Showing posts with label Book Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Review. Show all posts

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy ... Book Review

Dustin Renz (the author), was recently introduced at a speaking engagement as - a graduate of Teen Challenge, Southeastern University and Pure Life Ministries. Both Teen Challenge and Pure Life Ministries are residential Christian programs that assist in setting people free from addictions and bondage. The seasons the author spent in those two programs serve as book - ends for nearly ten years of running from God, much like the biblical prophet, Jonah. But like Jonah, the author too realized the desperate situation he was in and cried out to God for mercy.

The author grew up in a middle - class home. He had parents who loved him and they lived a comfortable life. The greatest attacks came not from inside his home, but outside. They moved to Florida from New York when he was in the second grade. It was that year - at age seven - he was first exposed to pornography. All throughout his childhood, pornography continued to be readily available to him, which became a deeply - rooted stronghold in his life.

He became friends with another young boy and frequently spent time at his house. It was there where he was first exposed to satanic music, Ouija boards, horror movies, violent games, hypnotism and even sexual experimentation.

He went to church as a child. He claimed to be a Christian, but he had not been born again.

When he was eleven years old, his parents announced to his siblings and him that they had decided to get a divorce.

He had always been a deeply emotional person and most of his friends were female. He still attended church, but he despised Christians and hated God.

He discovered that he had the talent to rap and began rapping at parties and writing songs.

He spent all weekend partying and all week getting high or drunk before and after school.

He graduated high school, left home and began living with friends so that he could do as he pleased. It became necessary to live in his car to live in his car after having burned all bridges with family and friends.

His father allowed him to stay with him for a couple of weeks to try to help him get straightened out. After a near overdose, he realized he was out of control, and agreed to go to a program called Teen Challenge.

In July of 2002, he found himself in the intake office of Teen Challenge in Tarpon Springs, Florida. He had told his dad on the way to the program that he was not going to let them "brainwash him with all of that Jesus stuff." It soon became evident that God had a different plan!

He experienced what Scripture promises to those who surrender their lives to the Lord: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" He fell in love with Jesus. For the next year, he could not get enough of the Bible. He spent hours in prayer and worship. There was no doubt he had a real encounter was with Jesus Christ!

After graduating from Teen Challenge, he once again enjoyed freedom to do as he pleased - something he soon discovered he was not prepared for. Before he knew it, an addiction to pornography head once again taken control of his life. It was then that he met a girl named Brittany at the Christian college he was attending, and they fell in love. When he confessed to her about the pornography, she made it clear that unless he got victory over that area, there was no future for them.

They got married in May 2005. He justified his secret life. He cried out to God over and over again: repenting, apologizing and promising to do better. Clearly, he was only giving the Lord lip service and empty promises.

Over the coming months, he fell further from God. Soon, he was drinking liquor and abusing prescription pills whenever he had the chance.

He began to visualize becoming famous in the music industry and he was confident that his career would take off soon.

Brittany and he got involved in youth ministry, and he became the Assistant Pastor of their church. Lust grew in his heart, and whenever he was depressed, he would still go back to satanic music in his head for comfort.

When him and his wife was accepted to go overseas to assist missionaries for two years, everything escalated. They began the process of raising the necessary funds to go. He had definite fears about relocating to a foreign country, but instead of taking those concerns to God, he returned with great fervor to the old empty cisterns of this world.

He persuaded himself that when he got overseas, the struggle would end.

Their first daughter, Abigail, was born in May of 2010. This drastic change in their lives caused him to panic. He knew he was not ready to be a father, and the weight of that responsibility was more than he could take.

His wife began sensing that something was not right in his life. He told her that he had been lying and carrying on a secret life during the entire seven years of their relationship. She was devastated and immediately told their superiors. They were flown back to the U.S. and asked to resign.

You would think this would have been enough to bring him to repentance, but instead he grew bitter. His wife took control of their finances and watched his every moment.

When he arrived at Pure Life Ministries in April of 2011, one of the counselors said he looked like a dead man. He only agreed to enter the program in the hopes of saving his marriage, which at that point was almost certainly going to end in divorce.

There was no network television in any of their homes. They were not consumed with the latest technologies like smart phones and video games.

This was the turning point and the Lord began to restore him.

Dustin now have an abundant life in Christ and he has truly become an overcomer.

But the Lord has opened his eyes to the reality that there is freedom for the addict, purity for the lustful, and righteousness for the wicked.

Adam and Eve's oldest son provides for us the earliest example of hypocrisy.

A lifestyle of hypocrisy was at the root of Jehovah's chosen nation, Israel. This can be seen throughout the Old Testament, from the time Moses led Israel out of Egypt, to the time of the Babylonian and Assyrian captivities. It was the people's unwillingness to be fully devoted to the Lord that resulted in countless trial and judgments.

Hypocrisy is the reason that the Israelites were called to make a decision throughout the Old Testament. Perhaps the most popular Scripture where a line is drawn in the sand occurs in the book of Joshua. At this point in history, the Israelites were just setting foot into the Promised Land, but they had already shown their divided hearts on several occasions.

They had absolutely no faith to believe that the God who rescued them from Egypt could provide for their needs.

Jehovah had been good to them and provided for them the whole way.

The Israelites have the choice to either serve the Lord or to worship other gods. There is no middle ground.

Scripture says in 1 John 4:8 that God is love. Our relationship with Him is born out of a response to His love for us. Continually in Scripture, the relationship of God and man is compared to a marital relationship.

Song of Solomon paints a beautiful picture of the intimacy enjoyed between a husband and wife (and, allegorically, of God and man). We are called the Bride of Christ and Jesus the Bridegroom in several places in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit could have used any metaphor to describe our relationship with Him, but He chose to relate it to a marriage.

Listen to the sound of a heartbroken God calling out to His people through the prophet Micah:

My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery.

Jeremiah 2:19 sums up a truth he had found to be absolutely certain: "Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me ...

When it came to fighting against idolatry and syncretism in the Old Testament, there was one King who stood out above the rest. His name was King Josiah, and he took the throne of Judah when he was eight years old. He lived in a time when the land of Israel was divided into a northern and southern kingdom. The country was in a mess. Jehovah repeatedly sent prophets to the nation to try to get their attention and cause them to repent and turn back to Him. As we have discovered, Israel remained entrenched in idolatry and the worship of false gods.

Josiah became king a few years after Manasseh, who was one of the most wicked kings to ever rule in Israel.

During his reign, many people made idols for a living. There were full-time priests who served at the altars and temples of the false gods. Many in the land were enjoying the 'benefits' afforded to them by sacred prostitution. But Josiah did not fear men, he only feared the Lord and his actions proved it.

Josiah launches an all - out attack on idolatry.

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did - with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

1. adjective. emphasizing or observing the letter but not the spirit of religious law; self-righteous; sanctimonious
2. pretending to be highly moral or virtuous without actually being so; hypocritical

By The Close Of The Lord The Old Testament period, the nation of Israel had returned to their homeland after being held in captivity. Jehovah had allowed northern Israel to be exiled by Assyria in 721 B.C. Eventually, Judah was taken into exile by the Babylonians for 70 years. The period between the Old and New Testaments is a duration of four hundred years of prophetic silence. There was no Word from God to His people during this time.

Then John the Baptist appears on the scene and breaks the silence. Israel was ruled by the Roman Empire at this time and Rome stayed in power throughout the life of Jesus.

The Jewish community that Jesus was born into was not the same Israel He would have encountered had He been born one thousand years earlier. A person could cease visiting temple prostitutes and still be completely driven by lust inside. Remember, hypocrisy is always a heart issue.

The Pharisees were a very influential Jew party during Jesus' time on the Earth.

Historically, the people of Israel had broken even the most basic commandments by serving idols and foreign gods. It is important to understand that the sect of the Pharisees had good intentions. It is not fair to assume that every Pharisee was wicked, despite the descriptions given in the New Testament.

We also need to realize that there were some Pharisees who were on the right track. Some did love the Lord and honored Jesus, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

1. noun. a person who pretends to be what he or she is not; one who pretends to be what he or she is not; one who pretends to be better than they really are so; or to be pious, virtuous, etc. without really being so.

We Have Looked In-Depth At Hypocrisy in the lives of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and we have also encountered the double-minded Pharisees of Jesus' time. Neither the Israelites nor the Pharisees were born again believers, or even had a full knowledge of the New Covenant.

John Calvin was a follower of Christ with a great understanding of Scripture. He understood what the Bible teaches about looking for spiritual fruit. What he actually taught was that if you are genuinely converted, there has to be evidence of it in your life. He taught that true conversion was an irreversible decision on the Lord's part. He taught that the moment you are converted, your salvation is eternally secure. There would be no way for a true Christian to ever go back into habitual sin and fall away. That is not an option in Calvin's teaching.

Joseph Arminius was also a godly man who studied the Word of God. He agreed with Calvin that if you were truly saved, your life would have spiritual fruit as evidence. The major point they differed on - in regards to the permanence of salvation - is that Arminius believed that a person could fall so far away from God that they could 'lose' or 'reject' their salvation. He believed that humans had more free will in cooperating with God in salvation than Calvin did.

