Sunday, October 26, 2014

We interrupt this blog for a wedding!!

I will be taking a break from the blog to focus my time and energy on being with and helping my sweet daughter, Schaeffer, plan the wedding where she will marry the love of her life!

Here's the video if you missed it!!

Thanks for all your love, prayers and well wishes!  Be back in November/December with pictures, updates and more of all that God is teaching me as I, through His power and strength, live out His design!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Songs of a Suffering King

Ever have those days when things are so tough that your overwhelming urge is that you must get alone and get into God's Word?  I need His Word daily...hourly...moment by moment.  But some days, in the midst of chaos, confusion, trial or testing, my heart cries out, "go to the Word!"  I would say 99% of the time that happens I head straight to the Psalms.  The Psalms have always brought me so much comfort and seem to mirror so many of my heartaches, joys or sorrows.  They are so...real. So, it was eye-opening for me to read, in the new book Songs of A Suffering King, that

"Sadly, the Psalms no longer have a place of prominence in the worship of the broader church or even with many Reformed churches. Perhaps part of the reason of this dearth of the Psalms is the church's unfamiliarity with this wonderful, divinely inspired hymnbook."  

That statement really surprised and saddened me.  I am thankful that from a young age I was taught to cherish the Psalms and that our church regularly reads and sings the Psalms as a congregation.  I am also grateful for this book written by J.V. Fesko.  It didn't take me long to become engulfed in this easy to read devotional type book that just leads you through Psalm 1-8, while pointing out the beauty of seeing the centrality of Christ throughout.

The author's desire to show the importance of the Psalms and the beauty of the context within them shines through as he exhorts the reader to not cease to plumb the depths of truth and comfort
laid out in them for us.
It's no wonder to me, that during some of my most trying times, the Spirit graciously leads me to read the Psalms.  With Christ at the center of this inspired Word, we are called to find our strength and comfort through the One who can relate to all trials.  The One who became flesh for us and was tempted as we are (Hebrews 4:15) and who understands our joys and our sorrows.  The One who showed us the way from suffering to glory!  What better comfort is there?

Songs of a Suffering King is a great place to start if you are getting acquainted with the Psalms or a great supplement if you are a regular student of the "grand Christ hymn".  The book not only highlights the first eight books, but also includes a metrical version of each Psalm and short devotional questions for further study.  

"Christians know they need instruction not only to pray but also to sing.  By tracing the narrative of Christ in the opening eight Psalms of the Psalter, this book helps me pray while I sing and sing while I pray.  I've learned not only to hear Christ in each Psalm, but I also begin to sing under the aegis of Christ, the chief musician."  Gerald M. Bilkes

Songs of a Suffering King was provided to me by Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway!

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I got the offer to review this book.  I like Duck Dynasty, but I've never been a huge fan and it's not something I would willingly watch without coercion! But, I know lots of people that love them and I do appreciate their values and willingness to take a stand in a world where there are way too many who won't.  And it's a children's book.  Seeing that I have so many children :)  I thought it would be great to review it and see how it went over with mine.  And since I do know what the Robertsons stand for, I knew that it would be one book I wouldn't have to scour first before I let my kids read it if I couldn't get to it right away.

So, a little background to set the stage of our encounter with Willie's Redneck Time Machine.
We home school and we use the curriculum called Robinson Curriculum.  We love it and one of the things we love the most is the great literature for the reading requirements.  Most of the days the kids do their two hours of reading on their own, but we enjoy reading aloud together as well, so at least one day a week we have a book we are reading together as a family. When this book came in the mail, I decided it might be a fun diversion from our more scholarly reading.  Fun diversion? This book is a hoot!  My skepticism is long gone and we simply can't put the book down!  Written by John Luke Robertson, son of Willie Robinson, this book leads you through a series of stories and scenarios that keep you guessing what could possibly come next.  Well, here-the back cover describes it the best:

 In Willie's Redneck Time Machine, you are Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander. When you find a mysterious outhouse in the Duck Commander warehouse, you discover there’s more to it than meets the eye. Soon you’re traveling through time and space, following John Luke to a nineties prom, getting lost in biblical times, and fighting a futuristic war in the year 2319. You and the other Robertsons have crazy adventures, but you need to get back to West Monroe for Korie’s birthday party. Will you make the right choices to get home on time?
In the Be Your Own Duck Commander series, you get to choose what happens next!

