faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Eclipse brings us together

2017 Total Solar Eclipse

The eclipse brought people together all across the country on Monday!

Millions of people were watching the eclipse.  People were having fun, posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram, cheering when the sun went dark.  Everyone who saw the total eclipse said it was awesome!  I myself saw a partial eclipse here in FL.  Neighbors were out in the street all looking at the eclipse.  On NASA.gov, they showed pictures of the eclipse in cities across the country.  From the space station, the eclipse showed up as a big black shadow moving across the globe we live on. 

This event highlights the fact that we are all on this planet together.  All of us see the same sun and moon every day.  So why do we hate each other?  Why does it seem like we have a darkness spreading across the earth?

Humanity needs to be working together to make this world a better place to live.  If you don’t like the violence that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, because of the hate some white people have towards non-white people, then become part of a peace movement. 

All violence comes from evil. 

Let’s be about peace.

–>GO HERE to be part of the peace movement!

If you are a Christian or a follower of Jesus, you can help make this world a better place, following what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25. 

–>In Matthew 25, Jesus says…. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

–>Click HERE to sign the Matthew 25 pledge!  

I signed it. 

–>Or donate to Matthew 25 Ministries!

 (This one ministry based in Ohio gives 99% of donations to help the needy.  Don’t be fooled by other similar organizations.)

You can be part of the solution. 

I encourage you to get involved. 

Together we can make a difference, even if it doesn’t get on the news!

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Awaken to God’s Voice

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Today I am reviewing —

“Awaken”(90 Days with the God who speaks) by Priscilla Shirer.

This is a devotional with 90 short devotions.  I loved reading this book!

The devotions are short, but packed with encouraging insights.  Each devotion ends with Scripture and a question about your life or about your own relationship with God.  After each question, there is room for you to write your answer inside the book.  Since I have a Kindle version, my answers are in a separate notebook.  Because of this you may want to buy the print version of the book.

–>Go HERE to purchase.

Priscilla says that she wrote this book now, because she felt she had enough life experience as a Christian to write with some wisdom and depth.  She surely did that!  I highlighted a lot in this book!  There is so much good advice.  She is writing from her own life and revealing what has been helpful to her.

Priscilla also points out useful Scripture verses.  I need to memorize some of those!  How about this one?  – Elisha’s prayer in 2 Kings 6:17 is “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.”  I can pray this for someone else, but I can also pray this for myself. Please open my eyes and let me see!  I want to see God working through the people around me, and I want to see where I can step in and be helpful.

Here is another Scripture that would be good to memorize: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32) Most of us have someone we need to forgive. I know I do!

I will definitely be following up on some of the things Priscilla suggests we do to get direction from God and to stay on the right path. 

One way to read this book is to read one devotion each day and answer the questions, then pray for God to show you how to apply it in your day or week.  If you have some days with more time available and other days too busy, you could read several devotions in one day, answering the questions that are easy for you, then return to the harder questions later, after taking time to think about them throughout the day.  I chose to read through the whole thing fairly quickly without answering the questions, and then go back and read more slowly, taking the time to answer each question. 

Whichever way you read this book, challenge yourself to answer each question.   Answering the questions will  “Awaken” you to how God is working in your life, and how you can include Him in your everyday life.

As Priscilla says, God is always there in your prayer times, in His Word, and in your heart.  Just open your eyes and see!

–>Click HERE for the book’s website with more information from Priscilla!

 

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It’s so easy

It’s so easy to fall in love…  Remember that song?  It implies that falling in love is easy, but keeping love alive is hard.  It takes time. It takes effort.

It’s the same way with hating people who are different from us.  

It is easy to point fingers, make nasty comments, and yell hateful words.  It is harder to take the time to get to know people, to give them a chance to explain what their life is like, and what their hopes and dreams are.  It takes time to form a friendship.  

Hate can happen in a moment on the street, or in a Twitter post.

We pray in the Lord’s Prayer — “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. —We are asking for God’s will to be done on earth.  

Hell does not belong on earth.  Send hate back where it belongs!

The Lord’s Prayer asks God to bring heaven to earth and deliver us from evil.

Pray the Lord’s Prayer out loud today —

Our Father who are in Heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your Kingdom come,  Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.  

–>Listen HERE to the Lord’s Prayer sung beautifully by Yolanda Adams.

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Find the post and link-up HERE!

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The Daniel Prayer

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I am reviewing a Bible study today.  Anne Graham Lotz wrote “The Daniel Prayer” to ramp up our prayer lives.  She uses Daniel as her inspiration.

She uses Bible verses to direct our prayers.  The key to doing this study is her Bible study workshop, which is included in the video for this study.

I liked that this study encouraged me to pray with purpose, by using Scripture to guide my prayers.  Scripture can show us what to obey, or a promise to ask God to fulfill, or a warning to be aware of.  Then use that to pray to God, and to give us direction in our life. 

