faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Book Review — Whatever the Cost

I am reviewing the book “Whatever the Cost” by David & Jason Benham.Cover WhateverTheCost1

I was not sure about this book at first.

It is by 2 brothers (twins),

highly successful businessmen, and former professional baseball players. 

I thought it might be too much macho stuff and sports talk.

I was really surprised,

because first, these guys are Christians who follow Jesus every day. 

Sports and business were secondary. 

The Foreword is written by Dr. Tony Evans,

who says that the Benhams are “beacons of light in the midst of cultural compromise”.

They give a listing of their Christian business principles in Appendix B at the back of the book,

so you can easily see what they believe and how they live.

I really appreciated their straight forward honesty about their Christian principles. 

These principles are described throughout the book,

and they talk about how these principles line up with how they live their lives every day.

These principles are for Christians, and can work just as well for women, as for men.

These guys make a lot of sense!

Their principles helped them succeed in their Real Estate business. 

Although they are both married and have children, the book does not cover their home life.

It focuses on how they lived out their Christian principles in high school and college.

Then the book continues to show how these principles were used at work,

in professional baseball, and then in real estate.

They cover both successes and failures in their lives,

as they believe they can learn and grow from both. 

They show that God can use our failures.

Nobody has successes every time!

They support every endeavor with prayer first. 

They believe in treating their employees as potential talent.

They work at training and shepherding new employees,

and hire based on character more than experience.

Isn’t that a refreshing idea!

They look at work as a way to glorify God.

You can read the book and get an overview of how their principles work.

You can then pick two or three of their principles, as areas you need to develop,

then transfer those principles over to your own life.

For example, one of their principles is

“We are human beings, not human doings.  In Christ, we are a new creation, so being faithful no matter what we do for a living gives us the ability to live powerfully for Jesus because our identities are found in Him alone.” 

Isn’t that a great principle to remind us what is important in our life?

They are saying that we should not get our identity wrapped up in our job or ministry,

but in our relationship with Jesus. 

They also talk about waiting on God, and letting Him lead.

This book was worth reading! 

Christians can learn a lot from these two Christian men,

no matter what work you do.

This book is easy to understand and has a lot to show us.

– A lot of Christians are looking for a way to serve God while working a regular job,

and these guys show that your work can be your ministry too,

if you put God first.

See Amazon listing for this book!

(I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers, so I could review it.

The opinions are mine alone.)

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Do We Really Do What Jesus Would Do?

Remember the WWJD bracelets?  I have seen WWJD on t-shirts, tote bags, hats, and more.

It was supposed to be a coded reminder to make decisions based on “What Would Jesus Do”.

I saw a WWJD tote bag recently, and it started me thinking.

We call ourselves followers of Jesus – Christians.

Do we really follow Him?

The more I thought about it,

the more I realized that for me, the answer is “no”.

Jesus was homeless.  I own my home.

Jesus walked everywhere (except for some boat trips), and sometimes for very long distances.

I have a car.

Jesus depended on the kindness of friends and strangers, for food and a place to sleep.

I go to the grocery store and bring it home, where I eat and sleep.

How did Jesus spend his days?

He walked from town to town,

talking to strangers he met along the way,

 to teach them about God,

preaching to whoever gathered to hear him,

healing people who asked to be healed,

bringing people who died  back to life,

praying to his Father in Heaven,

arguing with the religious elite, and

a couple times he fed thousands of people.

So, no, I don’t live like that.

I pray to God, but I don’t do anything else on this list.

So maybe to be like Jesus, we really do need to sell all we own.

I’m not ready to do that.  How about you?

So, how can we be Christians, and follow Jesus then?

We can use something our parents taught us growing up –

Do what we say, not what we do –

You know, things like, “Be quiet, don’t yell”,

“Go outside it’s too nice to be inside”,

“Never lie”, “Don’t hit your brother”.

If we read what Jesus said, what he taught his disciples and all the people he met,

and try to obey his teaching, then we would be Christians following him.

Jesus said things like,

 “But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 6:44)

That is still really hard to do,

but I like that idea better than selling all I own and being homeless.

So I propose that we need a new acronym – WDJS,

What Did Jesus Say?

