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Following God One Step at a Time

Choose One Wish

If God promised to give each of us one wish, what would your wish be?

Butterfly

I thought about this awhile and first thought I would ask for World peace, no more wars.

But then I thought more, and finally decided that my one wish would be –

that everyone would live by the Golden Rule!

If we lived by the Golden Rule, all our lives would be better in so many ways!  Of course God does not force us to do things we don’t want to do. He gives us free will, so He probably would not make everyone follow the Golden Rule.  That should not stop us from choosing to follow the Golden Rule.  It is in the Bible.

Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (NIV)

If you think about it, it is amazing how this short sentence could change our lives!

It would affect every part of our lives.  It would affect how we treat people in our family, and how we treat strangers, and friends, and our spouse.  We can easily understand it and know what we should do, simply by asking, what would I want?  Would you like a hug?  Do that.  Would you like an apology? Do that.  Would you like to be forgiven?  Do that.  Would you like everyone to smile and say hello? Do that. 

This seems so much easier to understand than “Love one another” (from John 13:34), which leaves me wondering how do I do that?  The Golden Rule is easier to follow.

Let’s look at another Bible translation of Luke 6:31

The Message says, “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! “

How easy is that to understand!  I know it is harder to actually do it.  We have a tendency to say, why should we treat them so nice, they never treat us nice.  But that is exactly why the Golden Rule is so important, it can first change our behavior, and then it will change the behavior of some other people.  I know some people will still not be nice, no matter what we do.  Let God deal with them!

And here is a version that uses the word “wish”, The English Standard Version (ESV) —

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

I really love this one verse!  No wonder parents have been repeating the Golden Rule to their kids for so long.  It is amazingly good advice!

So wish away! What would be your 1 wish if God would give you one?

Please share in the comments below.  And pray that God does give you your one wish.  He hears every prayer.  I will pray for your wish too.

I used Bible Gateway for the Bible quotes.  They are found at www.BibleGateway.com

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To Find Peace and Quiet

Book Review of “Roots & Sky” by Christie Purifoy —

Book RootsSky

This book was such a refuge of peace and quiet.

It is not a book with tons of insight. I find myself drawn to it just to have some peaceful time.  It has a calming effect on me, which I have needed lately. 

The topic is about the author’s first year in a new home with her family.  The house is something they dreamed of.  It is surrounded by Maple trees, and flowers, like daffodils and lavender.  It is an old farmhouse next to a new subdivision with few trees. 

Christie’s house represents the past, a slower quieter way of living.

The author wrote the book like a personal journal.  She reflects on her days, on the seasons and how her life changes with the seasons.  The book is filled with her family’s life, not the news of the day.

She takes us into her home and shows us her life. 

Her family living in this house, finding ways to make it comfortable, to make it useful, to make some changes like painting, these activities are what make a house a home.  Christie intentionally has been trying to find a rhythm for her family that is slower than the pace around them.  She intentionally finds ways to bring special meaning to certain holidays, like Christmas and Easter, for her growing young family.

Quoting from p.166 to give you a sense of the peaceful contentment of this book, “I take it all in – the food, the candlelight, the voices – as I rock slowly with Elsa in my arms.  And I am full, so full, I am overflowing.”

The dream the author was seeking when they were house hunting, she has found in this home.  Christie has found that slower pace, that intentional meaning to everyday life.  She shares this discovery with us.  Hopefully we can use some of her experiences in our own life. 

If you seek a slower pace, or just need some relaxing peace, this just may be the best book for you to read.

You can read a portion of the book “Roots & Sky” and purchase it at Amazon.com.

 

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Stay Focused

Where are you focused? 

Are you focused on your kids?  On your job?  On the stuff you can buy?  On looking pretty?  On having fun going out drinking?  Stop it!  Just stop it.  That is not where your focus belongs.

FocusOnGod magnifying_glass

Stay focused on God. 

Don’t roll your eyes.  This is not the same old thing about obeying God.  This is NOT boring either. 

Staying focused on God is about freedom and adventure and promise.

Life can be confusing and distracting.  God is unchanging forever.  God keeps promises God gives you opportunities for adventure.  God gives you the freedom to choose what you will do with your life, with your time, and with your money.