By the end of this study, you will have a direction for your prayers going forward.  Each chapter will yield direction for one type of prayer.  At the end, you pull together all these, and write them on two pages so they are easy to refer to.  Each phrase begins with “What will I do to…”

Although it takes some practice to understand the technique the author uses, it is an eye-opening way to get more from the pages of your Bible!

–>Get a free video HERE, to learn Anne’s Bible study technique.

–>Go HERE to purchase “The Daniel Prayer” (video and study guide).

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Unheard Voices

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If someone cries but no one hears, is their life still important?

“Yes!” says VOM, The Voice of the Martyrs.

How? By caring and sharing their story.  That’s what VOM does.

I had the privilege to attend a Voice of the Martyrs Advance Conference on Saturday.  I highly recommend you attend one!  They have them scheduled at many locations, since this is their 50th anniversary.  The VOM conference is motivational, encouraging, and informative!

I learned so much!  There were 5 speakers from Texas, Iran, China, and Syria.  Four of them had survived persecution for their Christian faith.  

Do you know what they said they needed most from us?  

–Prayers!

>Sign up HERE to pray for a Christian worker in a dangerous country.

–>Look HERE for a VOM conference near you!

Do you prefer listening to podcasts?  VOM radio is available free on podcast from itunes!

–>Take a listen HERE.

Can you guess what is the 2nd thing they need most?

–Bibles!

>Go HERE to donate.

–>See a list of other ways you can help persecuted Christians.

This is an awesome organization! My church sponsored a VOM Conference.  I wasn’t sure about going, but I was amazed.  I am so glad I went!  It is an all day conference, but you can leave early if you need to.  There are several intermissions and a lunch time.  The conference I attended was free.  Each family received one goody bag of free information (book, CD, pamphlet, and newsletter).  

Have you already attended a VOM conference? Please share your comments below…

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The Question

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My book review this week is on “QBQ!”

(The Question Behind the Question) by John G. Miller.

This book is about personal accountability and how to stop blaming others, stop complaining, and stop procrastinating.  

Those are great goals!  How can I do that?

“QBQ!” is a short book, but it is full of useful information.  There aren’t a lot of details in it, so you have to take the basics in it, and use them in your own life.

I have never liked the concept of accountability partners that some Christians use. To me it creates gossip and getting all up in someone else’s business.  Although this book is not written in a Christian perspective, it does show how we can be personally accountable to ourself and to our own values.  (If you get your values from the Bible, then this is entirely useful for Christ followers to use.)

Have you ever said, “Who did this?”  Or maybe you said, “What did you do?”

HaHa! The author says there are better, more useful questions to ask.  

For example, Ask yourself, “What can I do to help?”

There may be a bunch of questions going through your mind right now.  Some of them might not be helpful.  

The author tells you what the best questions are in different situations.  Remember the author’s goal is to help the reader (me and you) to stop blaming others, stop complaining, and stop procrastinating.

I picked up this book at the library because I complain way too much, and for months I have been procrastinating on several projects I really want to do!

Although many of the examples used in the book are work situations, the principles can be used at home or in social situations with friends, as well as at work.

I have read a lot of articles and books that try to tell me that the solution to our problems is to say positive statements.  You know, like “I am joyful and energetic today.”  Does that make you feel joyful or energetic?  Not me.

In “QBQ!”, the author says what is important, is the question!

The author uses the idea of working as a team.  This team concept can be used for a church and its members and staff.  It can be used for a family and all its members.  It can be used for a Bible study and its members, or in a classroom.  If something isn’t working as well as you would like, what should you ask?  The author says not to ask “Who?”, and not to ask “Why?”.  Instead ask “What can I do?”

Now that is not the only useful question, but hopefully you can see that asking a different question could have better results.  I like the author’s ideas, and I plan to try asking myself better questions.

In fact, I already asked myself one better question.  Instead of asking “Why is this room such a mess?!”  I have gotten some results from asking “What can I do that would be useful in getting my bedroom and office areas organized?”

 

–>Check out the book “QBQ!” HERE.

 

The answer to my question? I found a course online for $17, so I signed up!  How’s that for not procrastinating?! And I have already started on the 1st task in the course! Yahoo!  I am on a roll, and now I do feel more joyful and energetic!

Want to know what course I am taking? First let me say I am not getting any money or any other type of perks for telling you about this course or the book.  And the book and the course are not by the same author.  The book gave me the right questions to ask, and the course came across my desk, and I jumped on the opportunity!

So back to the course. It’s “The Essentials” by Tsh Oxenreider. (That is not a typo. That is really her name.)  She is known for her advice on simplifying your life, living intentionally, traveling on the cheap, and on how to get things done.  

–>Take a peak at “The Essentials” course. (Register through Monday, August 7.)

Tsh has also written several books, “Organized Simplicity”, and “Notes On a Blue Bike”. Her new book is “At Home in the World”.

 –>Find  all 3 HERE!

–>You can read my review of “Organized Simplicity” or

–>Read my review of “Notes on a Blue Bike”.

I hope you got some useful information from me today.  Have questions?