My kids were immediately drawn in after the first couple pages when I then read, "Do you step inside the outhouse to check it out yourself? Turn to Page 29.  Or do you stay outside and wait to see who's playing a trick on you?  Turn to Page 63."  I barely got the words out before my kids were all screaming their choice for how they wanted the story to go!  We actually had to take a vote to decide. I loved how involved it got them.  Not only for their listening skills, but also because the story has some great historical stuff in it that led to questions from the little ones and a display of knowledge about the subject from the older ones.  Not all of it is historical as you do end up at prom and a place called Walmazon...but it is all good fun!  And, of course, our favorite twists in the story are always when Si shows up somehow with some crazy non-sensical scheme or story.

In one story, you have the option to turn to a page in Jase and the Deadliest Hunt.  The boys were real excited about that one, so I turned to the page to find it wasn't what I thought it was.  Jase and the Deadliest Hunt is actually another book in the series!  How fun that one book has you finish out the story by turning to a page in another book.  In fact, there are four books in the series:

Willie's Redneck Time Machine
Phil and the Ghost of Camp CH-YO-CA
Si in Space
and Jase and the Deadliest Hunt

I have not read any of the other books, but if they are anything like Willie's Redneck Time Machine then they are sure to prove to be great fun.  We have had a great time reading it and I've even caught my kids looking for it for after school recreational reading!

I'm excited to announce that Tyndale sent me an extra book to give away to one of my readers!  This would be a great gift for Christmas or just fun to have for a read aloud for your family!  If you would like to enter to win, follow the instructions below!
*Tyndale provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: Women of the Word

There are quite a few "titles" I have been adding to my list of ways I would love for people, but mostly God, to describe me:  Worshipper, faithful follower of Christ, Help-meet, godly mother....and definitely a woman of the Word.

I was so excited to see this book by Jen Wilkin come out.  Even more excited when asked to review it.  I have many people ask me for recommendations of good books, and specifically, good books for women.  While any great theological, biblically sound book is equally useful for men and women, I was intrigued by a book written specifically to women calling and challenging them to be Women of the Word.

The actual title of the book is Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.  Being a woman, wife, mom of 10, married to a pastor, I know two things:  First, because of all those things, I desperately NEED to be a woman of the Word!  Second, because of all those things, it is extremely difficult to study the Bible with my heart and my mind!  Distraction comes so easily.  Time management is a challenge.  Being still before God is a struggle.  Yet, in order to do all the things He has called me to, I need the power, strength and guidance of His Word.  I need the peace and comfort that comes from abiding in Him, strengthened from the root in order to produce fruit that is profitable for His glory and my abundant joy.

In order to be seeking out His will daily in our lives we need more than a sermon on Sunday morning. We need more than some emotional songs that give us temporary uplifting.  We even need more than reading a verse here and there as some sort of vitamin for our biblically malnourished souls!  We need to know WHO God is, WHAT He has done, and HOW He accomplishes His will in order to rightly be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.  What a privilege it is for those who are in Christ, to have the Holy Spirit whose work is to illuminate the scriptures for us, convict and comfort God's children!  Becoming a Woman of the Word stands firmly on that privilege and takes advantage of the abundance of blessings and promises God has ordained for us.

You won't be disappointed in this book to lead you to this point.  Jen Wilkin does a wonderful job of diagnosing our spiritual illiteracy and outlines a wonderful structure for personal discipleship.  With chapter titles of:

  • Study with Purpose
  • Study with Perspective
  • Study with Patience
  • Study with Process
  • Study with Prayer
  • and Pulling It All Together
she clearly lays out a clear direction to get you started in becoming a true disciple and studier of the Word.  You will love the Pulling It All Together chapter as she even gives a great example of how to actually do somewhat of inductive bible study and how it fleshes out the passage.  If nothing else, Women of the Word is a great diagnostic tool to measure your spiritual thirst against the things of the world that drown out God's will for your life.

