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Following God One Step at a Time

A Day For Freedom and Equality

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Today, Monday, January 16 is a national holiday – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day.

It takes courage to do what is right, even when most people do nothing.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man with courage.  He fought for freedom and equality for all Americans.  He died because he spoke up for what was right.

Today, my husband and I put out our U.S. flag in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in honor of President Obama.  Without the first, in all likelihood, the second would not be the President.

In addition to courage, Martin Luther King Jr., was a man of hope.  He never gave up hoping for a better tomorrow.  He was a Baptist minister, and earned a PhD in theology, so he knew that Jesus Christ was and is our best hope for a better tomorrow.  He followed the example of Jesus to be peace loving.

It is amazing that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, did his protests without guns, without weapons.  Unfortunately he was often met with weapons by opposition and police.  Today, we all have the right to peaceful protest.  The police often protect protesters to give them the right to peacefully express their views. 

Unfortunately, what starts out peaceful, can end up violent.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was murdered by a man with a gun.  He gave his life protecting our country’s freedoms.  I believe he is due honor for that.

I hope you enjoy this national holiday, MLK Day.  Many of you have today off.  Please take a moment to pray for Martin Luther King Jr.’s family, and for men like him, like President Obama.  Courageous men.  Hopeful men.  Thank them for standing up for the freedom and equality of all people in our great country. Ask God to bless the United States of America with peace and hope for equality for all Americans.

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the Image of God. One day we will learn that.”

President Obama has said, “If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all.” 

For Sunday January 15, 2017, Scott Sauls, pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church (a mostly white congregation in Nashville) invited the congregation of New Livingstone Church (an African-American church in Nashville) to attend their unity church service on the day before Martin Luther King Day.  New Livingstone’s minister, Pastor Ronnie Mitchell, gave the sermon. 

You can listen to his sermon here  (The intro is long.  His sermon starts about 15:00)

The original blog post about the unity service by Scott Sauls can be read here.

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The Rest of Your Week

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Mark Buchanan says that as a writer and speaker, his job is to remind us of the truth.

In his book “The Rest of God”, he is reminding us of the truth that God created Sabbath for us.  Sabbath gives us a chunk of time and space to rest in, so we can arise stronger and more clear-minded. 

Do you think Sabbath is not something you need?

The author wrote this book, because his life was like a spinning top.  He was exhausted, but was not really accomplishing anything.  He went weeks without even 1 day off.  He was irritable, argumentative, and gloomy.

He finally remembered that Sabbath rest was the thing he had been forgetting.  Sabbath was something he was not taking the time to do.  He remembered that Sabbath rest is healing.  God invites us to find rest in Him, and remember Him. 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

If your life is too busy, too exhausting, too crazy, Sabbath can be a solution, not just another appointment.  Sabbath can be a catalyst for change to a better life.  It starts with a decision to take time for Sabbath each week.  It yields a changed attitude.  That progresses to a changed heart.  Soon you will see changes in your priorities, your schedule, and in your thoughts.  Your mood will improve.  You will be more fun to be around. 

This book will show you the benefits of Sabbath, and the depths of God’s love for us.  The last couple chapters of this book had me in tears.  These were good tears.  These were tears of recognition that God really does love us, and tears of hope for a better way to live.  This truly is an awesome book.  Mark Buchanan reminds us of the essential truth that because God loves us, He gave us the gift of Sabbath. 

Will you accept God’s gift?

If you have no idea how to find time for Sabbath, then I would like to suggest another book — “Rhythms of Rest” by Shelly Miller.  Shelly shows how you can find time for Sabbath in smaller chunks.  If you are a working mom, or you have kids that need to be driven to many activities, or you work weekends, Shelly can help you find Sabbath time in just an hour.  Her book gives many examples of how other women practice Sabbath by making even a small amount of time, restful and rejuvenating.  Gradually you will be able to, and want to, bring more time into your Sabbath.

We all know that our culture’s idea of rest is a weekend, but our weekends are even busier than the rest of the week.  So for rest we go on a vacation.  How many vacations have you taken that leave you feeling rested?  If you are like me, most vacations leave you more exhausted than before.