Comment below…

 

 

 

 

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Every Breath I Take

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Every breath I take could be my last.

When we are born we have no past,

God breathes new life into us.

Every breath we take from then to now,

always comes from God to us.

I don’t know when my last breath will be.

But God knows,

and He will be waiting for me.

Until that day I breathe earth’s air,

knowing no despair,

because God knows when to expect me there.

Every breath we take comes from God.

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Sparks Flying

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I have read the book “Sparks Fly Upward” by Kenneth Matthews, PhD.  

Since I received a free copy from –>BookLookBloggers.com, I must give an honest review.  So here it is —

This book is confusing!  

The author says that he wrote the book trying to understand and explain why God let his dad die in a car accident when the author was a boy.  Other people have also tried to wrestle with this issue of why bad things happen to people.  The author of “Sparks Fly Upward” tries to give all possible reasons for pain.  He explains why many of the reasons are wrong, and why people still believe some of them. This ends up being a morass of “if this then”, “or but”, “and further” and on and on…

The first few chapters were impossible for me to understand.  Later in the book I got some nuggets of truth, but there must be a book that gives the same conclusions without so much confusion and winding tales and theories.  The author uses the Book of Job in the Old Testament, and several parables from the New Testament to explain his logic, so he does use the Bible to discuss the problem of pain.

The author tries to explain God using logic.  I don’t think God can be understood through logic.  We believe in God and follow God and trust God because of faith, because He created us, and because the Son of God died to save us from death and give us eternal life in Heaven.  Is that logical? No.  God does not behave with logic.  God is love and life, grace and forgiveness, not logic.

So that said, you can read this book if you want to read a logical proof that demonstrates that God does not cause pain to punish us, but pain comes from Adam and Eve’s sin of disobeying God, and they sinned because God gave them (and all of us) free will.

The author evidently has found some peace about his dad’s death.  At least his logical proofs laid out in this book helped him do that.  It is possible that others will get help from this treatise in logic.  So…

–>CLICK to find out more about this book or to purchase.

 

P.S. No, I don’t know what the title of this book means.  If you have an idea, maybe you can tell me in the comments below. Thanks.

 

 

 

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Is it Fruit yet?

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We have heard the phrase, “Each tree is recognized by its own fruit”. (Luke 6:44)

And likewise we have heard “Every good tree bears good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17)

The thing is, when do we know if the fruit is good?

Fruit comes only in the right season.

We must go through seasons before we can develop fruit.

In the winter or early spring we bud.

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In the late spring or early summer we flower.

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In the late summer or early fall we produce fruit.

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In the late fall is the harvest.

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And this is a cycle that repeats.

We must give ourselves and others time to be seasoned, time to grow, time to learn.

Only when we harvest can we really see the result of our works and prayers.

God grant us a good harvest, so we will be known as followers of Jesus Christ.

(Fruit trees in order of appearance — orange tree, fig tree, cherry tree, peach tree, apples from an apple tree.)

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Reading and Reviewing Books

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Yes that is what I do on my blog.  I read books and review them.  

I just finished “Reading with Patrick” by Michelle Kuo.

Funny enough, this book is about reading books and poetry, and writing too.  This book is a memoir about a teacher and her students, and one student in particular, Patrick.  Ms. Kuo is the teacher and the author, and in her book she tells the story about how once we are a teacher, we cannot stop teaching.  She loves teaching.

I enjoyed the story about her desire to help her students in a poor southern town. She was a good teacher in a school where most teachers and their students didn’t care about school.  It was interesting to read about a good teacher and her viewpoint.  

What is different about this story, is that years later she follows up on her students, and finds out what has happened to them in their lives.  It is mostly not good news.  She decides to help one student change that.  This is their story.

I did not like the author’s tendency to self analyze.  She goes into long discussions in her mind trying to figure out her own motives and what she wants to do in her life.  I didn’t like those parts of the book much.  Ms. Kuo is definitely not a psychologist or counselor.  Overall though, I did like the book.

The book also enlightens us by showing that it takes more than one year to change a child’s life.  It takes commitment and years of input and help.  Besides our own children and grandchildren, we don’t normally spend that much time with a child.  Most teachers have a student in their class for one or two years.  Maybe we need more people like the author Ms. Kuo.  We need people who care enough about kids who made a mistake, and give them the opportunity to change and turn their life around.  This book is about such a person, and the one kid she helps.

–>Click HERE to get the book or read more reviews.

Next I will be helping with some new book launches.  Just when I thought I would step back from book reviews and not review every Friday, I have been asked to get more involved.  Since I have been praying about this, I seem to have my answer from God.  I will continue to read and review books every Friday.  One of the book launches I am on, is “Awaken” by Priscilla Shirer.  I will be reviewing this book later in the summer.  I am a fan of Priscilla.  She writes well and she is a great speaker and teacher. Watch for her new book to be out in August!  You might remember her from the movie “War Room”.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should.

–>Check out the movie HERE.  

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