Thankfulness Challenge 9-19-19

Thankfulness

Thankfulness takes our minds off of ourselves and places it where it belongs…..Jesus!

So Many times we get wrapped up in our own problems we fail to see what God is doing around us! Each week we will strive to take our minds off of ourselves and look to see the blessings around us in the god, the bad and the ugly.

Lost Perspective

I must confess that over the last few years respective has been lacking here on my blog. Maybe even purpose or passion But over the last few weeks I have dealt with this heavily in prayer and I must tell you at this point my writing momentum has picked up and I cannot even keep up with the ideas rushing through my head. I can’t seem to get the blog ideas in my planner fast enough!

But sometimes we must experience the loss of perspective in order to get refreshed and gain a NEW perspective. I’m not gonna lie it’s been a few years of wrestling with God. Wrestling over fear mostly. Fear of doing THIS thing…..BLOGGING. yep. At some point, we need to come face to face with the fact that others may not like what I’m saying. People I know and Love. Sometimes I might step on toes. Trust me mine hurt long before I ever write a blog post. So tonight I am thankful for my lost perspective. It’s been a long road but now sitting here writing this I know that the lost perspective was one of the greatest things that could have happened, Sometimes wrestling with God over something helps us to understand more of who God is and who I am in Him. Now that is something to be thankful for!

Just a note of warning though: when you chose to wrestle with God and hash things out you need to understand that God WILL win. He ALWAYS DOES!

So now it’s your turn! to practice thankfulness! Is there something hard in your life that God has been showing you that has far greater worth and purpose than you ever imagined? if so share it in the comments!

Also tell me something you are thankful for this week.

Blessings, Mary

For more Thankfulness Challenge Posts click HERE.

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What Have You Been Settling For?

Settling

A LONG TIME COMING!

Settling- it’s what we do as Christians.  We hide it under the blanket of being content.  Being Satisfied.  I hear it all the time.   “That’s how God made me”.   “That’s what I have been given so I need to just deal with it.”   “That’s not what I’m good at.”   and the list of excuses goes on and on and on.

We settle for mistreatment by others under the disguise of love.

We can settle for our attitudes towards other people because we have a justifiable reason for anger or vengeance.

We live in anger bitterness and malice.

We say “Oh that part of the Bible is outdated.  We can live however we want to these days.”

We justify addictions and idolatry.

For almost 2 years this blog post has been rolling around my heart and mind.   I have addressed this topic in both our Ladies Bible Study at church AND through last year’s influence blog posts.   And for two years I have suffered from an uneasy heart and a major case of writer’s block I have prayed, I have journaled. I have read and I have avoided blogging because of this nagging sense of not knowing what to write.  I have deep burdens in this area.   So today HERE is my heart.

IDENTITY

For the last 3 or 4 years, God and I have been on a back and forth mission about what real Identity in Christ looks like.   It’s something we are not often taught about.    For me, it began with my review book “I Am” by Michele   Cushatt.   You can find the review here.  Through this book, God impressed upon my hear that before I can figure out who I am I must first understand who God is.  Then the same year I read that book I also read a book by Renee Swope called A Confident Heart.   In the very beginning of the book, she talks about how as we go through various changes and traumas in. our lives we need to re-learn who God created us to be AND sometimes (my addition we need to re-learn who God is !) Not that God changes but through these moments we learn new things about God and ourselves.

Once we have a firm grip on who God is, and who we are in Christ we gain confidence (HMMMMM pretty sure that was my word for 2017!).  AND as we gain confidence in who we are in Christ our influence shifts (HMMMM can you say the word for 2018).  AND when we live within those parameters we are filled with abundant JOY! (YEP THAT”S 2019_. I really didn’t plan it that way.

However, over time our identity can get skewed by little things that we let creep into our lives.  Matt Little, President of New Brunswick Bible Institute (NBBI for short)  in reference to Psalm 73- A Psalm of Asaph “when our faith loses its own reality.”   We need to spend time with God so He can realign our sight.

How I got here. A Little backtracking.

For months now God has been stirring in my heart to get back to this but I have all sorts of excuses.  Busyness being at the forefront. But at the beginning of the summer, I was really praying that God would give me his words to say.  I knew bits and pieces but the words just didn’t come.  Oftentimes I would just sit and stare at a blank screen praying…and yet nothing.   Then we came to our camper at the end of June and within 3 days of being here God released me of the busyness and by that I mean I got hurt.  Sometimes God has to take drastic measure to get our attention I sat in a chair for 3 days with my food up. I was on crutches.  I was stuck…or was I.  See there is this book that has been calling my name since the beginning of the year.  It’s a skinny little thing and despite the nagging feeling to read the book I put it off till camp.  and I read it in just a few days.  I thought it was gonna be an easy read, but the heart work  God did showed me that I really need to take this message to people.    The one thing I didn’t do as I read through the book is the study questions. By the end of the three weeks away, God was convicting me that I needed to head back into the book and do the questions.  I have been taking my time really soaking it all in and then last night I came to Chapter 3 entitled CHILD: LOVED BY THE FATHER written by Courtney Doctor.  I glanced through the chapter refreshing my memory of the topic and settled into the questions. and then I finished question three.   I was then prompted to go read 1 John 3:1-10

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not lovetheir brother and sister.