Do you really want to spend all your time on a job?  Maybe you can work fewer hours.  At least stop thinking about your job after work, and don’t bring it home.  Even at work, you can take breaks to talk to God, to ask Him for direction.  You can do that sitting at your desk and closing your eyes, or taking a short walk.  

Do you really want to spend so much money on stuff that will break and won’t do what advertising promises? 

Do you really want to spend so much money to be good looking?  Do you need to spend so much time looking pretty?  What does that accomplish?

Choose to focus on God, and let Him show you other opportunities.

Galations  5:1 reads “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” 

Paul is saying that we do not have to burden ourselves with worry over things that don’t matter.  We can focus on what does matter.  We can focus on God, and what He says is important.  We have choices.

If you ask God to show you some opportunities, He will bring choices to you that He approves of —

 It could be the opportunity to go on one of several mission trips.  You might read an article in the news or hear on the radio about a mission that needs people to go there to help.  The kinds of help you could choose from could be teaching English, or helping with Vacation Bible School, or helping repair or paint a church or orphanage or medical clinic.  What task would you like to do? 

What country sounds interesting to you?  Kenya? Haiti? Guatemala? India?

God might show you the opportunity to sponsor a child.  You could sponsor an orphan.  You could sponsor a young child’s education or medical care.  You can learn about where the child lives, what their needs are, and possibly you could visit them or send them a letter of encouragement and receive a short letter in response.

God might show you an opportunity in your city to join an after-school program to tutor children, or help them make an art project, or help them learn a sport like soccer or jump rope.  It could be an opportunity to help with summer camp for a summer or just for one week.

One thing for sure, God won’t have any trouble finding adventurous meaningful ways to spend your time and money!

Watch this short movie clip on God’s opportunities!  https://youtu.be/KDDqCgV9jWo

If you choose, you can watch this short video on how many different opportunities can be in one place —  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuFsggldh84

For more information about some opportunities in Virginia, go to www.GodsPitCrew.org

What opportunities from God are you interested in?  If you like, you can tell us in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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Historical Fiction at Its Best

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! — “Luther and Katharina” by Jody Hedlund

Author JodyHedlund  Jody Hedlund, an award-winning and bestselling author!

I chose to read this book to review because it is historical fiction, based on the life of Martin Luther, the Father of Protestant Christianity, and his wife Katharina (a former nun).  It is such an interesting story!

I knew very little about Martin Luther.  This book taught me about the history of the beginning of the Lutheran Church.  Martin Luther (born into the German working class) was a highly educated Professor and theologian, who translated the New Testament Bible from Latin into German in the early 1500s, so the common people could read the Bible.  He also preached and wrote letters that expressed his interpretations of the Bible, such as encouraging monks and nuns to leave the monasteries and convents, giving up their vow of celibacy and getting married, as God intended for man and woman to do.  Some of the other things that Martin Luther promoted were personal prayers, not just church given prayers, and singing hymns of praise to God, not just chants in Latin. 

This caused death threats against Martin Luther, and riots by the peasants!  Some followers of Martin Luther were beheaded, tortured, beaten, and even burned at the stake.  I never realized how dangerous the work of Martin Luther was.  This book engagingly tells the history.

In the middle of all the chaos, the author focuses on the two people in the title, Luther and Katharina, a love story, torn apart by the war over what the truth of the Bible is, and who should have control over it. 

I have a greater appreciation of having a Bible available in English, and even in several different translations, so I can read the Bible myself.  It would be devastating to me, not to have a Bible in a language I can read and understand! 

When I was baptized and became a Christian, I did so because I read the Bible myself, and could tell that I needed to be baptized to obey God.  As a new Christian, I spent a lot of time reading the entire Bible, and then re-reading the New Testament.  I have over the years, completed about 20 Bible studies (many by Beth Moore, but also ones by Kaye Arthur, Tammie Head, Priscilla Shirer, and others.)  I have become closer to God, and have developed a rich prayer life, in large part to being able to do so much study of the Bible in English.)

(A side note — John Wycliffe wrote the first English version of the Bible in 1380.  Many of his translations were burned.  Martin Luther was more successful in getting his translations out to the people.  He had the support of many important people of the time.  It wasn’t until 1526, when William Tyndale had the first English version of the Bible printed.)