Does becoming a Woman of the Word take time?  Yes, yes it does!  Can you think of anything in your life more important than seeking Him first?  I can't.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.  Jeremiah 15:16

Jen Wilkin. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 160 pp. $12.99.
(I was given a free copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Of Mice and Cookies...and milk.

My kids and I always loved the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!
They are all too big for it now, but I'm saving my copy for grand babies!  And, I'm seriously considering writing a companion book called If You Learn to Stand on the Promises(or something catchy that one of my amazing friends comes up with)!  Just like that mouse and his cookie eating chain of events, when we start learning God's Word and the promises He has given His children (see intro post here),it becomes a catalyst to an amazing chain of events in the Christian life! 

The whole concept of cause and effect is such a great learning/teaching tool.  The story of that mouse is cute and sweet...and, I'm convinced, a plot, along with the Stuart Little thing, to get us to think mice are adorable.  Not happening.  


Anyway...sidetracked...cause and effect!  Such a great teaching tool beginning with the best cause and effect of all time! 
Because Adam could not keep the covenant of works, sin entered the world.  
Because of that sin, all born in the first Adam were to pay the wages of that sin. 
Because of God's great love toward us, He made a way to justify us.  
Because He sent His only Son(the second Adam) to make atonement for our sin and fulfill the covenant of works and the covenant of Grace, we are covered in His righteousness.  
Because we are covered in His righteousness, we are no longer enemies of God. 
Because we are no longer enemies of God, He has called us friend.  
Because we are His friend, He(Jesus) has made known to us everything He has learned from our Father. 
Because He has made everything He has learned from His Father known to us(joint-heirs with Christ), we can stand on the promises of God!  

Now, that was a very If You Give a Mouse a Cookie way of showing the cause and effect of the gospel, and those causes and effects are MUCH more detailed, but it is a good starting point for understanding the If/Then's given to us in scripture!  And like we said in the previous post, you can't stand on those promises if you don't know them.  

First If/Then:

IF you are God's child, then you will desire to read His love letter to you:
"...if anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.  And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."  John 14:23-24

Let me add, sincerely, that, if you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and desire to understand the gospel of salvation, may I direct you here for a better understanding of redemption and the gospel?  I would also be more than privileged to talk to you personally or through email.  (You can message me on the sidebar of this blog).

Second If/Then:

IF you read His Word, He will show you His truths and His promises!

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope."  Romans 15:4

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." Acts 20:32

"All scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God might be complete, equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Just to name a few!

So, I will be adding If/Then promises here on the blog frequently for us to meditate and stand on so we can grow in spirit and in truth!

Here is one to whet your appetite!

"If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you." John 15:7

To preclude any worries that I have given over to the prosperity gospel, know that I take God's Word to mean just what it says!  If His words are abiding in me, I will want only what God wants.  As I abide in Him, I am fed by His perfect Word which transforms me to desire His will and His ways.  By this the Father is glorified!  By abiding, I am learning what His promises are. The effect?   Standing on the promises of God!

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk.
If you learn to stand on the promises, you are going to desire the sincere milk of the Word!

"Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."  1 Peter 2:2

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." 2 Corinthians 1:20

(Here is a great little cause/effect chain worksheet if you are a visible learner!)

P.S. Pastor hubby told me to include:  If Christ was not raised, then our teaching is in vain!  (Did not mean to leave that out of the gospel cause and effect!  Praising Him that we are saved with Him, justified in Him, buried with Him, raised with Him, and glorified in Him!)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Friend full of promises

We still sing the old hymns at our church.  We like them.  We like many of the newer Christian songs as well and sing them too.  But we still sing Great is Thy Faithfulness, There is Power in the Blood, Blessed Assurance, Amazing Grace...we love them all.  But not long ago we sang Standing on the Promises.