God’s solution of Sabbath brings real rest.  God offers a time of refuge.  Sabbath lets us find a deep peace, one that will carry over into the rest of our week.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Isn’t that what we all want?  

To read a portion of these books, or to purchase either one, click on these links:

 “The Rest of God” by Mark Buchanan.    “Rhythms of Rest” by Shelly Miller.

To find out more about Shelly Miller’s book, “Rhythms of Rest”, click HERE.

 

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Change My Attitude

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I have not been looking forward to this new year of 2017.  In fact I have been dreading it.  I am trying to adjust my attitude, but I feel like Meryl Streep evidently.

I accidentally caught the part of the Golden Globe ceremony where Meryl Streep is being introduced for her Cecil B DeMille Award.  So I sat down to hear her acceptance speech, since I love her as an actress.  I was riveted by her speech.  She gave shout outs to many other actors and actresses, showing that many came from poor backgrounds.  When she mentions the performance of Donald Trump mocking the disabled reporter, I was in tears.  Even if you voted for Donald Trump, you hopefully agree that was a big mistake that he made.

I am so glad I caught Meryl’s speech!  I give her well-deserved applause!  She is one of the best actresses in history.  She also is a compassionate person.  There are many of us, including Meryl Streep, who are unhappy about Donald Trump soon to be our new President.  I really feel the pain and disappointment that Meryl conveyed in her speech. 

Like it or not, Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress will take office, and they plan to change many of the United States’ current laws and policies.  It is scary not knowing what changes they will make.  Many of the changes will likely affect the financial situation and health for me and many people across the country.  The changes could even affect many people’s safety.

But as I said, I am trying to change my attitude. 

So this weekend I appreciated the sermon the minister gave at church.  He said, “Never give up on God.”  Simple statement, but it makes a huge difference in attitude!  This simple statement draws us to pray, to trust God, to hope for the future. 

The minister further said that even when we are not faithful to God, He still loves us.  God has not given up on us.  So no matter what happens this year, or over the next several years, we can keep praying, keep hoping. 

We can press forward, not look backward.  We can treat people with respect.  We can protect people being bullied.  We can donate to charities.  We can speak up for the disabled.  We can provide safe places for the vulnerable children and women being abused or belittled. 

We can try our best to reflect Jesus to the people around us. 

So it is worth repeating good advice. 

“Never give up on God, because He hasn’t given up on us.”

 

 

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Have Fears You Want to Kick?

karate-kick I’ve got just the thing to help! –>

I just finished reading a new book –> “Fear Fighting” by Kelly Balarie!

 This is a book on how to fight your fears.

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Kelly does a great job showing us ways to combat fear!

In the book, Kelly talks about 8 things that cause fear, and how to fight them.  These include control issues, wanting to please people, worry, rejection, and past failures.  Just reading this partial list brings up fear!  So Yeah, we all need this book on how to fight fear.

Kelly is genuine.  She really wants to help women fight fear, and she wants to obey God.  That is why she wrote this book!

In the book, Kelly says that you find the strength inside you, if you ask God to help.  She also says to tell the truth, don’t fear it! Don’t wallow in lies. 

Another weapon to fight fear is prayer.  Don’t groan.  Prayer is powerful!  I pray every morning, and then when I need it during the day.  Don’t bypass this 1st step in the morning – wake up and pray!

Kelly also reveals ways to awaken your courage!   

We all have courage sleeping inside of us.  We just need the keys to wake it up.  You will find your courage by reading this book, and following Kelly’s advice.

Ok let me give you an example from the book –>  

Worry is all about fear, and we all worry!  So how do you fight worry? 

Kelly gives you 7 ways to fight worry, and find calm!!

#1 is when you open your eyes in the morning, start by talking to God.  Say, “God you are good.  I will trust you today. I give my all to you.” That’s just the first worry fighter. 

Kelly lists all 7 ways to fight worry in the book.

What really surprised me, was at the end of the book!  –>

–Kelly suggests that all of us women fighting fear, including herself, should unite to encourage each other and share success stories.  And she gives us > a website to do that!  So cool!