I highly recommend you read this book! 

I read a copy of this book from my local library.  You can purchase it at Amazon.com and can read part of the book there as well.

 

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Unconditional Surrender

What does unconditional mean?  It means that something you do is not subject to conditions; it is done wholeheartedly and is unlimited in scope.

We are supposed to have unconditional love for our spouse, and for our own children.

I feel that I have that.  I can say that I love them no matter what…  No matter what happens. No matter what they do or say.   I might not be happy about something that happened, or something they said or did, but I still love them.  My love has no conditions, it is wholehearted and unlimited.

We, as Christians, are supposed to have unconditional surrender to Jesus.

HolleyGerth encouragement Romans828   Romans 8:28

That one I am struggling with.  We should be able to say, “Jesus, I surrender my will to you no matter what happens, no matter what you say or do, no matter what you tell me to say or do;  even if I don’t agree, or I don’t want to do what You say.”  We are supposed to still do His will out of obedience.  In other words, our surrender to Jesus is supposed to be wholehearted and unlimited, with no conditions.

It is scary really.  I know that is what God wants from us.  It is just really hard to do.  I am taking steps to surrender more of my life to Him; I am just not quite at unconditional surrender yet.

In wars, if there was an unconditional surrender, then the losing side was allowing the winning side to do whatever they wanted with those who surrendered. 

1 Samuel 11:10  They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”

It is similar with Jesus.  We surrender to Him, because He wins the war.  He has overcome evil.  He has gotten rid of our sins.  We are then allowing Jesus to do whatever He wants with us.  Luckily, Jesus is not our enemy.  Jesus loves us.  We will be rewarded with goodness and many blessings.

It is only fair that we surrender to Jesus.  In Luke 23:24-25, Jesus is surrendered by Pilate to the will of the people, to be crucified, as the crowd cried out to crucify Him.  Jesus surrendered His will unconditionally to the will of God the Father, who sacrificed Jesus so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life with Him in Heaven.

 It seems we owe Him unconditional surrender!

How about you? Have you given unconditional surrender to Jesus? Please share your comments below.

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He Speaks to Me

This is my book review of “He Speaks to Me” by Priscilla Shirer —

Maybe you know Priscilla Shirer from her recent movie “War Room”.  If you haven’t seen it, it is out on DVD now, so you really need to see it.  Awesome movie!

But Priscilla also writes books.  I want to share with you a little bit about her book “He Speaks to Me”.

HeSpeaksToMe Cover

I found myself wanting to hear God’s voice, but not knowing how to do that.  How would I know it was God?  Do I have to say a prayer first?  I thought this book would help.  The subtitle for “He Speaks to Me” is “Preparing to Hear From God”.  That was where I was.  I wanted to hear God’s voice, but I couldn’t hear Him, and I didn’t know what I needed to do, so I could hear it.  I needed some preparation.

Be Humble.

Surprisingly, Priscilla says that to hear God, we need to be humble.  Pride gets in the way.  Humility keeps the lines of communication open between you and God.  That makes sense, but I wasn’t expecting that!

Go to God first!

Then she also says that we need to seek Him first.  You know how we always start with friends when we need advice or agreement?  That just puts all their words in the way.  Go to God first!  When you need an answer, first go ask God in prayer!  When you get up in the morning, talk to God first.

Quit being so busy!

Ok, I’m going to tell you one more thing Priscilla says, then you get yourself a copy of this book and read it!  You need to stop.  Quit being so busy!  Take three slow, deep breaths.  Now you can listen for God’s voice.

Hear God’s voice.

Now, each day, I can hear God’s voice.  This book helped me do the right things, so I was able to hear His voice.  It took a bit of practice, but now I can stop, take a few deep breaths, pray, and then listen for God’s voice.

Find the book here. 

 

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Christian Marriage Myth

Many Christians think they take the same vows as other people who get married, but that is not true!

