faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Church Danger

ChurchService new-york-city

Deadly Mass shootings are increasing; 32 occurred in the last 5 years. 

–>(source: Mother Jones)

Yes we are not safe even in church.  

Of course Jesus says that we will have trouble in this world.

Besides telling Congress to step up and write laws to protect us against people with guns, what can we do?

  • Pray!
  • Be aware!  Always know your nearest exit.  Keep your eyes on your surroundings.
  • Stop watching the news.  You can do it; I did.
  • Encourage each other!
  • Tell your family and friends whenever you see them, “I love you!”  You never know when it will be the last time.  Give them a hug, too.

–Here is a quote that I think is profound.  It is from the book “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish.  A blind Rabbi says, “Blindness can never suffice to extinguish the sight of the terrors of this broken world.” (p.405)  

–>Click to see the book!

Yes this world is broken.  That is why we need Jesus Christ.  He has overcome it.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

–>(John 16:33b)

 

 

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The Mission Walker

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I literally finished reading this book a few minutes ago.  I have been so blessed by it.

“The Mission Walker” by Edie Littlefield Sundby is a book full of grit and determination.  This woman (a cancer survivor) walked and rode a mule or horse across 1600 miles of difficult trails to follow the trail of missions built hundreds of years ago by missionaries and priests.  Edie’s words are a testament to the strength people have to follow their dreams, but also to show that no matter how strong or stubborn a person is, everyone needs help to get through life.

Edie first had a long battle with cancer.  She did not fight it alone.  She had family, friends, doctors, and God.

After years of surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments, Edie was in remission.  She chose to celebrate by beginning an 800-mile walk to each of the California missions, from Sonoma to San Diego.  With the help of friends she successfully completed this walk! Amazing! I cannot believe she had the courage to do it having lost ½ a lung and ½ her liver to cancer.

I was drawn to read this book because I am a cancer survivor too.  I battled for years and I am still in remission.  A few years ago, I visited several old missions in Texas, and was blessed by their peaceful and beautiful grounds built around a church.  The missions were built and cared for with love and faith.  All the old missions are like that. 

When I heard that a woman cancer-survivor walked a California mission trail, I knew I had to read her book! 

After Edie walked the mission trail through California, she decided she was not done walking.  She felt that walking strengthened her, and helped her keep cancer from coming back.  She decided to complete the trail, by following the missions built in Mexico, because originally they were built as missionaries traveled through Mexico and continued north into what is now California.  Some of these missions still exist, many are just ruins, but their peace and holiness remain.  This would double her walk. 

When finished, she had walked or rode animals on 1600 miles of trails! 

Can you believe she did it?

I urge you to read this book, so you feel the courage and passion of this woman!

I was happily surprised that in the middle of the book are several pages of color photos from her walk.  This added reality to her story, and I am so glad she included them.  I could see the landscapes she described – rocky trail, hot sand filled with cactus with sharp thorns, and many mountain peaks and steep ravines.  Not an easy walk.  Yet Edie would say along the way, “All is well”.

Reading this book will awaken your dreams, and encourage you to follow them despite the difficulties

This book will give you hope to complete whatever life challenge you are facing!

–>Click HERE to buy the book!

–>Tap to learn more about her walk. (Then click the menu button in the upper right corner of her website.)

I would like to say, “Edie, thank you for writing this book, so we can share in your pilgrimage and gain courage from it.”

I was lucky enough to be able to get a free copy from –>Book Look Bloggers.  In return I have written this honest review.  I hope you can tell my heart has been touched by this book.

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Learning How to Love God

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Last week I identified a goal for myself —

to love God with all my heart, soul and mind. 

I did this because Jesus says this is the most important commandment of all!  #1!

To meet this goal, I have to figure out how to love God with all my heart…  I found part of the answer in –>1 John 2:5-6.

1 John 2:5-6 says “But if anyone obeys His Word, love for God is truly made complete in them.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

These two verses tell me that to love God —

I need to obey His Word (Scripture), and live as Jesus did.