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

I love that song!  And I love the promises of God...the ones I know.  But how many do I know?  I really started to think about it while going through a small trial.  I've been studying, with the ladies of my church, how to pray scripture and stay grounded in His Word during my communion with my Father.   When you are attempting to pray God's Words back to Him, you really find out how deep, vast and wide the love of God is.  You see His mercy and immutability in a new light.  You discover just what honors and glorifies Him.  And, you understand more confidently just exactly what His promises toward you really are!

While praying through this trial, miraculously :), the chapter we were studying was about Praying in the Name of Jesus and what that really means (that needs a separate post).  The author directed us to John 15:15 which says,

I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

So, those who are His are given the privilege of prayer and knowing, among many things, the promises of God!  We have the means for understanding and knowing all that God has given and will give to us. He comforts us through the presence of the Holy Spirit and through the promises laid out for us in His Word.  We get a new camera, smart phone, or gadget and we intently read that instruction book so that we can know all the things that new gadget can do and all it can offer us to make our lives, not only easier, but more fulfilling.  How much more should we earnestly seek out God's Word, search for wisdom as silver, discover His promises, and feast on his love, mercy and riches?

I love that He is showing me His promises as I am learning to pray His Word back to Him!  I don't have to remind God what His promises to me are, but they sure are comforting in my little finite mind as I tell Him, "Lord, your Word says you will never leave me nor forsake me!  And nothing...NOTHING...not height or depth or anything else in all creation will be able to separate me from your love through Christ Jesus!"  

So, I am on a quest to discover all His promises as I find I need them more than food or air!  Next up on the blog:  The IF/THEN's of scripture!!  Stay tuned! :) 

"You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."  Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A must read, a must see...and exciting news!

I came across an article on Facebook and it is just too good not to share here.  After all, this blog is about Living Out God's Design, and, if you are married, God has designed you to be a help-meet for your husband. (Gen. 2:18)

This article, written by Kimberly Wagner, is very simple and straightforward...but so transparent and honest.  I know I have been guilty of some of these and have been thankful for godly women who have graciously admonished me and also been consistent examples of how to love your husband biblically.  I think these 10 things are great reminders for us all.  

I highly recommend taking the time to really read each one and then stop and ask the Lord to show you if you are sinning against your husband in each area.  We all want godly, healthy and exciting marriages. We all want men who lead our families faithfully in the Word and in deed.  Isn't it worth it to take some time to search our hearts before the Lord and ask Him to reveal any actions or attitudes in us that are hindering our husbands in fulfilling their biblical design?

Here is the link to the article:10 Things Your Husband Hates

I also recommend that you watch this video about Kimberly and her husband. It is a beautiful story of how God did a work in her heart that led to the restoration of their marriage.  I love their willingness to put pride aside in order that others may find encouragement and hope in Him.  Share this with others. So many marriages are in shambles because we aren't living out in obedience what God has called us to as women.  I know, it takes two...and the men obviously have a HUGE responsibility to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  But, as Kimberly said in her article, "I'm not talking to him, I'm talking to you!" : )

You can find the video here : Marriage Miracle

I pray it will be a blessing to you and that you will share it with others.

And, for is a link to my daughter's recent engagement video!!

               All glory be to God!
Have you ever seen such bliss?  Praying my daughter will live out God's design for her and that He will use their marriage as a testimony of His grace, mercy and love and a picture of Christ and the church! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions

A few weeks ago, the last two of my children made a profession of faith and followed the Lord in believer's baptism.  It was a beautifully wonderful day in so many ways.  How awe inspiring it is to know that all 10 of my children have confessed to needing a Savior, acknowledged the need to be forgiven of their sins, and testifying to the grace of God in providing, through His Son Jesus, the means of justification!  My 7 and 8 year old didn't put it quite like that, but they understand and trust as children who will prayerfully grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