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If you and your spouse are Christians, and were married by a minister, did you know you agreed to a covenant relationship?  Do you even know what a covenant relationship is?  I didn’t know!  It is very important to know this whether you are already married, or if you may marry someday.  (By the way, I was married, then divorced after 23 years, and now am married to another man for 16 years.  Although I had a much better idea about what marriage involved the second time, I still did not know I was in a covenant relationship.)

First of all, it is important to understand that a covenant is made with a vow between two people, or between a person and their country, or between God and a person or country.  For example, God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and with Israel.   In marriage, two people take vows to each other.  Covenant vows are intact until the death of one.

So what vows did you take (or will take) at your wedding?  Most people forget what they said, but it is important to know the vows you promised.

Usually Christians would take vows like these –

“Will you have this woman/man to be your lawful wedded wife/husband, to live together after God s ordinance in the Holy Estate of Matrimony?  Will you love, comfort, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others keep you only unto her/him as long as you both shall live?  I take thee, to be my wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish forever, according to God s Holy Ordinance, and thereto I give thee my pledge.” 

(To read the traditional Christian wedding ceremony in full, click here.)

As long as you both shall live” or “until death do us part”, says the covenant lasts until one of you dies.  The exception for a Christian marriage, is that adultery can justify a divorce.

I give thee my pledge” is the vow part.  Sometimes people use “I promise to ….”

God intends a Christian marriage to glorify God through the covenant marriage relationship, and to show the love of Jesus to each other.  The couple vows to love each other, comfort each other, honor your wife/husband, and take care of each other even when sick.  The couple also vows to never seek the relationship of any other person for romance or intimacy.  (Yeah, that is the adultery part.)

This is pretty serious stuff!  Why wasn’t this explained before the wedding?  It may have been, or maybe not.  We tend to be blinded by love and stressed out and afraid, when we say the vows of marriage.  Either way, the vows are binding, as long as you chose to get married of your own free will.

A married couple is supposed to have unconditional love for each other.  They are supposed to obey their vows even when they don’t feel like it.  Some days that is easier than other days.  Usually, couples can work through issues and problems, bearing in mind their love for each other, and believing that God wants them to succeed in their covenant marriage relationship.

Every Christian also has a covenant relationship with God.

We are supposed to obey God, and He promises certain blessings and faithfulness to us.  Keeping your marriage vows is part of obeying God.  So the next time an argument with your spouse has you thinking about divorce, don’t even think about it!  You don’t want to break your covenant to your spouse and God at the same time.  Your life will be in a much bigger mess than just arguing with your spouse.  You promised to love, honor, and take care of them until death.

The vows you took in your wedding ceremony, God is holding you to that promise!

 

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10 Audacious Truths

This is my book review of “Worth Living” by Mary DeMuth.

MaryDemuth WorthLiving ComingMay3Pic

Mary says there are 10 audacious truths, she wants to share with you.

If you think you are not good enough.  If you think God is unhappy with you.  You need to read this book.

Mary DeMuth comes from a childhood of abuse, and she thought she was not worthy of love.  Jesus changed her life, and this book tells you that now she knows she is worth loving, and her life is “Worth Living”, and so is yours.

Mary wants you to know that you are not alone.  Other people feel unworthy of love, and other people feel insecure and tired of the endless work, with no joy.  She was one of them.  She has dealt with depression, too.

You need to know the truths that she has found in her relationship with God.  Mary says there are 10 audacious truths that tell you why you are worthy of love.

In the book, she writes that we are not perfect, but God loves us anyway.  We are not always good, but God loves us anyway.  People may leave us, but God will never leave us.

In her book, Mary says that we think we are unworthy, so we build walls around our heart to keep from being hurt.  Those walls need to come down with God.  When we do that, we will understand our worthiness in a whole new light.  Jesus is that light.  He has the power to make us worthy.

This is a book for people who feel worthless, or unloved.  This is a book for people who are depressed and need hope.  This is a book for people who are tired of living a life full of stress, hurt, and hardship.   This is a book for people who are broken.  If you are one of these people, then read this book.  It could really help you.  Mary lived a life like you, and now she has a new life.  She wrote this book to help others like her.

You can buy this book at Amazon.com .  If you buy the book before May 20, you can also get a free downloadable copy of Mary’s book “Beautiful Battle” by emailing a copy of your receipt to her.  Get details at www.marydemuth.com

You can also download the first chapter for free, so you can start reading right away by going to www.marydemuth.com/worthliving.