According to Calvin's interpretation of Scripture, the lack of fruit is in itself proof that the person was never truly converted. The Arminians would say to the same person that the lack of fruit is evidence that they either were never saved in the first place, or they are backslidden and in danger of losing (or rejecting) their salvation. Either that person needs to repent (and either return to Christ or be saved) or they are in danger of Hell.

The kind of fruit that we should be looking for is in our character and walk with the Lord.

Hypocrites need to examine whether or not their beliefs actually line up with the whole teaching of the Bible.

In the Kingdom, we humble ourselves and the Lord gives promotion to us. When Jesus gave the parable of the feast in Luke 14, He said:

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, "Friend, move up to a better place." Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Dustin Renz is a minister with a passion to see the Body of Christ become all that God has created it to be. He is the founder of Make Way Ministries, which exists to see the Body of Christ awaken, mature and arise to its responsibility in these last days.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children - Book Review

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and today's culture isn't making it any easier. And when we feel like were struggling, it can be tempting to throw up our hands and simply declare, "All we can do now is pray!"

Once our kids have "flown the nest," our parenting will change dramatically, but our sons and daughters will always need our prayers.

Prayer is one of the most important parenting assignments we've been given. It is an eternal investment in our kids' hearts and souls, and we must never under estimate its impact.

The Battle Begins

Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes. -- Nehemiah 4:14

The things you give to God in prayer - your worries, concerns, and needs - are the ties that bind your heart to his. Our struggles are his entry points.

The more we allow the Bible to shape our prayers, the more our requests will line up with God's plan.

There is no "perfect" family.

Everyone - even that beautiful woman who sits across the aisle from you at church, the one with the daughter who just got engaged and the son who just got promoted - has issues. When it comes to raising our children and pursuing God's best for their lives, we all need huge buckets of his grace, and we are all in this together.

It's never too late to start praying God's best for your children.

It doesn't matter how old your children are. You never stop being a parent. You never stop caring.

Blessing and Releasing Your Adult Child

Our adult children have different needs, but all of them can use the prayer of blessing.

A blessing is not the same thing as an endorsement. It's a way of handing our children's future over to God.

As you pray God's blessing on your children, release your plans and trust in God to accomplish his.

Praying for Your Child's Transition to Adulthood

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. -- 1 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

God's ways are not our ways. Ask him to show you how to pray for your children.

As your children navigate the path to adulthood, ask God to help them be wise and make the most of every opportunity.

God gave our children unique talents and abilities. Trust him to put these attributes to good use.

A Year of Prayer

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -- Romans 12:12

Choosing one verse to pray all year long expands your time horizon and allows an awareness of God's faithfulness to take root in your prayer life.

When God gives you a promise to pray for your adult child, leave room for him to fulfill it in ways that go beyond anything you could have imagined.

Reading the Bible allows God's message to penetrate our minds, shape our desires, and give voice to our prayers.

Praying for Good Friends and Fellowship

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -- Proverbs 27:17

We are created for connection. Ask God to bless your child with rich and meaningful relationships.

Ask God to use your children's worldly interests to connect them to people whose passion is for him.

If your child is not going to church, ask God to prompt someone to invite him.

The Bible offers several portraits of friendships marked by loyalty, dependability, and faithfulness. Jonathan became "one in spirit" with David, giving him his robe (symbolic of his identity) and making a covenant of friendship that would last between their descendants forever. Let's ask God to give our kids faithful friends and to draw them into a life-giving relationship with Jesus, the one who gave up his life "for his friends."

Praying for a Future Spouse

"Let her be the one that the LORD has chosen for my master's son. -- Genesis 24:44

When the time came for his son to get married, Abraham had one main request: Issac's bride couldn't be a Canaanite; rather,he wanted her to be someone from his own country. He sent his servant off to do the picking, and when the fellow got to Abraham's hometown, he prayed a very specific prayer: "LORD ... make me successful today ... May it be that when I say to a young woman, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink; and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too' - let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Issac."

Rebekah showed up, gave the servant a drink, and then offered to fetch water for the camels too - all ten of them.

Almost everyone the author has talked to said they wanted their son or daughter to marry a Christian.

When you pray for your child's marriage partner, it's okay to be specific, but be prepared for God to surprise you.

Praising God changes our perspective and releases supernatural peace, hope, and joy.

Pray that your child's sense of identity and worth will be found in Christ rather than in being single or married.

Praying for a Young Marriage

A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery. -- Ephesians 5:31-32

We do the praying; God does the changing.

When your children get married, your prayers take on a new dimension. Now you're not just praying for him or for her; you're also praying for them.

Consider using the example of biblical characters - real people, with real relationships and real problems - to shape your prayers for your children.

With a Spirit-filled marriage, all good things are possible.

Praying through a Trouble Married or a Divorce

Be patient, bearing with one another in love. -- Ephesians 4:2

Destructive family patterns can be broken. Ask God to break these bonds and set your children free.

"Let's pray to break any generational bonds or patterns of evil."

When you pray for your child's troubled marriage, remember that his or her spouse is not the enemy.

When your children go through painful trials, ask God to use their suffering to produce perseverance, character, and hope.

Praying for a Good Place to Live

God begun by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live. -- Acts 17:26 NCV

Finding a good place to live can take time. Ask God to give your children (and you, if they are at home) the strength to "walk and not be faint."

Asking God to give your child wisdom is always a good starting place for prayer.

Sometimes the best way to help our adult children isn't to give them money or even advice; it's simply to pray.

Praying for a Job

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. -- Psalm 32:8

If we want to pray with faith, we must anchor our requests in God's promises.

We can make all the plans we want - and so can our kids - but God is the one who directs our path.

Trusting God with our children's future means being willing to trust his timing.

Praying When Your Children Have Children

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. -- Isaiah 44:3

Praying for your grandchildren strengthens your relationship with your children and their spouses.

Ask God to provide friends and mentors who will lovingly point your grandchildren toward Christ.

If you have concerns about your grandchildren or how they are being raised, take your worries to God and give his grace time to work.

Praying through a Health Crisis

This is what the LORD ... says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. -- 2 Kings 20:5

Trusting God when we don't know what the future holds opens the door to peace.

Sometimes the key to praying with perseverance is simply to stop looking at your problems and focus instead on who God is and what he has done.

Jesus offers this invitation: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." What a beautiful promise, particularly as we pray for our children's health and safety.

God doesn't just want to heal your child; he wants to take care of you too.

Praying for Mental and Emotional Health

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. -- Psalm 40:1-3

When you pray your child through a mental or emotional illness, don't let shame or fear keep you from enlisting trusted prayer partners to help you carry your burden.

God is in the business of transformation, and he has promised to renew - body, mind, and spirit - day by day.

An unforgiving spirit can hinder your prayers. Ask God to search your heart - and be ready to extend grace (even to yourself) and receive God's love.

Praying for Protection from Harm

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him. -- Psalm 34:7

If God calls your child to a place or a job that scares you, slip your hand into your heavenly Father's and pray, trusting him to guard what you give him.

Asking God to put his angels in charge of your child's safety encompasses more than just physical protection. We can trust him to stand guard over their hearts and minds too.

When you feel too frightened or overwhelmed to pray for your child's safety, remember that God's power is made perfect in your weakness.

Praying through a Job Loss or Financial Difficulty

When I said, "My foot is slipping," your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. -- Psalm 94:18-19

The Bible has a lot to say about money. Ask God to help your children to manage it wisely.

When we pray our kids through loss or rejection, it helps to remember that Jesus knows exactly how they feel.

God knows how our children are formed, and what they do with their lives matters to him.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 adds this: "Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it."

Praying through the Struggles of Infertility

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. -- Psalm 145:16

As you ask God to fulfill your children's deepest longings, pray that they will be satisfied with the gift of his presence.

When God gives your children a promise, come alongside them and believe it.

Praying for Strength to Resist a Party Culture

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. -- Matthew 5:6

Your adult children may be out of your reach, but they are never out of God's sight.

Today's party culture offers counterfeit joy. Pray that your kids will want the real thing.

We cannot glory - steal from God.

Praying for Protection from Sexual Sin

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. -- Romans 12:2

God loves us unconditionally. Ask him to help you show that same kind of love to your children, even if you don't like what they do.

God's kindness leads us to repentance. Ask God to surround your children with people who will lovingly point them toward him.

Light scatters darkness. Ask God to turn your children from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

Praying for Recovery from an Addiction

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. -- Isaiah 61:1

Addiction is a formidable enemy, but the weapons we fight with - including prayer - have divine power to demolish strongholds.

God is always at work in our kids' lives, and he can use the worst things to bring about good.

We cannot control or cure our children's addictions, but we can hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, knowing that he who promised is faithful.

Praying for Your Prodigal

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. -- Jeremiah 24:7

Ask God to work in your prodigal's mind and spirit, demolishing arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.

