faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Intended

Is today going as you intended?

Have you checked off more than 1 thing on your “To Do list”?

Or has your day been a bunch of distractions and wanderings?

Have you wasted time gabbing on the phone,

or watching videos on YouTube or Facebook?

At the end of each day, have you felt disappointed?

Do you wonder “where did the day go”?

I have!

So, I am trying to bring myself back to what I intended to do.

My intention for this year, was to start each day with prayer.

I did fine at first, but after a few months,

I found myself near the end of the day,

and I had not prayed, more than a sentence or two all day.

My intention for this year, was to be encouraging to people.

I started out encouraging a lot!

I was really enjoying it,

because I found that by encouraging others,

I felt encouraged too, and that gave me joy!

You would think that since being encouraging to others is a win-win kind of thing,

that I would find that one easy to continue.

Nope.  I gradually lost motivation, and stopped.

Well, except for a nice blog comment here and there.

So, ½-way through the year,

I am now trying to turn myself around,

back to my original intent for this year.

I could moan about it already being ½-way through the year,

and feeling like I haven’t accomplished much,

but I have actually accomplished a lot,

just not what I intended.

I am doing the Bible study “Anything” by Jennie Allen.

I have read several good Christian books,

like “Unoffendable” by Brant Hansen,

and “The Day I Met Jesus” by Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth.

I took a trip home, ½-way across the country, to visit family.

I have done some good things,

I just haven’t done everything I intended.

My intentions are good, I just have a follow through problem.

Going to Webster’s Dictionary, I find part of my problem.

I don’t really understand what “intended” means.

“Intended” means to be planned for the future, not actually doing it.

I thought it was something I wanted to do now, today.

“Intend” means to have a plan in mind.

Now that is more what I was thinking,

having a plan in mind, and following it.

“Intention” means the plan of action.

I think I forgot to make a plan of action.

This would explain how my plan got lost along the way.

“Intent” is the purpose or goal.

So, my “To Do list” was my list of goals.

I had a plan in mind, such as I intend to pray each morning,

and I intend to be encouraging.

Then, since I “intended” them to be done in some future time during this year,

I never wrote a plan of action, a way to accomplish my goals.

I left it up to mood, or whimsy, or nudges of guilt.

So now I know that I need an “intention” for each goal,

which would be my “plan of action”.

I wish I would have realized this 6 months ago,

but I can’t go back and do it,

so I just need to go forward from here.

My next step on reaching my goals,

is writing a plan of action.

That will have to wait for another day,

since this blog post is too long already.

How about you?

Do you need a plan of action for your goals?

(If you want more information on the books I mentioned in this post, the links are below.)

Anything by Jennie Allen

The Day I Met Jesus by Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth

Unoffendable by Brant Hansen and Unoffendable 2nd link

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Book Review of “Unoffendable”

This is my book review of “Unoffendable”, by Brant Hansen.

I agree with the premise of this author,

that Christians should not get offended.

Being offended causes anger.

As James says in Chapter 1:19-20, “…everyone should be quick to listen,

slow to speak and slow to become angry, because our anger

does not produce the righteousness that God desires”.

The author says that he used to think that Christians were supposed to get offended.

When Christians would get angry about certain offensive actions by others,

we called it “righteous anger”.

The author points out that, we are not capable of righteousness,

only God is truly righteous.

Now Mr. Hansen says he believes that Christians should NOT be offended.

In fact, he says that Christians should DECIDE NOT to get offended.

We actually show a more Christian attitude by not getting offended.

Instead of anger, we should show forgiveness, love, and patience.

Why does he say this?  His reason is that we all sin and make mistakes.

If we are offended by someone’s lie, we also have lied at one time or another.

He refers to when Jesus tells an angry crowd,

“Let him without sin, throw the first stone.”

No stones are thrown that day. (Refer to John 8:7-11.)

Now the title of this book, “Unoffendable”, is not even a word.

I could get offended by that, because it makes Christians appear stupid,

and I could complain to him by email and rant about it on Facebook,

but I choose not to get offended.

I like not getting offended.

It gives me peace and calmness, and helps me think more clearly.

Brant Hansen says that if we get angry, that does not change the other person’s behavior.

We can only change people through love and forgiveness,

and I would add education.

The author also points out, that if we get offended and angry a lot,

we use up a lot of time and energy.

We could use that time and energy for better things,

like helping the poor, or going to a Bible study, or doing fun things with our family.

In fact, we can get a lot more good Christian things done,

If we choose NOT to get offended.