 

 

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I Have a Question

Janet ThyWillBeDone

Have you survived something that left you with scars?

How did you survive it?

Are you in the middle of a difficult problem that leaves you feeling like your life is crashing down around you?  How do you deal with it?

Are you being accused of something you did not do?  What is your response?

Do you run away? Do you yell? Do you hide? Do you defend yourself?

Or do you grab hold of your faith in God and push through the problem, deal with it full of faith that God will get you through this?

If you do this, you will emerge stronger, wiser, and with a deeper faith in God.  You will know that God is always with you.  You will know that with faith in God you can handle any problem.  You will know that you are better prepared for the next problem

And those scars? The scars remind you that you fought a fierce battle, and with God’s help, you survived it.  You can’t live this life on your own.  You need God.  You need your faith in God.

Here are three examples of people who grabbed hold of their faith in God to deal with a major problem.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego —

Daniel 3:5-6 …you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.  Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Daniel 3:12 …Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Daniel 3:16-18 …Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

These three men did not change their behavior, but a new law could bring their lives to an end.  Yet, they did not defend their behavior, nor run, nor hide, nor yell, nor beg for mercy.  These three men grabbed hold of their faith in God, and knew that God would bring them through this, even if it meant they would die and go to God in Heaven. 

Miraculously they are thrown into the fiery furnace, and come out with no injuries.  God could have left them alive, but scarred.  They could have died.

No matter the outcome, they knew that the best way to deal with this problem was to grab hold of their faith in God.

Imagine how strong their faith is after this miracle!

 Several times in the Bible Jesus says “Your faith has healed you.” 

In Luke 7:50, Jesus also says “Your faith has saved you.” 

This is the power of faith! 

 

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Hello, Jesus Called

My book review of “Jesus Called”, He wants His church back by Ray Johnston —

The author says that Americans have lost their innocence, have lost love, values, faith and hope.  He says to get them back, we need to get Jesus back in the church and in our lives.  We need our lives to reflect what Jesus taught in the Bible.  I am excited to do some of the things in this book.  I found the book encouraging and nothing in it is too hard to do.

The author says that without Jesus, we are critical of others, selfish, opinionated, joyless, and put our focus on the wrong things.  The first half of the book outlines the problems with our lifeless faith and lifeless church.  The statistics show that about 5,000 churches in the United States, close their doors every year Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church.

The rest of the book switches its focus to explaining who Jesus is and what following Him looks like.  The author gives many examples from his church, Bayside Church, one of the largest churches in the United States.  For example, Bayside put this sign in front of their church

Nobody’s perfect.  Everyone’s welcome.  Anything’s possible.

Contrast this with a sign the author saw at the entrance to another church –- “The wages of sin is death”. —

But what they left out was the best part of the Scripture (Romans 6:23) – “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  Which sign makes you feel more welcome?  Which sign makes you want to come to church again?  Our attitude toward people makes all the difference, if we want to attract new people to church and keep others coming back.

The author believes that everyone matters to Jesus!  So it follows that everyone should matter to us Christians.  The author is saying that our hearts in America are far from Jesus (as Jesus said in Matthew 15:8).

One of the ways, the author says we can get Jesus back in our lives and churches, is to read the Bible and study its meaning.  Very few people do this.  Many churches do not even do this in the sermons.  If you want to have a closer relationship with Jesus, get connected to Him by reading His Word!

Also, quoting the author (p.186), “When the Christian church gets it right, showing people the real Jesus and letting His light shine, there is no more powerful force on planet Earth for God, for good, or for changing lives”.

The author says that many people are afraid to evangelize and tell people about Jesus.  So don’t.  Just invite people to come to church with you.  That’s simple.  Then let God and the church work on their belief in Jesus.

I highly recommend you read this book.  It could change your life!  After all, Jesus called and He wants to talk with you.

Jesus Called” is available at Amazon to read a bit of it, see more reviews, or buy it now!

I got this book for free from the publisher through Booklook Bloggers, so I could write this honest review.  I have used Bible Gateway to link Bible quotes so you can read the full verse.

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