God knows what it's like to grieve over a prodigal child - and to rejoice over his return.

Our struggles are often God's entry points.

Is Jesus Enough?

God doesn't want us to trust in an outcome; he wants us to trust in him.

Heavenly Father...

Whom have we in heaven but you? Work in us and in our children, so that nothing compares to the desire we have for you. Be the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. Amen. -- Psalm 73:25-26

Jodie Berndt is the author of several books, including The Undertaker Wife, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, and Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens. She and her husband, Robert, have four grown children and two son-in-laws. A Speaker and Bible Teacher, Jodie encourages readers to pursue joy, celebrate grace, and live on purpose.

Monday, December 18, 2017

May The Faith Be With You Holy Bible - Book Review

This Bible is perfect is for ages 6-10. It includes 24 full - color pages exploring the marvel of God's creation and the meaning of faith.

This Bible is easy to read and understand. It is the New International Reader's Version. It is called the NIrV.

People who are just starting to read will understand and enjoy The NIrV. Children will be able to read it and understand it. So will people who have a hard time understanding what they read. And so will people who use English as their second language.

The NIrV is based on the NIV. The NIV Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) did not produce the NIrV. They tried to use words that were easy to understand.

This Bible has a title to almost every chapter. Sometimes they to even gave a title to a section. They did these things to help the readers understand what the chapter or section is all about.

In the New Testament the Sea of Galilee is also called the sea of Gennesaret. But in the NIrV they decided to call it the Sea of Galilee everywhere it appears.

For example, sometimes the Bible says "the River" where it means "the Euphrates River." In those places, they used the full name "the Euphrates River."

They wanted the NIrV to say what the first writers of the Bible said. So they kept checking the Greek New Testament as they did their work. That's because the New Testament's first writers used Greek. They also kept checking the Hebrew Old Testament as they did their work. That's because the Old Testament's first writers used Hebrew.

Psalm 23: David wrote this psalm as a song to praise God. Read the words below and think about all the ways God, our great Master, takes care of us.

The LORD is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need.

He lets me lie down in fields of green grass.

He leads me beside quiet waters.

He gives me new strength.

He guides me in the right paths for the honor of his name.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid.

You are with me.

Your shepherd's rod and staff comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies.

You pour oil on my head.

My cups runs over.

I am sure that your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.

And I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is simply talking to God - just like you would talk to a friend. But you can tell God absolutely anything and everything, and you can talk to him anytime and anywhere!

An easy guide to prayer is to use your hands! Each finger can remind you who to pray for:

Thumb: (People closest to you.) Tell God thank you for your friends and family and ask him to take care of their needs.

Pointer: (People who point the way.) Thank God for the leaders, teachers and pastors in your life. Pray about the important work they do.

Tall Finger: (People in authority.) Our police, government and military need God's wisdom and protection. Pray for their needs.

Ring Finger: (People who are weak.) Pray for the sick and weak. Ask God to give them healing and strength.

Little Finger: (Yourself.) Ask God to forgive you for your sins. After you have prayed for others, God wants you to talk with him about what you need too!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Sacred Slow - Book Review

In the beginning, "there was evening, and there was morning - the first day." Time has not changed: it remains one of the few unaltered, original residents of the garden of Eden. Demand it to speed up or beg it to stand still, time will remain steady because it bows to only One. (And we, too, are His servants.)

However, each slow, calm tick of time has ceased to be a sacred reminder of the gift of life (let alone of the Giver of life).

A handful of numbers in the Scriptures have solid significance, and the number seven is surely one of them.

Consider the significance of the number seven in the Scriptures:

Literally, a prime number between six and eight
Figuratively, a symbol with spiritual weight

Seven figures prominently in Scripture as a period of waiting, warring, warning, and wisdom. The number boundaries intentional times, set-apart spaces, moments kissed by the divine, and resting places.

We see further evidence of the Israelites' understanding that their exile was in part connected to ignoring the Sabbath Years when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall around 445 BC. Upon its completion, the community made a binding agreement with God. Among their commitments, they stated, "Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 is one of the most quoted verses in all of Scriptures, and Jeremiah 29:10 is not.

When seventy years are completed: one year for every Sabbath Year God's people refused to embrace.

Listening is an exercise in interdepence, which nurtures a teachable spirit.

Not listening is a posture of arrogance, which ignores the contributions of another.

By not listening, God's people "brought harm to (them) selves."

We still struggle to listen and obey, and not listening is still toxic for our souls and communities.

Since God breathed into us "the breath of life" our divinely touched dust has been honored with a standing invitation to listen for our Creator.

The Genesis narrative introduces God's voice not at the creation of our "formless and empty" planet but at the installation of light. Before the first "Let there be," there was earth, water, and God's Spirit hovering over all. The voice brought light - a light that preceded the creation of the sun.

The Revelation prophecy concludes with God's voice still bringing light. Over all the end-times images and earthly uncertainities rests the clear voice of the bright Morning Star as He assures listeners of His authority and His soon return.

Adam and Eve had heard God's audible voice. However, hearing has never been a synonym for heeding.

In Mark 4:34, we read that Jesus "did not say anything to them (the crowds) without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything."

Perhaps thorns such as the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things are the means to the Enemy's ends, not the ends in and of themselves. The Gospel state that the thorns were the means to a specific end: choking the Word to hinder it from maturing and, thereby, making it unfruitful.

We live in a fallen world. The Kingdom of darkness constantly bombards us with impure and untrue messages about life, faith, spirituality, and God.

The Word heard is not enough. It must be heeded.

We recognize the value of devotions and quiet times. However, these spaces are means to an end, not ends in and of themselves.

Through the door opened by Jesus' sacrifice, you and God are together in one place. In everything you do, God is with you.

God has named you as the work of His hands! Do you know what was in His heart when He created you?

God had tears of love in His eyes as He formed you in the womb. You are saturated with His fingerprints.

Psalm 119 is written to God about God's Word. When studying the psalm, three categories of content stood out to author of The Sacred Slow: the psalmist's relationship with God's Word, descriptions of the power of God's Word, and prayers about God's Word.

We may use a computer, but we must relate to the Bible because the Word of God is alive.

Pick up your Bible and pray. Thank God for the gift you hold in your hands. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead into truth.

The anonymous pen of Psalm 119 clearly admired, studied, and loved God's Word. As we have already seen, this psalmist - mentor talked to God about his commitment to God's Word (what the Word is) and about his belief in the power of God
s word (what the Word does). The third component of his psalm was to scripture - pray to God for an even greater relationship with His Word.

Psalm 119 is punctuated with many prayer requests, most of which are supported by God's promises.

May God increase our hunger and respect for His life - giving Word.

The Corinthians' early struggle is our daily struggle.

As the Corinthians were deciding what touched their bodies and infiltrated their minds, Paul counseled them to choose options that left a morally positive deposit in their souls.

In truth, everything we do affects all that we are.

In his letter, Paul explained that since Christ has purchased a believer's freedom, the exercising of that freedom must, therefore, honor Christ.

Consider the disciples who were called to be with Jesus. They walked with Him and talked with Him and proceeded to walk by others without saying a word.

Remember the Samaritan woman who spent time alone with Jesus by a well and then brought her whole town to meet Him? However, she was not the first person familiar with Jesus' presence to go into town that day.

The disciples had been there earlier.

We can read in John 4:8, "Jesus disciples had gone into the town to buy food." In town, they interacted with bakers, fishermen, and fruit sellers in the marketplace long enough to buy sufficient food t feed at least thirteen.

So twelve leaders who walked alongside Jesus 24/7 went into a town and said, "We'd like to buy six fish and a loaf of bread." How many people followed them back to meet Jesus?

Not even one.

One Samaritan woman who had spent perhaps less than an hour with Jesus went into the same town and said, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?" How many people followed her back to meet Jesus?

The whole town!

The author of this book, Dr. Alicia Britt Chole is an award-winning writer. She is a speaker, author, and leadership mentor who enjoys thunderstorms, jalapenos, and honest questions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Healing Power of Pain & Memory - Book Review

A Crazy, Holy Grace

The author's knows what it means to deal with pain, grief, and grace from a child after his father committed suicide. He shares that God is near even when He is silent.

The author's best writings covering such topic as loss of a loved one.

Loss/death will come to all of us, but we are not alone. God's holy healing grace is always present and available if we are quiet enough to receive it.

Through the gates of pain we enter into joy.

It seems that pain and death are on the rise, lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce, ready or not. Our lives are filled with freak accidents, cancer, and the steady decay of time. Stories of destruction and pain come at us from everywhere - our news, TV shows, movies, and social media sites - because fear and death seem to sell.

Simply put, suffering is universal.

We all have different ways of dealing with our pain, depending on what day it happens to be and how we happen to be feeling.

The author's mother had not only the suicide of his father but two other unsuccessful marriages. She lived to be a great age, and in many ways she remained a valuable person.

The author shares there could be a hundred and six other ways we have of coping with pain.