Do what He said, not what he did,

because we are not sinless,

we are not a miraculous healer,

we are not a savior,

but Jesus is !

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Choices

The choices we make every day, matter.

Some choices are ok, some are bad, some are good and some are even better.

Sometimes you won’t know what to do.

I was there a few years ago.  I was working in a difficult situation.

Some of the people I worked with were negative toward Christians.

Some of the people cussed a lot.

I could have quit, but I liked the work and the hours, and I needed a job.

Not knowing what to do, I decided to do what I knew would result in something good.

I prayed.

On the way to work each day, I would pray for a fresh start for everyone working there.

I would pray for God’s light to fill the building.

I would pray for darkness to be blown away.

By the time I got to work, I was feeling more optimistic and encouraged.

By lunch, I would be in turmoil again, so I chose to focus on positive, peaceful things.

At lunch, I would sit near a window, so I could enjoy the view of a river, with trees and birds.

After eating, I would stand by the window and in my mind, I would sing –

“The whole Earth is filled with your glory.

The whole Earth is filled with your glory, Lord.”

And then I would pray.  I thanked God for the beautiful view.

I thanked God for my job,

and I asked for help to know what to do about the problems at work.

After lunch I returned to my desk.

I had a desk with a divider behind it, facing me.

I decided to make my work space more encouraging.

I put up a calendar that had a biblical quote at the top of each monthly page.

I also tacked up a quote from a Bible study class I was taking one night each week.

I would choose a quote to encourage me.

Something like, “God is my safe place”.

In the afternoon, I would take a short break, and go for a walk outside, for fresh air.

All these things were good choices, so I knew they would help.

I continued taking these small positive steps.

Eventually, people began to stop and comment about the calendar, saying they liked it.

People would stop at my desk and talk with me.

The attitudes of some of the people changed toward me,

and I had a more positive attitude at work.

There were still some problems, but I did my best to focus on the good things.

After several years, I left due to an illness.

That business ended up closing.

Now the building is used by a college.

I believe that my prayers were answered.

God filled that building with light,

and blew away the darkness.

Now students are learning music there.

I think my choice to focus on God and prayer,

helped change my attitude, and made working there easier.

I also believe it changed the use of that building to something better.

Now I can smile when I drive by.

I have no bad memories of my work there.

I remember God answering my prayers.

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Dizzy

There is so much confusion and changes in the world now.

It leaves me dizzy.

As we start the new year, we look back and review the last year.

There was so much change, terrorist attacks, disasters, dangerous viruses…

and these all continue to come.

It leaves my head swimming.

As believers in Jesus, however,

we have a solid foundation.

We have the love of Jesus.

We have the hope of salvation.

In fact, 1 Corinthians 13:13 says,

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.”

Our world keeps spinning at 1,040 miles per hour.

(No wonder I’m dizzy.)

But we stand firm on faith, hope, and love, through Jesus.

I need to hold on to this, to stop my head from spinning.

I need to focus on what never changes –

the love of God!

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3 Questions to Ask Before Telling the Truth

As Christians, we believe that the Bible is Truth.

We are asked to speak the truth with love. (in Ephesians 4:15)

Have you noticed though, that many people,

do not want the truth?

They may even get offended when you tell them the truth.

So sometimes I avoid answering a question,

because I know they do not want my truthful answer.

Sometimes I tell them what they want to hear,

as with “Yes, your new jacket is really nice.” (even though it isn’t)

Then there are times, when I feel that I must answer truthfully.

Telling the truth means taking a risk –

risking that the person will get mad or upset.

There have been times when I felt the truth was worth the risk.

There have been other times, when I wish I would have just kept quiet.

When is it worth the risk to tell the truth?

Is it more important to tell the truth?

Or is it more important not to cause hurt feelings?

In Ephesians Chapter 4, Paul says that

we should only say what is helpful for building others up.

Further, he says we should be kind and compassionate to one another.

Choosing to speak up, makes us walk a thin line

between telling the truth in love and being helpful,

or saying something that is not kind.

Sometimes, I may not like hearing the truth,

but I prefer to know the truth instead of believing a lie.

Knowing the truth, I can then deal with it.

Why would I want to live based on a lie?

I lived for years, believing that a family member was trustworthy.