This book will challenge your thinking,

and you just might find yourself getting angry less often.

Now that is a good reason to read a book!

(I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers,

so I could write a review.  The opinions are my own.)

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Summer Vacation

What are you doing this summer?

Are you taking a vacation?

I took a “vacation” with my husband to visit our families,

who live in three towns.

We drove over 2,000 miles.

When we got back home,

we were exhausted, and I felt sick for several days.

Is that how you feel after a vacation?

It’s important to visit family, and visit interesting places,

but it’s also important to take time off to rest.

Many of us don’t rest on vacation.

Vacation is supposed to be a break from work and stress.

If summer vacation isn’t being used to take a break and refresh us, what is?

My answer is to take a Sabbath rest each week.

Some Christians think we no longer need a Sabbath day of rest,

but I believe we still should follow the ten commandments.

We can still benefit from following God’s command

to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”. (Exodus 20:8)

There are groups that encourage Christians to take a Sabbath rest each week,

and there are books about taking a Sabbath rest.

I have been practicing Sabbath rest for about one year.

I am still working out what I should do on the Sabbath day,

and what I should not do.

The main focus, is rest, but I also like to honor God.

Most of us work 5 days, and get two days off.

I always looked forward to those days off,

but are they really days off?

Usually those days are spent running errands,

grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom,

taking kids to sports games or practices, and making lunch and dinner.

Does this sound like rest to you?

Even if we squeeze in an hour at church,

we don’t get any rest.

When you get to church, are you ready to rest?

Or ready to scream in frustration?

For many families, getting ready for church on Sunday morning is a stressful mess!

So what if you try doing what I do?

Take just one day each week, and label it “Sabbath Day”.

On that day, you can only do things that are restful to you.

On your “Sabbath Day”, you cannot do laundry or dishes or cleaning.

You cannot run errands.

You cannot rush around.

You cannot do anything stressful.

My Sabbath Day is spent reading or watching a movie,

and going to church because I find church refreshing and encouraging,

(since I don’t have to get anyone else ready for church but myself).

Many times my husband and I will take a walk together.

Whatever you enjoy doing, that is not stressful, and not against God,

can be done on “Sabbath Day”.

Yes, you can take a bath, or take a nap.

Yes, you can sit on your deck and drink iced tea.

I don’t do the same thing every week,

but I try to focus my “Sabbath Day” on rest.

This is a good way for me to feel refreshed, and revive my energy.

It is also a good way to feel closer to God.

When I rest, I think, and I pray.  I also like to sing.

By the end of the day, I feel pretty good about God,

and about how I spent my “Sabbath Day”.

If you want to know more about keeping a “Sabbath Day”,

Go to Sabbath Society led by Shelly Miller at http://redemptionsbeauty.com/sabbath-society/

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Choose to Follow Him

John 10:14 (Jesus said) “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  

Following Jesus is an adventure!

Are you in an adventure with Jesus?

If not, listen to His voice.  Follow Him.

One friend and her husband have followed Him,

through giving up almost everything they own,

and followed His voice to a new ministry in London.

My husband and I followed His voice to Florida,

and followed Him through illness, to healing,

and now we are ministering to others in our home.

Another friend of mine is following Jesus,

ministering to 3 children she adopted.

Three very different adventures!

I could not go on the London adventure,

or the adoption adventure,

because I have been prepared by God,

to follow Jesus here, right where I am.

No one else could tell us,

that she and her husband should go to London and minister there,

and my husband and I should go to Florida and buy a house to minister in,

and she should adopt 3 children —

because no one else would know.

Only Jesus knows the path each of us should take!

Listen to His voice,

and choose to follow Him.

Do you think you can’t hear His voice?

You can, if you believe in Jesus and what He said.

John 10:3b-4 (Jesus said) “…He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.”

People may have different ways to hear His voice.

I use prayer.  I focus on God.  I recite Scripture that is meaningful to me.

Then I ask Jesus to speak to me, because I want to follow Him.

Following Him can be risky, can be scary, can be challenging,

but it will help others, and He goes ahead of you.

You do not go alone, Jesus is leading the way.

Much of my life, I did not follow Him.

Over time I made the effort to hear His voice,

and read Scripture, studied it, and learned from it,

so now it is easier to hear His voice.

Following Jesus is a very intimate relationship.

Trust Him with all your heart.

Following Jesus will always be an adventure.

Where is He leading you?

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A Book Review — Angel In My Room

Today I am reviewing the book, “Angel in My Room” by Betty Collier.

This is a book on the life of Lillie Hopkins.