–Another surprise at the end of the book is a small group study.  So many authors write this in a separate book, but Kelly includes it!  This is a great way to work on those keys to waken your courage, and fight your fears.  If you don’t have a small group, you can certainly do the study by yourself.  You can find other people who have read the book by using > #FearFightingBook on Twitter and Facebook.

To read part of the book, or to purchase, click  –>HERE.

I did receive a free copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group, so I could write a very honest review.

 

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One Word for 2017

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My One Word for 2017 is “Forward”.

I was working on setting goals for the New Year, using Lara Casey’s blog, 2017 Goal Setting Series.  I like her style of setting goals that are encouraging.  Lara also makes it fun by having a big giveaway! Her goal setting blog series and giveaway are >HERE!

In the process of reviewing last year from step 1 of Lara’s blog, I was thinking about what would my >One Word be for next year?  (Every year I pick a word that will help direct my entire year.)  I thought of “forward”, but I wasn’t sure. 

God has been showing me “forward” is exactly the “One Word” I need!

At church the weekend of New Year’s Day, our minister talked about leaving last year behind, and moving forward into 2017! “Wow” I thought, “Forward really is my word for 2017!” Then Sunday afternoon, when I was reading a Bible study, the word “forward” came up again.  So now it was certain, my One Word for 2017 was “FORWARD”!

If you pick some goals or “One Word” for 2017, you first need to leave 2016 behind.  Do you feel like you can’t step forward yet?  If so, then something is holding you back.  At church we sang these words >“Break every chain, a song by Tasha Cobbs .  You need to break free of whatever guilt, shame, or regret you are holding on to! Tell God you are sorry, and let God forgive you.  Know that God has put all your sin so far away that He no longer remembers it.  You can then forgive yourself for any mistakes from the past (if God can forgive you, you can), then step FORWARD into your new year!

Each step is progress!

You may choose a different “One Word”, or you may pick a New Year’s resolution or goal instead, but if you break free from the past, then you can step forward toward your goal.

One of the things I am having trouble leaving behind is my fear.  Fear has held me back for years!  So this year, using my One Word “Forward”, my goal is leaving the fear behind.  One of the ways I am doing this is reading a new book by >Kelly Balarie, >“Fear Fighting.  Kelly tackles fear head on, and she knows from experience.  She had many fears, and she didn’t like how that affected her life and her family.  Since it worked for Kelly, I am jumping into the book to use her “Fear Fighting” tactics!

Paperback3DTemplates_5.5x8.5.indd >See the book here.

I am praying that you can step forward into 2017 and make progress toward your goals!

If you want to tell me what your goals or One Word are for this year, tell me in the comments below. I will read every comment.

 

 

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I Am Going

First let me say, I’m not really going anywhere.

 I am reviewing the book “I Am Going” by Daniel L. Akin.

This is a small book that gives a good explanation for one Scripture.

It explains “The Great Commission”.  This is what Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,even to the end of the age.”

If you are like me, and never really understood the meaning of this, then this book is a good explanation for you.  I now have a better understanding of how to do what Jesus told us to do in this Scripture.

Several places in the book, the authors give you a statement to fill in, committing to do something.  For example at the end of the book, you are asked to fill in this:

“I am going to _________.”

But let me say that not everyone is expected to go to another country!  The authors explain that some are called to be missionaries, but the rest of us have other ways to follow this Scripture.  There are several options thankfully.

This is a very short book, and small in size.  Sometimes the explanations are a bit too short.  After reading the book once, I am not ready to fill in all the blanks given in the book.  I will be re-reading it, so I can take time to think and pray, before I make a decision as to what Jesus is asking me to do.  I would recommend the same thing to you and other readers.

If you have always wanted to be a missionary to another country, then maybe you don’t need to read this book.  Just make plans to go.  But if like me, you shudder at the thought of being a missionary, then this book is a good place to start.

To read part of the book, or to purchase, Click here.

I did receive a free copy of this book from B&H Publishing, so I could write an honest review of it.

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Fear Fighting – by Knowing Who Is

I have something special for you! 