 And so, as if that wasn't enough, we had visitors at the church that day and one family had an 8 year old little boy. As he watched the testimony of my two little boys and the others being baptised that day, he approached his mother about how he could be saved!  How great to share later with my boys that their first act of obedience was also one of the first opportunities of sharing the gospel because of their outward testimony!  Well, the mom sat down after the service with her child and one of our church leaders.  They feasted together on the glory of the gospel as this sweet little boy's eyes were being opened and the Holy Spirit continued drawing his heart to the greatest story ever told.  The mom asked for some good literature to use for them to continue the conversation at home and I tucked the request in the back of my mind so I could give her a list of books I would recommend beyond what we gave her that day.  If you have older children, don't you remember when the Lord first began working on your first child and he/she came with questions? Were you like me and had been on missions trips, had evangelism training, and had done plenty of witnessing...but this little child from your womb left you speechless?  I had even worked for years with younger aged children but for some reason found talking to my own child brought new meaning to sharing the gospel.

So, Monday came and in the mail that day arrived a new book for me to review.  Yes, you know what I am going to say here :)  The Lord brought me the book Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick!  I had a few other books I was ready to recommend, but was so excited to dig into this one and see what it had to offer in light of Sunday's happenings.

I was not disappointed!  Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions is a great tool to use right along with one of my other favorite parenting books: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  Give Them Grace is one of the best discipling/parenting books on how to bring your kids to the knowledge of the gospel through your day to day parenting.  Anyway...I could get off on a tangent about that.  Look up the book and order it if you have kids! :)

This new book by Mrs. Fitzpatrick and her daughter is another great tool and fantastic resource to have on hand.  Kids do ask tough questions and the Bible is the answer key.  This book, though, does some of the ground work for you by providing the scripture that supports the answers to the questions (in correct context, by the way) and then giving great examples of how to explain them to your children. Not only that, the authors lovingly give sections within each chapter that lay out appropriate explanations for Preschool aged children, ages 5-10, and beyond.  This is a great feature in helping the parent realize what the child may or may not understand at the various ages.  The sections are complex yet simple enough that you can read through them, do a little background study, and then feel prepared and knowledgeable enough about the concept to discuss it with the child.  The book covers subjects like:

  • What is Sin?
  • Why do people die?
  • Who is Satan?  What is Hell?
  • Why do people get divorced?
  • Why does the Bible say that?  Difficult Bible stories.
  • Sexual Sin
  • Natural Disasters
  • War
  • Terrorism
  • And of course-The Good News!
I highly recommend this book for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Sunday School teachers and anyone who works with children!

Paul David Tripp said, " I love this book! I will recommend it again and again.  It is street-level theology for children that drips with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Parents, read it, live with it, share it daily with your children, and not only will they learn and grow, you will, too."

{I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review}

Friday, July 18, 2014

Do the One Thing!

I'm sure your reaction to that picture and those words are the same as mine: Yeah, right! After all, we are women. Have we EVER done just one thing? I seriously can't think of a time I've done just one thing at a time. My mind actually is filling up right now with hilarious examples of some of my multi-tasking abilities. To be honest, even on Sunday mornings, when I am supposed to be focused on my one true God and setting everything aside to worship Him, I am making notes on the side of my paper. Yeah...not sermon lists, menus, chore charts, to-do lists of every kind. I have to. I have to jot them down so I can clear my mind to focus on the Truth that is being spoken from the pulpit. I'm not proud of that. I am such a Martha. I so want to be more of a Mary.

    Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I know so many of you are with me on this...and this isn't the first time you have been reminded of Jesus' loving admonition to Martha.  But as I was reading in my morning devotions this week (while also jotting down my lists, keeping the kids on their tasks, and thinking about what to put in the crock-pot), God showed me a beautiful example of scripture.  I had one of those "Ah ha" moments where the scripture you have read so many times seems to hit you right between the eyes and lovingly reveal a blind spot in your life.  I was reading in Psalms.  I use Professor Horner's Bible Reading program, so I am consistently going through the Psalms and Proverbs.  But, thanks be to God, His Word is living and active!  It is inspired, literal, true...always constant!  But because He is gloriously transforming us and sanctifying us to become more like His blessed Son, it is never the same twice!  As we abide in Him and grow in His Truth, He continues to open our eyes and reveal to us, through His Spirit, just how we are to be more obedient.  And more than that, his amazing and abundant grace!