AngelInMyRoom

The author describes Lillie’s life as told to her by Lillie.

Although the writing style is 3rd person narrative, and sometimes awkward,

I found this book interesting.

I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to Lillie.

This is a short book, with very little description or details.

Lillie had a dream to marry, have children, and live a happy life,

but this dream was not to be.  Her life had a few unexpected twists.

Eventually, Lillie came to enjoy God’s plan for her life,

even though it was so different from her own dream for her life.

Lillie helped many people find Jesus, including the author.

Most of the time Lillie’s part stayed in the background,

while she just did what God wanted her to do.

Although she did not raise her own children,

she did “mother” many people, including her brother,

who was a missionary in Africa, and a preacher.

If you want a quick read, and enjoy hearing true stories about other peoples’ lives,

give this one a try.

The author wants to share the testimonies of other people.

This book is the second one in her series of testimonies.

If you want to find out more about the author and her books, go to

her facebook page, Betty Collier.,

or to see her list of books available go to Amazon.com

I did receive a free copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers,

but the opinions are my own.

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Call to Prayer

I was planning to do another book review today,

but with headlines about more killing by ISIS,

I have decided to make a call to prayer instead.

— ISIS has taken over 2 more major cities, Palmyra in Syria and Ramadi in Iraq. —

More than 30 thousand people have fled,

but they have nowhere to go.

In Palmyra, ISIS murdered 400 people in the street,

most of them women and children.

ISIS is purposefully destroying the towns and villages they attack.

ISIS wants to leave only destruction and death behind them.

Only God can stop ISIS, so we need to pray for that.

We can help people who have fled looking for safety,

most of them with only the clothes on their back.

We can pray for God to have mercy,

and protect the people fleeing for their lives.

We can also give money to bring aid to those who flee.

You can give to the Internation Rescue Committee, who are very well respected,

and work efficiently to help the most people.

You can give to Doctors Without Borders, who go wherever their help is needed.

Another good charity to give to is the Christian Aid Mission,

and give to (IGE) Cradle of Christianity Fund,

(part of the Institute of Global Engagement).

Pick 1 or 2 organizations to give money.

Then pray.

Here is my prayer —

“Oh Lord, so many people are fleeing the evil called ISIS.

They have no homes to go back to, because ISIS destroys them.

Many of the men are killed, leaving mothers and children to fend for themselves.

ISIS has no mercy, Lord, for they even rape and murder children.

I know that you are in sorrow over what is happening in this beautiful world you created.

Have mercy on us.  

Have mercy on these families who have nowhere safe to go.

Lead them to shelter.  Bring them the food and water they need to survive.

Help them find a new life somewhere, somehow.

We feel powerless to help, but they feel hopeless and scared.

Give them hope, Lord.

Take whatever money we can give, and multiply it.  

Make it cover all the needs of these people fleeing for their lives.

Rally your angels, Lord, to help these people,

and to stop ISIS.

This will not end as long as ISIS is still spreading their evil.

Several countries, including the U.S., are fighting ISIS,

but they are losing ground to ISIS.

ISIS continues to take over and destroy more cities.

There are so many people needing help,

that we feel overwhelmed.

Guide us to make the right decisions to help them.

Lord, put it in the heart of each person reading about ISIS,

to give money to good charities who are helping.

Move each person who hears about ISIS to pray.

Lord, God, only you can stop ISIS,

and help the people fleeing from them.

We cry out to you, Lord.

The people of Iraq and Syria are crying out to you Lord!

Hear them!  Help them!

We thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers.

We know you will answer.

You, God, are blessing us today.

We thank you, in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Please stop and donate to one of the charities I listed above,

or one of your own choosing,

then pray your own prayer to help the people fleeing from ISIS,

and to stop ISIS from spreading evil.

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The Gift of Righteousness

Most of us know that Jesus forgave all our sins, and we are so grateful for that.

Jesus gave us even more!

(Reading a blog Bible study at IF:Equip), I was inspired to write about  another gift –

Righteousness!

The Gift of Righteousness means we no longer need to follow the laws of the Old Testament.

We don’t have to perform blood sacrifices, or avoid certain food like pork.

In Romans 3:19, Scripture says,

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law…”

And the next verse (20) says,

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law…”

No one!

So how do we get righteousness?

Verse 22 – “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

So it is not by keeping the law, and following the rules, that we get righteousness,

it is solely through our faith in Jesus Christ!

Why is this gift of righteousness so important?