Pay specific attention to a couple of verses:

verse 4-6  Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

When we are linked to Christ we have this desire not to sin.  We are broken by it.  Yes, we slip up and make mistakes but we have the ability to choose not to sin.    When our lives are gripped by sin we have to start asking ourselves some super hard questions.

Am I really a Christ emulator is top on the list because as Matt Little Said in his message you cannot have one foot on the land and one in the water.  You cannot live as the world lives and be a Christ-follower.

And then there is verses 7-9-Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are

Pay very close attention to what 8 and 9 days

*those who do what is sinful is of the devil (yes we all sin but this is a life defined by sin

And  “no one who is born of God will continue to sin.  meaning they will not actively pursue it- they will not continue it, they will turn away from it.    They won’t justify it and they will no be ok with it.

They will actively seek help and truly repent. and change.  It takes an insane amount of work BUT they are willing to do because of two things.

  • they were to be like Jesus
  • And they want to glorify God in all they say and do

Matt Little said in his message when of the most important things we can do as a Christian is to say NO.  Now, this isn’t about The Best Yes- This is about sin. So let’s define what the Bible says sin is.

SIN

Mark 7:21-22-For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

Matthew 15:19 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

But you say Mary: that was then and this is now.   The culture is in a  different place.  And remember I’m not speaking to unbelievers here THIS IS WHAT YOU SIGNED ON FOR WHEN YOU ACCEPTED Christis.  You gave your life to him.  You denied yourself and your desires: It’s not about your rights, what you think, how you feel about something.  You became a Christ emulator.

And Hebrews 13: 8 says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

AND WHO IS THE WORD? John 1:1 says it’s JESUS

This morning’s Eyeopener

So that was last night’s, then I woke up this morning and hit Chapter 4 SAINT: REDEEMED BY THE SON.

YIKES, it was hitting me where we sometimes wallow…in our struggles. I had to read Romans 7:15-8:11. But for the purpose of the blog post, I am going to camp in Romans 8:1-11 which is what struck the deepest chord for me.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sinand death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b]God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

Let’s hone in on a couple of verses:
verse 2 The law of the  Spirit has freed you from the law of sin
Verses 5-8
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
The flesh is our sinful desires- what we want.  It’s selfish. IT IS SETTLING FOR SECOND. not even best.
It says here that if your mind is controlled by the flesh it is death….you are destined to die but the mind governed by the spirit is life and peace.  It’s not rooted in anger and bitterness and hatred.    It doesn’t hold grudges.
Moses wasn’t settling for his best
Sometimes we have a choice that looks great for us.   AND yet that very decision is detrimental to our faith.  The message this morning was all about a decision Moses had to make.
He could stay in Egypt and very likely could be next in line for Pharoah. That’s great for him.  He would live a life of wealth, comfort and prestige.  AND  yet He made the unpopular decision and refused to be called the Son of Pharoah’s daughter. HMMMM Then Matt said something that I hope sticks with me FOREVER.
“we makes our choices and then our choices make us”. 
It also makes me think of another old saying “we make our bed to we must lie in it”
It means that there are consequences for every sin.  You Lie so know people don’t trust you.  You cheat on your spouse- so you get a divorce.  You do the crime you do the time.   In short, we are a product of the choices we make and who we hang out with,  The glorious thing is at any point we can change
Another thing Matt discussed was how it’s ok to own things But it’s not ok when those things own us.    WHO or WHAT is it that we can’t live without?
Here are somethings I’ve heard in my lifetime that people can’t live without.
MY phone
the internet
my computer
my spouse
my children
chocolate
my dog
my home
my friends
my boyfriend/girlfriend
my cause (this is a big one BECAUSE you can tell what owns you by asking a simple question: When people meet you  which do they know first That you are a Christian or whatever you are currently fighting for?)
That’s just to name a few.
Moses was saying he was refusing to have Egypt own him.
You cannot serve two Masters.  It’s either God or something else. and if you pick something else-it’s idolatry. (Matthew 6:24)
And the last two things that Matt said that really hit home for me was this
“When you say NO to the things that are wrong (AKA sinful)  you clear the way for  God’s amazing blessings- but you can’t have those until you say no.”
AND
 ” God can teach us but we are responsible to learn it”.
This one really struck a chord with me because as a parent I teach my kids all the time.   BUT if they don’t embrace the teaching and learn it for themselves we will have a recurring problem.
So are you settling for a package Satan has set before you?   One that seems like it’s the best? One that you think is the best? OR are you choosing  God’s best?   If you are settling for the first one are you prepared to deal with that choice for the rest of your life?  Are you prepared to have that choice be detrimental to your faith?  What is really most important to you?
Remember we are told in Romans 12: 2
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.
(All verses and Passages are taken from the NIV)