That sounds simple, but when I start to think about it, I realize that this could involve a long list of “must do’s” and “not do’s”, and usually those are hard and not much fun.  But if I want to love God with all my heart… then I need to be obeying God and living like Jesus did

I have already started doing something that will help me make a list of what God’s Word tells me to do.  I have started a Bible reading plan that puts the Bible in order as it really happened. (–>Look here for the Bible reading plan.)  So I can make a list of what Scripture tells me to do, as I begin reading the Bible in order.  

Since I have read the Bible several times before, (but never in order as it historically happened), I know I will not list all of Moses’ laws, what not to eat, sacrifices and such, because Jesus already wiped those away.

I will include other commands from God including the 10 Commandments.  When I get to the New Testament, I can start another list of how Jesus lived

I already know that Jesus healed the sick, and fed the poor, and taught God’s Word to people, so I can start there.  Jesus also spent time alone in prayer with God the Father.  He did a lot of walking.  He also obeyed God the Father. 

In fact Jesus says, “I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” –>(John 12:50) Can you imagine only saying what your Father told you to say? If I did that, I sure would talk a lot less! 

Anyway, now I have a starting plan for learning how to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind.  While I am reading through the Bible and making my lists, I can begin loving God more by praying more, and being more grateful for my life.  I can also donate money to help feed the poor and help give them health care.  I will continue blogging about God’s Word. 

I also think it would be good for me to do more walking.  This is starting to feel like an adventure! 

Here I go…

 

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On God’s Side

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I just finished the book “On God’s Side” by Jim Wallis.

Evidently he is well known, and has written a lot of stuff, but I have never read anything by him before.  I was challenged by this book.  The author does have a different perspective on religion and politics.  I liked his perspective!

I love these three clear goals for Christians —

As a Christian, the author explains that his book is about three things that are clear to him:

1) that becoming a Christian changes your direction after you die, but it also should change how you live now!

2) that your faith is above and separate from politics!

3) that each Christian should be living a moral life, leading by example!

He says that Christians should work for the good of everyone.  Instead of just pushing for Christian’s rights and beliefs, work for everyone’s rights, interests, freedoms, and health. He sees this as part of obeying the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”.

Something I found refreshing, is the idea that God is not on our side.  God created everyone and loves everyone.  Many people pray that God will help their favorite team, or their favorite candidate, and help them win.  But God does not favor any one team, or political party, or person, or country!   Instead, we need to be “on God’s side”!

There are so many people who are suffering terribly —  going hungry, having an illness with no health care, living under sexual abuse, homeless… There are so many ways we can help.  There is no excuse for not helping someone!  The author urges us to just start somewhere.  

Although there were a couple things I disagreed with, I enjoyed the author’s fresh approach to being a Christian.  The author’s perspective brings Christianity into the 21st century! He isn’t changing God’s words in Scripture, he is bringing it with him for today’s world.

This isn’t a quick read.  Be prepared to take time with this book.  You will be challenged to become a better, more genuine Christian, and that should make you glad you took the time to read this book!

–>Get your copy HERE!

I got this book from my local library, and I have written an honest review.

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Following Jesus

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This has been a year of contemplating who I want to follow and learn from.

Some Christians are following Republicans (various well-known political men).

Some Christians follow well-known pastors who write books and speak at events.

I want to follow Jesus Christ.

Now this can be difficult to do, since He is not here in the flesh.  I have studied the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). They have the most information about what Jesus said and did.  They do leave me scratching my head a bit, because they have so much information.  How do I follow Jesus?

So, I have decided to use ->Matthew 22:36-40, because Jesus himself said it is the most important commandment to obey.

  •  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
  •  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now I have an easier task!  I can just focus on these few Bible verses and follow Jesus by following His advice.  I can do this!

Some books that I have read that are really helpful for following Jesus are several written by Lois Tverberg.  I loved “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus”!  I felt like Mary sitting at His feet, listening to Him teach.  

— Lois also has a new book coming out in January that I will definitely read, “Reading the Bible With Rabbi Jesus”.