This is my first guest post here on my blog!  Kelly Balarie is here sharing her heart and talking about her new book “Fear Fighting”.

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 Now that Christmas is over, we think about changing things for the New Year. 

We hope for promises of grace, starting over, and moving forward without fear!  Yes! I want that too! We can both start the New Year working on fighting our fears.  I am so glad to welcome Kelly to my humble blog — Read More

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Fear Fighting: By Knowing Who IS

I have something special for you! 

This is my first guest post here on my blog!  Kelly Balarie is here sharing her heart and talking about her new book “Fear Fighting”.

 Isn’t that what Christmas and the New Year are all about?  Promises of grace, starting over, and moving forward without fear!  Yes! I am so glad to welcome Kelly to my humble blog —

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My son and I drove over a bridge we’d driven over a hundred and one times. It happened to be dark. Very dark.

Son, let me ask you a question, “How do you know that water is still there?”

He said, “Well Mommy, I know it is there because it’s just how it is. Water goes there.”

I wonder if we approach God the same way? We know God is there, because he just IS.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.  (Ex. 3:14)

God IS who he IS.

He IS with us.

He IS for us.
He IS fighting on our behalf.
He IS liberator.
He IS hope.

He IS light.
He IS creator.
He IS Savior.

The truth IS: God has you. God so has you. More than your mind can conceive.

That issue before you? God already walked ahead of it.

The idea you’ll fail? He knows your way.
The fear your children will get hurt? He is their hope.

The past that haunts you? By his stripes you are healed. (Is. 53:5)
The inadequacies that berate you? In your weakness, his power is perfected. (2 Cor. 12:9)

When trepidation surrounds, know this: God has you tighter than the clothes you wear. He has you more strongly than the house that surrounds you. He will not let fall what he has built. He will not crumble what He is behind.

He IS before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:17

I learned to find rest for my fears, for my worries and for my anxiety as I wrote the book, Fear Fighting: Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears. Perhaps, today is the day you find rest in who he IS and what he IS leading you. You see, great are his promises for us.

And, great IS the King.

A King who takes care of his children. He brings them within his house and places a banqueting table before them. He does not set their seat a distance of ten feet from the table and mock them. He doesn’t lay out succulent dishes before them and make the salivate. He doesn’t place them just out of arms reach from his glorious goodness. He sits them down at his table of spiritual blessings and says – eat!

Eat! My love for you is great! Enjoy! For what I want you to be full! Celebrate! You need not feel guilty in doing that! I want you to have all I have. I want you to know my life. I welcome you as a chosen one. Come and partake. Come and, not only sit with me, but be full with me and then stay with me – forever.

“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15)

Blessed is she who knows God IS good.

At peace is she who believes God’s love IS what casts out fear.

Full is one who sits where God IS.

Prayer:

God, may I sit at your table all the days of my life. May I welcome in the bounty that is you. You are enough. Let me not walk away from you for a vision of lesser things. Let me not get distracted with the disorienting ways of the world. Let me not see the faults of others and therefore, miss the fantastic nature of you. Let me not get caught up with progress and miss the process of laying my head on you. Let me not hear the fans and the fanfare so I am unable to get fantastically fanatical about staying in your love. Let me not get so comfortable with sin unapparent, I fool myself into thinking I am religious. Let me not waste away days thinking I knew you, when I chose not to. Don’t let me delude myself; it is easy to do. Amen.

–>Interested in fighting fear? Join the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge!

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 About the book, “Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears”:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day. www.FearFightingbook.com

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About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear here.  

 

 

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Christmas Promises Holiness

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–Are you holy?

 If you believe that Jesus is your Savior, then yes you are holy!

Did you know you are holy?  Scripture says you are.  –In Ephesians 1:4 Scripture says, “For He (God) chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His (God’s) sight.” (NIV)

God did not want us to be shameful or guilty or rejected.  God wants us to be holy as all His creation should be.

I was familiar with this Scripture in Ephesians and memorized it, and I use it all the time to encourage myself.  But last weekend at church I found out more about our holiness in Hebrews.