You don't have to talk about pain, but you have to live out of your pain.

Through the gates of pain we enter into joy.

God says He is with us on our journeys. He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began. Listen for God.

It is to choose to believe that the truth of our story is contained in Jesus's story, which is a love story. Jesus's story is the truth about who we are and who the God is who Jesus says loves us.

"And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the the way, and when you rise."

Frederick Buechner is the author of more than 30 books and has been important source of inspiration and learning for many readers. He has been awarded honorary degrees from institutions institutions including Yale University and Virginia Theological Seminary.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Remarkable Ordinary - Book Review

How to Stop, Look, & Listen to Life.

Listening For God In Stories We Tell:

The author first met Maya Angelou when the Trinity Institute brought them together to speak for a series of lectures. The Institute does this every year, and the lectures are frankly geared for burned - out Episcopal clergy - men and women who simply have had it.

The author had recently published two books, one of them called The Sacred Journey and one of them called Now and Then, in which he was about to set a sort of spiritual autobiography in the sense that he simply looked back on his life from its very beginning to listen to moments when he thought God had spoken to him.

They always have two people giving these lectures, and the other person they got was this extraordinary woman named Maya Angelou, who has told her story in not two but he think something like five volumes, the first of which is a marvelous book called I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings.

Maya Angelou was a large woman about the author height, black, beautiful, and so full of energy you can warm your hands in front of her. She was born in the South and brought up in great poverty by her grandmother in the little town of Stamps, Arkansas. Awful things happened to her. She was raped at the age of eight, not a violent rape but a sort of one-thing-leads-to-another rape by a boyfriend of her mother whom she'd gone to visit. She came back from that experience afraid to tell anybody about it, but she eventually told her little brother Bailey that this thing had happened. By a fluke, within a couple of days of the incident, word came that the man who'd raped her had died, and she was terrified that her words had killed him. So she was mute for five years - didn't say anything for five years. Well, she grew up, became a dancer, became a waitress, became a cook, and for a brief time she was a prostitute. She fell on evil times - the man whom she was with at the time said he needed some money and, if she wouldn't mind, could she entertain some of his friends, and she did for a time. Then she started to write and one thing led to another - acclaimed books, operas, films, and TV shows. She was a Renaissance woman, in other words.

Then Maya recalled the really marvelous high church Episcopal service that took place before the lectures began - there was incense and there was chanting and there were vestments, "she looked at the service, and she told the Episcopalians do it so well."

The wonderful truth of that, of course, is we act in these religious traditions and rituals as if we know what we're doing. Some of us think a church service is when we sing this, pray that, read this, and stand here and stand there.

The next day she had started her lecture reflecting on a story about racism, saying, "As I left the room yesterday, a man stood up and said, 'Here I am!'"

No sooner had these words left her lips when this small, bearded, white Episcopal clergyman suddenly stood up in their midst of a few rows behind her and walked down the aisle, up onto the platform, and put his arms around him. He was, of course, her friend who had been too embarrassed to talk to here anymore. And she cried and he cried all of them cried because they just got a glimpse of the kingdom of God. So moving. So gorgeous.

The author had given his lecture first, which was based, as he said, on his spiritual autobiography, and after he was done, he introduced Maya saying, "Ms. Angelou will now get up and tell your story, and it will be a very different story from the one that you just heard. As he said that Maya Angelou, who was sitting in the front row and shaking her head from side to side, got up, and she said he was wrong. She was very touched by that because in so many ways, what stories could be more different? I'm a man and and she's a woman, I'm white, she's black, she grew up in dire poverty while by comparison he grew up with riches, though God knows we weren't rich, and yet she said it's the same story. And she meant he think it is that at a certain level we do, all of us, with all the differences, we do all have the same story. When it comes to the business of how do you have faith in a world that gives you reasons every week not to believe, how do you survive - especially surviving our own childhoods as Maya Angelou survived hers and we've all survived ours - at that level we all have the same story, and therefore anybody's story can illuminate our own.

Better Than I Used to Be, but Far from Well:

His three daughters, his wife, and the author were living in this beautiful part of Vermont, rich, blessed, everybody healthy, very close, loving, did things together; and he always thought, This won't last, because that was what he learned in his childhood, that good things don't last, that there is always something waiting. There was a green hill as you looked out east from their house over the Green Mountains on the property of a neighbor of theirs, which had sort of a spine down one end.

Their oldest daughter, in her late teens he guess, became anorexic, a gradual process of not eating much. They would say, "Oh, for heaven's sake, you ought to have another piece of that," or "You can't go without breakfast," and so on. She went away to college, to Princeton, for a while and it got worst. Anyway, he would not go through all the details but she was married in the process of this to a boy they loved. And as it turned out, the anorexia destroyed the marriage.

You love all your children equally, I suppose, but she was his first child. She had made him a father, and he loved her as much as he had ever loved anybody. His love for her was like sort of his mother's love for him, too possessive, too much for his sake. The people who loved her right because they weren't emotionally involved were the hospital people, the psychiatrist, the one who fed her through her hose, and the people in AA because anorexia led to alcoholism as well.

She survived, and better than survived. One day she told him that she had so much help from AA that he really ought to try one of the twelve-step programs.

She said she was better than she use to be, but far from well. The journey continues; he does what he can. The great problem is to try to live in the present, not the past, not the future, but in the now.

Frederick Buechner is the author of more than 30 books and has been an important source of inspiration and learning for many readers. His books has been translated into 27 languages. He has been awarded honorary degrees from institutions including Yale University and Virginia Theological Seminary.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Brave Beauty - Book Review

Brave Beauty will take you on a journey for girls. It would be a good teaching book for girls and a book to give to girls. It has 100 mini chapters in the book about God.

Lynn Cowell discovered that writing helped her figure out herself. That's why she wrote this book; she wanted to take her readers on a journey to becoming a brave and fearless you!

This book has 100 mini chapters and it would be a good teaching book for girls.

We will see:
who God says you are
Look at people in the Bible and see how they handled hard things
Get to know more about God and how He can help us
Learn how God words can help us become fearless and brave

There are quizzes and questions throughout the book.

When Lynn was in the third grade, someone gave her a little gold book that read "Five Year Diary" on the outside. If she could remember who gave her, her first diary she would thank them.

At the end of each mini Chapter is a courageous call, is a prayer, "In Jesus' name, Amen."

Have you already asked God to make you a part of his family? If you haven't yet, you can simply ask God to make you His child and you, too, will belong.

There was a man in the Bible named Nicodemus, who felt a little confused. He heard about Jesus and saw miracles Jesus was doing, but he didn't really understand who Jesus was. He decided to go directly to Jesus and ask Him to explain.

Nicodemus was a leader in the church, but that didn't mean he had all the answers. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night, with questions and that was a brave approach.

The first thing Nicodemus wanted to know was who Jesus was.

Now Nicodemus was even more confused than when he came. He asked Jesus, "How can a man be born again when he is already old? He cannot get inside his mother's body again!"

Jesus explained to Nicodemus he could choose to become a part of God's family.

Jesus shared that when God's son, Jesus, came to earth, He made it possible for all of Nicodemus's sins to be forgiven. Then he could become a part of God's family and join God in heaven one day.

The price of our sins has already been paid (John 3:16). Jesus did that for you and me! It's a gift He gave us because He loves us so much.

When a family decides to adopt a child, they make that choice because they have a lot of love in their hearts and they want to share that love.

The Bible explains it this way: "God decided in advance, before we were born, to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

One of the promises that God made to us is that He will never leave us or forsake us.

As our father, God promises to take care of our needs. (Matthew 6:32) God already knows the things we need and He will take care of those needs.

God gives every person, including you, the ability to make a choice. You can decide whether or not you obey Him and experience His blessings. This decision is completely yours whether you are going to be a part of God's family or not.

I'm a part of God's family and I want you to be a part of it too.

Lynn shared when she would read her diary, it was fun reading about when she was younger.

Maybe when she talked about her struggles you would think, "Me too!" Your personality, body, even your family isn't the same as others so sometimes you have a hard time liking yourself just the way you are.

When God created you, He made you great from the very beginning.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV), says "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."

If you read through the Bible, you'll find lots of people who at one point or another felt unloved or rejected. Even Jesus was "looked down on and passed over." Isaiah 53:3 (MSG)

Remembering who we are in God's eyes help to heal the hurt that comes from meanness.

When Lynn was younger, she would often forget to do the chores her mom asked her to do. (Or was that really Lynn putting it off until she forgot on purpose?)

Lynn shares their has been times, that she felt like God has forgotten her.

You, too, know what it is like to feel like you haven't been remembered; left behind and left out.

God will never forget you!

When Lynn was younger she didn't mind being sick. When she was sick it meant she was able to stay at home from school with her Mom. All day long, her mom would bring her food and drinks to help her feel better.

In Matthew 14, we can read a story about Jesus meeting a lot of sick people. Jesus cousin, John the Baptist had just died. He wanted to be alone, but His boat landed, where there were many people, thousands of people, waiting for Him. They had heard He could heal their illnesses. Instead of wishing they would go away, verse 14 tells us, "... he had compassion on them and healed their sick."

