was not comforted but rather condemned by his friends. While there were elements of truth in some of what they said, it was based on wrong assumptions. We must be careful of what we assume to be true in the lives of others. Be very careful of making snap judgments (I know I’ve made this point twice. It’s double important!)

The influence God has gifted us with should always be one that praises God and builds up people for His Kingdom.

POINTS TO PONDER: Influence is a gift. Am I faithful with my influence with those around me? Is my influence being used for HIS glory? Who am I being influenced by? Am I careful in what I say and how I say it…..when I say it, and to whom? Am I speaking words into people’s lives that are wise, gentle, and dripping with Love? Am I also doing this with my family?

May we all listen in such a way that others love to speak to us, and speak in such a way that others love to listen to us. May we be an influence on all those around us as our Jesus is. Let’s make an impact for HIM. Let’s make much of Jesus.

I Am Second: The Movement

m

What a beautiful picture of freedom in Genesis 2:25:

Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame….

Absolutely nothing hidden. Honesty with themselves, each other and best of all with God. What a pure, beautiful way to live. So inspiring!

There’s only one way to get that kind of life and that’s by living second. We live in a culture that all about being first at whatever the cost. Where lives are lived in secret and where money and me, me, me is what counts. It’s exhausting. There is no joy.

I am on the launch team for the I Am Second Organization. We launched  a new and improved book this week. It’s updated with even more content and inspiring stories about God making extraordinary differences in ordinary people like you and me. Real stories. Real people. Changing lives. 

I know the people in this book. I know them because I saw a little piece of me in nearly every story. Maybe you’ll see a little of yourself in the pages too.

No matter what walk of life we come from, we all experience pain. Some caused by others and some caused by us. One thing for sure….no matter the cause of the pain, the one and only freeing way to live is second.Living second is living surrendered to God. Fully. Him first and upfront, center stage and having His way with you in every area of your life. No secrets. No holding back.This book is full of evidence of the powerful hand of God that moves freely and victoriously once He is given the freedom to. These ordinary people surrendered their lives and allowed God to use the platform they’ve been given. He blessed them for it. And, He’ll do the same through you and me.

The words “change me” are the two mos

t powerful words a Christ follower can say. Once said, God began doing a work on all of the heart ache, pain, punishment, prostitution, hate, drugs, pride, pornography, alcohol, bitterness, shame, and loneliness and more. God is a God who can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We see this truth in this book. This book is about victory.

The stories in this book will warm your heart, draw you closer to your Savior, and inspire you. Get.This.Book.

Do you know someone that needs encouragement? Someone that needs a Savior? Someone screaming out for help in the wrong direction? Someone you want to reach with the Gospel? Get.This.Book.An

d.Gift.It.To.Them.Now.

A person on our team shared this verse and I agree that it does a great job at summing up what this book is all about and what the people in this book are doing:

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. Psalms 66:16-20

This isn’t just a book. It’s a movement. 

Here’s the link to purchase the book on Amazon: I Am Second

A few quotes from the book:

The Scruggs Q3Michael W Smith Q2

Michelle Aguilar Q1

Annie Lobert Q1

Chris Plekenpol Q1

Lecrae Q2

Brian Welch Q2Karen Green Q1

*I do not profit in any way from this book. I get no money whatsoever from the sales. We here at E3 are about Encouraging, Equipping, and Empowering others. This book is a holy hallelujah touch down in accomplishing this and so we pass it on to you. We are honored and blessed to be a small part of the team*

If I had the power to stop time…..{a writing prompt}

    20130216-151505.jpg

If I had the power to stop time, I wouldn’t. If that question were asked of a younger me, I would have answered differently and given a list of moments that I would have stopped the clock. But not the “today” me. No, not a chance.

I would have chosen the first kiss from my husband; so sweet and exciting. If I had stopped time there, I would miss our wedding day, the look in his eyes at the births of our children, our deep love grown stronger with each passing year. I would have missed our first home, the teamwork and prayers we’ve shared on our knees. I would have missed his leadership grown from loving and serving our Lord together. The way that even now, 24 years later, when I look at him my heart still skips a beat. The many lives led to Christ. I would have missed miracles.

I would have chosen the first time I held each of my two children. What a blessed and joyous day! Kissing their sweet faces and touching them for the first time was beautiful, miraculous, and filled with awe. If time had stopped there I would have missed the first word, the first steps, the hugs, the first “I love you Mommy”, school days and being their teacher, accepting Christ as their Savior, first jobs, the times of speaking and sharing the love of Christ with others, traveling and serving God alongside them, and all the people and opportunities that have come into our lives through that ministry. I would have missed miracles.

If I had stopped time there, I would have missed the fantastic way God brought our brand new 6 year old daughter Bella into our lives. I would have missed the way He whispered her name to me weeks and weeks before I knew her. I would have missed the way her face entered her older sister’s dreams months before that. I would have missed the beautiful love that we all share. I would have missed miracles.