In Matthew 13:40-50, Scripture says, “This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them (the wicked) into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The righteous are those who have faith in Jesus Christ.

They will be saved from the blazing furnace of Hell.

The wicked have no righteousness.

Who are the wicked?

The wicked are all those people who do not have faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

They will be thrown into Hell.

That makes me really glad that Jesus gave us righteousness,

because otherwise, we would all go to Hell.

Remember, no one can be righteous by obeying the law.

We aren’t that good at obeying!

If you want to read some of the Bible Study posts that inspired me to write this post,

go to IF:Equip Sermon on the Mount.

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God’s Story

Our church just finished the Bible study, “The Story”,

which is about God’s story.

The last chapter is on Revelation of course. 

But did you know that Revelation was written as encouragement to the early church?

Encouragement?

Yes!  I know we usually think of Revelation being scary and confusing.

So how is it encouragement?

Well God wins the war against satan,

and we get a new Heaven and a new Earth.

There is a lot of talk about the end of times coming soon,

because of all the terrorism, climate change, and natural disasters happening in our world lately.

And you know what that means –

Jesus comes back!

Now we don’t know when Jesus is coming,

And we are told to be prepared for whenever He returns.

So how do we do that?

We can’t count the days, because we don’t know the day He will return.

So instead, make each day count.

That way when Jesus comes back,

you will be ready!

So, I will say it again,

Make each day count!

Amen.

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Child Abuse Help

Today is Blue Sunday.

It is the last Sunday in April, set aside for praying against child abuse.

I hope you will join us today, or any day you choose, to pray for protection of children.

(If you need prayer, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page, and I will pray for you.)

There is child abuse in every country in the world.

In the U.S.A. alone, there were 3 million cases of child abuse reported in just 1 year.

–Jesus said,  “And anyone who welcomes a little child on my behalf is welcoming me.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,

it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck

and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)

This gives us an idea of what Jesus thinks of child abusers!

Many abused children grow up angry, or withdrawn and afraid.

They have low self-esteem.

Some of these children grow up and become child abusers, too.

This is so sad, that even knowing how awful their life was,

they cause the same pain to other children.

Some abused children end up in prison.

Some abused children are able to grow up and become good parents and role models,

but their road to health is long and hard.

They would not grow up well, unless some people show them love and caring.

They need to know that God loves them,

and that there are some safe people in their life.

For those who find love, you can see the results of God working in their lives.

Some had enough people to love them, either as children or as adults,

and they grow up and heal to be able to help others.

Both Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore (speakers and authors),

talk about being abused as children.

They are examples of those who grew up to help others,

and also to teach about love, and about God.

Joyce Meyer says, “God always had a plan for my life, and He has redeemed me. He has taken what Satan meant for harm and turned it into something good.” (see Romans 8:28).

To read Joyce’s whole article and for more information on her life and testimony,

Go to her website.

Joyce also has a prayer team who will pray for you if you request it.

Beth Moore also addresses her difficulties growing up as an abused child.

She has written several books about how to get healed, 

and moving past the pain with God’s love and forgiveness.

I have read so many of her books, but I would suggest two in particular to be helpful –

Breaking Free”  and “So Long Insecurity”. 

We live in a sinful world, with much pain and evil.

Children are born innocent and helpless.

They need and deserve our love and care, and protection.

God help us if we do not provide this.

We can all encourage and care about children in our family,

in our neighborhood, in our schools, and in our church.

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Book Review of Divided

This is a book review of “Divided” by Bill Delvaux.

The 1st thing I read that told me I was going to really like this book, was —

The author explains what happened in the Garden of Eden to make Eve disobey God.

It is surprising, and spot on!  It was an AHA moment for me.

You need to read about it.

“Divided” is about the struggle we all have coming to terms with God,

and with Truth.  Eve struggled, too.

The author shows us how he, and others he knows,

have gone through this struggle,

sharing with us his learned insights.

The author tells us it is normal to have doubts, fears, shame …

And he explains how to deal with them with God’s help.

This is the kind of book that by reading it thoughtfully,

It will challenge you.

It could even change some of your behavior.

BUT, if you read it and follow the author’s directions, answer the questions,

and have some quiet time with God –

It can transform you!

Some of the keys shown to you in the book —

Listening.  Truth.  Exposing idols.  Finding your heart. 

Are you ready to have a deeper faith in God?

A deeper love for God?

A more meaningful life, based on Truth?

Then read this book!

Although I was not familiar with this author, I received a free copy of the book from the publisher

through BookLook Bloggers, in order to write a review.  The opinions are my own.

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