Pre-Order the God Dare by Kate Battistelli (Pre-Order Bonuses)

 

The God Dare Bonuses

Get Your Pre-order Bonuses before June 1st

Hey Everyone- Can I just tell you I am over the moon excited by Kate Battistelli’s new book The God Dare which launches June 1st!  That’s right THIS SATURDAY! So if you pre-order by June 1st then you are eligible for an amazing bonus bundle. But more on that I a minute.

I have been a part of this launch team for the last six weeks and can I just tell you it has been so much fun being a part of this book birthday!

Are you ready for the Dare?  aka about this book!

God has called us to something….whether we like it or not.  sometimes those things look really scary- ok if we are really honest most times that is the case. Is this book Kate asks some hard questions about our willingness to go where God has called us to go or do what God has called us to do.  I just love it when Authors pair people from the Bible who have been in similar shoes to my own and kate has done just that.  I have found myself in the shoes of Esther- do I keep my mouth shut, or speak out for justice?  I have traveled with Abram and Ruth when I have left all that I know and love to follow where God leads and I can tell you right now that each of these instances.   Sometimes it is just making an unpopular decision that may look like you are absolutely off your rocker to the rest of the world around you.  The question Kate asks is Are You Willing? and If no why not?

Each chapter concludes with soul searching questions that dig deep into where or what God is calling you to.

Who is this book for?

EVERYONE, No seriously are you confused about where God wants you?  Or is He REALLY calling me to do THAT?  How about a hard situation that seems above our understanding and we are left on our knees asking what now or why or how?  And if you aren’t in any of those places I promise you are heading there.  And when you get there this book offers a HUGE blessing and that blessing is perspective.  And many times perspective changes many things especially hearts!

SO what about this bonus bundle you mentioned?

So if your order your copy of the God Dare before June 1st- then you can claim your free bonus bundle.

Here’s what is in the bundle-

– Companion Small Group Book or Bible Study PDF
– “Those Who Take the God Dare” printable PDF
– “The God Dare Secrets” printable PDF
– “Backstage behind-the-scenes” video discussing how The God Dare  came to be

Here’s how to claim your bonus bundle.

Step 1:  Order the book from your favorite retailer

Step 2: Visit www.katebattistelli.com/god-dare/ and fill out the form that pops up after you click on the “preorder bonuses” button

Step 3:  Watch for my email containing your bonus bundle to arrive after June 1st!

Here is the Amazon link (this is NOT an affiliate link)

And one more thing:

And don’t forget when you get your book don’t forget to either screenshot the cover on your device or snap a picture of your physical copy and use the hashtag #theGodDare and Tag Kate in the post!    @KateBattistelli

DISCLAIMER:  I was given an advanced readers copy of this book by the publisher

Being Faithful In All Seasons of Life – Ecclesiastes 3

faithful

The Background: A Faithful Choice

This blog post is a long time in the making and by a long time I mean my whole life! No, I’m not kidding.   Being faithful in our relationship with God is not a wake up one day accept Jesus as your Savior and BAM! you have all the faith in the world! Oh, how I wish it were the case! But it is not.

Faithfulness is a long time in the making.  It is built out of learning, from mistakes, and blessings, miracles, and hardships.  And I want to get this out in the open that just because I am writing this post does not mean that I have somehow arrived at this amazing level of faithfulness.  It is however just the opposite.  This is my processing ground.  Working out my faith in some areas that can’t really be explained.

The Struggle

I know that there are those who think that Pastor’s families have some sort of unique “in” with God, but that is just not true.   I have learned much over the last few years about my humanness. My desire to know the answers NOW in my time.  The idea that things couldn’t get worse than they are now.  That truth will prevail…SURELY TIS TIME.   I’m gonna pray this way- and God’s gonna my answer my prayer? (which by the way he always does, but as of late I have been left standing with my hands on my head saying Lord THAT is NOT what I meant!   The whole verse that says “His ways are not our ways” Has been an ongoing theme in my life and I’m standing there wondering how and why God answered Just how I prayed and things got worse…NO JOKE!