–>Click HERE to see a list of her books.

If you know a good article, commentary, or book that covers these verses (Matthew 22:36-40), please tell me about them in the comments below!

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Not all Whispers are Secrets

whisper-boys

My blog post today is about a book that does NOT tell you 7 steps how to do something!

 It does NOT tell you a nice story with a great beginning and a happy ending. 

It IS a book that gives gold nuggets of great advice if you take the time to listen.

I just finished reading the newest book by successful author Mark Batterson – “Whisper”!

Just like a whisper, you have to stop and listen to hear.  You will find more gold in this book if you take the time to stop and think about the truthful advice in it.  The author wrote this book out of his many years of experience with prayer and hard work.  Mark has been very successful in business and as a pastor, and he did it in unconventional ways!  This book contains stories about his successes and failures, and the lessons he learned.

There is so much unconventional good advice in this book!

I hope you will take the time to read it and look for the gold nuggets in it.  A whisper may seem unimportant, but good advice does not need to be shouted.  Those who are wise enough to use the advice, will be smart enough to stop and listen to the whispers.

–>So stop HERE and get this book in your hands!

–Then you can find out what all the whispering is about.

(Oh by the way, it’s NOT the author who is whispering in this book…)

“Whisper” by Mark Batterson is worth telling others about, so click on the Twitter and Facebook buttons below to share this.  Thank you!

One more thing I have to tell you.  I did get a free copy of “Whisper” from the publisher so I could tell people what I honestly think about it.  It is really so good!

 

 

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The Bible in Order

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The most popular book that people read is the Bible!

I’m not reviewing the Bible, but I decided to share today about a Bible Reading plan. 

I just started it a few weeks ago.  I have always been confused about what order things happened in the Bible.  I have tried to read chronological books that turn the Bible into a history format, but I could not finish them.

So, I am now doing a chronological Bible reading plan!

I am using the “As it Happened” reading plan. 

I am enjoying this!

The Bible is divided up by what chapters to read in 1 day to finish reading in 365 days.  It lists the chapters to read as close to historical order as possible.  That means jumping around in the Bible.  It starts in Genesis, then goes to Job, then back to Genesis.  The Psalms are sprinkled in among several different books. 

The plan puts it all in the correct order for you!

I never realized that the Psalms covers such a long stretch of time in history.  In fact, the first part of Psalms I will read chronologically is Psalm 90.  For some reason, chapter 90 covers the earliest history in the book of Psalms. 

Who knew? I didn’t.

Now, you don’t have to do the chronological reading plan.  There are several to choose from. 

The reading plans are also FREE!  Which I love!

–>Choose a plan HERE!

There are plans for reading the whole Bible, or just the New Testament.  There are lots of options.  Once you choose a plan and start it, the site will keep track of where you left off reading.  You can read the Bible on the screen, or you can read in your own Bible and check off each chapter as you read it.

What I like is that if I miss a few days, it just adjusts the reading plan to your schedule.  I don’t stress about it.  When I have time, I read several days worth.  If I am busy, I skip a few days.  I am not worried about when I finish.  I am reading to understand the history in order of how it really happened.

If you have wanted to read the Bible, but you can’t stay focused, these plans are helpful.  If you want to know the history of the Bible, or want to read the entire Bible in one year, there are plans to do that. 

If you can only find time to read 1 chapter each day, there is a plan for that.  It will take you 3 years to read the Bible one chapter per day.  Does that sound like something you could do?

There are also Bible readings on specific topics like “doubt” or “anxiety”.  If you click on a topic, it will give you a 7-day or 14-day devotional to read.  I haven’t tried that yet, but that sounds like it would be helpful if I was dealing with a problem and needed encouragement and guidance. 

–>Browse the topics HERE!

Why not try it?  

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Divided We Fall

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Jesus wanted us to be healed, to love God, to love each other.  He prayed that we would be united as one.

Still we get more divided.  The rift between us yawns ever bigger.  We barely see each other now.  We certainly don’t understand each other.  We bicker and criticize and quote Scripture at each other, but only get farther apart. 