So...I was reading Psalm 27:4 where David says,

One thing he asked the Lord.  One thing he sought.  His desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord (to abide in Him) all his days, and in the place of dwelling, to gaze upon His beauty and to always seek Him.  The verse just stopped me in my tracks.  The Word of God pierced through my heart and my multi-tasking brain in that moment and hushed the world outside...and inside.  And, I did the same thing you are doing now. "But Lord!  There is so much to be done!  The food won't cook itself, the baby has to be changed, groceries bought, laundry washed-folded-put away!"  And God answered. In the way He always does.  As I sat there telling God how easy it was for David who had NOTHING to do but dwell in the house of the Lord and seek Him, He reminded me of Mary and Martha.  Not that there is not much for us women to do.  And not that in fulfilling the role He has designed us for that we are doing anything wrong.  But He reminded me how important it is to focus on the ONE THING.  Him.  

Then, through the great tool of cross referencing, He led me to Paul.  Guess what?  Paul had a "one thing" too:

So, I began to meditate on it all. (The kids got gloriously quiet and God graciously helped me single task!)  Martha was "anxious and troubled about many things" yet, Jesus told her that one thing was necessary.  The good portion that cannot be taken away from us.  It is important to eat.  Clean clothes are a really good thing.  A tidy home makes a peaceful home.  All those things are good, but only one thing is necessary. Re-read the passage about Mary and Martha.  It wasn't that Martha was doing wrong by serving, but she was "distracted" in "much" serving. 

Mary, David and Paul all knew it. And they all labored tirelessly for God and accomplished much for His glory.  But the One thing came first.  The One thing is where they got the strength and calm assurance to do the rest.  

Are you like me? Do you tend to give in to the tyranny of the urgent?  Have you gotten the priorities out of whack? Think about it...sincerely, transparently with an open heart before the Lord.  What is your one thing?  What consumes you?  What do you desire MOST?  Do you neglect Him and His Word?  And prayer?  Is your answer yes because there is so much to do?  Do those things take precedence because God has required it of you or are you doing it to please others?  Are you unnecessarily anxious and troubled about many things? Would your family benefit more from you seeking God's face first or feeding them breakfast?  Are you like me and need to get up earlier in order to dwell before His throne?  Let's do the One thing.  Paul said he didn't consider himself to have mastered it yet!  But he had a One thing!  To forget what was behind and press on toward the goal (sanctification) to win the prize for which God called Him.  We are women and He has designed us for many unique purposes.  But He has designed all of us for One Thing:  To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever! (Romans 11:36)

I pray my one thing is never anything apart from what He has ordained it to be.  I pray it for you too.
Let us live out our glorious design by serving our families.  But let's press on toward the goal which God has called us to and let's abide in Him, seek His face and gaze upon His beauty.  Take a deep breath.  Do the One Thing!

"Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."  Matthew 5:6

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: Sharing Christ with the Dying

Sharing Christ with the Dying

Title: Sharing Christ with the Dying
Author: Melody Rossi
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1165-2

From the back cover:  When your friend or family member is facing death, here is the help you need to share Christ in a loving, non-confrontational way.  It will show you how to:

  • Serve in ways that speak louder than words
  • Respond to signs of spiritual openness
  • Discuss maters of eternal importance
  • Cope with the ups and downs of this difficult time
In addition, this book offers you spiritual care, answering your questions about end-of-life issues, and addressing your grief and loss.

And this book does just that!  Being a pastor's wife and sharing ministry life with my husband for over 20 years, I know first-hand how necessary and important it is to have a book like this available. Melody Rossi so sweetly shares from her experiences with three close family members in a way that shows not only her heart and compassion for her loved-ones, but her greater love for the Gospel message.

I so appreciated how she begins the book by opening up about her own experiences, fears, submission and obedience to God.  She shares the importance of sharing Christ with the dying, but from someone who has been through the trial and can relate to those readers who are or have experienced the same journey.

In part 2 of the book, Rossi so aptly lays out the tools needed on this journey.