It’s in those moments my faith in God has been tested! And tested and tested…and tested again.

I’m not the type of person who stands before God and stomps my feet and shakes my fist at God and says I want this and I want it now God.  I’m am the type who passionately prays for needs and lifts up those who are hurting and I seek God’s will  And I can *usually* see God even in the negative fairly quickly but there are times when all of it doesn’t make sense.   This is usually when this involves justice.  And this year I have learned a very valuable lesson in this area that will I’m sure to unfold slowly BUT God’s justice is sometimes slow to us.  The key is “to us”. And in these moments, we have two options. We can either remain faithful and say “Ok God even if you don’t_________I still will remain faithful to you and your word” or we can turn our backs on God and try to force our hands and get our own way.   Sadly I have seen too often that people do just that and in the end, they may get what they want but it costs them……their faith in God and their faith slowly becomes rooted in what they can do, or what others can do for them.

So starting tomorrow we are gonna hash out and discuss Ecclesiastes 3. So, for now, you can read it here, and then tomorrow we will jump into verse one!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

1There 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.

 

Book Review: Happy Happy Happy Stories for Kids By Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard

Happy

The Content-Happy Stories

Every morning my youngest two sons and I have this routine. We have been making happy memories together reading before the bus comes. I give them a snack so they can take their vitamins, they take their vitamins and then we head out to our entryway to wait for the bus. It started last school year with our third youngest. He always wanted to play on my phone while he waited and I wasn’t satisfied with that so we began our reading journey together. They both have struggles especially in the waiting for the bus area of life so we began reading and when the opportunity arose to read this book together we snatched up the chance.

Korie and Chrys tell family stories with truth from God’s word weaved throughout each account. They are told in simple and sweet ways and often times with a humorous twist that even left me wanting to know the rest of the story long after the boys got on the bus!  Each chapter starts with a verse, then the story and is followed by some very thought-provoking questions and then a short Bible lesson.  Nothing too in-depth Just right for our 11 and almost 9-year-old.   The other major plus was this was NOT a gender specific book!  It was clearly meant for kids BUT as an adult I too thoroughly enjoyed it.

Another aspect included in most chapters but not all (or not as obvious as some others) were ACTION STEPS as the end of the Duck Commander in Action section (AKA Bible study).  This section challenges readers to take what they learned from the Robertsons stories and God’s word and put it into action in their lives.

A Happy Review!

Our family has been a long time lover of Duck Dynasty and the Robertsons!   We appreciate their family values and their humor, and their stand for faith and godly values and it was just an absolutely refreshing change from what the world had been handing us for some time now.  Our boys were excited to get to hear stories about the Robertsons.

Now getting our boys to focus is difficult as one has Autism and the other struggles with Central Auditory Processing Disorder and It is a great challenge for him to listen, especially with other background noise.  In a sense, I have one kid who Makes noise all the time and one who is highly distracted by the slightest noise.

Well, Korie and Chrys wrote this book in such a gripping way that in ALL the books we have read together, this was the book they were the most focused on to date!

The stories deal with issues and teach children great lessons in life.   Some of the stories that the boys are still talking about are trying new things-even to the tune of trying a new food for one sons birthday dinner.  Another lesson deals with Mayhaws- a small berry that Jep learns turns into something great all while learning from his father that being small doesn’t mean you don’t have a great purpose.

AND my favorite lesson out of all of the stories is about young Willie and his TUBA!  I was in stitches.  But Willie had to learn a hard lesson most kids struggle with today, Sometimes no matter how hard you try, sometimes you need to have the wisdom to know that it is time to say “I’m not good at this and it’s ok at least I tried!”  I have a drummer and a piano player but I have yet had to send someone to the woods to practice BUT at least I now have that as a last resort!

The Boys Thoughts

I asked the boys if they wanted to help me review the book and I got a”DO we have to?”  It’s not a knock against the book I think they just look at it as more school work and as we are drawing near the end of another school year I think they have had enough!   So I asked each one of them what they thought of the book they both said emphatically that they LOVED it!  But what’s more, as a mom I can see them take what they are learning and apply it to their lives! THAT IS THE MARK OF AN AMAZING BOOK!

Our Rating

So all of us give it 5 stars!!

OH and one more thing we loved the artwork!  The pictures all look like textured scrapbook paper and gives almost a 3-D look without being 3-D!  The boys absolutely loved seeing all the artwork!

And a GREAT BIG THANKS to BookLook Bloggers for providing a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes! All of the opinions in this review are completely my own and I am in no way compensated for a positive review.