Jesus died so we could be healed.  Don’t injure others in His name! 

Scripture is not meant to be a weapon against others.  First we should use the Scripture in our own life.  Measure our own behavior against the Scripture.  At least when we show the Scripture to another, we can then understand the difficulty of applying it to our own life.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). 

So shouldn’t we strive to also be gentle and humble in heart?

One day we, all His believers, will be in Heaven together, worshiping God. 

God forgives each one all their sins.  He did not say, “I forgive this one, but not that one.”  When Jesus died, His blood makes us all white as snow!  He forgives us ALL! 

Speaking to the Corinthians, Paul said, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. BUT you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God(1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

If you spend your life criticizing others, don’t you miss the point of why Jesus came to Earth?

We should be working to become oneWe should be trying to be closer in relationship with one another.  We should be forgiving.  We have differences, but are they so important that we must create a divide, going against Jesus Christ’s own prayer for us?  Should we not obey that Scripture too?

When I become frustrated or angry with a believer, I stop and remember, “He too will be in Heaven.  He too has been forgiven by God.”  I may not understand why, but God has chosen to forgive us ALL, and bring all believers together in Heaven, to praise Him!  It is all for God’s glory!

 20 “My prayer (says Jesus) is not for them (the Apostles) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)

It is God’s plan — all one — for God’s glory!

 

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If the Creek Don’t Rise

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“If the Creek Don’t Rise” is the title of a new fiction book.  

It caught my eye, because with 3 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) all causing flooding, and river flood warnings still going out daily in my area of Florida, “If the Creek Don’t Rise” sounded relevant to me!

The author is Leah Weiss, and this is her first novel.  It is a humdinger!

I was able to get the book at my local library.  Reviews on it have been 4.5 stars all the way! It is a book about life in the Appalachian Mountains.  This area has always been intriguing to me.  Life there is hard and most people were dirt poor.  The descriptions of the homes the characters lived in, and the clothes they wore, are so real.  I felt I was there in the Appalachians watching these people walking through the woods and cooking over a fire, hanging clothes on the line to dry, or making moonshine.  

Life in the Appalachian Mountains had many dangers, like coal mine explosions, or drunk men with guns, or husbands that beat their wife, or illnesses when no doctor was available close enough to help.  They grew there own food and used plants for natural remedies for illness and injuries. This is all in the book.

The life described in this book is very authentic.  My eyes were wide at what these people endured.  Even though this is a novel, it is true that many people in the Appalachians did live this way.  The story is gripping.  The characters’ lives are heart wrenching to read about.  They faced so many challenges, knowing there was no one to help.  They had to do it alone.  Sometimes a neighbor would stop by to help, but they could not count on this.  Most people had their own problems to deal with, and more than enough work to fill their day.

I so enjoyed reading this book!  

I guarantee you won’t be bored!

–>Get your copy HERE

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Who to Blame

So who do we blame for the recent mass shooting in Vegas?

The shooter is an American citizen, retired, white, male.  He lived in Texas and now lives in Nevada.  No muslim is involved. No immigrant.  He is one of us.  

Deporting immigrants won’t help.  Banning muslim immigrants won’t help.  Building a wall won’t help.  

We need tougher gun laws!

We need a Congress willing to do what is right to protect the citizens of the United States!

Congress is who I blame for this.  Especially Republicans in Congress, because they are in control of Congress now, and have been for the past 10 years.

I pray for the families affected by this horrific act taken by a lone gunman with a semi-automatic rifle.  There are about 500 families with dead or injured loved ones.  Please God bless them with healing, comfort, and respect for their privacy.  Do not let them deal with this alone.  

The shooter is already dead.  The only closure, the only retribution possible, is stronger gun laws.

Update 10/3/17 — A minister reminded me today that the blame for this tragedy is really the devil.  This evil comes from his work.  So our best way to fight back is to pray.

Christians please cover these families with prayers.

–>Hear from country singer who performed night of Vegas shooting.

Is America really more violent than other countries?   –>See the proof!

 

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