  • A Road Map (Know the Destination)-Rossi marks what the road will look like, landmarks to watch for, and how to keep focused on where you are going with the gospel (knowing how to share the gospel and not get side-tracked with debates or other derailments).
  • Sturdy Shoes (For the Rugged Terrain): Preparing to serve your loved one as you sacrificially walk them, prayerfully, home.
  • GPS (To Keep You on Track): Trusting God's plan and the Holy Spirit's guidance.
  • Emergency Information (Documents You Will Need):  Discussing Living Wills, DNR order and other special circumstances, as well as basic documents.
  • Traveler's Assistance (When You Feel Lost and Weary): Calling for help, having your own support team, your church, etc.
This section was so practical and full of loving reminders.  I know it would be a great resource for those finding themselves in this position and not having the time nor the mental capacity to process the needs she so graciously points out.

Part 3 speaks to the reader about not turning back, the realities of spiritual warfare, and endurance while Part 4 lovingly explains about the journey's end: what it might look like and how to cope during the grieving process.

I know I keep using the word "sweet", but the overwhelming sense of kindness, care and concern in this book is one of its greatest offerings.  Rossi speaks from an obvious heart of love and with a desire to help others be used, for His glory, in this unique and often overlooked ministry. Too many just rely on the minister to attend to those nearing the end of life.  A minister has a calling to lead us biblically and teach us God's truth, but we are all called to go out and share His Truth.  I love this excerpt from the book:

"How will God use me?  Recently I took a trip to the Philippines to visit missionaries working with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  I was amazed to see how many different types of missionaries there are! Administrators, accountants, bookkeepers, office personnel, school teachers, librarians, computer experts, construction workers, medical staff, and of course, linguists are all needed for the work of Bible translation...The work of sharing Christ's love with the dying is similar.  While the main objective is to introduce the person to Christ, the small seemingly unimportant duties are often what allow this to be accomplished.  Instead of talking directly about God, you may first find yourself providing a meal or transportation.  Ordinary tasks such as these have incredible impact on an unbeliever, and often, sharing the Gospel cannot otherwise happen.  God will reveal to you how He wants to use you to share His love.  For now, the most important thing you can do is decide to walk along with the person for a little while.  So put on your shoes and trust that everything will be made clear to you as you travel."

This book is not only full of heart felt and loving encouragement, but is also laid out almost like a guidebook.  It will be such a great tool for someone right in the middle of loving and serving someone at the end of their life. This is an easy pick-up-and-read book while also a handbook to keep alongside to refer to for insight, instruction and encouragement.  This would be a great resource for ministers and all Christians alike to have on hand to give to those in the hour of need.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wisdom from the Word-Weekly Series #3

Question of the week:

Do we need friends?

The short answer:  no

The long answer:  yes

The short answer is no for a couple of reasons (and I promise this is the short answer :)  No, because of the word "need" in the question.  The only thing we need, according to God's Word, is Christ and His Word.  Those two things alone will sustain us. are saying, "but we need air, food, clothing, money, etc."  Yes, but in essence, if we get down to what we REALLY need, we only need Him. We don't "need" to actually even live!   As sinners destined to hell we NEED a Savior.  That is the first and greatest need for every single human being.  After that, He tells us clearly, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)  And, "But seek His Kingdom and all these things will be added to you."(Luke 12:31)  If you found yourself in the place where you literally had nothing but Christ, you would have all you need!  He is the greatest Friend. One of my favorite songs is Hallelujah, All I Have is Christ!

But the long answer is Yes!  Of course, you know I am going to define friend right now!  You just can't go forward with questions like these without everyone being on the same page!  What is a need? And what constitutes a friend?  More specifically, how does the Bible define a friend?  


a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
a person who gives assistance; patronsupporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
a member of the same nation, party, etc.

Jesus gives us a beautiful definition of a friend and because it is from Him, it is the perfect definition and the One we should base all our thoughts about friendship on!

 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13-15).

Jesus fulfilled this definition by laying down His life, in obedience to the Father, for His!  Wow.
But, before He laid down His life, He lived it out for our benefit and made everything He had learned from His Father known to us.  How did He live it out?