After Jesus healed them, they didn't go away. His disciples told Jesus, "Send these people away so they can go and buy food for themselves." Jesus didn't want them to be sent away. Instead, He told the disciples to figure out a way to feed them; all 5,000 of them. All they found were five loaves and two fish. Jesus took what they had and miraculously fed everyone.

Jesus wants to protect you as you keep your eyes on Him each and every day.

When Lynn was a young woman her daddy passed away.

One day when her dad was getting ready to die, she was staying with him at the hospital. It was her birthday and her heart was sad to know that she was saying goo-bye to her dad. When she was going home from the hospital, she heard a song on the radio that talked about being completely healed and the way that healing came was by going to heaven and getting a new body.

Her daddy was dying, but her heart felt peaceful.

Just because you are young, doesn't mean you don't experience hard things in life. Parents divorce, love ones die, moves take us from our friends, and people do hurtful things. God is your refuge, strength, and help in trouble.

One day during fourth grade, Lynn's friend Liz asked her to come over after school. Lynn's mom had a rule that she couldn't go to anyone's house if there wasn't a parent there. Both of Liz's parents worked away from the home during the day. Lynn's mom had told her to never mess around with cigarettes.

Why didn't she listen to her mom's wise advice?

She didn't listen because she wanted Liz to like her.

At some point, you could find yourself in a situation similar to Liz. It might involve a TV show, a computer, a movie, a video, a friend, or a boy. There will be pressure, just like King Neb put pressure on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to bow down to his statue in Daniel 3.

The girl who is brave finds God's best; His plans for good for her life. The girl who runs with the "in" crowd all too often will miss it.

In fact, some friends might completely turn off the road of choosing what is right. You may have fewer friends or for a time, you may feel alone.

The tests of our character - the tests that we are taking and passing to become a brave beauty - can be the same way.

Passing tests isn't a school thing, it's a life thing.

At eight years old, Justine wasn't exactly sure what cancer was. But she did know her parents told her that her brother, who was only eighteen months old, had this thing called cancer.

Justine may not have understood how serious this illness was, but she did understand one thing: her family needed God to heal her brother.

God answered their prayers; God did heal her brother. Yes, God performed miracles in the Bible and He still performs miracles today!

In fact, Jesus says that if we only have faith the size of a tiny seed, nothing will be impossible for us.

Small people can see God do big things. Justine did!

There was a woman in the Bible who had an illness that was worst than Lynn's little cold. Her story is told in Mark 5:25-34 (NIV). This woman had been bleeding for twelve years. "She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse." (verse 26)

"When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If she touch his clothes, she would be healed." (verses 27-28) Immediately, Jesus' power went out of Him and into her. Her bleeding quit and her suffering stopped.

The woman had shown great bravery when she made her way through the crowd and touched Jesus' clothing. She had shown confidence in God, believing she would be healed.

The woman extended her faith when she reached out her arm. God met her; her prayers were answered.

As Lynn read her journals, she saw how God answered her prayers.

Ephesians 3:20 (MSG) Whatever big thing you can dream, God can do bigger.

Too often social media is all about making us feel good and important. We were made for one reason: to point others to the way, the truth, and the life: Jesus.

You need to be brave: brave enough to believe God has a big purpose for you.

Ella had broken one of her family's technology rules, watching a video she knew was wrong. Being ten was hard sometimes.

Ella couldn't sleep at night and her stomach had been hurting for days.

She went to her mom, sobbing, and confessed what she had done wrong.

Ella's mom hugged her and thanked her for being honest. She told Ella how brave she was to come and tell the truth. That didn't mean that honesty was a guarantee there would be no consequences or punishment for her actions.

The most important truth we need to know is that Jesus died to forgive us for our sins.

Lynn found a story in the Bible that doesn't get told much, probably because the names are so hard to pronounce.

Take a few minutes and read Exodus 1:15-17.

The women in this passage, Shiphrah and Puah, unlike Lynn, had every reason to be terrified. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt was ruthless. These two women were trained midwives - they were trained to help women through childbirth. Pharaoh was trying to get rid of the Israelite people. Pharaoh's plan was to command the women to destroy the little boys when they were born.

These women didn't care who was making the command. They feared God and did not do what the King of Egypt told them to do. They let every baby live; girl or boy.

Exodus 1:17 says the women "feared God." What the women felt toward God was respect and awe because of His power and holiness.

Shiphrah and Puah chose to obey God over fearing Pharaoh.

The author, Lynn Cowell is a part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries, speaking and writing to women of all ages. Lynn and her husband Greg have been married over 30 years and are parents of Zach, Mariah, and Madi.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Master's Mind - Book Review

The Master's Mind: The Art of Reshaping Your Thoughts

In fact, the Master has a whole different list of attributes in mind for us: hope, strength, beauty, joy, love, creativity, freedom, power, peace, patience, goodness, laughter, organization, effectiveness, and purpose.

Between the flesh, the world, and the Devil, we don't know what to think, and, therefore, our lives are filled with hurt, pain, and regret.

Jesus died to save us from our sins and set us free. He made a way for our souls to be rescued from our enemies.

It's time to return to the Master's Mind.

In approximately AD 31, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was asked the seemingly impossible question: "What is the greatest commandment of God?" Jesus simply replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength."

If we can master our minds and bring our thoughts into alignment with the Lord's will and perspective, the rest of our lives will follow suit.

Praise the Lord that He has told us who He is, who we are in the light of Him, and what we have been placed on this earth to do.

God does the rescuing and the saving. Our job is to steward what He has given us.

What we think determines our action. Martin Luther King Jr. determined that he would not rest until all people were viewed as God intended - equal. Mother Teresa determined that the poor would not be forgotten. Our Lord Jesus Christ walked His entire life on earth with a focus on completely obeying His heavenly Father, including the determination to end up on the cross to save us from our sins, as we see in this passage from Luke: "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).

The Bible tells us of an ancient high-ranking official who made a personal choice that would dictate the rest of his life and effectiveness. His name was Naaman, and he was a Syrian army commander who had leprosy, a terrible skin disease. Knowing that he was desperate for healing, his little servant girl told him of a prophet in Israel who could heal him by God's power. Figuring that it was worth a shot, Naaman went to see the prophet Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman that he would be healed if he washed seven times in the Jordan River.

Naaman was furious. He believed that the prophet was simply going to "call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure" him (2 Kings 5:11). When things didn't go the way he thought they should, he stormed off in a rage.

His attendant hurried after him and convinced him to reconsider. Sure, washing seven times was unorthodox, but what if it could heal him?

He relented - and came out healed from leprosy.

Naaman's false assumptions, ignorant thoughts, and prideful heart almost cost him his healing. What are we believing today that is keeping us from God's best?

It's true of God: Isaiah 14:24 tells us, "The LORD of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand."

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (Acts 17:26)

Before the New York firefighters and police officers ran into the collapsing Twin Towers on the fateful day of 9/11, they thought about it. Their heroic choice to risk their lives to protect others from a burning building was the result of truly stunning thoughts: Their job is to rescue others and put them before themselves. They would not let fear dictate their response.

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasures produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)

Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was explaining that our characters and beliefs determine the lives we live. Doing one thing on the outside doesn't make up for thinking another on the inside.

And when it comes to matters of faith, we spend the majority of our energy on sin management, completely avoiding the core issues. We'll never experience transformation until we address the thoughts at the root of our problems.

Bad thinking is dangerous. Wrong thinking can keeps us ineffective, wasting time on things that aren't important instead of living the lives God has for us.

Paul wrote in Romans about the distorted thinking common to humans and the consequences it brings. Since our sin nature is rooted in how we think our thoughts continue to be the primary block between us and God.

Jesus spoke about lust being equated with adultery.

Adam and Eve were the best of us: unadulterated humanity, good, pure, and perfect. But the day they ate the fruit that God told them not to eat, all of that changed. With their rebellion, sin entered the world and chaos was unleashed.

If you do not know the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love He demonstrated on the cross by dying for your sins, now is the time to engage with that truth.

God knows our plight. He knows we are hopelessly lost. When Adam and Eve threw away our birth right, He launched a redemption plan. The plan came to fruition approximately two thousand years ago, when God entered humanity and joined us where we were, in all our messiness. Doing all that we could not do, the God-man, Jesus Christ, offered up His perfect life - not only to satisfy our debt sin, but also to trade with us, the lost, so that we might be found and set free. We acknowledge that He is the King and His way is right. We offer open rights in which He can dwell by the power of His Holy Spirit so that we are never alone - not now, not ever.

"The most important thing about us is not what we do, but who and whose we are in Christ."

All He asks is that we stop fighting and let Him do what He does best - be our Savior and King. Paul the apostle wrote, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" ((Romans 5:1-2).

By definition, grace is "undeserved favor." Grace isn't earned; rather, it's given out of the goodness of someone else's heart.