I believed what he told me.  I trusted him.  I helped him.  I stood up for him.

Then I found out the truth. 

He was lying, pretending to be someone he was not.

When someone told me the truth about him,

I was devastated, but I was glad to know the truth.

Knowing the truth, I could take steps to confront him,

and leave him out of my life, because he was not willing to try to change.

This was very difficult, but my life was much better,

after finding out the truth.

When I try to tell others the truth,

I do get some people upset. 

I don’t always find that line between being helpful, and being critical.

Sometimes I have to apologize for hurting someone.

For me, the truth can be worth the risk,

especially if it involves bad behavior, a false belief, or a lie.

One measure I use, is to ask myself 3 questions,

1 –“If it was me would I want to know the truth?”

2 — “Is it something they can fix or make better?”

3 — “Is anyone in any danger?”

If no is the answer to all three questions, I keep quiet.

If I’m not sure about my answers, I stay quiet.

If yes is the answer to 1 or more questions, I speak the truth.

Maybe these 3 questions will help you decide when to tell the truth.

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Book Review — Fight Back With Joy

Jant FightBackWithJoy bookpic

Today I am reviewing “Fight Back With Joy” by Margaret Feinberg.

I have looked forward to reading this book for months.

It was published in early January, and I purchased it as soon as it was available.

It is a beautiful book about joy,

and about Margaret’s battle with cancer. 

It is a harsh battle,

and she shares with us her physical, emotional and spiritual battles with cancer.

Cancer is much more than a physical battle,

this is why Margaret chooses to “Fight Back With Joy”! 

She uses all the medical tools available, surgery, chemo, and radiation.

Through it all, she chooses joy.  It is beautiful to see.

I say “see”, because I have seen pictures of Margaret, with joy on her face,

and I imagine her handing out the red balloons to fellow cancer patients.

I can “see” her searching around her house for items to put on her joy wall.

MargaretFeinberg

This book is about walking through this battle with a friend,

who shares her pain and struggle with you.

Margaret brings you into her life, into her mind, and gives you a gift.

She gives you joy.

She gives you the weapon needed to fight any battle, JOY!

Once you read this book, you will be able to fight your own battles, with joy.

Janet JoyIsAWeapon

Margaret fought cancer, and being a cancer survivor,

I identified with many of her feelings,

and many of her experiences with medical treatments for cancer.

But “Fight Back With Joy” is not just about cancer,

it is about any difficult times in life.

Joy is a powerful weapon.

I have always used prayer in difficult times,

but now I will be able to add joy, too.

Thank you, Margaret, for writing this book.

To buy this book go to —  Amazon.com

If you are interested in the Bible study, go to the Margaret Feinberg Store

To get more information about this book go to FightBackWithJoy.com

On Twitter, go to  #fightbackwithjoy

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did.

I love sharing about great books that I have read!

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My One Word for 2015

My one word for 2015 is – “Encouragement”.

This word has been repeating itself over and over in my life for several months.

This is a good sign from the Holy Spirit that “Encouragement” is the word I need to focus on this year.

I have felt in need of encouragement this past year,

And I know many people need encouragement.

Encouragement is something I can do for others,

Even with my physical disability,

so I want to focus on encouraging others this year.

I have been researching some things about the word “Encouragement”.

The dictionary definition is –

giving someone support, confidence, or hope.

It can also mean giving someone motivation, lifting their spirits, and also

persuasion or incentive.

The Greek word is “parakaleo”,

which means to call to one’s side, to speak to,

for the purpose of comforting or strengthening them, or instructing them,

or even to beg them to do something for themselves or someone else.

The trick it seems is figuring out what type of encouragement someone needs.

Last weekend at church, I saw an elderly lady I knew that I had not seen in awhile.

I walked over to say hello, and she asked if I had a minute.

We sat down, and she told me a long story about her life going back 30 years or more.

Evidently, the encouragement she needed was for someone to care enough to listen.

We talked until they turned the lights out on us.

I hugged her, and told her I would be praying for her.

I have always found it very encouraging,

when someone tells me they are praying for me.

For this reason, I often send a person an email or a card,

telling them that I am praying for them.

I have a list of people I pray for.

I hope that it lifts their spirits and gives them hope,

to know that someone cares enough to remember them in prayer.