Yes, I would have missed deaths of dear loved ones, hurts, betrayals, losses, sicknesses, heart-aches and pain that came. But our most effective ministry, our ability to love deeper and more fiercely, to praise often and more loudly, to pray with more surety and authority, to stand quicker and more strongly, to speak up and more boldly, to show great mercy and grace to others, comes out of our deepest hurts.

Instead, I would use that power to embrace a little longer, engage a little deeper and envelope a little wider. You see, if I stopped time, I would miss each new thing….each new person….each new ministry….each new experience that God brings me….and I would miss miracles.

Thanks so much for the writing prompt, Ellen. It was great remembering how blessings outweigh the pain.

Patterns Everywhere: Which to follow?

    20130127-134001.jpg

I’ve been teaching a lot on patterns in school and in ministry lately. Patterns in the world, and the patterns we trace. We’re told in Romans 12:2 to break the patterns of this world in our lives. The renewing of our minds to the mind of Christ transforms our lives as we grow to know what God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will is for our lives.

In Psalm 127:1-2 it says, Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep. The Hebrew word for house in verse one can actually be translated family. That is one reason why the next few verses read like this:

Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has a quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

If you have sat up late, worrying about your children or your family, you need to know that God can turn things around.

Trust Him to build and protect your family. Do your part, but look to Him for guidance and strength. And trust Him to do what you cannot do. Be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live. Be a pattern for them in your love, and your faith. God recently blew our minds and busted our hearts wide open by bringing a sweet little 6 year old into our family. She loves to walk around acting, talking, and teaching like I do. My husband and oldest daughter noticed it before I did. It’s so cute, but it also has me watching her closely. Just as she traces those squares and triangles while I’m teaching her shapes, she is tracing my walk. As I’m watching her closely, she is watching me even more closely! I’ve got to be sure I’m following the pattern Christ gives to us as she is following my pattern.

He can cause your “arrows” to be effective against the enemy instead of wounding your heart. He can turn things around. My little “mini-me” came from a very abusive background. God is healing and restoring her. God can turn our lives around! He’s an expert at renewing, restoring, and resurrecting! He makes all things new, and that includes your family. Trust Him to do what you cannot do.

“House-building” and “city-guarding” cannot succeed apart from God. You are His beloved. Allow Him to give you peace and rest now.

May you be happy with your quiver of “arrows,” and may God be glorified in your family.

Full Tank: He Holds No Good Thing

20121119-065226.jpg

This is our “Thank Tank”

20121119-065419.jpg

It’s a wonderful container that I got as a gift and turned into a thank tank years ago when my children, who are now 23 (next week) and 18, were very young. The card I placed in the top says,

“Thank Tank”
That my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 30:12)

And this poem:
Consider what the Lord has done for you and those you love; then give Him thanks with hearts of praise for blessings from above

20121119-065820.jpg

It’s been filled with lots and lots of notes. Personal ones that are only for God. These notes are written by my family and countless other people who have been in our home over the years. Small groups. Teenagers spending the weekend for a youth group function. Traveling choirs filled with strangers that come and fill my home to the brim. Grown ups as we talk and praise God for His goodness.

20121119-070125.jpg

So many memories of year round teaching groups of girls, and guys and seeing them grab the empty pages and write their hearts on them

20121119-070435.jpg

This tank is full of thanks to Him for blessings passed, and blessings coming. Hopes confirmed by seeing His hand, and hopes confirmed by the promise of His hand.

This year finds me in the same place. I look back over the years and see His victorious hand through many, many, MANY hard things. The joy in the many, many, MANY wonderful things. And just like in Matthew 14:20, when the disciples took the remnants of the blessed miracle of feeding the 5,000 men into their future, I take mine and give thanks for all He has done, is doing, and will do.

God is the same God that has done all He’s done. God is the same God that is doing all He is doing. God is the same God that will do all He’s going to do. His hands are capable. I trust His hands. No matter what, He knows me better than I know myself and His bountiful love will always fill my life full and over flowing into my future too. He loves us and holds no good thing from His children.

That my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 30:12)

Forever

God + Nothing = Everything

I love the feeling I get when I see a box of things from our past. I smile just walking in the direction of the box. Opening them and talking about what each thing represents. The laughter, and love that flow as we remember. Things my kids made, holiday decorations, funny and sweet notes my children wrote, things sweet friends gave me, mementos of my Dad and other loved ones no longer with us. We’re all transported back. It’s cozy there in the kisses from our Heavenly Father.

    20121115-092217.jpg

What a blessing it is to cuddle with each kiss! It’s like getting blessed all over again. Passing to the next generation the moments of joy we have in raising our children, growing and loving in marriage, the awe, fear, wonder, and victories in God. I was talking with a friend the other day who said we don’t remember days, we remember moments. I agree.

    20121115-092203.jpg

I give thanks for remembering. For the remembering brings joy. Joy in giving God the glory and thanks in a life lived well. I add quickly not a life lived perfectly, but with honest passion, desire, love and compassion authored by God Himself. A passionate desire to follow, glorify and honor God. This story of love is authored by Him. A life together made on our own would not have been so great. In our own weak attempts we fail. For we are nothing and have nothing without Him

For you see, God + nothing = everything

.