Grace even cuts at the heart of the oldest and greatest of sin: pride. The same sin that caused the fall of Lucifer stirs in our souls. Once grace takes hold again, we experience peace.

God is working in us, and we can have faith in that process. But we also need to be aware of the biggest enemy of them all: the Devil.

The Devil is real, and he's a bad guy. He introduced the sin that brought down our world, he's a bully who picks on us every day, and he doesn't fight fair.

Listen to the apostle Peter: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Sin takes us from where we should be to where we should not be. Sin ruins our thoughts and poisons our hearts.

Sin is godlessness.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Therefore, God will never lead someone to sin; doing so goes against His very nature. He will test believers by putting them through difficult training that will strengthen them and reveal their current conditions (like a refiner's fire).

Satan seeks to harm.

God's intention is always for believers to emerge from a trial better than when they started, either in strength or in knowledge. He promises that every situation will have a way out - an escape hatch that can be utilized through obedience.

As we've seen, the Bible says that Jesus was tempted, yet was without sin. It also says, "In your anger do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26 NIV).

Acting on sin is temptation.

Praise the Lord that He is with us and that the Holy Spirit is helping us navigate all of this!

Nebuchadnezzar made a name for himself as a warrior king. He won the famous battle of Carchemish against the Egyptians the year he was called to throne. He fused his alliance with the Medes by marriage and expanded his territory by military force until he controlled much of the Middle East and all the trade routes across Mesopotamia.

He was so impressive that Saddam Hussein sought to claim his reincarnated personality. Hussein named one of his guard divisions after the ancient king and began rebuilding ancient Babylon in his honor, inscribing on the bricks, "To king Nebuchadnezzar in the reign of Hussein."

This great and powerful king lost his mind.

God leveled Nebuchadnezzar for pride and arrogance, and once that was done, he lifted his hand immediately and miraculously. Nevertheless, his story reminds us that even the might fall sometimes, and no mind is invulnerable.

Everybody remembers Mister Rogers' Neighbor right? But did you know that it aired from 1968 to 2001, produced 895 episodes, and earned four Emmy awards?

There's a reason that a Presbyterian reverend from Pennsylvania received the coveted Peabody Award, the Ralph Lowell Award, more than forty honorary degrees, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He wanted to use children's imaginations as God intended them - to think through new perspectives.

You and I are precious - and so is every human on earth.

On the day Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they sold their souls to the Enemy.

Jesus Christ needed to come to set us free. We are free to become what He created us to be and not be forced into the mold of our enemies.

Our Master paid for us.

Even if we are free, we still need a Savior. We are still designed for relationship with God as our Father. We are still built for His glory. We are not our own.

We long to worship.

Christianity needs to be a thriving relationship with God filled with the Holy Spirit and all the incredible blessings He has given us. We need to be so filled up that the Holy Spirit forces out evil.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit gives us "living water."

Paul says that we have been raised with Christ, which means we are a new creation, born again with all the sin of our lives dead and gone.

Transformation always begins in our thoughts.

When Jesus told His listeners to "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2), He did not simply mean "feel terrible for your wickedness now that I'm here." Repent doesn't only mean to turn away but to change one's mind and start agreeing with God.

Jesus Christ is the One who can set us free, not just when we get to heaven, but increasingly so right here on earth.

God will hold us accountable for how we manage our minds and handle our hearts.

One of the precious tools God has provided is supernatural protection for His children. The apostle Paul called it the armor of God in Ephesians 6:11-18.

Lance Hahn is the senior pastor of Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin, California. His first book, How to live in fear mastering the Art of Freaking Out, Chronicles his personal struggles with panic disorders and offers tools for thriving through fear. A popular speaker who enjoys writing, Lance is a husband to Suzi and father to two daughters.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Talent the Bomb:Discover Yourself - Book Review

This book is about a vision that the author Pastor had about him. This books covers Talents, Parenting and Education.

There is a difference between a learned skill and a God-ordained Talent or Talents (gifts).

Your talents will make room for you.

A talent is your God-ordained gift or gifts.

The author pastor shared a vision that he had about him. The vision is below:

In the vision, he saw the author climbing a high mountain with other climbers; they were climbing to the top of the mountain. He was fully dressed like a mountain climber in the vision and he had a small can of water with him. He said in the course of climbing the strange high mountain, they occasionally got tired. So whenever any of the climbers got tired of climbing the mountain, he would stop to help the climber or himself with some water from his small can of water to quench their thirst and regain strength to continue their journey to the top of the mountain.

They continued like this with the author helping himself and his fellow climbers until they reached to the top of the mountain. They also helped the author in various ways for him to get to the top of the mountain unhurt.

His pastor told him that those on the mountain top immediately saw him with water, and came rushing to him. Some were running and others were crawling. Some were on their knees begging for water and others wanted the water by force.

The more they drank from this special can of water, the more the can was increased with water.

This dream made me think about three Scriptures from the Bible: How 5 loaves and 2 fishes was increased by Jesus and 5,000 was fed (Matthew 14:17-21). How Elijah the Tishbite miraculously supplies food to the widow woman of Zarephath and her son (1 Kings 17:10-16). Look at the Parable of the loaned money (Talents) the master divided the money (Talents) among his servants according to their abilities.

The author Pastor told him that the meaning of the vision was his struggles in life to get to the top of his destiny. The special can of water represented the author God given Talents and gifts. While climbing and struggling to get to the top, you need to help other people to get to the top of their own destiny, life and career with your talents and gifts. While they also do the same to help you get to where you are supposed to be in life.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Exodus 31:3 ... Craftsman given special skill. (And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship).

This is an ebook written by Alexander Busybrain.

He dedicated his book to his late Dad, which was his hero and Best Friend, the Late Mr. Vincent Njoku.

Alexander mentions in his book the love he had for his mother, dad, beautiful wife, other Pastors, and his siblings for their care, support, prayers and reviewing his book.

Friday, July 21, 2017

6 of 6 ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

This fourth soil of the heart is what every Christian should strive for in their walk with God for this is the fertile ground that bears fruit for our Lord.

The other three soils were not allowed to dominate the heart. The heart did not allow any of the five thorns to take root, spread and dominate its soil to the point where it choked and suffocated the Word of God. To get the fourth point where it chocked and suffocated the Word of God.

We must hear the Word of God, gladly receive it into our hearts, understand its message of truth, then hold fast to it in order to bring forth fruit reaping a harvest thirty, sixty, a hundred times of what has been sown.

We must also receive this word into our hearts to enter into this blessed fourth soil. The Greek word for "receive" means to accept deliberately, willingly, favorably and readily and to embrace with favor and delight.

We are God's tilled field according to 1 Corinthians 3:9.

Simply being a Christian does not guarantee that the soil of the heart is in this fourth category. We have a responsibility before God to guard the soil of our heart and, as James says, "get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness."

The Word of God must also be understood if we are to abide in this fourth category of soil. All spiritual growth comes by the way of understanding the Word of God. Without understanding the seed cannot grow and produce fruit.

The next requirement of this fourth soil of the heart is that we keep and hold fast the Word of God in an honest and good heart.

The soil of our hearts is most fertile when it is living love by helping, caring for, rescuing and comforting others.

Secondly, the Word of God must be kept in a heart that is a beautiful representation of Jesus Christ so people can see our good deeds and glorify our Heavenly Father.

The last requirement of the fourth soil of the fourth soil of the heart is that it brings forth fruit with patience. The Greek word for "patience" means steadfastness, perseverance, and to remain or abide under.

Look at the patience of the farmer. He does not plant his seed and then rushes to his window the next day expecting to see a full harvest.

God's desire is that we bear much fruit, and this is His faithful promise.

Our heart needs steadfast patience and endurance to finish the race God has called us to and fully accomplish the will of God in our lives. Without this patient and endurance our heart's soil will fall into the second or third category of soil in the parable of the sower and the seed.

No one exercised more patience when he lived upon the earth than Jesus Christ.

Only when we look to Jesus can we run the appointed race with patience, steadfast endurance and not grow weary, faint, or lose heart. How many lives have been wasted by a lack of patience!

When all of the requirements of the fourth soil are met, Jesus makes an astounding promise that we shall reap a harvest thirty, sixty to hundred times what was sown. This is a yield of three thousand, six thousand and ten thousand percent.

Is this the return that we are having in the church?

Sadly, very few Christians have ever reached this forth soil. The world with all its philosophies, mantras, formulas, and education can never manufacture, replicate or create the fruit of the spirit in the human heart.

Idols have more influence on the condition of the heart than any other thing in the world! Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis and the introduction of sin into the human race, the heart has become an idol factory countless idols to love, worship and obey.

Isaiah 24:5 states that the entire earth has been polluted by idolatry and a curse has devoured the world.

The Bible is the life manual and instruction book on the ways of God and its urgent warnings against idolatry should not be ignored.

All humanity has been seduced into the snare of idolatry. Idolatry is based upon deception.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many enter therein" (Matthew 7:13).

Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

God never lies about about who He is and what He will do.

Perfect order, peace and joy are restored when the Almighty is exalted, praised and worshipped.

The Bible teaches that the heart is the battleground of idolatry.

The heart was never meant to be a place for idols. Idolatry turns the dwelling place of God into a pagan temple.

The heart becomes what it worship.

So what exactly is an idol? An idol is anything that is more valued, loved, sought after, desired and honored than God.

What are you most devoted to?

Your eyes guide your heart as all idolatry begins with the gaze of the eye.

How could Aaron, that stood by Moses and witnessed firsthand some of the most amazing manifestations of the power of God, be so easily persuaded to fashion a false god for the children of Israel?

You can never serve two masters.

It is too dangerous to leave even one piece of any idol in the temple of our hearts. We should never utter the name of any other god, but Yahweh.

Every idol has a spirit from the kingdom of darkness behind it that drives a person to love and worship it.

Baal was believed to be the giver of life, and entire nations were devoted to Baal because they believed he was the one who would sustain their farms, flocks, and families.

The first usage of the word "believe" in the entire Bible concerns the faith of Abraham in the name of Yahweh (Genesis 15:6).

Do you have a heart for God or an idol?

Too often we have honored God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him.

We will not be able to hold our ground as Christians and stand fast in the Lord, if we allow His mighty works, powerful words and glorious presence to fade from our conscious thinking.

The Spirit of God is always teaching, leading, comforting, encouraging, helping, enlightening, reminding and instructing our hearts so we live for Christ, and do not forget God or His precious words of life.

The old nature brings to the mind, the lusts of the flesh, and the seductive trappings of this world. The new nature exercises its influence to bring us to a place where God is supreme in all our thoughts, motives, and emotions.

Doesn't God deserve to be your first love?

Lord help me to never, ever forget you!

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate and bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, and classics. An attorney and author. President of Goodness of God's Ministries and lives in Indianapolis with his wife and son.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Wheels of Wisdom - Life Lessons For The Restless Spirit: Book Review

Certainly, you don't want to begin in a trek across the open frontier, whether by bicycle or on foot, without the bare necessities: a compass, food, water, and protection from the elements. However, you may also want to consider packing wisdom, encouragement, perseverance, and hope. Wisdom will help you make good decisions, encouragement will sustain you, and perseverance will keep you moving forward. Hope seals the success of a journey across any frontier, because it convinces you that safe arrival at your destination is possible.

As Director of Rescue for TheHopeLine, the authors have the opportunity to serve and oversee others who serve many people who lack bare necessities and are struggling to move forward. Each year, TheHopeLine engages tens of thousands of people around the globe. In the authors role, they've learned three things about the need out there: First, people are struggling regardless of location, age, occupation, ethnicity, religion or income. Second, everyone needs help sometimes.

This book is neither a theological book nor an adventure journal, though it contains elements of both.

The authors come at life from a Christian perspective. We know that not all people are in the same place in their spiritual journey - or even believe such exist.

The authors "honeymoon on wheels" occurred in the summer of 2010 shortly after they were married. They were first-time newlyweds at age fifty-two. They shared this journey in their inaugural book, Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast, a memoir that describes how God brought them together and then the celebration that followed on their self-supported tour from Oregon to Maine.

In 2012, they cycled from Florida to Maine on their Mom-to-Mom Tour.

Then, in 2014, the authors embarked across America yet again when they cycled from Oregon to Pennsylvania. They dedicated that tour to raising awareness and funds for a cause that is dear to their hearts. Hence, the name TheHopeLine Tour of 2014 came to be.

They share in the book that speak to recognizing your purpose and calling. Discerning right from wrong is important, but it's not always easy.

All of us were created with unique qualities, and we were not cut out for just anything.

Truly wise is a person who thinks before he speaks and says something that sticks with you.

Not all of us are wired to bicycle seventy miles a day. Have you ever asked yourself, What was I made to do? We all have unique gifts and desires. Once you discover your special attributes and devote your time to utilizing them, you'll experience deep joy and fulfillment as you live out a facet of God's calling on your life.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. JEREMIAH 29:11

When you travel to parts unknown, you need a reliable map. And when you feel you're losing your way through life, it's time to consult the road map for life - and to follow what it says.

Francis Marion National Forest was the setting for a beautiful ride on the Mom-to-Mom Tour after we left Moncks Center.

When Debbie became a Christian and finally allowed God to guide her through life, His Holy Spirit kindled her heart and stimulated her mind as she read the Bible. She could ask and to shed light on challenging passages. Studying the Bible with others has also helped illuminate its meaning for Debbie.

Just like the bicycling maps, the Bible offers more than she realized at first. No wonder it is the best-selling book in the world. The Bible has become her daily dose of wisdom, hope, and encouragement.

The Bible contains instructions that can guide you wherever you go in life. Debbie shares she is going to follow His Word as best she can, one step at a time, so she will never get lost again. Won't you join following the Bible?

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. PSALM 119:105

When you're off course, you need to take great pains to get back on course or else you will jeopardize the achievement of your ultimate goal. And, sometimes, shortcuts will only get you further off course.

Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. PROVERBS 4:25-26

When was the last time you took a shortcut and got off track in your personal life?

You've heard it said, "Haste makes waste." Well, it's true. Take the time to do things right the first time.

As Time and Debbie headed into town, he said to Debbie, "His rear tire doesn't feel right. It's squishy."

He wrestled with the heavy, bulky bicycle and then decided to remove the panniers,because he couldn't balance the bicycle and work on it. Debbie located the tools and handed them to him. A young man who had heard their commotion from an open window emerged from the house on the corner as he removed the rear tire.

"Do you need any tools or any help?" he offered. He was wearing a T-shirt with a logo for a Christian school, which he found reassuring, he'd volunteered for years helping a Christian school with their accounting,

When they arrived in town, they pulled up to a convenience store for a break. When he looked down at the newly repaired tire, it was flat ... again. Maybe the young man at their last stop would have performed the repair more proficiently than Tim had.

Sometimes we travel through life too fast.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. PSALM 103:10

Do you find yourself having to repeat chores because you hurried through them the first time?

What you value most will either advance you toward your goals or prevent you from attaining them. The wrong values and priorities can derail your trek.

We'd traveled the Hi-Line for four days on our honeymoon tour.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. MATTHEW 6:21

Unexpected developments can lead to discouragement.

Rather than losing hope, be encouraged. You can get moving at a healthy pace once again.

It's important to remember these two words found throughout the Holy Bible: "Fear Not."

Fear not, for I am with you: be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ISAIAH 41:10

How can you continue to move ahead and work through your fear rather than allowing it to control you?

When we dwell on problems rather than seek encouragement and solutions, it's hard to move forward. Negative thinking will kill our efforts every time.

Debbie and Tim were both determined to move on, wiser and better prepared.

Sometimes, God sends us help when we're having trouble helping ourselves.

Debbie wondered what caused their Good Samaritans to pass their way precisely when they needed them the most. What caused them to stop?

It's confronting to know God sends the perfect helpers at just the right time. You needn't be afraid or worry when you trust in Him. Simply enjoy the ride!

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. LUKE 10:33

How did you describe it at the time: as a chance encounter or a divine appointment? How about now?

When you experience a miracle, it's time to let others know about it.

Debbie have been amazed by the healing power of God. When she asked God to take away her bulimia back in the early summer of 1986. God hears our cry for help and healing.

Sometimes, we are healed instantly, and sometimes, it takes time. Since she became a Christian, she have had to wait a long time for some prayers to be answered. Throughout her thirties and forties, she prayed for a husband. Tim and Debbie did not get married until they were both fifty-two.

One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see. JOHN 9:25B

When the riding gets rough, don't lose sight of the big picture. Difficult circumstances are usually temporary. You'll find relief on the other side and have a better appreciation for the blessings in life.

Encouragement feeds a soul in pursuit of worthy goals. You'll find it in most unexpected ways.

And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. MATTHEW 28:20B

Think of three different forms of encouragement that you received in the last week.

After dinner, Debbie and Tim had joined about four hundred people of all ages already gathered in the large auditorium for worship, the program, and prayer. It was powerful. The praise band led them in worship.

Finally, a humbly prayer warrior prayed that God's extravagant would ignite a mass movement of faith in Jesus across the nation.

God makes a promise in 2 CHRONICLES 7:14 - "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Tim and Debbie Bishop have coauthored four books about their midlife launch into marriage, cross-country bicycle touring, and other matters of faith and inspiration.

The Bishops serve as volunteer for Hope Coaches for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Since TheHopeLine receives its support entirely from private sources, it is often in need of funding to sustain its important work.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

5 of ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

The Third Soil of the Heart: The Choking Weeds - Five Thorns to Avoid

Let us examine the third soil of the heart and what happens when the Word of God is sown into it.

In this third soil of the heart, the seed of the Word of God fell among the seeds of thorns and both began to grow in this fertile soil. This word "thorn" in the Greek means a thorny plant, a bramble bush, briers, and thistles.