Another way, I have encouraged people,

is to give them a compliment.

A compliment almost always gets a smile from them.

Since I am planning to be an encourager all year,

I could really use some ideas of how to be encouraging.

Can you tell me something you do to encourage others?

Or can you tell me how someone encouraged you?

I appreciate your help.

This is going to be a learning process for me.

I think being encouraging to others,

will also be encouraging for me.

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Book Review – Make It Happen

–My book review of “Make It Happen” by Lara Casey

Janet MakeItHappen bookpic

Although the title of this book might seem like so many other books with a similar title,

this book is different!

This book gets you motivated to actually make it happen in your life.

Lara Casey has made it happen in her life,

and now she shares how you can, too. 

She helps you see that you need to make changes in order to get where you want to be.

Don’t pass this book up.  This is the one to read!

Lara explains quite well what you need to do, why you need to do it, and how to do it,

and she even gives you a few pushes to get you going.

One of the steps she gives you to do, that I totally agree with, is to stop shopping. 

Yep, stop shopping (but not forever). 

Ok, you can buy food and beverages, but nothing that is not absolutely necessary.

This means, no clothes, no towels, no shoes, no purses or wallets, no jewelry.

You will have to read the book to find out why you need this step,

but it is in the section on clutter. 

Is that a big enough hint?

The contents of this book are:

1—Surrender your fear,

2—Take the leap,

3—Live on Purpose, (not by accident), and

 4—Your guide to make it happen.

The 4th section gives you step by step directions on how to “Make it Happen”.

The advice in this book is spot on, and I intend to read it again.

I have already marked pages, and I will be taking notes, 

so I can make it happen in my life, too. 

If you follow even half of what’s  in this book, your life will be dramatically better.

What is it that you want in your life?

My best advice is, “You need to read this book!”

(I did receive this book for free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers to write a review, but the opinions are my own, and I really love this book.)

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Joyful Are We

Janet JoyfulAreWe MAFeinberg

Are you joyful?

Do you wonder who is joyful?

Joyful are We.

Who are We?

We are people who love God.

We are people who know that God loves us,

and that He wants us to have Joy.

Do you have joy?

A friend of mine, Margaret Feinberg, started out on a search for joy.

She wanted to be one of those “We” people who are joyful.

In the middle of her search for joy,

she found cancer.

Her fight began, and she found joy in that fight.

This year we can learn about finding joy,

through her story, in her new book, “Fight Back With Joy”.

If you want to be joyful too,

even in the hard times,

you should read “Fight Back With Joy”.

Here is a quote from the 1st chapter –

“More than whimsy, joy is a weapon we use to fight life’s battles.”

Doesn’t it sound like joy is something we really need in our life?

We all have battles we are fighting,

whether it’s an illness, or a difficult job, or a difficult person in our life.

We all struggle.

I struggle too.  I have a list of family and friends I pray for every day.

I am finding joy some days.

Other days, I forget that God gives us joy,

so I am reading Margaret’s book now.

It’s so good.  It is helping me find joy.

So, join me in reading Margaret’s book,

and become one of the Joyful are We.

We can “Fight Back With Joy”, because –

“Joyful Are We”

Jant FightBackWithJoy bookpic

http://mar.cta.gs/0bi  Purchase from Amazon

or

http://mar.cta.gs/0bh  Purchase from Barnes & Noble

If you want to find out more about the book, go to http://FightBackWithJoy.com

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To God Be the Glory

“And the truth is: 

Your New Year doesn’t need to-do lists,

like it needs to-God-be-the-glory lists!” Quote from http://shar.es/1H5edY

I love this quote from Ann Voskamp,

So to start the New Year,

I decided to make a “To God Be the Glory!” list.

Here it is –

The minister at our church – leukemia healed!

My friend’s 7 year old grandson – a new heart!

This is my 5th year – healed of cancer!

My friend gave a special gift to 3 siblings – adopted them and gave them a mom and a family!

Our church gave to missions around the world last year – 1 million dollars!

Last year at our church – 219 baptisms!

Yes, God is alive and at work in all our lives.

What is on your “To God Be the Glory” list?  List some in the comments below.

I would love to hear them!

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