  • He was a friend to sinners:  So many examples in scripture!  In Mark 2:15 he is found reclining and eating with sinners.  In Luke 7 a sinful woman anoints Jesus feet with her hair. In John 8 we see how Jesus lovingly interacts with the adulterous woman who is about to be stoned.  And in Luke 19 we have Zaccheus!  How can we forget Zaccheus? I'm sure you can think of many other examples. My favorite example is me! "But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8).
  • He encouraged His followers: All the promises in scripture, all the ways He comforts, exhorts and even admonishes.  His ministry on the earth was full of selfless service toward mankind
So with Christ as our friend, and Him as our example of a friend (by the way, that ^was not a true study of Christ's ministry---for all my scholarly friends!)...where does that leave us with all this friend business?

Well, besides Jesus being our great example, scripture also gives us other examples and great verses about friendship.  And (for those scholarly friends), John MacArthur teaches us that the Old Testament gives three different words for friend:

  • "rayah" -an associate, someone you keep company with.  English equivalent would be acquaintance.  Proverbs 18:24 "A man who has friends must first show himself friendly".  This is probably the majority of your friendships. And the majority of your Facebook friend list :).
  • "alooth" - to be gentle or familiar with.  This is taking the friend term a step further.  Close friends.  The ones you love to spend time with or remain close to even if distance comes between you.  These are usually few but precious.
  • "ahave" - intimate, close companion.  This is the friendship used in the second half of Proverbs 18:24 when it speaks about a friend(ahave) sticking closer than a brother.An intimate friend that you feel so blessed to have.  The ones that fit into the category of the old saying, "if you can count your true friends on one hand, you are truly blessed." This would also be in the category of comrade-a term my husband uses so much to describe those men who are friends that will stick by you, hold you up, and encourage you.  The ones who have a common goal and are in the realm of a Christian brother and fellow soldier for Christ!  The kind of intimacy so beautifully shown in the friendship of Jonathan and David. Ahave is also the word used in John 15 mentioned above.
So, yes (told you this was the long answer) we need friends in this life!  Christ was first the ultimate friend meeting our greatest need, but while we are here on this earth, He has given us three vital things:  His Word which is His love letter to us, the Holy Spirit who is our comforter, and His people to encourage and edify one another.  We look to Christ as our example.  We seek Him and His kingdom through His Word as to how we are to live, we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us in obedience, and we pour all that we have learned out on other people in order to imitate Christ and to be a biblical friend.

You know, this question was asked by a friend on her facebook page and, while I can't share all the responses she got (there were so many!), I thought some of them really captured the heart of why God has given us the treasure of friendships and why we "need" them:

"So that you know that you are not alone."

"Because the bible says,'Two are better than one,because thy have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.'"Eccl. 4:9-12

"Because they bless us, care for us, love us"

"Yes, so we can pray for one another"

"I've gone through seasons where I didn't have many friends, or don't see them...but in those times I did grow closer to God."

"It's quality, not quantity"

"Friends are the family God lets you choose"

"Friends are the beautiful blossoms of the tree of life"

"I think having friends helps us fulfill a higher purpose.  We serve our families every day but it takes more to be in the service of others.  Friends serve one another in many ways and when we are in the service of another, we are in the service of the Lord.  Many of His works are carried out through the love of friends."

I really love that last one!  To me that sums it up so beautifully!  If we follow the example of our Truest Friend, we will see that really means serving and loving others as we want to be loved.  Obeying the greatest commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind...and love you neighbor as yourself..."(Matthew 22:37-40) brings us to the essence and reason for friendship.

There is a great quote that goes like this: 

 I went outside to find a friend and couldn't find any and went out to be a friend and found many. (author unknown)

So do we need friends?  Maybe we need to step back and see that what we really "need" is not friends, but to be a friend!

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  Philippians 2:1-30

Well, the question, of course, was asked: "Do our kids need friends?"  Though all the same scripture applies, there are other aspects to this!  Would love to hear your thoughts and maybe we will tackle this question in an upcoming Wisdom from the Word!