Hebrews 10:9-10 says, “Then He (Jesus) said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” …   And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

So here is the Apostle Paul telling us that Jesus, through His death on earth, made us holy!  Not only that, but Jesus made us holy “once for all”!

To be sure that we understand, Paul says in Hebrews 10:14, “For by one sacrifice He (Jesus) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (NIV)

Jesus made us perfect forever, made us holy!  Awesome!

We all doubt sometimes that we are good enough.  We all make mistakes, and say something we regret.  But that is ok.  God knows we will make mistakes.  God knows we will have doubts.  But God is telling us in His Scriptures, that Jesus paid the price, made the one sacrifice needed, to make us holy and perfect forever! (Perfect is just another word for blameless, so these Scriptures are in agreement.)

So I suggest that we memorize at least 1 of these Scriptures.  Pick one. Then whenever we have doubts of being not good enough, or we have guilt over something we said, go back to the memorized Scripture.  Let God’s Scripture remind us that Jesus made us holy and perfect forever!  There is no other debt owed.  Jesus paid it all.  You owe nothing to the world. 

If you see a need that you have the opportunity to fill, don’t think you cannot do it.  Remember that you are holy and blameless!  Remember Jesus is with you.   Just repeat Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV).

This is a good time to remember these Scriptures, because at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The birth of Jesus is what set this holy plan in motion on earth.  From birth to death, Jesus was meant to be the 1 holy sacrifice ever needed to wash away our sins and leave us holy and blameless forever.

This was the perfect plan for the perfect Jesus to save us.  Praise God! Amen! 

bg-blogger-badge-500x500-e1387301563797I used www.BibleGateway.com for quoted Bible verses.

badge-dreamtogether-linkup Find me on this link up www.godsizeddreams.com

Holley-Gerth-Button-250x250and this link up www.HolleyGerth.com

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Most Awesome Books of 2016

I decided to share with you, my list of —

the Top 5 Most Awesome Books this year!    

(Just click titles to read more.)  

1.Most Awesome Self Help book — “Unashamed” by Christine Caine!

Christine has never disappointed me.  I have read 3 books by her, and they were all awesome.  I read this book and participated in a group study of the book.  Everyone was blown away by how helpful this book was, at a deep personal level.  This book can help you get rid of so much that keeps us stuck in a rut, or depressed, or self cutting.  This book will give you the inspiration and encouragement to release you from shame and fear that keeps you from doing the things you really want to do.  This book is definitely awesome!

2.Most Awesome Science book —  “Star Struck” by Dr. David Bradstreet!

Dr. Bradstreet is a top notch astronomer.  In this book he shares so much about the amazing universe God has created.  Be prepared to be blown away!

3.Most Awesome Fiction–“The Undoing of Saint Silvanus” by B. Moore!

Beth Moore has written her first novel, and it is so good!  Now this is not science fiction or fantasy.  This book is about a family and their friends who live in New Orleans.  It is a mystery, a really good mystery.  It has murder, detectives, romance, family dirt, and interesting characters. You can even download for free the first 4 chapters to try it out. I haven’t done a review on it yet, because Beth is doing a free webcast in January, so I am waiting until then to post a review on my blog.  Go here for info on the webcast.

4.Most Awesome New Bible — “The Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible”!

This is an amazing new type of Bible, that just might get you back in the Bible.  This Bible is all about having the room to take notes, color, draw, and be inspired!

5.Most Awesome Leap into the Future book –-

The Great Spiritual Migration” by Brian McLaren.   

Don’t expect this book to be ordinary.  It is not your normal Christian book on Christianity.  It is about a new movement changing the church for the better hopefully.  It may be the only way to save churches.  It may be the only way for Christianity to address the modern world, with its multi-cultural life filled with technology and tired of discrimination and injustice in traditional churches.  Try it out and see if you can identify with this exciting movement.

I just love these books, and I hope you agree that this is an awesome list! I’ve enjoyed this so much I just may have to do this list every year!

Want to nominate a book for me to read and review for next year’s awesome list?

Tell me in the comments below or send me an email (see the right column).

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