Israel in Bible times had a great variety of these thorny weeds throughout its land. Giant thistles, growing to the height of a man on horseback, frequently spread over regions once rich and fruitful. Prickly roses abound on the lower slopes of Hermon.

Thorns are carriers of spiritual disease and allow rebellion, lust, and idolatry to ride into the human heart.

The First Thorn: The Cares of This World. (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19). The Greek word for "cares" in these verses means an anxious worry that distracts and divides the mind. These anxious worries and cares are indicative of a heart that does not trust God.

Unrepentant sin is a major cause of anxiety in the heart. Anxiety, worry and fear are sin, and should have no place in the heart of a christian.

The Second Thorn: The Cares of This Life. The second thorn in the Parable of the Sower is "the cares of this life." The same Greek Word is used for "cares" so these are still anxious worries that divide and distract the mind and agitate the heart with fear, but it is a different category of cares.

Jesus perfectly illustrates these anxious cares in the Sermon on the Mount and commands these worries have no place in the heart of the child of God.

The Third Thorn: The Deceitfulness of Riches. Millions of people have been corrupted, ruined and destroyed by the deceitfulness of riches. Riches can turn the heart away from God quicker than almost anything on earth.

John Wesley said wealth had destroyed the godliness of more people than other things. This thorn illustrates the eternal truth in the Sermon on the Mount that "where your treasure is there your heart be also" (Luke 12:34).

The Fourth Thorn: The Lust for Other Things. The fourth thorn in the Parable of the Sower are "the lust for other things."

Lust is excessive desire that has gone overboard and adrift from the heart of God that seeks self-satisfaction, self-gratification and self-pleasure as its ultimate thrill ride. Lust has no perception of eternity and no realization of its deadly consequences to the heart.

The Fifth Thorn: The Pleasures of This Life. The fifth and final thorn in the Parable of the Sower is the "pleasures of this life." The Greek word for "pleasures" is "hedone" which means delight, pleasureable, sensation, and sensual pleasures. Hedone is an unrestrained pursuit of anything that over stimulates the senses, stopping at nothing to gorge the body's sinful inner cravings.

Tim Rowe, the author, has a doctorate of jurisprudence and a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, and classics. He is the president of Goodness of God Ministries and lives with his wife and son.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

4 of ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

The Second Soil of the Heart: Rocks, Scorching & Withering.

Let's examine the second soil of the heart & what happens when the seed of the Word of God is sown into it.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word & immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, & when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21, ESV)

On the surface, this second soil of the heart looks like good, fertile ground for the Word of God. The seed has a sudden, brief growth spurt, but its young root can never develop & become strong. Once it hits the rock, the root soon withers away causing the tiny plant that has emerged from the soil to die. The second soil of the heart is the great enemy to the growth of the Word of God.

Never forget how important it is for the seed of the Word of God to take root deeply in our hearts so it can produce fruit. The seed of the Word of God contains everything that God is: His love, righteousness, grace, salvation, goodness, holiness, faithfulness, peace & joy just to name a few. Faith comes by hearing this magnificent seed of the Word of God & allowing it to grow & become engrafted into the very fiber of the heart.

Importance of a Strong Root System. For the seed of the Word of God to prosper & grow into a strong, healthy tree, it must have a deep root system. The root system allows the heart to be anchored to the character of God.

2 Kings 19:30 declares that we must take root downward, so that we can bear fruit upward! Proverbs 12:12 declares that the root of the righteous yields fruit, & shall not be moved, because it is anchored in the Word of God.

It is imperative as Christians that we cultivate a deep root system of the Word of God in our hearts. The truth in Psalm 1 is vital to maintain a healthy spiritual heart.

The word "blessed" describes the condition of our heart should be in daily & it is linked to what it is rooted in. The Hebrew word "blessed" conveys the idea of happiness that flows from a sense of well-being & righteous. Bad company will corrupt the heart & destroy its root system. Our delight, desire, & longing must be to know God & His Word as the great treasure of our heart.

Do we delight in the pure words of Scripture more than the words from television, radio, Internet & chatter of the trival that relentlessly bombards our lives daily?

When we delight in the Word of God & mediate upon it daily, the spiritual root system of our heart is strong in God.

Jesus Christ is the true vine & we are to abide in Him if we are to be branches that bear much spiritual fruit.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, & let your lives be built on him.

Let's examine tribulation & persecution in more depth & see how they have such a dramatic effect on the heart.

Tribulation: The Forceful Squeezing of the Heart. The Greek word for "tribulation" is thlipsis which means to press, squeeze, compress, & crush. It was used to describe the squeezing of olives in a press to extract oil & the squeezing of grapes to produce juice.

The Lesson of Joseph. Thlipsis is the word to describe what Joseph went through before He was made governor in Egypt.

The world specializes in thlipsis.

Jesus Christ: Our Example in Times of Thlipsis. Thlipsis is nothing to Jesus Christ. He endured the worst thlipsis ever known to mankind in the ordeal of the crucifixion. His sweat was like great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in intense prayer to his Heavenly Father. He was about to go through forty hours of beatings, mocking, torture, physical disfigurement, & unbearable pain. He endured this brutal physical punishment to pay the price for our sin & crush the power of the kingdom of darkness, ushering us as citizens into his kingdom.

Only in Jesus Christ can we be victorious over thlipsis. Only in Jesus Christ can we endure & overcome the blistering heat of the kosmos, the entire system that the Devil has set up as the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Only in Jesus Christ can we withstand this pressure & emerge over every burden & weight thrown at our heart.

Thlipsis & the Birth of Extraordinary. God always births something extraordinary in the heart when we come through a season of thlipsis still firmly rooted in Christ & the Word of God.

God uses the word "thlipsis" to describe the anguish the female body endures in labor. The woman is pregnant with something extraordinary & amazing with a wonderful, beautiful baby forming in her womb.

Likewise our heart is pregnant with the extraordinary plans, purposes & works of God Almighty, but it is only when we come through the labor pains of thlipsis that the heart gives birth to something extraordinary. How tragic that we never give birth to God's amazing plans & purposes for our life because under the crushing pressure of thlipsis we have a miscarriage.

Jesus Christ endured the intense thlipsis of the crucifixion & bearing the sin of the human race, but now he is seated at the right hand of God having obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe.

Look what was birthed out of the heart of Joseph when he passed the thlipsis test. What an extraordinary thing God birthed in the heart of Joseph to go from a slave, condemned in prison, to a ruler of a mighty kingdom.

God birthed an extraordinary calling & work in the heart of David as he became the greatest king in the history of Israel & a man after God's own heart.

The Apostle Paul was deeply rooted in Christ & the Word of God & endured great thlipsis during his journeys to spread the gospel. He suffered beatings, stoning, false accusations, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger, weariness, riots & persecution. His ministry turned the world upside down, & he shook the gates of hell with the truth of the gospel.

Jesus Christ: The Focal Point of all Persecution. Persecution arises out of the violent clashing between two spiritual kingdoms. The Word of God is the mighty weapon of one kingdom. The heart is at the center of this fierce battle. The Book of Revelation speaks of this. (Revelation 12:4b-5,7,9,12b,17)

Jesus Christ is the focal point of all persecution because He is God's plan for redemption. He is the Savior, the Great Shepherd, the second Adam, the Alpha & Omega, the light of the world, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the life, & the door to God's kingdom. He restored everything that Adam & Eve had lost in the Garden of Eden & conquered sin & death.

The Greek word for "hatred" in John & Luke means to pursue with hatred, to detest, to have extreme hostility towards, & to abhor.

Surprising Source of Most Persecution. The Devil is very subtle as persecution often arises from our inner circle: our churches, fellow-christians, family, friends, co-workers, teachers, professors, neighbors, & community.

The devil loves religion because it has nothing to do with the true God & is an easy facade to hide his deceptions. Look at our Savior as the constant persecution to his ministry was from the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests & scribes, who were the religious elite of his day. The great religious men & their corrupt system crucified their Messiah.

Persecution also comes from the inner circle of our family, friends, & close associates whom the Devil craftily influences to shake our faith in God & His Word.

When Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem near the time of his crucifixion, great multitudes of apparent followers & disciples cried out "Hosanna (save us please) to the son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord even the King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!" This whole multitude rejoiced & praised God with a loud voice. Many of these people had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out from the grave & had heard about this great miracle. The entire city of Jerusalem was moved & the multitude declared "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee!"

The Greek word for "seize" means to take hold of forcibly, to take into custody & arrest, to continually hold back, to hinder & restrain, to prevail & rule over, & to take into one's possession.

Jesus Christ: The Prince of Peace. Without Jesus no person on earth can ever have true peace.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, means wholeness, completeness & soundness. It is an inward & outward tranquility, a quiet assurance, & a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, & satisfaction in life.

God is the source of all peace, & we have peace because of our relationship with Him. His peace is our peace. Peace can not live in a heart of unbelief.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history & classics. He is president of Goodness of God's Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.